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Strongest Units in Age of Empires 2, Ranked

If you have just started playing Age of Empires 2, then chances are that you want to know what civilizations and units the best ones for you are to choose. But that’s not an easy and quick question to answer.

Below we are going to look at the best civilizations and the strongest units in AOE2 for beginners.  But it’s important to note that you can’t talk about the best unit in Age of Empires 2 for beginners without looking at civilizations as well.

If you are looking for a strong start to your Age of Empires 2 game, you will want to read on. We are going to look at some of the strongest units that you can choose from and the civilizations that they are with. We also will tell you what makes them a good choice.


  1. Byzantines (Cataphract)
  2. Persians (War Elephants)
  3. Teutons (Teutonic Knight)
  4. Mongols (Mangudai)

Byzantines (Cataphract)

Cataphract AoE2

The Byzantines are the Roman Empire’s eastern half. They’re a very well-balanced civilization, though they’re thought of as defensive. That’s one of the reasons why they’re a good one to start out with due to the big range of types of units that are great both for defensive and attacking strategies.

Cataphract: The Strongest Unit in AOE2 Against Infantry Units

Cataphract:: This unit is called Cataphract. This heavy cavalry unit will pack a huge punch when it’s put against infantry units. Available when you get to Castle Age, they can be upgraded later into the Elite Cataphracts during Imperial Age. Below we will look at more about them.

Unique Technologies:

  • Greek Fire: Fire Ships’ range will increase by 1
  • Logistica: They have trample damage, and when put against infantry, their damage increases by 6.

Bonuses for Civilization

  • Buildings increase by the following:
    • Dark: 10%
    • Feudal: 20%
    • Castle: 30%
    • Imperial: 40%
  • A 25% reduction in cost for Spearmen, Skirmishers, and Camel Riders
  • 25% faster firing for Fire Ships at the enemy units
  • It’s 33% cheaper to go to Imperial Age
  • Town Patrol & Town Watch cost nothing

Team Bonus:

  • Your units are healed by monks 100% faster

As you can see, Byzantines are a great option when you are looking for options as a beginner. Cataphracts are very strong, and you will save a lot of money in a variety of ways. They also will help you defend better since your buildings are much stronger.

Persians (War Elephants)

War Elephant

This Middle Eastern civilization is another good one for beginners. Their tech tree is very versatile, as you will see below. They also have a unique unit, too, called War Elephants.

War Elephants: The Strongest Unit in AOE2 Against Melee Units

War Elephant: This unique unit can only be used by the Persians during Castle Age. Although they are slow, they’re very resilient and tough. They’re really strong against the other melee units, and they’re able to quickly take buildings down. They also cause damage from trampling, and they can also be upgraded during Imperial Age.

Unique Technologies:

  • Boiling Oil: Will give a Castle an attack increase of 9 against Rams (only available before Definitive Edition)
  • Kamandaran: Gold cost for Archer-line is replaced by cost for additional wood (only during Definitive Edition)
  • Mahouts:  Increases War Elephant Speed by 30%.

Civilization Bonuses

  • The player begins the game with an extra 50 pieces of wood and 50 pieces of food.
  • Docks & Town Centers have two times the hit points and work 10% faster in Feudal Age, 15% faster in Castle Age, and 20% faster in Imperial Age.

Team Bonus

  • When fighting archers, knights cause 2 more damage.

Benefits of Starting Age of Empires 2 with Persians

  • Having more wood and food will give you an advantage early in the game or during Dark Ages
  • Your Town Center being faster means that villagers are produced faster
  • Naval combats are a lot easier
  • Due to an almost-full Dock technology, they shine in naval combat.

Teutons (Teutonic Knight)

Teutons (Teutonic Knight)

The only civilization from Central Europe on the list, they’re a force to be reckoned with. With their huge focus on their infantry units, they also have great defensive capabilities and a very respectable economy. Their unit, Teutonic Knight, is the best in melee combat.

Teutonic Knight: The Strongest Unit in AOE2 Overall

Teutonic Knight: These knights are a bit slow, but they have a very powerful attack and heavy armor, making up for this. Even a few of them can hold their ground against anything. Once in Imperial Age, they can be upgraded further to Elite.

Unique Technologies

  • Ironclad: Will grant all the siege weapons an extra 4 melee armor.
  • Crenellations: Gives the castle a +3 range. Not only that but all of the garrisoned infantry can shoot arrows.

Civilization Bonuses

  • Monks’ healing range is double
  • Towers garrison double the units
  • Herbal Medicine & Murder Holes are free
  • Town Centers are able to garrison an extra 10 units
  • All Stable Units and Barracks get extra melee armor in the Castle and Imperial Ages

Team Bonus

  • All of the units resist Monk and Priest conversion. This isn’t as effective as Faith. However, it’s stackable.

Benefits of Starting Age of Empires 2 with Teutons

  • The Teutonic Knights make other forces look weak. So when you spam them, you’ll have an edge
  • Farms being cheaper will boost your economy
  • Due to the additional garrisons as well as Murder Holes being free, you have a solid defense.

Mongols (Mangudai)

Mongols Age of Empires 2

Finally, we suggest that you use the Mongols as a civilization when you are a new player. In the area of Eastern Asia, they put a lot of emphasis on the calvary archers. They also have a calvary archer as their specialized unit, called Mangudai.

Mangudai: The Strongest Unit in AOE2 Against Slow-Moving Units

They are very effective against units that are slow-moving, such as Teutonic Knights or Monks. They’re also very good at taking down big groups of other kinds of archers.  You want to use them paired with Siege weapons and Hussars.

Unique Technologies

  • Nomads: They make houses and keep the population space despite enemy units destroying them.
  • Drill: Will increase units in Siege Workshop’s speed by half.

Civilization Bonuses

  • These archers will fire 25% quicker at the enemy units
  • Hussars, Steppe Lancers, and Light Calvary have an extra 30% in their HP.
  • The hunters will hunt 40% faster.

Team Bonus

  • The line of Scout Calvary’s Line of Sight increases by 2.

Benefits of Starting Age of Empires 2 with Mangudai

  • The technology of the Nomads is very forgiving for those new players prone to being attacked.
  • When you have Siege units that are speed-boosted, you have a greater advantage over the civilizations that have weak defenses.
  • When you use Calvary Archers and Scout Calvary properly, you can have a great early & mid-game.

It’s a good idea to try out a few different civilizations when you are playing AOE2. You want to give each one of them a try. Each of the ones listed above, as well as other ones, is going to suit you solely based on your in-game strategies and playing style.

We hope that you found this useful and that you have a better idea of the most powerful units in Age of Empires 2. Please feel free to leave a comment below and keep checking our blog. We’ll have a lot more helpful posts soon.

Sharon Hendricks

Sharon Hendricks has been writing professionally for more than 15 years. She’s a published author of two children’s books and writes our guides for Sneaky Sasquatch and Merge Dragons, among others. Her work with apps and games started at the company known as Appgrooves, which no longer exists. Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, she remembers game systems such as ColecoVision and the original 8 Bit NES. Her favorite types of video games are RPGs and cooking games. She’s spent 1,000 of hours playing mobile games and looks forward to trying out new games.