— Anna Comnena, The Alexiad, Cap X
The Greek answer to barbarian lancers, the Scolarios is the epitome of Byzantine arms and armour in the Dark Ages. Clad in the finest maille and trained to perfection, the Scolarios has a high hitpoint and armour rating that makes it an ideal defensive unit, worthy of its name (from Latin "scholae") and its task as protectors of the Emperor's person. They have their disadvantages, though. With so much armour, they tend to be slower than most cavalry units and costlier too, as all heavy cavalry do, but are sufficiently fast and hardy enough to take out all but the staunchest and hardiest of foes. Additionally, as all cavalry units go, Scolarii are worthless if facing spearwall grinders, so keep them away from the heavy infantry of the foes at all costs. Scolarii are not merely to be found in the service of the Emperors, but can also be found in the military forces of various client-states too, such as Sicily and Venice.
Because of how different the three factions that recruit Scolarii are, we can say that there are vast differences how they may be used. Given the Byzantines' penchant for horse archery, these units can be used in an agressive manner, especially if screened by Horse Archers. The Horse Archers will keep enemy Javelin Cavalry and heavy infantry from closing in on them, while the Scolarii themselves can be used to defend the Horse Archers if the enemy brings up any foot archers to bear. Venice and Sicily, however, are not so lucky — their near-lack of any unique units in the early game means that tactics-wise, they are fairly predictable opponents, easily countered with heavy infantry and javelin cavalry, where available. Still, the extra armour afforded to the Scolarii means that they will knock down a few more archers than usual before they may be forced to turn back or die.
Until the Early Middle Ages, the use of heavy cavalry was normally confined to the Near East or Northern China, where the nations there often had trouble fighting off nomadic raiders, such as the Arabs or the Tatars, and so mounted troops capable of overcoming more lightly-armed foes was a priority. Byzantine Scolarii were modelled after and inspired by the Iranian savaran cavalry of Sassanian times, and like all cavalry units were expected to act in a shock role against the opponent. Pre-11th century emperors often favoured teaming up heavy lancers with heavy horse archers. The theory was that the heavy horse archers could weaken the enemy heavy infantry, creating gaps that could be exploited by cataphract cavalry, which in turn would support the horse archers as well.
- Unique heavy cavalry unit for the Byzantines, tougher than normal Lancers.
- Hardboiled Leather — With the same hitpoints and armour as that of an Castle Age Knight, players can use these units more aggressively since their added armour and hitpoints allow them to absorb more damage
- Shiny Happy People Holding Spears — Like all heavy cavalrymen, the Scolarios is fairly slow, but still fast enough to chase and hunt down lightly-armed infantry, and also are the bane of light or medium cavalry. Its main weakness is in being swarmed — or being force-fed into a grinder of spearwalls, such as those at Kortrijk.