“I am the Emperor, and having received Heaven’s great mandate, I rule the Chinese and the yi ...’
— Emperor Tianshun of Ming (quot Ming Shilu)
Unique Chinese medium cavalry unit with an armour-piercing attack.
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In contrast to mainstream light cavalry or the more heavily equipped warriors that form the personal guards of Chinese potentates, Guard Cavalry are essentially a filler "in between" the two classes, meant to function as a medium cavalry option when more decisive action or defence against enemy cavalry is so needed. Bear in mind, however, that these units are only marginally better than the Retinue Cavalry that they complement - and are probably costlier, too. Nevertheless they are vastly faster than Western Men-at-Arms, and unlike Retinue Cavalry do not suffer an attack penalty versus heavy cavalry types.
Even so, they are fairly costly units, and are also not that great like most European heavy cavalry of the Imperial Era that enjoy an anti-gunpowder defence bonus, thus do not think of using them as you normally would use them when fighting against infantry. Still, Guard Cavalry are nevertheless an improvement over both Light Cavalry and Retinue Cavalry alike, as long as you do have the Wealth to recruit them. Support them along with Tatars and your many horse archer units, alongside your unique units, and you can do no wrong in the late game.
- Tin Soldiers — As these units cost less in metal, you will discover that you can recycle the metal saved for other projects, most notably heavy infantry and fortifications. Although they don't hit as hard as normal knights are bound to do, their lower cost makes them still worthwhile as a unit.
- The More The Merrier — Retinue Cavalry are meant to be used in large groups, given their lower cost in metal.
- Shiny Happy People Holding Spears — Like all heavy cavalry, Retinue 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. Their main weakness is in being swarmed — or being force-fed into a grinder of spearwalls, such as those at Kortrijk.
Most Barbarian factions that you meet in Rise of Chivalry don't train knights, preferring instead to raise Retinue Cavalry.
By the onset of the Intermediate Middle Ages, the use and power of cavalry were making themselves more extensively felt throughout the Old World, most notably embodied in the form of the spirit of chivalry, in which dedicated bands of warriors served as both soldier and governor: the miles or knightly class, which was drilled to perfection to live, fight and die in the saddle. Although the mediaeval knight dominated much of Europe's mediaeval history, there were vast areas in the world where heavy cavalry continued to be used but did not always reach the same standards or numbers as the European knight, for a variety of reasons: either there was a lack of proper terrain for true heavy cavalry to fight in (such as Wales, Scandinavia, or the Middle East), or there was simply a lack of proper horses to go by (such as in post-Tang China).