- Nov 13, 2015
I definitely haven't felt like they replace archers in my games, but I know many people have anecdotes one way or the other on these things. What I try to keep in mind when evaluating skirmishers vs. archers is that skirmishers cost more than archers, both in production and in resource. They should win in equal numbers. Knights are another popular power spike, and win hard against many of their contemporaries for the same reasons.
I'm pretty sure skirmishers also aren't out-dueling knights either, but I find a flaw in the mounted melee line is that they just have so fewer tiers than e.g. skirmishers. It's hard to have a "fair" fight between the two, and if they're one of the few counters it'd be no wonder skirmishers feel so uncounterable.
I used to be in the same boat, but I think people who feel this may haven't utilized mounted ranged units to their full potential. Once you find their "grove", for lack of a better word, they start replacing you ranged units, and certainly replace your mounted melee units.
It's similar to ranged and siege units on attack. Yes, ranged units move faster, and get terrain defense, but once you master the unit flood strategy, range units become a niche unit, that usually just get in the way while attacking. I have a couple of them on defense and sometimes use them on fake attacks to draw away defenders, but they make up a small part of my army for most of the game. It doesn't help they get weaker and weaker compared to other units as the game progresses either.
On the highest levels the AI pretty much replaces their entire army in a couple turns, so this may be different while playing them, but on the mid difficulty levels, this certainly is true.
I ask anyone who disagrees, try a couple games without ranged and mounted melee and build mounted range units instead. Once you get used to how they currently work they become half your army. The only hold back is if you run out of horses, which is just down to really bad luck.