"Stronger than Skirmisher. Ranged unit equipped with armor vs. archer attacks."—Age of Empires II description
The Elite Skirmisher is an anti-archer ranged unit in Age of Empires II that can be trained at the Archery Range once the Castle Age is reached. They have an attack bonus against archers and, as opposed to its predecessor, an extra attack bonus against Cavalry Archers. They also have increased hit points, attack power, and pierce armor. This makes Elite Skirmishers more useful against other ranged units even beyond the Castle Age.
The * indicates that the civilization can fully upgrade their Elite Skirmishers, i.e. gets Bracer, Ring Archer Armor, and Thumb Ring. Faith and Heresy are not taken into account because they only contribute to their combat strength in a very situational manner.
Most of the time, Skirmishers are very weak to everything except Archers, Hand Cannoneers, and Pikemen (to a degree). With a weak and slow attack, as well as a minimum range, they deal almost no damage to infantry and cavalry. Nevertheless, their attack bonus against archers can make them valuable against any archer-using opponent, especially if the player's civilization bonuses benefit infantry or heavy cavalry. Unless created to retaliate against enemy archers, each individual unit does poor damage and in most games, training Elite Skirmishers is avoided unless opponents are going heavy on archer units. Elite Skirmishers also have a +3 attack bonus against Pikemen, allowing groups of them to quickly take out approaching Pikemen, but their minimum range still makes them vulnerable.
While Elite Skirmishers make poor ranged support in small numbers, they are extremely cheap. As they cost no gold, they are considered trash units and can be easily massed in significant numbers enough to kill units with a single volley. The size of the mob of units should also prevent enemy units from coming close enough to all of the units, allowing them to continue to fire. Therefore the Elite Skirmisher becomes especially important in the late game when gold becomes scarce and players have to rely on a wood and food economy. In the trash wars situation their bonus against the Spearman line also becomes more useful.
Further statistics Edit
|Unit strengths and weaknesses|
|Weak vs.||Melee units, siege units|
|Attack|| Fletching (+1)|
Bodkin Arrow (+1)
Atlatl (+1, Aztecs only)
|Range|| Fletching (+1)|
Bodkin Arrow (+1)
Atlatl (+1, Aztecs only)
Yeomen (+1, Britons only)
Andean Sling (eliminates the minimum range, Incas only)
|Accuracy|| Thumb Ring (increases accuracy to 100%)|
Ballistics (hit moving targets)
|Armor|| Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)|
Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
Pavise (+1/+1, Italians only in patches 4-4.7)
Tower Shields (+2 pierce armor, Lithuanians only)
|Conversion defense|| Faith|
|Creation speed||Conscription (+33%)|
|Upgrades||Imperial Skirmisher (Vietnamese and allies only)|
Civilization bonuses Edit
- Aztecs: Elite Skirmishers are created 18% faster.
- Burmese: Researching Faith is 50% cheaper.
- Byzantines: Elite Skirmishers are 25% cheaper.
- Celts: Elite Skirmishers can convert herdables even if enemy units are next to them.
- Chinese: Technologies that benefit Elite Skirmishers are 15%/20% cheaper in the Castle/Imperial Age.
- Koreans: Elite Skirmishers cost -15% wood.
- Lithuanians: Elite Skirmishers move 10% faster.
- Spanish: Blacksmith upgrades that benefit Elite Skirmishers don't cost gold.
- Tatars: Elite Skirmishers deal 50% bonus damage from cliffs and elevations. Thumb Ring is free.
- Vietnamese: Elite Skirmishers have +20% hit points. Conscription is free.
Team bonuses Edit
- A team containing Berbers: With Kasbah researched, researching Conscription is 25% faster.
- A team containing Britons: Elite Skirmishers are created and upgraded 20% faster. Researching Thumb Ring is 20% faster.
- A team containing Malians: Researching Chemistry and Ballistics is 80% faster.
- A team containing Saracens: Elite Skirmishers have +1 attack against standard buildings.
- A team containing Teutons: Elite Skirmishers are more resistant to conversion.
- A team containing Vietnamese: Elite Skirmishers can be upgraded to Imperial Skirmishers.
- A team containing Lithuanians: Researching Heresy and Faith is 20% faster.
- A team containing Bulgarians: Researching archer armor and attack upgrades at the Blacksmith is 50% faster.
The Conquerors Edit
- Elite Skirmishers receive an attack bonus of +2 against cavalry archers and +3 against Spearmen.
- Heresy introduced.
- Thumb Ring introduced.
- Britons: Yeomen introduced. It is only available in the Imperial Age.
The Forgotten Edit
- Britons: Yeomen moved to the Castle Age.
The African Kingdoms Edit
- Ethiopians: Initially, Elite Skirmishers fire 15% faster. With patch 4.8, that bonus was taken away and Elite Skirmishers no longer have an increased Rate of Fire.
- Italians: Before patch 4.8, Pavise affects Elite Skirmishers. With patch 4.8, Pavise does not affect Elite Skirmishers anymore.
Rise of the Rajas Edit
- Vietnamese: Initially, Elite Skirmishers have +15%/+20% HP in the Castle/Imperial Age. With patch 5.8, they now have +20% HP.
Definitive Edition Edit
- Koreans: Elite Skirmishers costs -15% wood.
- Lithuanians: With update 36906, Tower Shields grants +2 pierce armor instead of +1.
- Skirmishers are the cheapest of all military units, tied with the Spearman line, costing only 60 resources and no gold.
"In many Middle Age armies skirmishers were the rabble that was thrown in at the start of a battle and then often overrun by the heavy cavalry of both sides. A few armies trained elite skirmishers who could disrupt enemy formations, fall back, and support the main friendly fighting force from the sides. An army that could put elite skirmishers in the field to support its main army had an advantage over an army that did not. The Swiss, for example, often employed up to a quarter of their force in a skirmish role. Elite Swiss skirmishers supported the dense phalanxes of Swiss pikemen by disrupting enemy troops before the pikes made their attack. In an emergency, the skirmishers could take cover under the rows of pointed pikes and then stand up once more to engage a withdrawing enemy."