"Ready is the cruel cross-bow, / String, and shaft, and ends are finished, / Beautiful the bow and mighty, / Surely cost it not a trifle..."
— Elias Lönröt, Kalevala cycle, trans Crawford
Medium cavalry unit armed with a slow-firing but powerful crossbow. Slower than most other cavalry units, but endowed with limited armour and immense range.
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Can attack units whilst pursuing.
Over the passage of time, new advances in mechanical technology have yielded a new unit: the Mounted Cranequinier. Armed with a slow-firing but powerful crossbow, Mounted Cranequiniers have the best range for any ranged cavalry unit, but unlike normal crossbows and arbalests, they have to carry substantially smaller weapons, thus hampering their range and rate of fire, and they are also not capable of attacking while moving. Mounted Cranequiniers, however, are better armoured and have more hitpoints than usual, giving them some time to load their crossbows in the face of withering fire. Although they will not fare well if confronted by crossbowmen, foot archers or mounted bowmen, such as the elite Palace Gamekeeper cavalry, their good range, sturdiness and speed allows them to be used as escorts for heavy cavalry. Use your heavy cavalry to screen them from light melee and missile units, then use the Mounted Cranequins to back up your charge. Not everyone can afford them, though - each Mounted Cranequinier costs around the same as a newly-fledged knight, in no small part due to the cost of their weapons, and Centralisation is also required to muster them.
- Miniaturisation — Unlike normal crossbows and arbalests, the weapon of a Mounted Cranequinier is smaller, resulting in limited range and rate of fire, but this is made up for the increased damage they can deal, compared to normal javelin cavalry.
- The added hitpoints and armour of Mounted Cranqeuiniers allows them to reload in the heat of battle, but don't expose them to more harm than what is necessary - they can be downed by better missile units and heavy cavalry.
- Because of the intricacies in preparing their weapons and armour, Mounted Cranequiniers cost around the same as a knight, but do not have a ramp cost in metal but instead require Centralisation to be produced.
The evidence for the use of crossbows from horseback is fairly scanty, but there is some evidence for this practice, dating from as early as the Classical Period in ancient Rome and China. During the Mediaeval Era, it was thought that all-metal devices would be used from horseback, although these weapons would be smaller than what infantry would have been acquainted with, and would so be limited in their draw force. Eventually, however, the introduction of the pistol, and later on, the dragon carbine would replace the crossbow as a cavalry weapon.