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Trash unit prev

Trash units are military units that do not cost any rare resource, often gold. These units can be massed easily and often cost very little resources. For the most part, they are useful for defending a location early in the game or countering certain enemy units but can be taken out easily by counter units that cost gold. The term "trash" refers to the fact that most of these units only require the most common resources which are more easily disposed of than other resources (usually wood and food).

When a player is using trash units, they are usually trying to overwhelm their opponents with quantity instead of quality, or using them as cannon fodder to occupy the enemy troops to give the player time to create a more powerful army. Trash armies are also essential to long games without trade and on maps where gold is limited in quantity.

The concept of trash units comes later in the game, usually in the fourth Age, because the rare resources become limiting quite late. It is also a phenomenon generally not associated with proper water maps.

ReturnRome-AoEIcon Age of Empires[]

Unlike the other games of the series, there are fewer varieties of trash units in Age of Empires, and two of them are even considered "elite" by the game (Scythe Chariot and Trireme). The complete list of trash units of Age of Empires:

Note that the Slinger is not a trash unit, as while it does not cost gold, it does cost stone.

Exceptional trash unit civilizations[]

AoE2-DLCicon-0 Age of Empires II[]


All trash units in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

In Age of Empires II, there are only three main lines of trash units: Skirmishers, which have an attack bonus against Spearmen and archers; Spearmen, which have an attack bonus against cavalry; and Scout Cavalry, which have an attack bonus against Monks, and are effective against archers.

In The Forgotten, the first unique trash unit was introduced, the Magyar Huszar. It normally costs gold, but can turn into a trash unit after researching Corvinian Army. It is a variation of the Scout Cavalry line and equipped with an attack bonus against siege units.

In The African Kingdoms, another unique trash unit was introduced, the Genitour. It is a team bonus of the Berbers, hence shared unique unit. It is a mounted Skirmisher.

In Rise of the Rajas, a unique upgrade for the Elite Skirmisher was introduced, the Imperial Skirmisher, exclusive to the Vietnamese and their allies. Also in the same expansion, the Malay unique technology Forced Levy removes the gold cost from the Militia line units, turning them into trash units for them.

In the Definitive Edition, Persians have Kamandaran as their Castle Age unique technology, which changes the cost of the Archer line to only wood.

In Dawn of the Dukes, the Bohemians have trash Monks when they have Hussite Reforms researched. The Lithuanians and Poles have access to the Winged Hussar, a stronger version of the Hussar that has an attack bonus against gunpowder units.

The complete list of trash units in Age of Empires II:

Exceptional trash unit civilizations[]

This is a list of civilizations with excellent trash units, which is not necessarily the same as civilizations with good late game in gold-crunch situations.

