View Full Version : How to stop massive AI onslaughts?

Apr 10, 2006, 07:05 AM
I was playing a game as the indians on the 5th setting, continents and marathon speed. Had a good tech lead (artillery, steel) on my opponents. Was leading by 25% in points. Obliterated 1 civ and was destroying the romans who put up a hard fight (didn't want the early victory with axemen but through a tech lead). All of a sudden the Greek decided to turn on me and attack me full scale. I thought, let them come. My city is heavily defended by 2 machine guns, 2 riflemen, 1 grenadier and 2 longbowmen and 60% defense. Round 1 I kill about 6 canons and 10 cavalry. Round 2 I send reinforcements and kill another 3 canons and about 10 cavalry but my city is taken over (city defense still 60%). I check what the comp has and find out there are another 6 catapults, 4 canons and about 20 cavalry coming into my country. With most of my defenses taken out I quit the game there and then. So is there a way to stop this kamikaze canons strat or is this the way to go (was impressed by the ai actually using that strat)? I hoped my machineguns with first strike would be able to take out the canons before doing damage but it didn't work.

Only options I am seeing here is:
1. Upgrading all units in the city which I should have done but wouldn't have helped too much if you ask me against this onslaught
2. Getting mass artilery there and suicide with collateral damage back, but that takes time
3. Getting maybe a fort near the border to stop the first onslaught?
4. Going back a couple of turns and give some stuff to the greek to get on their good side?

So is the mass onslaught strategy the only way to go. At lower levels I never experienced this but against the romans I had a hard time to because they were suiciding dozens of catapults on my army. Do they all get these big armies at higher levels?

Yzen Danek
Apr 10, 2006, 07:30 AM
A good offense is often the best defense. Against massive attacking stacks of units, the most important defensive units in the game are seige weapons.

A suicide attack with 10 or so catapults/cannons of yours and that massive stack of doom would have been neutered.

Apr 10, 2006, 07:34 AM
Yeah I agree on that but with the suprise attack and the main part of my attack force on the other end of the island I got into trouble. I totally underestimated the power of siege weapons to be honest. And you can't build to many canons in 2 turns time. So siege is the only way to stop this?

Apr 10, 2006, 07:53 AM
i can see only 2 big options:
- artillery (or better : bombers) to bring down the SoDs
- railroads between your cities to bring riflemen reinforcements EVERY TURN. You can switch one very wounded one to one full health, to avoid leaving your other cities without defense.

One other idea is to send a pet against the attacker. Bribe an AI to attack him, so he'll send some troops for defending against it. When you see SoDs coming, it's usually too late for this.

Apr 10, 2006, 07:59 AM
Yeah the railroads I have. Should have thought about that, replenishing the riflemen etc... Can still try that. Bombers I don't have yet. Bringing the wounded to my other cities while moving the rest of my defensive force up to the city under siege is a good suggestion. Stupid me. Thx dude.

Apr 10, 2006, 08:07 AM
about the reinforcement thing : it's only good if the AI doesn't bring his whole stack at once.
Another method is to build an hospital in the target city.

Apr 10, 2006, 08:50 AM
The Ai has 3 big stacks in my game. Every stack consists of about 6 canons/catapults and 10 cavalry. And then has some more running around pillaging stuff. I have survived the first round and thought I would survive the next round but I guess I have to stuff more units in the city to share the collateral damage to. I think I can get about 8-10 more units so it should work. Hospital is not an option yet. Cavalry, artillery and riflemen is top notch at that moment.

Roland Johansen
Apr 10, 2006, 09:01 AM
These are your first posts so someone should say: Welcome to civfanatics! :band:

I had such a thing happen to me on my last immortal level, epic time-scale, huge continents map, only it happened with middle age units (knights, catapults). But the amount of units was similar. My city was also defended well and I also brought reinforcements, but to no avail. I even had 2 catapults in the neighbourhood that I used to suicide on the AI stacks of DOOM.
I was not actually at war but I had moved my main force to another border to prepare for a war. Those units were 5-8 turns away by road.

