Modern and Future Units
Modern warfare is an aspect of the game that many enjoy, and that provides quite a variety in terms of unit types and uses. If your game isn't over by this stage, the chances are that you're either going to want to utilise military force, or will have to defend against it. Units covered in this article span from the stock standard Mechanized Infantry to the imposing Giant Death Robot, with explanations covering their basic statistics as well as their offensive and defensive uses.
- Key Concepts
- Atomic Bomb
- Guided Missile
- Helicopter Gunship
- Jet Fighter
- Mechanized Infantry
- Missile Cruiser
- Mobile SAM
- Modern Armor
- Nuclear Missile
- Nuclear Submarine
- Rocket Artillery
- Stealth Bomber
- Giant Death Robot
- Cost- the Production cost of the unit.
- Movement- the base number of :c5movement: Movement points that are available for the unit. Movement from an 'open' tile (such as plains) to another 'open' tile without roads or railroads uses 1 :c5movement: point.
- Combat Strength- the base Combat Strength of the unit. You should consult the Combat article for an explanation of how this functions.
- Range- the base :c5range: over which a Ranged Unit can fire, or within which a unit with an interception ability can intercept an Air Unit. See the Ranged Attack article for an explanation of how range works with regards to Ranged Attacks.
- Ranged Combat Strength- the base Ranged Combat Strength of the unit. You should consult the Combat article for an explanation of how this functions.
- Required Resources- the strategic resources required to build the unit in question.
- Prerequisite- the technologies that are required to be researched before you can produce the unit, or upgrade to the unit.
- Abilities- additional modifications or special rules for the base unit.
Required Resources: Uranium
Prerequisite: Nuclear Fission (and Manhattan Project)
Abilities: Evasion (50)
The Atomic Bomb can be used to bomb an area, with the target tile as well as a blast radius of two tiles surrounding the target being affected by the strike. All units on the target tile will be destroyed outright, and units within the blast radius will be dealt 3-9 damage, averaging at 6. Non-combatant units have a 60% chance of being destroyed outright. Cities lose 50% of their health, and 30-70% of their population, averaging at 50%. Improvements are destroyed, and there is a 50% chance per tile that fallout is left. Also, using an Atomic Bomb causes a permanent diplomatic penalty with the target, but unlike in Civ 4, not with third parties. The Evasion ability is misleading, as although it should be possible to intercept Atomic Bombs, there have never been any reported instances of this occurring. Either it's bugged or everyone who has played the game has been subject to frightfully improbable bad luck.
The Atomic Bomb is a game changer, and can either become your best friend or worst nightmare. As you would assume of such a unit, it unleashes destruction on its target like nothing else in the game before it (although the Nuclear Missile exceeds it). Given its powerful role, you must complete the Manhattan Project (which costs 750 Production; cannot be bought with Gold, like all wonders/projects) before being able to build Atomic Bombs, so this cost must be considered in an examination of the benefits of the unit. The strategic resource requirement for the Atomic Bomb is uranium. The unit is a one-shot unit, meaning that it can be used once, at which point it is destroyed. However, the uranium used by the Atomic Bomb will not also be destroyed, but will be re-added to your strategic resource tally. This being the case, the only reason to hold off on using your Atomic Bombs is the resultant fallout. If you're going to invest 750 Production into the Manhattan Project and 600 Production in building one of these units, you should be using it. Make sure you don't build more Atomic Bombs than you will need, as the opportunity cost here is quite substantial.
The range of the unit is 10 tiles, which means that you're going to have to place it in a city near your frontline. Alternatively, Atomic Bombs can be carried on Carriers, which may allow you to strike deeper inside enemy territory, or transport them across large oceans. When using an Atomic Bomb offensively, it is best to target those units and cities which you can soon strike with land units. This is because the Atomic Bomb may not kill outright units caught in the blast radius, rather severely damaging them instead. If you do not have units placed to sweep up those remaining after your strike, these units are given a chance to recover, and the damage dealt cannot be capitalised on.
