Age of Empires Series Wiki
Age of Empires Series Wiki

The leader of your colony. Explores, fights, builds Town Centers and Trading Posts. Cannot die. If he falls unconscious, he can be rescued.
—In-game description

The Explorer is a hero in Age of Empires III. It explores uncharted areas of the map and has some special abilities to help itself and its colony. In standard random map games, all European civilizations start with an Explorer.


The Explorer can build Town Centers and Trading Posts. This allows the player a second attempt at rebuilding if their original colony was destroyed, provided that they have enough resources to build one and train Settlers (except for the Ottomans, who get them for free). He builds a Trading Post faster than regular Settlers, nearing that of a Coureur des Bois or a Settler Wagon.

The Explorer can explore and fight longer if he has a few units accompanying him. He can regenerate health, which increases as the player Ages up. Explorers are very ineffective at raiding enemy settlements early in the game, as they only deal 25% damage against villager-type units. They are also very weak against Spies and Ninja.

Unlike other units who simply die when their hit points reach 0, the Explorer will collapse. While the Explorer is in this state, the player can either pay 100 coin as ransom to whoever dealt the final blow (including Mother Nature) or help him back up on his feet with an allied unit or building (this also includes projectiles fired from friendly units); in order to rescue the Explorer, he must have at least 100 hit points.

Several "El Pollo Guapo" treasures, found on specific North American random maps, can provide additional stats such as a 20% speed boost or 20-100% hit point boost, which stacks with other treasures and technologies.

Every European civilization has a unique Home City Card for their Explorer, which improves his fighting ability and sends him a companion Explorer Dog. The Spanish Explorer, already having War Dogs of his own, does not get an Explorer Dog; instead it boosts the hit points and attack of his War Dogs.

Special abilities[]

Sharpshooter attack.png Sharpshooter Attack: The Explorer fires a single shot that does 750 ranged damage to the target treasure guardian. 60 seconds cooldown.
Sharpshooter attack.png Eye of the Assassin (available on the Industrial Age): The Explorer fires a single shot that does 475 (5 against Spies and Ninja) ranged damage to the target enemy infantry or cavalry. 90 seconds cooldown.
Spyglass.png Spyglass: The Portuguese Explorer reveals a radius of 18 (24 if the "Navigator" Home City Card is sent) centered on the target location for 5 seconds. 90 seconds cooldown (shared across all Portuguese Explorers if the "Bandeirantes" card is sent).
Hot air balloon icon.png Hot Air Balloon (requires the "Hot Air Balloon" card in the original Age of Empires III or The Inventor Commerce Age politician in the Definitive Edition): The Explorer spawns a Hot Air Balloon that remains for 20 seconds. 240 seconds cooldown.
Swashbuckler attack.png Swashbuckler Attack (requires the "Captain" card): The British Explorer performs a sweeping hand attack that does 100 (25 against villagers, Spies, and Ninja) melee damage to the target enemy and other enemies in a radius of 3 around the Explorer. 90 seconds cooldown.
Heal ability.png Heal (requires the "Voyageur" card): The French Explorer restores 400 hit points to friendly units in a radius of 10 centered on the target location. 120 seconds cooldown.
Heavy Strike.png Heavy Strike (requires the "Duelist" card): The Swedish Explorer performs a heavy strike with the sword that does 30 (600 against Treasure Guardians) melee damage to the target enemy. 30 seconds cooldown.


The Explorer is automatically upgraded on each Age starting from the Commerce Age.

Colonial age up.png +25% hit points and attack
Fortress age up.png +30% hit points and attack
Industrial age up.png +40% hit points and attack
Imperial age up.png +50% hit points

The attack increase also applies to the Explorer's special abilities.

Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Treasure Guardians
Weak vs. Villagers, cavalry, Spies, Ninja
Hit points Flint lock.png Flint Lock (+10%)
Knighthood.png Knighthood (+1,000)
Peerage.png Peerage (+1,000)
Thin Red Line.png Thin Red Line (+20%, British only)
Aztec initiation.png Aztec Initiation (+100%, vanilla Age of Empires III only)
Cree Tanning.png Cree Tanning (+5%)
Navajo Weaving.png Navajo Weaving (+5%)
Sikh Gurus.png Sikh Gurus (+50%)
Attack Paper cartridge.png Paper Cartridge (+10%)
Peerage.png Peerage (+100%)
Aztec initiation.png Aztec Initiation (+100%, vanilla Age of Empires III only)
Iroquois lacrosse.png Iroquois Lacrosse (+10%, vanilla Age of Empires III only)
Yoga.png Yoga (+5%)
Smokeless Powder.png Smokeless Powder (+30% siege attack)
Clenched Fist.png Clenched Fist (+30% melee attack)
Speed Military Drummers.png Military Drummers (+10%)
Tillys Discipline.png Tilly's Discipline (+20%, Germans only)
Inca Road-building.png Incan Road-building (+20%)
Apache Endurance.png Apache Endurance (+5%)
Sight Town Watch.png Town Watch (+2)
Other Carib Ambush Party.png Carib Ambush Party (train Carib Ambushers)
Loyal Nootka Warchief.png Loyal Nootka War Chief (train Nootka War Chief)
Penalties Knighthood.png Knighthood (+50 ransom cost)
Peerage.png Peerage (+50 ransom cost)
Thin Red Line.png Thin Red Line (-25% speed, British only)
Coffee Trade.png Coffee Trade (-10% speed, Dutch only)

Home City Cards[]


Age of Empires III[]

  • The Portuguese Explorer's Spyglass has a 120 second cooldown.
  • Hot Air Balloon requires the namesake Home City Card.
  • Eye of the Assassin deals 5000 damage

Definitive Edition[]

  • The Portuguese Explorer's Spyglass now has a 90 second cooldown.
  • Hot Air Balloon now requires the player to advance to the Commerce Age with The Inventor.
  • Eye of the Assassin now deals 475 damage (still scales with age to be an instant kill on all but the highest HP units e.g., Mahout Lancers).


  • No in-game Explorer model resembles the Explorer's unit portrait. However, the images on each unique Home City Card for the Explorer (see Home City Cards) resemble each respective civilizations' Explorers.
  • An Explorer that belongs to a non-European or campaign-exclusive civilization will receive a random hero name from Age of Mythology.
  • When playing against the CPU in the original vanilla version of Age of Empires III, each of the civilizations had a set name for their explorer that represented actual historical figures. The set names were Francis Drake, Jacques Cartier, Cabeza de Vaca, Ferdinand Magellan, Peter Minuit, Alexander von Humboldt, Vitus Bering, and Piri Reis.


Explorers set out for the New World with a variety of backgrounds and missions. Some were nobles seeking fame and wealth; others were slaves forced to accompany their masters. Some wanted to claim new lands for the nations that sponsored their voyages; others wanted to explore the lands, their peoples, and the flora and fauna.

Estevanico was a slave from Morocco, sold to the Spaniard Andres de Dorantes. Dorantes joined an expedition to explore the Gulf Coast from Florida to Mexico. The ill-fated venture ended with only eighty of the original crew floating on makeshift rafts, only two of which landed on the shores of Texas near Galveston with neither food, nor water. Dorantes and Estevanico set out on their own, traveling west and south. They were captives for five years, faith healers, and legends amongst the Native Americans of the area. They eventually reached Mexico City where the viceroy refused to allow Dorantes to search Texas for the Seven Cities of Gold. Dorantes sold Estevanico to the viceroy and left for Spain.

Estevanico accompanied a missionary, Father Marcos de Niza, north ranging ahead and speaking to the Native Americans he encountered about the white men following in his wake. Estevanico had runners carry crosses back to Father Niza, their size indicating the promise of the region. Each new cross that Father Niza received was larger than the previous cross, and then he received one that was massive. Estevanico had discovered a Zuni pueblo; it is unknown whether he thought this pueblo was one of the Cities of Gold, but he spent an evening camped outside the town. In the morning, the Zuni attacked and killed him, fearing his presence was a bad omen.


See also[]

  • War Chief – fulfills the same role for Native American civilizations
  • Monk – fulfills the same role for Asian civilizations
  • General – fulfills the same role for the United States