|“||Slavic Unique Unit. Heavily armored cavalry; resistant to melee attack.||”|
|—Age of Empires II description|
Boyars can be upgraded to Elite Boyars in the Imperial Age.
The Boyar is a heavily armored cavalry unit, enabling them to absorb a lot of damage. Still, they have a lower amount of hit points than the Paladin. However, their attack is heavy, and their melee armor is unparalleled in the cavalry branch. These properties make them extremely hard to take down solely with melee attack.
Slavs are primarily a siege and infantry civilization supported by cavalry and Monks. Boyars serve as the main shock troops of the Slavic army, serving to decimate the opponent's army once their opposing counters have been dealt with. Scorpions are probably the Slavs' best partner for Boyars, since they are the best the Slavs can field to cover the Boyar's weaknesses, which are massed archers, Monks, Halberdiers, and Heavy Camel Riders. The Boyars can effectively protect the Scorpion from approaching cavalry. Monks always fit in any Slavic army as well, as they can heal and convert. Camel Riders can be a deadly threat to that combination. They can effectively be countered with the outstanding Slavic infantry, especially Halberdiers.
Siege Onagers are also an option to use, but using them is far more difficult than using Scorpions since they damage friend and foe alike. That is especially unlucky for the Slavs since their army heavily relies on melee units.
Combinations of infantry, Boyars, and Monks only are also possible, but very prone to archer fire.
Getting a good number of Boyars requires having multiple Castles to sustain a good production (in fact, the really quick training time of the Boyar of 15 seconds equates to a Knight production from two Stables), and researching the Castle Age unique technology Detinets turns the Castle cost from 650 stone to 260 wood and 390 stone, thus making Castles more accessible and massing Boyars easier, especially in the Imperial Age, when stone starts to be more scarce, while also securing map control.
With statistics rivaling other cavalry civilizations' early Imperial Age Cavaliers, the Boyar in many ways outclasses some of the toughest Castle Age units such as Knights, Cataphracts, and Konniks. With their sheer bulk, they can even stand up to Camel Riders and Pikemen, although they are not cost effective in these match-ups. Since they are expensive and are Castle units, they are hard to mass. Their power combined and cost make Monks a good option to counter them.
Before update 36906, Boyars only had 1 base pierce armor (2 for Elite). Boyars were vulnerable to massed archers such as Crossbowmen and Plumed Archers. The Genoese Crossbowman deserves a separate mentioning here since it possesses an attack bonus against cavalry. Due to the patch, Boyars are now as hardy against archers as the Knight line, though their Elite version does have 30 less HP than a fully upgraded Paladin.
As with most cavalry units, Boyars do not fare well against Pikemen. While faring better against them than most other cavalry due to their armor and attack, Boyars are still not cost effective.
Since the Slavs are unfortunate enough to lack Heresy, Boyars are somewhat prone to conversion. This was worse before the Definitive Edition, since they also lacked access to Faith as well. Especially in the Castle Age, when Boyars may need 4 hits to strike down a Monk with Sanctity, a Boyar cannot hope to kill an enemy Monk if they meet alone. Hence, they are likely to be picked as a target for a conversion. In the Imperial Age, Faith can help the Elite Boyar win fights against Monks, as they will only need 3 strikes to kill a Monk, but it is a risk that should be avoided.
Civilizations with Camel Riders can freely use them against Boyars and rest assured to field a cost effective unit. Mamelukes can also be used. Against the Slavs, however, Camel Riders are not of much use anywhere else, since they fall to any other unit of the Slavic army.
While Boyars excel in melee fights against other heavy cavalry, the exception is found with the Lithuanian unique unit, the Leitis. The Leitis' attack ignores melee armor, which makes them a huge threat against the Boyars, though Boyars have higher hit points than Teutonic Knights, so they can survive a bit longer, but remain a primary Leitis target.
