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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).

Upgrade of the Ballista. The Helepolis has more range and a faster fire rate.
Age of Empires description

The Helepolis (plural Helepolises or Helepoleis) is one of the ultimate siege units in Age of Empires, and is the upgrade of the Ballista in the Iron Age. It has a strong attack and fires thrice as fast as the Stone Thrower and its upgrades, but is very fragile and should be supplemented with non-siege meatshield when sent into battle.


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

Aoede helepolis available Available Aoede helepolis unavailable Unavailable
x indicates that the civilization can fully upgrade their Helepoleis' combat statistics, i.e. gets Alchemy and Engineering.
- indicates that the civilization does not get Conscription.
+ indicates that the civilization has at least one civilization bonus that benefits the combat strength of their Helepolises.


It is built at the Siege Workshop (before Return of Rome, also required research of Craftsmanship at the Market beforehand). 1,200 food, 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.

While it does not do bonus damage against buildings, its high attack, long range, and quick Rate of Fire still make it excellent at destroying enemy bases, living up to its name as the "city killer".

Comparison among civilizations[]

Civilization Assyrians AoE Assyrians Carthaginians AoE Carthaginians
Minoans AoE Minoans
(Fully upgraded)
Romans AoE Romans
Research Cost and Time 600 food, 500 wood
125 seconds
1,200 food, 1,000 wood
150 seconds
Attack 45+1 45
Range 10+2 10+3
Training Time 33.34 40 50

Further statistics[]

Strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Infantry, ships, almost anything when sufficiently massed
Weak vs. Catapults
Attack Alchemy Alchemy (+1)
Range Engineering Engineering (+2)
Accuracy Ballistics Ballistics (hit moving targets)
Creation speed RoR Conscription Conscription (+25%)
Civilization bonuses
Range Romans AoE Romans (+1)
Other Assyrians AoE Assyrians (-50% research cost)
Team bonuses
Creation speed Assyrians AoE Assyrians (+20%)

Indirect team bonuses[]

  • Assyrians AoE Assyrians: Researching Helepolis is 20% faster.
  • Palmyrans AoE Palmyrans: Researching Helepolis and technologies that benefit Helepoleis is 30% faster.


ReturnRome-AoEIcon Age of Empires[]

  • Ballistae can be upgraded to Helepolises only if Craftsmanship is researched.
  • Helepolises have 40 attack, 1.5 reload time, 4.5 projectile speed, and cost 1,500 food to upgrade.
  • They are visually identical to Ballistae.

Age of Empires Definitive Edition icon Definitive Edition[]

  • Helepolises have 1.95 reload time and 4.9 projectile speed.
  • With update 38862, Helepolises have 1.85 reload time.
  • With update 46777, Helepolises have 45 attack and cost 1,200 food to upgrade.

AoE2Icon-ReturnRome Return of Rome[]

  • Researching Craftsmanship is no longer required to upgrade Ballistae to Helepolises.
  • Upon release, Helepolises had 40 attack and cost 1,500 food to upgrade. With hotfix 85208, they have 45 attack and cost 1,200 food to upgrade again.
  • Helepolises receive a unique model to visually differentiate them from Ballistae.
  • Assyrians AoE Assyrians (team bonus): Helepolises are created 20% faster.
  • Palmyrans AoE Palmyrans (team bonus): Technologies benefiting Helepolises are researched 30% faster.
  • Romans AoE Romans: Helepolises have +1 range.
  • Helepolises initially had 7.2 projectile speed. With hotfix 85208, Helepolises have 4.067 projectile speed.


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

The official history section is highly inaccurate, as Helepoleis were massive Siege Towers, not self-reloading ballistas. In addition to their role of transporting soldiers onto the target city's walls, they may also have had battering rams and ballistas or similar weapons mounted on them.


  • Despite being a siege unit, it does not deal bonus damage against buildings.
  • 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. A more appropriate name would be Polybolos, or simply Heavy Ballista.



Tech tree[]

Siege Workshop
AOEDE Archery Range icon Archery Range
Stone Age Icon (DE)
Tool Age Icon (DE)
Bronze Age Icon (DE)
Iron Age Icon (DE)
Aoede stone thrower available
Aoede heavy catapult available

Units in Age of Empires
CivilianReturnofrome female villager icon Villager · Returnofrome trade cart icon Trade Cart
OtherAoE2 DE priest icon Priest · Slinger-0 Slinger · Returnofrome artifact icon Artifact
Civilian ship1 Fishing Boat Fishing Boat · 2 Fishing Ship Fishing Ship
3 Trade Boat Trade Boat · 4 Merchant Ship Merchant Ship
InfantryClubman Clubman · AxemanAoEDE Axeman
Short Swordsman Short Swordsman · Broad Swordsman Broad Swordsman · AoE nuRoR Long Swordsman icon Long Swordsmen · Returnofrome legionary icon Legionary
HopliteDE Hoplite · AoE nuRoR Phalangite icon Phalangite · Returnofrome centurion icon Centurion
ArcherBowman aoe1de Bowman
Improved Bowman22 Improved Bowman · Composite Bowman Composite Bowman
Chariot Archer111 Chariot Archer
Horse Archer Horse Archer · Returnofrome heavy horse archer icon Heavy Horse Archer
EAICON DE Elephant Archer
CavalryScout-0 Scout
ChariotDE Chariot · ScytheDE Scythe Chariot
Cavalry111 Cavalry · Returnofrome heavy cavalry icon Heavy Cavalry · Returnofrome cataphract icon Cataphract
War ElephantDE War Elephant · Returnofrome armored elephant icon Armored Elephant
Camel RiderDE Camel Rider
SiegeStone ThrowerDE Stone Thrower · CatapultDE Catapult · Returnofrome heavy catapult icon Heavy Catapult
BallistaDE Ballista · Returnofrome helepolis icon Helepolis
War Ship7 Scout Ship Scout Ship · 8 War Galley War Galley · 9 Trireme Trireme
Catapult Trireme Catapult Trireme · Returnofrome juggernaut icon Juggernaut
10 Fire Galley Fire Galley
5 Light Transport Light Transport · 6 Heavy Transport Heavy Transport
Scenario Editor-only units
Short Swordsman Chieftain · Donkey caravan aoe2DE Donkey · Clubman Explorer · Returnofrome heavy cavalry icon General · AoE2 DE priest icon High Priest · Returnofrome horse icon Horse · HeavyCavalryDE Mercenary (removed) · Penguin aoe2DE Penguin · AoE2 DE priest icon Pharaoh · 5 Light Transport Raft · Returnofrome artifact icon War Chest