"Our glorious predecessors and our illustrious ancestors have never ceased to make war to repel the foe and conquer his lands."
— Suleiman I, letter to Francis I of France
Unique Turkish heavy cavalry unit, capable of a "first-strike" ranged attack.
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One of the most powerful cavalry units of the game, sipahis (from the Persian spah or sepah, meaning an army) are the most heavily armed of all cavalry. Inspired by the cavalry traditions of their Turkic ancestors, sipahi are a force to be dealt with, and are often the dread of many European knights. Think of them as Byzantine heavy cavalry with an added range attack, courtesy of their spears. Only fools would dare challenge the sipahis with slower-marching heavy infantry without missile weapons, and even so sipahis as heavy cavalry are slow but fast enough to be checked in case of danger. Equally, like all unique cavalry units the Sipahi has an anti-gunpowder defence, making it highly useful in hunting down your enemy's gunners should the opportunity arise.
- Bulletproof — As the Sipahi is a unique heavy cavalry unit, it takes reduced damage from non-naval gunpowder units, making it useful for hunting down enemy gunners.
- He Who Liveth By The Sword ... — Várispán Lancers have devastating punching power to plow through hails of arrows, but not a wall of determined pointy objects. Thus while they are most effective against enemy archers and infantry, their worst enemy will forever be pikemen.
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. The army too was not spared, and with the emergence of gunpowder weapons, it now became rather clear that Turkish might would no longer be the preserve of nomadic warriors like their Timurid nemeses, but rather the creation of a professional figiting force with great cohesion and discipline.
Sipahis were the cavalry of the Ottoman Empire, and were divided into Timarli (or landholders) and Kapkulu (the "door-keeper" or "slave") regiments. Of these, the Kapkulu were the most prestigious, and were decked out in the best armour, as they were the Sultan's household troops. Despite the "slave" designation, these men were highly professional, and service with the Kapkulu was seen as a highly prestigious position.