Age of Empires Series Wiki

The Short Swordsman is a hand infantry unit in Age of Empires. Though it is superior to and fills the same tactical niche as the Axeman, it is not a direct upgrade but instead a separate unit. It wields a short sword as its main offensive weapon.


This unit is similar to the Axeman in that they have normal speed, no range, and average damage and health. They are poor units to use against Cavalry, being slow and not having enough hit points. They usually get massacred by Academy units, due the Hoplite and related units having extremely powerful attack and very strong armor, making the Short Swordsman useful only against Tool Age infantry, or the equivalent light infantry in future Ages (this provided that they outnumber the enemy units).

Before the Definitive Edition it had a weapon upgrade prerequisite of Short Sword, which was itself dependent on Battle Axe. In other words, Clubman had to be upgraded for the Short Sword upgrade to appear. Once the upgrade was finished, Short Swordsman was available.

Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Villagers
Weak vs. Archers, cavalry
Attack ToolworkingAoE.jpg Toolworking (+2)
Metalworkingicon.png Metalworking (+2)
Metallurgyicon.png Metallurgy (+3)
Armor Leatherarmorinfantryicon.png Leather Armor Infantry (+2/+0)
Scalearmorinfantryicon.png Scale Armor Infantry (+2/+0)
Chainmailinfantryicon.png Chain Mail Infantry (+2/+0)
Bronzeshieldicon.png Bronze Shield (+0/+1)
Ironshieldicon.png Iron Shield (+0/+1)
Towershieldicon.png Tower Shield (+0/+1)
Cost Logistics.png Logistics (-0.5 population usage)
Upgrades Broad Sword.png Broad Sword

Civilization bonuses[]

  • Choson: Short Swordsmen get +15 hit points.
  • Macedonians: Short Swordsmen have +2 Line of Sight and are four times more resistant to conversion.
  • Romans: Short Swordsmen have -33% reload time.


Age of Empires[]

Definitive Edition[]

  • Short Sword and Battle Axe are no longer required to train Short Swordsmen.
  • Choson: Short Swordsmen get +15 hit points.


The short sword represents an evolutionary step in infantry weapons. The spear, mace, and axe were relatively easy to manufacture and use, but cumbersome in very close combat. Following the discovery of bronze during the Bronze Age, it became possible to manufacture swords and shields that were basically enlarged and strengthened knives. These were much easier to wield in hand-to-hand combat and improved the effectiveness of infantry who carried them. Short swords were carried as a second weapon by spearmen or pikemen, such as the Greek hoplites. The most famous short sword of antiquity was the gladius, or Spanish sword, adopted by the Roman legions from the Spanish allies of Carthage. The gladius was especially effective in the dense legion fighting formations that pressed tightly against their opponents and restricted movement.
—The Age of Empires manual


Barracks Tree
Stone Age
Roman Barracks.gif
Tool Age
Bronze Age
Short Swordsman.gif
Short Swordsman
Broad Swordsman.gif
Broad Swordsman
Iron Age
LongSwordsman AoE icon.png
Long Swordsman