Boyars are very effective facing most infantry units, but the Obuch, the Polish unique unit, can pose a major threat to them, as every of the Obuch attack's remove armor by 1/1. While in an individual battle, Boyars still win due to their high hit points and attack, in large and prolonged battles the Boyar's armor will start to decline severely, thus their main advantage is gone. They are then vulnerable to not only Obuchs' attacks, but also attacks from other units like archers.
The Dravidian unique unit, the Urumi Swordsman, is another threat at the same level as Leiciai and Obuchs, as is trained fast, is cheaper, and after Wootz Steel is researched, the attack ignores armor, in conjunction with the charge attack (which ignores armor too) and even the hidden splash damage with the charge attack (which guarantees a 5 damage to nearby units), puts the Boyar in a terrible position.
In the Imperial Age, the Elite Boyar has 3 base pierce armor, the same as a Paladin. The Paladin, however, has 30 HP more than the Elite Boyar, which makes it even more suitable against archer fire. However, countering an archer army in the Imperial Age is not a problem for the Slavs, since they have Siege Rams and Siege Onagers with Siege Engineers.
Changes in the Definitive Edition
In the Definitive Edition, Boyars' training time is reduced to 15 seconds (both standard and elite).
With update 36906, Boyars get +1 pierce armor (both standard and elite), making them much better at soaking arrow damage and a strong counter against archers. However, their speed is reduced to 1.3, so they can still be countered by well micromanaged archers (especially mounted archers) and Monks.
With update 50292, Elite Boyars get +2 melee armor, making them even stronger against melee units.
With all upgrades, the Elite Boyar gets 11/7 armor (the same pierce armor as a fully upgraded Paladin and only 2 less melee armor than a fully upgraded Elite Teutonic Knight), making them one of the best armored units in the game.
As Boyars are unique to the Slavs, only technologies that are available to them are shown in the following table:
|Unit strengths and weaknesses|
|Strong vs.||Skirmishers, melee units, siege weapons|
|Weak vs.||Pikemen, Kamayuks, Teutonic Knights, Mamelukes, Camel Riders, Monks, War Elephants, Genoese Crossbowmen, Samurai, Leiciai, Obuchs|
|Hit points||Bloodlines (+20)|
|Attack|| Forging (+1)|
Iron Casting (+1)
Blast Furnace (+2)
|Armor|| Scale Barding Armor (+1/+1)|
Chain Barding Armor (+1/+1)
Plate Barding Armor (+1/+2)
|Creation speed|| Conscription (+33%)|
Kasbah (+25%, with a Berber ally only)
- A team containing Bulgarians: Researching upgrades at the Blacksmith is faster.
- A team containing Huns: Researching Bloodlines and Husbandry is 20% faster.
- A team containing Lithuanians: Researching Faith is 20% faster.
- A team containing Teutons: Boyars are more resistant to conversion.
- Boyars move at a speed of 1.35 and are created in 23/20 (Elite) seconds.
- Elite Boyars have 6 melee armor.
- Boyars have 1 (2 for Elite) pierce armor.
The African Kingdoms
- With patch 4.8, Boyars move at a speed of 1.4.
- (Elite) Boyar training time reduced to 15 seconds.
- With update 36906, Boyars have 2 (3 for Elite) pierce armor, and move at a speed of 1.3.
Lords of the West
- With update 50292, Elite Boyars have 8 melee armor.
In the mod version, Age of Empires II: The Forgotten Empires, the Boyar has a distinctly European looking design. The unit itself was an unused 'beta' model for the Cataphract. Joan of Arc's mounted unit also uses the said model for its horse and sword. In the retail version, Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten, however, the Boyar is replaced by a completely new model. This model's texture is appropriately region specific in appearance. The horse is encased in felt and leather with gold accents (covering the armor), the rider himself is armed with an axe instead of a sword and carries a circular shield as well. In patch 3.6, the Boyar received minor redesigns.
- In the Forgotten Empires mod for Age of Empires II, the Boyars' model was a modified version of Joan of Arc, which is also based on Cataphract's beta model.
