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Italian unique unit. Anti cavalry archery unit.
Age of Empires II description

The Genoese Crossbowman is the first unique unit of the Italians in Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten. It is a foot archer with an attack bonus against cavalry.

Genoese Crossbowmen can be upgraded to Elite Genoese Crossbowmen in the Imperial Age.


The Genoese Crossbowman is a crossbow-wielding unit that has an attack bonus against cavalry and as such can prove to be a great defense against enemy Knights. Even mighty elephant units (such as War Elephants and Battle Elephants) can be slaughtered very easily when faced with large mobs of Genoese Crossbowmen, though the Italian unique unit suffers from reduced effectiveness when battling Cataphracts as those have a high amount of bonus defense.

The Genoese Crossbowman is a well-rounded unit as it lacks and even counters the main weakness of most archers, which is cavalry. In masses, they are good against cavalry and infantry alike and can also defeat some weak archers when massed, though Rattan Archers and Plumed Archers will win against them. Despite the attack bonus, cavalry units can still defeat them on one to one combat. They are still vulnerable to Mangonels, although to a lesser extent than other archers due to having enough HP to survive a single Mangonel shot, and other anti-archer units such as Skirmishers and Genitours. Huskarls, which have good pierce armor and an attack bonus against them, are especially effective against Genoese Crossbowmen. The speed and armor of faster infantry such as the Eagle Warrior can pose a problem as well. They can be paired up with the cheap Italian Hand Cannoneers whose attack bonus against infantry can prove very useful against civilizations with archer threatening infantry.

The Genoese Crossbowman also has an attack bonus against all kinds of ships. In fact, it only takes two Elite Genoese Crossbowmen to take out a fully upgraded Galleon, while it takes about ten Arbalesters to sink the same ship, making the Genoese Crossbowman a good defense against coastal raids.

The Rate of Fire in the Definitive Edition is set to 2.0, the same as the Crossbowman, having no more drawback in the Castle Age. They are still among the archer unique units that take the most time to train, so it is difficult to mass them.

Comparison to the Archer line[]

  • Genoese Crossbowmen become available in the Castle Age, at which point they have better base attack (by 1), Hit points (by 10), melee armor (by 1), and accuracy than generic Crossbowmen.
  • However, Crossbowmen have better range (by 1), which makes them better at kiting.
  • In the Imperial Age, Arbalesters boast the same base attack as (Elite) Genoese Crossbowmen (6 pierce), but lack any of the attack bonuses the (Elite) Genoese Crossbowmen have. Likewise, Genoese Crossbowmen have no attack bonus vs the Spearman line.
  • Arbalesters still lose the comparison in terms of armor, HP, and accuracy (assuming no Thumb Ring) even when compared to the (non-elite) Genoese Crossbowman.
  • On the other hand, Arbalesters are easier to mass as they are trained at Archery Ranges, which are cheaper and easier to build in large numbers than Castles.
  • Arbalesters are also cheaper to produce and upgrade. A single Arbalester costs 45 gold and 25 wood, while a single Genoese Crossbowman costs 40 gold and 45 wood. The total upgrade cost of the Archer line is 475 food and 375 gold. Genoese Crossbowmen's Elite upgrade costs 900 food and 750 gold and provides boost only to HP and bonus damage.
  • In conclusion, Genoese Crossbowmen (even non-Elite) win 1:1 fights against Arbalesters and perform better against cavalry. However they do not have significant advantage against infantry and Monks, in which cases either the Arbalester should be used due to being more cost-effective or the Hand Cannoneer due to being more efficient.
  • Crossbowmen/Arbalesters are arguably better at raiding due to having longer range and reaching further behind enemy walls.

Further statistics[]

As Genoese Crossbowmen are unique to the Italians, only technologies that are available to them are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Cavalry, Cavalry Archers, infantry
Weak vs. Archers, Scorpions, Mangonels, Huskarls, Eagle Warriors, Samurai
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)
Firing rate ThumbRingDE.png Thumb Ring (+18%)
Accuracy 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)
Conversion defense FaithDE.png Faith
Creation speed ConscriptionDE.png Conscription (+33%)
Upgrades Elite-unique-research.jpg Elite Genoese Crossbowman

Civilization bonuses[]

Team bonuses[]


The Forgotten[]

  • Genoese Crossbowmen cost 50 wood, 50 gold.
  • Genoese Crossbowmen have a reload time of 3.
  • Genoese Crossbowmen have a training time of 22 (standard) and 19 (elite).

The African Kingdoms[]

  • Elite Genoese Crossbowmen have +5 attack against camel units.

Rise of the Rajas[]

  • Genoese Crossbowmen cost 45 wood, 45 gold.
  • With patch 5.7, Elite Genoese Crossbowmen have +6 attack against camel units.

Definitive Edition[]

  • Genoese Crossbowmen have a reload time of 2.
  • Genoese Crossbowmen have a training time of 18 (standard) and 14 (elite).

Lords of the West[]


  • In the mod version of The Forgotten Empires, the Genoese Crossbowmen use a modified Hand Cannoneer unit model and texture. In the retail version however, they receive a new texture as a crossbowman carrying a shield.
  • Genoese Crossbowmen carry a shield whose appearance much resembles the Pavise (from which the unique technology's name comes), which is a type of tall convex shield used by Medieval European bowmen as a sort of mobile cover for them to duck behind while not firing, though the unit never seems to duck behind it while engaging an enemy, thus somewhat defeating the shield's purpose when faced with ranged adversaries. Also in reality, the pavise is much taller than the bowmen whereas in the game, this is much shorter. However, they do carry the pavise on their back when they move, which is historically accurate.
  • Genoese Crossbowman's bonus damage against cavalry probably refers to the weapon's ban by the Pope in 1096. The ban was applied because a mounted knight who spent years in military training could be killed easily by a peasant with little to no training who used a crossbow. As a result, the crossbow was considered as a threat against ruling elites and they lobbied the Roman Catholic Church to ban the weapon.[1]
    • Historically, all archers and crossbowmen countered cavalry effectively because horses were easier to hit, owing to their large size, with arrows; for example, English longbowmen killed and wounded very many unarmored horses of their French foes at Crécy.


The Genoese crossbowmen were mercenaries from Genoa that assisted in defending it and other Italian and European cities. They carried daggers, crossbows, a chain mail shirt, and large shields called pavises. After firing, the crossbowmen would hide behind their pavises while reloading. This protected them from other ranged attacks. What makes the Genoese crossbowmen so special is they operated in teams of three. One would set up and maintain the pavise while one shoots and another reloads a second crossbow handing him to the shooter when reloaded. This effectively doubled the fire rate of the skilled crossbowmen. The Genoese crossbowmen participated in the Crusades.




ELITE GENOESE CROSSBOWMAN vs EVERY UNIQUE UNIT (Total Resources) - AoE II- Definitive Edition