[T]hou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army.
— Ezekiel 38:15
Heavy cavalry, with powerful attack, exceptional armour, but far more limited mobility compared to more agile medium cavalry or horse archers.
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Easily one of the most fearsome units in the game, Lancers pack quite a punch. Armed with a lance, and encased from head to toe in the finest armour of the day, lancers have an immense attack as well as a hitpoints score which is second to none other than spearmen. They have their disadvantages, though. With so much armour, they tend to be slower than most cavalry units, but are sufficiently fast and hardy enough to take out all but the staunchest and hardiest of foes.
Thus, the best use for Lancers is as a shock component to break enemy units, particularly light and medium infantry. Also of note is that their speed also helps them as a rapid response team to be used to screen your flanks from other cavalry units. However, like many cavalry units, they are susceptible to dedicated anti-cavalry units such as Spearmen, and some others such as gunpowder infantry. Remember this should you expect your battles to involve heavy cavalry, whether on your side — or that of your foes'.
- Shock and Awe— Heavy 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.
- Shiny Happy People Holding Spears —The main weakness of the Lancer is in being swarmed — or being force-fed into a grinder of spearwalls, such as those at Kontrijk.
- Scolarios — Byzantine heavy cavalry is known for its armour which is superior to normal lancers. This type of heavy cavalry is also available to factions who historically had interests in the Adriatic and Mainland Greece, such as Venice and and Serbia.
- Jarl Cavalry — The Danes have recently learnt the benefits of heavy cavalry, and their war-leaders now often ride to battle. Because of the fracticious nature of Danish politics, some of these have become swords for hire, serving whichever faction has their interests at heart...
- Scara Cavalry — Frankish nobles, often embroiled in petty wars and court intrigues, often make very good heavy cavalrymen. The French have access to the Gallic charger, which is basically a lancer, with better attack and movement speed. Needless to say, the French crown does not necessarily have complete monopoly on these fighting men's skills...
- Druzhinnik — A Druzhinnik is a heavy cavalryman which replaces the Lancer for Poland and Russia, its signature features being its cost structure which is heavy on metal but light on wealth, and a small mobility bonus.
In the Early Middle Ages, the use of heavy cavalry was normally confined to the Near East or Northern China, where the nations there often had trouble fighting off nomadic raiders, such as the Arabs or the Tatars, and so mounted troops capable of overcoming more lightly-armed foes was a priority. As for Europe, shield and spear remained the arms of choice especially in the West, but cavalry, although usually confided in by Russians or Turkic tribes in the plains of eastern Europe, was soon found to be of tactical worth as well. A man on horseback with a spear moves faster than one on foot, making him far more useful. Even the Viking kingdoms soon learnt to use cavalry to their advantage, with their Gallicised Norman descendents soon learning to transport cavalry by ship to where they were needed. It was said that the flexibility granted by Norman cavalry helped Duke William at Hastings in 1066.
The cost of raising horse and rider and then arming them however was problematic to the extreme in the mostly agrarian societies of Dark Age Europe, and so it was that only people of means could furnish cavalry units to fight for their kings, meaning the ruling aristocracy (and in more modern times, yeomen as well). These aristocrats were often landowners and in good time evolved into the warrior known to us as the knight, and were often found in the most warlike of societies.