There are situations where you lose a city that can't be avoided (reloading is not an option in my opinion).

I didn't quit the game however. The AI lost about half it's attacking army in the successful attack on that city and had about 20-30 units left. Some were needed to control the city, others needed to be healed. In the time that was needed to advance on my next city, I moved new units to these cities and in a long battle managed to wipe out his attacking stack. Then, the tide of the war shifted and by the end of the war, I had recaptured the city and 5 more cities. I had to stop the war because of high war weariness.

I like the fact that the AI is capable of capturing a city. And I like it even more to kill every last unit that participated in that attack. :ar15:
Maybe you could have tried to keep the rest of your cities in a determined defence. In your description, the AI had also lost a rather large amount of units. Maybe, you could remove some defence from cities that weren't threatened to these threatened border cities. And of course, you should begin building new units, from the moment that he declared war.

Edit: one thing that I did that seriously helped was remove some defenders from the city that was about to fall. The city had survived 3 serious attacks and there was no way that it would survive the next attack. I left the 3 rather healthy defenders to defend the city and moved the seriously wounded units (some 6 or so) out to defend the next cities. The 3 healthy units are still remembered as heroes (they took out another 7 or 8 AI units). I had time to heal the wounded defenders in the next cities to await the AI's next advance.

Apr 10, 2006, 09:23 AM
That scenario happened to me. I chalked it up to stretching myself and my army too thin early on. I was originally attacked by Huayna with stacks of cannons and cavalry, and not only holding him off but making incursions into his lands as well. Nobody was gaining any ground. Luckily I was Catherine so my cossacks had a distinct advantage, since my army was quite a bit smaller than Huayna's.

Then Caesar chimed in. He quickly transported tons of cannon and cavalry and I got sandwiched. I did not last long after that.

It was one of my first games of Civ IV so I've since learned to build a much larger army instead of spending time building every single building I could in my cities.

Apr 10, 2006, 09:49 AM
Yeah, the old "Two phalanxes/spearmen can defend any city" calculation doesn't work anymore. The AI WILL wear you down. There've been some good suggestions so I won't bring those up.

One thing that happened in a recent game was that I had invaded (on another continent) one of Montezuma's cities (partially to draw him away from Hatshetsup who was one of my friendly civs and whom I'm grooming for later votes in the UN phase of the game -- don't want to see her eliminated).

Fortunately, the city was a coastal city, so once I captured and subdued it, I was able to upgrade my grenadiers to machineguns, who promptly dug in and waited for the inevitable counterattack. Well, sure enough, Monty came callin' and brought some knights, riflemen, and catapults with him. The catapults did a fair amount of damage, but I was able to -- for about three turns -- hold him off. By the end of the third turn, both machineguns were destroyed, and I was down to a few Redcoats on defense. They probably could've done ok, but I figured "Screw this." I'd already gotten Hatshetsup to make peace with Monty, and decided to do the same. So, now, fool that Monty is, I've got a city in his backyard which will soon be buying an airport for MASSIVE troop deployment when I hit the modern age with infantry while he's still using riflemen and knights.

The point? Diplomacy can often be an effective means of waging war. When Alex attacks and you defeat him after maybe one round or so, if you've bloodied his nose bad enough he may be willing to sue for peace. After Round 1, you could consider asking for peace. After round 2 (but before you click "end turn"), ask again. He might go for it. Buy him off, even. Give him a mess of gold. And then build up your troops and attack him first.

Alex is a notorious backstabber, too. He'll declare at ANY opportunity, if he's got the troops and senses you don't (and even sometimes when he DOESN'T have the troops). Keeping that in mind, your goal should be to eliminate or irrevocably cripple him so that he is no longer a threat.

Suing for peace may not work, especially early on. But sometimes you can get a peace treaty relatively quickly if you've taken out enough of his units.

