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The Khmer is a siege and Battle Elephant civilization with a strong focus on Scorpions and their unique unit, the Ballista Elephant. One of their unique civilization bonuses is their ability to build any building or advance to the next Age without pre-requisites, allowing unconventional build orders and strategies. Due to the double-edged sword nature of the bonus, the civilization is designed for more experienced players than for beginners.


The Khmer is a powerful siege civilization that puts a lot of emphasis on two units: Scorpions and Battle Elephants. Their Scorpions receive both a team bonus of +1 range and their unique Double Crossbow tech, allowing them (and their Ballista Elephant unique unit) to fire a second projectile for a potential double damage. Meanwhile, their Battle Elephants are fully upgradeable, move 10% faster, and benefit from their unique Tusk Swords tech; with Husbandry research, Khmer elephants are fast enough to serve as economy raiders.

Their Ballista Elephant unique unit also has the ability to cut down trees and is the only unit capable of doing so in the Castle Age. This allows them to catch enemies off-guard in Black Forest maps. Otherwise, it is basically a more durable version of the Scorpion with less range and attack. Because they can fulfill the roles of both Battle Elephants and Scorpions, they can work as a cost-effective combination of both when paired with Hussars.

They are an exceptional early game civilization due to their civilization bonus of ignoring building prerequisites, saving up to 425 wood when executing popular strategies such as the fast castle rush (with only Mill + 4 Houses, skipping the Lumber Camp, Market, and Blacksmith). Furthermore, it encourages flexibility in gameplay and strategy, and allows the Khmer to be completely unpredictable and ignore conventional build orders to catch the enemy off-guard.

With access to Architecture, Hoardings, Fortified Walls, and Keeps, the Khmer's defensive capabilities are above average, though not excellent due to lacking Arrowslits and Bombard Tower. Additionally, their ability to garrison villagers in houses to protect them from raids (although they don't fire arrows) allows Khmer to save villagers where other civilizations might lose them. It bears remembering that walled-off areas are still accessible to Khmer villagers as long as a House is used as part of that wall.

In the Definitive Edition, Khmer farmers gain the ability to drop off food from anywhere. This gives some unique options to the Khmer, such as farming in the back of the base without the additional cost of a Mill, or building Farms near advanced bases so Villagers don't idle when they're not building military buildings (i.e., after a Castle drop).


Their infantry lines are weak. They lack the Champion upgrade, as well as Squires, Supplies, Gambesons and Plate Mail Armor, resulting in incredibly weak Halberdiers in late game. Despite getting access to Arbalesters as well as Heavy Cavalry Archers with Parthian Tactics, both fight poorly due to not having perfect accuracy without the Thumb Ring upgrade. They still have effective Crossbowmen in the early Castle Age and solid Skirmishers and Hand Cannoneers.

The Khmer's ability to build buildings or advance ages without prerequisite buildings is difficult to use well. It can be incredibly strong, but it can also backfire hard. For example, if the Khmer attempt to go for a fast Castle Age for a Battle Elephant rush without building other important buildings, they will not only have a weaker economy, but can be punished hard by a Feudal Archer or Scout rush (due to inability to produce Spearmen and Skirmishers), or even a Knight counter-rush. The Khmer should use this civilization bonus wisely and adjust to their strategies based on civilization matchups, maps, and situations.


The Khmer are a very unique civilization on their own, since they do not need to build any pre-requisite building to either advance to the next age or unlock other buildings. This makes the Khmer not only incredibly versatile, but also incredibly unpredictable when it comes to gameplay and strategy. It is possible to go for a fast Castle Age rush within under 15 minutes since the Khmer save a lot of wood and time when advancing to the next Age, although such strategy would leave them vulnerable to enemy raids in open maps. The Khmer can go directly for an Archer or Scout rush in the Feudal Age without the need to build a Barracks, hence allowing the Khmer to close out games in the Feudal or Castle Age relatively quickly. Regardless, when playing the Khmer, it is important to be unpredictable on what you are about to do.

