Skirmishers were infantry or cavalry soldiers stationed ahead or alongside of a larger body of friendly troops. They were usually placed in a skirmish line to either harass enemy troops or protect their own troops from similar attacks by the enemy. Skirmishers were generally lightly armoured for increased battlefield mobility and were usually armed with ranged weapons to attack the enemy from a distance.
The skirmisher is one of the most common infantry units in Age of Empires 3, having less hitpoints and damage than that of the Musketeer, but more range, resistance, and multipliers to both heavy infantry and ranged cavalry. This makes the skirmisher an effective unit in most portions of the game, as the most common units in the game are infantry. The skirmisher and unique variants of the unit are available to all but two European civilizations, both of whom have unique units that work in a similar way.
- Cost: 50 food, 65 coin, 1 population
- Hitpoints: 120
- Resistance: 30% ranged
- Ranged damage: 15; 20 Range; 2x versus infantry; 0.75x versus cavalry; 2x versus ranged cavalry; 3 ROF
- Melee damage: 7; 2x versus infantry; 0.75x versus cavalry; 2x versus ranged cavalry; 1.5 ROF
- Siege damage: 14; 6 Range; 3 ROF
- Speed: 4
Skirmishers are not used as mainline infantry, but more as combat support. They have a high multiplier versus heavy infantry such as musketeers, halberdiers and janissaries, and a lesser multiplier versus ranged cavalry such as dragoons and cavalry archers. Despite their useful combat multipliers, skirmishers easily fall prey to melee units, due to their poor capabilities in close quarter combat. When using these units, it is best to compliment them with a meatshield of heavy infantry or cavalry whilst they pick off the enemy from the sidelines. Hit-and-run strategies are also a good option when faced with ranged infantry or cavalry, as skirmishers have more range than musketeers, dragoons and grenadiers, to name a few.
Skirmishers are also used in the venerable cavalry+skirmisher combination, commonly used with France's "double lame" combo; Gendarme (hand cavalry) and Voltiguer (skirmisher), some of the strongest hand cavalry and skirmisher units in the game. Under normal circumstances a cavalry+skirmisher combination is defeated by pure Cavalry. However, as Gendarme are so strong, and in AOE3 Vanilla (No expansions) skirmishers do not have a negative bonus against Cavalry, France is considered "OP" (overpowered) in late game (treaty/no rush) due to this combination. A standard Hussar+Skirmisher combination, however, is effective against an Ottoman opponent who will have a difficult time producing enough Hussars and Janissaries to match your army.