Stronger than Crosbowman. Quick and light.
Age of Empires II description

The Arbalester (called Arbalest before the Definitive Edition) is an archer unit in Age of Empires II that can be trained at the Archery Range once the Imperial Age is reached. It is the final tier in the Archer line.

Unit availability
Available Unavailable

The * indicates that the civilization can fully upgrade their Arbalesters, 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.

The ^ indicates that the civilization has at least one civilization or team bonus or a unique technology that benefits the combat strength of the Arbalester.

Tactics[edit | edit source]

Arbalesters work better in large groups as they can fire arrow volleys at the opponents' units. Arbalesters 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 Arbalester before taking too much damage. As such, they should be deployed with an escort.

Pairing Arbalesters with Halberdiers works especially well since the Halberdier can cover the Arbalester's main weakness that is cavalry. Pairing the Arbalester with other melee units can also protect them from siege units.

If playing defensively, Arbalesters 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 | edit source]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Infantry, Villagers
Weak vs. Skirmishers, Scorpions, Mangonels, cavalry, Huskarls, Eagle Warriors, Rattan ArchersWoad Raiders
Attack Fletching.jpg Fletching (+1)
Bodkinarrow.jpg Bodkin Arrow (+1)
Bracer.jpg Bracer (+1)
Chemistry.jpg Chemistry (+1)
CastleAgeUnique.png Obsidian Arrows (Mayans only, gives +6 attack against standard buildings and fortifications)
Range Fletching.jpg Fletching (+1)
Bodkinarrow.jpg Bodkin Arrow (+1)
Bracer.jpg Bracer (+1)
CastleAgeUnique.png Yeomen (+1, Britons only)
Firing rate Thumb Ring.png Thumb Ring (+18%)
Accuracy Thumb Ring.png Thumb Ring (increases accuracy to 100%)
Ballistics.jpg Ballistics (hit moving targets)
Armor Paddedarcherarmor.jpg Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)
Leatherarcherarmor.jpg Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
Ringarcherarmor.jpg Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
CastleAgeUnique.png Pavise (+1/+1, Italians only since The African Kingdoms)
Conversion defense Faith.jpg Faith
Heresy.png Heresy
Creation speed Conscription.jpg Conscription (+33%)

Civilization bonuses[edit | edit source]

  • Aztecs: Arbalesters are created 11.1% faster.
  • Britons: Arbalesters have +2 range.
  • Chinese: Technologies that benefit Arbalesters are 20% cheaper.
  • Ethiopians: Arbalesters fire 17.6% faster.
  • Mayans: Arbalesters are 30% cheaper.
  • Portuguese: Arbalesters cost 20% less gold.
  • Vietnamese: Arbalesters have +20% hit points. Conscription is free.
  • Koreans: Arbalester costs -15% wood.
  • Saracens: Arbalester deal +3 bonus damage against buildings.

Team bonuses[edit | edit source]

Changelog[edit | edit source]

The Conquerors[edit | edit source]

The Forgotten[edit | edit source]

The African Kingdoms[edit | edit source]

  • 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 | edit source]

  • 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.

Definitive Edition[edit | edit source]

  • Arbalest renamed to Arbalester, which is technically correct.
  • Koreans: Arbalesters cost 20% wood.
  • Saracens: Arbalesters deal +3 bonus damage against buildings.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • 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, cost 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 Franks historically utilized the Arbalest, and the word itself was from Medieval French spelling of arcuballista in Latin. Franks lacking this upgrade was both for gameplay balance purposes and because in French, the word was used without clear distinction for both crossbows and arbalests. Many French "crossbowmen" actually wielded arbalests instead, as illustrated in Jean Froissart Chronicle depiction of the Battle of Crécy.
  • None of the four civilizations introduced in the Definitive Edition have access to the Arbalester.
  • The Malian Arbalester is the only one that lacks Bracer.

History[edit | edit source]

The arbalest was an advanced crossbow made of steel. The greater tensile strength of steel gave the weapon greater power.
Age of Empires II manual

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.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

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