Age of Empires Series Wiki
Info icon.png
This article is about the unit in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. For the unit in Age of Mythology, see Huskarl (Age of Mythology).

Gothic unique infantry unit with high pierce armor.
Age of Empires II description

The Huskarl is the unique unit of the Goths in Age of Empires II. It is an infantry unit that is almost immune to archer fire.

Huskarls can be upgraded to Elite Huskarls in the Imperial Age.


Huskarls are infantry units that have decent attack and speed, but their biggest asset is their high base pierce armor. This makes them one of the best raiding units in the game, and an absolute nightmare for archers (they even deal a large amount of bonus damage vs archers). Their pierce armor, base bonus attack vs buildings and the Goth anti-building infantry civilization bonus means that Huskarls can destroy a Castle with minimal effort.

With 0 base melee armor and relatively mediocre HP, they are not recommended for any melee combat except vs Camel Riders, Light Cavalry, Halberdiers, or Eagle Warriors (they lose one-on-one against Mongol Hussars). However, the Goths are able to field Huskarls very cheaply and rapidly, so they may still be able to overwhelm standard melee units (such as Paladins or Champions) by sheer numbers.

Melee units with higher armor (Boyar, Teutonic Knight) or an attack bonus against Huskarls (Jaguar Warrior, Cataphract, Samurai) should generally be avoided. War Elephants and Battle Elephants can also decimate them thanks to their high HP, powerful attacks, and splash damage, but must be wary of Halberdiers that are usually a part of a Goth player's army composition. Ranged melee units such as Throwing Axemen, Gbetos, or Mamelukes are also effective against Huskarls.

Huskarl walk anim.gif

Onagers can also be a threat since they deal high melee-type damage and large area damage. Scorpions, however, are not effective since they deal mediocre pierce damage, and can be easily handled if not protected well. Hand Cannoneers and Slingers can be effective against Huskarls due to their attack bonus and range, but as both of the units take huge bonus damage themselves (an Elite Huskarl kills them in two strikes), they must be massed or protected by melee units in order to be effective.

Further statistics[]

As Huskarls are unique to the Goths, only technologies that are available to them are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Archers, buildings, Eagle Warriors, Light Cavalry, Camel Riders, Scorpions
Weak vs. Mangonels, Heavy infantry, Heavy cavalry, Throwing Axemen, Mamelukes, Gbetos, War Elephants, Battle Elephants
Attack Forging aoe2de.png Forging (+1)
IronCastingDE.png Iron Casting (+1)
BlastFurnaceDE.png Blast Furnace (+2)
Armor ScaleMailArmorDE.png Scale Mail Armor (+1/+1)
ChainMailArmorDE.png Chain Mail Armor (+1/+1)
Speed SquiresDE.png Squires (+10%)
Sight TrackingDE.png Tracking (+2)
Conversion defense FaithDE.png Faith
Creation speed ConscriptionDE.png Conscription (+33%)
Unique-tech-imperial.jpg Perfusion (+100%, only for Barracks-trained Huskarls)
Other CastleAgeUnique.png Anarchy (allows creation at Barracks)
Upgrades Elite-unique-research.jpg Elite Huskarl

Civilization bonuses[]

  • Goths: Huskarls are 30%/35% cheaper in the Castle/Imperial Age, and have +2/+3 attack against standard buildings in the Castle/Imperial Age.

Team bonuses[]


The Age of Kings[]

  • Non-Elite Huskarls train in 26 seconds, Elite Huskarls in 16 seconds.
  • Huskarls have 4 pierce armor, Elite Huskarls 6.
  • Huskarls have a +3 attack bonus against archers, Elite Huskarls +4.
  • Huskarls move at a speed of 0.9.
  • Huskarls are 15%/25% cheaper in the Castle/Imperial Age.
  • The Goths' civilization bonus gives Huskarls an extra +1 attack bonus against standard buildings.

The Conquerors[]

  • Both Elite and non-Elite Huskarls now train in 16 seconds.
  • Huskarls now have 6 pierce armor, Elite Huskarls 8.
  • Huskarls now have a +6 attack bonus against archers, Elite Huskarls +10.
  • Huskarls now move at a speed of 1.05.
  • Perfusion and Anarchy introduced. With patch 1.0b, Huskarls are now 35% cheaper.

