|“When the men of the city of Zara saw the ships and the great squadrons coming, then were they sore afraid; and they caused the gates of the city to be shut, and they armed themselves as best they could, as if to defend themselves.”|
— Robert de Clery, On the Conquest of Constantinople, Ch 14
Skirmisher Levies are only marginally better than peasant levies, with one regard: they have a ranged albeit inaccurate attack, whose rate of fire leaves much to be desired against more professional ranged units. Even Asian suicide soldiers will have a field day against these fellows once they get their hands on them, which is not very long once they encounter each other. Against buildings which normally have an armour bonus, skirmisher levies are thoroughly hopeless and thus cannot be relied upon on offence unless escorted by other stronger units. Still, unlike the more parochial Peasant Levy, Skirmisher Levies can be used to accompany troops on expeditions, making them far more useful as a component of your armies.
That said, some factions can and will have benefits from using skirmisher levy-types as active combat units, however. For instance, the Longbow levy raised by England and Wales, armed with longbows, has a rate of fire that makes it formidable in large numbers and can even be ordered to attack. Despite this, however, perhaps mention must be given to the Byzantine Akritae. With no minimum range, good armour and tactical parameters, Akritae are the ultimate skirmisher levy unit, able to lay waste to enemy infantry, especially archers. Their only problem is that they cost more, but a Byzantine player can spawn 1 Akritae whenever he or she constructs a new Town Watch Guild, and 2 whenever a Magistracy is built instead.
- Ready for War — Unlike Peasant Levies, Skirmisher Levies can be used to escort your troops on campaign.
- Untrained — The ranged attacks of Skirmisher Levies will often go wild, making them very vulnerable in frontal action.
- Longbow Levy raised by England and Wales, armed with longbows have improved rates of fire and accuracy.
- Akritae, available to Byzantium and Armenia, cost more, but are even more effective at whatever they do.
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Spearmen of European factions.
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Spearmen of Middle Eastern factions.
Law enforcement in the Mediaeval Era was very much ramshackle at best. In some areas like China, Byzantium and the Middle East a picked body of officers were actually established to oversee the administration of justice and punishment; elsewhere, armed posses or militia were used. These were fulltime, semi-professional armed men who were supposed to be ready for combat at all times, even in peace. The most famous of these institutions was the Anglo-Saxon fyrd, which was first introduced by Alfred the Great, and which continued to survive in some form or the other well throughout the Mediaeval Era.