Unlike other civilizations the Khmer houses are capable of garrisoning villagers. This ability enables them to minimize loses when an opponent is raiding their towns, so it is advisable to create houses near the working areas of the Villagers. This bonus can also be valuable for turtling as the houses can be used as a wall substitute while allowing villagers to still pass them (by garrisoning and ungarrisoning on the other side).

Early on, the Khmer can go for either archers or cavalry. The latter is preferred due to the Khmer farming bonus, which makes collecting food much easier. They should transition into Battle Elephants and Scorpions or Hussars and Ballista Elephants as the game progresses.

One of the biggest strengths of the Khmer is their strong Scorpions. In fact, a fully upgraded Heavy Scorpion can outrange a fully upgraded Siege Onager (except Korean ones) if the Scorpions are microed properly. The Ballista Elephant is effectively a tankier version of the Scorpion with lower range and attack, but the natural tankiness itself makes them very threatening against massed infantry and archers. Their ability to cut down trees makes the Khmer one of the top tier civilizations in Black Forest maps, allowing them to catch enemies off-guard when playing defensively. Ballista Elephants should be well-protected though, as they still have their typical cavalry, siege weapon, and elephant-based weaknesses (especially Monks), so they need to be protected based on the enemy's army composition.

Across from their powerful siege, the Khmer have some of the best Battle Elephants in the game. Having a 10% faster movement speed helps reduce the clunkiness of Battle Elephants and makes them much more able to force fights and utilize their high stats. Their second unique tech, Tusk Swords, makes their Battle Elephants even more threatening as well.

The Khmer are also very solid on water maps, since they have access to every essential naval unit and upgrade, only lacking the Two-Man Saw, Shipwright, and Heavy Demolition Ship. In fact, thanks to their civilization bonus not needing to build any pre-requisite buildings, the Khmer can easily skip out on Mill or any other military buildings and simply focus on building a Dock and Blacksmith with Fishing Ships and Fish Traps as their main food income.

In general terms, the Khmer are a fast-paced civilization with emphasis on unpredictably. They can perform a variety of strategies (scout rush, archer rush, fast castle, knight rush, galley rush) better and faster than most civilizations. Those who enjoy playing civilizations with versatile playstyles such as a Byzantines, Malians, and Chinese can find themselves home with the Khmer (especially for players familiar playing as the Chinese since the Chinese share the same high skill cap as the Khmer).

Patch changes[]

The Khmer were given the Arbalester upgrade, which is fitting historically, since the Khmer Empire is known to have used crossbows frequently in their armies. This allows the Khmer to perform a "slow push" strategy with Trebuchets, Siege Rams, and Halberdiers; but their Arbalesters are still weaker than usual, due to the lack of Thumb Ring.

Strategy changes in the Definitive Edition[]

The Khmer's naval power is weakened drastically with the loss of Shipwright, which is most likely to balance out their ability to build any building or advance to the next age without prerequisites. Their Battle Elephants are also weaker, since their base attack is reduced to 14, but were given the Hussar upgrade to improve their trash war potential and late-game cavalry. The Khmer are given Faith to make their siege weapons and Battle Elephants less vulnerable to conversion.

Since update 34699, their farmers now do not require drop off sites (the food gathered goes directly to the stock), so farms can be much more freely placed, while at the same time, they save walking time for increased farming rates. This lets the Khmer place farms around their houses, around towers or castles, which lets them better defend from a raid.

Since update 36906, they lost access to the Bombard Cannon, and have to rely on Heavy Scorpions, Ballista Elephants, and Trebuchets to destroy buildings from afar. The update also reduced the workrate of their farmers by 3%, mainly to compensate for the new bonus of their Farmers. They are still effective economically.

In update 37650, they lost access to Supplies, with the purpose to balance their new farming bonus in the early game.

Update 39284 reduced the trample damage of Battle Elephants from 50% to 25%, mainly because they were able to easily defeat massed Halberdiers and Camel Riders, as well other units (especially in the Khmer case, with their increased speed and attack). The reduction allowed their natural counters to work better against them in a pitched battle.