Remember, you have to use ALL the tools at your disposal: diplomacy, money, science, military power, etc. All of it. Bribe him, sic a pet AI on him, beg for mercy, whatever. The goal is to get him to back off long enough for you to rearm and kick his philosophical ass. :)

Apr 10, 2006, 09:53 AM
good point from solo4114!
if you're not in shape to strike back, you should sue for peace asap.
Killing most of his first stack is a very good incentive.

Apr 10, 2006, 10:23 AM
I have the reverse situation. Washington is defending, and seems to have an endless stream of grenadiers with Garrison 2 coming up to replace those he already has in place: the new ones immediately fortify, while the older ones, already fortified, take the brunt of my attack while the new ones gain defence. So I'm bringing up a stack of 14 catapults, two with Barrage 3 and the rest with Barrage 2, which I shall hurl to their glorious dooms to whittle his men down to a more manageable strength before my own troops in successive waves swamp the city. I'll be getting cannon in a few turns, so losing catapults doesn't worry me.
Other strategies ? Split my forces and attack in more than one place ? Not attractive, because it would take too many moves for my catapults to crawl across enemy lands. Send an army round the back, by sea ? I'd love to, but I have only one coastal city and that is just a three-hammer fishing village, half a continent away. No ships. Bribe another civ to help ? That won't work either, as there are now only two others and they simply do not have comparable technology as well as being right across at the far side of my vast and ever-expanding empire. They've been left alone to be dealt with later, like cherries on a cake, and with a similar fate in waiting.

Apr 10, 2006, 10:49 AM
How about pillaging? Attack his ability to produce. All land improvements affect production capabilities -- if you take out his farms, his people begin to starve. If you take out his happy resources or health resources, he'll have other problems like war weariness and loss of income from trade. He may also be buying his armies with gold (if he has Universal Sufferage), so taking out his cottages and such will cripple his economy.

and of course, there's his mines, workshops (if any) and lumbermills (again, if any). Depending on how close your borders are, you could pull your catapults back to your territory, upgrade them when you get cannons (cannons with barrage 3? NICE!), and send them back in with reinforcements while your current army camps out in his back yard and basically lays seige to him to starve him out.

You can fortify your troops around his area in a big ol' stack, and eventually he'll get feisty enough to try to take them out -- by which point if they've been hanging out on a forrested hill for 5 turns or more, they'll be almost impossible to dislodge. If you've got some medic units in that stack, you'll be in excellent shape.

Apr 10, 2006, 10:54 AM
As soon as any civ declares war on me, I'm positioning units to get within one turn of my border cities. I'm also positioning units on hills/forests adjacent to my border cities. If I can figure out which city the AI desparately wants, I can reinforce that city significantly. If I'm on slavery, I whip reinforcements immediately. If have universal sufferage, I set science spending to zero, and hopefully buy reinforcements (but that takes longer if I have to wait a turn or two to get enough money to buy the reinforcements). The one thing I've learned on prince level is that once an AI declares war on you, immediately go to a wartime footing. Stop building that university or bank and start building military units.

Apr 10, 2006, 11:58 AM
Bring on the draft!!!! Nationhood assumed. Looks quite good for late game play as you probably have lots of happiness reosources and loss of one population is not huge. Bit confused how you let the AI mass up 40-50 units on your border with only 5 or so units to defend.

Apr 10, 2006, 01:02 PM
The AI in question was one of the warlike AIs (Greece). In my war with Monty, he had a TON of units, both in his cities and out and about in the countryside. Made it tough for my cavalry units to get anywhere (in fact, they usually died).

Apr 10, 2006, 01:54 PM
This reminds me of the relevance of some Sun Tzu:

“The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.”

I.e. especially with a psycho like Alex, don't depend on him not attacking, be ready to f**k him up if he does. Might mean waiting a few turns before your Roman war (you can rush at LOT of units via choppping/pop rushing/U.S. in just 4-5 turns), but better than losing cities.

Railroads are a huge advantage in defense in my experience, since you can easily move most of your defenders to 1-2 main cities.

