Unit counters are often key for winning battles and pitching skirmishes in Age of Empires 4. Most units have specific strengths and weaknesses, specializations that make them ideal counters to other unit types.
Those who purchased the deluxe version of AoE 4 received a unit counters chart that, like the Art of War tutorials, provides a general overview of which units are best used against which.
How do you find the unit counters chart if you have that version? The chart can be found in the game’s local files for those who picked up that version.
If you don’t have that unit counters chart — or are just looking for a different way to digest the information provided there — this guide lays out the specializations of each regular unit.
Note that almost all units are weak to Mangonels, especially if those units are in formation or clumped together. Mangonel splash damage can be deadly. Additionally, certain technologies, such as Iron Undermesh, can impact attack bonuses for some units.
- Strong against Scouts, Horsemen, Knights
- Weak against Archers, Crossbowman, Handcannoneers, Men-at-Arms
Unless you’re playing as the English, Spearmen are one of the first military units you’ll build in Age of Empires 4. They’re available earlier and cheaper than the Man-at-Arms, requiring less food and no gold to train.
They begin with a +12 bonus attack vs cavalry units. Hardened get +16, Veteran +18, and Elites +22.
- Strong against Spearmen, Archers, Horsemen
- Weak against Crossbowmen, Knights, Handcannoners
These units are available for the English in the first age and in the Feudal Age for all other civilizations. Men-at-Arms are general-purpose infantry units that can take on various unit types well because of their relatively high starting armor value. They have no attack or defensive bonuses.
- Strong against Spearmen, Crossbowmen, unarmored infantry
- Weak against Horsemen, Knights, Men-at-Arms, Handcannoneers
Archers are the primary ranged unit in Age of Empires 4. They can be produced at a relatively low cost and have +5 attack against Spearmen and unarmored infantry. Veteran increase that to +7, Elites to +8. Note that some archery units receive slightly different attack values, such as the Longbowman.
Don’t use them against Cavalry, Men-at-Arms, or any siege weapon. Their arrows are weak against armor and ineffective at repelling battering rams, siege towers, etc.
- Strong against Men-at-Arms, Knights
- Weak against Horsemen, Spearmen, Archers
Crossbowmen are strong against armored units and should be used to specifically counter Knights, Men-at-Arms, and other armored units. Crossbowmen have +6 attack vs heavy infantry units and upgrading them to Elite bumps that to +8. Like Archers, some similar unit types receive different attack values.
- Strong against Archers, Crossbowmen
- Weak against Spearmen, Men-at-Arms, Knights
Horsemen are important in the early game because they are effective against Archers, getting a + 9 attack bonus vs ranged units. Veterans up that to +11, and Elites + 13. Support them with their own squad of Archers since they are weak against Spearmen. These are good units for chasing down Villagers and early siege weapons.
- Strong against Archers, Men-at-Arms, Horsemen
- Weak against Spearmen, Crossbowmen, Handconners
Knights are another unit type that doesn’t receive any specific bonuses against other units. However, they are still strong against Archers specifically, with the ability to take on Men-at-Arms and Horsemen because of their armor. That armor, though, does not protect them against crossbow bolts or spears.
- Strong against buildings and massed units
- Weak against units with the firebomb attack, Horsemen, Springalds
Mangonels are primarily a siege weapon, proving their strength early with a +24 attack bonus against buildings. At every point in the game, they are also deceptively strong against massed units of almost all types, especially lightly armored ones or those that attack from a static position, such as Archers.
Trebuchets & Bombards
- Strong against Keeps, towers, and walls
- Weak against everything else
With a +300 attack bonus against buildings, Trebuchets are exclusively siege weapons meant for taking down stone walls and assaulting keeps and other fortresses. Likewise, Bombards are meant for the same purpose with +340 attack vs buildings. Both are incredibly inaccurate against military units and should be protected at all times.
- Strong against all siege weapons, Knights (maybe Men-at-Arms if you’re lucky)
- Weak against infantry and Horsemen
The Springald is an anti-siege unit meant to destroy Mangonels, Trebuchets, and Battering Rams. It has a +20 attack bonus against siege weapons, though it can shoot military units from a distance, making it somewhat useful against armored foot soldiers or cavalry in a pinch.
There are, of course, other unique units in Age of Empires 4 that have specific offensive and defensive values that make their unit counters slightly different than those found here.
There are also other general units, such as the monk, whose unit counters make them weak to just about anything and strong against nothing. Battering Rams and Siege Towers, for example, are weak to Springalds and any unit except Archers but strong against defensive embattlements like walls and towers.
It’s also worth keeping other Age of Empires 4 mechanics in mind when considering unit counters. Hill bonuses and stealth forests give you extra buffs and surprise attack opportunities to combat certain counters before enemy units can even attack. For more on AoE 4, consider clicking the link above or checking out our other help guides.