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Civ 7 - Unique Units top 7 choices

Because I believe the Byzantines should at least get the Dromons first. Second, I would give them the Varangian Guard.
If they were to be a UU give them to the Sarmatians.

You are right in that they weren't used by everyone. But if they were used by more than two, maybe three different groups of people, I don't think that should make them a unique unit to one particular civilization.

I mean if we can have Knights as a general unit, and they were less widespread than Cataphracts, I don't see why Cataphracts couldn't just be an upgrade from them? This is assuming that Knights would also use similar resources such as horses/iron, unless we radically change the way units are produced.
Knights, however, were a general unit: armored men with lances on horseback (and occasionally adding bows as well) were a feature of European, central Asian, Middle Eastern, North African, and Tang China armies from the late Classical to the Medieval or Renaissance with various types of armor and degrees of 'professionalism' and Unit training. There's a reason besides familiarity that they have been a standard unit since Civ 2 (or before: I never played the original Civ) and have spawned a bunch of replacement Uniques from Civs all over Eurasia.​
I believe, though, that Cataphracts fall Inbetween: too general to be Unique to a single Civ, but not general enough to be a 'standard' unit. I believe this puts them potentially into an entirely new 'class' of units, and that's another thing that could possibly be explored: units that require something Special to be acquired and built so that they aren't general, but are also not limited to a single Civ. And other examples of such (potential) units: Dreadnaught Battleships and Medium Tanks (Civ's 'Tank' unit) were both only designed and built in their respective starting Eras by only about 10% of the countries in the world, because they both required a combination of massive Industrial Production and multi-line research and development that simply were not generally available to everybody thsat wanted them (Note the numbers of countries that 'bought' American or British medium tanks rather than develop their own in the 1950s and early 1960s).​
In other words, Cataphracts are not necessarily completely Unique, but could be an early example of a type of Unit that requires either a peculiar combination of circumstances or a serious commitment to acquire.​
 
Knights, however, were a general unit: armored men with lances on horseback (and occasionally adding bows as well) were a feature of European, central Asian, Middle Eastern, North African, and Tang China armies from the late Classical to the Medieval or Renaissance with various types of armor and degrees of 'professionalism' and Unit training. There's a reason besides familiarity that they have been a standard unit since Civ 2 (or before: I never played the original Civ) and have spawned a bunch of replacement Uniques from Civs all over Eurasia.
But the idea of "cataphracts" were indeed widespread throughout all those places that you mentioned as well, right? Of course, when I was talking about Knights I mainly meant the feudal lords located in Europe. The closest thing outside of Europe that I can think of is the Samurai of Japan.
I thought that the armored men from those places, such as Tang China in the late Classical, were considered cataphracts that eventually evolved into "knights".
I believe, though, that Cataphracts fall Inbetween: too general to be Unique to a single Civ, but not general enough to be a 'standard' unit. I believe this puts them potentially into an entirely new 'class' of units, and that's another thing that could possibly be explored: units that require something Special to be acquired and built so that they aren't general, but are also not limited to a single Civ. And other examples of such (potential) units: Dreadnaught Battleships and Medium Tanks (Civ's 'Tank' unit) were both only designed and built in their respective starting Eras by only about 10% of the countries in the world, because they both required a combination of massive Industrial Production and multi-line research and development that simply were not generally available to everybody thsat wanted them (Note the numbers of countries that 'bought' American or British medium tanks rather than develop their own in the 1950s and early 1960s).
I like that idea too. I'm not sure that Cataphracts need to be included in that. If so, I'd make them recruitable from nomadic tribes, but I'd much rather horse archers fill that role, at least.
 
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Knights as a general unit is an incredibly annoying hornet nest, because the term really took on two intertwined meaning - the armored, lance-equipped heavy cavalry and the warrior-noble retainers of the feudal system.

Personally I struggle to separate those two meanings, so seeing knights as a generic unit for every civilization does, in fact, strike me as weird. (And I would consider the proliferation of Knight UU to be as much a sign of "Actually, these guys didn't have knights but we're going to use the slot for their UU so it's fine" as it is a sign of how widespread knights were).

Lancer is probably the closest term for a generic lance-armed form of cavalry, but a)the term is more generally used for lightly armored cavalry and b)more associated with later light cavalry than medieval heavy cavalry (And, of course, the cataphract is itself an example of an armored lance-armed late classical to medieval cavalry, because nothing is ever simple). .
 
