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This article is about the unit in Age of Empires III. For the technology in Age of Empires II HD: Rise of the Rajas, see Howdah (Age of Empires II).

High-hitpoints ranged Elephant cavalry effective against cavalry and artillery.
—In-game description

The Howdah is an Indian is a ranged light cavalry in Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties that is unique to the Indians and can be trained at Caravanserai and Galleon, as well as the Agra Fort wonder once it is upgraded to Delhi Gate, once the Fortress Age is reached. It is the strongest ranged cavalry unit in the game.


Howdahs are elephants that carry a howdah - which gave the units its name - on their backs, with a gunner in the howdah. The man in the howdah uses his gun to shoot at units at a fairly good range and with a high attack, making it the most powerful ranged cavalry in the game. However, it costs a lot of resources and population, which is its main disadvantage. They are similar to German War Wagons, but have a ranged resistance.

Note: Elephant population can be decreased by a single point through use of the Professional Handlers Home City Card.

Howdah pack the toughness of a War Elephant with an extremely powerful ranged attack able to kill most units in only one or a few shots. Howdah has a large amount of hit points, and a huge ranged attack. They can kill any hand cavalry unit in only a few shots, and are incredibly durable, but they are very slow for ranged cavalry units, and are hard to micromanage, balancing out their incredible military power. The Howdah is an excellent counter to Hand Cavalry and artillery, and does well against most units, although they should stay out of melee combat with Heavy Infantry, and should usually stay away from ranged infantry altogether. The Howdah also has a quite high siege attack for a ranged Cavalry unit, and a group of them can do a fairly good job of taking out buildings, but this is offset by their huge cost and population usage.

Howdahs can be overwhelmed by cavalry if they are not properly micromanaged; however, they do have one unique attribute shared with only the Yojimbo: a splash damage when set into melee mode. If Howdahs become surrounded by cavalry, activating melee mode allows them to attack multiple units simultaneously and increases the rate of fire. Coupled with their high damage and multipliers, this allows them to defeat large numbers of cavalry, similar to Doppelsoldners or Ronin. This splash damage can also be effective against infantry, artillery, or Villagers, but it is usually better to attack at range.

Compared to Zamburaks, Howdahs have a few distinct advantages. Firstly, they have vastly superior range, allowing them to target units from a safer distance. As the Indians lack Ranged Cavalry Caracole, they cannot even bring Zamburaks up to the standard 14 range of Dragoons. Furthermore, Zamburaks are incredibly frail, and are unable to withstand artillery fire. A few Heavy Cannons will easily clear up Zamburaks, whereas Howdah can withstand an incredible amount of damage. Finally, Howdahs train much quicker, by stacking Riding School, Tame Elephants and Terror Charge. This is of course compounded when pure firepower is taken into consideration; 5 Zamburaks take longer to train than 5 Howdahs, and 5 Howdahs are considerably more powerful.

Howdahs can also make a strong counter to artillery. Siege Elephants have a range advantage, and do siege damage, making them very effective, but have several shortcomings that Howdahs do not. One primary weakness of Siege Elephants is that Culverins, ranged cavalry, Skirmishers, and heavy cavalry (especially Meteor Hammers and Kanya Horsemen due to multipliers) all make effective counters to Siege Elephants; Howdah are only really hard countered by Skirmishers or extremely powerful heavy infantry. Other concerns are cost, and Siege Elephants having a very poor attack vs most units. In this way, Howdahs can prove a more well-rounded counter to artillery in situations where Siege Elephants are unable to be effective.


The Howdah is automatically upgraded to Disciplined (+20% hit points and attack) in the Fortress Age.

Age Upgrade Cost Effect
Ages industrial.jpg
Honored elephants.png Honored Howdah 600 wood,
600 coin
Upgrades Howdahs to Honored (+30% hit points and attack)
Imperial Age
Exalted elephants.png Exalted Howdah 1,500 wood,
1,500 coin
Upgrades Howdahs to Exalted (+50% hit points and attack); requires Honored Howdah

Mansabdar Howdah[]

Inspires all nearby Howdahs. High hitpoints ranged elephant cavalry effective against cavalry and artillery.
—In-game description

The Mansabdar Howdah is a stronger version of the Howdah that can be trained from the Charminar Gate wonder or shipped from the Home City as part of the Howdah Regiment. As a Mansabdar unit, the Mansabdar Howdah has twice the hit points of a Howdah and Imperial Service that increases the hit points and attack of nearby Howdahs, but are two times more expensive.

Special ability[]

Imperial service.png Imperial Service (passive): The Mansabdar Howdah increases the hit points and attack of Howdahs in a radius of 24 around them by 10%.

Further statistics[]

As (Mansabdar) Howdahs are unique to the Indians, only technologies that they have access to are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Heavy cavalry, ranged infantry, artillery
Weak vs. Heavy infantry, light cavalry
Hit points Comanche Horse Breeding.png Comanche Horse Breeding (+10%)
Cree Tanning.png Cree Tanning (+5%)
Navajo Weaving.png Navajo Weaving (+5%)
Attack Yoga.png Yoga (+5%)
Smokeless Powder.png Smokeless Powder (+30% siege attack)
Speed Comanche Mustangs.png Comanche Mustangs (+10%)
Apache Endurance.png Apache Endurance (+5%)
Creation speed Terror Charge.png Terror Charge (-20%)
Cheyenne Horse Trading.png Cheyenne Horse Trading (-25%)
Inca Chaquis Messengers.png Incan Chasquis Messengers (-25%)
Train cost Mapuche Ad-mapu.png Mapuche Ad-mapu (-10% coin cost)
Other Merritocracy.png Meritocracy (-20% upgrade cost)

Home City Cards[]

As (Mansabdar) Howdahs are unique to the Indians, only their cards and other civilizations' TEAM cards are shown in the following tables:


The Asian Dynasties[]

  • Mansabdar Howdahs cost 12 population.

Definitive Edition[]


Howdah is the traditional name for a carriage that is strapped across an elephant’s back, allowing it to carry human riders, including the “mahout,” the beast’s human handler. Howdahs often featured grand decoration and were used as processional carriages. Early Mughal rulers preferred travel by elephant because of the impression it made, both during peacetime and at war. Although elephants have been used in warfare for centuries, the Mauryan Empire of ancient India first used the howdah in combat in about 300 BCE. Soon afterwards, elephant howdahs provided safety to many Carthaginian archers and javelineers during the Punic Wars of 264-146 BCE.

In battle, elephants with ornate howdahs acted as standard bearers, visual representations of the army’s might. More importantly, they provided a relatively safe location from which ranged units could gain a more expansive view of the battlefield and fire on their enemy from above. From this elevated vantage point, they could choose their targets more effectively.