Delhi Sultanate War Elephant Critique

I know, I know there has been a trillion +1 Delhi threads and Elephant thread (and I’ve started my fair share of them…); but this thread is specific about the complete functionality of this particular unit. Most of these conclusions are drawn from my own experiences with the unit. Let’s get started.

This unit is a castle age Heavy Cavalry unit that can be trained at the Delhi stable for #### and 400g with a standard train time of 60s. The Castle Age statistic on this units are:

3 population
1400 HP
4 melee armor/ 2 range armor
20 spear attack, 1.25 tile range, 1.88s Attack Speed, + 40 bonus vs cavalry
30 tusk melee attack, 1.00 tile range, 2.88s Attack Speed
100 siege attack, 1.00 tile range, 5.88s Attack Speed
1.0 tile/s movement speed, + 0.31 tile/s charge speed
tusk dmg elevates to 80 melee dmg during charge attack, with a recast of 1.38s Attack Speed until the subsequent tusk attack.


  1. In a hand to hand combat 1 v 1, no other unit in game can beat it.
  2. When it comes to fighting against melee cavalry in a micro-less clash of units, no other anti cavalry unit is more efficient. One standard War Elephant can kill 5, YES 5 standard castle age knights/lancers; and I mean SIMULTANEOUSLY fighting 5 knights/lancers. (that’s 1k resources elephant vs 1.2k knight/lancer resources)
  3. High HP and decent armor makes this unit exceptional in forced SMALL skirmishes.


  1. It is the 2nd SLOWEST bio unit in the game at 1.0 tiles; which makes it exceptionally susceptible to being kited. Likewise for being so slow it means you can’t pick and choose your engagements nor retreat from engagements as you can with basically every other bio unit.
  2. It is a FAT target and prone to being focused down from range looooong before it can make serious impact, during sizeable engagements.

So the question becomes in what situations can we utilize this unit optimally AND given the Delhi roster, is it functionally optimal to use this unit AT all?

IMO, if you can force small fights; I’m talking a clash of 15 -20 enemy units or less; the War Elephant plus little support will hold its own vs any other combo of bio units with the only exception being 8+ spearman. Crossbows become a serious thread once the numbers get to 20 crossbows+, bc then the crossbows can kite the Elephant for 4 volleys which only takes 6.36s after the initial volley. 6-7s isn’t long enough to allow the elephant to be effective. So you need to put the War Elephant in a supportive composition of units to cover it’s weaknesses.

TOV Xbow mass + War Elephants + scholars is only weak to mangonels. Range mass will trade more efficiently vs other range masses and TOV xbow will delete spears and horse archers and of course War Elephants will eat melee cav.

So an ultimate Castle composition would be archer + crossbow mix mass as your shear dps, War Elephants as your support and meatshield / bodyblocker, springalds to counter mango’s and scholars for clean up duty…

The only problems with this composition are:

  1. This army is exceptionally SLOWWWWW; so basically good for big/decisive pushes.

  2. you can more CHEAPLY almost replace the War Elephants functionality with a spearmen mass… plus spearmen move faster therefore eaiser to maneuver also since the total spearman Hp is distributed over several units it means the enemy has more micro to do in order to snipe the spears as opposed to an easy elephant snipe.

And this is why the War Elephant are marginalized units bc they only fair well vs all melee cav compositions or in small skirmishes. But the moment the enemy mass getting a reasonable 30 40 units… those 2 or even 3 war elephants become weak points in your army.

One more idea on how you can semi make this unit effective in large fights without having to field 20 of them!! Make 1 or 2 elephants in a large large composition of knights. Say you make 12 knights and 1 war elephant instead of making 16 knights , while you have in the elephant scenario 3 less units; in a forced engagement that elephant being focus will soak more melee and or range dmg than 4 knights would therefore comparatively allowing the 12 knights in scenario 1 to dish out more DPS than the 16 that wouls instantly have 2 to 3 knights get sniped duringthe charge!!

