In order to avoid violating NDA, I am going to be purposefully vague about whether skirmishers are not in the game or present but implemented in a way I’m not a fan of.

Rather than making skirmishers a hard-counter to archers without much other use, I recommend making skirmishers work the way they did in the real world: as light infantry using hit-and-run tactics.

I would implement skirmishers to operate similar to the Malian Gbeto in AOE2. As a ranged infantry unit with short range and fast movement speed (relative to other foot troops). Unlike the gbeto the javelins would do pierce damage of course, but it could have a melee attack when attacked by other melee units and still throw torches at buildings. It could also be built from the barracks.

This unit would be a soft-counter to archers and slower infantry (when microed), ideal for raiding, but obviously pretty heavily hard-countered by cavalry, unable to go toe-to-toe with other infantry without micro, and counter but be out-ranged by archers. It would fill a role in the army without being a hard counter with a single purpose. Making it a barracks unit also adds more variety to the barracks unit lineup. You could even make it available in the dark age.

There are more complex mechanics you could add to it as well. Maybe the first javelin in an engagement does bonus damage. Maybe it has a stealth mechanic. Maybe the Asian civs get rocket javelins. Plenty of interesting options IMHO.


Aoe2 skirmishers are ridiculous, hopefully they are not like that.


I have an impression that javelins are mostly out-of-use in the middle ages. They belong better to a game in classical antiquity. Perhaps they were added in AOE2 because the originally separated archer/crossbowman line is now merged into one unit.
Iberians still heavily use javelins in the middle ages though so they can be a unique unit of potential Iberian/Castilian, etc. civ later.


The celts (Irish and Scottish) Chinese, and Byzantines used them too. I think everyone used them; they feature in medieval paintings. Perhaps they fell out of favor when the crossbow came along.


Yeah Irish and Byzantines. I forgot about that. Chinese iirc use them in a relatively smaller scale on very specific occasions.
I have the impression that javelin is mostly an antiquity to early medieval thing. In the time of Vikings they might still be used, but AOE4 seem to start later than that (many civs have a “high middle ages” design, and also the units, who start with kite shields etc. and not round shields).

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Yeah both II and IV contain a time span spanning many centuries where a tremendous technological advance has been made. Skirms are fine, but they’ve alwas’ve been a bit on the ‘goofy’, out of place side, and not talking only about infinite spears.
It’s fine for a clubman vs. tank game concept like Empire Earth, but here I always felt like they should be totally replaced (via tech or unit upgrade) into something completely different after Castle Age. Weird to have them along gunpowder units that borderline on late Renaissance era.

Ultimately though I think gameplay trumps chronology- trebuchets were invented long before the fall of the Roman empire but you don’t get them until the imperial age.

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Yeah swords were invented x000 years ago and you still had them commissioned in combat in WW2 :wink:

What you’re saying is ofc true and ultimately there is no point in following this logic because that would dismantle the entire game.
But even then somehow spear-throwing, lighter infantry vs. shock infantry or handcannoniers seems more outdated than projectile-throwing siege weapon vs wooden and stone structures, and when it comes to it’s presence on the battlefield- honestly never look into that, but Middle Ages are partially known as ‘dark’ because of tremendous social, political, economic changes associated with the end of antiquity, where along the lines a lot of stuff has been abandoned, lost, destroyed, or lost interest of the people. And as a result other important characteristics is a ‘rediscovery’ of wisdom from ancient world, European or not.
Translation of manuscripts, learning and studying older languages, studying culture…

Again not judging on trebs in Imp Age, that’s more likely a balance decision, but it might have some merit :slight_smile: Especially when you take into account civs that had no connections (even trade!) with Rome.

Maybe they throw javelins in ages I-II and switch to a light crossbow in castle age?

Idk I just like the idea of a light ranged infantry skirmisher ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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Yeah I think there are few techs in AoE III that work like that and turn one units into other.

Russian Suvorov Reforms Turns all Strelets into Musketeers
French Tirailleurs Turns all Crossbowmen into Skirmishers
Spanish Tercio Tactics Turns all Pikemen into Rodeleros

I could swear there was tech that upgrades archaic halbs into something, but I can’t anything atm.

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I do not recall any for halbs, but there is also the blue star card where all axe riders switch to rifle riders

and I think china has one for pike to changdao

I just meant as a visual for immersion. Your early game skirmishers with a shield, javelins, and short sword, your elite skirmishers with a shield, light xbow, and short sword. They wouldn’t turn into regular xbows

javelins by the medevil era are mostly last ditch effort troops since spears can be made incredibly cheaply.

that said Peltast (which really are what they are) do have certain advantages over archers, for 1 they are better protect esp vs enemy cavalry since they after all are carrying a spear and a shield.

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Once again a plea to turn AoE4 into an updated AoE2 just because you happen to like what was in AoE2.

Things are okay the way they are. The new counter system should be different from AoE2, and for that matter, from AoE3 as well.

If I want to have the exact same counter systems as the previous games, I’ll play the previous games.


I love this idea, I hope they are implemented like this. Otherwise I hope they buff ‘mans on horse’ so they can soft counter archers

They counter Archer just fine. Just because of one unit doesn’t mean they don’t counter Archer

Not only do they coexist with gunpowder units, but they counter most of them in aoe2.

That’s fair - I wasn’t trying to rehash AOE2, I was reading about Medieval military tactics and this type of unit was mentioned, and it sounded interesting. But you guys are making good points so I rescind the suggestion.

isn’t cavalry supposed to be counter to archers?

Hot take:
AoE4 Archers = AoE2 Skirmishers
AoE4 Crossbows = AoE2 Archers/Crossbows

It’s not exactly the same. AoE4 Archers are more multi purpose than AoE2 Skirmishers.
And AoE4 Crossbows have a bonus against armoured unlike AoE2 Archers/Crossbows.