What is the best melee cav choice for Chinese?

Chinese is my main civ I have played a thousand games with it. But EVERY SINGLE GAME I struggle to decide which melee cav to make or focus on (I cannot afford to upgrade all 3). Not an issue for melee infantry because changdao is better than pike easily despite being weak itself. Not for light infantry because arq is better than CKN due to range and fire animation. Also not an issue for ranged cav because there is only one. But for melee cav there are several choices.

There are 3 melee cav options for China by default which is probably the most of any civs. Each of them has different functions and are all very specialised, good at one thing and bad at others. It can be confusing.

For me steppe rider is the best. Used to be my favourite.
It’s very strong per cost, moves very fast, is a mixture of oprichnik and cossack. Can kill buildings, vills and skirmishers very fast, has 30% range resist. The downside is it struggles to kill artillery. Very versatile unit. Can be created together with either keshik or archer so it is flexible.

Iron flail: most people agrees it is pretty bad. It is a mini cuirassier, but 1 area damage is just much worse than 2, in terms of how many units it can actually damage in a hit. There are likely many more units in radius of 2 than 1, given that opponent usually kite. Lower base hp however double faced armour make up for it, still bad in melee, only good vs skirms. Has lower HP, speed, base attack and skirm multiplier than naginata rider (both fully upgraded). The 1 area damage is pretty much the only selling point.

Meteor hammer: used to be my favourite. this is the good one by most people. It has 5 range which means it can hit from several rows behind in a large battle. It can beat musketeer if the opponent doesn’t manually switch to melee. However the hp is very low almost like uhlan. Once other units touch it, it dies very fast. Has to be carefully microed so that they attack from range. Another big selling point is the multiplier vs artillery, which has been heavily nerfed. So is this unit still good? Still worth making?

So on paper steppe rider maybe the best China cav now. Any one agrees with me?

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doesnt matter really, it depends more on what is your game plan and what you need to fight against

age 3 then its iron flail and meteor hammer

age 2 then its steppe

age 4 fast reform, mongolian army is the way to go

early game tank? - forbidden army with double sided armour

Imperial tanks? - Mongolian army

countering artilerry - forbidden army

want to spam units - Mongolian army

want to create a death ball - forbidden army

Dont play china trying to unlock everything, have a base comp you want to make and then adapt around things as it comes up

edit: also dont think of china as training individual units, its too inefficent, think about the army and how to best utilise the 2 unit it gives yuo

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As a China main, I use all 4 cavalry regularly but I reserve my fullest attention to the meteor hammers. They’re vitally important, even more now with their artillery damage nerf. I have started using 20 iron flails and 10 meteor hammers, but using the iron flails to literally rush in and halt the enemy, gaining their attention, and keeping the meteor hammers back to hit the artillery. I also prefer them to iron flails when killing light infantry and villagers.

Though the steppe rider, who I wish they didn’t nerf, is the second most important cavalry. I usually make a team of 10 keshiks, and 10 steppe riders, and use them to target my enemy’s factories or wonders. I train them knowing I am going to lose them but they’re so fast, if they aren’t immediately dealt with, they can destroy both factories quickly.

I hate the iron flail, it is my most hated unit. I only use it very specific match ups, like against Russia, because they murder streltsy so well. They’re also good against the Japanese because the yumi just die against iron flails. The iron flail is…such a disappointment. I wish it had a better multiplier against light infantry, or another thing, like times 1.5 against melee cavalry, something to make the m more versatile. They even suck against villagers, sure the villager will but a fully leveled up villager has like 200HP, 10% melee resist I think, but the iron flail only does 39 damage at an imperial level with all buffs. 39 lol.

In short, meteor hammer is best. They’re even a threat to dragoons now. If a dragoon doesn’t go into melee mode, and keeps firing at a fully leveled meteor hammer, they will lose. The meteor hammer’s rate of attack and ranged armor makes a huge difference. I don’t recommend risking it though, the meteor hammer is better used elsewhere. Throw iron flails to distract dragoons until the arquebusiers can get into range lol.

I generally agree with your opinion. Yes iron flail is expensive and has very bad stats. But i don’t think meteor hammer stand a chance against dragoons. They dont even force dragoons into melee attack. Combined with only two thirds of the hp of a hussar, they are just paper.

china cav are soft counters to dragoon

forbidden army with double sided armour can snare dragoon while skirms shoot - this does require micro, you have to move click towards the dragoons and not just right click attack

Mongolian army are just as fast as dragoons so they can catch and snare them

Does meteor hammer snare when attacking from range?

yes, it always snare, best thing about it