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This article is about the unit in Age of Empires II. For other uses, see Crossbowman.

Ranged unit.
Age of Empires II description

The Crossbowman is a foot archer unit in Age of Empires II that can be trained at the Archery Range once the Castle Age is reached. It is good against infantry and Villagers, but struggles against cavalry, Skirmishers, and siege weapons.

Crossbowmen are available to all civilizations except for the Bulgarians and Spanish.

Availability chart[]

Civilizations that can fully upgrade their Crossbowmen, aka receive Thumb Ring Civilizations with Thumb Ring and a civilization bonus that benefits their Crossbowmen Civilizations with a civilization bonus that benefits their Crossbowmen but cannot fully upgrade their Crossbowmen


Upgrading to Crossbowman increases the Archer's range and attack by 1 each and reduces their training time from 35 seconds to 27 seconds, making this a critical upgrade if the chosen strategy is/involves massing Archers. Archers get stronger in larger numbers by getting the capability of killing enemy melee units before they can close the gap and attack. For this reason, Crossbowmen are one of the two traditional power units of the Castle Age, along with the Knight. They work especially well with infantry in this regard. On the offense, it is better to put Crossbowmen in a group of melee infantry as ranged attacks are weak against buildings. Pikemen are an excellent deterrent for cavalry, while friendly cavalry can counter siege units and Elite Skirmishers.

If the player has already invested in a Feudal Age Archer rush, upgrading to Crossbowman should be a top priority. In the Castle Age, Mangonel becomes available, as well as the Knight line. Knights have high pierce armor, high Hit points, and fast speed, allowing them to decimate Crossbowmen if both are in small numbers. When the Crossbowmen reach a critical mass however (and preferably are entrenched in a tight space), they can kill Knights in one volley, evening the odds, or even overcoming them. Mixing in a few Pikemen can also help fend off Knights. Mangonels are an effective counter to Crossbowmen. They have a high Area of Effect attack, allowing them to mow down large groups of Crossbowmen quickly and cost-effectively. A fight between Crossbowmen and Mangonels comes down to which player has better micromanagement. A good supplement to Crossbowmen against Mangonels is Light Cavalry, which also happens to deter Monks and cost different types of resources than the archer units. Knights can also be used but they are taxing on the gold economy, have worse speed and Line of Sight, and are prime targets for Monks.

Elite Skirmishers are another counter to Crossbowmen, thanks to their high pierce armor and decent damage, but their drawback is that their only use is against Crossbowmen and Pikemen, as they are woefully ineffective at fighting other units, and they are also poor raiding units.

Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Infantry, Villagers, Camel units
Weak vs. Elite Skirmishers, siege units, Huskarls, Eagle Warriors, Rattan Archers
Attack FletchingDE Fletching (+1)
BodkinArrowDE Bodkin Arrow (+1)
BracerDE Bracer (+1)
ChemistryDE Chemistry (+1)
UniqueTechImperialDE Bogsveigar (+1, Vikings only)
Range FletchingDE Fletching (+1)
BodkinArrowDE Bodkin Arrow (+1)
BracerDE Bracer (+1)
UniqueTechCastle-DE Yeomen (+1, Britons only)
Firing rate ThumbRingDE Thumb Ring (+18%)
Accuracy ThumbRingDE Thumb Ring (increases accuracy to 100%)
BallisticsDE Ballistics (hit moving targets)
Armor PaddedArcherArmorDE Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)
LeatherArcherArmorDE Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
RingArcherArmorDE Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
UniqueTechCastle-DE Pavise (+1/+1, Italians only since The African Kingdoms)
Conversion defense Devotion icon AoE2DE Devotion (+1 min, +1 max)
FaithDE Faith (+4 min, +4 max)
HeresyDE Heresy (die upon getting converted)
UniqueTechCastle-DE First Crusade (+4 min, +4 max, Sicilians only)
Creation speed ConscriptionDE Conscription (+33%)
Cost UniqueTechCastle-DE Kamandaran (converts cost to 60 wood, 0 gold, Persians only)
Upgrades Arbalest-research Arbalester

Civilization bonuses[]

Team bonuses[]


AoE2-DLCicon-0 The Age of Kings[]

AoE2-DLCicon-1 The Conquerors[]

AoE2-DLCicon-2 The Forgotten[]

AoE2-DLCicon-3 The African Kingdoms[]

AoE2-DLCicon-4 Rise of the Rajas[]

  • Vietnamese AoE2 Vietnamese: Initially, Crossbowmen had +15%/+20% HP in the Castle/Imperial Age. With patch 5.8, they have +20% HP.

