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

Ranged anti-archer unit that cannot attack at close range.
Age of Empires II description

The Skirmisher is an anti-archer ranged unit in Age of Empires II that can be trained at the Archery Range. Skirmishers are similar to the Slinger in Age of Empires.


Skirmishers are very weak to everything except archers and spearmen. With a weak and slow attack, as well as a minimum range, they deal almost no damage to infantry and cavalry. However, their attack bonus against archers can make them valuable against any archer-using opponent, especially if the player's civilization's bonuses benefit infantry or heavy cavalry. Their anti-archer role is helped greatly by their impressive base pierce armor, which can highly reduce enemy pierce attacks.

Unless created to retaliate against enemy archers, Skirmishers make poor ranged support. Thus, training Skirmishers should be avoided unless opponents are going heavy on archer units.

As Skirmishers cost no gold, they are considered trash units and as such they become especially important in the late game when gold becomes scarce and players have to rely on a wood and food economy. However, because of their cheap cost and quick build time it is possible (in some circumstances) to overwhelm the opposition with sheer quantity.

Although Skirmishers deal bonus damage against Spearmen, their minimum range can be exploited by them. In small numbers, Spearmen can defeat Skirmishers, but in large groups the Skirmishers will win.

Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Archers, Spearmen
Weak vs. Melee units, siege units
Attack FletchingDE Fletching (+1)
BodkinArrowDE Bodkin Arrow (+1)
BracerDE Bracer (+1)
ChemistryDE Chemistry (+1)
UniqueTechCastle-DE Atlatl (+1, Aztecs only)
UniqueTechCastle-DE Hul'che Javelineers (Extra spear, Mayans only)
Range FletchingDE Fletching (+1)
BodkinArrowDE Bodkin Arrow (+1)
BracerDE Bracer (+1)
UniqueTechCastle-DE Atlatl (+1, Aztecs only)
UniqueTechCastle-DE Yeomen (+1, Britons only)
UniqueTechCastle-DE Andean Sling (eliminates the minimum range, Incas only)
Accuracy ThumbRingDE Thumb Ring (increases accuracy to 100%)
BallisticsDE Ballistics (hit moving targets)
Armor PaddedArcherArmorDE Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)
LeatherArcherArmorDE Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
RingArcherArmorDE Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
UniqueTechImperialDE Tower Shields (+2 pierce armor, Lithuanians only)
Conversion defense Devotion icon AoE2DE Devotion (+1 min, +1 max)
FaithDE Faith (+4 min, +4 max)
HeresyDE Heresy (die upon getting converted)
UniqueTechCastle-DE First Crusade (+4 min, +4 max, Sicilians only)
Train cost UniqueTechCastle-DE Kshatriyas (-25% food, Gurjaras only)
Creation speed ConscriptionDE Conscription (+33%)
Upgrades Eliteskirmisherresearch Elite Skirmisher

Civilization bonuses[]

Team bonuses[]


AoE2-DLCicon-0 The Age of Kings[]

AoE2-DLCicon-1 The Conquerors[]

AoE2-DLCicon-2 The Forgotten[]

AoE2-DLCicon-3 The African Kingdoms[]

  • With patch 4.8, the Elite Skirmisher upgrade costs 200 wood, 100 gold.
  • Ethiopians AoE2 Ethiopians: Initially, all foot archers fired 15% faster. With patch 4.8, Skirmishers no longer have an increased Rate of Fire.
  • Italians AoE2 Italians: With patch 4.8, Pavise does not affect Skirmishers anymore.

AoE2-DLCicon-4 Rise of the Rajas[]

  • Vietnamese AoE2 Vietnamese: Initially, Skirmishers have +10%/+15%/+20% HP in the Feudal/Castle/Imperial Age. With patch 5.8, they have +20% HP.

AoEIIDE icon Definitive Edition[]

AoE2Icon-LordsWest Lords of the West[]

AoE2Icon-DynastiesIndia Dynasties of India[]

  • Skirmishers now deal 0 bonus damage versus the Cavalry Archer Armor class, resulting in additional damage when attacking units with negative values of Cavalry Archer Armor, like Elephant Archers.
  • Incas AoE2 Incas: With update 61321, the new team bonus gives Skirmishers +2 Line of Sight.
  • Portuguese AoE2 Portuguese: With update 73855, as a team bonus, technologies that benefit Skirmishers are researched 25% faster.
  • Incas: With update 81058, the team bonus is replaced and, as a new civilization bonus, Skirmishers cost -20%/-25%/-30% food in the Feudal/Castle/Imperial Age.
  • With update 81058, Skirmishers receive a new eponymous armor class.