Apr 11, 2006, 02:13 AM
Thx for all the advice guys. The great problem is that I am trapped between 3 military factions and Shang Qui who declares war from time to time on me to (Julius, Genghis and Alexander are on the same continent) so it is actually a hard game. Even Elisabeth has declared war on me (propably asked by Julius). I just love the fact that the AI can do this. Diplomacy is not an option. I tried it but didn't get an answer from them.

Problem with these militaric factions is that they have tons and I do mean tons of units. I was invading Julius with about 20 cavalry, 15 riflemen and about 8 canons. I think he suicided over 10 catapults, 10 elephants, 10 knights and 10 macemen on my troops and still had 6 units left in his city to defend. When I captured 3 of his cities all I had left was 3 riflemen in each city. The rest was gone (including reinforcements).

You guys have given some great advice. I am going to try to play on this evening and will see how it goes when I am convincing Shang qui to work for me (he is my buffer between Alex and me). If he can close his borders on Alex then Alex won't be able to backstab me.

But the army on my main land was already over 30 units and more were coming. My cities just had about 3 defenders each left. It would be a matter of time before my next two cities would be conquered (including my capitol).

Apr 11, 2006, 10:23 AM
I play as Alex, and now that you mention it I kinda sympathise with my AI neighbours who must be experiencing the same psychoness I would from the AI Alex. Saladin got half his empire burned down w/o provocation in my current game. Never thought I'd grow to love Agg/Phi, what with Financial so fashionable.

Apr 11, 2006, 02:12 PM
Just sounds like a rough game - not sure what I'd do if 3 AIs ganged up on me. Probably die.

Apr 11, 2006, 02:45 PM
The AI does tend to build up a TON of units, although a lot of them can be technologically outdated. A lot of this -- I suspect -- is due to tech trading among the AI. All you need is, for example, Mansa Musa as an enemy and suddenly even backwater nations will have good technology, at which point they just crank 'em out.

I suppose all you can do in a situation like that is either pray for a buffer civ between you and the psycho AI (which didn't happen here), or kill 'em off early, before they can solidify their power.

If you like the game and haven't started a new one, you can always try restarting at 4000BC and see if a different strategy would work better. I'd bet an earlier war with the psycho AI would help a lot, if only to keep them off balance. Might keep 'em wasting settlers too, if you do it early enough. That keeps his population low while yours is (hopefully) growing. The tough part is that Genghis, Alex, and Monty all have early UUs probably to defend against this very strategy.

Of the three -- at least in my experience -- Genghis seems the least susceptible to flipping out and trying to kill you at random. If you bribe the hell out of him early on, he might make a good attack dog.

Apr 12, 2006, 08:15 AM
Yeah the diplomacy trade is the best route to go with the extra defenses I have to bring in. Didn't have time yet to try it out. Propably not sooner as tomorrow. But hell, any game that gives me a good fight for the money is a good one. As I said I love the fact that the AI actually outsmarts me.

Apr 12, 2006, 11:59 AM
Also you havent seen SODs until you've had Napoleon allowed into modern times.

Apr 12, 2006, 04:59 PM
It's important to make sure all the other civs have a big bloody war every so often to ensure someone doesn't end up with an army that can crush your remaining troops after you have a tough war. The AI smells weakness.

A little tech bribe here and there is a nice way to keep the rivers running red. I generally bribe the underdogs with key military techs to sic them on my competition. If the underdog is starting to get really pummelled, either gift them some defensive troops or bribe them to sue for peace.

If you keep the AI civs at each others' throat, it's much easier to maintain a tech lead and avoid being anyone's worst enemy.

Apr 12, 2006, 10:08 PM
The key is to get the AIs to waste those stacks against each other. Then when they're embroiled in conflict, you step in with your own stacks and seize what you please. (Easier said, I know...)

Apr 13, 2006, 12:24 AM
Theres been some great advice above that very much holds true when I'm waging a war. You've been unlucky with your geographical positioning, usually I take out the warlike civs around me early on to avoid getting a pummelling later on. Kill em before they kill you. Do so and your region should become an epitome of tranquility by the time you enter the mid-game.

