Light Cavalry are a unit type in the Total War series.
Empire: Total WarEdit
In Empire: Total War, light cavalry are almost always defined as cavalry that have the "good stamina" trait, allowing them to traverse large areas of the map and/or attack multiple targets while still retaining good stamina. They pay for this increased mobility with generally poorer stats when compared to heavy cavalry, especially defensively. Certain light cavalry such as Death's Head Hussars retain good stamina as well as strong defensive values, making them powerful all-round.
With their high stamina, light cavalry are useful for chasing down routed troops to prevent them from being a threat later. Light cavalry can also be used to attack enemy formations from the flank and rear, retreating before their opponents have a chance to organize and retaliate. Light cavalry can fight other light cavalry effectively, but suffer when engaging heavier cavalry or prepared infantry. Light cavalry are superb for ambushing artillery crews, but are highly vulnerable to artillery at long range; they can mitigate the damage they take from artillery by using terrain as cover and approaching from the flanks or rear.
Some cavalry fall into multiple categories at once. Many lancers, for example, have good stamina and so can also be considered light cavalry. All dragoons are mounted infantry, and most are also light cavalry thanks to their good stamina bonus.
Napoleon: Total WarEdit
Light Cavalry in Napoleon: Total War are similar to their predecessors: cavalry with good mobility at the cost of poor defensive statistics. Stamina in Napoleon: Total War is depleted much more quickly in previous games, meaning that light cavalry's advantage of good stamina is more prominent than ever (though they are still affected, and can run to shorter distances before being tired out than they could in older games). The offensive capability of cavalry are greatly increased in Napoleon: Total War compared to previous games, so even light cavalry can inflict heavy casualties on distracted infantry; however, they are no match for heavy cavalry in a melee, and the increased vulnerability of all cavalry in Napoleon: Total War, particularly to squares, means that light cavalry are more fragile than ever. The combination of their increased killing power and increased vulnerability means that light cavalry need more micromanagement, but more often play a decisive factor in battle.
Some cavalry fall into multiple categories at once. Nearly all lancers, for example, have good stamina and so can also be considered light cavalry.
Total War: Shogun 2Edit
In Total War: Shogun 2, light cavalry are restricted to a single unit bearing the same name as their class. Armed with spears and fast-moving, light cavalry are ideal for chasing routing foes. While they are neither as numerous nor as powerful as late-game cavalry, light cavalry are indisputably the fastest troops in the early game. Despite their poor statistics, they fight well against most early game troops (with the exception of prepared yari ashigaru).
Light Cavalry beat generals in one on one fights, making them good for chasing generals down and eliminating them. Late in the game, they retain a limited usefulness as their cheaper cost may benefit factions that have poorer income; however, in all other categories they are outclassed by yari cavalry.