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This article is about the unit in Age of Empires II. For the unit in Age of Empires III, see Samurai (Age of Empires III).

Japanese unique unit. Infantry with fast attack.
Age of Empires II description

The Samurai is the unique unit of the Japanese in Age of Empires II. It is a fast-attacking infantry unit with an attack bonus against other unique units.

Samurai can be upgraded to Elite Samurai in the Imperial Age.


Samurai aoe2 anim.gif

Samurai should be used to seek out the strongest late-game enemies, as they possess an attack bonus against other unique units. At first glance, The Samurai appears to be similar in combat to its equivalent swordsman from the Barracks, (the Long Swordsman in the Castle Age, and the Champion in the Imperial Age), the Japanese bonus to infantry attack speed makes them better in combat than swordsmen from most other civilizations.

The Samurai already innately has a faster attack rate than most infantry but combined with the Japanese civilization bonus of 33% faster attack speed gives them a lightning fast attack. Due to their attack bonus against unique units (10 for regular, 12 for Elite), the Samurai fares better in the late-game, when unique units play a bigger role in combat. However, Samurai aren't cost effective against Cataphracts and War Elephants. As with most sword-wielding infantry, they struggle against the Knight line, Scorpions, and archers.

Samurai perform well when paired with Pikemen (who also receive the Japanese infantry attack bonus) to answer cavalry, but against archers they need ranged support. They should be supported by the strong Japanese archers, Skirmishers, or Scorpions when dealing with an archer-using opponent.

The Imperial Camel Rider, Imperial Skirmisher and the Houfnice are the only unique units not to take the bonus damage from the Samurai, due to being unique upgrades of common units.

Further statistics[]

As Samurai are unique to the Japanese, only technologies that are available to them are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Buildings, Eagle Warriors, Pikemen, Skirmishers, Light cavalry, Infantry and cavalry unique units (except Jaguar Warriors, Teutonic Knights, Cataphracts, War Elephants, Mamelukes, massed Throwing Axemen)
Weak vs. Archers, Hand Cannoneers, heavy cavalry especially Cataphracts and War Elephants, Slingers
Attack Forging aoe2de.png Forging (+1)
IronCastingDE.png Iron Casting (+1)
BlastFurnaceDE.png Blast Furnace (+2)
ArsonDE.png Arson (+2 attack against standard buildings)
Armor ScaleMailArmorDE.png Scale Mail Armor (+1/+1)
ChainMailArmorDE.png Chain Mail Armor (+1/+1)
PlateMailArmorDE.png Plate Mail Armor (+1/+2)
Speed SquiresDE.png Squires (+10%)
Sight TrackingDE.png Tracking (+2)
Conversion defense FaithDE.png Faith
Creation speed ConscriptionDE.png Conscription (+33%)
Upgrades Elite-unique-research.jpg Elite Samurai

Civilization bonuses[]

Team bonuses[]


The Age of Kings[]

  • Samurai train in 16 seconds.
  • Samurai have 0 pierce armor, a Rate of Fire of 2.0, and move at a speed of 0.9.
  • Samurai have an attack bonus of +5 (+6 for Elite) against unique units.

The Conquerors[]

  • Samurai now train in 9 seconds.
  • Samurai now have 1 pierce armor, a Rate of Fire of 1.9, and move at a speed of 1.
  • Samurai now have an attack bonus of +10 (+12 for Elite) against unique units.

The African Kingdoms[]

Definitive Edition[]


  • When the Samurai is out of hit points, one of his death animations shows him stabbing himself with his sword, then dropping to the ground. This was their means of ritual suicide, known as seppuku, ('belly-cutting') or, more informally, hara-kiri.
  • The Samurai is the only unit that has an attack bonus against other unique units. However, this bonus is not applied to the Imperial Skirmisher, Imperial Camel Rider and Houfnice, as they are unique upgrades for generic units.
  • With Rate of Fire of 1.45 seconds per strike, the Samurai is tied with a Condottiero trained by the Japanese for the fastest attacking infantry unit in the game.
  • The Samurai was originally meant to have both melee and ranged attacks, before developers ultimately removed their ranged attack due to being too unfriendly and cumbersome to use. The risk of quickly ordering a Samurai to attack a Ram in a melee attack, attend to other things and check back to see the Samurai accidentally having been ordered to attack with a Bow instead of his sword was deemed too much.
  • In real life, medieval samurai were essentially cavalry archers (see the history section). As explained above, the developers tried to capture these characteristics but couldn't make it work properly.
  • The in-game Samurai trains faster than the sword- and spear-line infantry for gameplay considerations.
    • Historically, samurai were not that ubiquitous; as Japanese armies consisted mainly of foot-soldiers recruited from commoners (Ashigaru, as they'd be known since the 14th century).
  • The samurai models (both in the original and the Definitive Edition) wear their weapons cutting-edge-down, suggesting that the weapons are tachi. This is historically accurate for early as well as later samurai, as the tachi preceded the katana, which is shorter, worn cutting-edge-up, ane datable to the Muromachi period (1336-1573). However, the tachi on the Definitive Edition's unit portrait is far too short for a historical tachi.


When knights were coming into dominance as lords and warriors in Europe, a similar social and military change was taking place simultaneously in Japan. A weak central government and a scramble for control of land gave rise in Japan to a local military ruling class called the samurai. These men of noble birth trained continuously in the military acts, as well as various cultural arts, They put great emphasis on honor and tradition, as did European knights with the code of chivalry. Samurai fought with a variety of weapons, including the bow and their unique curved swords made of the strongest steel. They sought out high-ranking enemies on the battlefield for personal duels and were trained to seek death in battle to increase their aggression and avoid hesitancy.
  • Early samurai, from the Late Heian & early Kamakura, were usually mounted and used bows as their main weapons - in other words, those samurai were closer to Cavalry Archers (but unlike Mongolian counterparts, they never formed a large group) rather than the infantry units. They used to call their art of war kyūba no michi "the way of archery and horsemanship." When they fought, they first fired arrows at the opponent; when they had no more arrows, then they dismounted and used swords to determine who is the winner. However, as the number of samurai increased and their average wealth declined as time went (during the medieval era, a samurai's property was equally distributed among his sons); more and more samurai could not afford to learn mounted archery since it was too expensive. Moreover, war tactics changed: originally, Japanese warriors fought in small numbers, but by Sengoku era, wars involving large numbers of troops (mainly infantry) became dominant. In this new warfare, mounted archery became wildly impractical as the cost of training one mounted archer equaled the cost of training several arquebusiers - leaving aside the high cost of lost horses and the comparative inferiority of the bow at penetrating armor. In the end, the image of samurai changed to the familiar, sword-wielding warriors.
  • The bit above "(...) and were trained to seek death in battle to increase their aggression and avoid hesitancy" appears to be based on the writings of Yamamoto Tsunetomo in Hagakure , especifically "The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one's aim is to die a dog's death is the frivolous way of sophisticates". It's important to note that, although Tsunetomo was himself a samurai, he lived in peacetime, being born half a century after the end of the Sengoku Jidai.