Foe unvanquished, I won't perish in the field;
I'll be born again, to take up the halberd seven more times.

— Kuribayashi Tadamichi, Japanese WW2 general

Saburai Cavalry: Vital statistics

Unit type

Heavy cavalry

Built/trained at

Nobles' court

Damage and weapon type

  • Very strong; polearms
  • Bonus damage against light units


  • High
  • Defensive bonus against gunpowder infantry

Production cost

  • Pop cost: 1
  • Resource cost: 90Ore; 80Coin
  • Ramp cost: 2Ore; 2Coin


  • Melee
  • Low LOS

Unit move and creation speed

  • Unit movement speed: Quite fast
  • Creation speed: Quite slow

Unit HP


Technological requirements

Factions available


Saburai Cavalry are the epitome of Japanese feudal society at work. Riding the best horses and wielding long polearms, these units serve as heavy cavalry and are better than Knights, in that they are faster, hit harder, and thanks to their polearms can deal damage to multiple enemies, making them dangerous even to enemy Spear Sergeants. Plus, because these men are now expected to be cultured individuals learned in their materiel, Japanese players will note that these units are easier to research than normal. Unlike most Europeans and Muslims who have to wait until the Imperial Era (and then research Centralisation) Japanese Saburai Cavalry only require Imperial Mandate (as do all unique Japanese units), so this means one less technological stumbling block for Japan to get over.

Despite this glowing reputation, Saburai however are not invincible. The first is that although they are considered as heavy cavalry, they can be easily destroyed by Mongol cavalry (which places an emphasis on quantity versus quality). Otherwise, all it takes is for a Christian power to research Centralisation, and the days of Saburai Cavalry as a force to be reckoned with are numbered, once the Europeans muster pikes and bills to the fore. Worse would be if the Japanese were facing European factions specialised in heavy cavalry (such as the Papal States or France), for the very powerful bonuses enjoyed by these units will allow them to macerate any Japanese cavalry force once they are made available. Next, as all heavy cavalry units go, they can be easily knocked down by dedicated javelin units: the Iberian jinetes as well as the more archaic Dailamiyan excel well at this regard.

Another problem with Saburai Cavalry is the location where they may be trained — they can only be created at the Nobles' Court, meaning that in the late game, Japan will most likely be short on high-quality cavalry due to this bottleneck.  Still, Saburai Cavalry should prove their worth against other enemies, such as Mongolia or China, especially if they are foolish enough to rely solely on gunpowder as a weapon — Saburai Cavalry are adept at knocking out arquebusiers and cannon with their favourite weapons — naginata and yari spears. Furthermore, the addition of Saburai Cavalry to your armies does not exclude the use of the cheaper but weaker Lancer cavalry units, so you have plenty of choice as regards to your strategy: either cheap but mediocre melee cavalry, or a powerful but costly horse component to carry the day.

For an island nation with scarce resources, the history of horses in Japan is a fascinating one. Unlike the large and stocky breeds common to Europeans and Middle Easterners, the horses of Asia were originally small and wiry animals more akin to ponies than full-sized destriers. This, however, did not stop the Japanese from using them for military duty, and numerous artifacts from the Yamato period and later attest to the use of cavalry in warfare. Japanese military culture initially placed emphasis on cavalry archery, but the introduction of better bloodlines by European visitors soon meant that larger and sturdier mounts were now available and by the beginning of the 17th century, melee cavalry became the dominant form of cavalry in Japanese armies.

Unit summaryEdit

  • Japanese unique heavy cavalry unit with a trample attack, available only from the Nobles' Court.
  • Heavy Cavalry — As advanced cavalry units, Saburai Cavalry can also deal trample damage, thanks to their mastery of polearm weapons.
  • MANdate — Saburai Cavalry require only Imperial Mandate and five levels of Military research to be unlocked, so the Japanese are capable of fielding Imperial Era-strength cavalry even before European factions do.
  • Exclusive Offer — Saburai Cavalry can only be obtained from the Nobles' Court, meaning that in the Imperial Era, Japan will most likely be short on high-quality cavalry due to this bottleneck, so do not wholly rely on them — no one Japanese unit can win the game for you.
  • Bulletproof — Like all unique cavalry units Saburai Cavalry receive less damage from incoming enemy fire and should help you well in neutralising gunpowder units.

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