Every Japanese Unit we know about so far (Updated 9/4/2023)

I compiled all of the Japanese units we know about so far, organized it into the age we’re seeing it in, and gave some guesses as to how the Japanese civilization will work.

Some things that stand out to me:

  • Japan did not historically use heavy cavalry. It wasn’t until the late 1500s that they even started employing cavalry charges. It’s REALLY WEIRD to give Japan these heavy cavalry “Lancers” with heavy, barded horses and shields. It’s straight up uncanny.
  • Spearmen aren’t wielding Yari spears. The first image we got had them wielding placeholder Chinese spears, then we got placeholder Knight Lances, and the latest picture showed them with generic Guisarme that we see European spearmen wielding.
  • We’ve yet to see an anti-armor unit for Japan yet. Japan did not historically employ crossbowmen, so I’m curious how the devs will approach this.

Well, as you said, the Japanese lacked medieval heavy cavalry, in the sense that they didn’t know how to use metal bard on their horses. Although there is a type of armor called Uma-yoroi, it is pure cloth and painted ropes. Mind you, the rider himself, who was a samurai, could normally wear very strong heavy armor. Also, during the Sengoku Wars they acquired the ability to carry out “cavalry charges”, although still without horse metal barding, so in theory japanese civ could have a heavy cavalry unit that can make cavalry charges. However the armor and HP of this unit is cuestionable, i personally would make it low of the level of the Sofa.

In fact, the “Mounted Samurai with Banner” is the optimal design that Japanese heavy cavalry should have, but apparently (although it is still a theory), it is a separate unit of the “Japanese Lancer” and the Japanese would have 2 heavy cavalry units and one light cavalry.

As there are no stats on these possible heavy cavalry units yet, we still can’t discuss if they have high armor or hit points or not, or if the barding in the image is pure cloth or not; So for now I leave it in dou

Mind you, the shield is QUESTIONABLE and INCORRECT, the Japanese generally didn’t use shields, except as infantry Paveses, and in the event that the cavalry did use them, they were “Squares and Rectangular”, and I will continue to support it.

A riveted iron plates Tate shield from the Kofun period
Foto: A riveted iron plates Tate shield from the Kofun period

Foto: *On the far right, a mounted Samurai holding a sword and a tedate while riding; from the scroll Kangiten Reigen ki, "*歓喜天霊験記" , around the 13th century.

Photo: A famous illustration of a Japanese hand held shield, from the same 武道藝術秘傳圖會.

2).- ABOUT THE ONNABUGEISHA.- or onna musha, “warrior women”. During the Sengoku era, (and even before, in the last Shogunates), the wives of the samurai were in charge of taking care of the Keeps while the husbands went to war. Sometimes they even formed units to fight, as arquebusiers or with Naginata, the female favorite weapon. I had the idea of including them in my model, but I hesitated because I couldn’t think of a bonus, and there was already a unit with naginata (El sohei). I’m not sure if the referred unit is a woman due to the resolution quality, but it’s an interesting bet. I doubt it’s a warrior monk, they usually shaved or had bandages to cover their heads.

Photo: Tomoe Gozen (One Hundred Legends of Brave Heroíne Tomoe Gozen (Kuniyoshi Utagawa))

3).- ABOUT THE IMPERIAL TOWN CENTER.- Honestly, I don’t think it’s a normal Town Center. The door and the sheep make it seem so, but if you look closely there are bonsai and other effects that are not typical of the town center, as well as a practice dummy, an element typical of a barracks. I have the suspicion that it is a Buddhist monastery, but that it also works as a town center and creates warrior monks. It’s my theory, what it’s not is if it’s a Landmark, or its monastery substitute with some unknown mechanic. I suspect it because in one of my models I thought to include the Ikko Ikki as a clan to choose, and these had the particularity of living in a city-temple, and practically had monasteries as government centers. One of my ideas was for the monastery to function as an urban center, but since I discarded the ikko ikki, I no longer put it.