- Before the Definitive Edition, the Boyar was one of four units without any innate attack bonus, the others being the Knight line, the Militia, and the Turtle Ship.
- The Boyar appears to be wielding a bardiche, a hafted-axe-based weapon whose use started in 15th century Russia and later became standard equipment for Strelets. It was also used in Poland, where similarly to Russia, it was used to rest handguns when firing. It was also used for execution duty.
- With 11 melee armor, a fully upgraded Elite Boyar has the highest melee armor of all cavalry units and the second highest of all land units, only behind of the Elite Teutonic Knight with 13 melee armor.
- Their increased pierce armor introduced in update 36906 is reasoned in the fact that Boyars were underused in most cases, as they were easily killed by large groups of archers and defensive structures (which made them not effective at raiding), and the Slavs lacked a strong mobile option against archers, as siege weapons are much slower and expensive. Elite Boyars, despite having high melee armor, were not very effective at defeating Paladins, especially the Frankish and Teutonic ones (which it just barely defeated in one-to-one combat, and if they did not get the first hit, the Paladins won) and losing clearly against the Lithuanian Paladin with 3 or 4 Relics. With update 50292, the Elite Boyar now has 8 base melee armor. With all upgrades, they now beat all Paladins in combat, only being tied with the Lithuanian one at four Relics, and even defeating Malay and Vietnamese Elite Battle Elephants in one-to-one combat. thus making them more appealing to use than before. With the loss of Blast Furnace for the Lithuanians, Boyars can crush all Paladins.
- Even after all the changes, Boyars are seldom used in 1vs1, due to the Castle requirement in the Castle Age while gold is not scarce, and high gold cost in the late game where Castles are easier to produce. Moreover, the lack of speed makes them prone against Monks. It is still the main cavalry choice for late-game team games, since the Slavs have no Paladin.
- In the beta, Elite Boyars had 16 attack. Due to a bug, if this version of Boyars died, they did not have death sounds.
- The Elite Boyar might have the best armor for any unit in the game, as they can resist a lot of melee damage (except the anti-cavalry attacks) and also being quite resistant against pierce attacks (they can take up to 50 Arbalester shots).
- The Boyars are often nicknamed Mounted Teutonic Knights for having very high melee armor and decent pierce armor, but are the slowest among the non–elephant cavalry units.
A boyar was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Bulgarian, Serbian, East Slavic, Wallachian, and Moldavian and later, Romanian aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes (in Bulgaria, tsars), from the 10th century to the 17th century. The rank has lived on as a surname in Russia, Ukraine and Romania, and in Finland, where it is spelled Pajari.
Also known as bolyar, this word appears in various languages include Bulgarian: боляр or болярин; Ukrainian: буй or боярин; Russian: боя́рин, tr.boyarin, IPA: [bɐˈjærʲɪn]; Romanian: boier, IPA: [boˈjer]; and Greek: βογιάρος.
The word is likely derived from the plural form of the Bulgarian title boyila, boyle ("noble") attested in Bulgar inscriptions, in Old Church Slavonic as болꙗринъ boljarinŭ (sg.), болꙗрина boljarina (du.), болꙗре boljare (pl.), as βωυλε bоyle, βοιλας, βοηλας, βοιλᾶς boilas, βουληα boylea, βολιᾶς bolias, βοιλάδες boilades and βολιάδες boliades in the Byzantine Greek documents. Multiple different derivation theories of the word have been suggested by scholars and linguists: Watkins derived the title from Turkic *boyla er with er meaning "man" and boyla "Turkic nobleman of a rank below a khan"; even so, Clauson (1972:385) proposed that the boyla had a pre-Turkic, possibly Xiongnu, origin. The title entered Old East Slavic as была byla (nom. sing.) & былями bylyami (instr. pl.) (attested solely in The Tale of Igor's Campaign) (possibly from unattested *bŭila *бъіла or *бъила).