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This article is about the unit in Age of Empires II. For the armor class, see Armor class: War elephant. For the unit in other games of the series, see War Elephant.

Persian unique unit. Slow, powerful, strong, and well-armored cavalry.
Age of Empires II description

The War Elephant is the unique unit of the Persians in Age of Empires II. It is a slow yet very powerful and resilient cavalry unit with an attack bonus against buildings. War Elephants deal trample damage.

War Elephants can be upgraded to Elite War Elephants in the Imperial Age.


Although War Elephants are tough and durable, they move slowly and are vulnerable to units that deal damage at long range as a result. As cavalry units, they are vulnerable to enemy Pikemen, though it will take a larger group to take them down. Their slow speed also makes them vulnerable to Cavalry Archers, though it will take a while for the archers to kill them due to their high health and decent pierce armor. Mamelukes, with their high speed and anti-cavalry bonus, are an effective method of fighting War Elephants.

Because they are big, move slowly and only have melee attack, siege weapons can be effective. Scorpions particularly do +6 (+8 for Heavy) bonus damage to War Elephants. Mangonels are effective against them, because the massive Elephants can hardly dodge the projectiles. They can be easily converted by enemy Monks, especially as the Persians do not have access to Heresy, so they should always be deployed with a ranged or a Light Cavalry escort. Kamayuks will also trade cost-effectively with War Elephants. Further, Flaming Camels deal bonus damage for a total of 200 damage (before armor and blast distance are taken into account) against Elephant units, and are thus extremely lethal against packed groups of War Elephants.

However, if the specific units required to counter them are dealt with, War Elephants are virtually unbeatable. This, coupled with their high durability, makes them excellent for pitched battles. It also aids them in knocking down buildings and defenses which they are virtually immune to.

Further statistics[]

As War Elephants are unique to the Persians, only technologies that are available to them are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Buildings, melee units
Weak vs. Pikemen, Kamayuks, Genoese Crossbowmen, Mamelukes, Camel Riders, Cavalry Archers, Monks, Mangonels, Scorpions, Flaming Camels
Hit points BloodlinesDE.png Bloodlines (+20)
Attack Forging aoe2de.png Forging (+1)
IronCastingDE.png Iron Casting (+1)
BlastFurnaceDE.png Blast Furnace (+2)
Armor ScaleBardingArmorDE.png Scale Barding Armor (+1/+1)
ChainBardingDE.png Chain Barding Armor (+1/+1)
PlateBardingArmorDE.png Plate Barding Armor (+1/+2)
Speed HusbandryDE.png Husbandry (+10%)
Unique-tech-imperial.jpg Mahouts (+30%)
Conversion defense FaithDE.png Faith
Creation speed ConscriptionDE.png Conscription (+33%)
Upgrades Elite-unique-research.jpg Elite War Elephant

Team bonuses[]


The Age of Kings[]

The Conquerors[]

Rise of the Rajas[]

  • Both non-Elite and Elite War Elephants now deal trample damage.

Lords of the West[]


  • With 620, Elite War Elephants by far have the highest HP of all units.
  • With 24, Elite War Elephants have the strongest attack of all units outside of the siege and gunpowder section.
  • This version of the War Elephant is the only one which does not have a rider in the entire series.
  • The Persian Empire did not use war elephants at the time of the Saladin and Barbarossa campaigns. However, it is true that the Khwarezmian army deployed war elephants against the Mongols when they invaded Samarkand; the Mongols defeated them using catapults.
    • Historically, war elephants were used mostly by the Sassanid Persians but their use died in the region with the Muslim conquest. Usage was nearly inexistent outside of India and southeast Asia, and only a few Persianates during the middle ages (such as Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khwarezmians and Timurids) used them in very specific cases, such as the Battle of Ankara.
  • Despite the manual's claim that the Persians "got their elephants from India", the unit itself appears to depict an African elephant, as indicated by the large ears. African elephants have larger ears than Indian elephants. This is most likely an oversight by the developers or because African elephants are more recognizable to most American gamers than Asian elephants.
    • In the mod version preceding Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten, the sprite for the Indians's own Elephant Archer is modified from the Persian War Elephant, but it gets a unique sprite (based on an Asian elephant) from the HD version.
    • African war elephants would be more appropriate for Ethiopians; indeed, Axumite general Abraha's army included hundreds of war elephants.
    • Although African elephants (which War Elephants are based on) are larger than Asian elephants, the Asian elephant-based units (Battle Elephant and Ballista Elephant) are roughly the same size as War Elephants.
  • As can be seen in this video, War Elephants have a strange ability to randomly dodge arrows that same-sized units do not have (similar to the dodge chance of the Knight).
  • The Elite War Elephant upgrade is the most expensive upgrade in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. This hasn't changed since the original release of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings.
  • The War Elephant might be the most effective unit in terms of population space, as the unit is individually stronger than any other unit in the game, which is really important in very late games (especially team games), where most players are at a population of more than 100 Villagers, which leaves the space for counter units much more limited. To defeat the Elite War Elephant, it is necessary to greatly outnumber it (fully upgraded Elite War Elephants can slay Halberdiers in three hits).
    • Such effectiveness of the unit is a possible reason of why it is, probably, the hardest unit to balance in the game, as most players say the unit is too expensive and too slow to mass, so most people prefer to use the more mobile and cheaper, still effective, Persian Paladin, however, the impressive stats for the War Elephant are still appreciated in team games on closed maps, as War Elephants are much stronger than Paladins and can quickly take down buildings, while also taking a lot of ranged attacks. This kind of problem is also seen in the similar unit, the Battle Elephant, which, despite being much weaker than the War Elephant, doesn't require a Castle to be massed, and trains faster, plus the Elite upgrade being cheaper.


The last civilization in the Middle East to employ war elephants was Persia, who got their elephants from India. The war elephant was a powerful complement to an army, especially against troops with no experience against them. They were very difficult to kill, but remained difficult to control also. If they could be directed into an enemy formation, the enemy troops almost always fell back in disarray.




ELITE WAR ELEPHANT vs EVERY UNIQUE UNIT (Lords of the West) - AoE II- Definitive Edition