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Four Monks converting an Elite War Elephant in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition.

Conversion in the Age of Empires series is the act of turning a neutral or enemy unit or building to the player's side, typically through a Priest or Monk.

Overview and tactics Edit

Converting enemy units and structures requires faith, which is drained when the process is successful and regenerates slowly afterwards; a Monk/Priest is unable to perform a conversion if he is not at 100% faith.

By default, only standard units can be converted, while heroes, buildings, Kings, Monks/Priests and siege units are immune, though there are several technologies that can circumvent some of these weaknesses.

Through conversion, a player can manage to procure specific units and/or structures that are not normally available to their civilization (e.g., converting enemy cavalry while playing as the Aztecs). Several types of unique units are often targets of conversion due to their strategic advantages. It is advised to target the most expensive and powerful enemy units to get the most value and damage to the enemy with every single conversion. Converting units can also allow the player to circumvent the population limit.

Age of Empires Edit

In Age of Empires, Priests perform conversions. First available in the Bronze Age, they can initially convert all enemy units except other priests, but not buildings. Chariots, Chariot Archers and all ships are more resistant to conversion than other units. All units of Macedonian civilization are 4 times more resistant to conversion. Meanwhile, the lumbering speed of slow units such as War Elephants, Armored Elephants, and Elephant Archers makes them especially prone to conversion.

Researching several technologies at the Temple can help improving the odds of a successful conversion:

  • Astrology - Conversions are completed faster.

  • Afterlife - Increases the priest's conversion range.
  • Monotheism - enables priests to convert enemy priests and buildings (except Wonders, Town Centers and Walls.)
  • Sacrifice - Enables a priest to instantly convert another unit (not another priest) at the cost of his life.

Age of Empires II Edit

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Two Monks converting an enemy Monk, with the help of the Atonement technology.

In Age of Empires II, Monks perform conversions (and Missionaries, too, in the case of the Spanish). First available in the Castle Age, Monks can initially convert all enemy units except other Monks and siege weapons, but they cannot convert buildings.

Monks can never convert enemy Kings, and from The Conquerors onward, they cannot convert heroes either. The scouting units (the Scout Cavalry line and Eagles) both have an innate resistance against conversion as well as an attack bonus against Monks. They also move very fast, which makes them excellent counters against enemy Monks. Teutonic units and buildings also have an innate resistance to conversion due to their team bonus, which also extends to their allies.

While the player is converting an enemy, a harmonized chant is heard during the process. However, if an enemy is in the process of converting one of the player's units, the same sound is heard, but mixed with a deeper humming sound.

Researching several technologies at the Castle and Monastery can help to improve the odds of a successful conversion:

  • Atonement - Monks can convert enemy Monks.
  • Redemption - Monks can convert enemy siege weapons and most buildings.
  • Heresy - The player's units die instantly if converted by the enemy.
  • Inquisition - Increases Spanish Monks' conversion rate.

  • Block Printing - Increases the range of conversion.
  • Faith - Makes the player's units 50% more resistant to conversion.
  • Illumination - Monks need less resting time between conversions.
  • Theocracy - If multiple Monks successfully convert an enemy unit, only one of them needs to rest afterwards.

Conversion mechanics Edit

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Four Monks converting an enemy Watch Tower. The left Monk died trying.

From The Conquerors onwards, AI Monks attempt to convert their target at regular intervals, called here conversion intervals (CI), roughly equal to 1 game-time second. Once a Monk is at conversion range of his target (or touches it in case of rams, Trebuchets, and buildings), his first CI starts. His three first CIs have no effect on the target and only serve as warm-up. Starting from the fourth CI, the Monk has a 28% chance to convert a unit at the end of every CI. The Monk is guaranteed to convert his target at the end of the 10th CI. Attempts to convert buildings start at the 15th CI and are guaranteed to succeed at the end of the 25th CI.

In other words, Monks need between four and ten CIs to convert a unit, and between 15 and 25 CIs to convert a building.[1]

Switching targets does not reset the conversion intervals; however, moving in any direction does reset it. This makes it impossible to hit-and-run with Monks or Missionaries in the traditional sense.

Effects of conversion resistance Edit

The Teutonic team bonus adds 1 minimum CI, 2 maximum CIs, and 2 resistance levels.

Faith adds 2 minimum CIs, 4 maximum CIs, and 3 resistance levels.

All units start at level 0, except for the Scout Cavalry line and Eagles, which start at level 8. Buildings start at level 3. From level 2 onwards, the chance to be converted at every CI is (28/n)%, where n is the conversion resistance level. Actually, units are not always guaranteed to be converted at the maximum CI (at least the very resistant ones). The probability of conversion switches from 0.28/n to 10/n starting from the beginning of the maximum CI. Units at level 10 or below are always converted, but Scouts and Eagles with at least Faith researched have a low probability of being converted. If they are also Teutonic or allied to a Teuton, they not only have a high chance of reaching that maximum CI, but they can randomly survive 1 to 2 extra CIs before being converted.

Inquisition Edit

Inquisition removes 1 minimum CI and 1 maximum CI for all conversions and removes 5 minimum CIs and 5 maximum CIs for converting buildings (–6 min / –6 max total CIs for buildings). Buildings are also slightly easier to convert (+2%). It affects both Monks and Missionaries.

Age of Mythology Edit

In Age of Mythology, conversion is largely limited to Chinese Monks, who can convert enemy human soldiers (and Shennong Monks can also convert non-Titan myth units) and Egyptian Priests of Set, who can only convert wild animals. The animals, together with any available Animals of Set, can form a decent army or can be used for scouting. Note that the player can weaken an opponent's early-game economy by converting nearby huntable animals.

Some god powers and myth unit special abilities also have conversion-like effects. Rheia's Traitor god power converts a single unit to the player's side. Hyperion's god power, Chaos, turns enemy units neutral (hostile to all other units), as does the special ability of Hekate's Lampades. OsirisMummies have a special ability that kills an enemy unit and raises it from the dead as a friendly Minion, which is effectively the same as conversion.

Age of Empires III Edit

In Age of Empires III, only the War Chiefs, Sioux Axe Riders (with the level 40 Home City Card Morning Star), and Chinese Monks (Shaolin Master and Disciple) have any sort of converting ability. All of the three War Chiefs can convert Treasure Guardians, and Axe Riders can obtain this converting ability after a specific shipment is given. Converted Treasure Guardians will have their HP reduced, have a massive 90% damage penalty against Villagers and buildings, and will not move in an organized formation even with the option enabled. Chinese Monks can turn a defeated enemy unit at random into a friendly Disciple.

Trivia Edit

Age of Empires Edit

  • The sound of the Priest's chant ("wololo") has since become an internet meme. In a Beam me up, Scotty-esque twist of fate, it is also often associated with Age of Empires II's Monks.

Age of Empires III Edit

  • The Disciple created by the Chinese Shaolin Master will always appear Chinese even if the previously defeated enemy is not (e.g., a European soldier). This can extend to vanquished foes that are not even human (e.g., a Treasure Guardian or trained pet).

References Edit

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