If the Japanese get added, here's some examples of what their unique units can be

I dunno, the fella above you apparently hates em.

Samurai were indeed originally Horse-Archers. Which also explains why Samurai armor never emphasized in the usage of shields. Because the Samurai armors shoulder-pads were designed as shields, leaving both hands free to use a bow.
But then again, Samurai’s were trained in a myriad of weapons, and had their main emphasize on the use of spears and bows. which works both on foot and on horseback. But it wasn’t uncommon for Samurai’s to ride into battle, dismount and fight on foot, which was a the norm of many medival armies.
Japanese horses were famously unruly as they were often Stallions and much closer related to Wild horses due to never really doing thurough breds with pure bloodlines, preferring it to be mixed instead.

Overall, the samurai is an “elite” unit of any unit type to be frank.

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About the elite samurai being elite of normal units: Not necessarelly.

The samurai were totally against firearms. In fact, the reason why the sengoku period (which could well be the 4th age in the game) the samurai stopped acting so much as horse archers, was because the feudal lords preferred to recruit soldiers with guns and archers, which charged less than the samurai. Therefore, to work in a group, many samurai were recruited as foot soldiers.

  • Hence, the period of the Sengoku wars is always remembered as the peak where the samurai wore their swords. The other was in the civil war for the Meiji Restoration.

Around this, and returning to the main topic, I think that at least the Japanese should have 3 unique units yes or yes:

  • Yabusame (Archery Range 2rd age).- Mounted samurai, Archer on horseback with heavy armor. Can unmount and become samurai.
  • Samurai (Barracks 2nd age).- Reeplaces the Men-at-arms. It has less heavy armor (2/2 → 3/3 → elite 4/4), but fast attack. Can mount and become yabusame.
  • Ninja/Shinobi (Urban Center 3d age).- Cost 100 gold, mercenary soldier, can’t be upgraded. It has light armor (0/0) and bonus attacks aggaints not-militar units (villagers, traders, Monks, Imans, imperial officials). Have 2 abilities:
    • Infiltration.- enter Stealth mode permanently, and can’t be dettected by enemy economics units, but detected by militar units, urban centers, towers and keeps, or if attacks.
    • Smoke bomb.- enter Stealth from every units for 5 seconds. 1 minute cowldown.

And unique tech for them:

  • Tosei-gusoku (plate armor).- samurais get +2/+2 defense. History: The cultural clash with the Europeans allowed the Japanese to develop plate armor, turning ordinary samurai into almost invincible killing machines. Only firearms, or other samurai were capable of stopping them.
  • Tameshi-gusoku (bulletproof armor)- samurais gets 10 defense aggaints firearms. History: The culture shock did not end there, having learned the art of firearms, the Japanese daimyos also commanded and developed the first models of fireproof armor, designed especially for samurai warriors. Now the samurai could continue to terrorize the battlefield without fear of being killed by a stray bullet.

Not clear ideas:

  • Bushido.- samurai attack +3 and is even more faster… History: the samurai code, 4 philosophies (confucianism, zen, buddhism, shintoism) and 7 virtues (Rectitude, Courage, Compassion, Respect, Honesty, Honor Loyalty), the warrior way, and…, no, NOOOOOOO
  • ESTA ES LA VERDADERA HISTORIA (This is the True history): In Japan the phrase “Bushido code” did not appear until 1616. The Bushido was invented in a peaceful era as a literate movement, to adorn the culture of the samurai, when not only did the sengoku wars end, but they were reduced to administrative jobs and nothing military under Ieyasu’s rule.
  • The reality is that previously, when the samurai were military, there was not so much honor: the samurai each fought for their interests, they were noble soldiers who chose their own causes and lords to serve. There was even a right, Kiri-sute gomen, which allowed them to kill any low-class villager who dared to insult them. Many samurai defeated and captured in sengoku wars were cruelly killed, but not before being horribly tortured. Suicide (seppukku), more than an art, was also an escape from the terrible forms of torture that awaited losing.
  • Maybe for that reason in AoE3, this technology dont improve the samurais power, only administrative power (5 units formation to 10 units formation).