If an opponent gets Atomic Bombs, panic would not be uncalled for. Whilst your overriding concern should be to make sure that your opponents do not get any of these units (and scouting their territory to keep up to date on their weaponry is recommended!), there are ways of minimising the threat posed if your enemy does have them. Firstly remember that with a limited range, Atomic Bombs may not be able to strike deep within your territory. Removing your units to a safe distance will mean that your army is wiped out, although it will leave your border cities vulnerable, and does not stop them and the improvements around them from being targeted. Alternatively, you can ally a city state that is closer to your opponent than your cities, and an enemy Atomic Bomb will more likely fall on them in the event of conflict.
If you do not have Atomic Bombs yourself, it may be possible to take out the city containing the enemy's Atomic Bombs with a first strike. Remember though that if you fail to take the city on the first turn, the Atomic Bombs within can and likely will be used during your enemy's turn. Likewise, nabbing a few of an AI's cities that are close to your borders will push back their frontier, and therefore push back their Atomic Bomb range. They may only be able to strike at those cities which were previously theirs. As part of a first strike, it also recommended that you take out your enemy's sources of uranium. This will mean that their Atomic Bombs will be less effective. Be aware that an opponent's uranium supply may come from a City State ally, and you will need to take out this source as well.
Finally, if you do have Atomic Bombs, then targeting the tiles of your that contain Atomic Bombs will destroy all units on that tile, including those Bombs. Thus you can completely eliminate the threat of the unit by striking first.
As can be seen, the Atomic Bomb is a mighty unit in the game. In your hands, they can wipe the map of enemy hordes, but if possessed by the enemy, can wreak havoc on well crafted strategies.
Ranged Combat Strength: 50
Required Resources: Oil
Abilities: Penalty vs Naval, Evasion, Siege I
Upgrades To: Stealth Bomber
The B17 is the American Unique Unit replacing the Bomber. The cost, range, base strength and requirements of the two units are the same, but the B17 has two vital additional abilities; Evasion and Siege I. This means that damage taken by interception is reduced by 50%, and that combat strength versus cities is increased by 25%. Important to note is that starting with Siege I means that there is only one promotion standing between the B17 and Logistics and Air Repair; Siege II.
See the American Civilization Guide for an in depth strategic analysis.
Ranged Combat Strength: 50
Required Resources: Oil
Abilities: Penalty vs Naval
Upgrades To: Stealth Bomber
The Bomber is one of the most vital modern units, allowing you to bomb visible tiles within range, dealing damage to cities or units. Each Bomber unit uses one oil, which marks a welcome change from the aluminium heavy modern era. Note, however, that the Stealth Bomber that this unit upgrades to does require aluminium rather than oil. The Bomber also receives a 25% penalty when attacking naval units, making it far more effective when focusing on land forces and cities. However, the Bomber can be transported by Carriers, which is useful is aiming to gain a position closer to enemy territory, or when moving units across an ocean.
The range of the Bomber is 10 tiles, providing potential ground support for your forces within that range. Whilst its contemporary air counterpart, the Fighter, focuses on air-to-air combat, the Bomber focuses on air-to-land, meaning it is key for dealing damage to enemy units and cities. Modern warfare is high paced, with the standard melee units having quite high movement. This means that siege units will have a harder time keeping up with a moving front, necessitating air support to soften defences. If you find yourself having to halt your advance for siege units to catch up and bombard units or cities, you should definitely consider building air units, or if not yet at that stage, beelining for Radar. If you are not planning on attacking, the utility of the Bomber is far more limited, however. It is still useful to be able to target enemy units, and the Bomber is more cost-effective in terms of ranged combat strength per Production compared to Artillery or Rocket Artillery, but unlike these two siege units, the Bomber has the drawback of suffering from interception, which will be an issue if an invading force has fighters or anti-aircraft land units.
