"What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge."
— Sun Zi, Art of War (Ch XIII)
Scouts are special mercenaries which are recruited from the Outpost. While they have no armour and can't attack, they have one advantage: their knowledge of the lay of the land grants them the ability to outrun most units. Indeed, not even cavalry can catch up with the fast-running Scout. Because of the existence of Spies and other Agents in Rise of Kings, the Scout is a very useful unit to have, which can be used to locate and eliminate Spies and/or other cloaked units. In the Castle Age, they can be upgraded into Explorers, who not only continue to share the same abilities as Scouts do, but can also cloak themselves if not moving. Unlike other units, a Scout's LOS can be improved by increasing your Science Research, which also improves the results from discovering ruins, which are bonuses scattered around the map.
At least two factions in Rise of Kings have bonuses that deal directly with Scouts and Explorers. In most games, you will begin with only one Scout, unless you are playing as Spain, which, if the decision to begin a game with the map being fully revealed was taken, will begin with additional Scouts instead of the normal single Scout. Spanish Scouts are also better at harvesting resources from ruins whenever they are encountered.
The other faction worthy of mention is Wales. Unlike other factions, however, Welsh Scouts are not trained from the Outpost, but are instead received from the Barracks. These Scouts are known as Helwyr and while they cannot be upgraded to Explorers, they have three special abilities. The first is that each Welsh Barracks constructed spawns a new Helwyr party, population caps willing. The second is that they are capable of short-range archery fire, while the third is that they can hide in trees. These units are thus meant to be used as ambush units since they run very fast, and coupled with the Welsh propensity for stealth, are ideal for defence and guerilla tactics.
- Mercenary unit which cannot attack, but can outrun most units and eliminate Spies.
- Scientific Inquiry — A Scout's LOS can be improved by increasing your Science research.
- Salvage Ravage — Scouts gather more resources from ruin patches, whose yield is improved with each Science research level undertaken. Spanish Scouts perform better at this task.
- Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition! — Spain, if the decision to begin a game with the map being fully revealed was taken, will begin with additional Scouts instead of the normal single Scout.
- Helwyr — The Welsh do not train Scouts, but instead train Helwyr which unlike normal Scouts are capable of missile attacks, and can hide in trees, making them are ideal for defence and guerilla tactics. Each new Barracks built by the Welsh spawns one Helwyr
- Pontiff's Inquisitor — The Papal States train Pontiff's Inquisitors, which unlike normal scouts, are trained from the House of Worship.