|This article is about the unit in Age of Empires II. For the armor class, see Armor class: Monk. For the similar unit in other games of the series, see Monk.|
"Slow and weak. Converts enemy units, ships to your civilization (player color). Heals wounded villagers, military units (except siege weapons)."—Age of Empires II description
The Monk is a special unit in Age of Empires II that can be trained at the Monastery. Lacking any means of attack, Monks are one of only two units able to convert other units to the player's side, the other being the Spanish Missionary. They heal allied units and the player's own units, except for ships and siege weapons. Initially weak, Monks can be powered up quite a bit by researching all technologies in the Monastery.
Of all civilizations, the Aztecs have the strongest Monks, having access to all religious technologies and receiving an extra 5 HP for each one researched. If every technology is researched, Aztec Monks have 95 HP - more than twice as much as a regular Monk with Sanctity.
The Slavs, Saracens, and Spanish also have unique technologies that benefit their Monks. Byzantine and Teuton Monks are also fairly effective, benefiting from both Monastery upgrades and team bonuses.
Monks are a versatile unit that play a number of important roles from the Castle Age onward, including the collection of Relics, harassing opposing resource nodes, disrupting opponents lines, dissuading Knight aggression, and healing injured units.
The first and arguably most important role they serve is to collect Relics. A Relic is a special object that when garrisoned in one of their Monasteries, the player possessing it will receive a small but continuous trickle of gold over time, roughly equivalent to one Dark Age Miner. The more the Relics the player collects, the more gold they generate. Unlike mining, Relics do not run out of resources. Most importantly, training Monks quickly and effectively in a game with standard victory becomes critical following the Castle Age since collecting and holding every Relic for a brief time period is one of the many ways to win the game.
ConversionThe second purpose Monks serve is to convert enemy units. Opinions can differ widely about the use of conversion in the game. However, converting a unit minimizes the enemy's forces while simultaneously increasing their own army. In the Castle Age, Monks can be effective in backing up rushes without the opponent having the ability to research Faith and being able to outrange every single unit but the Longbowman.
Good Monk civilizations (such as the Aztecs, Burmese, Saracens, Slavs, Spanish, and Teutons) can even perform a Monk rush. That can be dangerous, because the attacked player most likely does not have any anti-conversion technologies researched and the Monks are affordable due to the high amount of gold being freely available. The Portuguese can also rush with Monks, despite lacking Illumination, as their Monks are 15% cheaper, costing 85 gold.
In the Imperial Age, Block Printing becomes available, helping the Monk to keep up rangewise, but the armies of the players are getting much stronger in the Imperial Age, which relatively makes the Monk much weaker. Almost all infantry and cavalry units are able to kill them in three hits, archers normally only need five. Siege units also make short work of Monks. That is a huge problem for players relying on Monks. Also, with Faith being available, the use of conversion is significantly decreased. Another problem is that conversion requires a high amount of micromanagement due to the fact that Monks do not convert on their own and cannot be instructed to do so (there is no aggressive stance function for Monks). That means that the player always has to be present and execute the conversion manually. In later stages of the game, when the battle is larger and taking place on multiple locations, it is almost impossible to handle aggressive Monks adequately. If there is just one main battlefield, it can still work, however, if the player concentrates on converting key units such as Paladins, War Elephants, or Boyars and guards the Monks well.
Monks are able to heal friendly units (with a speed of 1 HP per 0.4 seconds). That comes in especially useful for resilient units that the player wants to keep taking hits. Monks are often paired with archers, because they are easy to control and be effective at the same time with the defensive stance mode. Siege weapons are a heavy threat to this combination.
Players should have around two to ten Monks depending on the size of their forces, to heal wounded units free of charge during battle. Monks should be kept out of danger and the wounded units should come to the Monks, not the other way around or else they are likely to be targeted.
The Byzantines and Teutons have the best healers in the game, as they have a faster healing rate and a longer healing range respectively. Spanish Missionaries are also among the best, thanks to their speed, allowing them to keep up with armies.
