Short Swordsman
Short Swordsman
AgeBronze Age
Trained atBarracks
Cost35 Food,
15 Gold
Upgraded ToBroad Swordsman

The Short Swordsman is a hand infantry unit in Age of Empires. Though it is superior to and fills the same tactical niche as the Axeman, it is not a direct upgrade but instead a separate unit. It wields a short sword as its main offensive weapon. It has a weapon upgrade prerequisite of Short Sword, which is itself dependent on Battle Axe. In other words, Clubman must be upgraded for the Short Sword upgrade to appear. Once the upgrade is finished, Short Swordsman will be available.

This unit is similar to the Axeman in that they have normal speed, no range, and average damage and health. They are poor units to use against Cavalry, being slow and not having enough hit points. They have a +5 bonus against Infantry, but usually get massacred by Academy units, due the Hoplite and related units having extremely powerful attack and very strong armor, making the Short Swordsman useful only against Tool Age infantry, or the equivalent light infantry in future Ages (this provided that they outnumber the enemy units).


Tool Age

Bronze Age

Iron Age

Note: The Short Swordsman must be enabled into use by upgrading Short Sword which prerequires Axeman being available.

Civilization Bonuses

  • Roman swordsmen attack +33% faster.
  • Macedonian swordsmen have +2 line of sight and are more resistant to conversion.


The short sword represents an evolutionary step in infantry weapons. The spear, mace, and axe were relatively easy to manufacture and use, but cumbersome in very close combat. Following the discovery of bronze during the Bronze Age, it became possible to manufacture swords and shields that were basically enlarged and strengthened knives. These were much easier to wield in hand-to-hand combat and improved the effectiveness of infantry who carried them. Short swords were carried as a second weapon by spearmen or pikemen, such as the Greek hoplites. The most famous short sword of antiquity was the gladius, or Spanish sword, adopted by the Roman legions from the Spanish allies of Carthage. The gladius was especially effective in the dense legion fighting formations that pressed tightly against their opponents and restricted movement.

Unit Evolution: Short Swordsman

Short Swordsman --> Broad Swordsman --> Long Swordsman --> Legion

See also