|“||Italian unique unit. Anti cavalry archery unit.||”|
|—Age of Empires II description|
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 2.03, the same as the Crossbowman, having no more drawback in the Castle Age. They are still the archer unique units that take the most time to train, so it is difficult to mass them.
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|| Fletching (+1)|
Bodkin Arrow (+1)
|Range|| Fletching (+1)|
Bodkin Arrow (+1)
|Firing rate||Thumb Ring (+18%)|
|Accuracy||Ballistics (hit moving targets)|
|Armor|| Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)|
Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
|Creation speed||Conscription (+33%)|
|Upgrades||Elite Genoese Crossbowman|
- A team containing Berbers: With Kasbah researched, Genoese Crossbowmen are created and upgraded 25% faster, and Conscription and Pavise are researched 25% faster.
- A team containing Magyars: Genoese Crossbowmen have +2 Line of Sight.
- A team containing Malians: Researching Chemistry and Ballistics is 80% faster.
- A team containing Saracens: Genoese Crossbowmen have +1 attack against standard buildings.
- A team containing Teutons: Genoese Crossbowmen are more resistant to conversion.
The African Kingdoms
- Elite Genoese Crossbowmen have +5 attack against camel units.
Rise of the Rajas
- Genoese Crossbowmen now cost 45 wood, 45 gold.
- With patch 5.7, Elite Genoese Crossbowmen now have +6 attack against camel units.
- Genoese Crossbowman reload time reduced to 2.
- 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, 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.
- The Genoese Crossbowman is one of the few archers that have an attack bonus against cavalry archers. The others are the Elite Skirmisher, Imperial Skirmisher, Elite Genitour, and the Camel Archer.
- 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.
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. The Genoese crossbowmen participated in the Crusades.