Age of Empires 4 strategy involves lots of different aspects. One of the big things to consider is unit composition and the fact that certain types of units have specific purposes.
The is a sort of rock-paper-scissors intent behind the units of Age of Empires. For instance, Spearmen are good against Horsemen, Horsemen are good against Archers, and Archers are good against Spearmen.
Knowing the hard counter of each unit and using that in your favor during combat is much more important than just having a large army. In fact, good micro combined with counters can actually bring you the victory even when your army is significantly outnumbered.
That being said, if you want to know what units to choose based on the enemy’s army, stick around. This guide will show you what are the counter units in Age of Empires 4.
Unit Counters, Weaknesses, and Strengths
Generally speaking, we have two kinds of counters: the hard counter, which usually involves bonus damage against a type of unit, and the soft counter, which might not have bonus damage but have a characteristic that helps them fight another.
For instance, even though archers do not have bonus damage against Men-at-Arms, they can kite — or hit and run for those unfamiliar with the term — units of that kind, making them effective even if they don’t deal extra damage.
Check the detailed information below:
This is a unit that has a 50% bonus against Men-at-Arms and Knights, but they also have some melee armor. They take double damage from Horsemen, as expected from this type of unit. Because of their armor, they can be used as soft counter Archers.
These are the units you bring to take down lancers. They are decently effective against Men-at-Arms too, but only because they can somewhat hit and run their targets, not because of their damage.
This unit takes twice as much damage from Cavalry units and Firelancers
Camel Archers are interesting units. They take twice as much damage from Horsemen for being ranged units, but they also have a special ability that diminishes the damage of Horsemen by 20%.
They also deal three times as much damage to Light Melee Infantry units, making them amazingly powerful against your average Spearmen.
This is another anti-cavalry unit that is unique to the Abbasid Dynasty. They deal three times as much damage against Cavalry. However, being a mounted unit, they also take three times as much damage from Spearmen. They also take three times as much damage from War Elephants.
Mastering Camel units is essential for those who want to learn how to play as the Abbasid Dynasty in Age of Empires 4.
These units deal 50% extra damage against Men-at-Arms, but they take twice as much damage from horsemen. They are also slightly better than archers in case you only have your crossbowmen to deal with other ranged units.
This unit works a lot like regular Horsemen. They are great against ranged units due to their superior movement speed, but they are highly vulnerable against Camel Riders and Spearmen — those two units deal three times as much damage against the Fire Lancer.
Although they take twice as much damage from Horsemen as other ranged units, the AoE4 Grenadier is very effective against units that are close to one another. You might even be able to cause a lot of damage to a Cavalry that doesn’t micro well against a decent number of Grenadiers, especially if you attack first.
If Horsemen get too close to your Grenadier, though, you might be in a lot of trouble.
This is a unit that can do very well against infantry and armored units due to their high damage output. Be careful with archers, though. They are much cheaper to produce, and they outrange the Hand Cannoneers.
Hand Cannoneers are surprisingly effective in dealing with Siege weapons such as Mangonels. Like most ranged units, it takes twice as much damage from Horsemen.
This unit does not deal extra damage against any type of unit, but it does have the movement advantages of a Cavalry while having ranged attacks. That is more than enough for you to hit and run your way to victory in most encounters against infantries.
Unfortunately, Horsemen deal twice as much damage on Horse Archers. It gets worse when they fight Spearmen and Camel Riders — Horse Archers take three times as much damage from them.
Knights work pretty much like a Horseman, but they actually counter them due to their superior defense and damage. They have a lot of trouble fighting against Camel Riders and War Elephants, though — those units deal 3 times as much damage on the Knights.
These units work exactly like the Knights. The only difference is how they’re named.
This is the Holy Roman Empire’s unique unit. The Landsknecht is a unit that causes area of effect damage, being great against any army with units too close to one another.
They are vulnerable to archers, though, from whom they take double damage.
