How do you counter War Elephants?

How do you counter massed Elephants? They’re the beefiest, strongest and tankiest units of them all, so where do we go from there?

Persian War Elephants in Age of Empires II

The most satisfying army to field and one of the most annoying ones to fight.


War Elephants & Battle Elephants

Let’s have a look at the stats of the Persian War Elephant.

War Elephant Icon in Age of Empires II

  • Persians SymbolHit Points: 620
  • Attack: 20+4
  • Armor: 1+3/3+4

Obviously, Persians are not the only ones to field Elephants! Burmese, Khmer, Malay and Vietnamese all have access to the Battle Elephant, a cheaper and weaker alternative to the Persian War Elephant that can be trained from the Stable. 

Elite Battle Elephant Icon in Age of Empires II

  • Hit Points: 320
  • Attack: 14+4
  • Armor: 1+3/3+4

Although they’re both different units, they can both be very hard to deal with, but luckily their weaknesses and counters are the same!



Halberdier Icon in Age of Empires IIHalberdier

The easiest counter to Elephants has to be the Halberdier. They deal a whopping 66 damage per hit. However, they’re quite weak themselves, so they die after only dealing 2 strikes. As long as you send your Halberdiers in groups to fight Elephants, you should be able to easily counter them. Their strength is definitely in numbers! The best part is that Halberdiers only cost a little wood and food. While Persian War Elephants cost a whopping 200 food, 75 gold.



Monk Icon in Age of Empires IIMonk

Throw your wololos in the air like you just don’t care. Monks are the single most effective unit against War Elephants. And most important, they’re available to all civilizations! Persians can react to this by researching “Faith”, which makes units 50% harder to convert. But they lack the Heresy upgrade, which makes units die in case they’re converted. In fact, out of all civilizations that have Elephants, Malay are the only ones that can research Heresy.

Special researches aside, Monks stay a very effective counter. Just make sure to combine them with Halberdiers, otherwise you can easily be countered by Hussars yourself.


Heavy Scorpion Icon in Age of Empires IIScorpion

This is probably the most surprising unit of the bunch, but these guys are a great counter to elephants as well. Once again, their power is in large groups. A Scorpion’s bolt passes through a lot of units. And it will inflict damage to every unit it passes. A single bolt does 18 damage against an elephant. But in a group of elephants it can quickly rise to 100 damage per bolt! Additionally, Scorpions absolutely need to be upgraded to Heavy Scorpion to be fully effective.

In case you’re facing Heavy Scorpions against your Elephants, you’ll absolutely want to use “Spread formation” to minimize the area damage of the Scorpion bolts. 


Heavy Camel Rider Icon in Age of Empires IIHeavy Camel Rider

Just like Halberdiers, camels are an easy to play counter. They don’t deal that much damage however, but still pack a punch at 25 damage per hit. Indians do a bit better with their Imperial Camel Riders at 27 per hit but also have more HP to throw in the scales. However, camels are not the best choice. They’re okay if you have nothing else available but all the aforementioned units perform better.



Mameluke Icon in Age of Empires IIMameluke

Saracens SymbolUnique to the Saracens, who already have superior Camels. Mamelukes are downright the best counter to Elephants! Mamelukes deal 22 damage per hit, but their strength lays once again in their masses. A group of 30 Mamelukes can take down an elephant in a single strike. But most importantly, they have a small range and can hit and run, enabling them to not take any damage while fighting a large group of Elephants.



Genoese Crossbowman Icon in Age of Empires IIGenoese Crossbowman

Italians SymbolThe Italians have the only “true” ranged anti-cavalry unit in the game. This gives them an edge over a lot of otherwise heavy units. At 17 damage per arrow, a group of 37 of these crossbowmen suffices to take down a War Elephant in a single shot.



Kamayuk Icon in Age of Empires IIKamayuk

Inca SymbolUnique to the Incas and infamous for being a mixture of a Halberdier and a Champion. Kamayuks deal decent damage against elephants (20) but their strength is at the tip of their spears. Their 1 range gives them the ability to surround an elephant without having to fear its trample damage. This is probably the only infantry unit that really benefits from spread formation for that matter!



Best counter army to War Elephants in Age of Empires II

No Elephant will survive an encounter with this army composition.

So, how do you counter Elephants? Between Halberdiers, Scorpions and Monks, all civilizations have plenty of options. The longer the game goes on, the harder it will become to counter Elephants, but these units are all very cost-effective counters to Elephants. If you’re afraid of enemy Elephants, you can also try attacking your opponent before he grows his empire so big that he can afford a massive army of them! Rushing is probably the best option against Elephants!