Originally, Elephant Archers were the unique unit of the Indians. From Dynasties of India, Elephants Archers lose their status as unique unit for the Hindustanis, becoming a regional unit for the Bengalis, Dravidians, and Gurjaras (but not for the Hindustanis).
Slow and durable, the Elite Elephant Archer is the toughest archer unit in the game. This durability comes at a cost, however; it is the most expensive archer unit in the game, and does not increase its offensive capability in exchange for this cost, with the same attack and basic rate of fire as a standard Cavalry Archer. An army of generic Elite Elephant Archers will have dramatically more hitpoints, but a fraction the offensive power of an equal-cost army of standard archers. However, the strength of this unit relies on a population-efficiency factor rather than on a cost effectiveness.
Like the other elephant units, Elite Elephant Archers are highly vulnerable to Halberdiers, and Monks. Being also a Cavalry Archer, they are highly vulnerable against Skirmishers. Furthermore, Flaming Camels deal bonus damage, for a total of 200 damage against elephant units, and are thus simply lethal for packed groups of Elite Elephant Archers.
While vulnerable to counter units, they are resistant to units such as Arbalesters, as well as power units such as Cavaliers, which can kill Arbalesters in just 4 hits. They are also quite good vs infantry and, unlike Arbalesters, they can take a few Onager shots. Their huge size also means that Onagers are hitting only a few units at once.
These strengths are compounded by the Elite Elephant Archer's lower speed and shorter range. In typical combat, Arbalesters will be behind the Elite Elephant Archer due to the latter's shorter range, becoming the default target of hostile archers, requiring the enemy to micromanage their forces to a greater extent. In the face of melee attackers, the elephant will block approaching forces, as well as absorb un-targeted attacks, significantly increasing the durability of a mixed force.
Each civilization that has access to the Elite Elephant Archer has bonuses and unique technologies that may make their use a bit different.
Bengali Elite Elephant Archers receive -25% bonus damage and are more resistant to conversion. This makes their Elite Elephant Archers a highly valuable option, as it enables this unit to resist Pikemen/Halberdiers and Monks (in some cases even defeating them, if those counter-units are deployed in similar numbers). However, they are still vulnerable to Skirmishers due to their negative cavalry archer armor. Bengali Elite Elephant Archers also benefit from the Paiks technology, which enhances their attack rate but not their accuracy. However, Bengalis lack Thumb Ring, which means the attack rate of their Elite Elephant Archers is just slightly better than the Elite Elephant Archers with Thumb Ring (which is the case of Gurjaras), but their attack is pretty inaccurate. The Bengali Elite Elephant Archers have all armor upgrades, making them a potent counter to foot archers. Considering Bengalis have all three complete Elephant lines, they can make a perfect pair for the Bengali Elite Battle Elephants, which can act as a meatshield for the Elite Elephant Archer. The Bengali Elite Elephant Archers are arguably the best of the three, as they have all upgrades for them except Thumb Ring and Heresy.
The Dravidian Elite Elephant Archer is the best attacker of the three, having all attack upgrades for the unit, plus their civilization bonus that makes Elite Elephant Archers fire 25% faster. This means that, unlike the other two civilizations, Dravidian Elite Elephant Archers are well suited for being at the back and providing ranged support. Dravidian Elite Elephant Archers regenerate 20 hit points after Medical Corps is researched. Dravidian Elite Elephant Archers, however, have some drawbacks, as they do not get access to Husbandry, Parthian Tactics, and Bloodlines. Lacking Husbandry means they are the slowest of the three and are the worst at raiding despite having the best damage output. Missing Bloodlines and Parthian Tactics makes them glass cannon when facing melee damage compared to the other two. However, they are better against ranged attack than Gurjaras, which have neither Ring Archer Armor nor Parthian Tactics.
Gurjara Elite Elephant Archers are the easiest to deploy of all three, as their team bonus allows them to spam Elite Elephant Archers faster. Adding to this, the unique technology Kshatriyas makes them 25% cheaper on food cost, which is huge since elephant units are quite food intensive to begin with. Unlike Bengalis or Dravidians, the Gurjaras have access to Heresy, but not Faith, which means that their Elite Elephant Archers are easier to convert, but will die instead becoming the enemy color. The Gurjaras have +4 melee armor from the Frontier Guards unique technology in the Imperial Age, but lack both Parthian Tactics and Ring Archer Armor. This makes the Gurjaras' Elite Elephant Archer much better against melee units, especially Hussars, but worse against other archer units.
Comparison in the Imperial Age
|food, 70 gold|
|Extras||Receive -25% bonus damage
Resistant to conversion
|Unit strengths and weaknesses|
|Strong vs.||Slow non-ranged units, archers.|
|Weak vs.||Spearmen, Kamayuks, Berserks, Genoese Crossbowmen, Huskarls, Mamelukes, Camel Riders, Eagle Scouts, Monks, Skirmishers, Flaming Camels|
|Hit points||Bloodlines (+20)|
|Attack|| Fletching (+1)|
Bodkin Arrow (+1)
Parthian Tactics (+2 against Spearmen, Bengalis only)
|Range|| Fletching (+1)|
Bodkin Arrow (+1)
|Firing rate|| Thumb Ring (+18%)|
Paiks (+20%, Bengalis only)
|Accuracy|| Ballistics (hit moving targets)|
Thumb Ring (increases accuracy to 100%)
|Armor|| Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)|
Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
Parthian Tactics (+1/+2)
Frontier Guards (+4/+0, Gurjaras only)
|Conversion defense|| Faith|
Heresy (Gurjaras only)
|Creation speed||Conscription (+33%)|
|Train cost||Kshatriyas (-25% food, Gurjaras only)|
|Other||Medical Corps (regenerate 20 hit points per minute, Dravidians only)|
- Bengalis: Elite Elephant Archers receive -25% bonus damage and are more resistant to conversion.