Knights as a general unit is an incredibly annoying hornet nest, because the term really took on two intertwined meaning - the armored, lance-equipped heavy cavalry and the warrior-noble retainers of the feudal system.

Personally I struggle to separate those two meanings, so seeing knights as a generic unit for every civilization does, in fact, strike me as weird. (And I would consider the proliferation of Knight UU to be as much a sign of "Actually, these guys didn't have knights but we're going to use the slot for their UU so it's fine" as it is a sign of how widespread knights were).

Lancer is probably the closest term for a generic lance-armed form of cavalry, but a)the term is more generally used for lightly armored cavalry and b)more associated with later light cavalry than medieval heavy cavalry (And, of course, the cataphract is itself an example of an armored lance-armed late classical to medieval cavalry, because nothing is ever simple). .
One possibility is to make the Knight specifically a Social Policy/Civic unit rather than a 'traditional' Tech/Resource-derived unit.

Example:

The Knight requires a Warhorse and Iron-working.
But if you ONLY have the 'Tech/Resource' requirements, you can build Heavy Cavalry - like the Roman Equites, or Lombard, Gothic, Tang armored horsemen. You will have to support them with expensive Maintenance.

IF you also adopt Feudalism (which, like many Social/Civic developments, should have a bunch of other different impacts, including economic, developmental, trade, political/government-type, etc) then you can acquire Knights, as follows:

You get access to the Castle Improvement. Each Castle you build removes all bonuses from the tile it's built on: you get no Food, Production, or Gold from the tile. You can get raw materials if the deposit is on the tile and 'developed' by the appropriate infrastructure, but you get no other benefit from the tile - all of that is going to support the local Feudal Lord.

When you declare war or have war declared on you, each Castle produces a Knight Unit: armored lancer on horseback. You do not have to pay any maintenance for these units, but at the end of the war they all 'go home' and disappear. They cannot be given any Promotions, but any combat benefits they might receive from Great Generals are increased (they respond well to Charismatic Leadership).

Note that some form of 'feudalism', in the form of Aristocrats expected to provide Warriors to serve the King, existed in Achaemenid and later Persian states, Tang China, and many if not most of the 'tribal' states like the central Asian pastorals, Germanic, Gallic, Celtic and other tribal or semi-tribal or Immediately Post-Tribal groups. Exactly how they perceived 'aristocrats' and their responsibilities/privileges is another Historical Hornet's Nest, though: I think we'd be better off Keeping It Simple with a single Feudal Retainer/Free Warrior Unit mechanic and leave any variations to Civ-specific Uniques if we feel we have to have them.
 
The castle mechanism you're outlining here, while it might require some balance and gameplay tweaking, is one I could definitely see making for interesting gameplay. I would like that, I think.

It's also probably the beginning of a design toward making decentralized civilizations more distinct in game, probably worth further exploration.
 
do you have better names for it. for 'heavy' variants of classical cavalry between chariots and knights?
Since any cavalry /mounted force that had more expensive equipment (armor, long swords, dexpensively-trained and maintained horses) was either recruited from or derived from the aristocracy/wealthy members of the society (the Atheian/Greek 'Knights', the Roman Equestrian Class, etc) my best possibility would be to call them Noble Horsemen.

That gives us a potential set of Mounted Lines:

Light Mounted:
Scout Rider - the initial man on a horse with no armor, equipment or really effective weapons
Light Chariot - with archers primarily
Horseman - light cavalry with javelin, possibly sword and shield
(Horse Archer) - a 'Barbarian' or pastoral Group unit only.
Jinette/Courser - Medieval light cavalry
Dragoon - Renaissance/Industrial 'light' cavalry
Armored Car - Modern fast ground reconnaissance
Helicopter - late 20th century reconnaissance
UAV

Heavy Mounted:
Heavy Chariot - Hititte/Chinese type with armored crew, spears, javelins, (NOTE: became available a good 1000 - 1500 years earlier than the light chariot)
Noble Horseman - as discussed
(Cataphract) - a specialized Heavy Unit, possibly only from or influenced by pastoral/Barbarian source
Heavy Cavalry/Knight - which may be 2 different units, depending on how you get them
Cuirassier - post-Medieval armored cavalry
Cavalry - Industrial 'heavy' or Line cavalry: last attempt to keep horses on the battlefield
Medium Tank - 1930s, late Modern development
Main Battle Tank - early 1960s development
UAV

Of course, in addition to this list of 'standard' units (which probably contains more distinct unit types than the game needs) there are a host of Unique types: Numidian light horsemen, Prodromoi lancers, Clibanarii, Mamluks, Cossacks, Ligtht Lancers, Hussars, etc. not even counting really 'exotic' mounted units like camel and elephant-riders.
 
