Elite Skirmishers and Cav Archers in Imperial Age

So I watch a lot of AoE2 content and play myself and it’s not uncommon to see a Cav Archer civ go into Hussar + CA in the late game. I feel this comp is unbeatable once you get it going in 1v1 (not assuming here some Arena/chokepoint map where Onagers might do the trick), which led me to think about WHY it’s unbeatable, and I boiled it down to Skirms being a very bad unit in post-Imperial age (assuming here mid post-Imp, not full trash wars stage).

Generally, you need some 30-40 Skirms to threaten the CA, which if you are playing from 130 vills, leaves you with 30-40 pop to make a meatshield + Siege, which generally isn’t enough (very often it will be like 30 Halbs to cover the clear weakness Skirms have to cavalry, which leaves you with a very pop-inefficient and low mobility army overall).


  • Skirms die rly hard to Hussar (this is probably the most 1-sided interaction in the game, even Halbs can fight their counters like Arbalest or Skirm to a degree).
  • Cav Archers can run away, Hussars can raid and overall you are never in the spot of taking a good fight in spite of having the counter unit because you can never force a fight.
  • even with the counter unit, it’s hard to get rid of the CA mass, while even a handful of Hussars take care of basically infinite amounts of Skirms.

In general you even see pros say after a loss to a CA civ that “I could have gone Skirms but then he just switches into Hussar/Cavalier”, implying Skirms aren’t a very good counter, if one at all.

More generally, the combination of lack of mobility + low pop efficiency + sucks vs most other units (notably vs the king trash unit Hussar) is the downfall of the Skirm and makes Cav Archer civa just sort of steamroll any late game, provided you can defend your siege units.

I would like to hear thoughts here, I think the counter unit system is broken in Imp, and CA, too dominant a unit, one could make a case that a unit that is so hard to mass should be a win condition in itself, but overall it feels that once you get a bit of mass, CA + meatshield is a free win and basically unbeatable on Arabia.

It is a pickle because I think Skirms are otherwise fine in Castle Age and Feudal, where pop cap is not an issue, and tech switches are costly.

  • Skirms are working as intended in Imp vs CA
  • CA has too much of a win-more effect and, once a certain mass is reached, they have no counters in Imperial Age

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I know this isn’t quite what you’re looking for, but I kind of wish Imp Skirm was a generic unit. It does make a degree of sense, Skirms are the only generic trash unit without an Imperial Age upgrade. Might also address anything like this. Not to mention Vietnamese can then get the TC vision as their TB.


The current meta is actually evolving into a completely different direction.
Away from big Army balls, instead attacking the opponent from multiple angles and raiding all over the place.

So currently CA have it kinda hard to compete.

I recently saw several games where the pros just completely raidet CA civs to death in the lategame.
The issue for the CA is that they need one ### #### of like 40-60 CA, then they need at least 20 Hussar in front at all times which also occupies at least 10 more pop space. Then they only have 110 vills which means when they lose 30 vill to raids they have a big issue with sustaining the hussar stream, especially if they need to replace these vills asap.

I agree that HCA are the strongest lategame unit. I also made one unit designed to counter that HCA + Hussar unit comp specifically.


I think some civs could have imperial skirm. But the addition should be carefully made


Well. Mass Cav archer is already hard to get it. And skirms are too cheap and spammable unit.
If Skrims suddenly become too good vs Cav archer. Then Cav archer quickly just become useless similar to current elephant archer.

For me, it should be more solved by Buffing seige to reasonable counter vs Cav archer regardless of map setting. My idea would be

  1. Become Ironclad as generic tech for university (for Onager/Scorpion) and give Teutons something else. Onager/Scorpion no longer easily sniped by Hussar.
  2. Give Bonus damage vs Cavalry unit for Scorpion line

Well, Ironclad provide melee armor.
And isn’t it more suitable at Blacksmiths iinstead?

I was thinking in this too… Give it more speed to projectile and give it bonus vs cavalry

Agreed. Imp Skirm seems to pair nicely with Vietnamese battle elephants. The skirms protect the elephants from enemy halberdiers, and the elephants are a great meat shield to protect the skirms from enemy hussars or champions. However I don’t see them used much because Rattan archers fill the same role better.

IMO the Burmese would greatly benefit from Imperial Skirms. They have such a weakness to archers, and this would give them a better trash counter unit while keeping their unique lack of archer armor (and not buffing arambai).

That is the point. Seige already good enough vs ranged unit, but it has no melee armor and so vulnerable to fast moving melee unit.
It would be good for heavy cavalry counter seige but just spammable hussar are really good against seige make it unviable in open map.

There is no blacksmith tech to improve seige unit. That is why I think university is more suitable similar to seige engineer tech. But that is not an important issue. Can be either blacksmith or University tech.

Agree, when I play vietnamese with my friends, they laugh at my team bonus but then request to ping the enemy location continously…

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CA already have the longest training times between all mounted units with 34s, cost a lot and need a big mass to be effective.

This game need and Imperial upgrade for Skirmishers. No reason why they are the only non unique military unit to not have one (aside from monks who already have tons of upgrades)

Atm, if your skirms are not dully upgraded, they do not counter arbalest, let alone CA! Give us an Imperial Age upgrade to play with and give Vietnamese something else

I think it’s a tough one, because in some trash situations mass skirms are already overly good against other targets.

So possibly introduce a generic imperial tech for skirms? Like PT. Except it improves skirms bonus +1 Vs CA. Maybe something else as well? Like no min range or +1 MA. Or even just keep at only bonus dmg. Then give it to most civs and leave some out.

Maybe imp skirm is the way, but isn’t it a considerably better upgrade?

I think some people said long ago CA should scale slightly differently. Be better earlier but not such a death ball later. Can’t remember what the suggestions were. Something like better base accuracy and tt but worse HCA or PT tech


agreed. skirm can be useless at times but depending on the scenario it can be extremely strong. it cost so little people just run in, micro and trade with enemy gold units such as HC, archers or CA units and shouldn’t be given imp skirm.

even a tiny upgrade will be a tough one, perhaps something like tad more HP, or +1 damage? not sure honestly as buffing them would be indirectly nerfing other units that are countered by skirm

The thing to remember when comparing how well Elite Skirmishers counter Archers to how well Halberdiers counter cavalry is that Halberdiers were added in the Conquerors expansion because Pikemen were not effective enough. Elite Skirmishers are effective enough if you have the full Archery Blacksmith upgrade line. If you lack a single Blacksmith upgrade, it stings against Archers, but it is supposed to. If you are arguing that they should get a 1-point bonus boost against the spear line upon reaching Imperial Age, I could see it.

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I’d suggest including it in the bracer or chemistry upgrade