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|"One does not use good iron to make nails, nor good men to make soldiers."
— Chinese saying
A light melee infantry unit with lower hitpoints, armour, and speed...but cheaper and more easily created.
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The Conscript Swordsman continues the tradition of fulfilling the need for a "weak, but cheap cannon fodder unit." With marginally better tactical statistics than a suicide soldier, the conscript swordsman however still retains its place as a weaker, lighter swordsman. However, his better stats now means that unlike the suicide soldiers' near-to-pathetic ability to cause damage to armoured foes and buildings, the conscript swordsman is now capable of wreaking havoc on poorly-defended areas, and killing peasant levymen as opposed to merely bullying them. Nevertheless, these units are still easily taken apart by cavalry, so never ever try to use them on their own. While it is true that an early Conscript rush could easily destroy a single foe, it may be another different scenario if you are facing more than one enemy with different factions.
As with the suicide soldier, however, Conscript Swordsmen cannot be fully relied upon for victory. It will be up to you — whether playing as the Chinese or Mongols — to decide on what units to use. While the Chinese player will normally begin phasing them out in favour of more powerful Fire Lancers and Divine Machinists, Conscript Swordsmen and their upgrade, the Armoured Militia, will be indispensable for the Mongols, since they now are more effective at swarming static targets, such as buildings and gunpowder units. After all, Genghis Khan did not rely solely on the speed and eye of his cavalry archers, but chose to lead his opponents on before surrounding them and crushing them with vastly superior numbers. This method, known as the kharash, was often used by the Mongols, relying on prisoners and newly subjugated peoples as a form of a human shield.
- Cheaper By The Dozen — unlike normal shield bearers, suicide soldiers are far more mediocre but are created rather quicker and cheaper, and thus meant solely for aggressive rush tactics.
- Mongoloid Syndrome — Mongolia has superior cavalry abilities, and so Suicide Soldiers are not cost-effective.
- Suicide Guys — China is adept at suicide soldier rushes, and China has several units to support them. Repeating crossbow archers can be employed to take out enemy heavy infantry, while fire lancers and Jiao's matchlocks can take out enemy cavalry, which are exceedingly powerful against suicide soldiers.
- BANZAI!!! — A powerful rush strategy can be achieved using good samurai and very cheap suicide soldiers. Utilise the speed and offensive power of your samurai to complement a light infantry banzai charge.
- Easy Meat — An army heavy with suicide soldiers is easy prey for a Mongol player with the best horse archers and keshiks. The only unit far worse than a suicide soldier is the peasant levy.
Unlike mediaeval Europe, which graduated towards the creation of a professional class of troops, East Asian nations relied heavily on peasant soldiers in times of war, especially throughout China, the Central Asian khanates and Southeast Asia, and only elite military forces would be sufficiently equipped with armour and weapons — or even training. Often, the individuals used for cannon fodder duty would often be among those sorts of people — the dispossessed, prisoners of war, convicts and other undesirables — seen as wholly expendable.