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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. 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.png Fletching (+1)
BodkinArrowDE.png Bodkin Arrow (+1)
BracerDE.png Bracer (+1)
ChemistryDE.png Chemistry (+1)
CastleAgeUnique.png Atlatl (+1, Aztecs only)
CastleAgeUnique.png Hul'che Javelineers (Extra spear, Mayans only)
Range FletchingDE.png Fletching (+1)
BodkinArrowDE.png Bodkin Arrow (+1)
BracerDE.png Bracer (+1)
CastleAgeUnique.png Atlatl (+1, Aztecs only)
CastleAgeUnique.png Yeomen (+1, Britons only)
CastleAgeUnique.png Andean Sling (eliminates the minimum range, Incas only)
Accuracy ThumbRingDE.png Thumb Ring (increases accuracy to 100%)
BallisticsDE.png Ballistics (hit moving targets)
Armor PaddedArcherArmorDE.png Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)
LeatherArcherArmorDE.png Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
RingArcherArmorDE.png Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
Unique-tech-imperial.jpg Tower Shields (+2 pierce armor, Lithuanians only)
Conversion defense FaithDE.png Faith
HeresyDE.png Heresy
UniqueTechCastle-DE.png First Crusade (Sicilians only)
Train cost UniqueTechCastle-DE.png Kshatriyas (-25% food, Gurjaras only)
Creation speed ConscriptionDE.png Conscription (+33%)
Upgrades Imperialskirmisherresearch.png Elite Skirmisher

Civilization bonuses[]

Team bonuses[]


The Age of Kings[]

  • The Elite Skirmisher upgrade costs 250 wood, 160 gold.

The Conquerors[]

The Forgotten[]

The African Kingdoms[]

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

Rise of the Rajas[]

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

Definitive Edition[]

Lords of the West[]

  • Mayans: Hul'che Javelineers is introduced to replace Obsidian Arrows; Hul'che Javelineers improves Skirmishers by making them throw a second projectile.

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: Team bonus changed to Spearmen and Skirmishers +2 Line of Sight.


  • 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.


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.


v  d  e
Units in Age of Empires II
AoE2-DLCicon-0.png The Age of Kings
Economic /
Monk · Villager · Trade Cart · Trade Cog · Fishing Ship · Transport Ship
InfantryMilitia · Man-at-Arms · Long Swordsman · Two-Handed Swordsman · Champion
Spearman · Pikeman
ArcherArcher · Crossbowman · Arbalester
Skirmisher · Elite Skirmisher
Hand Cannoneer
Cavalry Archer · Heavy Cavalry Archer
CavalryScout Cavalry · Light Cavalry
Knight · Cavalier · Paladin
Camel Rider · Heavy Camel Rider
SiegeBattering Ram · Capped Ram · Siege Ram
Mangonel · Onager · Siege Onager
Scorpion · Heavy Scorpion
Bombard Cannon
ShipGalley · War Galley · Galleon
Fire Ship · Fast Fire Ship
Demolition Ship · Heavy Demolition Ship
Cannon Galleon · Elite Cannon Galleon
UniqueLongbowman · Cataphract · Woad Raider · Chu Ko Nu · Throwing Axeman · Huskarl · Samurai · War Elephant · Mameluke · Teutonic Knight · Janissary · Berserk · Mangudai  · Longboat
AoE2-DLCicon-1.png The Conquerors
InfantryEagle Warrior · Elite Eagle Warrior
UniqueWar Wagon · Turtle Ship · Jaguar Warrior · Tarkan · Missionary · Conquistador · Plumed Archer
AoE2-DLCicon-2.png The Forgotten
InfantryEagle Scout
UniqueImperial Camel Rider · Slinger · Genoese Crossbowman · Condottiero · Elephant Archer · Kamayuk · Magyar Huszar · Boyar
AoE2-DLCicon-3.png The African Kingdoms
SiegeSiege Tower
ShipFire Galley
Demolition Raft
UniqueCamel Archer · Genitour · Gbeto · Shotel Warrior  · Caravel  · Organ Gun
AoE2-DLCicon-4.png Rise of the Rajas
CavalryBattle Elephant · Elite Battle Elephant
UniqueImperial Skirmisher · Arambai · Ballista Elephant · Karambit Warrior · Rattan Archer
AoE2-DLCicon-5.png The Last Khans (Definitive Edition)
CavalrySteppe Lancer · Elite Steppe Lancer
Xolotl Warrior
UniqueKonnik · Kipchak · Leitis · Keshik · Flaming Camel
AoE2Icon-LordsWest.png Lords of the West
UniqueCoustillier · Flemish Militia · Serjeant
Dawn of the Dukes icon.png Dawn of the Dukes
CavalryWinged Hussar
UniqueHussite Wagon · Houfnice · Obuch
AoE2Icon-DynastiesIndia.png Dynasties of India
CavalryArmored Elephant · Siege Elephant
UniqueRatha · Urumi Swordsman · Thirisadai · Chakram Thrower · Shrivamsha Rider · Camel Scout · Ghulam