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- Common abilities:
- Can Move After Attacking
- Penalty Attacking Cities (33)
- No Defensive Terrain Bonuses
The Horseman is the first true melee cavalry unit, combining speed with a powerful attack. It has 4 MPs like all cavalry, but unlike the Chariot Archer it can use its full movement in rough terrain. The Horseman packs a punch with decent weapons combined with the speed and strength of the horse; it can move after attacking, making it ideal for hit-and-run tactics, and also for attacking badly positioned enemy ranged units, then retreating before the enemy can retaliate.
A civilization that has Horsemen can quickly cut through Barbarian encampments, scores of Warriors, Archers, and even Swordsmen. You can also use the Horseman's mobility and decent combat strength to explore the land and deal with any dangers single-handedly. However, like other mounted units, it can't use natural terrain defenses (although terrain combat experience acquired via promotions is still applicable), and its weapons are quite useless against the solid ramparts of cities. Also, as a mounted unit, the Horseman remains vulnerable to attacks from Spearmen, Pikemen, and the like, so keep it away from these!
The first horses used effectively in battle pulled chariots. The nomadic people of Central Asia were riding horses by 2000 BC, perhaps earlier. While certainly horsemen were employed to carry messengers and scouts, they did not become effective fighting platforms until the development of dual stirrups combined with a solid saddle (to distribute the rider's weight when standing in the stirrups). The earliest effective dual stirrups/saddle combination is found in China and dates from approximately 300 AD, and over the next four centuries it spread across Asia and into Europe.
The earliest fighting horsemen were armed with spears and swords. As technology advanced and bigger and stronger horses were bred, horsemen were equipped with ever more powerful weapons and heavier armor, culminating in the classic knight of the Middle Ages, the king of the medieval battlefield.