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Weak light artillery. En masse, good against other artillery.
—In-game description

The Hand Mortar is an artillery in Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties that is unique to the Chinese and can be trained at the Castle once the Fortress Age is reached or (prior to the Definitive Edition) as part of the Mongolian Army. It is a weak but very cheap artillery that only takes up one population.


The Hand Mortar has a high ranged resistance and it complements it with a bonus against artillery. They also out-range most artillery, with exception of the Mortar, Morutaru, and the Culverin (which has equal range), and most other units. It is a relatively weak artillery unit and deals a base damage of 5 points per shot, but has large multipliers against buildings, ships and artillery.

The Hand Mortar is ineffective against all forms of infantry and cavalry, and should not be left exposed. However, it is difficult to destroy by shelling, and with its low cost, it is an effective "meat shield" to protect the Chinese army, which is usually massed in large numbers, from enemy artillery fire. Due to its mediocre range compared to other mortars, it should be positioned outside a city's fortifications and attached to a Territorial or Old Han Army.

The Hand Mortar is best used in massed numbers against buildings, ships or other artillery. When positioned at the flanks, the Hand Mortar should be guarded by infantry or cavalry.


Age Upgrade Cost Effect
Age IV tech tree aoe 3.png
Honored siege.png Honored Hand Mortar 250 food,
250 wood
Upgrades Hand Mortars to Honored (+25% hit points and attack)
Imperial Age
Exalted siege.png Exalted Hand Mortar 1,000 wood,
1,000 coin
Upgrades Hand Mortars to Exalted (+50% hit points and attack); requires Honored Hand Mortar

Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Buildings, ships, artillery (when massed)
Weak vs. Infantry especially Arrow Knights, cavalry, Culverins
Hit points Professional gunners.png Professional Gunners (+10%)
Attack Heated Shot.png Heated Shot (+1.5x multiplier vs. ships)
Sight Town Watch.png Town Watch (+2)
Gunners Quadrant.png Gunner's Quadrant (+6)
Speed Trunion.png Trunion (+15%)
Apache Endurance.png Apache Endurance (+5%)
Creation speed Inca Chaquis Messengers.png Quechuan Diet (-10% individually, -18% Mongolian Army)
Other Merritocracy.png Meritocracy (-20% upgrade cost)
Penalties Coffee Trade.png Coffee Trade (-10% speed, Dutch only)

Home City Cards[]


The Asian Dynasties[]

Definitive Edition[]

  • The Hand Mortar is no longer trained as part of the Mongolian Army.


  • The Hand Mortar is the cheapest artillery unit in Age of Empires III.
  • Despite the model featuring two men carrying the weapon, the Hand Mortar only uses a single population slot.


The earliest use of exploding bombs dates back to 1044, when bombs were encased in paper and generally used to create a distraction, or to startle soldiers and cavalry horses. The first Chinese hand mortar used specifically for firing iron-cased bombs was found in 1413. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the hand-thrown bomb became more common in battle, and eventually the Chinese began to use it as mortar ammunition, replacing spherical stones as the projectile of choice.

The hand mortar was highly mobile and its fuse could be shortened and lengthened in accordance with the kind of bomb it was firing. Because of the diversity of bombs developed by Chinese and Korean armies, a hand mortar could cause a wide variety of effects, making it a very adaptable, and very dangerous, siege weapon.