God is Spanish, and seems to fight for us these days.
— Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares
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A potential game-changer, the Arquebus Tercio is best described as a Religious Fanatic with a gun. This unit has two functions: it can create deadly volleys of shot, and it can also boost the attack of friendly units in their vicinity, ensuring that your units' morale and resistance can be maintained between battles.
This ability can be very useful in maintaining your troops in long expeditions into enemy territory, and the presence of Arquebus Tercios can often mean a difference between victory and defeat during heated infantry battles. Keep your Tercios close to your troops at all times, as although they are awesome units, Tercios are still vulnerable to the usual weapons: archers and cannon will get to them, and heavy cavalry can charge them, albeit with substantial losses.
- Quirky Cost Structure — Arquebus Tercios 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 Tercio is near to worthless when facing Imperial Era heavy cavalry, especially unique ones, which will have an anti-gunpowder bonus.
- Brothers in Arms — The Arquebus Tercio's ability to increase the attack of nearby units can be very useful in maintaining your troops in long expeditions into enemy territory so long as they are properly escorted and protected by other units.
Although somewhat primitive, difficult to create and not as effective as crossbows, arquebuses had one advantage: they needed little training to use effectively as a weapon of war, and in an age where enemies still relied greatly on melee weapons in battle, the arquebus could provide a psychological edge over enemies unused to the smoke and noise it created. It was with this weapon that the Spanish conquered Italy. In America, it helped the English to make their mark on the New World by helping early colonists repel native attacks on their settlements.
Spanish arquebusiers were arranged in the tercios or square formation, along with their counterparts using sword and pike. The benefit of this was that Tercio formations were flexible enough to be moved around the battlefield, capable thus of taking out both melee cavalry and enemy infantry through a frontal assault. Its only weakness was that it could be outflanked, as were the Portuguese by the Moroccans at Alcacer Qibir, or the Spanish at Nieuwpoort during the Dutch rebellion — in both cases, the Moroccans and the Dutch used missile weapons in linear formation to provide enfilade fire on the tercio formations used by their enemies, thus obtaining a missile superiority advantage of the tercios.