War Elephant

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War elephants were used in various parts of the world and are especially effective against cavalry. These elephants are the smaller forest elephants; the African savannah elephant, larger than the African forest elephant or the Asian elephant, proved too difficult to tame for war purposes and was never widely used. The first species to be tamed was the Asian Elephant, initially used for agricultural work.


The earliest known military application of elephants dates from around 1100BC in Vedic India, which is mentioned in several Vedic hymns from this era. Nevertheless, Mesopotamia and Shang China may have primitively used elephants for military purposes around the same time.

However, unlike those of India, Mesopotamia's and China's elephant populations declined dramatically because of deforestation and overpopulation; by 850BC the Mesopotamian elephants were extinct, and by 500BC the Chinese elephants were seriously reduced in numbers and limited to areas south of the Yellow River.

Elephants used by humans have typically been female, war elephants being an exception, however: as female elephants in battle will run from a male, only males can be used in war. It is generally more economical to capture wild young elephants and tame them than breeding them in captivity.

Those of Sri Lanka/Ceylon were reputed by Pliny the Elder to be the fiercest, and the main use spread from India to Persia and the Middle East. However, numbers were limited, and as the majority of war elephants were captured in the wild, tamed, trained and exported their numbers should be limited and if subject to over-exploitation, extinction. Charlemagne had one elephant that he took to war to fight the Danes, but it is the only example in later European history.


  • Prior to 800BC:
    • China
    • North Africa
    • Middle East
    • India
    • South East Asia
  • Prior to 500BC:
    • China
    • North Africa
    • India
    • South East Asia
  • Prior to 1AD:
    • North Africa
    • India
    • South East Asia
  • Post 1AD:
    • India
    • South East Asia

Elephants can be found in some Cultivated, Wilderness and Jungle areas in these Geozones. Note that the GM will define which regions may contain elephants as their numbers will be restricted by the size of the local human population.

Asian Elephants in 1000AD

The following regions are likely to provide access to some war elephants in 1000AD. Those regions marked in bold are especially rich in war elephants. As always, a GM will designate where elephants are available in their campaign.

  • Aceh
  • Anhivarta
  • Arakan
  • Assam
  • Avanti
  • Belur
  • Champa
  • Chela
  • Cochin
  • Dahala
  • Dai Vet
  • Gangas
  • Hmong
  • Jihjhoti
  • Johor
  • Kakatiya
  • Karnata
  • Kayah
  • Kedah
  • Khemer
  • Kosala
  • Lampang
  • Laos
  • Malabar
  • Mison
  • Mon
  • Nakhon
  • Nam Pung
  • Nasik
  • Pawar
  • Pegu
  • Perak
  • Phan Rang
  • Preikuk
  • Pundra
  • Sagaing
  • Samatata
  • Satava
  • Seylan
  • Siam
  • Sri Lanka
  • Surashta
  • Surin
  • Thaton
  • Wuliang


Enemy cavalry unused to elephants cannot attack and must flee if charged. A solid line of war elephants will hold off enemy cavalry indefinitely.

Generally, only cavalry native to locations where elephants are captured and tamed are used to elephants.

Elephants are also useful in sieges, where archers in an armored howdah are useful, and gates may well give way to several pushing pachyderms.


  • Elephants can only be employed in Intensely Cultivated, Cultivated, Wilderness, and Jungle regions.
    • In Wilderness regions Elephant movement is halved due to the lack of fodder.
  • They cannot be used in Steppe, Mountain, Desert, or Tundra regions, or at an Island or Oasis.
  • Elephants will suffer attrition of at least 50% when crossing Large Mountain (type-2) borders and will suffer attrition on the order of 25% when crossing Small Mountain (type-1) borders, regardless of roads.
  • Elephants cannot travel along Desert Caravan Routes due to the lack of water.
  • They require boats to cross Navigable rivers and Ferry Points.
  • When carried by ship more than four sea zones, Elephants cost double their normal cargo points due to the amount of fodder required.
  • Elephants can adapt to cooler climates than their native environment but in cold climates their AP is reduced so that they cannot move from the beginning of November to the end of March. This applies in Europe north of the Alps, north of the Black and Caspian Seas and north of the Himalayas across to Manchuria; in the Americas north of the Great Lakes and south of the Pampas.

Unit Construction Chart

Unit Name Code GPc NFPc Indust C AP Cargo Support Combat Siege Build At…
Elephants EL 5.0 1 1 8 4 0.5 1.5 0.5 Hm,Fc
Elephant Archers ELM 6.0 1 1 8 4 0.5 1.5 1.0 Hm,Fc
Prerequisite - TL 9
Elephant Artillery ELG 8.0 1 2 7 5 0.6 2.0 2.0 Fc
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