"Valour has been lost whence guns were invented;
The curved blade in its holster shall rust."
- — traditional Turkish ballad
Ranged missile infantry, with less reach but somewhat better payload than normal arbaletiers, devastating against all units in range except elite heavy cavalry.
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Overall strategyAlthough costing more than Arbalest Infantry, the arquebusier has a difference: it hits harder, further, but requires knowledge in addition to food and timber. This however does not reduce its appeal as it will be far more deadlier than Arbalest Infantry, and also is easier to create. While not incredibly accurate, the main perk of the Arquebusier is in its training time. By the late game, food, timber and knowledge are the most highly accumulated resources of the game in the game, and so while an array of Arbalests will require extensive lumber and wealth to create, ranks and ranks of Arquebusiers can be created to fill in the gaps of your armies in a very short time. The powerful attack of an arquebus also deals substantially more damage, so a full-frontal assault on arquebusiers with anything other than elite heavy cavalry normally ends in disaster.
While they will do some damage to cavalry, they will not be able to withstand a determined charge by heavy cavalry. Additionally, arquebusiers are clearly no match for siege machines - use your own siege machines or artillery instead to counter them. Any faction which does not have a unique cavalry in the Imperial Era, such as the Mongols and the Byzantines, may find themselves at a disadvantage against this new weapon, as their own heavy cavalry (Mailed Lancers, Tarkhans and Pronoiaroi) like knights do not have any protection from arquebus fire - they will have to amass more guns and hope for the best.
Fortunately, there are some who are capable of doing this better than others. Spanish tercio gunners can function in the same way as chivalric orders normally do, while the Chinese enjoy a cost advantage in recruitment, and can even create them from the Castle Age onward. In Northern Europe, Arquebusiers can be upgraded to Landsknecht Gunners, who have a better training speed and are also more efficient than normal Arquebusiers.
- Quirky Cost Structure — Arquebusiers cost food, timber and knowledge as opposed to the archer line's timber and wealth, meaning that they are suitable either to factions with a knowledge and research advantage or those intending to do their fighting in the late game.
- Knight Mare — Although devastating as an anti-personnel weapon, and also capable of dealing serious damage to light cavalry, the arquebus is near to worthless when facing Imperial Era heavy cavalry, especially unique ones, which will have an anti-gunpowder bonus.
- Assault and Gunnery — Portugal's Arquebusiers may be harder to obtain, but are very useful against enemy melee units, particularly melee infantry and light cavalry once you receive them.
- The Great Firewall of China — The Chinese have two gunpowder infantry units, starting from the Castle Age. Fire lancers constitute gunpowder infantry, but are weaker than the arquebus. Its upgrade, the Divine Ordnance Division, comes into play as the cheapest and fastest-producing gunpowder unit, but suffers from a notedly diminished rate of fire.
- Kapkulu Marksman — The Turks possess the Kapkulu Guard marksman, the precursor to the Janissaries. This unit by far enjoys better range and rate of fire compared to other factions.
If you are playing the Western factions, this unit will undergo 3 different changes, depending on the Age you are in:
Musketeer of the Mercantile Era.
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Musketeer of the Imperial Era.
Gunpowder was first discovered possibly as early as the Tang dynasty in China. Although its explosive qualities were soon seized upon by experts realising its potential military use, modern firearms did not make an appearance worldwide until the Hundred Years' War. The first gunpowder weapons were probably grenades, which were loaded in traction machines such as trebuchets, and while gunpowder weapons firing projectiles were soon invented in China and elsewhere, their reliability as a primary weapon was so low that archers continued to remain the main missile component of any defensive force despite firearms being easier to use than traditional bows and crossbows; this was the one reason why military leaders and authors such as Miyamoto Musashi, Niccolò Machiavelli and Shaka Zulu often eschewed firearms for simpler but harder to operate weaponry such as javelins or bows. In the case of the last, usage of javelins and archery persisted despite the introduction of exponentially improved firearms in the West during the late 19th century, with tragic results.