If i could change only 1 tbing about this unit it woupd be its mobility!! One of the most effective stats in the game is being to get in and out of situations (sodenote: this is why the mangudai are cancer…) if we increase the War Elephant base movement speed to 1.38 tiles/s or as high as 1.62 tiles/s!!!‽ This beast wpuld be scary everytime you see it on the battlefield.

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I forgot to add another perk of ELEPHANTS in general EARLY in the castle phase is the ability to dump and excess of resources into unit making quickly!!

IN CASTLE AGE, for example if me and my enemy have an assortment of gold plus food that equals a total of 1000 resources. I can produce 1 of 2 units within 60s or less!!! out of a singular (non landmark mind you) production facility. Meanwhile only HRE burgrave and Mali famriba can match that production efficiency (both singular landmarks). A single archer range would take 176s to produce 1000~ ish res crossbows; you would need 3 range facilities to match the 1000 res/min production efficiency of no scholar Elephant production.

The design of Elephants are too cartoonish, following very simplistic view of what game design supposedly is. They are strong units, so in classic fashion, they should be slow. In a game like AoE4, speed matters a LOT–and although I don’t think they should be quick, they should not be this slow. It is far too detrimental for the War Elephant. Nerf other things, but make them usable.

The fact that they don’t properly trample either is flabbergasting. Hell, let them walk over smaller units even.

The fundamental problem is that they are no fun. Developers made them too mechanical and completely lost the appeal of using it. Ironically I love Elephants in every other RTS out there, but something is awfully fishy about using them in AoE4–and it is not just because they are unviable. They just feel bad to use unless you have a whole set up with clerics and everything.

Make their gimmick trample, make them quicker, reduce their cost by a lot but also cut their armour, health, damage. Make so the Elite upgrade makes a real difference, like giving them armour and health back.

The Camel Archer is a deadly deadly unit, but also a very janky one to use. It costs a lot so it is devastating to lose, but comes with great benefits like being efficient for its cost and very effective.

The War Elephant on the other hand is all of the Camel Archer’s bad traits. It is even jankier and harder to use, with almost four times as costly to lose. And for what it does–it isn’t even worth it. So it ends up being an unfun, hard to use, and just bad unit. Personally, I don’t care if it is bad, as buffing things is easy. My focus is more on making the unit fun and interesting, and I really hope they give it another look.


The elephant is a siege, that’s why it was just his nerf

It also has the advantage that it can effectively solve the problem of excessive damage output by the opponent’s range units.

Siege weapon? No,a spearman who eats ram and gets stuffed.

When resources are effectively infinite fully upgraded war elephants spam AS MEATSHIELDS and bodyblocker s are extremely population efficient.

So say delhi war elephants plus HC plus knights and springalds are slaming into anyone else except English and Ottoman ? The delhi frontline will hold that soak better than any other civ and combination of units. English trebs would splash everything to death safely behind a maa spearman wall with HC/lb dps, similarly ottoman jans and great bombards would delete that delhi heavy cav composition…

But that was part if my original argument. War elephants are good in forced engagement when the fight is SMALL and decent when you can afford 6 to 8 war elephants as meatshield for your knights/horsemen and hc/mangonels.

Scenario 1

Assume both sides have 90+ villagers population and both sides are extremely well situated in eco. And last assumption is a big major imperial fight is forced in the middle with no keeps or tower support. Besides english and ottoman and china… who could readily match:

8 war elephants (24pop)
3 mango (9 pop)
3 springs (9 pop)
40 HC
20 knights
102 population total

In an open field clash?? HRE, French, Rus, Abbasid*, Mali and Mongol would each melt vs Delhi in this scenario.

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I use to think elephants siege is bad but now looking at the numbers i think elephants siege is underrated.

At 100 raw siege (not torch dmg) per 5.88s, you get half a ram worth of siege dps that can attack walls and everything else and avoid the fire resistance that all other bio units are susceptible to!!

Yes, I know elephants do extra damage to buildings as well as walls, but I’d much rather build a ram with 8 spearmen.

