Age of Empires Series Wiki

Recon unit
—In-game description
Flying surveillance unit with huge line of sight and a limited lifespan.
—Hot Air Balloon In-game description
Flying surveillance unit with huge line of sight.
—Advanced Hot Air Balloon In-game description

The Hot Air Balloon is a unique unit in Age of Empires III that may be created via special Home City Cards, either temporarily or permanently. Aging up with The Inventor in the Definitive Edition can also enable this unit.


The Hot Air Balloon is an invulnerable, attack-less exploration unit that hovers above the ground. There are two types of balloons:

  • Through the use of the Commerce Age card "Hot Air Balloons" or choosing The Inventor to advance to the Commerce Age in the Definitive Edition available to European civilizations, a player's Explorer gains the ability to release Hot Air Balloons. These balloons will remain active for 20 seconds, and can only be used once a minute, but may be called out an unlimited number of times.
  • The Industrial Age card Advanced Balloon available to European nations spawns an Advanced Hot Air Balloon at the Home City gather point. This balloon remains active permanently. It cannot be sent a second time upon reaching the Imperial Age.

The Advanced Hot Air Balloon is slower (2.0) and has a smaller Line of Sight (34) than the Hot Air Balloon (3.0 and 44).

The balloons' Line of Sight can be increased through use of Town Watch and the Spanish card TEAM Inquisition.

  • They cannot attack and it cannot be shot down. There is no effective counter for the use of balloons with the exception of downing the enemy Explorer as often as possible.
  • Hot Air Balloons can be dropped on any area of the map instantly; it does not have to be a location near the Explorer. This means it does not have to fly over enemy walls; it can appear behind them and then begin scouting.
  • Balloons are capable of capturing herdable animals, or stealing them from the enemy if undefended.

Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Nothing
Weak vs. Nothing
Hit points Tar kilns Tar Kilns (+5%)
Line of Sight Town Watch Town Watch (+3)

Home City Cards[]

Click for a list of Home City Cards related to the (Advanced) Hot Air Balloon
Some cards are highlighted with:
Green TEAM Shipment that is sent to each player in a team
Blue Shipment that arrives fast (5 seconds)


Card Description Age HC level
Spanish Home City 1 (Hot Air Balloon) Hot Air Balloons The Explorer can summon the Hot Air Balloon to explore the map for a limited time
Age II tech tree aoe3
Spanish Home City 1 (Advanced Balloon) Advanced Balloon Ships 1 Advanced Hot Air Balloon that remains permanently in the game
Age IV tech tree aoe 3
  • "Hot Air Balloons" is available to Europeans (except French) and Mexicans.
  • "Advanced Balloon" is available to Europeans (except French) and Federal Americans.


Card Description Age
French Home City 1 (Aerostatic Corps) Aerostatic Corps Explorer gains the ability to use a temporary Hot Air Balloon for reconnaissance; Hot Air Balloons can be called more often and can stay longer in the air; Hot Air Balloon grants +100 XP build bounty
Age IV tech tree aoe 3


Card Description Age
Shivajis tactics TEAM Shivaji's Tactics All units get +5% hit points and attack
Age IV tech tree aoe 3


Card Description Age
Maltese Home City 2 (TEAM Knights of the Round Table) TEAM Knights of the Round Table Ships 1 Hospitaller for each Town Center owned by the player; all units get +2% hit points
Age I tech tree aoe3


Card Description Age
Mexican Home City 2 (TEAM Mariachi) TEAM Mariachi For the next 30 seconds, military buildings work 400% faster and units get +10% speed
Age I tech tree aoe3
Federal card colegio de san nicolas Colegio de San Nicolás Ships 500 XP; units get +4 and buildings (except Walls) get +8 Line of Sight; sees what enemies can see for 20 seconds
Age II tech tree aoe3


Card Description Age HC level
Spanish Home City 3 (Inquisition) TEAM Spanish Inquisition Ships 1 Inquisitor; all units get +10 Line of Sight
Age II tech tree aoe3

United States[]

Card Description Age
United States Home City 1 (Missouri River Expeditions) Missouri River Expeditions Ships 1 Covered Wagon; Town Center build limit +1; the General can summon the Hot Air Balloon
Age IV tech tree aoe 3


3Icon48px Age of Empires III[]

  • The Hot Air Balloon and the Advanced Hot Air Balloon cannot reveal stealth enemies.

Age3DE Icon Definitive Edition[]

  • The Hot Air Balloon and the Advanced Hot Air Balloon can reveal stealth enemies.


Hot Air Balloon[]

Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier are to hot air balloons what Orville and Wilbur Wright are to airplanes. They believed that their balloons were held aloft by smoke, burning hay and even shoes to keep early balloons up. Within just a few years, balloons appeared on the battlefield to scout and observe enemy movements and deployments.

Advanced Hot Air Balloon[]

During the U.S. Civil War, both the Union and Confederate forces deployed balloons for reconnaissance purposes. Even though their use and efficacy in battle was limited, they did offer a glimpse of the future potential of air power.

In June of 1861, Thaddeus Lowe rose 500 feet above Washington, D.C. as a demonstration to President Lincoln of the value of balloons. Even though the Enterprise was tethered, the sight of it above the capital impressed Lincoln enough to establish a Balloon Corps for the Union Army. Eventually, Lowe oversaw the construction of seven balloons, six of which actually saw service during the war. All of these balloons used hydrogen gas instead of hot air.


  • When a Balloon dies or is deleted by the player, the balloonist will cling to the balloon's ropes while it goes down, eventually crashing and killing him.
  • Hot Air Balloons and the Spyglass ability are very similar to the Vision god power in Age of Mythology, even staying active for the same lengths of time.


