|This article is about the archer units in Age of Empires II. For archer units in other games of the series, see Archers.|
While being comparatively frail, all archer units possess a ranged attack, giving them an edge over non-ranged units. Most archers are foot soldiers, but there are also mounted variants. Cavalry Archers set themselves apart from foot archers by having an above average speed, making them able to hit-and-run enemy foot soldiers without casualties.
Unique archer units are trained at the Castle. There are three exceptions: The Genitour, the Slinger, and the Imperial Skirmisher (unique upgrade of the Elite Skirmisher, available to the Vietnamese and their allies) are trained at the Archery Range.
Archers excel at massed battles against non-ranged units, and in battles in narrow passages and densely developed areas, like forests and towns. There, they can use their range to fire over each other, while non-ranged units have to 'dig' themselves through an army of archers. In battles with few units, though, archers have trouble holding ground.
Archers in general are superior to infantry and Monks, and can very effectively eliminate Villagers. But they struggle heavily against siege units, which deal Area of Effect damage (especially the Mangonel) and can eliminate entire armies of archers quickly. Battering Rams are also a useful supportive semi-counter against large mono-archer armies, especially for players using archers themselves. While Rams deal little to no damage to archers on their own, they can be sent close to the archers, drawing automatic fire, which they resist thanks to their high pierce armor, allowing other ranged units to quickly dispatch the distracted enemy archers. This tactic forces the opponent to use intense micromanagement. Cavalry is also quite effective against archers, since they can close the gap quickly and have high pierce armor. But the easiest counter against archers is the Skirmisher, a trash unit that is cheap, easy to mass, and does both resist archer attacks and deal bonus damage against archers.
List of archer units
Marked with yellow background are unique units.
|Elite Skirmisher||Ar. Range||35||3||0||4||5||3.0||19||90||7||0.96||25||35||0||22||36|
|Imperial Skirmisher||Ar. Range||35||4||0||5||5||3.0||19||95||7||0.96||25||35||0||22|
|Cavalry Archer||Ar. Range||50||6||0||0||4||2.0||35||50||5||1.4||0||40||60||34||34|
|Heavy Cavalry Archer||Ar. Range||60||7||1||0||4||2.0||46||50||6||1.4||0||40||60||27||27|
|Hand Cannoneer||Ar. Range||35||17||1||0||7||3.45||15||75||9||0.96||45||0||50||34||19|
|Chu Ko Nu||Castle||45||+||0||0||4||3.0||19||85||6||0.96||0||40||35||16||1|
|Elite Chu Ko Nu||Castle||50||+||0||0||4||3.0||19||85||6||0.96||0||40||35||13||1|
|Elite War Wagon||Castle||200||9||0||4||5||2.5||32||100||8||1.2||0||110||60||21||1|
|Elite Plumed Archer||Castle||65||5||0||2||5||1.9||15||90||7||1.2||0||55||55||16||1|
|Elite Elephant Archer||Castle||330||7||0||3||4||2.0||24||100||7||0.8||100||0||80||25||1|
|Elite Genoese Crossbowman||Castle||50||6||1||0||4||2.0||15||100||8||0.96||0||45||40||19||1|
|Elite Camel Archer||Castle||60||8||1||1||4||2.0||15||95||5||1.4||0||50||60||25||1|
|Elite Genitour||Ar. Range||55||4||0||4||4||3.0||30||90||6||1.35||50||35||0||25|
|Elite Rattan Archer||Castle||45||7||0||6||5||2.0||23||90||6||1.1||0||50||45||16||1|
|Thumb Ring||Archery Range||III||26||Increases Rate of Fire and accuracy (the latter to 100%)|
|Parthian Tactics||Archery Range||IV||13||Increases armor by +1/+2 and attack vs Pikemen for mounted archers by +2 or +4|
|Bloodlines||Stable||II||25||Increases hit points for mounted archers by +20|
|Husbandry||Stable||III||31||Increases movement speed for mounted archers by +10%|
|Fletching||Blacksmith||II||All||Increases range and attack by +1|
|Bodkin Arrow||Blacksmith||III||All||Increases range and attack by +1|
|Bracer||Blacksmith||IV||30||Increases range and attack by +1|
|Padded Archer Armor||Blacksmith||II||All||Increases armor by +1/+1|
|Leather Archer Armor||Blacksmith||III||Increases armor by +1/+1|
|Ring Archer Armor||Blacksmith||IV||28||Increases armor by +1/+2|
|Ballistics||University||III||All||Improves accuracy of non-gunpowder archers at moving targets|
|Chemistry||University||IV||All||Increases attack by +1 and enables creation of Hand Cannoneer|
|Herbal Medicine||Monastery||III||33||Garrisoned units heal 6x faster|
|Heresy||Monastery||III||22||Converted units die instead of changing color|
|Faith||Monastery||IV||34||Increases conversion resistance|
|Conscription||Castle||IV||All||Increases creation speed by +33%|
|Atlatl||Castle||III||Aztecs||Skirmishers and Genitours +1 attack and range|
|Kasbah||Castle||III||Berbers||Castle production and research speed increased by +25%|
|Maghrabi Camels||Castle||IV||Berbers||Camel Archers regenerate|
|Yeomen||Castle||III||Britons||Increases foot archer range by +1|
|Manipur Cavalry||Castle||III||Burmese||Increases Arambai attack against buildings and standard buildings by +3|
|Rocketry||Castle||IV||Chinese||Increases Chu Ko Nu attack by +2|
|Steppe Husbandry||Castle||III||Cumans||Cavalry Archers created faster|
|Cuman Mercenaries||Castle||IV||Cumans||Allows Cumans and their allies to train 10 Elite Kipchaks for free|
|Andean Sling||Castle||III||Incas||Removes minimum range of Slingers, Skirmishers, and Genitours|
