Tips and Tricks
If you’re fighting 8-12 tiles from your nearest city and your assault starts to founder, then you’re in big trouble unless you have more units ALREADY partway there….not buying them now and starting them walking (4 turns minimum plues waiting until next turn to move), and CERTAINLY not starting normal production after you’re already in trouble. If you start a war (or someone starts one with you), be making MORE troops throughout the entire war…unless you’re already guaranteed to steamroll them.
Focus on ranged
Kill enemy ranged units pronto. Make ranged units over melee units in significant ratios. Ranged units can fight without taking damage (and know how the movement rules work to get as many chances as possible to shoot without being able to be attacked back next turn…use rivers and forests and hills to your advantage). I regularly take cities by pelting them with 3-4 archers and moving in a single warrior for the actual occupation. Swordsmen are alright….lots of archers will do a lot more for you – and play into some of the other points here too.
Don’t attack walled cities with melee troops
Not until the walls are at like 20% or less. Soften them up with lots and lots of ranged attacks.
Back up injured units
Make sure you’ve positioned your units so that if they get low, they can get out of range within a single turn. retreating and healing is WAY more economical than losing the unit and making more…and keeps your army bigger and higher level. This is especially important against walled cities or garrisoned ranged units.
If things turn against you, back off and regroup
The AI is idiotic about pressing forwards. If they suddenly generate some units and your siege is in trouble, back off from the city and sure as can be, those units will chase you beyond the range of their city defenses for you to easily pick off, and then you can heal up and move back in on the city. Wall damage is the same, it sticks around, so any damage to walls will still be there when you regroup and hit the city again. You can also turn a defensive war into a conquest war this same way.
If you fend off their initial push with walls and ranged units, you can often march those same defensive units at the nearest city with minimal resistance. The AI doesn’t understand waves or reserve troops. It’s always “throw everything at them at once, and then trickle followup units afterwards 1 by 1, even if they’re dying right away”
The right hand side of the upgrade trees is generally better…
…for wars vs. Civs. for melee and ranged and siege units. obviously the increased combat vs. districts is self explanatory, but they’re on the second tier, so its tempting to start on the left side for what feels like a better bonus…and for barbarians, that often works fine.
Against Civs, those right side upgrades are really nice though. Your melee units generally don’t attack cities until the end, so ranged defense helps a bunch – even against units, your melee units are often holding the line while the range units soften up the targets. Your ranged units will defend from inside districts (city center or encampment) and can even sit inside enemy districts (campuses, holy sites, etc) for extra city-taking attack power. Siege weapons benefit from the defense upgrades just like melee units, making them last a turn or two longer getting pelted by walls before they need to retreat.
They are great for building up xp but a super obnoxious roadblock for taking cities. If you’re taking your time in your war – you have no trouble backing up units into friendly territory and quickly healing – then having some archers snipe away at an encampment, even if it fully heals every turn, is a great way to level those units up. But, if you want the city with minimal fuss, then take the city from the side the encampment isn’t on. Not only do you want the district intact if you’re keeping it, but encampments are slow to kill and deal out some moderate damage. Avoid them when you need to, use them when you want to.
Make sure your policies support HOW you’re going to make war. If you’re going to just be upgrading a bunch of old units that were sitting around, -50% upgrade cost policies are vital. If you’re going to fund your army with gold or faith, you need policies that flood you with that resource or discount your purchases. If you’re building your units turn by turn with production, then make sure you have one or two high production cities that can churn them out and have the policies to give +50% production. Swap your policies in and out as needed every time you get a civic unlock….plan ahead so that, for example, your builders are all churned out over the same few turns and you can have +30% production and +2 charges….then ditch those policies and put something else in (+50% production to churn out a bunch of archers, then when you unlock crossbowmen, swap that over to -50% upgrade cost as soon as you can).
Most importantly, you should RARELY be losing units vs. the AI, even at moderate difficulties. Yeah, sometimes sh*t happens and some horsemen comes outta nowhere and there goes an archer or two…but if you can see the units, you should be planning how to fight them without losing your own units (spread out the damage over multiple units, ranged attacks before they get to attack, retreating into your territory or waiting units). Your 4 archers and a warrior can beat their 4 archers, a city, and a swordsman if you can effectively bait them…running away where they push and moving in for shots where you can focus hits….and then hitting the city when the units are dead.
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