Apr 13, 2006, 03:30 AM
You are right about that Ceritoglu. I would do that normally also but this time I had 2 peace keeping cultures between them which I had to take out first. I took out my left side first. I realize now that the left side wasn't really peacekeeping with Huanya Capac. But he had only had a few cities. Rome was more of a threat but I realize now that I really had a bad start on my island. Huanya, Alex, Julius and Genghis on the same continent with only Qin Shi Huang as a normal advisary.

Went back 100 years and start to develop different tactics like making more canons to destroy the romans faster. Making more riflemen instead of cavalry because they are defensive stronger. Researching assembly line to get to infantry instead of biology and artillery. And changing diplomacies. I want Qin Shi on my side badly so he acts as a buffer (no more open borders with Alex).

Thx for the advices guys.

Apr 14, 2006, 09:01 PM
In my current game as the Germans, the Japanese declared war one me once and sent two SoD's full of war elephants and horse archers to my easternmost city which was lightly defended. I rushed in musketmen and knights from my nearest cities to shore up the defences, and the SoD's actually changed direction and headed to the second best city in my empire, which was a hub for trade and research. I only had a couple of musketmen in the city, and the Japanese units arrived before I could reinforce the city enough. The city fell, which was a major blow.

I set all of my cities on musketmen and knights and had to desperately hold on to a couple of other cities. Eventually I wore down their stacks (After having half of my empire completely pillaged) and counterattacked to destroy the stragglers. I retook the city they took (Which dropped from size 12 to size 2 and basically restarted at square one) and assaulted and took Kagoshima, then sued for peace. In short, my tactic was attrition which worked faster than I expected. Once their primary units were destroyed, I could counterattack at will and win most of the time.

The worst game I had for war and SoD's was in Civ III in a game as the English. I was on a continent with 7 other civs, and at once point I was at war with no less than 4 of them. I had fought every other civ on the continent in at least one war, and none of them were of my instigation. At one point the Russians declared war on me and sent the biggest SoD of obsolete units I've ever seen through Mongol territory to hit me (mostly longbowmen, musketmen, and cavalry). I fortified as many cannons and riflemen in the towns on the front as I could, and managed to hold.

In another civ III game as the Greeks, the Celts had run away in total size by taking over fully two continents to themselves... and these were not small continents. They controlled probably 1/3 of the total land area. I had bad luck and had no oil in my lands, so I found an oil deposit in the far north of their continent in the tundra in a place their borders hadn't reached. I loaded up a galleon with a settler and sent him the 30+ turns to reach it and founded a city. When I discovered flight, I immediately rush built an airport there, knowing I would likely be at war with the Celts eventually. And eventually they did jump in a war against me. I was airlifting in 10+ infantry EVERY turn just to hold the city against 20-30 cavalry attacks EACH turn, and losing most of the infantry. It was unreal, and this just kept going for at least 10 turns.

Eventually I managed to get a peace treaty, but late in the game as I was fighting the Hittites to try to prevent them from building the spaceship faster than me, the Celts jumped in the war against me, and despite my best efforts, the two oil towns I had were just overwhelmed and razed, leaving me totally without oil. Needless to say I lost that game.

SoD's are frustrating and dealing with them is hard to say the least. In Civ IV, using attrition in cities to hold them a few turns while using artillery counterattacks with collateral damage seems to be the best tactic. Sorry for the long anecdotes, but I thought they were interesting. :crazyeye:

Apr 18, 2006, 06:42 AM
Well guys, thx for all the advice. The best thing I did was going back a 100 years and set to full war production so I would get big enough to withstand all attacks. I researched assembly line as soon as possible to get infantry. Try to keep peace with Shang Chi and focussed on the romans as fast as possible. After about 100 years of hard fighting I had taken over the romans. Kept bribing Alex and Qin Shi from while to while to keep them happy.

