"Today they have taken our land, and tomorrow they will take yours."
— Koten, Cuman khan; to Mstislav the Bold of Galich
Unique Mongol ranged cavalry unit with resistance to attrition, substantially stronger than Horse Archers.
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Can attack enemies to the left while moving.
Undoubtedly the best Dark Age military unit, the Steppe Nomad is a very strong unit, akin to the Mounted Rangers that other players have to train later on. Fairly fast and resistant to attrition, Steppe Nomads are also highly capable of launching deadly showers of arrows upon any and all they meet in large groups, posing a menace even to light cavalry. Note, however, that since these units have low constitution you must always keep them out of the range of any other units - a lucky stab from a spear will be just as nasty as a shower of arrows or bolts, so using Steppe Nomads requires a fair bit of skill.
A Mongol player can use these units to good effect, as not only are they very powerful, but they are also fairly cheap. Each stable built will spawn free cavalry archers, which can be used to harass your opponents. If banded with the early red-government patriot, you can even use them to loot enemy forces and civilians for more resources, which can then be plouged back into more troops and improvements. The only weakness here is their cost in Timber: ensure a steady supply of Timber to create extra horse archer-spawning stables and, in later ages, your hardened light cavalry units. A Mongol-HRE alliance is always good: the Mongol player can offer excess food in exchange for the HRE's timber to create their unique units.
- Fast, Furious, Fearsome — Steppe Nomads are fairly fast, resistant to attrition, and also highly capable of launching deadly showers of arrows upon any and all they meet in large groups
- Tartar Sauced — Free cavalry archers can be used to harass your opponents. Create several small groups of Steppe Nomadss, which can be used to raid different parts of your opponents' realm simultaneously.
- Wood, Could & Should — Keep increasing your Timber output to ensure you can keep training or spawning Steppe Nomads to keep up the pressure on opponents.
- The Weakest Link? — Steppe Nomads should never face down foot archers — try to avoid them at all costs.
Central Asia had long been the home of various nomadic tribes based on the practice of animal herding and horses. Humans had inhabited the region ever since the prehistoric period. The land lends itself to breed a people who were used to harsh living conditions, mobility and war — elements that make for an ideal military force. For hundreds of years, Chinese, Indians, and Europeans lived in fear of the fierce Turkic nomads who haunted the steppes who migrated west in search of fodder for their herds, adventure, and booty.