The other possibility, is that since in the Japan Middle Ages, the Buddhist began to grow in power, to the point that many officials converted to the same or made contributions to the temples to look good, it came to a point that even the Shogun he gave old summer houses to Buddhist monks. The golden palace was originally a mansion turned temple. Considering this, this could also be another mechanic. If not, I’m just complicating everything, and maybe it’s that the onna-musha can be created in the city center. Who knows.

Photo: *Japanese Monastery - Higashi Hongan-ji

4.- ABOUT THE SPEARMAN.- It is incorrect and in several ways. In the 2nd teaser they used a placeholder spear, so it gave the impression that they would create a new spear. However in the last images, it seems that they used the base model that all Civs have for the spear in Imperial, which is a Bill-Guisarme. We must be clear, the Japanese did not have that type of spear, they had the yari, and if they want to give it a variation, the best would be a trident, a jumonji yari, not a Bill. In general, since the game tends to improve, we hope that at some point the design of the Bill-Guisarme of the Elite Spearman will be considered and changed for Asian or Islamic civilizations, and they will be given a type of spear more in keeping with their culture. There is variation in the swords of the Men-at-arm of different civilizations, as well as the evolution of the bow of the ArchERS in its Elite stage, the same with the Heavy Cavalry Lances, I don’t see why there would be a problem in the case of the spearman.

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work like this is what makes this community so wonderful. thank you for putting in all that time and care

For me I wanna see Korea next after the Japanese they could be fun!!. Plus we’ve never seen Korea before!!.


I agree that the Koreans would be great but feel compelled to point out that they appear in both AoE1 (called the Choson) and in AoE2 (Koreans). I am surprised they never resurfaced in AoE3, but it’s not like even that’s too late.


They do show up in the Wars of Liberty mod for AoE3 legacy, but that’s only 19th century Korea and to an extent also a bit anachronistic as well. I have a thread over in the III section of the forum detailing what a Korea in DE might look like.

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I saw that today when I was looking. Hopefully they eventually come through FE


Shameless plug of my Korea concept for AOE4!

Really great reply GoldenArmorX.
I appreciate the links and the history.

Fully agree with everything. But I have my doubts on the Town Center being anything different than just a Town Center. One of the images already shows what the Japanese Monastery will look like.

There is also this Age of Empires IV: Anniversary Edition - 🎨 Concept Art: Mounted Samurai - Steam News

and this Age of Empires IV: Anniversary Edition - Advance to a New Age with the Japanese Floating Gate Landmark! - Steam News

About heavy cavalry at least, its somewhat feasible.

Consider that the origin of heavy cavalry was the persian cataphract - these were pretty far from the shock oriented heavy cav that cropped uo in europe later. The design philosophy here was to take your best dudes and give them a horse - that way they dont gas out marching in the heaviest armor (elites usually had the most/best) and they could participate in more fights. The issue was that archers could and did shoot the horse out from under the rider so they gave the horse some barding too. The final product - the first heavy cav - was more like a fast man-at-arms than the knight.

Japan could feasibly have heavy cav, since it did have its (shitty) metal armor and outfitted its best units with it. The whole charge thing really isnt the definition point of where an armored horseman becomes heavy cav.

Well, all historians do say that the Japanese never had heavy cavalry, only light cavalry.
Heavy cavalry means shock Cavalry.
That is why they charge and deal shock damage to mass units.



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Heavy cavalry means shock Cavalry.

The only criteria for heavy cavalry is an armored horse and rider. Shock was a thing many did with heavy cav but its not at all exclusive to this type of unit historically and not really a keystone of heavy cavalry tactics.

For instance, light cav IRL light cav was the glass cannon type and was usually used to break the enemy with a charge from an exposed flank - the whole tactic with them devolved around using the horses stamina and mobility to tire the enemy and then rush in to make them panic and run. The caveat was the anyone with good arhces just shot the horses.

Heavy cav could and did employ shock tactics, but they were generally used as a reserve force to hold up failing flanks as needed.