Interception is the biggest risk facing the Bomber. Each attack made by a Bomber deals it at least one damage, but this is often higher, and it doesn't take long before you have to give your Bombers a turn or two off to heal. In this regard, having a surplus-to-requirements airforce is recommended to ensure an advance is not held up by recovering Bombers. You need to be particularly mindful of attacking near units with an interception ability; Destroyers, Missile Cruisers, Anti-Aircraft Guns, Mobile SAMs, Fighters and Jet Fighters. These will intercept a Bomber that attacks with their range, which is two tiles for Destroyers, Anti-Aircraft Guns and Mobile SAMs, three for Missile Cruisers, eight for Fighters and ten for Jet Fighters. These interceptions will deal much greater damage to your Bombers, and they may be destroyed outright. To counter against this, Fighters and Jet Fighters may be required to complement your Bomber force. They may perform air sweeps, using up the interception abilities of the aforementioned units, opening up a clear path for your Bombers to attack. Additionally, using ground forces or siege units to destroy the relatively weak anti-aircraft units may be a good option.
One additional risk to your Bomber force is posed by Atomic Bombs and Nuclear Missiles. Air units can stack, unlike land or naval units, meaning you may be tempted to place your entire airforce in one city. However, Atomic Bombs automatically destroy all units in the target tile, and Nuclear Missiles all units within the blast radius. This means that if the city containing your entire airforce is targeted by one of these, you will lose all of your Bomber units, which would be a devastating blow. It is important to be aware of this risk and guard against it. Only put all your eggs in one basket if you are sure they will not be be broken. Aside from the usual precautions to take against the risk of Atomic Bombs and Nuclear Missiles, splitting your air units across several cities is recommended. A similar risk is posed when your cities are attacked by enemy units. If a city is taken, all air units within will be destroyed. Whilst it is obviously always important to stop your cities from being put in such danger to begin with, it is important that you avoid your problem being compounded by the loss of your airforce.
One of the keys to getting the most out of your Bombers is to take advantage of promotions. The two promotions that you should be aiming for are Logistics and Air Repair. Logistics allows for an extra attack per turn from your Bombers, which essentially doubles the unit's effectiveness. It also doubles the rate at which you gain further experience. Air Repair means that your Bomber heals every turn, whether it performs an action or not, which negates the need for your Bombers to constantly recover. The first promotion you should take is either Bombardment I or Siege I. Chose the former if your Bomber will be targeting other units, and the latter if it will be targeting cities. You should then continue along your chosen path for the next promotion, picking up either Bombardment II or Siege II. The promotion following this will allow you to take Air Repair, and you should choose this option. You will be able to take Logistics with the promotion following this one. Taking Air Repair first is more desirable, as you will not need to stop your attacks to heal. Once you have taken those four essential promotions, it is recommended that you continue to either Bombardment III or Siege III, greatly increasing the effectiveness of your unit. If you are facing stiff resistance in the form of interception, Evasion is an also an option.
Just as your own Bombers will come under threat from enemy anti-aircraft units; naval, land and air, the best way to defend against enemy Bombers is to ensure your own anti-aircraft forces are up to scratch. Placing a Destroyer or Missile Cruiser in a naval grouping will provide you cover, and an invasion force with Anti-Aircraft Guns and Mobile SAMs directly behind your front-line units will do the same. Similarly, garrisoning an anti-aircraft unit in each of your cities (especially if you have the Oligarchy social policy) will allow you to intercept incoming Bombers. The best defence is Fighters and Jet Fighters, however, due to their increased range. When attacking, placing these near your front-line and setting them to 'intercept' will provide your invasion force with cover against enemy Bombers, and when defending, they will help neutralise the aggressive threat posed by Bombers.
Bombers are very useful and powerful units in the game, speeding up the pace of attack dramatically. However, it is key for them to work in combination with the rest of your forces. Bombers will be destroyed by interception without sufficient support, and will prove unproductive without melee units following up an attack. Whilst Bombers are arguably the crème de la crème of modern conventional forces, it is important to understand that they are only so as part of a variegated military force, and synthesising their usage with additional units is of prime import.
