“Stronger than Crosbowman. Quick and light.”—Age of Empires II description
In the Definitive Edition, the unit is renamed Arbalester.
The * indicates that the civilization can fully upgrade their Arbalests, i.e. gets Bracer, Ring Archer Armor, and Thumb Ring. Faith and Heresy are not taken into account because they only contribute to their combat strength in a very situational manner.
Arbalests work better in large groups as they can fire arrow volleys at the opponents' units. Arbalests are very good at slowing down massed infantry, as well as inflicting severe damage. They are vulnerable to cavalry as they can close the distance with the fragile Arbalest before taking too much damage. As such they should be deployed with an escort.
Pairing Arbalests with Halberdiers works especially well since the Halberdier can cover the Arbalest's main weakness that is cavalry. Pairing the Arbalest with other melee units can also protect them from siege units.
If playing defensively, Arbalests can become a good tool to protect a walled area as they can attack enemy units from behind the Wall at a relatively safe distance, even protecting themselves from melee cavalry. However, they do almost no damage to rams.
Further statistics Edit
|Unit strengths and weaknesses|
|Strong vs.||Infantry, Villagers|
|Weak vs.||Skirmishers, Scorpions, Mangonels, cavalry, Huskarls, Eagle Warriors, Rattan Archers|
|Attack|| Fletching (+1)|
Bodkin Arrow (+1)
Obsidian Arrows (Mayans only, gives +6 attack against standard buildings and fortifications)
|Range|| Fletching (+1)|
Bodkin Arrow (+1)
Yeomen (+1, Britons only)
|Firing rate||Thumb Ring (+18%)|
|Accuracy|| Thumb Ring (increases accuracy to 100%)|
Ballistics (hit moving targets)
|Armor|| Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)|
Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
Pavise (+1/+1, Italians only since The African Kingdoms)
|Conversion defense|| Faith|
|Creation speed||Conscription (+33%)|
Civilization bonuses Edit
- Aztecs: Arbalests are created 18% faster.
- Britons: Arbalests have +2 range.
- Chinese: Technologies that benefit Arbalests are 20% cheaper.
- Ethiopians: Arbalests fire 18% faster.
- Mayans: Arbalests are 30% cheaper.
- Portuguese: Arbalests cost 15% less gold.
- Vietnamese: Arbalests have +20% hit points. Conscription is free.
Team bonuses Edit
- A team containing Berbers: With Kasbah researched, researching Conscription is 25% faster.
- A team containing Britons: Arbalests are created 20% faster. Researching Thumb Ring is 20% faster.
- A team containing Magyars: Arbalests have +2 LOS.
- A team containing Malians: Researching Chemistry and Ballistics is 80% faster.
- A team containing Saracens: Arbalests have +1 attack against buildings.
- A team containing Teutons: Arbalests are more resistant to conversion.
The Conquerors Edit
- Arbalests receive an attack bonus of +3 against Spearmen.
- Heresy introduced.
- Thumb Ring introduced.
- Britons: Yeomen introduced.
The Forgotten Edit
- Indians: Can train Arbalests.
- Mayans: Obsidian Arrows introduced. It gives Arbalests +4 attack against standard buildings.
The African Kingdoms Edit
- Italians: Pavise now affects Arbalests.
- Mayans: Obsidian Arrows now gives Arbalests +6 attack against buildings. With patch 4.8, Arbalests also gain +6 attack against stone defense.
Rise of the Rajas Edit
- Indians: With patch 5.5, the Arbalest was removed from their technology tree.
- Khmer: Initially cannot train Arbalests. With patch 5.8, they were added to their technology tree.
- In terms of wood, the units from the Archer line are the cheapest archers in the game.
- The Archer line units are the only common archer units that don't have any base melee armor nor pierce armor.
- In pre-release versions of Age of Empires II, Archers and Crossbowmen were two separate lines. Archers were trash units that were cheap, fast firing, inaccurate, and weak, and consisted of the Archer itself, and the Composite Archer. Crossbowmen were expensive, costed wood and gold, slower firing, more accurate, and gave a high damage output. Arbalests were the upgrade of the Crossbowman and originally called "Advanced Heavy Crossbowmen".
“The arbalest was an advanced crossbow made of steel. The greater tensile strength of steel gave the weapon greater power.”
Arbalests were a particularly heavy and powerful type of crossbow developed in the mid-to-late Middle Ages. The naming this class of soldier an "Arbalest" is incorrect since the word denotes the weapon instead of the wielder. It would be more correctly referred to with the name "Arbalist", which refers to a person that shoots the crossbow.