O Turks! o Turks all!
Learn to love your freedom with your heart
And scatter ye all the enemies of your lands!
— Janissary marching song
Kapkulu marksmen are the musket-bearing guardsmen responsible for the security of the Sublime Porte. Unlike the matchlock-bearing arquebusiers of Turkey's neighbours, Ottoman kapkulu marksmen have a more modern weapon: the wheel-lock musket. This weapon is capable of a better rate of fire and greater reach and thus is understandably the greatest fear of many units, especially slow-moving infantry.
Despite their seeming superiority over other factions' gunpowder infantry, Kapkulu marksmen are not always a solid bet to base the might of the Turks upon, because while they are indeed the best gunpowder infantry unit of the game, the Turkish player will often have problems creating them, because their cost structure is very much the same as any other gunpowder unit. Thus, to create the marksmen will require extensive food resources, at which the Turkish player is highly disadvantaged. It will be rare for the Turks to obtain extensive food supplies, unless they are being fed by factions with a food advantage, such as the Saracens or the Moors. To use food to create them will draw food away from other units, such as pikemen which are vital towards warding off cavalry. An army consisting mostly of marksmen will perform well against most other infantry armies, but will be utterly smashed if it encounters heavy cavalry, such as those used by the Byzantines, or even the cavalry archers of the Mongols.
If you are facing these troops, the best thing to do isn't to attack them directly, especially with melee infantry, but to either spam them with cheaper ranged infantry, or bring heavy weapons to bear such as Mangonels or Culverins. If you are playing as one of the Christian factions, a good charge with either Votchinik Cavalry or Men-at-Arms can do the trick, since they are somewhat resistant to shot. All told, the best use for Kapýkulu Marksmen still remains as a counter-missile unit, especially if deployed against non-gunpowder missile units.
- Because the Turks cannot gather food as efficiently as others, it is not advisable to create them early in the game unless ample resources are available. The Turks are better off training cavalry instead.
- Like all gunpowder units, Kapkulu Marksmen are at a disadvantage if facing enenmy unique cavalry units of the Imperial Era.
By the 15th century, the Turkish sultans of Anatolia now represented the greatest of all Islamic powers. Chief to this was their abandonment of their nomadic lifestyles, and the adoption of an organised bureaucracy that penetrated the entire weft and woof of the fabric of Turkish society. Just as how the Turks themseves were adopted by the Arabs as slaves, they in turn began to adopt foreign slaves and prisoners as troops. A foreigner, isolated from the blood feuds and scheming that dominated politics in early modern Islamic society, made a better choice compared with natives for the Sultan's own attendants, as his own safety depended on his loyalty to his master. These men would eventually evolve into the sultan's own personal troops as the kapkulu (or "doorkeepers") regiments, and formed the nucleus of the redoubtable yeniçeri or janissary ocaks (Turkish word for regiment) of later centuries.