"We are children of the Greeks and we are not afraid of the barbarian flock."
— Thomas of Argos, 16th century Greek mercenary in English pay
Mercenary unit unique to Venice, stronger and tougher than Balkan Stradiot and able to deal splash damage against enemies.
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Recruited from Venetian colonies throughout Greece and the Balkans, Heavy Stradiots are amongst some of the most powerful units in the game, forming the backbone of Venice's late-game cavalry force. Unlike the Balkan Stradiots which are trained by the Byzantines, Hungarians and Sicilians, Heavy Stradiots wear more armour: a plumed helmet, a breastplate and a stouter Turkish-styled shield — as well as a sexy panther skin harness for the horse! despite the flashy accoutrements, however, heavy units would best well be wary of the Heavy Stradiots — in addition to having better armour compared to normal Balkan Stradiots, they also are capable of causing splash damage, making them highly deadly foes.
The only problem for Venice however is that it takes some time to get to them — to equip and prepare them for combat, you will need to research Centralisation in order to obtain them. Additionally, as missile cavalry units tend to be, they are weak if attacked in melee, so these units are best used to harass enemy cavalry and to destroy melee infantry which cannot keep up with them. Do not forget that Heavy Stradiots are still mercenaries, so you will need massive amounts of wealth just to support them, but given that the other notable cavalry unit in the Venetian arsenal, the Elmetti, are far more costly (because they require metal, making them harder to produce) and difficult to use, Heavy Stradiots are the best units that you can rely on in the late game, alongside an army consisting of Billmen, Pavise Arbalest Infantry and Arquebusiers.
- Big Is Not Beautiful — The strong attack and speed of the Heavy Stradiot allows it to be used as a counter for any heavy melee unit.
- Light units such as Light Cavalry and Mounted Rangers however can easily fell Heavy Stradiots, so keep them properly escorted at all times.
The Stradiots or stradioti ("Wayfarers") were Christian mercenary cavalry recruited from the Balkans and the Greek peninsula, and were very much influenced by Turkish-styled culture and tactics (due to their exposure to Ottoman invaders in 15th century southern Europe). Like their Central Asian forbears, Stradiots fought as light cavalry, exploiting the broken and hilly terrain of their homelands (which was perfect for raiding cavalry as opposed to heavy cavalry manoeuvres) and were armed with a variety of weapons, including crossbows, swords and composite bows, although their preferred weapon of choice was the assegai or short spear, which could either be used as a cavalry lance, or thrown as a javelin to be replaced by another melee weapon such as a sabre or a mace (again, both favourite weapons for cavalrymen). As light cavalry, they tended to fight "naked", preferring either cotton, leather, or limited amounts of chainmail, although richer and senior members would sometimes wear metallic body armour and Turkish-styled helmets. As mercenaries, Stradiots would serve whoever paid them the most, and while they were most well-known for service with Venice they did not shy away from fighting for anyone else with money so long as they were paid. Stradiots were thought to be the precursors of light cavalry tactics in Early Modern Europe which later culminated in the form of Chevaux-Leger and Hussar units.