The Best Units In The Strategy Game | Games Rants
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The Best Units In The Strategy Game | Games Rants

Legions of units await the player’s command in Age of Empires 4. Decimating one’s enemies in a match or campaign is all about playing to unit strengths while also exploiting weaknesses wherever possible. As such, it’s worth noting that even the “best” units in Age of Empires 4 possess their shortcomings.

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Nevertheless, most civilizations retain a handful of units whose usefulness on the battlefield shouldn’t be ignored. Producing these exceptional soldiers is only the first step, though. Correctly employing them ensures these units always operate at peak efficiency. When it comes time to build a military force, it’s a good idea to have plenty of these fellows on hand.

Updated September 8, 2023 by Mark Hospodar: Age of Empires 4 is a game that lends itself well to being revisited every so often. Not only does new content get added, but the meta changes periodically as well. A unit’s stats can always be subject to change when a new update rolls out.

Although every unit in Age of Empires 4 brings something to the table, some stand out a bit more than others. Recruiting the following units is rarely a bad idea.


Longbowmen From Age Of Empires 4

For beginners learning the ropes of the game, playing as the English civilization is an excellent choice. The English civ also happens to possess one of the most useful ranged units in AOE 4: the Longbowmen. These units, although a bit slower than generic archers, inflict better damage and possess a greater range.

The Longbowmen’s special abilities also come in handy. They can plant stakes in the ground to negate the shock of a charging cavalry force and make use of a volley ability, which speeds up their rate of fire. They can even set up campfires to heal. When recruited in large numbers, Longbowmen can wear down enemy formations as long as some breathing room is maintained.


Mehter From Age of Empires 4

Not every unit in Age of Empires 4 possesses offensive capabilities. Some units serve to buff the stats of their allies, making them more effective in the process. Mehter are one of the Ottomans’ unique units that serve in a Light Cavalry role. They wield drums, which they play in battle to strengthen nearby friendly units.

Mehter have three primary abilities: Attack Drums, which increase the attack speed of nearby units by +15%; Melee Defense Drums, which increase the melee armor of nearby units by +15%; Ranged Defense Drums, which increase the ranged armor of nearby units by +1. These bonuses can tip the scales in a close fight, rendering Mehter extremely useful.

Camel Archers

Camel Archers From Age Of Empires 4

Yet another deadly ranged unit that’s a force to be reckoned with is the Abbasid Caliphate’s Camel Archer. Being mounted, of course, affords them the luxury of being more mobile than typical archers on the ground. Their special ability, Camel Unease, diminishes the damage taken from enemy cavalry by 20%.

The Camel Archer’s greatest strength is his capacity to thrash enemy light infantry, such as spearmen. Their knack for hit-and-run attacks, known popularly as “kiting,” makes them difficult to counter without an ample reserve of cavalry. With a little skilled micromanaging, Camel Archers can inflict severe enough casualties to turn the tide of a fight decisively in the player’s favor.


Mangonels From Age Of Empires 4

The utility of Mangonels in Age of Empires 4 can’t be overstated. Despite the presence of more powerful gunpowder units, the Mangonel remains exceedingly reliable. Although effective against buildings, the splash damage that results from a Mangonel makes them positively deadly to clumped ranks of enemy foot soldiers.

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As a non-unique unit, the Mangonel is highly versatile for any playstyle. In pitched battles, assuming they can be protected, Mangonels can really put a dent in an enemy force. Upgrades that improve their reload speed, like Adjustable Crossbars, make them even more effective. Recruit a small clutch of these bad boys to ruin the enemy’s day in a big way.


Mangudai From Age Of Empires 4

When utilized to their fullest capacity, cavalry units can wreak havoc on unsuspecting enemies. Few other civilizations in AOE 4 excel at cavalry combat more than the Mongols. One of their unique units, the Mangudai, can be a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. Even though some of the Mangudai’s stats were eventually nerfed, their presence can still be felt in the right hands.

Much like the real-life Mongols, the Mangudai’s strength can be found in their hit-and-run tactics, aided in no small measure by their speed and fast fire rate. Large groups of them can slowly decimate enemy formations if players stick with this strategy. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that Mangudai are still vulnerable to siege engines or archers stationed on walls.


Streltsy Firing In Age Of Empires 4

Handcanoneers are generic units that most civilizations can call upon to suit their gunpowder needs. The Streltsy, however, is even better. A unique Russian unit, a group of Streltsy is a devastating force to behold on the battlefield. As gunpowder units, they can shred through heavily armored Knights and Men-at-Arms in no time.

The Streltsy possess a unique ability whereby their rate of fire is increased while remaining stationary. A higher rate of fire means more lead flying in the air. They also utilize melee weapons to defend themselves when enemies get too close. Needless to say, it’s better to keep these units protected so that they can deliver their destructive payloads unimpeded.

