"One does not use good iron to make nails, nor good men to make soldiers."
— Chinese saying
The Conscript Swordsman continues the tradition of fulfilling the need for a "weak, but cheap cannon fodder unit." With marginally better tactical statistics than a suicide soldier, the conscript swordsman however still retains its place as a weaker, lighter swordsman. However, his better stats now means that unlike the suicide soldiers' near-to-pathetic ability to cause damage to armoured foes and buildings, the conscript swordsman is now capable of wreaking havoc on poorly-defended areas, and killing peasant levymen as opposed to merely bullying them. Nevertheless, these units are still easily taken apart by cavalry, so never ever try to use them on their own. While it is true that an early Conscript rush could easily destroy a single foe, it may be another different scenario if you are facing more than one enemy with different factions.
As with the suicide soldier, however, Conscript Swordsmen cannot be fully relied upon for victory. It will be up to you — whether playing as the Chinese or Mongols — to decide on what units to use. While the Chinese player will normally begin phasing them out in favour of more powerful Fire Lancers and Divine Machinists, Conscript Swordsmen and their upgrade, the Armoured Militia, will be indispensable for the Mongols, since they now are more effective at swarming static targets, such as buildings and gunpowder units. After all, Genghis Khan did not rely solely on the speed and eye of his cavalry archers, but chose to lead his opponents on before surrounding them and crushing them with vastly superior numbers. This method, known as the kharash, was often used by the Mongols, relying on prisoners and newly subjugated peoples as a form of a human shield.
- Eastern infantry, cheaper but weaker than normal Swordsmen.
- Numbers Maketh Not The Man — Conscript Swordsmen aren't meant to function as a single component, but as a supporting unit for other units.
- Kharash Quandary — Although Mongolia can recruit these units, they are very weak and so a Mongol player should carefully weigh the pros and cons of producing these units for combat — Mongolia's strength lies in its cavalry, not infantry.
Conscript Swordsmen are the favourite unit of the Khitan rebels, formerly Turkic nomads turned Sinicised agriculturalists, and are available from the Dark Age despite being classified as a Castle Age unit. What this means is that the Khitan have a light infantry unit that is exceedingly cheap, making them highly dangerous against Asian factions. Unless countered properly, Khitan armies will pose a big problem for you in the campaign, given their penchant for combining Chinese-style tactics with the nomadic knack for strafing attacks with light cavalry.