"The waxen line of the bowstrings struck their leather bracers with a light whapping sound ... A man dropped from each end of the attackers' rough formation, with the flat punching smack of arrowheads striking flesh loud enough to hear."
- —S M Stirling, The Sword of the Lady
Although classified as a scout unit, Helwyr (the plural of helwr, "hunter") are closer to a super archer unit, and replace the entire archer line for the Welsh. Helwyr have one bonus that most archers do not have: they can run into cover in forest, meaning that units with little or no range are incapable of touching them, meaning that they are highly dangerous - a group of Helwyr in a forest can hold off hordes of cavalry with little regard, since the armoured Knights and Spearmen most factions are eager to field won't be able to touch them. Strong, fast on foot, with extensive surveillance capabilities and able of penetrating dense forest, Helwyr are a unit perfect for ambush and hit-and-run tactics, making them are by far and large the best "archer" unit a player may have, having added range and rate of fire.
There is one enemy that Helwyr should not face, however, and it is other ranged units. Although Helwyr can hide in forests, their weapons — longbows — have poorer range compared to crossbows and ballistae. While Helwyr can cause lots of problems for your opponents, their main ability — hiding in forests — can cause them to become easily separated from supporting units, meaning that their abilities can aid as much as they can hurt if not used properly. Ergo, as an offensive unit they don't really do well, but on the defence they can be highly effective at harassing and whittling down opponents to a size that your Spearmen and Javelin Cavalry can then manage.
Some factions are capable of recruiting Brigands who are armed and who fight in this fashion in the early game, and also share some of the same abilities as the Helwyr. Brigands aren't capable of holing up in Forests, nor do they have the endurance and spotting abilities of Helwyr, but their ability to be trained quicker for one single resource — Wealth — nonetheless makes them a useful asset for factions which need a fast-training archer component capable of doing the same "commando" abilities as the Helwyr.
- Forest Fire — Helwyr are perfect for ambush and hit-and-run tactics, with added range and rate of fire.
- Brigand —
Although the longbow has always been seen as a distinctively English weapon ever since the Hundred Years' War, all nations in the world at some point have recognised the value of archery, whether in obtaining meat for the pot or in obtaining victory from war.
In Anglocentric circles it is acknowledged that the Welsh introduced the use of the longbow to their Anglo-Norman occupiers, yet some evidence suggests that use of the longbow was not merely confined to Wales, but also prevalent in Brittany until French influence took hold.