Better Unit: Paladin or Cataphract

Would you rather have a FU Paladin with no civ bonuses (say Magyar or Spanish) or the Byzantine Cataphract? Which is the better unit to have in most situations?

Obviously the Paladin is much stronger H2H and vs. other cavalry. It also has better pierce armor and HP so it can take more shots from from ranged units and buildings. Cataphract is much stronger against Infantry and against typical cavalry counters such as Halbs and Camels.

Paladin is the better unit, because cataphract is impossible to use in standard games. Elite upgrade + logistica + 3 castles is more than 5000 resources, that is too much of an investment for one single unit.

In terms of theoretical power, elite cataphract is the better unit. I’m pretty sure it even wins vs paladins in large numbers due to trample.


SwaggyOP explained it already but you also need to consider some things in your question… Is this the crippled cata aka no bloodlines and no blast furnace? Does this include the fee for logistica…?

Stats speak for themselves… The cata is hardly fielded whereas vanilla paladins are extremely common which one do you think is realistically more viable…

If the cata could at least be trained from stables like tarkans it would help… But the tech fees and weakness to archers imo are too much, for such an expensive bottlenecked cav

2 stables easily out produce each castle to give an idea how many castles you need to produce similar numbers of catas, on top of the overly expensive tech


I don’t think it’s completely fair to attribute the full cost of the castle to the cataphract. I get that you can’t produce the Cata without it but they offer a ton more utility in terms of defense / power projection, etc. than a regular stable. There are plenty of games where you build castles without actually producing any unique units

If the rest of your army is primarily focused on skirmishers / halberds where they have savings, I think Cataphract fairly affordable from a gold perspective. If you have a ton of arbalests then maybe not so much

It does feel like you kind of have to go out of your way to build an army around Catas when arbalests + support seem like a more straightforward approach so I would lean towards Paladins as well. If the Catas themselves were cheaper or better in the Castle Age then it might make more sense

I mean, if you wanna mass Cataphracts, you should add a lot of halbs and skirms to the army (good thing that they are trash tho)

This is the Byzantine Cataphract so no BL or BF.

Why do you mention tech fees? I’m a bit confused by that one.

Comparing upgrade costs:

Elite Cata + Logistica = 2000f/1400g
Cavalier + Paladin + BL + BF = 2025f/1375g

While Byzantines don’t get BL + BF they also don’t have to research them. And they also save 333f and 266g advancing to Imperial IIRC. Of course other civs like Magyars and Spanish also save on Blacksmith upgrades but it’s not a big gap in tech cost.

Slower builds requiring Castles I haven’t really considered. Wouldn’t you build minimum 2 Castles anyway?

I do have a question.

How does trample damage work? When it says +5 does that mean +5 to every unit within 0.5 tiles including the one the Cataphract is attacking or every other enemy unit except that one?

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I’m pretty sure I said that, so I agree?

My point was that it’s much easier to afford the gold cost if you purely focus on skirms / halbs vs. including arbalests as well which cost gold

I just meant that the “if” isn’t needed
The rest of your army has to be trash

As always with questions “which unit is better”, it depends on the situation.

The power of the Cataphract is that they deal will infantry so well and are less vulnerable to the main anti-cavalry unit (Pikemen/Halberdiers) than Paladins. But they are more difficult to mass and require Logistica and the Elite upgrade to use their full potential in the late game. If you have a matchup against an infantry-based civ, Cataphracts make more sense than Paladins. In fact you don’t see too many games where a Byzantine player goes Paladins (they don’t get full upgrades).

In a team game, on a closed map, with a strong boom, and a matchup against Goths, I would rather go for Cataphracts than Paladins.

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Other than Goths, I’d say Aztecs and Turks also have a lot of trouble countering Cataphracts.

Aztecs with no Halbs, no mounted, and weak Arbs.

Turks with no Halbs (or even Pikes) and no Arbs. Turks best option is probably their FU Cavaliers but those still lose to FU Cataphracts because of trample?

For Byzantines, the Cataphract is actually a very nice unit to have. Combined with their cheap trash units, they can effectively counter archers (with cheap skirmishers), cavalry (with cheap halberdiers or camels) and infantry (with Cataphracts).

Aztecs can still resort to their monks (and Byz hussars suck big time) However Turks’ only hope is to mass jan or HCA and pray the Byz player forgets they have skirms.

You’d need absurd numbers of cataphracts or absolutely perfect positioning to have catas benefit from the trample damage in fights vs paladins.
In 99% of the cases you’ll see online the paladins will win against the catas in equal numbers.


I’d say that by the time their on the field, IE forgetting upgrade cost, the Catas doing so much better vs pikes makes them hands down better for me. Pike/Halb is THE counter to cavalry, and any bonus vs them pays off big time.

Regarding the upgrade and massing differences between Pals and Cats, I’d note that it’s just easier to mass the knight line hands down. Cataphracts are an awesome unit, I just generally only see or use them by Mid Imp.

They’re not comparable units, despite them looking like heavy cavalry. The Cataphract is an anti-infantry unit, with some resistance to a Camel and Cavalier (but not Paladin) switch after Elite + Logistica. Though the Cataphract still needs the Elite upgrade to win against Pikemen, and the Elite + Logistica upgrades to win against Halberdiers.

How much waiting around is the turk doing to allow the byz player to build 2 castles, tech elite cata, and logistica…? That’s one of the biggest issues with cata… Not only is your production bottle necked by castles. Your tech is bottle necking as well. And that in turn is bottle necking your trebs.

As opposed to the turk who isn’t teching paladin for one. Doesn’t have to build 2 castles. And can pop BBC the moment they reach imperial age. So theoretically could have a horde of stables with massed cavaliers long before the byz has a decent number of FU catas, unless the turk is sleeping?

Byz will likely beat turks but not because of catas…

Similar thing with aztecs. They should be rofl stomping byz long before their “weak arbs” are an issue… Remember catas are weaker than other heavy cav vs archers, not only due to armour but also dps.

They actually still are countered by halbs

you have to invest an insane amount into halbs to win. those cataphracts only take 21 damage a strike from halbs, but deal 29 damage back, meaning 3 hits to kill the first, and 2 hits to kill each subsequent one (or less). the halbs will probably win in the long run, but it will be insanely population inefficient to do so.

if byzantines were given blast furnace, the fight vs halbs would be a one sided slaughter.

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I destroyed full Slav Halb spam with Catas


oh i agree, yeah halbs might win if you have sufficient numbers advantage but that’s going to require a landslide of them, numerically.

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