AoEIIDE icon Definitive Edition[]

AoE2Icon-LordsWest Lords of the West[]

AoE2Icon-DynastiesIndia Dynasties of India[]

AoE2Icon-ReturnRome Return of Rome[]

  • With update 87863, Magyars lose foot archers +2 Line of Sight team bonus.
  • Chinese AoE2 Chinese: With update 87863, technologies that benefit Crossbowmen are 5%/10%/15% cheaper in the Feudal/Castle/Imperial Age.
  • Koreans: With update 87863, Crossbowmen cost -50% wood.


There are two heroes in the game with the appearance of a Crossbowman:


  • The Crossbowman is called Fantassin à arc in French, although he wields a crossbow (arbalète) and not a bow (arc) like the Archer. The term Arbalétrier (crossbowman) is already used for Arbalesters, though, and is also the name of a French unique unit in Age of Empires IV.
  • 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 have neither any base melee armor nor pierce armor.
  • The Bulgarians and the Spanish are the only civilization not to have access to the Crossbowman upgrade. The Crossbowman's absence is made for gameplay consideration; historically, the Castilian and Aragonese armies did deploy crossbowmen. Somewhat inconsistently, the Age of Empires III equivalent of this unit is available to the Spanish.
  • 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. This concept returned in Age of Empires IV.
    • In real life, an archer's training consumes more time and resources than a crossbowman's.


The crossbow was a missile weapon consisting of a bow on its side attached to the end of a wood stock. The stock was held against the shoulder like a modern rifle and a trigger fired the weapon. The crossbow had been invented in ancient China but was not used widely in Europe until the Middle Ages. It fired short quarrels, stones, or metal balls rather than arrows. It was a powerful weapon but limited to a shorter range than the best bows. It was simple to use, relatively cheap to make, and deadly. A peasant with only a few hours of crossbow practice could easily kill an elite knight encased in armor worth a fortune who had trained for war throughout his life. The knights in Europe at one point attempted to get the Church to ban the weapon. Richard the Lionhearted, King of England, died from a crossbow quarrel wound received during a siege.
Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings manual


