For other uses of this term, see Light Infantry.
Light Infantry are a type of infantry in the Total War series.
Empire: Total WarEdit
In Empire: Total War, light infantry are skirmishers that can fight in both loose and dense formations. They utilize their superior range to protect the rest of the army from other long range troops, as well as to harass shorter-ranged troops. Compared to Line Infantry, light infantry have superior range and accuracy, but have half as many men per regiment, worse morale, do not resist shocks to morale, and cannot utilize bayonets or Square Formation--making them highly vulnerable to cavalry. To counter this, they can deploy anti-cavalry stakes in battle. Light Infantry have the ability to deploy Light Infantry Tactics, which causes them to spread out and crouch. This makes them less vulnerable to artillery and small arms fire, and allows them to stand in front of standing troops such as line infantry without much fear of friendly fire.
When left motionless on the world map for two turns or more, they gain the ability to deploy Fougasse on the battlefield--a type of primitive land mine. Very few non-light infantry units have this ability. In addition to Fougasse, light infantry may also deploy Chevaux de Frise, anti-cavalry barricades, or Earthworks, which protect users from small arms and artillery fire.
Light Infantry are broadly divided into two types: 125 range units that use rifles such as Riflemen or Prussian Jaegers, and 90 range units that use muskets such as Light Infantry and Grenzers. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses.
90 range light infantry have poorer accuracy and range, but fire much more rapidly than their longer-ranged cousins. They have much better killing potential if they can get within range, but their shorter range makes them more vulnerable to mobile enemies.
125 range light infantry tend to have better accuracy, but as they use rifles instead of muskets, their reloading speed is significantly worse. This means that their initial volley is both more deadly and can be delivered at superior range, but they're prone to being charged or countered after this as they are defenceless afterwards for a significant period of time. Certain 125 range units, such as the Ferguson Riflemen and the Windbüchse Jaegers, have very rapid reloading speed instead, making them a deadly force on the battlefield. Instead of using fougasse, riflemen use the deadlier improved Fougasse, which causes a secondary explosion after the initial detonation.
Light Infantry are classified as early-game troops, and are available for early skirmishes in multiplayer. In the Grand Campaign, however, they are usually only available after researching Light Infantry Doctrine. Spain, however, begins the campaign with one regiment of light infantry, and certain factions, such as Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire have access to early equivalents.
Napoleon: Total WarEdit
Light Infantry are greatly improved in Napoleon: Total War: they have 50% more men per regiment than their Empire: Total War counterparts, have comparable melee stats to line infantry, can use bayonets, have their range improved to 100 (making their range superior to all units aside from artillery, other light infantry, and skirmishers), and resist morale shocks. As line infantry in Napoleon: Total War can't use Fire by Rank, light infantry have the potential to outdo line infantry in terms of firepower even with their inferior number of men per regiment. As with their Empire: Total War counterparts, light infantry screen the rest of the army, protecting them from other light infantry and harassing shorter-ranged units. Accurate and with good reloading speeds, light infantry have a high kill rate if left unmolested; however, they are very weak in terms of melee combat and are thus very vulnerable to cavalry.
Light Infantry gain a few additional weaknesses when compared to their Empire: Total War counterparts. They lose the ability to deploy stakes or fougasse. Cavalry are much more powerful offensively than they were in Empire: Total War, so light infantry's inability to use square formation or stakes are an even more pronounced weakness.
Riflemen with 125 range are no longer classified as light infantry, and are instead labeled skirmishers. As light infantry are greatly improved in most categories while skirmishers are not, skirmishers fill a much smaller niche than they did in Empire: Total War.