Civilian units in Age of Empires III
AllFishing ship aoe3de Fishing Boat · Settler aoe3de Settler · Covered wagon aoe3de Covered Wagon/Town Travois/Town Rickshaw/Town Center Builder · Outpost wagon aoe3de Trading Post Wagon, Lakota trading post aoe3de Trading Post Travois, and Chinese town center rickshaw aoe3de Trading Post Rickshaw · Outpost wagon aoe3de Dock Rickshaw/Dock Wagon/Dock Travois · Native embassy DE icon Native Embassy Travois/Native Embassy Builder/Royal Embassy Wagon
EuropeansPriest aoe3de Priest · Factory wagon aoe3de Factory Wagon · Fort wagon aoe3de Fort Wagon · Factory wagon aoe3de Homestead Wagon · Outpost wagon aoe3de Military Wagon · Factory wagon aoe3de Prospector Wagon (Factory wagon aoe3de Silver · Factory wagon aoe3de Gold)
Europeans and USSurgeon aoe3de Surgeon · Outpost wagon aoe3de Outpost Wagon · Spc wagon aoe3de Estate Wagon · Spc wagon aoe3de Mill Wagon
Native AmericansVillager aztec aoe3de Villager · Haudenosaunee healer aoe3de Healer · Team native aoe3de Native Scout* · Aztec travois aoe3de Farm Travois · Aztec travois aoe3de War Hut Travois
AsiansChinese castle wagon aoe3de Castle Rickshaw · Chinese town center rickshaw aoe3de Market Rickshaw · Chinese town center rickshaw aoe3de Monastery Rickshaw
AfricansEthiopian fishing canoe portrait aoe3de Fishing Canoe · Camp portrait Camp Builder · Hausa builder portrait Kingdom Builder · Hausa builder portrait Livestock Market Builder · Palace portrait aoe3de Palace Builder · Hausa builder portrait Trade Builder · Watch tower aoe3de portrait Watch Tower Builder
Unique units
Flag DutchDE DutchVillager dutch merchant portrait Merchant · Envoy aoe3de Envoy · Bank wagon aoe3de Bank Wagon
Flag FrenchDE FrenchCoureur aoe3de Coureur des Bois
Flag GermanDE GermansSettler wagon aoe3de Settler Wagon
Flag OttomanDE OttomansVillager ottoman yoruk portrait Yörük · Imam de Imam
Flag SpanishDE SpanishMissonary de Missionary
Flag AztecDE AztecsWarrior priest de Warrior Priest · Aztec travois aoe3de Nobles' Hut Travois
Flag IroquoisDE HaudenosauneeTravois portrait aoe3de Travois (Haudenosaunee)
Flag ChineseDE ChineseOutpost Wagon Blockhouse Wagon · Chinese town center rickshaw aoe3de Consulate Rickshaw · Chinese town center rickshaw aoe3de Village Rickshaw · Mongol scout aoe3de Mongol Scout
Flag IndianDE IndiansIndian peasant aoe3de Hindu Villager · Indian castle grove aoe3de Grove Rickshaw · Indian town center rickshaw aoe3de Sacred Field Rickshaw
Flag JapaneseDE JapaneseFactory wagon aoe3de Livestock Pen Wagon · Chinese town center rickshaw aoe3de Dojo Rickshaw · Japanese Town Center Rickshaw Military Rickshaw · Japanese grove aoe3de Orchard Rickshaw · Japanese grove aoe3de Rice Paddy Rickshaw · Chinese town center rickshaw aoe3de Shrine Wagon
Flag IncanDE IncaPriestess-icon-aoe3 Priestess · Travois inca AoE3de Builder Travois · Lakota trading post aoe3de Kallanka Travois · Lakota trading post aoe3de Stronghold Travois · Lakota trading post aoe3de Tambo Travois
Flag SwedishDE SwedesSpc wagon aoe3de Torp Wagon
Flag American act3 aoe3de United StatesFactory wagon aoe3de Coal Prospector Wagon · Outpost wagon aoe3de Infrastructure Wagon · Bank wagon aoe3de Meeting House Wagon · Bank wagon aoe3de State Capitol Wagon
Flag MexicanDE MexicansBank wagon aoe3de Cathedral Wagon · Factory wagon aoe3de Hacienda Wagon
Revolution RevolutionFactory wagon aoe3de Diamond Prospector Wagon · Sansculotte portrait Sansculotte
Flag Ethiopian aoe3de EthiopiansAbun portrait aoe3de Abun · Rickshaw1 icon portrait Indian Market Rickshaw · Mountain monastery portrait aoe3de Mountain Monastery Builder
Flag Hausa HausaGriot aoe3de portrait Griot · Bank wagon aoe3de Mosque Wagon · Hausa builder portrait Hausa Builder · University portrait University Builder
Flag ItalianDE ItaliansItalians architect portrait Architect · Bank wagon aoe3de Basilica Wagon · Bank wagon aoe3de Lombard Wagon · Bank wagon aoe3de Tavern Wagon
Flag MalteseDE MalteseOutpost wagon aoe3de Commandery Wagon · Spc wagon aoe3de Depot Wagon · Fort wagon aoe3de Fixed Gun Wagon
Berber nomad portrait Berber Nomad · Berber salt camel portrait Berber Salt Camel · Trading post african aoe3de Red Sea Wagon · Balloon portrait Hot Air Balloon · Cree coreur portrait updated Cree Coureur des Bois · Factory wagon aoe3de Arsenal Wagon · Bank wagon aoe3de Church Wagon · Outpost wagon aoe3de Frontier Post Wagon · Pilgrims icon definitive Pilgrim · Bank wagon aoe3de Athos Monastery Wagon · Outpost wagon aoe3de Battery Tower Wagon · Lakota trading post aoe3de American Citadel Travois