Units in Age of Empires II
CivilianMaleVillDE Villager · Tradecart aoe2DE Trade Cart · FishingShipDE Fishing Ship · Trade cog aoe2DE Trade Cog · King eu aoe2DE King
ReligiousMonk aoe2DE Monk
InfantryMilitiaDE Militia · Manatarms aoe2DE Man-at-Arms · Longswordsman aoe2DE Long Swordsman · Twohanded aoe2DE Two-Handed Swordsman · Champion aoe2DE Champion
Spearman aoe2DE Spearman · Aoe2-infantry-2-pikeman Pikeman · Halberdier aoe2DE Halberdier
Eaglescout aoe2DE Eagle Scout · Eaglewarrior aoe2DE Eagle Warrior · EliteEaglewarrior aoe2DE Elite Eagle Warrior
ArcherArcher aoe2DE Archer · Crossbowman aoe2DE Crossbowman · Arbalester aoe2DE Arbalester
Skirmisher aoe2DE Skirmisher · Elite skirmisher aoe2DE Elite Skirmisher
Hand cannoneer aoe2DE Hand Cannoneer
Cavalryarcher aoe2DE Cavalry Archer · Heavycavalryarcher aoe2de Heavy Cavalry Archer
Aoe2de DOI elephant archer icon Elephant Archer · ElephantArcherIcon-DE Elite Elephant Archer
CavalryScoutcavalry aoe2DE Scout Cavalry · Lightcavalry aoe2DE Light Cavalry · Hussar aoe2DE Hussar
Knight aoe2DE Knight · Cavalier aoe2DE Cavalier · Paladin aoe2DE Paladin
Camelrider aoe2DE Camel Rider · Aoe2 heavycamelriderDE Heavy Camel Rider
Battle elephant aoe2DE Battle Elephant · Elite battle elephant aoe2DE Elite Battle Elephant
Steppelancericon Steppe Lancer · Elitesteppelancericon Elite Steppe Lancer
Xolotlicon Xolotl Warrior
AoE2DE Armored Elephant icon Armored Elephant · AoE2DE Siege Elephant icon Siege Elephant
SiegeBattering ram aoe2DE Battering Ram · Capped ram aoe2DE Capped Ram · Siege ram aoe2DE Siege Ram
Mangonel aoe2DE Mangonel · Onager aoe2DE Onager · Siege onager aoe2DE Siege Onager
Scorpion aoe2DE Scorpion · Heavyscorpion aoe2DE Heavy Scorpion
Bombard cannon aoe2DE Bombard Cannon
Trebuchet aoe2DE Trebuchet
Petard aoe2DE Petard
Siegetower aoe2DE Siege Tower
War shipTransportship aoe2DE Transport Ship
Galley aoe2DE Galley · War galley aoe2DE War Galley · Galleon aoe2DE Galleon
Fire galley aoe2DE Fire Galley · Fireship aoe2DE Fire Ship · Fastfireship aoe2DE Fast Fire Ship
Demoraft aoe2DE Demolition Raft · Demoship aoe2DE Demolition Ship · Heavydemoship aoe2de Heavy Demolition Ship
Cannon galleon aoe2DE Cannon Galleon · Elite cannon galleon aoe2de Elite Cannon Galleon
AoE2 Dromon Dromon
ReligiousMissionaryIcon-DE Missionary · AoE2 WarriorPriest Warrior Priest
InfantryBerserkIcon-DE Berserk · Aoe2de Chakram Chakram Thrower · CondottieroIcon-DE Condottiero · Aoe2-icon-flemish-militia Flemish Militia · GbetoIcon-DE Gbeto · Aoe2de Ghulam Ghulam · HuskarlIcon-DE Huskarl · JaguarWarriorIcon-DE Jaguar Warrior · KamayukIcon-DE Kamayuk · Karambitwarrioricon-DE Karambit Warrior · AoE2 DE Legionary new icon Legionary · Aoe2-icon--obuch Obuch · SamuraiIcon-DE Samurai · Aoe2-icon-serjeant Serjeant · Shotelwarrioricon-DE Shotel Warrior · TeutonicKnightIcon-DE Teutonic Knight · ThrowingAxemanIcon-DE Throwing Axeman · Aoe2de Urumi Urumi Swordsman · AoE2 WarriorPriest Warrior Priest · WoadRaiderIcon-DE Woad Raider
ArcherArambaiicon-DE Arambai · CamelArcherIcon-DE Camel Archer · ChukoNuIcon-DE Chu Ko Nu · AoE2 CompositeBowman Composite Bowman · ConquistadorIcon-DE Conquistador · GenitourIcon-DE Genitour · GenoeseCrossbowmanIcon-DE Genoese Crossbowman · Imperialskirmishericon-DE Imperial Skirmisher · JanissaryIcon-DE Janissary · Kipchakicon Kipchak · LongbowmanIcon-DE Longbowman · MangudaiIcon-DE Mangudai · PlumedArcherIcon-DE Plumed Archer · Aoe2de ratha ranged Ranged Ratha · Rattanarchericon-DE Rattan Archer · SlingerIcon-DE Slinger · WarWagonIcon-DE War Wagon
CavalryBallistaelephanticon-DE Ballista Elephant · BoyarIcon-DE Boyar · Aoe2de camel scout Camel Scout · CataphractIcon-DE Cataphract · Aoe2de roman unique centurion icon Centurion · Aoe2-icon-coustillier Coustillier · Flaming camel icon Flaming Camel · ImperialCamelRiderIcon-DE Imperial Camel Rider · Keshikicon Keshik · Konnikicon Konnik · Leitisicon Leitis · MagyarHuszarIcon-DE Magyar Huszar · MamelukeIcon-DE Mameluke · AoE2 Monaspa Monaspa · Aoe2de ratha melee Melee Ratha · AoE2 Savar Savar · Aoe2de shrivamsha rider Shrivamsha Rider · TarkanIcon-DE Tarkan · WarElephantIcon-DE War Elephant · Aoe2-icon-winged-hussar Winged Hussar
SiegeAoe2-icon--houfnice Houfnice · Aoe2-icon-hussite-wagon Hussite Wagon · OrganGunIcon-DE Organ Gun
War shipCaravelIcon-DE Caravel · LongboatIcon-DE Longboat · Aoe2de Thirisadai Thirisadai · TurtleShipIcon-DE Turtle Ship