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Parthian Tactics is a technology in Age of Empires II: The Conquerors available at the Archery Range upon reaching the Imperial Age. Once researched, it improves mounted archers, increasing their armor by +1/+2 and (except in the unpatched release) giving them an attack bonus of +2 or +4 against Spearmen.

The availability of Parthian Tactics is an indicator of prominent Cavalry Archers. With a mass of them, Parthian Tactics should be prioritized in the Imperial Age, along with Bracer and the Heavy Cavalry Archer (next would be the final armor upgrade, if available, and Chemistry).

However, out of the thirteen civilizations that have access to the technology, only the following six can fully upgrade them, having access to Thumb Ring, Bloodlines, Ring Archer Armor, Husbandry, and Bracer:

It should be noted that, from the civilizations with Parthian Tactics, Bulgarians, Huns, and Mongols only lack the Ring Archer Armor upgrade, and Cumans and Persians lack Bracer (Cumans' lack of Husbandry is fully covered by their civilization bonus), but regardless, they are still remarkably strong Cavalry Archer civilizations. Burmese and Khmer notably lack Thumb Ring, which makes their Cavalry Archers extremely inaccurate (Heavy Cavalry Archers have a base accuracy of just 50%) and not a great choice of army composition. Also, only Magyars, Tatars, and Turks can fully upgrade their Cavalry Archers, and they have a civilization bonus or an unique technology that benefits the combat strength of Cavalry Archers. In this sense Indians, Japanese, and Saracens have fully upgraded Heavy Cavalry Archers that are generic or vanilla.

Technology availability
Available Unavailable

Affected units[]

All units listed below benefit from Parthian Tactics. The Camel Archer (denoted with a *) does profit from the armor and attack increase Parthian Tactics grants, but the Berbers do not get Parthian Tactics. Hence, this is only relevant in games with Full Tech Tree checked.

Archer unit Armor increase Spearman attack increase
Cavalryarcher aoe2DE.png Cavalry Archer +1/+2 +4
Heavycavalryarcher aoe2de.png Heavy Cavalry Archer +1/+2 +4
MangudaiIcon-DE.png Mangudai +1/+2 +2
MangudaiIcon-DE.png Elite Mangudai +1/+2 +2
ElephantArcherIcon-DE.png Elephant Archer +1/+2 +2
ElephantArcherIcon-DE.png Elite Elephant Archer +1/+2 +2
CamelArcherIcon-DE.png Camel Archer* +1/+2 +2
CamelArcherIcon-DE.png Elite Camel Archer* +1/+2 +2
Kipchakicon.png Kipchak +1/+2 +2
Kipchakicon.png Elite Kipchak +1/+2 +2

Conquistador and Arambai are classified as "Conquistador" and not "Cavalry Archer", they are unaffected by Parthian Tactics. Genitours, despite being Cavalry Archers, are specifically excluded by having penalties equal to the bonuses. Heroes (before update 50292) are unaffected by it.

Civilization bonuses[]

  • Tatars: Parthian Tactics is free.

Team bonuses[]

  • A team containing Britons: Researching Parthian Tactics is 20% faster.


The Conquerors[]

  • On release, Parthian Tactics does not give an attack bonus. With patch 1.0, the attack bonus was added to the technology.


  • Only thirteen different civilizations can research Parthian Tactics, making it the most exclusive of all technologies.
  • The Parthians, the eponymous people for this technology, appear as an enemy faction in the campaign scenario Ransom at Ctesiphon in Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome.
  • During the beta, Lithuanians had access to Parthian Tactics.
  • None of the four civilizations in African Kingdoms can research Parthian Tactics. Also, neither of the two civilizations in Lords of the West nor in Dawn of the Dukes have access to Parthian Tactics.


The horse archers of Parthia, now part of modern Iran, were renowned for their ability to shoot arrows at pursuers, whether the archers were in real or feigned retreat. Being able to shoot at enemies while withdrawing was very irritating to the enemy, especially when pursuers were too slow to close the gap. Although the Parthians were an ancient people, their tactics were adopted by later civilizations that employed horse archers and their name remained attached to the maneuver. The phrase “parthian shot” has come to mean any comment made while exiting a discussion.
The Conquerors manual