This is the English civilization’s unique archer unit. They can be produced as soon as you go to the Second Age, and they can be used in a powerful longbowmen rush tactic.
This unit works like archers when it comes to bonus damages and vulnerabilities, but they have a much greater range and a slower movement speed. Depending on the technology researched and the proximity to English buildings, the Longbowmen might have a massive boost in their attack speed, making them deceptively effective armored units.
This unit is quite effective against spearmen, but not because of any extra damage. Men-at-Arms have high defense, which makes them exceptionally good against Spearmen.
Even their hard counter — crossbows — do only 50% extra damage against them. This unit is decent to deal with Archers due to their damage output and armor. Unlike Crossbowmen, Archers do not cause additional damage on a Man-at-Arms.
This Mongols’ unique unit takes twice as much damage from Horsemen and Three times as much damage from Camel Riders and Spearmen. However, it doesn’t really matter much.
Even though Mangudai are not as fast as your average Horsemen, they are mounted units with pretty good movement speed that can fire while moving. That is more than enough to deal with most melee units in the game.
These AoE4 siege units are obviously good against buildings. They are also effective in dealing with ranged units due to their armor against ranged attacks.
Age of Empires 4 Siege units take torch damage from Melee units, making Mounted Units an excellent option to deal with them since you need to get close quickly.
An alternative to that is using Precision Siege units to snipe the enemy’s Siege Units.
These Age of Empires 4 units are pretty much meant to stop the enemy’s Cavalry. Spearmen cause three times their basic damage against Cavalry but take twice as much damage from Archers.
Precision Siege Units can be used to target Siege units of any kind.
Tower Elephant is a ranged Cavalry unit. In Age of Empires 4, it means that they have all the weaknesses of both archers and Horsemen. They take twice as much damage from Horsemen and three times as much damage from spearmen.
However, they still have a tremendously high damage output and a lot of health. The Tower Elephants are actually great to deal with light infantry units unless they are completely overwhelmed.
This is another mounted, anti-cavalry unit in Age of Empires 4. They deal three times as much damage on Cavalries and buildings, but they also take three times as much damage from spearmen.
These are unique Chinese units that behave a bit differently than what is expected from their appearance. They do not have the bonuses that Crossbowmen have, working more like archers, but with a much higher attack speed.
Because of their rapid-fire, Zhuge Nu are good against units with low armor. Like most units of its type, it takes double damage from Horsemen.
Using the Units in Unusual Ways
You don’t have to just hit attack and send off your units. There are many different ways to take advantage of a unit instead of just counting on its bonus damage.
As mentioned before, Mounted Archers — especially the Mangudai — are very effective when running and shooting, making it frustrating for the adversary to deal with them if you know how to micromanage your riders.
Another interesting way to use your units is by shielding them with infantry. For instance, having a line of Spearman right in front of your Crossbowmen or Archers is going to make them live much longer and be much more effective when facing a bunch of Horsemen charging their way.
Another way to use your units is by learning how to focus fire them. Make sure that you’re making a good chunk of your soldiers attack the same enemy from time to time. That way, enemy units die faster, and the overall damage output of the enemy army rapidly diminishes.
This is not something that you will just do when playing the game. You need a lot of practice, but knowing the theory, you know what to go for. Knowing how to win a game of Age of Empires 4 is just the first step. After that, you need to know what to do in order to complete the objectives that make you win is the next step, and using your units in the best possible way can bring you much closer to victory.
Age of Empires 4 presents a complex Rock-Paper-Scissors-like system to the units in the game, but there’s a lot that goes beyond this basic concept. In other words, you have to learn much more than using spears against horsemen and horsemen against archers.
There are hybrid units that combine characteristics of two different categories — such as mounted archers — and units that should be weak against their counters but have a unique way to deal with them — like how the Mangudai can easily hit and run when fighting Spearmen.
Knowing the basics of the counter system gets you started, but knowing how to use your units in a clever, outside-of-the-box way might actually help you overcome being outnumbered and nullify some of the hard counters that the enemies might throw at your army.