In the meanwhile I was building up my empire very quickly. Took out the romans and then quickly turned to all normal political setting to produce growth. Then after 40 years of peace they backstabbed me again, but I was more prepared. All cities covered by infantry and machineguns. Although I lost 1 town and my land was badly razed/pillaged I managed to get rid of all the invading forces and the push onwards to the backstabbers. China was gone in about 40 turns and now the greek are following having modern armors knocking on their towns. Mwuhahahaha. Still my score is just 6000 although I have more then 60% of all the land. Well I have another 89 turns to go before the game ends. My capital has already reached legendary culture but no win yet.

Apr 18, 2006, 10:11 AM
When I want war, I declare war and wait about 10 turns for the bulk of the enemy's army to show up, always in the most obvious place, and after that stack is destroyed I move in for the kill, usually bypassing the easy cities for the major city with the wonders, or the religius capital. Diversify your army and be ready to chase random mounted units as they make to pillage your borders. If you can hold off pillaging, then you're golden.

If I don't want war, I typically give in to any extortion, unless unreasonable, and know that giving in/not giving in is nothing but a matter of how much time I've bought myself to build/upgrade units to discourage a war. So of course I start building an slightly better army.

If war comes anyway, I nip it in the bud by going to slavery (and Nationalism/Univeral Sufferage if possible/necessary) and maybe even Theocracy, in order to quickly and massively militarize. Almost all cities go to building/rushing units.

When I've weathered the storm and I'm ready for peace, I usually take a city or two, even just to destroy it, in order to convince the AI to hesitate before they pull this stunt again. Some leaders will war and war and war no matter what, especially if they've done it once.

Apr 18, 2006, 12:25 PM
I will also add that the biggest mistake you can make that will make you vulnerable to an attack is not researching military techs. You need to know at all times what unit a draft will get you, as Macemen are very different from Musketmen, but just one tech away.

Also, ignoring Horseback Riding or Guilds can make it a nightmare as you police pilaging units that have flooded your territory. Even Engineering for that matter, as Pikemen are critical to routing mounted units.

Older than Dirt
Apr 18, 2006, 12:44 PM
The advice you gave, fortytwo, about declaring war and waiting a few turns for the AI to show up is most effective. I have found it much easier to destroy the enemy just inside my border where I have the movement advantage, get lots of promotions, heal units fast, and reduce the number of potential defenders, especially cats and cans. Also, there is less exposure it there is another civ which may attack you from another direction. It really smarts to be just about to crush a civ and be sneak attacked on the other side of your civ.

Apr 18, 2006, 12:52 PM
i would have tried option 3 and 4. try to build a fort, stop the onslought or at least slow it down, and then do diplomacy, buy peace if necessary...

Apr 19, 2006, 08:21 AM
I have the reverse situation. Washington is defending, and seems to have an endless stream of grenadiers with Garrison 2 coming up to replace those he already has in place: the new ones immediately fortify, while the older ones, already fortified, take the brunt of my attack while the new ones gain defence. So I'm bringing up a stack of 14 catapults, two with Barrage 3 and the rest with Barrage 2, which I shall hurl to their glorious dooms to whittle his men down to a more manageable strength before my own troops in successive waves swamp the city. I'll be getting cannon in a few turns, so losing catapults doesn't worry me.
Other strategies ? Split my forces and attack in more than one place ? Not attractive, because it would take too many moves for my catapults to crawl across enemy lands.
I had a similar situation, had to attack Ghengis. It was my cavalry-grenadirers-cannons vs grenadiers-knights-musketmen-catapults (+ he had quite a few elephants & macemen). We shared a long border, so I had to attack 4 cities at once (he had 6 cities). Well, I actually attacked 2, other 2 were decoy attacks so he won't bring any reinforcements. It worked. 2 decoy stacks were made of some obsolete longbowmen-crossbowmen-skirmishers, about a 12-13 in each stack + couple of cannons each. I just crossed the border and fortified them in a best possible place I could find. They lasted for 3 turns but destroyed most of the defense from nearby 2 cities + some others which came from cities behind front line. Meanwhile, I took other 2 cities swiftly and in next few turns I took all 4 cities that were left. I had highly promoted cavalry & grenadiers, so I could afford to take last 2 cities without cannon support.