|"With Bow let us win kine, with Bow the battle, with Bow be victors in our hot encounters. The Bow brings grief and sorrow to the foeman: armed with the Bow may we subdue all regions."
— Rig-Veda, m. 6 hymn LXXV v2-3, (trans Griffith, 1896)
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Strong versus heavy infantry.
Archers are the main ranged units of your army. Adept with a bow, these men rain down arrows on your foes, making them useful in picking off slow-moving melee units or targets with little or no HP left. Archers however have one weakness: cavalry. As it is hard to hit moving targets accurately with a bow, cavalry are the bane of Archers (although there are some factions with archers able to face them on) and as such, you should escort them with heavy infantry at all times. Equally dangerous are the Militia — these units, trusting in their shields and swords alone and disdaining most body armour, are more than a match for archers. Heavy infantry such as Foot Saburai, although easily taken down by archers in one-on-one combat, can easily overpower archers in huge numbers once they close in.
Some factions, however, do not train archers as normal, but instead host a variety of specialised bowmen who use the same weapon, but in different ways. Factions bordering the eastern fringes of Europe may discover they have access to Caucasus Huntsmen, whether through proximity or by migration. Others such as the Welsh, Moors and Papal States however have access to various archery styles, with some placing emphasis on lone wolf action, and others enhanced infantry support. All told, however, the rules still remain the same: archers function best when they are attacking and are not being attacked themselves, thus they should be either well-supported or well-protected at all times.
- Rush Crush — Massed infantry can easily overwhelm archers. Bring your ownheavy infantry as a "moving wall" to protect them.
- Sniper — The Welsh do not train archers, but instead have a rather interesting unit, called the helwyr. The helwyr as a whole is a scout unit, with a highly accurate long-ranged missile attack. While Welsh helwr can hide in forests if things get too hot, its less reputable cousin, the brigand, has halved hitpoints, but trains much faster, making it a superb mercenary unit for those capable of getting it.
- Caucasian Caucus — At the plains of the Ukraine and the foothills of the Caucasus and the Carpathians lie Russia, Poland, Hungary and the Turkic khanates. These factions are sufficiently close to the Black Sea to recruit toughened huntsmen hailing from as far away as Asia to hunt a different sort of prey.
- Cloak and Dagger — In central Italy, it is an open secret that the Papacy and the supporting Italian nobility have access to marksmen, hired killers who while are slower and of weaker constitution, are far more deadly because of the strength of their srchery and their ability to slip into cities unseen.
Archers are used mostly by Middle Eastern and Asian factions, as well as the Argives and possibly the Thracians and Phrygians, all others don't recruit them.
Contrary to popular belief, the bow itself was not a popular weapon with many ancient cultures of the Old World. It was ideal for most of the time for hunting and attacking unarmoured foes, but once body armour, made either from simply textiles or even bronze, became more popular, soldier gradually switched either to slings or for javelins. These weapons were difficult to use, or had far lower range, but they had one advantage and that was the ability to damage targets wearing armour.
This, however, did not mean the end of archery per so. The simple bow was improved by using better materials and by better training. Employing better wood or strips of laminated wood increased the tensile strength of the bow, increasing power and thus range. Arrows were improved also by such changes as metal arrowheads. Even so the cost and man-hours required to create a weapon that was sufficiently powerful enough to match the stopping power of slingshot or javelins meant that such weapons and such training was normally limited to an aristocratic warrior caste for most of the Bronze Age.