|Fabric Shields||Castle||IV||Incas||Increases Slinger armor by +1/+2|
|Shatagni||Castle||IV||Indians||Increases Hand Cannoneer range by +1|
|Pavise||Castle||III||Italians||Increases foot archer (except Skirmishers) armor by +1/+1|
|Tower Shields||Castle||IV||Lithuanians||Skirmishers +2 pierce armor|
|Recurve Bow||Castle||IV||Magyars||Increases Cavalry Archer range and attack by +1|
|Obsidian Arrows||Castle||III||Mayans||Increases Archer attack against standard buildings by +6|
|Hul'che Javelineers||Castle||III||Mayans||Skirmishers throw two javelins|
|Kamandaran||Castle||III||Persians||Foot archers cost no gold|
|Arquebus||Castle||IV||Portuguese||Hand Cannoneers gain Ballistics-like accuracy|
|Scutage||Castle||IV||Sicilians||Pays 15 Gold to every team member for every archer owned by the player.|
|Silk Armor||Castle||III||Tatars||Cavalry Archers, Kipchaks, and Genitours +1 pierce armor|
|Sipahi||Castle||III||Turks||Increases Cavalry Archer, Kipchak, and Genitour HP by +20|
The Britons, Chinese, Ethiopians, Italians, Mayans, Saracens, and Vietnamese arguably are the best foot archer civilizations because of their bonuses and unique technologies. The Koreans, Persians and Portuguese also have bonuses and unique technologies that benefit their stats and production by decreasing their cost, providing more protection and being upgraded faster, making them strong foot archer civilizations, but weaker than the before-mentioned civilizations.
The Japanese and Saracens are the only civilizations with access to all archer units and technologies. This also applied to the Indians until patch 5.5, when Arbalesters were removed from their technology tree.
The Burgundians, Burmese, Celts, Franks, and Slavs lack key upgrades for their archer units, making them the weakest archer civilizations. The Bulgarians and the Spanish are the only civilzations that lack the Crossbowman upgrade.
As far as mounted archers are concerned, the Berbers, Cumans, Huns, Indians, Koreans, Magyars, Mongols, Saracens, Tatars, and Turks are the most prominent civilizations. Generally speaking, civilizations with access to Parthian Tactics have prominent mounted archers.
The following civilizations have bonuses that benefit archer units:
- Aztecs: Archers are created faster.
- Britons: Foot archers (except Skirmishers) have +1/+2 range in the Castle/Imperial Age.
- Bulgarians: Blacksmith technologies that benefit archers cost 50% less food.
- Burgundians: Hand Cannoneers have +25% attack. Husbandry is 50% cheaper.
- Burmese: Faith and Herbal Medicine are 50% cheaper.
- Byzantines: Skirmishers are 25% cheaper.
- Chinese: Technologies that benefit Infantry are 10%/15%/20% cheaper in the Feudal/Castle/Imperial Age.
- Cumans: Cavalry Archers move 10%/15% faster in the Castle/Imperial Age.
- Ethiopians: The Archer line fires 18% faster.
- Franks: Cavalry Archers have +20% hit points.
- Huns: Cavalry Archers are 10%/20% cheaper in the Castle/Imperial Age.
- Italians: Hand Cannoneers are cheaper. Ballistics and Chemistry are 33% cheaper.
- Koreans: Archer units cost less wood. Archer armor upgrades are free.
- Lithuanians: Skirmishers move 10% faster.
- Mayans: Archers (except Skirmishers) are 10%/20%/30% cheaper in the Feudal/Castle/Imperial Age.
- Mongols: Cavalry Archers fire 25% faster.
- Portuguese: Archer units cost less gold; Technologies that benefit archers are researched 30% faster.
- Sicilians: Archers receive 50% less bonus damage.
- Spanish: Blacksmith technologies that affect archers cost no gold. Hand Cannoneers fire 18% faster.
- Tatars: Archers deal +25% damage when attacking from higher elevation. Parthian Tactics and Thumb Ring are free.
- Turks: Hand Cannoneers and Janissaries have +25% HP and Chemistry is free.
- Vietnamese: Archery Range units have +20% HP and Conscription is free.
The following civilizations have bonuses that benefit archer units:
- Berbers: Genitour available at the Archery Range.
- Britons: Archery Ranges work 20% faster.
- Bulgarians: Blacksmith technologies that affect archers are researched 80% faster.
- Huns: Bloodlines and Husbandry are researched 20% faster.
- Lithuanians: Faith, Herbal Medicine, and Heresy are researched 20% faster.
- Magyars: Foot archers have +2 Line of Sight.
- Malians: Ballistics and Chemistry are researched 80% faster.
- Saracens: Foot archers have +2 attack against standard buildings.
- Tatars: Cavalry Archers have +2 LOS.
- Teutons: Archers are more resistant to conversion.
- Turks: Hand Cannoneers and Janissaries are created 20% faster.
- Vietnamese: Imperial Skirmisher available at the Archery Range.
- Excluding the Berbers, all civilizations with prominent Cavalry Archers originated in various parts of Asia. This is also highlighted by the availability of Parthian Tactics, with 9 out of 13 factions that can research it being Asian cultures.
- Among the 48 unique units in the game 15 are archers, including 8 cavalry archers. This makes the archer units the largest group of unique units.
- Excluding Rattan and Plumed Archers, all foot archer, skirmisher and gunpowder units move at a constant speed of 0.96.
- Contrary to popular belief, foot archer, skirmisher, and gunpowder units are unaffected by infantry speed upgrades like Squires. However their mounted counterparts are affected by Husbandry.