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

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

The Crossbowman is an 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.


Upgrading to Crossbowman reduces the training time of Archers from 35 seconds to 27 seconds, making this a critical upgrade if the chosen strategy is/involves massing Archers. Archers get considerably stronger in larger numbers by getting the capability of killing enemy melee units before they can close the gap and attack. Creating Crossbowmen is a good choice as they are cheap to produce and provide good covering fire. 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. The Spearman line is an excellent deterrent for cavalry, while friendly cavalry can counter siege units and Skirmishers.

If the player already invested in a Feudal Age Archer rush, upgrading to Crossbowman should be a top priority. In the Castle Age, the main counters to archers become available: Knights and Mangonels. Knights have high pierce armor, high HP, and fast speed, allowing them to decimate archers if both are in small numbers. When the archers 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 Spearmen, or their upgrade, the Pikeman, can also help fending off Knights, but this is taxing on the economy. Mangonels are an effective pair to crossbowmen. They have a high Area of Effect attack, allowing them to quickly and cost effectively mow down large groups of archers. A fight between archers and Mangonels comes down to which player has better micromanagement. A good supplement to archers against Mangonels are Light Cavalry or Knights, but again, this is rather taxing on the economy.

Another counter to Crossbowmen are Elite Skirmishers, who cost no gold, but their drawback is that their only use is against archers, 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
Weak vs. Skirmishers, Scorpions, Mangonels, Battering Rams, cavalry, Huskarls, Eagle Warriors, Rattan Archers
Attack FletchingDE.png Fletching (+1)
BodkinArrowDE.png Bodkin Arrow (+1)
BracerDE.png Bracer (+1)
ChemistryDE.png Chemistry (+1)
Range FletchingDE.png Fletching (+1)
BodkinArrowDE.png Bodkin Arrow (+1)
BracerDE.png Bracer (+1)
CastleAgeUnique.png Yeomen (+1, Britons only)
Firing rate ThumbRingDE.png Thumb Ring (+18%)
Accuracy ThumbRingDE.png Thumb Ring (increases accuracy to 100%)
BallisticsDE.png Ballistics (hit moving targets)
Armor PaddedArcherArmorDE.png Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)
LeatherArcherArmorDE.png Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
RingArcherArmorDE.png Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
CastleAgeUnique.png Pavise (+1/+1, Italians only since The African Kingdoms)
Conversion defense FaithDE.png Faith
HeresyDE.png Heresy
UniqueTechCastle-DE.png First Crusade (Sicilians only)
Creation speed ConscriptionDE.png Conscription (+33%)
Other CastleAgeUnique.png Kamandaran (changes the gold cost into wood cost, for total 60 wood, Persians only)
Upgrades Arbalest-research.jpg Arbalester

Civilization bonuses[]

  • Aztecs: Crossbowmen are created 11% faster.
  • Britons: Crossbowmen have +1/+2 range in the Castle/Imperial Age.
  • Burmese: Researching Faith is 50% cheaper.
  • Celts: Crossbowmen can convert herdables even if enemy units are next to them.
  • Chinese: Technologies that benefit Crossbowmen are 15%/20% cheaper in the Castle/Imperial Age.
  • Ethiopians: Crossbowmen fire 18% faster.
  • Italians: Researching Ballistics and Chemistry is 33% cheaper.
  • Koreans: Crossbowmen cost -20% wood. Armor upgrades are free.
  • Mayans: Crossbowmen are 20%/30% cheaper in the Castle/Imperial Age.
  • Portuguese: Crossbowmen cost -20% gold. Upgrades that benefit Crossbowmen are researched 30% faster.
  • Sicilians: Crossbowmen absorb 50% of all incoming bonus damage.
  • Tatars: Crossbowmen deal +25% bonus damage from a cliff or an elevation. Thumb Ring is free.
  • Turks: Chemistry is free.
  • Vietnamese: Crossbowmen have +20% hit points. Conscription is free.

Team bonuses[]


The Age of Kings[]

The Conquerors[]

The Forgotten[]

The African Kingdoms[]

Rise of the Rajas[]

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

Definitive Edition[]

Lords of the West[]


  • 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 do not have any base melee armor nor pierce armor.
  • Together with the Bulgarians, 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 iInconsistently, 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, costed 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.