"Thinking only of their vow that they would crush the Tartars —
On the desert, clad in sable and silk, five thousand of them fell...."
— Chen Tao, Tang poet
Toughened medium cavalry unit capable of knocking out other light cavalry units, and swarming heavy cavalry.
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Baatur — in Turkic meaning "brave" or "heroic" — are the loyal cavalry retinue of the Mongol khans. Endowed with armour, vicious swords and fast mounts, these men combine the speed and cost of light cavalry with the hitting power of a knight, making them more of medium cavalry as opposed to light units. In large numbers, Baatur can even overwhelm the knightly heavy cavalry which are the pride of Christians and Muslim Turks. Fools often underestimate the strength of these fierce and relentless warriors, who if led properly are more than a match for any of the world's heavy cavalry, although they may not follow their traditions.
Because they cost food and timber, Baatur have some advantages and disadvantages. The first is that because Mongolia can generate food for free based on the size of her demesne, you will be assured that in the late game, Baatur will be a viable unit to have, which can even knock out enemy knights. Food and timber are fairly easy to get, and by the Imperial Era you should be able to recruit plenty of them, making them a useful alternative to training knights and conscripts. However, there is a problem: timber is often required for the Mongols' other units, namely its special archers, conscripts, and its unique cavalry archer lines. If you used timber to build stables to pump out cavalry archers for free, you may not have much left to train Baatur, yet alone upgrade them to Tarkhann Cavalry. Next, while they do have the hitting power of a knight, Baatur will suffer some difficulties going up against the more advanced heavy cavalry of the Europeans (Orthodox, Muslims (except the Turks) and Asian factions can't research Centralisation), and will be fairly easy to annihilate using anti-cavalry weapons.
Normal Knights and Retinue Cavalry might not work well if faced with Mongol Baatur — but some factions have good weapons that can take them down. Any unit which is tactically superior can be used. For instance, Frankish Knights have a good speed bonus that allows them to take on Baatur fairly easily, as would the Byzantine Pronoiaroi. However, the best unit to deploy against Baaturs by far is the Hungarian Várispán Lancer. These units are not fast, but their drastically increased attack and heavier armour make them ideal defensive units for chasing them off. Baatur may be faster and fairly hard-hitting, but the armour and attack of Hungarian Várispánok renders them superior. Still, nothing can beat anti-cavalry infantry, and any army arrayed with spear infantry and gunpowder weaponscan easily crush a host of Baatur in the field.
- For the Horde! — Due to their toughened stance, Baatur are capable of countering other cavalry units, either through sheer numbers, or by their stats alone. Once you reach the later eras, use Baatur to stiffen your ranks, especially since you cannot research Centralisation.
- Bullseye — Because of their specialties, you must be careful of how you use your Baatur: avoid heavy infantry, and go for weaker infantry targets.
- Fight Knight — Knights are indeed very tough enemies, and so when using Baatur on the attack, you must build them in groups large enough to surround your opponents' cavalry. In a one-on-one battle, Baatur will die first so you must train as many Baatur and upgrade them whereso needed. Not all knightly units, can't be taken out this way, however.
- Tatar — Baatur of Tatar extraction are available to the Byzantines, Chinese and Poles as mercenary units, although they cannot be recruited until the Imperial Era and require a fair bit of teching up.
Although heavy cavalry tactics would well dominate Europe for three hundred years after the First Crusade, light cavalry continued to be important, especially in areas that were impoverished, highly open, or filled with broken terrain, such as the mountainous south of Spain or the open wastes of Central Asia. The Turks and the Mongols often had the best light cavalry, because of their access to horses and the necessity of light cavalry for operations in the open grassy plains of Asia.
Mongol warriors often preferred to fight as light cavalry: indeed, Muslim sources reveal that out of every ten warriors, six of them would be trained for light roles, with the four others often being trained as lancers or heavy horse corps. This form of organisation along with brutal conditioning and discipline made the Mongol cavalry the world's most powerful army in its heyday, capable of forming an empire which stretched from the Yellow Sea in Asia to the Black Sea and the Middle East.