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

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


A non-traditional cavalry unit, it functions similarly to the Hussar of the European civilizations, only with lower attack and hit points. However, the Naginata Rider has multipliers vs. Light and Heavy Infantry, whereas the Hussar has none. Additionally, they cost the same amount of resources total, and the Naginata Rider's attack and hit points are only marginally smaller. This makes the Naginata Rider much more cost effective than the Hussar. The Naginata Rider is very effective against archers, skirmishers, and artillery. It has a high attack and can go against most enemy hand cavalry (such as Hussars) as well. However they 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 Riders and sends the Bloody Harvest Card from the Home City, a Naginata Rider kills a Longbowman in a single blow, with damage to spare.

If this advantage is used well, enemy Archers are rendered ineffectual. Use Ashigaru Musketeers or Samurai to attack the enemy 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 is one of the most cost effective units in the game.


Age Improvement Cost Effect
Ages fortress
Disciplined cavalry
Disciplined Naginata Rider
200 wood,
100 coin
Upgrades Naginata Riders to Disciplined (+20% hit points and attack)
Ages industrial
Honored cavalry
Honored Naginata Rider
600 wood,
600 coin
Upgrades Naginata Riders to Honored (+30% hit points and attack); requires Disciplined Naginata Rider
Ages imperial
Exalted cavalry
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 the Naginata Rider can only be trained by the Japanese, only improvements available to them (including native improvements) are listed here.

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

Home City Cards

As the Naginata Rider is exclusive to the Japanese, only other civilizations' TEAM cards that affects them are listed here.


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.


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