Please briefly explain your perspective on the elephant in this scene.I think at this point, the efficiency of the elephant is negative.
I only need HC and springs to defeat delhi

The professionals abused the elephants healing them with scholars, it was fair, the nerf because previously all the siege was strongly nerfed

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Which scene? The latest scenario i suggested? I dont know if i can be brief lol but let’s see:

Most open field fights comprise of a melee frontline plus a range dps backline and support siege to deal splash and anti splash. Natural engagements therefore tends to be both army frontlines slam into each other and backline splashes the frontline enemy until dead then prevailing military plows thru the enemy’s remaining backline etc etc.

The Hp pool of the WAR ELEPHANTS is greater than that of 5 fully upgraded elite standard lancers!! (4.6 elite royal knights). In terms of eating melee dmg the W. Ele has 2 more armor than any standard heavy unit which makes it’s effective melee absorbing hp greater than any other normalize by cost.

Next point in the ultra ultra late Imperial game, what matters a lot is military population!! Having a unit that takes up 3 population but has more effective hp than 5 knights will prove functional if you mix a good number of them (say 8) solely for the purposes of soaking dmg meanwhile your knights get to play more of a dps role while the war elephants are alive AND the population space saved by the war elephant super soakers means you can field more backline dps (hc mango other range etc).

Final point: most civs melee frontlines are highly composed of cavalry…and what is it that war elephants eat for breakfast? Cavalry!!! WHICH means most army’s have to settle for an infantry based frontline…and infantry are MORE susceptible to??? SPLASH DMG !!! AND infantry is slower than cav (duh) so they’ll end up spending more time than cav running around trying to get some War Elephant surface to poke at meanwhile the War Elephant have 1-1.24 tile range on rheir melee attacks.

This concludes why i think the delhi composition mention above in that specific scenario will excel vs most civs.

No one would fight vs elephants with cavalry, they will just avoid the fight and go for your eco, same as they do vs spears…

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Great in theory, but you also know that the speed of an elephant is nothing compared to cavalry.
Killed by crossbowmen and HC before attacking.
If the mobility of the opponent’s troops is better than yours, the battle initiative will be in his hands.
Unless you can offset the disadvantages of speed in operation.
I found in actual combat that the elephant is very useful only when the opponent is fighting me head-on with only cavalry and siege engines.
But usually the enemy will kill my villagers and merchants with cavalry.
So the elephant is only suitable for the early attack of age III. At this time, the opponent does not have a large number of long-range units.
Late game military population does matter. But troop production speed and buildup speed are also important.
Elephants are not good at these things. The lack of troops on the front lines has caused the battle lines to push towards your base. You enter slow death.

if you have 50 HC with chemistry; that’s what it would take to 1 shot a 1680 hp 10/8 armor War Elephant (once it came inside 4 range). But in my made-up open field scenario I have 8 War Elephants with 20 knights? You’re not kiting 8 War Elephants AND 20 knights until they are shot to death? Had it just been the 8 War Elephants as my only cav then with extreme micro you could more-or-less kite the 8 to death running all the way back to base; but the knights mixed in will make the infinite kite impossible.

And the moment the enemy line of comprised of cavalry the elephants will eat. AND even if not even 1 war elephant lands an attack that would mean you would have absorbed 8 volleys of 50 HC worth of range dmg or the equivalent? with 8 units that took up 24 population space.

8 elephants cost 8000 resources, what if I have 80 HC?And what about the HC of the Rus, Malians?don’t even need cavalry

in the scenario I described I assume we had bout 100 pop for military space; if you spent 80 pop on HC that leaves 20 for spears/knights and siege/anti siege vs 20 knights + 8 War Ele + 40 HC + 3 mangos and 3 springs;

the mangonel splash alone would put that many range infantry on high alter; nevermind the excessive swarm of melee units sitting on top of your majority squishy range units??

late Mali is highly highly susceptible to large tanky melee holding the frontline while high range/siege dps delete the mali army!

6 springs or Culverin,just kill mangos in the scenario then will win.

You should watch the one guy Farm something that post the matchup videos and see range units without bodyblocker do NOT beat sizeable melee army much less a melee frontline supported by a HC/other range backline


But I think it helps suggests the point I’m getting at how range units melt without a frontline.