The Empress's troops picked out of their topknots some prepared bowstrings, stretched their bows again, [...] and so smote the enemy.
— The Kojiki
The first of Japan's unique cavalry units, Saburai Archers are heavy cavalry archers on horseback which have a vast minimum range but a very far-firing ranged attack to make up for it. This means that they can take out almost any unit that enters their range with deadly pinprick accuracy, making them highly specialised for attacking fortifications and buildings, and even more deadly at taking out even other cavalry archers. Saburai Archers are the only post-Dark Age unit that do not need to be researched, so once a Nobles' Court is constructed you can pretty much begin recruiting Saburai Archers to replace your regular Horse Archers right away.
They, however, are fairly costly, slower than normal cavalry archers as they require a great time to prepare their shots, making them vulnerable to counter-archery fire, although in a pinch they can easily disable European Mounted Cranequiniers. Saburai Archers, given their consummat skill with bows, can also be used to suppress any Tower, Keeps or Bastion, which make them an ideal asset in siege-deficient Japan.
Unlike the more flexible but weaker Mongol archers, Saburai Archers cannot respond well against infantry, so you need to screen these men at all times. Nevertheless, Saburai Archers are fast enough to keep pace with Saburai Cavalry by the time you reach the Imperial Era, so a cavalry force consisting of melee heavy cavalry accompanied by far-firing cavalry archers should be pretty much available to you. Saburai, with their far range, can be used to pick off heavy infantry in sufficient numbers, which can then be exploited by a charge of melee cavalry — or help a body of infantry and cavalry take a town without fear of Towers since they have substantial bonuses against Towers.
The earliest forms of Samurai were the Saburai, mounted cavalry fighters from regional areas of Japan considered little more than barbarians by the court and Emperor they were hired to protect. There is some evidence they were schooled, but the courts writings of early times express little more than disdain. The title "Saburai'" translates as "those who serve", and in general it is thought that it was not meant in a complimentary manner.
- Unique medium cavalry archer unit, which has a vast minimum range but a very far-firing ranged attack and defence bonus versus enemy Towers , Keeps and Bastions .
- Tower Overpowered — Although being very vulnerable to fast-marching infantry and melee units, Saburai Archers are ideal for attacking Towers, as well as picking off low-HP targets from afar.
- Despite their strengths Saburai Archers are fairly costly, slower than normal cavalry archers as they require a great time to prepare their shots, making them vulnerable to counter-archery fire, although in a pinch they can easily disable European Mounted Cranequiniers.
- Saburai Archers cannot respond well against light infantry, so you need to screen these men at all times, either with cheaper but vastly inferior Horse Archers or infantry of your own.
- In the Imperial Era, use Saburai Cavalry to escort and complement your Saburai Archers.