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Hunnic unique cavalry unit with attack bonus vs. buildings.
Age of Empires II description

The Tarkan is the unique unit of the Huns in Age of Empires II: The Conquerors. It is a cavalry unit with high pierce armor and an attack bonus against buildings.

Tarkans can be upgraded to Elite Tarkans in the Imperial Age.


In combat, Tarkans are best categorized as medium cavalry, something of a middle-ground between Light Cavalry and Knights, considering their cost, hit points, armor, and attack. But the Tarkan's real specialty is destroying buildings, more of a mobile town destroyer rather than melee combat specialist like the Champion or the Paladin. As such Tarkans are effective against most ranged units, Light Cavalry, and buildings due to their high pierce armor and hit points. Tarkans should be used for quick raids and hit-and-runs on buildings/towns/forward camps. They are able to knock down defensive buildings with relative ease and are capable of dealing with archers in a counter-attack. Tarkans are also useful in home defense scenarios in which the opponent sends siege weapons en masse. Tarkans should therefore be utilized as raiders both offensively and defensively due to their penchant for hit-and-run attacks.

Tarkans come up short against infantry, heavy cavalry, and Camel Riders. Another subtle disadvantage they have is their rather slow Rate of Fire, which makes them one of the slowest attacking melee units in the game.

Since the Huns have Paladins, Tarkans should be used to fulfill their main role, which is to destroy buildings. However, due to having 1 more pierce armor with only 10 hit points less than the Paladin, they can be used against archer civilizations as well.

Further statistics[]

As Tarkans are unique to the Huns, only technologies that are available to them are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Archers, siege weapons, Light Cavalry, buildings
Weak vs. Infantry, heavy cavalry, Genoese Crossbowmen, Mamelukes, Camel Riders
Hit points BloodlinesDE.png Bloodlines (+20)
Attack Forging aoe2de.png Forging (+1)
IronCastingDE.png Iron Casting (+1)
BlastFurnaceDE.png Blast Furnace (+2)
Armor ScaleBardingArmorDE.png Scale Barding Armor (+1/+1)
ChainBardingDE.png Chain Barding Armor (+1/+1)
PlateBardingArmorDE.png Plate Barding Armor (+1/+2)
Speed HusbandryDE.png Husbandry (+10%)
Conversion defense FaithDE.png Faith
HeresyDE.png Heresy
Creation speed ConscriptionDE.png Conscription (+33%)
CastleAgeUnique.png Kasbah (+25%, with a Berber ally only)
Other CastleAgeUnique.png Marauders (allows creation at Stables)
Upgrades Elite-unique-research.jpg Elite Tarkan

Team bonuses[]


The Conquerors[]

  • Non-Elite Tarkans have 90 HP and 7 attack.
  • Tarkans have 2 pierce armor (3 for Elite).

The Forgotten[]

  • Non-Elite Tarkans have 100 HP and 8 attack.
  • Marauders technology introduced. It costs 500F/200G.

The African Kingdoms[]

  • Marauders cost 300W/200G.
  • With patch 4.8, Tarkans have 3 pierce armor (4 for Elite).


  • With a Rate of Fire of 2.1, the Tarkan was the slowest-attacking melee cavalry in the game before update 34055. Currently Konniks are slower, with a RoF of 2.4 (which can be improved by researching Stirrups).
  • Tarkan comes from Turkic tarqān "craftsman, smith < tax-exempt person" (cf. Mongolic darqan).
    • Possibly from Sogdian tarxant, cf. Ossetian tærxon "argument, trial" < Proto-Indo-European telkʷ- "to speak".
    • Alexander Vovin instead links tarxa:n to Old Chinese *dar-ɦwa 單于 (> Mandarin. chányú), interpreted as a Yeniseian title meaning "northern ruler" (cf. Ket tɨl "Yenisei river's lower reach, north" and qɨj "head, prince"; the latter element Vovin also links to khan).
    • Historically, this title is not attested among European Huns. Chinese sources mentioned 悒達太汗 Yida Taihan, Tarkhan(s) of the Hephthalites, whom Procopius referred to as "White Huns".[1]
    • The title was also used by the Gokturks and Bulgarian Khanate. In all the sources the title "tarkan" was preceded by another morpheme, like "boila-tarkan" (Gr. βουλίας ταρκάνος) or "bori-tarkan" (Gr. Βοριτα(ρ)κάνωι).[2]
  • Prior to the Definitive Edition, Tarkans trained at the Castle and Stable were not selected together; that is, double-clicking either did not select the units trained at the other building. In the Definitive Edition, all Tarkans can be selected together via double-clicking.
  • Prior to the Definitive Edition, Tarkans produced a silent thud-thud sound which was very popular.


The use of the stirrup by the Huns gave them a technological advantage against other armies when they advanced toward the west in the 3rd century. They could set themselves in their stirrups and charge into a target with a lance. The impact of the lance point transferred the force of the combined moving man and horse, thanks to the stirrup. With rare exceptions (notably Alexander’s Companion cavalry) horsemen prior to this had rarely been effective with a lance or spear. The appearance of thousands of barbarian cavalry using spears so effectively forced dramatic change in warfare at the end of antiquity. The Roman legions were forced to put more emphasis on cavalry in support of their legions and eventually hire barbarian horsemen as mercenaries. Heroes of Hunnic, and later Mongolian, armies were known as Tarkans.

The best of the Hunnic light horsemen were Elite Tarkan warriors. They rode hard, hit with surprise, and could withdraw as quickly if the situation was not advantageous. The mobility of the Elite Tarkan warriors made them devastating raiders, but their light cavalry status put them at a disadvantage against heavily armored horsemen in close combat.
The Conquerors manual