|“||Hun unique unit. Cavalry with attack bonus vs. buildings.||”|
|—Age of Empires II description|
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 Camel Rider or 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 Camels. 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.
But because the Huns have Paladins, Tarkans should only be used to fulfill their main role, which is to destroy buildings.
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||Bloodlines (+20)|
|Attack|| Forging (+1)|
Iron Casting (+1)
Blast Furnace (+2)
|Armor|| Scale Barding Armor (+1/+1)|
Chain Barding Armor (+1/+1)
Plate Barding Armor (+1/+2)
|Conversion defense|| Faith|
|Creation speed||Conscription (+33%)|
|Other||Marauders (allows creation at Stables)|
- A team containing Berbers: With Kasbah researched, Tarkans are created 25% faster at the Castle, upgraded 25% faster, and Conscription and Marauders are researched 25% faster.
- A team containing Bulgarians: Researching upgrades at the Blacksmith is faster.
- A team containing Huns: Tarkans that are produced at the Stable are created 20% faster. Researching Bloodlines and Husbandry is 20% faster.
- A team containing Lithuanians: Researching Faith and Heresy is 20% faster.
- A team containing Teutons: Tarkans are resistant to conversion.
- Non-Elite Tarkans have 90 HP and 7 attack.
- Tarkans have 2 pierce armor (3 for Elite).
- 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".
- Historically, this title is not attested among the Huns.
- However, the title was used in the 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).
- Prior to the Definitive Edition, Tarkans trained at the Castle and Stable were technically different units (although absolutely identical in design and stats), i.e. 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.
|“||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|