Retinue Longbowmen/Bronze Dawn

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"Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have recovered you.'"

— John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, The Hobbit

In game[edit]

Lbow elite rkc.png
Retinue Longbowmen — Vital statistics
Retinue Longbowmen

Unique light infantry unit with quicker upgrade time than crossbow, but poorer damage and accuracy; capable of dealing rapid-fire splash damage, and an elevated timber ramp cost.

Prereq: Build time HP LOS Attack Attack speed Movement
Upgrade of Upgrades to
  • Imperial Era;
  • Level 2: Mercenaries Military
129 12 22 2s
Yeomen Archers
Apex unit.
Cost Created from Armour Weapon range Specialty
Base Ramp Pop
Wealth.jpg: 70;
Timber: 60
Wealth.jpg: 2;
Timber: 3
1 Barracks.jpg 1 1–12
  • Strong versus heavy infantry.
  • +1 splash attack radius.

Overall strategy[edit]

Longbows are very difficult weapons to master, but highly deadly if in highly trained hands. And so for this reason, the armies of Han are known for raising picked bands of Retinue Longbowmen to bolster their king's armies. Although outranged by crossbows, and also not very capable of piercing armour, they have a rate of fire that compensates well their lack of firepower, with added robustness compared to Crossbow Infantry.

If sufficiently massed together and protected, Retinue Longbowmen can easily mess up massed formations of infantry and can even pack sufficient punch to down more heavily-armed foes. This is helped further by longbowmen having a medium splash attack radius, meaning that they can shower an area with plenty of arrows, causing a definite psychological if not physical effect on their enemies. Because of their good movement speed, Retinue Longbowmen can be used to outflank even Crossbow Infantry in sufficient numbers, as well as provide a powerful disincentive for attacks by northern-style cavalry.

Unit summary[edit]

  • Rush Crush — Massed infantry can easily overwhelm archers. Bring your own heavy infantry as a "moving wall" to protect them.


While composite bows were often the mainstay of most archer units in China, self bows were more commonplace, used by both commoners and gentry alike for all manner of reasons — be it hunting for the pot, or hunting other human beings. Overall, archers usually tended to fight as charioteers, or much later, from horseback, leaving crossbows to the rank and file.

The small kingdom of Han during the Warring States period however was an exception, and actually maintained a well-equipped contingent of archers, reputedly armoured and equipped with facemasks, along with a group of elite swordsmen. Why this was so, we can only guess. Perhaps because Han was a small state, and one of the poorer ones (it had just established itself following the coup d'étât of the 450s BCE that saw the fall of the duchy of Jin), and without the ability to raise sufficient numbers of horses or revenue, it could not have managed to maintain large numbers of cavalry or chariots (the one ranged cavalry unit that the Chinese until then relied on). Unsurprisingly, surrounded by unfriendly states (particularly Chu and Qin) and with few resources available (her allies Zhao and Wei were busy fighting the Qin, Zhongshan, Qi, Rong and Xianyun), Han clearly had to develop some sort of alternative to alleviate the issue of being underpowered in relation to her neighbours.



Bronze Dawn