"... they are famous knights — swaddled under war-horns,
nursed under helmets, fed from the point of the lance;
to them the trails are familiar,
to them the ravines are known, the bows they have are strung tight, the quivers, unclosed, the sabers, sharpened;
themselves, like gray wolves, they lope in the field, seeking for themselves honor, and for their prince, glory. "
— Lay of Igor's Campaign (c1185)
Heavy cavalry unit that costs less in wealth but has a higher cost in metal.
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A Druzhinnik is a heavy cavalryman, distinguished by a higher cost in metal, but a correspondingly lower cost in wealth. This means that as long as Slavic nations can find sources of metal, such as pelts, or mountains, you can be assured of a large number of heavy cavalry, without exhausting your supply of wealth. That wealth can then be used to purchase mercenaries, such as Kipchak Horse Archers, or Caucasus Mountain Men to bolster your ranks.
Because of its special bonus, namely your ability to save on wealth at the cost of higher amounts of metal spent, this dictates two different styles of play. For Poland, getting hordes of cavalry druzhina out to compensate for the slower train times of its signature axe units (and the plodding speed of its heavy archer line) means that it will have more wealth on hand to spend on archers, spies, and, more importantly, mercenaries. The somewhat different cost structure of cavalry druzhina will go a long way until Poland's more powerful light units are finally ready to take to the field.
For Russia, however, the perennial increased consumption of iron as opposed to food and wealth means that Russia, while capable of creating immense wealth and wood, will lose out on metal production, meaning that whatever amounts of heavy infantry and cavalry created will be limited in size and scope - so Russia must use these units as conservatively as possible. Nevertheless, the Russian boyar cavalry, to which the druzhina are upgraded to, have a small speed bonus, making them more worthwhile to train once they are ready, and whatever units are boosted by the additional savings of food and wealth are somewhat noteworthy: pomestia cavalry and heavy archers all benefit from this discount. The strength of your heavy archers, combined with the stalwart performance of your berdishy infantry should help in holding your lines together, even as you use your cheaper pomestia cavalry to knock out your opponents' non-heavy units.
- Shock and Awe— Heavy cavalrymen are fairly slow, but still fast enough to chase and hunt down lightly-armed infantry, and also are the bane of light or medium cavalry.
- Shiny Happy People Holding Spears —The main weakness of the Druzhinnik is in being swarmed — or being force-fed into a grinder of spearwalls, such as those at Kontrijk.
- Heavy Metal — Ensure you have adequate supplies of metal at all times if you intend to train a huge retinue of Druzhinnik cavalry.
- Replacement Killers — The amount of wealth that you save from creating Druzhinnik cavalry can be ploughed into other units, such as mercenaries.
The relatively unbroken terrain and fertile soil of Poland lent itself to a strong cavalry tradition, which lasted for almost a millenium since the founding of the Polish nation in the 10th century. Numerous wars in east and west alike, as well as internal unrest gave rise to a class of magnates called the szlachta by the Late Mediaeval Era, who in turn had their own armed retainers. Of these, the heavy cavalry component often comprised junior noblemen subservient to the magnates. By the 16th century, these armed retainers were being referred to as the "Towarzysz" or "companions", on account of how they accompanied their masters into battle as junior officers, and long after the ages of plate mail and mace had passed, the term Towarzysz (later Germanised as Towarczy) remained in military parlance, albeit in reference to a corps of professional heavy cavalry within Poland and her neighbours, as the cavalry continued to be the prestige of the nobility in Poland well into the late 19th century.