- Special abilities:
- Shock I promotion
- Great Generals II promotion (Combat Very Likely To Create Great Generals.)
- Create Fishing Boats
The Samurai are strong frontline units that are unique to the Japanese available in the late Medieval Era and useful throughout the Renaissance Era. These units are nominally stronger than the next frontline unit, the Musketmen, provided that the Samurai fight in open terrain. Samurai also come with Great Generals II promotion, so direct attacks with them will be very effective in generating Great Generals for the Japanese.
Since Shock I is innately given to Samurai, upgrading Swordsmen to Samurai provides the Shock I promotions if the unit doesn't possess them already, so it may be a good idea to go towards Drill promotions instead with these units. Like the relationship between Alhambra and the two unique units with innate Drill I promotions (the Mehal Sefari and the Minuteman), the free Shock I does not turn into Shock II or Shock III because the unit already had Shock I to begin with.
The Samurai have received the ability to build Fishing Boats on appropriate resources when embarked in the Fall 2013 patch, and this can be used to help out cities with coastal resources. However, this ability does not transfer on upgrade, so the Japanese or a civilization that receives Samurai from a city-state may wish to retain them as Samurai to save the production that might otherwise go to Work Boats. Samurai cannot construct Offshore Platforms, however, so a civilization that possesses them will still need to invest in Work Boats to work coastal Oil.
The Samurai upgrades to the Rifleman, not the Musketman like the Longswordsman it replaces. That means the Japanese will still need to maintain a source of Iron for each unit until the acquisition of the Rifling tech in the Industrial Era, rather than at Gunpowder right next to this unit's prerequisite technology, Steel, available in the Renaissance Era.
As the Samurai receives the Shock I promotion and is not obsolete until Rifling, it becomes one of the units that may acquire high-tier promotions such as Blitz or March right away at production if built on a city with Barracks, Armory, and a combination of a Military Academy, Brandenburg Gate, and/or the Total War tenet in the Autocracy ideology. In addition, since the Samurai is a melee unit, it receives the production bonus from the Warrior Code policy in the Honor tree.
The Japanese samurai were arguably the best pre-gunpowder warriors since the Roman legions. Emerging in the 12th century, the samurai were a warrior caste sworn to follow the code of Bushido, which held bravery, honor, and loyalty above life itself. Samurai typically carried two swords, the single-edged katana and the shorter wakizashi, the latter used in the "seppuku" (suicide) ritual. Despite their lack of access to mineral resources of decent quality, Japanese swordsmiths produced weapons that were often as good as the very best elsewhere. Most also carried bow or spear, and later, firearms. Depending upon the era (and the samurai's wealth and status) a samurai might wear padded cloth, lacquered, or metal armor.
The Samurai were completely dominant for a few hundred years over Japan's military, before the influence of the Portuguese and gunpowder allowed arquebus-equipped Ashigaru (peasant) infantry to be developed and completely changed the face of war in Japan. However, at the beginning of the Edo Period in which Japan entered a period of isolation, all firearms and instructions to build them were destroyed, leading to the reinstitution of the samurai. Still, as Japan was unified and completely at peace, the samurai did little other than write poetry until they were utterly defeated in the civil wars. Japan was then brought into the Industrial age by the Meiji restoration, which completely abolished the Samurai class and the feudal system. Even today, the Samurai are still some of the most well-known soldiers in the world.