Ranged Combat Strength: 60
Required Resources: None
Abilities: Evasion (100)
The Guided Missile is a cheap unit that packs quite a punch. It can be used to target a unit or city, having no blast radius like the Nuclear Missile. It is, however, a one-shot unit, meaning that it is destroyed on use. The range of 8 tiles is less than that of the Nuclear Missile or any air unit, but it can be transported on Missile Cruisers or Nuclear Submarines, allowing it to strike deeper into enemy territory. Also, the Guided Missile does not require any resources, unlike contemporary ranged units, and additionally do not cost any upkeep. Guided Missiles cannot be intercepted.
Guided Missiles come in handy when you are needing additional firepower in the short term, either to take down units or damage cities. The low cost means you can build them quickly or buy them cheaply when in danger, or when needing that little bit extra sooner rather than later. Note that you are unable to use them until the turn after they are built or bought. You can get two and a half Guided Missiles for the price of a Bomber, yet the Guided Missile will do more damage, with a Ranged Combat Strength of 60 as opposed to 50, for example. The difference is in the longevity of other ranged units, which can be used turn after turn, as opposed to the one use nature of Guided Missiles. An important caveat to this example is that Bombers will start with promotions, increasing their relative effectiveness to make them more powerful than a Guided Missile.
You may find it useful to have a few Guided Missiles on hand in a war if you are needing immediate extra firepower, and ensuring that a unit is killed outright without the chance of recovery the following turn, or ensuring that a city is taken without your units facing the danger of bombardment can be quite important. As they do not cost any upkeep, you don't lose anything by having them on hand.
An additional use for Guided Missiles is in naval combat. Whilst a Bomber will not be very effective against naval units, and will be at risk of interception, Guided Missiles may help you win a battle or deal the extra damage required to sink a ship. A particularly useful situation would be if you were to see a loaded Carrier within range. If you do not have the ships to get to it, you may be able to sink it and the load it is carrying nonetheless. Note that Anti-Aircraft Guns and Mobile SAMs receive a bonus against Guided Missiles, so striking them will reduce the utility of the unit.
A final use of Guided Missiles is in wars of short duration. If you do not need the longevity provided by Bombers; the firepower turn after turn, then it is more cost-effective to build Guided Missiles. There is no point having Bombers if you are only going to use them once or twice each, as they only gain an advantage over Guided Missiles after three attacks.
That being said, most of the time you will be better served by Stealth Bombers, which come at a comparable time in the tech tree. You may find that your situation calls for more intense but one-off firepower, or you may find that your Stealth Bombers are completely ineffective against a shield of Fighters, but generally you will be better off building Stealth Bombers, which can promote and increase their value over time. Keeping a handful of Guided Missiles on hand is fine, given they cost no upkeep, but it only recommended that you build or buy them if you know you are going to use them, and if you know that your use of them is going to be worthwhile.
Combat Strength: 50
Required Resources: Aluminium
Abilities: Ignores Terrain Cost, Hovering unit, Bonus vs Tanks, No Defensive Terrain Bonuses, Unable to capture cities
The Helicopter Gunship is a very unique and useful unit in the game. Requiring aluminium to be built, it has base strength comparable to Mechanized Infantry, but with double the movement. This movement has some additional perks, namely that as a 'hovering unit', Helicopter Gunships can move on and over mountains, being the only unit in the game capable of doing so, and that the unit ignores terrain costs, meaning it can move on forested hill tiles just as easily as on plains. Combined with railroads, this means a very large distance can be traversed, and even without the benefit of railroads, Helicopter Gunships can penetrate deep into enemy territory. The unit also receives a +100% combat bonus against both Tanks and Modern Armor (although it should be noted that both Anti-Aircraft Guns and Mobile SAMs have a +100% combat bonus against Helicopter Gunships). The drawbacks of Helicopter Gunships, in addition to this disadvantage, are that it does not receive defensive terrain bonuses (most other units will gain a +25% defensive bonus in forest, for example), and that it is unable to capture cities (it can still attack and deal damage to a city, but another unit will be required to actually take the city).
