|“||Stronger than Cavalier. Fast and heavy cavalry.||”|
|—Age of Empires II description|
The Paladin is a heavy cavalry unit in Age of Empires II that can be trained at the Stable once the Imperial Age is reached. Like most other cavalry, Paladins are strong and agile. They are considered to be one of the strongest and most effective units in the game.
The * indicates that the civilization can fully upgrade their Paladins, i.e. gets Blast Furnace, Plate Barding Armor, Bloodlines, and Husbandry. Faith and Heresy are not taken into account because they only contribute to their combat strength in a very situational manner. Franks and Cumans do not have all technologies, but their bonuses cover and exceed the missing technology (i.e, Cumans only lack Husbandry, but have +15% speed that more than compensates).
The ^ indicates that the civilization has at least one civilization or team bonus or a unique technology that benefits the combat strength of the Paladin.
The ‡ indicates Paladins were previously available for this civilization.
Paladins are one of the strongest and, though not cheap, most effective units, and a full team of forty can easily destroy any ill-prepared town or army. In one on one combat, Paladins can slay Halberdiers, though larger numbers of Halberdiers and Camel Riders can defeat them. Paladins have low conversion resistance and thus are susceptible to enemy Monks. Siege weapons are ineffective against Paladins in most situations, but if cautiously used, especially Onagers can deal a great deal of damage. However, if used against ordinary infantry, archers, siege units, and unsuspecting towns, Paladins dominate the field. Still, Paladins should always be used with caution as flaws in the implementation of these units can prove very costly.
Despite lacking Bloodlines, the Franks have some of the strongest Paladins in the game due to their civilization bonus which grants them +20% HP, making them very powerful against melee (can survive one more hit from Halberdiers) and ranged units and excellent at raiding. They also have the most easily massed and upgraded Paladin once Chivalry is researched, which increases the work rate of Stables by 40%.
Before update 51737 the Lithuanians can potentially have the strongest Paladin as one of their civilization bonuses gives +1 attack for each Relic gathered, with a maximum of +4. Because of this, their damage output can be greatly devasting against most units and buildings, however, even with 22 attack (the maximum they reach), they still need 4 hits to kill generic Halberdiers. Now they have lost Blast Furnace, meaning they must collect at least two Relics to compensate for it. With four Relics collected, they still equal Teutonic Paladins with a faster speed.
Despite lacking Husbandry, the Cumans have the fastest Paladin in the game, due to their civilization bonus granting them +15% movement speed, allowing them to chase down enemies and disengage from fights easily, as well as being extremely useful to raid and disrupt the enemy economy.
The Teutons also lack Husbandry, but have the Paladin best-suited for prolonged melee, thanks to their civilization bonus that provides +2 melee armor, which enables them to survive one more hit from Halberdiers and allows them to perform similarly to the Boyar (which they can defeat, by a small margin) and Teutonic Knight against melee units.
The Burgundians also lack Bloodlines, but since their upgrade is 50% cheaper, they have the fastest appearance for Paladin. Also, the Cavalier upgrade is available in the Castle Age, meaning less time to upgrade, since most players will upgrade it during the Castle Age. The Cavalier upgrade is also cheaper. And unlike the other civilizations with strong Paladins, the Burgundians can use them in 1v1 more easily. In team games, their Paladins are very powerful in the early Imperial Age, but become weaker when the opponents finish the upgrade.
|Unit strengths and weaknesses|
|Strong vs.||Infantry, archers, Villagers, siege weapons, Cavalry Archers, Light Cavalry|
|Weak vs.||Boyars, Pikemen, Kamayuks, Berserks, Genoese Crossbowmen, Teutonic Knights, Mamelukes, Camel Riders, Monks, War Elephants|
|Hit points||Bloodlines (+20)|
|Attack|| Forging (+1)|
Iron Casting (+1)
Blast Furnace (+2)
|Armor|| Scale Barding Armor (+1/+1)|
Chain Barding Armor (+1/+1)
Plate Barding Armor (+1/+2)
|Conversion defense|| Faith|
|Creation speed|| Conscription (+33%)|
Chivalry (+40%, Franks only)
- Burgundians: Researching Husbandry and upgrading to Paladin is 50% cheaper.
- Celts: Paladins can convert herdables even if enemy units are next to them.
- Cumans: Paladins move faster.
- Franks: Paladins have +20% HP.
- Lithuanians: Paladins get +1 attack for each Relic garrisoned in a Monastery, up to + .
- Magyars: Forging, Iron Casting, and Blast Furnace are free.
- Spanish: Blacksmith upgrades that benefit Paladins don't cost gold.
- Teutons: Paladins have +2 melee armor.
- A team containing Berbers: With Kasbah researched, researching Conscription is 25% faster.
- A team containing Bulgarians: Researching cavalry armor and attack upgrades at the Blacksmith is faster.
- A team containing Franks: Paladins have +2 LOS.
- A team containing Huns: Paladins are created 20% faster. Researching Bloodlines and Husbandry is 20% faster.
- A team containing Lithuanians: Researching Heresy and Faith is 20% faster.
- A team containing Persians: Paladins have +2 attack against archers.
- A team containing Teutons: Paladins are more resistant to conversion.
- Lithuanians: Initially, the Relic bonus had a maximum of +5 attack. With update 34055, it was reduced to a maximum of +4.
- Cumans: Initially, their Paladins moved 10% faster and had access to Husbandry. With update 34055, it was increased to 15% faster but they lost access to Husbandry.
- Teutons: With update 36906, Paladins get +2 melee armor.
- Bulgarians: Originally have access to the Paladin. With update 36906, they no longer have access.
- The Paladin's upgrade cost, at 1,300 food and 750 gold, is the third most food demanding in the game (only War Elephants and Onagers need more).
- The in-game Paladin is inspired by the fictionalized Charlemagne's Twelve Peers.
- The original Latin title palatinus (palace official) evolved into the Medieval title Count Palatine. A more correct and encompassing name for these in-game heavy melee horsemen would be Allodial Knight / Allodial Chevalier (a knight / chevalier who holds his own land, instead of holding a fief granted by a higher-ranking noble; thus he owes neither rent nor service to anyone).
- Allodial Knights were present in Medieval English kingdom (including Wales, conquered and annexed since 1283), so it's historically inaccurate (though understandable from balancing's perspective) that Britons lack Paladins.
- The Paladin has a slower attacking speed (1.9) compared to its predecessors (1.8) for balancing purposes.
- The Knight line is one of only four units in the game without any attack bonus (the other being the Militia, the Boyar, and the Turtle Ship).
- With the introduction of The African Kingdoms, the Paladin became the most exclusive unit in the game, being available to only eight different civilizations. Before The African Kingdoms was released, that title was held by the Siege Onager. With the release of Definitive Edition, however, the Paladin tied with the Siege Onager as the most exclusive unit in the game (the Eagle Warrior, Battle Elephant, and Steppe Lancer are generally treated as Native American, Southeast Asian, and Central Asian unique units respectively rather than regular ones, otherwise the latter would have this distinction). With update 36906, the Paladin took back the title of the most exclusive unit in the game until Lords of the West came out and restored the tie. After the accession of the Siege Onager for Sicilians, it has won the third time. Since Lords of the West, the Paladin has tied with the Heavy Camel Rider as the most exclusive unit in the game, being available to only eleven civilizations.
- All civilizations that have access to the Paladin are European or Middle Eastern. As of the Definitive Edition, Cumans, a Central Asian civilization, may also train Paladins.
- Three civilizations that have access to Paladins (Celts, Burgundians, and Byzantines), but not Bloodlines may reflect some of their historical limitations to their heavy cavalry:
- The Celtic Paladins may reflect how Celtic armies in Ireland and Scotland were often overwhelmed by the English cavalry, and had to rely on French knights as mercenaries to fight off against the English.
- The Byzantine Paladins may reflect their use of heavy cavalry as part of their cavalry tactics adopted from the Roman Empire (which is reflected by their unique unit), but their heavy cavalry were often overwhelmed by steppe nomads (like Cumans and Tatars) or rival Christian kingdoms (such as the Holy Roman Empire and Georgia) without proper infantry support.
- The Burgundian Paladins reflect the Burgundians' emphasis on training and expertise for their knights over durability, which is reflected by two of their civilization bonuses of researching Cavalier in the Castle Age, and Stable technologies costing 50% less.
- The exclusivity of the Paladin among the civilizations is also an indicator that, historically, that civilization made extensive use of heavy cavalry as part of their armies.
- Still, historical inaccuracy remains: e.g. Huns, Cumans, early Magyars, and Lithuanians fielded mostly Light Cavalry (although the Lithuanian access to Paladins mostly reflects their alliance with the Polish, who utilized heavy cavalry during medieval times).
- The Poles do not have the Paladin upgrade, despite the Lithuanian access to it. This is most likely done for gameplay design purposes, as the Lithuanians were originally designed to include the Poles, and to balance their Castle Age unique technology.
- A fully upgraded Lithuanian Paladin with four Relics gets 20 attack.
- Before update 34055, the Lithuanian Paladin reached 23 attack with all five Relics and was able to kill generic Halberdiers in three hits.
- A fully upgraded Teutonic Paladin has the second highest melee armor of all cavalry and the fourth highest of all land units with 7 melee armor, only behind of the Bulgarian Two-Handed swordsman with Bagains (8), the Elite Boyar (11) and the Elite Teutonic Knight (13).
- Before update 50292, both the Frankish and Teutonic Paladin could defeat, by a small margin, the Elite Boyar. After the update, both lose consistenly against the Elite Boyar. However, they are in tie with the Lithuanian Paladin with 4 Relics collected. Now none of the Paladins can defeat the Elite Boyar, because Lithuanians have lost Blast Furnace.
- In the Definitive Edition, the Cavalier's and Paladin's mounts possess bushy legs, possibly influenced by modern heavy-weight horses; however, even the strongest Medieval warhorses, the destriers, were drawn with short lower-leg-hair.
- With update 36906, the Bulgarians became the first and only civilization that lost access to the Paladin in the game (but getting Stirrups to their Knights in exchange).
- Before the update, the Tatars were the only civilization introduced in the Definitive Edition that lacked access to the Paladin.
- There's a rumour that Paladin was available to the Malians in one of the betas of The African Kingdoms.
- The fully upgraded Byzantine and Celtic Paladin lose against the fully upgraded Bulgarian and Malian Cavalier. Before the removal of Blast Furnace, the Burgundian fully upgraded Paladin even loses against a fully upgraded Lithuanian Cavalier with four Relics.
- None of the civilizations using East Asian, African, and Southeast Asian building style have access to the Paladin.
- The Western European civilizations have the most percent amount of Paladins, with only Britons lacking access to it.
- All civilizations that have access to the Paladin also have access to the Halberdier unit.
- The only three civilizations with all economic technologies available (the Burgundians, Byzantines, and Persians) all have access to the Paladin.
- Neither of the new civilizations introduced in The African Kingdoms, Rise of the Rajas, and Dawn of the Dukes have access to the Paladin upgrade.
|“||The ultimate fighting knights were paladins, the cream of the cavalier class. Paladins were champions for their lords and their orders of knighthood. These men were of the highest social class and elite warriors. They often made up the personal bodyguard of a great king and were sworn to protect his life with their own.||”|
|—Age of Empires II manual|
- Since update 36906.