Age of Empires Series Wiki

Heavy cavalry armed with a naginata for killing archers, skirmishers, and artillery.
—In-game description

The Naginata Rider is a melee heavy cavalry unit in Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties that is unique to the Japanese and can be trained at Stables and Atakabunes, and by Daimyos. It wields a naginata in combat.


A non-traditional cavalry unit, the Naginata Rider functions as an in-between of the Hussar and the Lancer of the European civilizations. It is very effective against archers and Skirmishers, but unlike the Lancer, not particularly effective against its traditional counter heavy infantry (the multipliers cancel each other out). That is compensated by being slightly better against artillery, which it counters well, and significantly better against other cavalry, thanks to its higher base attack (like a Hussar).

Naginata Riders have the same weaknesses as most hand cavalry units, being vulnerable against ranged cavalry (such as Dragoons and Howdahs). Howdahs can take them down in a single shot, so Naginatas should stay away from them.

When Naginata Riders are employed against Longbowmen, Arrow Knights, Cetan Bows, and the like, the results are one sided for two reasons:

  1. The archers will do almost no damage to the Naginatas.
  2. It will take a maximum of three hits for a Naginata to take down a Longbowman, for instance.

If the player researches Honored Naginata Rider and sends the Bloody Harvest card from the Home City, a Naginata Rider kills an unupgraded Longbowman in a single blow.

If this advantage is used well, enemy archers are rendered ineffectual. Use Ashigaru Musketeers or Samurai to attack the enemy melee units head on, while the Naginatas sneak around the back to kill any archers who are firing at the Ashigarus/Samurai. When used this way, the Naginata Rider can be especially cost effective.


Age Upgrade Cost Effect
Age III tech tree aoe3.png
Disciplined cavalry.png Disciplined Naginata Rider 200 wood,
100 coin
Upgrades Naginata Riders to Disciplined (+20% hit points and attack)
Age IV tech tree aoe 3.png
Honored cavalry.png Honored Naginata Rider 600 wood,
600 coin
Upgrades Naginata Riders to Honored (+30% hit points and attack); requires Disciplined Naginata Rider
Imperial Age
Exalted cavalry.png Exalted Naginata Rider 1,500 wood,
1,500 coin
Upgrades Naginata Riders to Exalted (+50% hit points and attack); requires Honored Naginata Rider

Further statistics[]

As Naginata Riders are unique to the Japanese, only technologies that they have access to are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Rifle Infantry, foot archers, artillery
Weak vs. Heavy infantry, light cavalry
Hit points Cavalry Cuirass.png Cavalry Cuirass (+10%)
Comanche Horse Breeding.png Comanche Horse Breeding (+10%)
Cree Tanning.png Cree Tanning (+5%)
Navajo Weaving.png Navajo Weaving (+5%)
Attack Pillage.png Pillage (+25% siege attack)
Yoga.png Yoga (+5%)
Sight Town Watch.png Town Watch (+2)
Speed Comanche Mustangs.png Comanche Mustangs (+10%)
Apache Endurance.png Apache Endurance (+5%)
Creation speed Mass Cavalry.png Mass Cavalry (-50%)
Cheyenne Horse Trading.png Cheyenne Horse Trading (-25%)
Inca Chaquis Messengers.png Quechuan Diet (-25%)
Train cost Mapuche Ad-mapu.png Mapuche Ad-mapu (-10% coin cost)
Other Merritocracy.png Meritocracy (-20% upgrade cost)

Home City Cards[]

As Naginata Riders are unique to the Japanese, only their cards and other civilizations' TEAM cards are shown in the following tables:


The naginata is an ancient Japanese weapon that was used widely during Japan’s feudal period. It is often compared to the European halberd, or pike, and is little more than a 1-2 foot curved sword blade fastened to the end of a long oak handle. The dimensions of the weapon are often dependent on personal preference and battlefield conditions. Despite its simplicity, the naginata is difficult to brandish and even more difficult to master. Naginata-jutsu is the art of wielding the naginata, a practice that is still studied today.

When it first appeared, the naginata was usually used by attendants to samurai and by sohei warrior monks. It was effective at disabling enemy cavalry units from a short distance. However, with the dawn of gunpowder weapons, the naginata rapidly lost its importance and was often left behind when men ventured off to battle. This is how the naginata became a symbolic object for Japanese women, since it was the primary weapon with which they had to defend their homes and families. It was also the weapon of choice for female samurai, including the legendary Hangaku, a beautiful and deadly warrior who was said to wield a naginata in combat.

Today, naginata-jutsu is widely considered a feminine art, the weapon seen as a symbol of a woman’s devotion to her family. More Japanese women than men practice it.