Royal Knights

Pitched Battle Featuring Infantry & Cavalry From Age Of Empires 4

One of the primary strengths of the French civilization in AOE 4 is their excellent cavalry. Unlike the ranged cavalry units favored by the Abbasids, the French put their faith in shock and awe. The Royal Knight is more powerful than its generic counterpart, able to inflict more damage while staying in the fight longer.

The Royal Knight’s charge ability is overwhelming when employed en masse. Using their lances, these units deal tremendous damage when they first make an impact during a charge. Archers and undefended siege engines won’t know what hit them. Simply rinse and repeat the charge ability whenever an opportunity presents itself. Avoid columns of spearmen, however — these units can brace themselves, thereby taking the punch out of a cavalry charge.


Grenadiers From Age Of Empires 4

The Chinese civilization makes use of several unique units, one of which is the Grenadiers. As their name suggests, Grenadiers lob lethal bombs at their enemies. Since the Chinese civilization specializes in gunpowder units, Grenadiers represent one of several solid choices.

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A lone Grenadier isn’t too problematic. A large group of them acting together, however, can be frighteningly deadly. Once again, coupled with some degree of protection, a group of Grenadiers free to lob their grenades at a clump of enemies is effective. Both armored and unarmored opponents will find themselves vulnerable to these troublesome pests.

Warrior Monks

Warrior Monks

It’s easy for beginners to dismiss the utility of monks in Age of Empires 4. Most of a player’s attention tends to go toward building their economy and recruiting military units. However, players who favor the Rus civilization will have access to a unique unit that combines the offense of a military unit with those of a traditional monk – the aptly named Warrior Monk.

Warrior Monks, due to their role as cavalry units, are much faster than regular monks, even while carrying a relic. They can also engage in direct combat with the enemy, though this isn’t often recommended. Instead, Warrior Monks should be held back behind stronger units so that players can benefit from their Saint’s Blessing ability. This ability increases the attack and armor values of friendly units for ten seconds. Like standard monks, they can also heal allies who have taken damage. The usefulness of the Warrior Monk can be enhanced further by building the Abbey of the Trinity Landmark. Overall, the Warrior Monk isn’t a bad fellow to keep around.


Sofa From Age of Empires 4

The Sofa is a solid cavalry unit for the Malians. Though they have fewer hit points, attack, and armor than a standard knight, they are cheaper to produce and quicker to train. As such, Sofas can be produced en masse to overcome statistically stronger enemies or harass weaker ones.

Sofas can be upgraded to Elite tier, making them potent raiders in the late game. They only cost 60 Gold to recruit, which is advantageous considering producing Gold in large amounts is one of the Malians’ strong suits.

War Elephants

Diverse Army Featuring Elephants From Age Of Empires 4

Doing battle against an angry elephant is just as unpleasant as it sounds. The Delhi Sultanate counts War Elephants as one of its unique units. For a civilization that prioritizes technological research, the War Elephant gives the Delhi Sultanate the extra firepower it needs.

War Elephants are a bit like tanks. They have a large health pool, ensuring they can stay in a fight for a long time. They also inflict a lot of melee damage, which makes them useful for demolishing buildings or enemies who get too close. The most effective way to bring them down is through ample use of spearmen and hails of arrows.


Handcannoneers vs Elephants

Units that bring gunpowder to the table have the opportunity to tip the scales of a battle in no time, though players will have to be patient until they reach the Imperial Age. Every civilization can either recruit generic Handcannoneers or some unique variant of them (like the Streltsy). Arguably, the civilization where Handcannoneers prove the most useful is the Chinese.

In addition to all the other upgrades that can be made to Cannoneers, the Chinese can employ a unique technology called Pyrotechnics, which increases their range. For a Handcannoneer, the increased range is a big deal. Since Handcannoneers are slow, being able to fire on the enemy as they approach is a useful advantage. It’s also worth noting that the Holy Roman Empire and the Mongols possess unique upgrade technologies for this unit as well.

Royal Ribauldequins

Royal Ribauldequins & Cannons From Age Of Empires 4

Although the French can field superb cavalry, their late-game artillery units shouldn’t be discounted. One special gunpowder unit unique to the French is the Royal Ribauldequin, an artillery piece that resembles an organ. It’s worth pointing out that the College of Artillery military Landmark is required to produce Royal Ribauldequins.

Firing like a shotgun, the Royal Ribaudequin is a competent weapon for taking out advancing enemy columns. In particular, unarmored units caught in the blast radius will find themselves reduced to Swiss cheese. Position these machines in favorable spots where they will be free to blast away anyone foolish enough to approach them.

Age of Empires 4 is currently available on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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