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Aztec elite berserker.
—In-game description

The Skull Knight is a melee heavy infantry in Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs that is unique to the Aztecs and can only be obtained through Garland War Ceremony and Tezcatlipoca Worship, or shipped from the Home City.


Similar to the German Doppelsoldner and the Japanese Samurai, the Skull Knight possesses high hit points, deals Area of Effect damage, has a massive siege damage against buildings, and has multipliers against cavalry. Although highly effective in melee combat, its low speed renders it vulnerable to artillery.

Skull Knights work well when used in numbers due to effects of their splash damage and resists against melee damage, but it is recommended to support them with Arrow Knights, since the latter's high range deals increased damage to counter artillery. Another strong combination is with the Coyote Runner, since they reach and attack ranged units more quickly, not only artillery but also infantry.

Special abilities[]

Obsidian storm ability.png Obsidian Storm (automatically activated when attacking with a cooldown of 15 seconds): The Skull Knight performs a sweeping hand attack that does +50% of their normal hand attack, with 4 AOE. This is always based on their hand attack, meaning the Great Temple of Huiztilopochtli Support card increases the area of effect of this ability, as well as any attack increases boosting its damage, notable their War Ceremony at the Community Plaza, making this a devastating melee ability if well utilized.


  • When they are marching to enemy artillery it is highly recommended to use "In cover" mode against shots, and then change to normal mode once they are in melee range.
  • Another form to avoid too much range damage from artillery and infantry is placing only one unit in front, as units automatically attack the enemy units closer to them, leading to the artillery wasting shots.
    • Remember to place them a good distance or in a different way from the army because artillery has AOE attacks, which could lead to the Skull Knights' deaths.
    • Against professionals, this strategy is less effective, as they will use their artillery more efficiently.
  • Try a Coyote and Arrow Knight combination with the Skull Knight army, making a more versatile composition.
  • With the Arrow Knight composition, it is preferable to place them in front. In that form, if the player sees artillery, they will attack as soon as possible. Otherwise, it is not necessary, because it makes the Arrow Knights too exposed.
    • Protect them from infantry and cavalry attacks with the Skull Knight army.
    • If the enemy uses their cavalry or infantry to kill the Arrow Knights, carry a Coyote army to ambush the artillery and long range infantry.
  • With the Coyote Runner composition, guide them in the front and the flanks of the Skull Knight army.
    • When the Skull army sees the enemy's army, retreat them a short distance and try to see if there are enemy artillery or skirmisher units with a Coyote or with a Knight. if there are, don't attack first with Skull Knights, but if there is, let them attack first and retreat the Skull Knight army, waiting for the cavalry or infantry to pursue it. Once they get close, ambush with Coyotes.
      • This tactic won't work if the enemy doesn't move their cavalry or infantry, but the Arrow Knight composition will help.
  • Always make tactic compositions.


The Skull Knight is automatically upgraded in every Age from the Fortress Age.

Fortress age up.png Elite Skull Knight (+25% hit points and attack)
Industrial age up.png Champion Skull Knight (+25% hit points and attack)
Imperial age up.png Legendary Skull Knight (+50% hit points and attack)

Further statistics[]

As Skull Knights are unique to the Aztecs, only technologies that they have access to are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Most units, buildings
Weak vs. Artillery
Hit points Cree Tanning.png Cree Tanning (+5%)
Maya Cotton Armor.png Maya Cotton Armor (+20%)
Navajo Weaving.png Navajo Weaving (+5%)
Attack Carib Kasiri Beer.png Carib Kasiri Beer (+10%)
Mapuche Tactics.png Mapuche Tactics (+50% siege attack)
Zapotec Cult of the Dead.png Zapotec Cult of the Dead (+20%)
Yoga.png Yoga (+5%)
Master Lessons.png Master Lessons (+10%)
Speed Inca Road-building.png Quechuan Mountaineering (+20%)
Apache Endurance.png Apache Endurance (+5%)
Creation speed Inca Chaquis Messengers.png Quechuan Diet (-25%)
Other Tezcatlipoca Worship.png Tezcatlipoca Worship (ships 1 Skull Knight for every 4 minutes of the game time, up to 30 minutes)

Home City Cards[]

As Skull Knights are unique to the Aztecs, only their cards and other civilizations' TEAM cards are shown in the following tables:


The WarChiefs[]

  • Skull Knights have 300 hit points.
  • Skull Knights have a x2.0 multiplier vs light infantry.

Definitive Edition[]

  • Skull Knights now have 320 hit points.
  • With update 23511, Skull Knights now have a x2.2 multiplier vs shock infantry, have an Obsidian Storm charged attack and can regenerate hit points.


  • Despide the in-game history information, Tzitzimitl was the name of minor female deities depicted as skeletal female figures wearing skirts (often with skull and crossbone designs).
  • The Skull Knight is based on Tlacochcalcatl, Aztec warriors whose role is similar to a general in modern times; the Tlatoani (Aztec emperor) was the only rank to supersede them.
    • Their weapon was known as Huitzauhqui.
    • As a side note, the Tlacateccatl (similar in appearance to a Champion/Legendary Puma Spearman but with a shield in addition) was second-in-command to the Tlacochcalcatl and the Tlatoani.
  • The Skull Knight's outfit appears to be based on the Osprey published book "Aztec Warrior".


In Aztec society, membership in the calpulli established each individual's religious and secular schooling, as well as how they would be trained in warfare. The men of a calpulli served together in battle and on the numerous public works projects. Their soldiers wielded weapons of wood and stone, and they often sought prisoners to be sacrificed in religious ceremonies.

The most-feared and powerful division in the Aztec army was made up of skull knights. Their name, Tzitzimitl, translates as "frightful specters," the skull knight dressed as a kind of undead horror, and the enemy often fled at their advance.


In other languages[]

  • Spanish: Caballero Cráneo
  • French: Chevalier Crâne
  • German: Totenkopfritter
  • Italian: Cavaliere del Teschio
  • Japanese: 髑髏の騎士 (Dokuro no Kishi)
  • Korean: 해골 용사 (Haegol Yongsa)
  • Portuguese: Cavaleiro Caveira
  • Russian: Рыцарь черепа (Rytsar' cherepa)