“Khmer unique unit. Heavy cavalry equipped with a Scorpion. Can fell trees.”—Age of Empires II description
Ballista Elephants can be upgraded to Elite Ballista Elephants in the Imperial Age.
The Ballista Elephant is a peculiar hybrid, a cavalry and a siege engine in one package, and as both, it has the advantages and disadvantages of both kinds of units. Being an elephant unit means that Monks can heal them and convert them without the need of the Redemption technology. However, they are very vulnerable to the usual cavalry counters, most notably Pikemen and Kamayuks. This can be a huge drawback, especially considering the mediocre attack and negative armor the Ballista Elephants have against them. The latter also makes Eagle Warriors particular effective against them. In general, Ballista Elephants struggle against units with high pierce armor.
Unlike the Scorpion, and in a similar fashion to other siege units, the Ballista Elephant can cut down trees. This can be incredibly useful on maps with dense forests such as Black Forest or Arena, especially considering that they are the only unit available in the Castle Age being able to do so. However it is rather time-consuming, with only a single tree being cut at a time.
Ballista Elephants are valuable in many situations as a supportive unit, its high amount of hit points enables for them to act as meatshields and soak heavy damage allowing to them to harass Castles and Towers. Unlike other non gunpowder siege weapons, Ballista Elephants have an attack bonus against ships which allows them to support the defense on the shoreline if opponent ships are in range. In any case, Ballista Elephants should be deployed with an escort in order to take down potentially dangerous counter units. Mixing Scorpions and Battle Elephants with the Ballista Elephant along Light Cavalry is the best way to pair them.
Despite the quirks that can make them shine in certain situations, Ballista Elephants are far from the ultimate units to go for a Khmer player in both single player matchup games and team games. As a result, players should not rely entirely on them. Firstly, they are created at Castles and are quite costly. Secondly, they may have a high hit point and pierce armor, but Khmer Battle Elephants perform much better as meat shields and raiders, since they move faster, have a much higher melee attack with trample damage, and resist enemy attacks better, but even so mixing some Ballista Elephants in the back may aid Battle Elephants in the front. Thirdly, Ballista Elephants are subpar in terms of damage output compared to other ranged units. In their fully upgraded form they only have 10 attack (still poor with pass-through damage and the Double Crossbow technology) coming from a slow Rate of Fire of 2.5, and a range of only 6 because they do not benefit from archery upgrades. Thumb Ring and Ballistics also do not affect Ballista Elephants, which enables other ranged units to utilize hit-and-run tactics. Also, Khmer Scorpions perform much better than Ballista Elephants in terms of damage output, with 17 attack, 9 range and Double Crossbow. In comparison with the Scorpion, Ballista Elephants have no minimum range, are bulkier and move slightly faster so in many cases they have a better chance to survive a pitched battle.
Further statistics Edit
As Ballista Elephants are unique to the Khmer, only technologies that are available to them are shown in the following table:
|Unit strengths and weaknesses|
|Strong vs.||Archers, massed units, especially infantry, buildings, short-ranged naval vessels|
|Weak vs.||Kamayuks, Huskarls, Mamelukes, Camels, Eagle Warriors, Halberdiers, Samurai, Mangonels, Bombard Cannons, Scorpions, Rams, Magyar Huszars, Mangudai|
|Hit points||Bloodlines (+20)|
|Attack|| Siege Engineers (+20% attack against buildings)|
Double Crossbow (gives a second projectile)
|Range||Siege Engineers (+1)|
|Armor|| Scale Barding Armor (+1/+1)|
Chain Barding Armor (+1/+1)
Plate Barding Armor (+1/+2)
|Creation speed||Conscription (+33%)|
|Upgrades||Elite Ballista Elephant|
Team bonuses Edit
- A team containing Berbers: With Kasbah researched, Ballista Elephants are created and upgraded 25% faster, and Conscription and Double Crossbow are researched 25% faster.
- A team containing Huns: Researching Bloodlines and Husbandry is 20% faster.
- A team containing Teutons: Ballista Elephants are more resistant to conversion.
- Due to the unit's unique combination of being a cavalry unit and siege unit, the Ballista Elephant is the only siege weapon in the game that can be healed by a Monk instead of having to be repaired by a Villager.
- The Ballista Elephant is the only military unit in the Castle Age capable of cutting down trees.
- The non-Elite Ballista Elephant is supposed to have a +2 attack bonus against buildings but does not due to a bug.
- If a Ballista Elephant attacks its target at melee range, the missiles will not fly straight and cause pass-through damage as usual. Instead, the missiles will just drop onto the first target (similar to arrows from a tower with Murder Holes researched).
The elephant is one of the most important military animals in the Khmer era. The Chinese writer Ma Duanlin claimed that Suryavarman II (1113-1150) had a force of no fewer than 200,000 elephants. Several surviving reliefs from 12th and early 13th centuries also show that the Khmer mounted ballistas or crossbows on elephants, at least experimentally.
- ↑ Schliesinger, Joachim. 2011. "Ethnic Groups of Cambodia Vol 1: Introduction and Overview" (p. 168-169). White Lotus, Bangkok.