Fire by Rank
Etw military army fire by rank
Prerequisite None
Research Points Needed
Building Needed Drill School
Leads To None
Stream Military, Military
  • Enables line infantry fire by rank firing drill
Fire by Rank is a firing drill and a Technology in Empire: Total War and Total War: Shogun 2.


This firing pattern for infantry units produces a barrage of musketry by having each rank, or line of men, fire in turn.

By careful timing, it is possible for a constant fire to be maintained for,as soon as one rank has fired, it begins reloading. By the time other ranks in the unit have fired on their turn, all men should have reloaded and ready to give fire once more. This requires a good level of discipline and obedience, as each rank must listen only to orders from the relevant officers and sergeants. The drill involved in loading a smoothbore musket must also be mastered by every man in the unit. Carried out correctly, the result is a series of volleys that give enemies no respite from a hail of musket balls! Historically, it was usual for units to draw up formations three ranks deep,this being considered the "best" compromise between weight of fire and ease of control. Deeper formations were tried, but there was always a risk to men in the forward ranks from careless shots from the rearmost ranks - men were shot in the back by inexperienced comrades. Of course, this firing pattern also meant that only one man in three was ever loaded and ready to fire at any given time!

General InformationEdit

Empire: Total WarEdit

Fire by Rank is the first firing drill available for research. It effectively triples the amount of firepower a commander can put in one area with line infantry. Prior to Fire by Rank being researched, only the first rank fires, followed by disorganized fire. Only Line Infantry, Guards and their equivalents, and Grenadiers may utilize Fire by Rank; after Platoon Firing is researched, Fire by Rank is exclusive to only line infantry and their equivalents.

Because fire by rank allows almost the entire unit to fire without having to form a long line, more compact formations can be deployed without sacrificing firepower, allowing greater firepower in an area. This means that a large army can now deploy both a long line to meet an enemy's long line, and to deploy a heavy firepower but compact line to combat smaller enemies.

Fire by Rank does not work against most cavalry including horse and camel riders. Instead, the first rank of infantry fire, followed by sporadic firing. However, Fire by Rank is still utilized against elephants.

Despite being able to research this technology, the Maratha Confederacy fields no units that can utilize Fire by Rank. 

Total War: Shogun 2Edit

Fire by Rank is reintroduced in Total War: Shogun 2. It operates in much the same way as its predecessor, allowing three ranks of troops to fire instead of the default. However, it also drastically reduces reloading speed. In practice, it is almost always better to spread out lines of matchlock infantry and switch off Fire by Rank instead of using Fire by Rank. The only exception for this is if large numbers of troops are to be concentrated firing in a small area, and have adequate time to reload.

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