The term Conquistador is used to refer to soldiers and explorers from Spain and Portugal. The Conquistador is the Spanish unique unit. It is a mounted hand cannoneer and is one of the three (two in the original game) land gunpowder units that can be created in the Castle age; it is also one of the two Spanish unique units. It costs 60 food, 70 gold.
Conquistadors are very similar to the cavalry archer in the fact that they excel at hit and run attacks. However, their high attack and base armor make them much stronger than cavalry archers. Another interesting thing to note is that Conquistadors get an attack bonus Vs. Rams. This makes them effective at defending castles as the only non-unique unit in the Castle age that can do decent damage to Castles is the battering ram.
Fun facts about Conquistadors:
Heroes that use the Conquistador model are Gonzalo Pizzaro and Francisco de Orellana.
When garrisoned, Conquistadors fire more arrows than most units. The only units that can even come close are the Arambai, the Mangudai and the Janissary. This is because of their high attack.
Conquistadors Vs Cavalry Archers
Cavalry archers cost 40 wood and 60 gold (40 wood and 70 gold in the original game) in the expansions. For these resources, you get a unit with 50 HP, 6 attack, 4 range, 0/0 armor.
Conquistadors, on the other hand cost 60 food, 70 gold but give you a unit with 55 HP, 16 attack, 6 range, 2/2 armor. Overall, a much stronger unit.
Conquistadors clearly have a favourable comparison with Cavalry archers thanks to the extra attack, HP and armor.
A group of 3 Conquistadors can single shot a villager with loom.
Conquistadors’ unit classifications and resulting bonus damage taken:
Cavalry: Take bonus damage from Camel line, Spearman line, Genoese Crossbowmen, Kamayuks,
Archer: Take bonus damage from Skirmisher, Huskarl, Genitour
Gunpowder: Take bonus damage from Condotierros
Unique Unit: Take bonus damage from Samurai
Conquistadors in the Castle Age
Conquistadors have 6 range in the castle age (which is ok) and imperial age (which sucks). In Castle age, Crossbowmen, and skirmishers can have a range of 7 (9 if the Crossbowmen are controlled by Britons) which is 1 more than what Conquistadors get. Mangonels outrange Conquistadors by 1 range (2 if Koreans and without expansions) in the castle age as well. A range difference of 1 or 2 is not a huge deal considering that Conquistadors hit very hard and move fast.
Ideally, Conquistadors can be paired with Light Cavalry or Knights in the Castle age and a few missionaries for a lethal mobile force that can also heal and get a few stray conversions. A group of 3 Conquistadors can single shot a villager. So, this is ideal for raiding in the Castle age.
Conquistadors in the Imperial Age
To start with, the Elite upgrade for Conquistadors costs 1200 food and 600 gold. It gives them +15HP and +2 attack. It also improves their attack bonus against rams from +4, +3, +2 against battering rams, capped rams and siege rams to respectively +6, +5, +4 against the same. It also gives Conquistadors +2 attack bonus against buildings. After the upgrade, the Conquistador still remains a powerful unit but much less dominant compared to how it is in the Castle age.
I believe the cost of the upgrade is not worth the increase of the stats for a number of reasons:
Conquistadors continue to have the same 6 range from the Castle age throughout the game.
Onagers and Siege Onagers can have 8-10 range depending on whether the civilization has Siege Engineers or not and whether they’re the Koreans. A Single shot from a Siege Onager will take out a group of Conquistadors.
Scorpions and heavy scorpions can have 8 range with siege engineers and 9 if allied with the Khmer.
Arbalests get 8 range in the Imperial age (11 if Britons) which can be deadly to the Conquistador.
To conclude, they’re too fragile during late Imperial age, their range is lacklustre and there’s not much going in their favour.
A Spanish player is much better off going with Paladins for his main mounted force and using hand cannoneers for ranged attacks. Paladins are much stronger at 180 HP, 18 attack, 5/7 armor and Hand Cannoneers have 1 less attack, +1 range and +10 attack bonus against infantry (This does a good job countering Halberdiers, a major counter for Paladins).