Update 42848 weakened the Khmer's strengths; the Battle Elephant's attack against buildings was reduced to 4 for standard and 7 for Elite, the collision size for elephant units was increased, the farming bonus was further reduced to 5% slower, the Battle Elephant speed bonus reduced to 10%, and finally, the Tusk Swords technology cost was increased to 300 wood and 450 gold. All these nerfs take the direction for balancing team games because the Khmer were able to reach the Castle Age quickly (as fast as after 14 minutes), thus being able to deploy their feared Battle Elephants in overwhelming numbers which were able to outrun foot archers and supported by a growing food source of their farmers, giving their team a huge advantage and being considered overpowered in team games. However, their Battle Elephants are still a strong unit to raid and fight in prolonged melee fights and can still outrun foot archers, but now they need to research Husbandry to do that.


The Khmer work best in the pocket position, with their farming bonus, ability to quickly advance through the ages, and strong variety of units. The Khmer work well providing either melee or ranged support, though they prefer an ally with mobile options and a reliable anti-siege unit. Their team bonus only helps out an ally with good Scorpions but is useful for those who do.

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  • Chinese AoE2 Chinese: The Chinese will love the Khmer extra range for their Heavy Scorpions, noting that the Chinese main weaknesses for their Heavy Scorpions is the lack of Siege Engineers, and fully upgraded Chinese Heavy Scorpions with the Rocketry technology will make the Chinese Heavy Scorpions more threatening. If the Khmer wish to utilize their fast and tough bruiser - their Battle Elephants, the Huns are also a great ally.
  • Slavs AoE2 Slavs: The Slavs' giving military buildings extra population have great synergy with the Khmer's quirk of garrisoning villagers inside houses, thus allowing forward bases of military buildings and Houses at the same time, that can potentially be built close to enemy bases in order to harass and exploit nearby resources. Slavs will, in return, have greater use for their cheaper Scorpions and can somewhat better counter the Monks that can convert their Boyars.
  • Teutons AoE2 Teutons: The Teutons' conversion resistance and their strong monks and offset the Khmer's weak Monk line and Battle Elephant vulnerability to conversion, while Ironclad-boosted Scorpions with + 1 range can better cover their vulnerabilities against Ranged Cavalry, such as Conquistadors, who wear down Teutonic Knights and Paladins.

Compared advantages and disadvantages[]

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Advantages vs other civilizations[]

  • The Ballista Elephant is a hybrid between cavalry and siege unit that can fire 2 bolts after Double Crossbow is researched. With the bulkiness of an elephant, it counters arrow fire quite well, so civilizations reliant on archers may have a hard time against them, especially if massed. This also applies against massed infantry, especially against civilizations with poor infantry. Being a siege unit that can cut down trees and deal damage to buildings, the Khmer can gain an edge against defensive civilizations that favor turtling strategies if properly supported.
  • Being a civilization with good mid and late game and able to boom their economy, they can defeat civilizations that fare otherwise in closed maps like Black Forest (regular or bad late game, regular mid game, but good early game), especially if starting at Castle Age onwards.
  • As they can skip some buildings to perform certain strategies, they are able to raid effectively with cavalry in the Feudal and Castle Age, or go for an archer rush, so civilizations with mediocre early or mid-games will have trouble against Khmer.
  • Thanks to their faster Battle Elephants with better attack through Tusk Swords, the Khmer are one of the few civilizations that can perform a Battle Elephant rush. This makes the Khmer incredibly threatening in the early Castle Age. The Battle Elephant, just by itself, is incredibly threatening in the early Castle Age, especially for unprepared opponents with weak early game. As they deal trample damage, they can counter masses of non-pike infantry. Thanks to their increased speed, they can catch foot archers, so civilizations with heavy use of archers will have problems when facing Khmer Battle Elephants, especially when they come in groups. Their high HP and attack makes them a good choice against civilizations with prominent melee cavalry (such as Franks, Byzantines and Magyars).
  • Having a fairly open tech tree, unorthodox main units and the ability to ignore certain build orders, they can effectively counter civilizations that are more limited in that regard.
  • Regarding naval warfare, their ability to skip creating buildings may enable them to perform early Galley raids, so they are at advantage against civilizations that have poor early game navy.
  • Defensively, they have an advantage against civilizations that may rely on raiding Villagers to get an edge, since their villagers can garrison inside houses, giving them a better chance to survive an early rush.
  • Their Scorpions are a great asset against masses of infantry or archers or even against other siege units (with some exceptions; see in disadvantages). Civilizations reliant on masses of infantry or masses of archers may have trouble against the Khmer Scorpions.
  • Although they have one of the weakest Monastery technology trees, the Khmer at least have access to Redemption and Sanctity, making the Monk rush still a potential way in the Castle Age.