The castle mechanism you're outlining here, while it might require some balance and gameplay tweaking, is one I could definitely see making for interesting gameplay. I would like that, I think.
The Vampire castle from SS already kind of does that, as in take the yields from surrounding tiles.
I'd love them to take that idea for civs that choose to adopt Feudalism.
 
The castle mechanism you're outlining here, while it might require some balance and gameplay tweaking, is one I could definitely see making for interesting gameplay. I would like that, I think.

It's also probably the beginning of a design toward making decentralized civilizations more distinct in game, probably worth further exploration.
As a military historian, I think a major Gap in Civ's portrayal of all things military is the disconnect between the types of societies and the military forces they field. The political, social, civic, and economic attributes of a Civ should have a major, even defining effect on the military it forms and fields, and this aspect has been largely ignored in game design.

This does not mean necessarily that everybody gets Less Military: as the Castle/Knight example shows, it's possible to get a lot of Really Cheap but effective military units with this kind of design, but all those Castles should also come with other effects on the entire society that the gamer will also have to deal with.

As stated, it's at least worth exploring.
 
As a military historian, I think a major Gap in Civ's portrayal of all things military is the disconnect between the types of societies and the military forces they field. The political, social, civic, and economic attributes of a Civ should have a major, even defining effect on the military it forms and fields, and this aspect has been largely ignored in game design.

This does not mean necessarily that everybody gets Less Military: as the Castle/Knight example shows, it's possible to get a lot of Really Cheap but effective military units with this kind of design, but all those Castles should also come with other effects on the entire society that the gamer will also have to deal with.

As stated, it's at least worth exploring.
What about if the Castle itself loses the yields during wartime, to represent all the people that had to go off and leave to fight alongside their lord and knights?
 
What about if the Castle itself loses the yields during wartime, to represent all the people that had to go off and leave to fight alongside their lord and knights?
Normally there was a very specific number that could be 'called up' with the Knights. The usual term was a 'Lance', which comprised the Knight, his squire(s), and a number of servants that could be armed with bows or other weapons. The totals rarely were more than 6 - 12 all told and there was, as far as I know, no requirement that most of the non-squires or knights have armor, horses, or any training. The whole idea was to keep from losing the output of the Castle/fief so that the Knight's ability to fght for the king wasn't compromised. Of course, if the Castle was taken by the enemy (and of course, it should have a Fort-like defensive capability: among other things, require an effort to take it and until it is taken the enemy cannot pillage anything in that tile) then the Knight either has to have his Maintenance paid by the state or he goes home (disappears).

In game terms, then, I would allow any 'other' military personnel to be raised from the Castle only in Extreme Situations, if at all. On the other hand, the State (you, da gamer) can always elect to start paying Maintenance on the Knight(s), turning them into Mercenaries which can be kept 'in play' permanently (even after the war ends) independently of the Castles, and so given Promotions and Upgrades - but Maintenance would not be cheap. There's a reason post-feudal Mercenary Knights became common along with Bombards about the time the great Banking Families also became prominent: lots of kings and great nobles had to borrow to the hilt to pay for the mercenaries and espensive cast guns and gunpowder!

Note also, that once the Castles are not supporting feudal Knights - either because they've all become Mercenaries or you change the Social Policies of your Civ, the Castles can either become Chateaus or Romantic Ruins dotting the countryside, sources of Culture and/or Tourism later.
 
I'd advise against putting too much detail in the system. "You build an improvement, which prevent the tile from generating output, but provides you with a powerful unit at no maintenance cost." is a simple, easy to work mechanism. Adding additional system to represent various eventualities may be taking it a little further than is reasonable. Even "automatically generated when war start" may be a little too limiting gameplay-wise (though realistic).

Calling the improvement an Estate instead of a Castle may open the possibility to have it have different effects associated with different governments/civics, representing land set aside for the benefit of certain members of the elite ; which elite and to what effect depending on which civics you are running.
 
