The Ballista (plural Ballistae) is a siege unit in Age of Empires. It has a strong attack and fires twice as fast as the Stone Thrower and its upgrades, but is very fragile and should be supplemented with non-siege weapons when sent into battle. Despite being a siege unit, the Ballista does not deal bonus damage against buildings. This unit is the predecessor of the Scorpion of Age of Empires II.
Due to the fast fire rate at a long range, the unit may still fire a bolt or two within a fraction of a second even after the enemy unit is eliminated.
Typing ICBM allows the player to upgrade the Ballista's range by 90 points, bumping the total up to 100 range points.
Although the firing range will be improved, the line of sight still remains the same. As such, it cannot attack enemy units unless the area is explored. Even if the area is fully explored, the Ballista cannot attack moving targets unless the line of sight between itself and the target is revealed. However, it may attack already discovered enemy buildings through the fog of war without the need of additional line of sight.
Typing this code before finishing researching Engineering will grant the player an additional 2 range points. This will affect both the firing range and the line of sight.
The ballista was an early artillery weapon that fired missiles, primarily large bolts or spears. It was used in attacks on cities or fortified positions because it could cause structural damage and casualties from a great distance. When it could be deployed on a battlefield, it was especially useful against dense formations of troops. In this situation, one shot could cause multiple casualties. The ballista was invented in the second half of the first millennium B.C., probably by Greek engineers. It functioned like a large crossbow. Tension was built up in the engine by twisting leather, and then released, propelling the missile down a guided trough and into flight.