Age of Empires Series Wiki
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This article is about the unit in Age of Empires. For the unit in Age of Empires II, see Cataphract (Age of Empires II).

The Cataphract is the upgrade of the Heavy Cavalry in Age of Empires. It is the strongest hand cavalry in the game besides hero units. To upgrade the Heavy Cavalry to a Cataphract, 1,600 food and 600 gold is required after Metallurgy is researched. Only a certain number of civilizations have the ability to train this unit. Cataphract deals +7 damage bonus against all melee infantry units except for Academy units.


Unit availability
Available Unavailable

The * indicates that the civilization can fully upgrade their Cataphracts, i.e. gets Nobility and Chain Mail Cavalry.
The ^ indicates that the civilization has at least one civilization bonus that benefits the combat strength of the Cataphract.


While a somewhat handy unit just by itself, the cost of the upgrade is so ridiculously high that many players find it pointless to research, as it generally does not pay off. In deathmatches, Cataphracts are considered to be a good way for non-chariot civilizations to take on Catapults.

Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Infantry from Barracks, archers, siege units
Weak vs. War Elephants, Centurions, Priests
Hit points NobilityIcon.png Nobility (+15%)
Attack ToolworkingAoE.jpg Toolworking (+2)
Metalworkingicon.png Metalworking (+2)
Metallurgyicon.png Metallurgy (+3)
Armor Leatherarmorcavalryicon.png Leather Armor Cavalry (+2/+0)
Scalearmorcavalryicon.png Scale Armor Cavalry (+2/+0)
Chainmailcavalryicon.png Chain Mail Cavalry (+2/+0)

Civilization bonuses[]


Age of Empires[]

  • Cataphracts have 180 hit points, 3 armor, 1 pierce armor, +5 attack vs infantry, and cost 2,000 food and 850 gold to upgrade.

Definitive Edition[]

  • Cataphracts have 200 hit points, 4 armor, 1 pierce armor, and cost 1,600 food and 750 gold to upgrade.
  • With CU9, Cataphracts have 220 hit points and 2 pierce armor.
  • With update 38862, Cataphracts have 240 hit points, 5 armor, 3 pierce armor, +7 attack vs infantry, and cost 1,600 food and 600 gold to upgrade.


  • All East Asian civilizations have access to the Cataphract.
    • This in-game availability is historically accurate for the Chinese (chariots drawn by armored horses were mentioned in Shijing and heavy cavalry were deployed during the Han dynasty) and Koreans (4th-century Goguryeo murals featured cataphracts) yet historically inaccurate for Japanese, as haniwa statues of only unarmored horses, not armored horses, were found. Japanese horse-armors weren't attested until the Edo period.
  • The Assyrians, Macedonians and Persians are the the only Middle Eastern, Roman and Central Asian civilizations that have access to them, respectively, and none of the Mediterranean ones have access to them.
  • Despite being unavailable to both Greeks and Romans, Cataphracts are the unique unit of the Byzantines in Age of Empires II, which is the geographical and cultural successor of the two civilizations respectively.


The cataphract was an improvement on ancient heavy cavalry represented by Alexander the Great’s Companions. The Companions wore only helmets, greaves, and cuirass (breastplate). Cataphracts wore chain mail that covered more of the body and often armored their horses partially also. This gave greater protection against arrows and hand-to-hand weapons. Cataphracts were very expensive to equip, however, and appeared in the armies of only the most warlike and wealthy cultures.




CATAPHRACT vs EVERY UNIT - Age of Empires- Definitive Edition