Very good suggestions!

'Estate' has the advantage of more appropriately describing the country near-palaces of the Persian and Tang Chinese, so makes the mechanic less Euro-centric.

Options like being able to call up Knights without a war or get other types of units from the feudal retainers might be 'realistic', but except for some possible Civ-Specific Unique abilities, should probably be avoided.
 
In real life weren't feudal knights partly a function of the king not being able to afford a standing army?

Knights could be a unit like Warrior Monks that is available to those with a religion. Make those two units available to all regions instead of a belief. The tech tree could have a lancer which the Knight replaces.
 
From the recent comments I see some examples of the many difficulties I have to try to reconcile the proper historical base with an abstract representation in game, even about things like naming. I see many valid and nice ideas that are similar in some aspects to what I would like to have, but of course with also significative changes.

About the use of "Knight" I agree that this term refers to the western concept but it can still be associated to others forms of noble/elite cavalry from the period all around the world. Even the social aspects of the Knight can transcend their Feudal essence, after all the title of Knight was not just hereditary but could also be honorary and related to monastic orders even Republics ended giving Knight degrees.

The mentioned effect of Feudalism/Manorialism is something I am also brianstorming, I would like to make my mind about it but in short I want it to be simple but significative. Something that was also mentioned is try to make the term more neutral, for example I already mentioned the use of Lords (landords) as a kind of armies like Mercenaries, Auxiliars, Orders, Reserves, etc. And the use of Lords is linked to things beyond Medieval European Monarchies like for example the Hacendados in Iberoamerica that even for Oligarchic Republics of the 19th century were landlords that provide their goverment most of the cavalry for their Republican armies.
 
In real life weren't feudal knights partly a function of the king not being able to afford a standing army?

Knights could be a unit like Warrior Monks that is available to those with a religion. Make those two units available to all regions instead of a belief. The tech tree could have a lancer which the Knight replaces.
The Feudal system as we know it from Medieval Europe was only one of several ways to cut down on the expense of a Big Army.

An old, old possibly Indo-European and certainly Neolithic Social Policy was Comitatus - the sworn bodyguard of the chieftain who would die with him if necessary in battle, was fed and housed by him and, it seems, was frequently the only 'professional' armed force available. As far back as Old Kingdom Egypt and the earliest Sumerian and Akkadian city-states the bulk of the military were 'conscripts' - a gathering of a percentage pf every young man in the state (1 in 10 in ancient Egypt) who were available for either military or civil work. Similarly, the earliest armies of the Chinese Dynasties seem to jave consisted of a few 'professionals' and a bunch of called up peasants.

The advantage of the feudal system was that it started out by gifting the chosen man with enough land to support him while he trained constantly with expensive horse, armor and weapons so that he was far more effective than a peasant given a spear and told to keep the pointy end aimed at the enemy. That's why traces of a feudal system show up as far back as the ancient and classical Middle East, Classical and early Medieval China, Persia, and of course, good old familiar Medieval Europe.

That probably means that what the Knight would replace if the feudal system was not adopted would be a Levy of some kind composed of infantry of various degrees of effectiveness depending on its chosen weapons. Some early Chinese Dynasties did pretty well with massed conscript crossbowmen, but they managed by adopting Massed Fire by Rank to make up for the slow reload time of the crossbow. High Medieval Guilds financed very effective urban militias armed with pikes in both Flanders and Italy.

But note, in every case there is a Social/Civic component to the units as well as only a Technology/Resource component, which is all the game has ever used.
 
> Manorialism
* 1 Laborer citizen turn into Warrior class from every Farm and Plantation.​
* Each Fort allows to build a Lord army.​
* 30% Cavalry cost and maintenance discount.​

In my system every citizen have a class, normally a Warrior class is required to train most of the militar units (the Irregular line units is trained from Labourers), and armies are 1-per-tile composite group of units, the amount of these is limited. The base is that every city provide its own Garrison plus the proper Armies that need one General each one. Beyond the base there are extra special types like Mercenary, Auxiliar, Order, Lord and Conscript armies, those are unlocked by their proper Policies and so have their own sources, abilities and limitations.
In this case the Lords armies are unlocked by the Manorialism policy, they require a Fort for each one and are a mix of Garrion+General armies since they have maintenance discount in their Fort/City territory like Garrisons, still can travel beyond like General armies but with the disadvantage of stop the yield of their farms and plantation while they are outside of their lands.

