And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
— Revelation, 6:2
Weak but fairly fast and mobile unit, capable of a weak, mid-ranged missile attack.
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The Palace Gamekeeper is the best horse archer available to most factions which invest in cavalry archers. Although weak and poorly armoured and with far more mediocre range than a foot arbalest, these units are fast and hard hitting enough to decimate melee infantry and javelin cavalry in the field. These units are thus the ideal skirmishing unit, meant to be deployed in the preliminary stages of a battle, or to function as flankers assisting a larger and slower body of heavy troops. Palace Gamekeepers too are fast and light enough to be used on a razzia, or a border raid, picking off civilians and trade caravans wherever they meet them. For this reason, they are often employed by Asians and Muslims, and those in direct contact with these cultures, such as the Russians, the Armenians, and the Byzantines. In Europe, the Poles, Hungarians and the Burgundians are sufficiently impressed with the abilities of cavalry archers to the extent that they are the only true Catholics to employ them — most other factions prefer to employ javelin cavalry, a unit with poorer reach and rate of fire, but a devastating attack.
However, not all factions have the same kind of unit. The Saracens put their faith in dromedary archers, which are as strong as mainstream cavalry archers, but sacrifice armour in exchange for higher resistance to attrition, making them dangerous raiders. The Mongol Khorchin cavalry, although coming into the game an age earlier, is still by far the best horse archer, having a powerful range, rate of fire and attack that lays low any nearby infantry.
- Swift of Speed, Sure of Sight — Because they have the best range, rate of fire and speed for any ranged cavalry unit, Palace Gamekeepers are highly versatile and fairly lethal if used in sufficient numbers.
- The Weakest Link? — Note, however, that since these units have low constitution you must always keep them out of the range of any other units — being caught by archers must be avoided, and being surrounded by enemy melee units is a no-no.
- Dromedary Jund — In contrast to other factions, the Saracens instead raise Dromedary Jund which are tougher but slower than normal Palace Gamekeepers.
Archery was often sneered at in mediaeval Europe as it was often seen as a coward's way of doing war, but in the East it was often considered a vital part of a warrior's training. Archery had a place of honour for several reasons: it took practice to perfect, and was a nobleman's pastime in Asia, while in the desert sends of Arabia and the barren peaks of the Himalayas and the Caucasus, it was a way of life for hunters. The bow was thus the weapon of nobles on hunting expeditions, and it is thus unsurprising that sometimes the best cavalry archers were mounted rangers accompanying the sovereign on hunts, especially in lands that received Turkish influence such as in China and the Middle East. During the Elizabethan era in England, horse archery was also practised by the nobility, albeit normally by the weak and the infirm — old English practice still advocated the use of foot archery, supported by the all-new harquebus.