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This article is about the unit in Age of Empires. For the unit in Age of Mythology, see Helepolis (Age of Mythology).

The Helepolis is an ultimate siege unit in Age of Empires, the upgrade of the Ballista in the Iron Age.

It is built at the Siege Workshop and requires research of Craftsmanship at the Market beforehand. 1,200 food and 1,000 wood are needed to upgrade the Ballista to a Helepolis.

The Helepolis fires faster than the Ballista and has +1 range. It is strong in groups as it is fairly accurate and deals the highest damage per second in the game. Like its predecessor, the Helepolis does not deal bonus damage against buildings but deals a +5 attack bonus against Fire Galleys.

The main counter to the Helepolis are Catapults that can out-range and eliminate them in a single shot, unless the unit moves clear of the attack. No civilizations have bonuses for this unit.


The Helepolis is an uncommon unit, and it is only available to some civilizations:

Unit availability
Available Unavailable

Note: Among the civilizations who have access to the Ballista, only the Macedonians and Palmyrans are unable to upgrade them to the Helepolis.


Iron Age[]

Siege Workshop Tree
Bronze Age
Siege Workshop
Stone Thrower
Iron Age
Heavy Catapult


Age of Empires[]

  • Helepolises have 40 attack and cost 1,500 food to upgrade.

Definitive Edition[]


  • Due to the fast fire rate at a long range, the unit may still fire a bolt or two within a fraction of a second even after the enemy unit is eliminated.
  • Typing ICBM allows the player to upgrade its range by 90, bumping the total up to 100 range.
    • Although the firing range will be improved, the line of sight still remains the same. Likewise, it cannot attack any target unless the unit is already discovered within the fog of war. Even if the fog of war is removed by a cheat code, it still cannot attack moving targets unless it is within the line of sight of other allied units. However, it may attack enemy buildings already discovered through the fog of war.
    • Typing this code before finishing researching Engineering will grant the player an additional 2 range. This will affect both the firing range and the line of sight.
  • The name is a misnomer. Helepolis was actually a name for Greek siege towers, not a siege weapon firing bolts or rocks.


The helepolis (Greek for "city killer") was one of the most advanced weapons of antiquity and a remarkable demonstration of ancient engineering ingenuity. It was in fact an automatic siege weapon that fired ballista bolts. The top loading lagazine of the helepolis was a horizontal funnel in which were laid bundles of bolts. These were fed by gravity into the chamber of the weapon. A clever gearing mechanism automatically recocked the helepolis and fired. Human operators needed only to keep it loaded and aimed, plus providing power by cranking. The original of the machine was abandoned outside the city of Rhodes when a besieging army withdrew. It has been reconstructed on paper from contemporary sketches and descriptions of that only known example.
Age of Empires manual




HELEPOLIS vs EVERY UNIT - Age of Empires- Definitive Edition