AoE2Icon-ReturnRome Return of Rome[]

  • Chinese AoE2 Chinese: With update 87863, technologies that benefit Skirmishers are 5%/10%/15% cheaper in the Feudal/Castle/Imperial Age.
  • Koreans: With update 87863, Skirmishers cost -50% wood.

AoE2Icon-MountainRoyals The Mountain Royals[]


Many armies of the Middle Ages used lightly armored skirmishers in support of the main fighting force of armored fighting men. They could be difficult to control and of little value on the battlefield, but some armies used them effectively. Skirmishers were deployed in front of the main battle line and engaged the enemy with bows, slings, and javelins. The intent was to disrupt the enemy force and cause casualties before the main battle lines clashed. The skirmishers would retire to the side of the main battle and harass the enemy as practical. They could also be useful in pursuit of a beaten enemy because they could move more quickly than men wearing armor. If caught in battle against men-at-arms, however, they could not stand and routed quickly.
Age of Empires II manual

Skirmishers were infantry or even cavalry soldiers who were used ahead or alongside a much larger body of friendly troops and were put in a skirmish line to harass the enemy or to protect their own troops from similar attacks by the enemy. They were usually lightly armored so they could move around the battlefield quickly and usually had longer ranged firearms. In earlier battles, skirmishers were often the rabble that was thrown into the battlefield at the start of a battle before being overrun by the cavalry of both sides. As warfare evolved, however, skirmishers became a valuable commodity, harassing fleeing armies and capturing loot.


  • Skirmishers are the second cheapest of all military units, tied with the Spearman line, costing only 60 resources and no gold, only behind the Karambit Warrior (which costs 40 resources but is not a trash unit).
  • With 2, the Skirmisher has the weakest base attack of all land units, along with the Battering Ram.
  • With 30, the Skirmisher also has the fewest hit points of all military units, tied with the Archer and the Karambit Warrior.
  • Medieval skirmishers were generally armed with crossbows and longbows. To be historically accurate, the unit should be named Javelineer.
  • With update 44725, all Native American civilizations have a Castle Age unique technology that benefits the combat strength of Skirmishers.


