True, a new Mistress now I chase,
The first Foe in the Field;
And with a stronger Faith embrace
A Sword, a Horse, a Shield.
— Richard Lovelace, To Lucasta: Going To The Wars
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In the Imperial Era, a new cavalryman has arrived on the scene for most factions: the medium cavalryman, also known as the Trooper. Troopers represent a balance between the heavy-hitting power of a knight and the cost and speed of a light cavalryman, and are meant as multipurpose cavalry. As such, their relatively cheap cost (they cost timber and food, which are fairly abundant) and their speed make them the ideal unit for cavalry rushing. Use them to swarm knights and other cavalry units, but be aware that they do not function well if deployed against gunpowder infantry and pikes.
- Better Something Than Nothing At All — While not as good as a Man-at-Arms in single combat, Troopers have some added armour and attack so they can be used to knock down enemy units in combat, particularly archers and siege weapons.
- He Who Liveth By The Sword ... — As always, Troopers have sufficient armour and punching power to plow through hails of arrows, but not heavy infantry and certainly not ranks of massed arquebusiers.
Although knightly heavy cavalry would well dominate Europe for three hundred years after the First Crusade, the increasing use of firearms and massed infantry tactics spelt the beginning of the end of horse cavalry. Even so, there was still a pressing need for units which were speedy yet deliver shock force to weaken or annihilate an enemy. Medium cavalry fit this bill especially in the impoverished and chaotic conditions of Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, and were expected to serve in different roles — from scouting and escort duty to delivering a devastating charge whenever needed. The Franco-Burgundian coustillier was one such experiment in the use of medium cavalry, as well as the Serbian Pronijari in the final centuries of the mediaeval kingdom of Serbia.