  • Berbers AoE2 Berbers: They and their allies can access the Genitour, as well as having cheaper and fully upgraded Hussars.
  • Burmese AoE2 Burmese: Their Halberdiers have +3 attack in addition to being fully upgraded. With Manipur Cavalry, their fully upgraded Hussars get +4 attack against archers, compensating the fact that the Burmese have some of the worst Skirmishers in the game.
  • Byzantines AoE2 Byzantines: The Spearman and Skirmisher lines are 25% cheaper, saving a total of 15 resources per unit.
  • Dravidians AoE2 Dravidians: They have Halberdiers whose attack ignore armor thanks to Wootz Steel, and Skirmishers attacking 25% faster. Despite having one of the worst Light Cavalry in the game, they also benefit from Wootz Steel.
  • Goths AoE2 Goths: The Goths are notorious for their cheap infantry, getting huge discounts to their infantry line, including trash units. The Goths get access to both Halberdier and Elite Skirmishers. While their infantry line don't get any combat bonuses against other units, they do get an attack bonus against buildings. Combined with their unique Perfusion upgrade, The Goths can make an assembly line of cheap Halberdiers and Skirmishers to throw at their opponents.
  • Koreans AoE2 Koreans: The Spearman and Skirmisher lines cost -50% wood.
  • Lithuanians AoE2 Lithuanians: Their Elite Skirmishers move 10% faster, as well as have +2 pierce armor with Tower Shields. They have access to Winged Hussar, replacing the generic Hussar - their Winged Hussar has +5 hit points, +1 melee armor, and +4 attack vs gunpowder units. Their Halberdiers are not so great - while they have +10% speed and +2 pierce armor with Tower Shields as well, they lack Blast Furnace and Plate Mail Armor, which means that besides speed, they are statistically inferior to the generic counterpart.
  • Magyars AoE2 Magyars: The Magyar Huszar with Corvinian Army researched is effectively a more powerful Hussar. The Scout Cavalry line is 15% cheaper.
  • Malay AoE2 Malay: The Militia line with Forced Levy becomes a trash unit line. The Militia line is already highly effective against regular trash units, taking little damage from Skirmishers, crushing Halberdiers with similar resource costs, and trading evenly with Hussars.
  • Persians AoE2 Persians: Kamandaran turns Persian Crossbowmen into trash units, while remaining better than Elite Skirmishers at fighting anything but archers. This is in addition to fully upgraded Halberdiers and Hussars.
  • Spanish AoE2 Spanish: They are the only civilization with fully upgraded Halberdiers, Elite Skirmishers, and Hussars. Supremacy effectively turns Villagers into trash units.
Exceptional late game civilizations
  • Burgundians AoE2 Burgundians: With Burgundian Vineyards, their Farms generate gold. 34 such Farms are equivalent to a Relic.
  • Portuguese AoE2 Portuguese: Since their units cost -20% gold, they can conserve their gold for longer, especially when other civilizations are struggling for gold. In addition, they have the Feitoria to generate any resource, including stone.
  • Vietnamese AoE2 Vietnamese: While their trash units outside of Imperial Skirmishers are weak, they can also generate gold with their Paper Money unique technology.


  • Almost no trash units have base melee armor. The only two exceptions are the Winged Hussar, which is only available to two civilizations, and the Malay Long Swordsmen and Two-Handed Swordsman after researching Forced Levy.
  • When allied with the Berbers, Turks actually have a quite respectable line-up, with their Hussars having more pierce armor and their complete mounted archer technology upgrade along with Sipahi affecting the Genitours, making it one of the best Genitours. But if it is a team game, it is better to trade to generate gold, and make Heavy Cavalry Archers instead.
  • Allying with the Vietnamese can significantly improve the trash unit line-up of a civilization that already has bonuses or unique technologies affecting their Elite Skirmishers. This includes the Aztecs, Byzantines, Incas, Lithuanians, and Mayans.
  • All Eastern European civilizations have at least one very prominent trash unit.

Aom original icon Age of Mythology[]

Gold is not a rare resource in Age of Mythology. It is possible to accumulate gold by trading with one's own Town Centers, gold is gathered much faster than Age of Empires II, and spawns always near one's initial spawn-point. In addition, all human soldiers cost gold, all myth units cost some form of favor and heroes cost gold, favor, or both.

Hence, the concept of trash units is completely foreign to Age of Mythology. The closest examples to traditional trash units in Age of Mythology are the Hypaspist, Khopesh Swordsman, Ulfsark, Slinger, and the Spearman.

3Icon48px Age of Empires III[]

As coin (akin to gold) can be infinitely generated through the Whales and the Estate, the concept of "rarer resources" is rather foreign to Age of Empires III as well. The infinite collection of this resource removes a major bottleneck to unit production. Indeed because of this, on occasion wood ends up a rarer resource than coin because it is the slow to gather and is spread out on the map and cannot be protected like the Estate in one's own base.

The Haudenosaunee Aenna and Mexican Insurgente are perhaps the best remaining examples of trash units, as they exclusively cost food. The Russian Strelet and Aztec Otontin Slinger are also in a similar category as they require a small amount of wood. The Revolutionary is technically in the same position as the Aenna, but is a special unit that operates completely differently and requires a complete upheaval of the economy.

GameIcon-AoE4 Age of Empires IV[]

Gold is not a rare resource in Age of Empires IV either. All random maps spawn three Trade Posts, with which players can trade to generate gold. Captured Sacred Sites also generate gold. In addition, most civilizations have something going for them which helps generate gold, like Hunting Cabin for the Rus and Farms with Enclosures for the English.

The game still features cheap filler units, especially in the early game when gold units are rare. Common "trash" units are listed here. Most of their variations are trash too and fulfill the same role.