A unit is the basic military group, commanded by a single troop leader. The main function of a unit is fixed as long as any men remain in the unit; if the unit is disbanded then a new type of unit may be recruited. Troops, and thus units, may only be recruited when in your realm's capital. New troop leaders are asked which type of unit they would like their first group to be.
Types of Units
Be aware that choosing the type of unit you recruit is one of a noble's inalienable rights in Battlemaster. Anyone who gives you orders about choosing the type of unit you recruit should be reported to the Titans or Magistrates.
Your unit will contain one, and only one, type of soldier. The only exception to this is that mixed infantry is a combination of infantry and archers. There are five types of units:
The most common type of troops, these are foot soldiers equipped with swords, axes or other close-combat weapons. Infantry are used to protect archers, and are nearly always used when assaulting fortifications. Infantry will make use of siege engines, or will climb fortifications.
Armed with crossbows, composite bows, or slings, all archers use ranged weaponry. While they can be devastating, they do poorly in close combat. The ranges of archer units vary from 1 to 4 combat ranks. Equipment and training will determine their range and accuracy. Weather will also affect archer performance.
Foot soldiers with a ranged attack (such as short bows, spears, or slings) are the usual compromise if a versatile force is required. They can perform adequately at range and in close combat. Their versatility comes with a price, however, as they are not as good at ranged combat as archers, and they are not as good as infantry in close combat. Range varies from 1 to 4.
The most powerful and respected force on the battlefield is the cavalry. However, they are also by far the most expensive, and of little use against fortified targets. The main advantage of cavalry is the charge, meaning that on the first round of close combat, cavalry units can have a devastating impact on the enemy. If the enemy holds his lines, however, the advantage is lost. Another advantage of cavalry is their ability to move faster than any foot unit, so that cavalry units spend less time travelling. This really helps aged troop leaders who gain less hours. Cavalry forces can only be commanded by troop leaders with a prestige of 5 or more. Cavaliers and Heroes can hire more cavalry than normal Knights can.
Elite Troops with special training, such as assassins or explosive specialists fall in this category. They are very expensive and rare, and their power on the battlefield is unsteady. Sometimes there is no opportunity for them to bring their special abilities to bear, then again at other times they decide a battle almost on their own. Special Forces can only be commanded by troop leaders with a prestige of 10 or more. Some special forces have ranged attacks, occasionally as great as range 5.
Strength of a Unit
There are five major things which effect the overall combat strength of a unit: weapons / armor quality, equipment damage, morale, cohesion and training; all shown as percentages. These are displayed on the main status screen in the 'unit' table.
Weapons / Armor Quality
The weapons / armor quality shows the quality of your weapons and armor, respectively. A higher equipment quality % means that weapons can cause more damage, armor can prevent more damage, and the equipment will be able to sustain more damage before it begins to cause problems such as increased travel time or injury during travel. These are the only attributes which cannot be increased or decreased outside of recruiting new troops with different stats into an existing unit. When recruiting more men or a new unit, the equipment quality is listed for each type. Also, when recruiting new archers with different ranges, the range of the unit may be unpredictable.
The equipment damage shows how much damage the unit's equipment has. Equipment is damaged through training, battle, travel or sitting in a region apart from a stronghold or city. Also, equipment can be repaired as a whole or in increments of 10% when in a city. As the equipment damage increases, the probability of troops injuring themselves as they argue over undamaged equipment increases. If the equipment damage reaches 100%, the equipment is destroyed.
Morale is the happiness of the men; clearly happy men fight better than depressed men. The morale of the group will decrease as the unit gets further away from the capital (dropping more rapidly when outside the home realm). Morale is one of the few attributes in the game that varies on the unit; units can have their morale rise and fall on their own 'personal preferences'. Battle or any other kind of work (Police Work, Civil Work, etc) will often have some sort of benefit or penalty to the morale of a unit. Having to wait for their pay beyond a period of time will also cause morale to drop rapidly (conversely, a quick way of increasing morale is to pay your men). When in a city, you can also take your men out on the town for a few hours, which will cost a few gold but result in a high increase in morale. More information is available at the full article.
Cohesion is the ability of your men to work together as a group. Newly recruited units will have low cohesion as they have only just been grouped together; new troops in an existing unit will likewise lower the cohesion. Infighting, such as over the last pieces of undamaged equipment, can lower cohesion. Cohesion increases through training, battle and time. If you hit on an entertainment that your men particularly like, cohesion may rise just because they get to be better friends.
The training % shows how experienced the unit is. If recruiting a brand new unit, the details of the new troops being recruited is shown, the more expensive units usually having superior training. The higher the level of training, the more effective troops will be in battle and less losses you will take.
These five change the total combat strength, which is a numerical representation of the strength of your unit. Combat strength, or CS, is often used as a measure of an army's strength.
Recruiting a Unit
You must recruit your unit at the capital. There, you will have a wide variety of units to choose from, though your realm might not have all of the above types of units available. Each unit comes from one region or another in your realm. You will be able to choose from units with varying levels of training and equipment. Most units will have good morale when they are first recruited and cohesion is something that money cannot buy, it will only come with time.
There are, of course, tradeoffs. Highly trained units cost more to recruit and maintain, but they are usually more cost effective than untrained cannon fodder in the long run.
New recruits are drafted from their region of origin's population once a day (once every full turn). Additional recruits may be drafted by the region commander of the recruits' region of origin in a soft, normal or harsh manner if more recruits are needed, but each level of drafting increasingly drops the recruits' morale.
Also, when recruiting archers, pay close attention to the range of the recruitment center. If your unit is range 4, and you recruit archers from a range 3 unit, then your unit's range will drop to 3, as their ranges are averaged. Likewise, if you have a range 2 unit, and you recruit archers with a range of 4, you might be able to increase the range of your unit to a 3.
Naming a Unit
You name your unit when recruiting initially, and you can also change it later while in your realm. For some tips on choosing a name, see the Unit Naming Guide.