It’s “History throughout the Ages” time again! AoE players Michael Smith and naeyedea both showed interest in the Chu Ko Nu, and since your opinion is important to us, we are writing about exactly this weapon and unit this week.

The Chu Ko Nu is a Chinese unit armed with the weapon that it received its name from in AoE II and AoE III: The Asian Dynasties. In AoE II, it is available in the Castle Age, has a quick fire rate, but low health and limited range. In AoE III, they are available in the Colonial Age and can either be trained from the War Academy or received as a Home City shipment. It has a large damage multiplier, but it is very weak.

For more information on the unit in the series, check out ZeroEmpires’ video below.

In his book “A History of Weapons: Crossbows, Caltrops, Catapults & Lots of Other Things that Can Seriously Mess You Up” John O’Bryan writes that Chinese battle strategist Zhung Liang invented the chu ko nu (also spelled chu-ko-nu), the world’s first repeating crossbow, in 200 CE (84). Not having to draw new bolts and load them into the crossbow was revolutionary, as the process of setting up for another crossbow shot made crossbowmen very vulnerable and without a means of defense. The fire rate could be as high as one shot every two seconds, leading to a steady rain of shots. Although these shots were oftentimes not strong enough to damage armor and not very precise, their psychological effect was significant. According to Bryan, the chu ko nu was great for city defense or scattering the enemy.

"Chinese Siege Warfare: Mechanical Artillery & Siege Weapons of Antiquity" by Liang Jieming, CC-BY
“Chinese Siege Warfare: Mechanical Artillery & Siege Weapons of Antiquity” by Liang Jieming, CC-BY

How did the chu ko nu work? Richard Kinseher states in his German-language book “Der Bogen in Kultur, Musik und Medizin, als Werkzeug und Waffe” that the chu ko nu had a cartridge that could hold up to 12 stacked bolts (118). Above the base of the magazine was a track with a notch for the sinew. A crank was connected to the magazine, so that the sinew could be pushed forward and into the notch. Pushing the sinew out of the notch caused the bolt to be shot (118 – 119). Kinseher writes that the most effective distance was 75 m (246 feet) but that bolts could be shot as far as 200 m (656 feet). He also writes that a lot of bolts were covered in poison, making even minor injuries fatal (119).
The video below by YouTube user Rolyat-UW gives you an idea of what a chu ko nu looked like in action.

 

Do you like to use the Chu Ko Nu? Any strategy tips?

 

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Sources:

Age of Empires Wiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://ageofempires.wikia.com/wiki/>.

Kinseher, Richard. Der Bogen in Kultur, Musik und Medizin, als Werkzeug und Waffe. N.p.: BoD – Books on Demand, 2003. 118-19. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.

O’Bryan, John. A History of Weapons: Crossbows, Caltrops, Catapults & Lots of Other Things that Can Seriously Mess You Up. N.p.: Chronicle Books, 2013. 84. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.

“Repeating crossbow.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 6 September 2015. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chu_Ko_Nu>.

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