How Terrifying was a barrage of arrows? Even with Shield Walls?

Sep 2012
Yesterday I was playing Shogun:Total War. In one battle I should have theoritically won because I had a combine force of one unit of archers and several units of Yari Samurai and Yari Ashigaru.

The number of troops my enemy had were pretty much the same as me.

However his army was compsed entirely of Samurai Archers.

When the battle began, I sent my spearman right away to assault the enemy army. Going by the game's units system, my force of Yari Samurai and Yari Ashigaru should have lead me to victory as Samurai Archers are weak to melee units.........

The whole battle turned out differently. My Yari Samurai and Ashigaru units fled collapsed early in the battle and retreated from what should have been an easy victory theoritically.

GUESS WHAT? My Yari Samurai WAS actually VERY close to getting into contact with the Samurai Archers. As in, just a few feet away! Yet as the Samurai Archers continued to fire barrages, the whole Yari Samurai units collapsed apart and started fleeing the battlefield.

THEY WERE JUST a FEW FEET AWAY and had they proceeded with the charge they would have DESTROYED the Samurai Archers and it would have been a complete victory for me.

I should have won according to theory of gameplay mechanics........

So I am curios how terrifying would a barrage of Arrows be?STUPID question I know but the battle in Shogun:Total War got me curious about IRL battles.

I remember seeing battles in Rome:Total War in which Roman Legions were in the Testudo formtion and completely protected by the Shield Wall. They were incredibly closee to reaching some horse archers yet they collapsed as they were marching midway from the enemy and the unit ran away.

According to Gameplay Theory, the unit would have won this battle if they didn't collapse and abandon shield wall and they wouldn't have suffered casualties until they finally started swinging their swords at the horse archers.

So I am very curious about this. I am esp. curious about how terrifying arrow barrages would be even if you were in a tight shielf wall formation and was not in risk at all of getting hit by arrows because of the Shield Wall.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
South of the barcodes
Testudos move slowly, horses move fast. The horse archers would simply have backed off a hundred yards and started again.
A Testudo isnt a seamless iron shield, theres always gaps where an arrow gets through and injures one man who falls, opening up the formation to more arrows unless they step over the injured man, close up and move on. Slowly.

Basically lightly armoured archers will always be faster than heavily armoured warriors, the line will have to hold their nerve until the archers run out of arrows then use their armour advantage to either kill the archers or make them run.