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

Skirmisher with low hitpoints, but a long-ranged attack. Good against infantry.
—In-game description

The Skirmisher is a ranged gunpowder infantry in Age of Empires III that can be trained at Barracks, Fort, and Galleon/Fluyt once the Fortress Age is reached.

Skirmishers are available to European civilizations except British, Knights of St. John (Act I: Blood campaign), Ottomans (who have Abus Guns instead), Portuguese (who have Cassadores instead), Russians (who have Strelets instead), Swedes, and United States (who have Sharpshooters instead).


Skirmishers have a long-ranged attack that is suited to kiting the enemy from afar. They are strong at countering and defeating heavy infantry and ranged cavalry, but highly vulnerable to melee cavalry and artillery due to their relatively low hit points and a weak melee attack. They cost a relatively high amount of gold and it is not cost effective to use them against melee cavalry.

Typically they are used to create a strong mass ranged platform to support the rest of the army. Their long range ensures they can put all their damage to bear as fast as possible and makes them easy to control while kiting. They are effective against enemy Skirmishers and other ranged infantry, but their counter damage wards off cheaper heavy infantry attacks in melee, as well as harassment from fast ranged cavalry. When in position near enemy Settlers their range also makes them effective at harassing them while not committing too much to a bad position should a fight occur. When fighting heavy infantry it is advisable to take an Armory towards the time of the Industrial Age, in order to unlock Counter Infantry Rifling for an effective extra 50% attack against those units. Skirmishers are capable of sieging buildings, but this is a risky strategy due to the poor positioning required to do so, along with slow speed and low siege damage. It may be better to use them defensively in support of Falconets or Halberdiers instead.


Spanish Unction-boosted Skirmishers will inflict 54.675 damage before multipliers with all attack upgrades that do not require an ally or minor native upgrade. French Skirmishers have the highest stand-alone HP in the endgame (as Imperial Voltigeurs), as they have a Royal Guard Upgrade (10%) and 15% and 20% hit point Home City Cards available to them.

The Cherokee Rifleman and Klamath Rifleman are comparable to Fortress Age Skirmishers but with much higher hit points and may be useful for civilizations that lack access to regular Skirmishers. They are available on maps featuring the Cherokee or Klamath, and available earlier in the Commerce Age. Note that these units cost wood instead of coin.


The Skirmisher starts at the Veteran level, giving them +20% hit points and attack.

If they are made available in the Commerce Age with the "TEAM Early Skirmishers" Home City Card, Skirmishers will be automatically upgraded to Veteran once the player reaches the Fortress Age.

Age Upgrade Cost Effect Civ.
Ages industrial.jpg
Guard infantry.png Guard Skirmishers 600 wood,
600 coin
Upgrades Skirmishers to Guard (+30% hit points and attack) Dutch
Guard infantry.png Voltigeurs 1,000 wood,
1,000 coin
Upgrades Skirmishers to Voltigeurs (+10% hit points and attack, as well as the Guard upgrade, granting another +30% hit points and attack) French
Guard infantry.png Prussian Needle Gun Upgrades Skirmishers to Needle Gunners (+10% hit points and attack, as well as the Guard upgrade, granting another +30% hit points and attack) Germans
Imperial Age
Imperial infantry.png Imperial Skirmishers 1,500 wood,
1,500 coin
Upgrades Skirmishers to Imperial (+50% hit points and attack); requires Guard Skirmisher Dutch
Imperial infantry.png Imperial Voltigeurs Upgrades Voltigeurs to Imperial (+50% hit points and attack); requires Voltigeurs French
Imperial infantry.png Imperial Needle Guns Upgrades Needle Gunners to Imperial Needlers (+50% hit points and attack); requires Prussian Needle Gun Germans

Civilization differences[]

  • As seen above, the French and Germans can upgrade Skirmishers to Royal Guard and Imperial Guard levels.
  • While the British cannot train Skirmishers, they can ship 26 Guard Skirmishers through Roger's Rangers.
  • Dutch Skirmishers can be trained from the Commerce Age; they will be automatically upgraded to the Veteran level once the player reaches the Fortress Age.
  • John Black's Mercenaries can only upgrade Skirmishers to the Guard level.
  • United States can upgrade Skirmishers to the Imperial level.
  • Chinese and Indians can get Skirmishers by allying with British and Germans at the Consulate, which provides armies and shipments that includes Skirmishers (named Roger's Ranger for the British, Prussian Needle Gun for the Germans) listed below. These Skirmishers start with +10% hit points and attack than their regular counterpart, and are automatically upgraded in every Age starting from the Fortress Age (see here for the exact values).


Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Heavy infantry, light cavalry, Eagle Runner Knights
Weak vs. Heavy cavalry, Coyote Runners, artillery
Hit points Flint lock.png Flint Lock (+10%)
Thin Red Line.png Thin Red Line (+20%, British only)
Grand Encampment.png Grand Encampment (+25%, United States only)
Cree Tanning.png Cree Tanning (+5%)
Navajo Weaving.png Navajo Weaving (+5%)
Attack Counter Infantry Rifling.png Counter Infantry Rifling (+1.0x multiplier vs. heavy infantry)
Paper cartridge.png Paper Cartridge (+15%)
Iroquois lacrosse.png Iroquois Lacrosse (+10%, vanilla Age of Empires III only)
Yoga.png Yoga (+5%)
Smokeless Powder.png Smokeless Powder (+30% siege attack)
Clenched Fist.png Clenched Fist (+30% melee attack)
Speed Military Drummers.png Military Drummers (+10%)
Tillys Discipline.png Tilly's Discipline (+20%, Germans only)
Inca Road-building.png Incan Road-building (+20%)
Apache Endurance.png Apache Endurance (+5%)
Sight Town Watch.png Town Watch (+2)
Creation speed Standing Army.png Standing Army (-25%)
Inca Chaquis Messengers.png Incan Chasquis Messengers (-25%)
Train cost Mapuche Ad-mapu.png Mapuche Ad-mapu (-10% coin cost)
Other Rogers Rangers.png Roger's Rangers (ships 26 Guard Skirmishers, British only)
Merritocracy.png Meritocracy (-20% upgrade cost)
Penalties Coffee Trade.png Coffee Trade (-10% speed, Dutch only)
Tillys Discipline.png Tilly's Discipline (+10% cost, Germans only)
Grand Encampment.png Grand Encampment (-25% speed, United States only)

Home City Cards[]


Definitive Edition[]

  • Fixed a bug where the Skirmisher starts at the Veteran level instead of Guard when the player starts a Post-Industrial Age match as the Dutch.
  • With update 23511, the Skirmisher is tagged as Rifle Infantry.



Skirmishers were lightly armed and armored riflemen who used their speed to move quickly about the battlefield and perform a number of military roles. They defended flanks, helped artillerymen with cannon, dragged wounded soldiers off of the battlefield, and performed hit-and-run attacks on advancing enemy armies. Napoleonic-era skirmishers were effective against rigid ranks of musketeers because the fire of musketeers was less effective on the loose, informal skirmisher lines.

Many skirmishers in the nineteenth century were armed with rifles; the range and accuracy of these weapons made skirmishers dangerous enemies. Early rifles could only be fired once every minute or two, though later breechloading and repeating models could fire much more rapidly. One model fired so fast, a commander ordered his men to focus their fire on a single enemy skirmisher so that they could recover his rifle to examine it.


See also[]