- Dravidians: Elite Elephant Archers attack 25% faster.
- A team containing Britons: Archery Ranges work 20% faster.
- A team containing Bulgarians: Researching upgrades at the Blacksmith is faster.
- A team containing Gurjaras: Elite Elephant Archers are created 25% faster.
- A team containing Huns: Researching Bloodlines and Husbandry is 20% faster.
- A team containing Lithuanians: Researching Faith is 20% faster.
- A team containing Malians: Researching Chemistry and Ballistics is 80% faster.
- A team containing Tatars: Elite Elephant Archers have +2 Line of Sight.
- A team containing Teutons: Elite Elephant Archers are more resistant to conversion.
- The Elite Elephant Archer is the unique unit of the Indians, which do not have access to Ring Archer Armor.
- Elite Elephant Archers cost 110 food, 80 gold.
- The upgrade to Elite Elephant Archer costs 1200 food, 800 gold and takes 60 seconds.
- Elite Elephant Archers have 350 hit points, 4 pierce armor, -2 archer and 0 cavalry archer armor, a reload time of 2.5, 0.8 speed, 100% accuracy, and 25 seconds training time.
The African Kingdoms
- Indians get access to Ring Archer Armor.
- Elite Elephant Archers cost 100 food, 80 gold.
- The upgrade to Elite Elephant Archer costs 1000 food, 800 gold.
- Elite Elephant Archers have 330 hit points, 3 pierce armor.
Rise of the Rajas
- With update 37650, Elite Elephant Archers cost 100 food, 70 gold and their reload time is reduced to 2.0.
Dynasties of India
- Elite Elephant Archers are no longer a unique unit, and are now available at the Archery Range for the Bengalis, Dravidians, and Gurjaras (but not for the Hindustanis).
- Elite Elephant Archers cost 90 food, 70 gold, have 280 hit points, 2 pierce armor, 85% accuracy, 0.9 speed, 34 seconds training time, -7 Cavalry Archer armor, no attack bonuses, and researching Elite Elephant Archer takes 80 seconds.
- The Elephant Archer is the first unit in Age of Empires II to lose its unique unit status, since in Dynasties of India, it was replaced by the Ghulam for the Hindustani civilization (formerly Indians) while becoming an Archery Range unit for the new civilizations.
- In the mod version Age of Empires II: The Forgotten Empires and the retail version Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten, up to patch 3.4, the Elephant Archer was represented by an Age of Empires Composite Bowman mounted atop a War Elephant. The Elephant Archer got redesigned in patch 3.5. Further redesigns were made in patch 3.6.
- Since patch 3.6, Elephant Archers have a wheel-like symbol at their sides. The symbol is known as Dharmachakra (lit: wheel of law) and symbolizes the spiritual change in Buddhism.
- If one looks closely, every time the Elephant Archer attacks, the arrows will launch from the elephant's head instead from the rider's bow.
- The Elephant Archer was often seen by players as one of the worst unique units in the game. This was mostly because of their highly situational uses, fairly high cost, and the amount of weaknesses that they had due of the great amount of armor classes. Changes in Dynasties of India were aimed at making it more viable since it is created at Archery Ranges, moves slightly faster and costs slightly less food. The unit has been nerfed accordingly, but it is now easier to use.
- Additionally, the Elite Elephant Archer received additional -5 cavalry archer armor, meaning they receive an extra +7 bonus attack from Skirmishers, Genitours, and Camel Archers.
- Before Dynasties of India, non-elite Skirmishers did not receive the intended +2 attack bonus against Elite Elephant Archers as a bug.
- The usage of an archer on top of a war elephant can be traced back to the Carthaginians' era as a countermeasures against cavalry, therefore a war elephant is still able to attack enemy at close range. The lack of a melee attack of the Elite Elephant Archer is due to limitations of the Game Engine.
- In the beta, Elephant Archers had the same pierce armor as now. Parthian Tactics did not affect their attack against Pikemen.
- No civilization with access to Elite Elephant Archers can fully upgrade them. The Gurjaras lack Ring Archer Armor and Parthian Tactics, the Dravidians lack Husbandry, Parthian Tactics and Bloodlines, and Bengalis lack Thumb Ring. However, the Bengalis can be regarded as the closest to fully upgraded one thanks to Paiks, which compensates for lacking Thumb Ring's fire rate.
- Despite not being unique anymore, Parthian Tactics still gives them +2 attack bonus vs Spearmen.
People from the Pre-Indic Indus civilization were the first to tame elephants, roughly around 4,000 years ago in Indus valley for agricultural purpose. Later on, Indic-speaking newcomers from the steppes introduced horses and familiarized themselves with tame elephants. The first military application of elephants dates from around 1100 BC and is mentioned in several Sanskrit hymns. War elephants were used either to charge and trample enemy troops directly, or to carry archers and spear throwers who can attack from the top. Elephant's sheer height and mass offered considerable protection for their riders.
|Units in Age of Empires II|