The Helicopter Gunship is a rather multifarious unit, and of its major uses is as a powerful scouting unit. Before a war has even started, you can scout out a potential opponent's entire territory very quickly with a Helicopter Gunship, given its large movement (assuming you have open borders). But more importantly, you can use Helicopter Gunships to enter into enemy territory and make visible tiles and units behind the front line, allowing them to be bombed (remembering that only visible tiles can be targeted), or striking at enemy workers. They can also be used to pillage tiles. Removing railroads or roads via this method can be very effective in slowing down an enemy's counterattack (especially if you do so on a tile next to a river). More so, Helicopter Gunships are powerful enough that you can use them to attack and often destroy these units. This is particularly useful in the first turn of war, when the enemy may have a lot of their units roaming free. Other land units will be able to destroy units on and very close to the border, but Helicopter Gunships will be able to move much further into the enemy's territory and destroy units there as well. When doing this, be wary however of getting your units stranded. If they are well ahead of your other units, they will be the target of enemy bombardment, and without any cover, will be able to be targeted by their Achilles Heal; Anti-Aircraft Guns/Mobile SAMs. It is therefore advised that you beware of the risk involved in using the unit in this way. It works best if you have a tech lead!
When attacking with your Helicopter Gunship, it is best to target those units over which it has an advantage over (Tanks & Modern Armor) and to avoid attacking those units which it is penalised against (Anti-Aircraft Guns & Mobile SAMs). Helicopter Gunships are useful both attacking cities and other units in the open field.
The ability of Helicopter Gunships to move on and over mountain tiles is very useful (obviously more so in mountainous terrain, and you should adapt your strategy to suit the terrain accordingly). Finishing a turn on a mountain tile will mean that you will not be targeted by enemy melee units (unless they also have a Helicopter Gunship), making your unit invulnerable to Anti-Aircraft Guns and Mobile SAMs, for instance, and negating the 'no defensive terrain bonuses' penalty. Note however that your Helicopter Gunships will still be vulnerable to Jet Fighters, so it is a good idea to keep a unit with an interception ability close by.This ability also can make Helicopter Gunships very useful in attacking cities. They do normally provide a useful role as city attackers, but this is amplified when there is a mountain adjacent to a city. As there are only six possible directions to attack a city from, it is important to maximise the number of attacks you can get in, to hasten the taking of a city. The Helicopter Gunship is the only unit that is able to utilise mountain tiles in this manner, and it is highly recommended that you seek to make use of this. Similarly, when conducting an amphibious invasion, ensure that you land your Helicopter Gunships on any available mountain tiles, both to make sure that they are not attacking by enemy melee units, and to free up other tiles for other units to make landfall.
Another evident use of Helicopter Gunships is using them to take out your enemy's Tanks and Modern Armor. These are two units that can be very dangerous against you, harassing your invading force or alternatively your defensive force and cities. Removing the danger they pose is quite important, and the Helicopter Gunship is the best unit for this purpose.
Whilst the Helicopter Gunship is quite a potent offensive unit, it is also exceptionally useful when defending. If you are needing to worry about an enemy attack or counterattack, then leaving some Helicopter Gunships behind your lines is recommended, as their movement (especially when combined with roads or railroads) will allow you to more easily reach any threat, and pick off the attacking units. The larger movement of the Helicopter Gunship makes it more suitable for this role than, for example, Mechanized Infantry. Note though that you will want your Helicopter Gunships to be attacking encroaching enemy units, not waiting on a tile next to your city and giving them the opportunity to attack you.
The recommended promotion path of the Helicopter Gunship is rather straightforward. You should choose Mobility I, then Mobility II, followed by Logistics and then Repair. The mobility promotions maximise the advantage of the unit in the movement department, and Logistics not only gives your unit an extra attack per turn (very useful when combined with such high movement), but also allows you to move after you have attacked, meaning an escape from battle is possible, greatly increasing the offensive worth of the unit. Repair means that the unit will heal every turn, even if moving, and allows you to maintain a highly mobile offensive, wreaking havoc behind enemy lines. The Ambush promotion line is not as useful for the Helicopter Gunship, given it already receives a massive bonus against Tanks and Modern Armor. However, it does provide a nice bonus once reached Logistics, which should be your priority.
