What is the purpose of rank and file in Shogun 2 units? You can adjust the rank and file on the units and I'm not sure what they're for. I'm assuming for reserve or for offensive, but I'm not sure.

  • I haven't played it but my guess is it adjusts what it says, rank and file. If you go to 3D battle the units will have a different number of rows and columns.
    – SMeznaric
    Jun 23, 2013 at 0:19
  • Yes, but does it have a strategic benefit or bonuses? For instance, I heard in all the Total War games, the first 2 or 3 rows of archers are the only ones that fire
    – EhevuTov
    Jun 23, 2013 at 1:16
  • Well it allows you to respond to the enemy movement. Sometimes you might need longer lines to avoid being flanked, othertimes you want more soldiers to replenish the losses from the front. I haven't played Shogun 2 but from other Total War games that's the only use of rank and file that I know of.
    – SMeznaric
    Jun 23, 2013 at 1:20

1 Answer 1


Rank and file refer to the depth and length of a formation. Deeper formations have more staying power - for example, a unit of cavalry might easily charge and emerge on the other side of a line three men deep, while a square formation will leave them stuck in the middle, exposed to a lot of danger. In general, shallow formations are also much more susceptible to being routed. Part of this is due to the intensity of fighting - a squad of 150 with 15 lines of 5 men each will only fight using 5-10 men at a time, thus greatly limiting casualties and morale swings. A squad of 150 with 3 lines of 50 men each will have almost every member at risk, suffering (and inflicting) casualties at a much greater rate, and thus causing much greater morale swings.

In short, use shallow formations to inflict damage and outflank your opponent if you lack a numerical advantage, and use deep formations to stall and defend chokepoints.

Usually, you'd be setting formation shape by right clicking and pulling. The buttons are rarely used, and mostly serve to allow you to quickly make minor changes, particularly if you need a formation to be just a teeny bit deeper or longer.

  • Ah, thank you. So, it seems the individual people of a unit are autonomous in some way and have individually their own math, combat, etc.
    – EhevuTov
    Jun 23, 2013 at 21:49
  • 2
    @EhevuTov That's right. I'm not aware of the specifics, but I've heard that in the Shogun 2 engine, individual soldiers seek out enemy troops to duel. Maybe that's why it can take so long to kill that last surrounded enemy troop during a siege - every combatant is trying to get it alone.
    – Fadeway
    Jun 24, 2013 at 3:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .