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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 five 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. 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. The Burmese have the worst Heavy Cavalry Archers, despite having Parthian Tactics, due to lacking Thumb Ring, Leather Archer Armor, and Ring Archer Armor. 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, Japanese and Saracens have fully upgraded Heavy Cavalry Archers that are generic or vanilla.

Bengalis do not have Cavalry Archer despite having Parthian Tactics. Instead, it applies to their Elephant Archers and Rathas.

Technology availability
Available Unavailable

The - indicates that the civilization had the technology in previous versions of the game but currently does not.

Affected units[]

All units listed below benefit from Parthian Tactics. The units and effects are mentioned below.

Mounted Archer unit Armor increase Spearman attack increase
Cavalryarcher aoe2DE.png Cavalry Archer - Heavycavalryarcher aoe2de.png Heavy Cavalry Archer +1/+2 +4
Aoe2de DOI elephant archer icon.png Elephant Archer - ElephantArcherIcon-DE.png Elite Elephant Archer +1/+2 +2
GenitourIcon-DE.png Genitour - GenitourIcon-DE.png Elite Genitour 0/0 0
WarWagonIcon-DE.png War Wagon - WarWagonIcon-DE.png Elite War Wagon +1/+2 0
Aoe2de ratha ranged.png Ratha (melee) - Aoe2de ratha ranged.png Elite Ratha (melee) +1/+2 +2
All other mounted archer units +1/+2 +2

War Wagons do not get an attack increase against the Spearman armor class because they do not have an attack against that class (unlike the Camel Archer, that has 0 base attack against the class).

The Conquistador and the 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 are affected by it since update 50292.

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.

The Forgotten[]

  • Indians: Can research Parthian Tactics.

Dynasties of India[]


  • 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, making it, at the time, available to all of the The Last Khans civilizations.
  • None of the eight civilizations in The African Kingdoms, Lords of the West, and Dawn of the Dukes have access to Parthian Tactics.
  • With the release of Dynasties of India, the Hindustanis now are the first and only civilization that have lost access to Parthian Tactics.
  • Prior to The Forgotten, the Japanese were the only civilization that could research Parthian Tactics, but not Bloodlines. Since The Forgotten, all civilizations that have access to Parthian Tactics can research Bloodlines.


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
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Technologies in Age of Empires II
Economic technologies
Wheelbarrow  · Hand Cart  · Caravan  · Coinage  · Banking  · Guilds  · Gillnets
WoodDouble-Bit Axe  · Bow Saw  · Two-Man Saw
FarmingHorse Collar  · Heavy Plow  · Crop Rotation
GoldGold Mining  · Gold Shaft Mining
StoneStone Mining  · Stone Shaft Mining
Military technologies
Melee unitsForging  · Iron Casting  · Blast Furnace  · Scale Mail Armor  · Chain Mail Armor  · Plate Mail Armor  · Supplies  · Squires  · Arson  · Scale Barding Armor  · Chain Barding Armor  · Plate Barding Armor  · Bloodlines  · Husbandry
Ranged unitsFletching  · Bodkin Arrow  · Bracer  · Padded Archer Armor  · Leather Archer Armor  · Ring Archer Armor  · Thumb Ring  · Parthian Tactics  · Ballistics  · Chemistry  · Siege Engineers
Building technologies
Town Watch  · Town Patrol  · Masonry  · Architecture  · Treadmill Crane  · Heated Shot  · Arrowslits  · Murder Holes  · Hoardings
Monastery technologies
Redemption  · Atonement  · Herbal Medicine  · Heresy  · Sanctity  · Fervor  · Faith  · Illumination  · Block Printing  · Theocracy
Miscellaneous technologies
Loom  · Sappers  · Spies  · Treason  · Unique technologies
ShipCareening  · Dry Dock  · Shipwright
Removed technologies
Bombard Cannon  · Hand Cannon  · Cartography  · Tracking  · Hunting Dogs  · Cannon Galleon