- Common abilities:
- Special abilities:
- Special traits:
- Lower Production cost (120 vs. 240).
- Higher Combat Strength (60 vs. 55).
The Janissary is one of the most fearsome unique melee units in the game, thanks to its cheap cost, good Combat Strength and free starting Promotion.
The most outstanding feature of this unit is its appealing price tag. Standing at only half the cost of a normal Musketman, the Janissary is the cheapest unique unit in the game, if you only consider the cost ratio between the unit itself and the standard counterpart it replaces, similar to how the Grand Bazaar is also the cheapest unique building in the game. This 50% discount makes the Janissary so cheap that it becomes an anomaly, when it actually costs more to train a Man-At-Arms, the predecessor, than a Janissary. Therefore, for Suleiman, you should never train Men-At-Arms to take full advantage of your unique unit (more on this down below). Secondly, despite its cheap cost, the Janissary even has a Combat Strength edge over the Musketman, and a free Promotion when trained. On average, 5 Combat Strength difference results in 6-7 extra damage per attack, and the free Promotion applies even when an existing unit upgrades into a Janissary (in that case, the experience bar will be automatically filled and the newly created Janissary will have access to one next Promotion, if it already has some).
However, all of this power comes at a cost. Similar to training Settlers, any city founded by the Ottomans will lose 1 Population whenever they train a Janissary. This can be quite detrimental, but bypassing it is simple. There are two major options to minimize your losses when you want to train this unit:
- The first method is to invest some of your resources into early conquests. Although it is true that the Ottoman war machine is at its peak in the Renaissance Era, it is entirely possible to engage in conquest as early as the Classical Era and gain the conquered cities needed for Janissary production. By combining Ibrahim's innate ability of +20% Production towards units and the God of the Forge pantheon's +25%, the Ottomans can gain +45% Production towards all military units in the first two eras and +95% Production towards Catapults. With Ibrahim's Serasker title, Ottoman Catapults can gain an additional +10 Combat Strength bonus (which, in conjunction with the +5 from the Ottomans' Great Turkish Bombard ability, gives them a total Combat Strength bonus of +15) when attacking Districts, allowing them to destroy the defenses of even walled cities in the blink of an eye. This method should be considered against neighbors that play defensively and have potential to snowball if left alone, such as Korea, China, or Greece when led by Pericles. The April 2021 Update introduced the Trebuchet, a medieval siege unit that can act as a useful stepping stone between the Catapult and the Bombard, making the combat prowess of the Ottomans before their renaissance peak even more terrifying.
- The second method is to pre-train units and then upgrade them into Janissaries. If you spawn next to defensive powerhouse civilizations, or civilizations with their military power peaks in early eras, like Nubia, Vietnam or Gauls, you may want to play nice with them for the first few eras and wait for your true potential to unlock. The most cost efficient way to train Janissaries is to mass-produce Swordsmen and upgrade them when Gunpowder is unlocked. Again, not Men-At-Arms, but Swordsmen. As analyzed above, the Janissary is so cheap and even the Man-At-Arms is more expensive than them. Training Men-At-Arms when playing as Suleiman is wasteful and pointless, and it still costs you 10 more Gold to upgrade a Man-At-Arms into a Janissary even after you already spent 40 extra Production. The Swordsman is the way to go because one, they are cheaper (90 Production only), require Iron, which you don't need much of, and is affected by the God of the Forge pantheon if that is the one you pick. The bottleneck of training Janissaries lies neither in their potential Population cost (as it is easy to circumvent) nor in their Production cost (as it is 50% cheaper than the standard Musketman) but in Niter availability. Since Niter is unlocked very slightly sooner than Janissaries, you have little chance to stock up this resource beforehand, while more likely than not, you have a stockpile of Iron lying around. Due to the Janissaries' low cost, combined with Professional Army and Retinues, upgrading is cheap in terms of both Gold and Niter. By doing it this way, you can have your army of Janissaries without having to make early conquests when they are not the most favorable to you, or having to wait for Niter to start piling up so you can train Janissaries one by one and potentially missing your window of opportunity to use them. Remember to prioritize researching Military Engineering to locate where Niter is, try to stockpile it as much as you can, before beelining for Gunpowder.
The elite infantry of the Ottoman Empire had a lasting cultural impact within the Ottoman Empire and on the military history of the world at large. The Janissaries embodied many aspects of the Ottoman Empire's systems of governance and warfare, and remain one of the most recognizable military forces in history. At the time they were created in the reign of Murad I, they were a revolutionary military force (the term Janissary literally means “New Soldier”) combining iron discipline, strong esprit de corps, and the latest military weapons.
The Ottoman Sultans were entitled to extract a fifth of the value of their territory. Often this took the form of levies of labor or manpower. Christian communities in the Balkans were compelled to provide boys to the Janissaries. The boys were taken from their families and communities, converted to Islam, and then raised in the strict discipline of the Janissary corps.
Janissaries were originally forbidden to marry (this stricture was relaxed later) or engage in trade, and swore loyalty to the Sultan himself. The Janissaries had their own distinctive marching bands—the mehter—which influenced European military marches in successive centuries. They were well-paid, and given the special attention of the Sultan, who would appear once a year among his Janissaries to draw his pay. The Janissary corps was strongly meritocratic, and a successful Janissary could retire with a pension and considerable cultural prestige. The Janissaries may have been the first infantry force to be predominately equipped with muskets. They wore uniforms at a time when the practice was still uncommon, with a distinctive high white hat with trailing flap.
The Janissaries became one of the most politically-powerful factions within the Ottoman Empire and comparisons to the Praetorian Guard of Rome are apt. However, they resisted most of the efforts to reform their organization, bringing them into conflict with later Sultans. In 1826, the Janissary corps mutinied in response to European-style infantry reforms. Sultan Mahmud II turned cannons on their barracks and executed any Janissary who survived the bombardment. This event was termed the “Auspicious Incident.”
The Janissaries were pivotal to the military power and successes of the Ottoman Empire, and they influenced the development of musket armies in Europe during the transition to the age of gunpowder. Their organization and history provides insight into the organization of the Ottoman world. Even their enemies respected their discipline and admired their panache.