"Korean unique unit. Slow, ironclad battleship used to destroy other ships at close range."—Age of Empires II description
Turtle Ships can be upgraded to Elite Turtle Ships in the Imperial Age.
The Turtle Ship is one of the major Korean advantages. A single Turtle Ship can wipe out a small fleet of enemy vessels.
The Turtle Ship's main weaknesses are its short range and slow speed, allowing other ships to utilize hit-and-run tactics on it. The cost is also a drawback.
This means that the best choice against Turtle Ships is probably to mass Galleons, since the they are cheaper, faster, and long-ranged, allowing them to utilize hit-and-run tactics. Bombard Cannons and Monks from inland are also good choices against Turtle Ships.
The player must not fall in the trap to only create Turtle Ships as that mistake can prove costly. To use them properly, Turtle Ships must be paired with other naval vessels, most likely Galleons, which have a long-ranged attack and hinder the enemy to use hit-and-run tactics. The role of the Turtle Ship in the navy is to soak up a lot of damage while dealing a considerable amount of damage to enemy vessels. Therefore, they should be used in the first frontline.
Turtle Ships are very heavily armored, with the non-elite Turtle Ship possessing +8 defense against anti-ship attack bonuses that other ships and towers typically deal against ships. The Elite Turtle Ship even has +11 defense against anti-ship attack bonuses, making it especially formidable. This bonus defense nullifies all the bonus attack that ships (War Galleys, Fire Ships), and towers deal against naval vessels. Elite Turtle Ships also receive a small +1 defense boost against Fire Ship attacks (which have their own specific attack bonus against Turtle Ships).
As Turtle Ships are unique to the Koreans, only technologies that are available to them are shown in the following table:
|Unit strengths and weaknesses|
|Strong vs.||Ships at close distance, buildings on the shoreline, units on the shoreline or shallows|
|Weak vs.||Bombard Cannons, Monks, Trebuchets, Castles, towers, Condottieri (in the shallows)|
|Speed|| Dry Dock (+15%)|
Panokseon (+15%, Koreans only)
|Creation speed||Shipwright (+54%)|
|Train cost||Shipwright (-20%)|
|Upgrades||Elite Turtle Ship|
- A team containing Teutons: Turtle Ships are more resistant to conversion.
- A team containing Turks: Turtle Ships are created 25% faster.
- Turtle Ships require a Castle.
- Turtle Ships cost 200W/200G.
- Turtle Ships do not benefit from the Turkish team bonus.
- Turtle Ships now cost 180W/180G.
- Panokseon introduced.
The African Kingdoms
- Turtle Ships no longer require a Castle.
- With patch 4.8, Turtle Ships are now created 20% faster when allied with the Turks.
- Turtle Ships cost 15% less wood.
- Prior to the Definitive Edition, the Turtle Ship was one of only four units in the game without any attack bonus (the other being the Militia, the Boyar, and the Knight line).
- The Turtle Ship's icon is showing the original appearance (before version 1.0b).
- Contrary to how the game portrays the ships, the speed in which the Turtle Ships traveled in reality was not at all slow, due to the ship utilizing oars and masts, which the latter is not shown on the ship (and most likely not implemented for the purpose of balancing). Furthermore, Turtle Ships were often tactically used by ramming against enemy ships and launching a barrage of attacks with a variety of weaponry, which included a firethrower afixed in the dragon's head of the ship.
"Under attack by samurai Japan in 1592, the fate of Korea and perhaps China depended on breaking the invader’s supply lines at sea across the Straits of Korea. Korean admiral Yi Sun-Shin won two great naval victories off southern Korea with the aid of Turtle Ships, the first armored warships in history. These oarpowered ships had a low profile and mounted a battery of cannons on their broadside. Their sides and top were rounded and shaped like a flat turtle shell. They were not well suited for use on the high sea but quite useful in coastal waters where waters were relatively calm. The Japanese ships were at a great disadvantage in combat against them. Most missile fire glanced off their rounded armor. They offered no openings for enemy boarding parties. Unarmored enemy ships were quickly disabled by their cannon."