Units in Age of Empires II
CivilianMaleVillDE Villager · Tradecart aoe2DE Trade Cart · FishingShipDE Fishing Ship · Trade cog aoe2DE Trade Cog · King eu aoe2DE King
ReligiousMonk aoe2DE Monk
InfantryMilitiaDE Militia · Manatarms aoe2DE Man-at-Arms · Longswordsman aoe2DE Long Swordsman · Twohanded aoe2DE Two-Handed Swordsman · Champion aoe2DE Champion
Spearman aoe2DE Spearman · Aoe2-infantry-2-pikeman Pikeman · Halberdier aoe2DE Halberdier
Eaglescout aoe2DE Eagle Scout · Eaglewarrior aoe2DE Eagle Warrior · EliteEaglewarrior aoe2DE Elite Eagle Warrior
ArcherArcher aoe2DE Archer · Crossbowman aoe2DE Crossbowman · Arbalester aoe2DE Arbalester
Skirmisher aoe2DE Skirmisher · Elite skirmisher aoe2DE Elite Skirmisher
Hand cannoneer aoe2DE Hand Cannoneer
Cavalryarcher aoe2DE Cavalry Archer · Heavycavalryarcher aoe2de Heavy Cavalry Archer
Aoe2de DOI elephant archer icon Elephant Archer · ElephantArcherIcon-DE Elite Elephant Archer
CavalryScoutcavalry aoe2DE Scout Cavalry · Lightcavalry aoe2DE Light Cavalry · Hussar aoe2DE Hussar
Knight aoe2DE Knight · Cavalier aoe2DE Cavalier · Paladin aoe2DE Paladin
Camelrider aoe2DE Camel Rider · Aoe2 heavycamelriderDE Heavy Camel Rider
Battle elephant aoe2DE Battle Elephant · Elite battle elephant aoe2DE Elite Battle Elephant
Steppelancericon Steppe Lancer · Elitesteppelancericon Elite Steppe Lancer
Xolotlicon Xolotl Warrior
AoE2DE Armored Elephant icon Armored Elephant · AoE2DE Siege Elephant icon Siege Elephant
SiegeBattering ram aoe2DE Battering Ram · Capped ram aoe2DE Capped Ram · Siege ram aoe2DE Siege Ram
Mangonel aoe2DE Mangonel · Onager aoe2DE Onager · Siege onager aoe2DE Siege Onager
Scorpion aoe2DE Scorpion · Heavyscorpion aoe2DE Heavy Scorpion
Bombard cannon aoe2DE Bombard Cannon
Trebuchet aoe2DE Trebuchet
Petard aoe2DE Petard
Siegetower aoe2DE Siege Tower
War shipTransportship aoe2DE Transport Ship
Galley aoe2DE Galley · War galley aoe2DE War Galley · Galleon aoe2DE Galleon
Fire galley aoe2DE Fire Galley · Fireship aoe2DE Fire Ship · Fastfireship aoe2DE Fast Fire Ship
Demoraft aoe2DE Demolition Raft · Demoship aoe2DE Demolition Ship · Heavydemoship aoe2de Heavy Demolition Ship
Cannon galleon aoe2DE Cannon Galleon · Elite cannon galleon aoe2de Elite Cannon Galleon
AoE2 Dromon Dromon
ReligiousMissionaryIcon-DE Missionary · AoE2 WarriorPriest Warrior Priest
InfantryBerserkIcon-DE Berserk · Aoe2de Chakram Chakram Thrower · CondottieroIcon-DE Condottiero · Aoe2-icon-flemish-militia Flemish Militia · GbetoIcon-DE Gbeto · Aoe2de Ghulam Ghulam · HuskarlIcon-DE Huskarl · JaguarWarriorIcon-DE Jaguar Warrior · KamayukIcon-DE Kamayuk · Karambitwarrioricon-DE Karambit Warrior · AoE2 DE Legionary new icon Legionary · Aoe2-icon--obuch Obuch · SamuraiIcon-DE Samurai · Aoe2-icon-serjeant Serjeant · Shotelwarrioricon-DE Shotel Warrior · TeutonicKnightIcon-DE Teutonic Knight · ThrowingAxemanIcon-DE Throwing Axeman · Aoe2de Urumi Urumi Swordsman · AoE2 WarriorPriest Warrior Priest · WoadRaiderIcon-DE Woad Raider
ArcherArambaiicon-DE Arambai · CamelArcherIcon-DE Camel Archer · ChukoNuIcon-DE Chu Ko Nu · AoE2 CompositeBowman Composite Bowman · ConquistadorIcon-DE Conquistador · GenitourIcon-DE Genitour · GenoeseCrossbowmanIcon-DE Genoese Crossbowman · Imperialskirmishericon-DE Imperial Skirmisher · JanissaryIcon-DE Janissary · Kipchakicon Kipchak · LongbowmanIcon-DE Longbowman · MangudaiIcon-DE Mangudai · PlumedArcherIcon-DE Plumed Archer · Aoe2de ratha ranged Ranged Ratha · Rattanarchericon-DE Rattan Archer · SlingerIcon-DE Slinger · WarWagonIcon-DE War Wagon
CavalryBallistaelephanticon-DE Ballista Elephant · BoyarIcon-DE Boyar · Aoe2de camel scout Camel Scout · CataphractIcon-DE Cataphract · Aoe2de roman unique centurion icon Centurion · Aoe2-icon-coustillier Coustillier · Flaming camel icon Flaming Camel · ImperialCamelRiderIcon-DE Imperial Camel Rider · Keshikicon Keshik · Konnikicon Konnik · Leitisicon Leitis · MagyarHuszarIcon-DE Magyar Huszar · MamelukeIcon-DE Mameluke · AoE2 Monaspa Monaspa · Aoe2de ratha melee Melee Ratha · AoE2 Savar Savar · Aoe2de shrivamsha rider Shrivamsha Rider · TarkanIcon-DE Tarkan · WarElephantIcon-DE War Elephant · Aoe2-icon-winged-hussar Winged Hussar
SiegeAoe2-icon--houfnice Houfnice · Aoe2-icon-hussite-wagon Hussite Wagon · OrganGunIcon-DE Organ Gun
War shipCaravelIcon-DE Caravel · LongboatIcon-DE Longboat · Aoe2de Thirisadai Thirisadai · TurtleShipIcon-DE Turtle Ship