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Religious leader who stuns Treasure Guardians and has a chance to do Divine Strike damage in combat. Explores, fights, and builds Town Centers, Trading Posts, and Shrines.
—In-game description

The Sohei Archer (Ikko-Ikki before the Definitive Edition) is an archer hero in Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties that is unique to the Japanese. It explores uncharted areas of the map and has some special abilities to help himself and his settlement. In standard random map games, the Japanese start with two Sohei Archers; both are counted as separate units.


The Sohei Archers begin with the Divine Strike ability, which allows them to occasionally instantly kill a weakened enemy, and the Smoke Bomb ability to immediately return to their Home City shipment point. Later on they can acquire more abilities and Stealth mode from improvements at the Monastery. They can also build Shrines, granting a safe and convenient way to claim remote animal herds.

Since they are the only explorer to be classified as archers, Sohei Archers are affected by archer-specific upgrades, such as Carib Garifuna Drums (x1.25 damage versus villagers) and Seminole Bowyer (+25% damage).

One of the more clever uses of the Sohei Archer involves their stealth and Sabotage abilities for undermining unique structures such as Factories and enemy Wonders. With Mountain Warriors, they will receive twice the normal resources or experience for recovering Treasures, which can be a significant early game advantage. Do note that it has no effect on Treasures based on percentage or units.

Special abilities[]

Stun.png Stun: Stuns a treasure guardian from a range of 16 for 20 seconds. 60 seconds cooldown.
Smoke bomb.png Smoke Bomb: Returns the Sohei Archer to the Home City shipment point after 4 seconds. 60 seconds cooldown.
Divine strike.png Divine Strike (passive): Gives the Sohei Archer a 25% chance to instantly kill enemy units with lower than 30 hit points when attacking, which is affected by attack boosts.
Dodge.png Dodge (passive; requires Intonjutsu Stealth): Gives the Sohei Archer a 15% chance to evade enemy attacks.
Sabotage.png Sabotage (requires Kayakujutsu): Causes 1,500 damage to an enemy building or ship from a range of 16. 60 seconds cooldown.
Stream of enlightenment.png Stream of Enlightenment (passive; requires Stream of Enlightenment Home City Card): Reduces the attack of enemy units in a radius of 24 around the Sohei Archer by 5.0% (stacks if both Sohei Archers are close together, see below).
  • Due to sapping modified stats, the combined Stream of Enlightenment effect is more powerful than it otherwise would be if the enemy units have been improved in any way (e.g. +30% attack from Home City Cards are reduced to +17% instead of +20%). Since Stream of Enlightenment affects all enemy units in range, it can loosely be considered a TEAM card due to benefitting allied units.
  • Keep in mind that melee attacks are faster, and will thus cause more frequent Divine Strikes. If the enemies are stunned and of a weaker variety, move the Sohei Archer into melee range to quickly kill them with one hit.


The Sohei Archer gets +50% hit points and attack in every Age up.

Further statistics[]

As Sohei Archers are unique to the Japanese, only technologies that they have access to are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Treasure guardians, infantry
Weak vs. Villagers, cavalry, Spies, Ninja
Hit points Infantry Breastplate.png Infantry Breastplate (+10%)
Cree Tanning.png Cree Tanning (+5%)
Navajo Weaving.png Navajo Weaving (+5%)
Sikh Gurus.png Sikh Gurus (+50%)
Attack Carib Kasiri Beer.png Carib Kasiri Beer (+10%)
Carib Garifuna Drums.png Carib Garifuna Drums (+1.0x multiplier vs. villagers)
Seminole Bowyer.png Seminole Bowyer (+25%)
Tupi Poison Arrow Frogs.png Tupi Poison Arrow Frogs (+10%)
Yoga.png Yoga (+5%)
Clenched Fist.png Clenched Fist (+30% melee attack)
Speed Inca Road-building.png Quechuan Mountaineering (+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 Quechuan Diet (-25%)
Other Reiki.png Reiki (can heal friendly units)
Intonjutsu Stealth.png Intonjutsu Stealth (gives stealth mode and the Dodge ability)
Kyudo.png Kyudo (+50% Divine Strike hit points threshold)
Kayakujutsu.png Kayakujutsu (gives the Sabotage ability)
Carib Ambush Party.png Carib Ambush Party (train Carib Ambushers)
Loyal Nootka Warchief.png Loyal Nootka War Chief (train Nootka War Chief)

Home City Cards[]

As Sohei Archers are unique to the Japanese, only their cards and other civilizations' TEAM cards are shown in the following tables:


The Asian Dynasties[]

  • The unit is named Ikko-Ikki.

Definitive Edition[]

  • The unit is renamed to Sohei Archer.


  • Since the Definitive Edition, the Sohei Archer reuses the history of the Sohei Naginata.


The Asian Dynasties[]

Like the yamabushi and the sohei, the ikko-ikki are an order of Japanese warrior monks devoted to a form of ascetic Buddhism, specifically the Jodo Shinshu, or True Pure Land Sect. This sect believed that all believers were equally saved by the grace of the Buddha.

The ikko-ikki lived for years as scattered mountain hermits until the fifteenth century, when the eccentric Jodo Shinshu abbot, Rennyo, established a temple in the Echizen province and began to rally the local citizenry behind him. Even though Rennyo was a pacifist, he advocated the use of pragmatic violence during dark times, such as the years of conflict that defined Japan’s warring states period. With the support of villagers and ikko-ikki monks behind him, Rennyo led an uprising against the samurai rulers of Kaga province in 1488. His army claimed the region and declared themselves its rulers. This act represented the first time in Japanese history that a group of commoners ruled a province. For the next one hundred years, the ikko-ikki fought against and alongside many powerful daimyo, including Tokugawa Ieyasu, Oda Nobunaga, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, depending on their aims. Occasionally, they even found themselves facing warrior monks of other sects in battle.

The ikko-ikki monks wore clothes symbolic of their origin as countryside mobs, with traditional monk robes and varying degrees and types of armor. Many wore helmets, while others opted for the straw hat and cloak of a peasant. Naginata remained very common along with a variety of other blades, and a limited number of firearms. As they charged into battle, the ikko-ikki often carried banners ahead of them proclaiming, “Hail to the Amida Buddha!” and “Renounce this world and attain the Pure Land!”

Definitive Edition[]

The sohei were an order of Japanese warrior monks living between the tenth and sixteenth centuries, a period when several militant religious sects held sway over local lords, challenging even the samurai warrior class for dominance.

The Japanese word “sohei” is roughly translated into English as monk (“so”) and warrior (“hei”). The sohei fought in large, extended, but not always officially ordained, brotherhoods that were geographically spread throughout smaller temples, all of which fell under the influence of a home temple’s monastic order. These central institutions, most notably those in Nara, and on Mount Hiei outside of Kyoto, held huge private armies of warrior monks. These armies often became embroiled in feudal clan rivalries, as many daimyo and samurai looked to ally with the sohei because of their technologically advanced weaponry and skills in battle. In addition, the sohei had a special form of spiritual weaponry, the kind only available to warriors of a religious order. They could intimidate their enemies by denouncing them at the Kasuga Shrine in Nara, which was considered a fate worse than death. They also used prayer beads to deliver curses on those who opposed them.

In battle, the sohei wore a form of light cuirass armor beneath a traditional kimono. They were known for fighting with the naginata blade, although they expertly wielded a variety of weapons, including the katana, the bow, and the arquebus.


See also[]