The Monastery is no military building, and does not have any prerequisites other than being in the Castle Age. This is important for a lot of boom strategies where a Blacksmith and Market are used to get to the Castle Age. Upon reaching the Castle Age, it will be difficult to get out military to defend the player's settlement as they will need to build a Barracks and then most likely also Archery Ranges and Stables before starting to produce unupgraded (!) units. Comparatively, a Monastery can be built, Monks can be produced immediately, and they are instantly fully functional. Combined with a Siege Workshop producing Mangonels, the player will have good answers against attacking archers, Knights, and infantry with minimal investment. With additional Walls, the aggressive options left to their opponents are further limited when they can no longer get Eagle Warriors or scouts into the players base.
|Unit strengths and weaknesses|
|Strong vs.||Slow non-ranged units|
|Weak vs.||Eagle Warriors, Light Cavalry, Konnik (after Heresy).|
|Hit points|| Sanctity (+15, +20 for the Aztecs)|
Redemption (+5, only for the Aztecs)
Atonement (+5, only for the Aztecs)
Herbal Medicine (+5, only for the Aztecs)
Heresy (+5, only for the Aztecs)
Fervor (+5, only for the Aztecs)
Faith (+5, only for the Aztecs)
Illumination (+5, only for the Aztecs)
Block Printing (+5, only for the Aztecs)
Theocracy (+5, only for the Aztecs)
|Range||Block Printing (+3)|
|Armor||Orthodoxy (+3/+3, Slavs only)|
|Conversion|| Redemption (convert buildings and siege weapons)|
Atonement (convert Monks)
Illumination (regain faith faster)
Theocracy (only one Monk rests after conversion)
Inquisition (Spanish only, Monks convert faster)
|Conversion defense|| Faith|
|Other||Madrasah (Saracens only, Monks return gold when they die)|
- Aztecs: Monks gain 5 HP for every researched Monastery technology.
- Burmese: Technologies that benefit Monks are 50% cheaper.
- Celts: Monks can convert herdables even if enemy units are next to them.
- Chinese: Technologies that benefit Monks are 15%/20% cheaper in the Castle/Imperial Age.
- Portuguese: Monks cost 15% less gold.
- Teutons: Monks have double range for healing.
- A team containing Byzantines: Monks heal 50% faster.
- A team containing Lithuanians: Monks train 20% faster. All monastery technologies are researched 20% faster.
- A team containing Teutons: Monks are more resistant to conversion.
The Age of Kings
- Monks carrying Relics are not affected by anti-Monk damage.
- Fervor now only affects Monks carrying Relics.
- Heresy technology introduced.
- Theocracy technology introduced.
- Byzantines: Monks heal 50% faster.
- Monks carrying Relics are now susceptible to anti-Monk damage.
- All Monks are affected by Fervor, not just Monks carrying Relics.
- Saracens: Madrasah technology introduced.
- Spanish: Inquisition technology introduced.
- The Monk is one of only two units in the game to cost only gold, the other being the Missionary.
- The Monk is one of only three units to have two different designs, the other being the Villager and the Trade Cart.
- The fifth design document of Ensemble Studios (dated 17 July 1998) already envisioned Monks with four different skins depending of their religion: bald in a brown robe for Christian civilizations, white hat and robe for Muslims, bald in white robe for Buddhists, and Deer mask in brown robe for Pagans. Despite several fan mods changing the Middle Eastern Monk's skin to the Imam's and the East Asian Monk's to Chand Bhai's, no similar feature has ever been officially released.
- The Aztecs, Lithuanians, Saracens, Spanish and the Teutons are the only civilizations in the game that have access to all Monastery technologies. However, the Byzantines also have access to all available technologies for their Monks, lacking only Herbal Medicine.
"Religion was a powerful force during the Middle Ages, whether it was Roman Catholicism of the West, Islam in the Middle East, or Buddhism in Asia. The missionaries and teachers of religion were mainly monks, men who took vows of poverty and who dedicated their lives to spreading their message. Middle Age conflicts often derived from religious differences and were led or supported by contingents of monks on each side. The Crusades, for example, were multiple attempts by European Christians to wrest control of the Holy Land from the hands of Islamic Arabs. Large numbers of monks accompanied the Christian crusading armies."—Age of Empires II manual