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A unit of 8 Arbalestiers

  • Slow but powerful shooters
  • Can shoot while engaged
  • Very well protected from enemy shooting

Arbalestiers are cost-efficient shooters who can do a decent job at peppering the enemy before the clash of the melee. While the unit has a notoriously slow rate of fire and lacks mobility, the protection granted by their large pavises make them very difficult to hit for enemy archers.

Special Rules

  • Reload: Crossbowmen need to Reload between each shot.
  • Pavises: Arbalestiers are almost immune to enemy shooting but moving is more tiring.
  • Generic: Basic Leadership of allied Heroes is increased by 50% toward this unit.


Story Notes

Historically, the crossbow has been defeated in the field time and time again by the superior English longbow. While both weapons had a similar accuracy, range and hitting power, the longbowmen could shoot as many as six arrows for every crossbow bolt the arbalestiers could fire.

But the story does not end there. Although a longbowman may have been more efficient on the battlefield, it took years of training to reach the level of proficiency needed for warfare. In comparison, an arbalestier could be trained in a matter of weeks. This was particularly useful in siege situations where rate of fire was not such an issue but the possibility of quickly training non-combatants was.

Arbalestiers were particularly prominent in French and Italian armies but there were controversies regarding their use. The crossbow was widely criticised by the Church and the feudal ruling class who saw in this new weapon a direct challenge to social order. It was, after all, inconceivable that a mere peasant wielding a coward’s weapon should be able to kill a noble knight who had a lifetime of training. Tensions between knights and arbalestiers were palpable and some records even tell of heavy cavalry running down their own crossbowmen.

This clash is even more true in Ex illis where, to a certain extent, the arbalestier is perceived as a symbol of modernism. Cities, where the old values are much less important and the fleaudians flourish, are more than willing to hire arbalestiers to defend their walls. And yet, many in the ruling class pressure the Church to see the weapon banned. Whether or not a formal papal bull would have an actual effect remains to be seen...

Gameplay Summary

Since the Arbalestiers need a full turn to reload between each shot, it is undeniable that Longbowmen are better shooters. However, the low cost of these warriors makes it much more difficult to assess which unit is better on a point-value basis.

Additionally, the crossbow is a slow but powerful weapon, capable of piercing most armours. Arbalestiers can take a turn to imbue their shots with Lightning to make them even deadlier. This is a particularly important decision to make during the first few turns of the game: should the Arbalestiers try to squeeze in two shots before combat, or should they opt for a single, well-aimed and imbued one? There is no easy answer to this question; the answer depends on a variety of tactical factors.

With their pavises, the Arbalestiers can withstand a lot of enemy fire should they find themselves stuck in a shooting match. Even with a slow fire rate, this added protection against arrows gives them a serious advantage in such situations. Additionally, shooting with a crossbow is not very tiring thanks to the claw on their belts, so the longer the shooting duel lasts, the brighter the Arbalestiers will shine. The same cannot be said for movement. Carrying a pavise around is quite tiring, and you should carefully consider whether moving the Arbalestiers is worth the added Fatigue and the ensuing toll on their Accuracy.

Finally, another benefit of the crossbow's point-and-shoot simplicity is the fact that most Arbalestiers are capable of shooting even if stuck in a melee. This is very handy since they are much deadlier with their ranged attack than with their melee weapons. The only drawback is that unless an Arbalestier is specifically trained for this, he does not have the nerves to reload in the middle of a melee, making this ability a one-time trick.


Stats Highlights
Not terribly accurate
Good Armour Piercing
Powerful shot at close range
Resistance to Lightning
Weakness to Earth

Main Article: Stats


(Move 300%)
(Shooting 0%)

Main melee weapon

Secondary melee weapon

Ranged Weapon


Mercenary 50%









Granted Skills
Point Blank - level 1 Jolt - level 1 Concentrate - level 1
Close combat shooting. No accuracy penalty when engaged. The unit charges their crossbows with electricity. Next shot deals additional Lightning damage. Range 1. Unengaged target. Concentrated shooting towards a specific enemy unit.
Combat Reload - level 5 Anticipate - level 10
Passive Skill. Can reload in close combat if assisted by a friendly unit. Range 1-2. The Arbalestiers shoot the next time an enemy enters the zone they check for one turn.
Mastery Skills
Veteran Reload - level 15 Obscuring - level 15 Crack Shot - level 15
Passive Skill. Can reload in close combat even if unassisted. Pavises count as cover in the unit's zone for one turn. Passive Skill. Halves chances of accidentally hitting friendly miniatures.
Final Skills
Quick Reload - level 30 Imbue Pavises - level 30 Snipe - level 30
Passive Skill. Reloading becomes a Swift Action -25%. Friendly units in the same zone are more resistant to all elements for one turn. Range 1. A shooting attack with much more chances of hitting enemy Heroes, but less chances of hitting other miniatures.

Arbalestiers' Skill Tree

Related Articles

Would you like to add a unit of Arbalestiers to your army? Get one from one of the following boxes:

The Ex illis Starter Kit

The Arbalestier assembly instructions