So this way the effect of Manorialism is not limited just to Medieval Era, players have first a direct discount for cavalry, plus extra units that can be assigned to any kind of army, finally a special mechanic to increase your total militar force but with a downside. Not to forget that micromanagement is reduced since instead of recruit and organize a bunch of units temporaly every time, they would be part of formalized armies that are mobilized when is needed.
 
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By the way my regular Cavalry line is like this:
* Chariot, unlocked by Wheel at Ancient Era.
* Catapharact, unlocked by Saddle at Classical Era.
* Knight, unlocked by Stirrup at Medieval Era.
* Cuirassier, unlocked by Flintlock at Renaissance Era.
* Carabinier, unlocked by Cartridge at Industrial Era.

Light cavalry is the kind that for me should be special and come from some particular source, since not only the significative Horse Archers comes from people that live and grow at "Horse Back" but even famous European ligh cavalry traditions have their roots in foreign nomadic peoples like Hussars, Uhlans and Jinetes. Hit and Run harassment tactics is something that nomadic peoples exceled at so it should be someting special that come with your civ or you have to earn it from some source.
 
Knights could be a unit like Warrior Monks that is available to those with a religion. Make those two units available to all regions instead of a belief. The tech tree could have a lancer which the Knight replaces.
Knights do not have to be associated with religion, unlike monks. I could see a special Crusader Knight however, replacing a regular knight with a Crusade belief, or a city-state like Valletta.
By the way my regular Cavalry line is like this:
* Chariot, unlocked by Wheel at Ancient Era.
* Catapharact, unlocked by Saddle at Classical Era.
* Knight, unlocked by Stirrup at Medieval Era.
* Cuirassier, unlocked by Flintlock at Renaissance Era.
* Carabinier, unlocked by Cartridge at Industrial Era.
So does the cavalry line end in the Industrial Era? How do Tanks fit in?
 
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The Feudal system as we know it from Medieval Europe was only one of several ways to cut down on the expense of a Big Army.

An old, old possibly Indo-European and certainly Neolithic Social Policy was Comitatus - the sworn bodyguard of the chieftain who would die with him if necessary in battle, was fed and housed by him and, it seems, was frequently the only 'professional' armed force available. As far back as Old Kingdom Egypt and the earliest Sumerian and Akkadian city-states the bulk of the military were 'conscripts' - a gathering of a percentage pf every young man in the state (1 in 10 in ancient Egypt) who were available for either military or civil work. Similarly, the earliest armies of the Chinese Dynasties seem to jave consisted of a few 'professionals' and a bunch of called up peasants.

The advantage of the feudal system was that it started out by gifting the chosen man with enough land to support him while he trained constantly with expensive horse, armor and weapons so that he was far more effective than a peasant given a spear and told to keep the pointy end aimed at the enemy. That's why traces of a feudal system show up as far back as the ancient and classical Middle East, Classical and early Medieval China, Persia, and of course, good old familiar Medieval Europe.

That probably means that what the Knight would replace if the feudal system was not adopted would be a Levy of some kind composed of infantry of various degrees of effectiveness depending on its chosen weapons. Some early Chinese Dynasties did pretty well with massed conscript crossbowmen, but they managed by adopting Massed Fire by Rank to make up for the slow reload time of the crossbow. High Medieval Guilds financed very effective urban militias armed with pikes in both Flanders and Italy.

But note, in every case there is a Social/Civic component to the units as well as only a Technology/Resource component, which is all the game has ever used.
And about Minutemen please. when was the first term came to be and why did the term referred only to those militias from New England Colony? (Massachusettes and Maine) how did they organize? are they the same 'cost cutting policies' originally imposed by British Government in term of colonial defense instead of posting permanent redcoat regiments anywhere in North American Thirteen Colonies?
 
So does the cavalry line end in the Industrial Era? How do Tanks fit in?
There are different options, the easy and traditional one is Medium Tank to MBT. But there are others more heterodox ones.
Lately I was thinking that the introduction of mechanized warfare changing the previous balance and roles is a good chance to also radically change some lines, so you can upgrade some of your Cavalry to Armor or Helicopter as needed, same late Range units can be upgraded to Armor or Siege.
 
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