The African Kingdoms[]

Definitive Edition[]

  • Tracking removed; all infantry now receive +2 LOS from the Feudal Age instead.
  • With update 36202, Huskarls are 30%/35% cheaper in the Castle/Imperial Age.
  • With update 36202, Goths no longer have access to Arson. Instead, the Goths' civilization bonus now gives Huskarls an extra +2/+3 attack against standard buildings in the Castle/Imperial Age.


  • In the fifth Design Document of Ensemble Studios (dated 17 July 1998), the planned unique unit of the Goths is the Berserk, while the Vikings are planned to have the Longboat only. No characteristics are specified, but it is likely the early concept of the Berserk was split into the Berserk and the Huskarl.
  • The Huskarl's speed represents both the mobility of the Goths and the fast but disorganized charges of the Germanic 'Barbarians' when compared to Roman infantry in formation.
    • The high pierce armor is likely a stand in for the Shield Wall, which was planned to be an alternative stance of the Militia line during development. This would actually reduce the speed of infantry but make it more resistant to arrows.
  • The Huskarl (along with Ghulam) is the only melee infantry unit that has an attack bonus against archers. Given that Huskarls also resist archer attacks and archers are the main weakness of infantry units, that arguably makes Huskarls the most versatile infantry units.
  • Before the Definitive Edition, Huskarls trained at the Castle and Barracks could not be grouped together; that is, double-clicking either would not select the units trained at the other building.
  • The word huskarl is not a Gothic word, but Old Norse and translates to "house-man". Old Norse karl and Old English ceorl (> churl) both descend from Proto-Germanic *karilaz, which, however, had no Gothic reflex.
    • Still, Goths indeed originated from Iron Age Scandinavia. However, Goths spoke East Germanic dialects like their Vandal cousins, while Goths' Norse cousins spoke North Germanic dialects.
    • The Old Norse word huskarl was also borrowed into Old English. Housecarls were commonly found among the retinues of Saxon and Norse warlords well into the 11th century. The housecarls of Harold Godwinson, last Saxon king of England, fought at Hastings in 1066.
    • In the Visigothic kingdom of Toledo, the equivalent of the Huskarl was the Gardingo < Gardingus (attested Latinized version given in Rex Visigothorum) < hypothetical Gothic *𐌲𐌰𐍂𐌳𐌹𐌲𐌲𐍃 *gardiggs (-𐌲𐌲- -gg- was pronounced [ŋ]). Gothic *𐌲𐌰𐍂𐌳𐌹𐌲𐌲𐍃 *gardiggs was most likely derived from the same Proto-Germanic root *gard(a)-, which also yielded *gardaz > Gothic 𐌲𐌰𐍂𐌳𐍃 gards "court, household > lineage", Old English ġeard > yard, etc.;
    • Gardingo was the only rank of Germanic origin that survived in the heavily Romanized late Visigothic army. Originally, Gardingos were bodyguards of kings who lived in their palace and had no property of their own, but as time passed they gained the right to own and inherit lands, raise their own troops (called Buccellarii, a late Roman rank), and became part of the high nobility (Maiores). They were still renowned for their loyalty, and legend has it that they managed to carry away the body of the last king Roderic after The Battle of Guadalete.
  • The in-game Huskarl unit is armed with a sword and a shield, which were indeed the Goths' principal arms. The historical Norse-speaking huskarls more likely armed themselves with axes.
  • The Huskarl can be defeated by a fully upgraded cavalry trash unit, the Hussar.
  • The Huskarl is affected by all of the civilization's military bonuses, unique technologies and team bonus, as it is 30%/35% cheaper and gets +2/+3 attack against buildings in the Castle/Imperial Age, can be created at the Barracks with the Anarchy technology and the training time is more than double with the Perfusion technology and the 20% faster working Barracks by the Goths' team bonus.


Within the Germanic tribes that overran the Western Roman Empire and brought in the Dark Ages, including the Goths, tribal leaders kept a personal retinue of warriors known as huskarls. These men served their chiefs fanatically in return for a large share in any plunder the tribe could grab. Huskarls trained for battle continuously and had few other duties. A chief had to be successful in acquiring plunder, however, or risk being removed or abandoned. As the Dark Ages progressed, huskarls were absorbed into the feudal system as vassals of lords. They remained a lord's or king's personal fighting force but often became responsible for their own support on lands given to them by their chief. This system replaced much of the sharing of plunder.