|“||The bow remained an important military weapon after the fall of Rome, although less so in areas of Europe covered by dense forests.||”|
|—Excerpt from the Archer description|
Archers are ranged units that fire arrows to inflict damage in the Age of Empires series. Their attacks easily decimate infantry, though their low armor and hit points make them vulnerable to fast infantry, such as Eagle Warriors and Woad Raiders, and cavalry units. Archers are also ineffective against siege weapons due to their relatively short range, low amount of hit points and the presence of decent pierce armor on such units.
The classification of "Archers" can be a somewhat vague one in the Age of Empires series, as its use varies from title to title. While at times it only refers to units equipped with bows, it may also refer to units armed with slings, javelins, or other ranged weapons. Furthermore, although at some times it refers to any unit using a bow, some mounted units armed with bows, such as the Cavalry Archer, are treated as being a distinct class of units.
- Main article: Archer units (Age of Empires)
In Age of Empires, all five lines of units available at the Archery Range are Archers. There is also the borderline case of the Slinger, which can be categorized as an archer despite being trained at the Barracks and being armed with a sling rather than a bow.
One notable feature about Archers in Age of Empires is the relatively high number of mounted archers, which make up the majority of Archery Range units. This emphasis towards mounted archers extends to civilization bonuses; whereas various civilizations such as the Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Yamato have bonuses that improve one or more mounted archer units, and the Hittites have a bonus to improve the attack of all Archery Range units, only the Minoans have a bonus that exclusively improves their foot archers: +2 Range for Composite Bowmen.
Archers can be upgraded in several ways. The various lumberjack upgrades at the Market also increase their range by +1 each, the various Storage Pit upgrades for archers improve their armor by +2 each, and a few Government Center technologies can improve aspects such as attack and accuracy. Note, however, that archers lack the plentiful attack upgrades available to melee units at the Storage Pit. Conversely, though, other units receive limited support for defense against archers, as technologies like Bronze Shield only provide half as much Pierce Armor as their melee armor counterparts.
Archer units in Age of Empires are:
- Improved Bowman and Composite Bowman
- Chariot Archer
- Elephant Archer
- Horse Archer and Heavy Horse Archer
- Main article: Archer units (Age of Empires II)
Compared to the previous game, Age of Empires II stands out in a few respects. For one, when including unique units, it includes many more units: in addition to the four standard lines of Archery Range units, there are 16 lines of archer-type unique units, including oddities such as the Imperial Skirmisher and the Slinger. This game also places a heavier emphasis on foot archers than mounted archers, with only one line of ranged cavalry being a standard unit: the Cavalry Archer.
In general, archer units in Age of Empires II require wood and gold to produce. This means that they place different burdens on the player's economy than the more food-heavy demands of infantry and cavalry units.
It is also worth noting that the technologies used to improve archer units differ from Age of Empires. For example, rather than using lumberjack upgrades to improve range, archers' range is upgraded along with their attack at the Blacksmith. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the way armor is upgraded is different in Age of Empires II, since the same standard armor technologies from the Blacksmith improve both melee and pierce armor for categories of units. These two factors essentially cancel one another out, but make it all the more important that one keeps their units upgraded over the course of the game.
The distinction between standard foot archers and ranged cavalry is more important than ever, thanks to various technologies and unit attributes that may favor one or the other. For more information on ranged cavalry in particular, please see that article. Likewise, to see how ranged infantry units such as the Throwing Axeman differ from archers, please visit that article.
- Main article: Archer units (Age of Mythology)
Archers in Age of Mythology are human units, which means that they fare poorly against myth units. Each civilization has two standard archer units except for the Norse, who only receive the Bogsveigir. Usually, one will be a "standard" archer, such as the Toxotes, Chariot Archer, and Arcus, while the other will be a "counter-archer," such as the Peltast, Slinger, and Turma.
Note that ranged cavalry are especially rare in this game, with only three units qualifying as such.
- Main article: Archer (Age of Empires III)
In Age of Empires III, only a few archer-type units are used by European civilizations, having been superseded by their gunpowder counterparts. Native American, Asian, and African civilizations can field more powerful archer units.