Disadvantages vs other civilizations[]

  • Despite the tankiness and damage output, their Ballista Elephants have several drawbacks, as they fall in 4 armor class categories. They are very vulnerable to Pikemen, Camels, and Incan Kamayuks. As it is counted as a siege unit, Rams can oddly be a counter to them. Fast Eagle Warriors are especially threatening to them. They have low conversion resistance as well, as Khmer can't research Heresy (or Faith in the HD Edition), so civilizations with good monks can convert them with ease. Being slow, they are vulnerable against cavalry units, so civilizations with a strong knight line can be a serious threat to them.
  • Most of the same drawbacks the Ballista Elephants have can be applied to their 2 other core units as well (Scorpions and Battle Elephants).
  • Regarding their Scorpions, they are very vulnerable to cavalry and farther-ranged siege units like the Bombard Cannon.
  • Despite their versatility early in the game and even in the mid game, later on they are more limited in their options, especially in the Imperial Age.
  • The Khmer can go for a Monk rush in the Castle Age, but in the Imperial Age, the lack of Block Printing is a severe problem. Also, the Khmer Monk is extremely vulnerable to conversion, as they lack both Atonement and Heresy (in the HD Edition, this is even worse, since they also lack Faith).
  • Regarding naval warfare, their advantage is short-lived, and civilizations with a strong navy can defeat them with ease later on.

Situational advantages[]

  • Khmer skipping building bonus may give them an edge in nomad maps, since they just need a location with wood to place their Town Center, since they can spent the rest of the wood on Farms and Houses without needing to create a Mill, so they don't have to worry about finding a location with bushes, fish, deer or boars, making the selection of the location for their initial Town Center just a matter of preference (still finding gold and stone will be needed furtherly).
  • In maps like Socotra, where players start with some Houses, but not walls, Khmer have an early defensive edge, since they can garrison their Villagers inside those Houses in an emergency.
  • Their Ballista Elephant gives the Khmer a very distinctive advantage in densely forested maps (like Black Forest), as these are the only siege units in the Castle Age that can open a path through the forest, enabling them to make surprise incursions into the enemy town much earlier than any of their counterparts. Their House bonus is also a great asset in Black Forest, since those can be used sometimes as wall replacement, but in the Khmer's case, it may be used as a replacement for a gate exclusively used by Villagers. Being a civilization where most of their bonuses shine in the Castle and Imperial Age, they can wall up in these kinds of maps, then boom and attack. The same logic applies in maps like Fortress and Arena.
  • Having access to Hand Cannoneers and Bombard Cannons as well as Battle Elephants, good Scorpions, and an unorthodox unique unit, they are well suited for Post-Imperial Matches.
  • As they can age up without needing to create buildings, in Death Match mode, they can take that as an advantage, since they can start the game advancing to the next ages until reaching Imperial Age, while their 3 initial villagers create Houses and military buildings (and Town Centers once reaching Castle Age). Similarly, in high resource settings in random map games, they can skip Dark Age and Feudal Age (this last if starting in the Feudal Age). This ability is also very helpful in "Wonder Race" mode.
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