It is important to be able to guard against the threat posed by the Helicopter Gunship. The units that will allow you to do this are Anti-Aircraft Guns, Mobile SAMs and Jet Fighters. If you keep a couple of the former two behind your lines or in an invasion force, you will be able to easily deal with any Helicopter Gunship threat posed. Jet Fighters receive a bonus when attacking Helicopter Gunships also, and have a wider range of attack without relying on railroads or roads.
Helicopter Gunships come at a reasonable price, so given the many advantages that they bring, and the different situations they can be used in, they are generally quite a cost-effective option. Remember that it is important to weigh up your individual situation in deciding what unit mix to pursue, but the Helicopter Gunship will often be a prime part of that. A lot of your modern army will be made up of upgraded units, which may be heavily promoted, and therefore much more effective than the base model. Only Anti-Tank Guns upgrade to Helicopter Gunships, and only Lancers upgrade to Anti-Tank Guns. A Lancer can move after combat without the need for additional promotions, and this is carried over when upgrading. As this is a vital ability for Helicopter Gunships (and largely why you should be aiming for the Logistics promotion), it is recommended that you take advantage of this upgrade path. Newly bought or built Helicopter Gunships will not be nearly as effective straight off, particularly if the remainder of your or your enemy's forces are carrying promotions.
Patch version of this article: 126.96.36.1993
Ranged Combat Strength: 60
Required Resources: Aluminium
Abilities: Interception (100), Air Sweep, Weak Ranged Attack, Air Recon, Bonus vs Helicopters
The Jet Fighter is the core intercepting air unit of the modern era. Whilst the Bomber and Stealth Bomber serve the role of striking at enemies and cities, Jet Fighters serve the role of controlling the skies. They require aluminium to be built, and have only half the range of the Stealth Bomber. Jet Fighters are able to intercept enemy air units and perform air sweeps, but receive a 50% penalty when attacking enemy units or cities. The exception to this is the bonus received when attacking Helicopter Gunships. Additionally, the Air Recon ability means that the Jet Fighter has increased visibility, extending to a range of six tiles. The Production cost is comparable to most contemporary units, although notably is more than for a Bomber. Fighters are the only unit that upgrade to Jet Fighters.
The most important ability of Jet Fighters is interception. When you set a Jet Fighter to 'intercept', they will attack any enemy air unit that strikes within range. They can only do this once per turn, so will do so for the first attack. This means that if the enemy has two Bombers and you have one Jet Fighter, only the first Bomber will be intercepted. An interception will not prevent the attack from occurring, but will damage the attacking unit, both reducing the strength of the attack, and potentially destroying the unit (in which case the attack will be prevented).
The other mission that a Jet Fighter can perform is an air sweep. Enemy interceptors will only be able to intercept once per turn, and an air sweep allows you to use up that one interception that they have, clearing the way for your other air units to attack. Some damage will be dealt to the Jet Fighter, but this will be minimal compared to the damage that would otherwise be caused by an enemy interception. This ability is important to use in conjunction with other units; there's no point using up an enemy's interceptions if you aren't going to attack within their range anyway.
Although Jet Fighters have a weak ranged attack, they can still be useful on occasion in this capacity. Firstly, Jet Fighters receive a bonus attacking Helicopter Gunships. This means that if there is a Helicopter Gunship in range and your Jet Fighter is not otherwise engaged, you should use it to make an attack. This is particularly useful if the Helicopter Gunship is on a mountain tile, where your land units will not be able to reach it. Secondly, as Bombers and Stealth Bombers receive a penalty when attacking naval units, it may on occasion be wise to use your Jet Fighters to attack an enemy navy. You should not build Jet Fighters specifically for this purpose, and you should be wary of attacking enemy Destroyers and Missile Cruisers in particular, due to their interception ability, but they will provide a better option than your other air units in giving you additional firepower to sink a ship when necessary.
Although this advice holds for all units in the game, it is particularly recommended that you specialise your Jet Fighters. This means that you should either choose the Interception promotion path, or the Dogfighting promotion path, not mixing the two. Which one you go for depends on whether you are going to be using your Jet Fighters for interception or for air sweeps. After you have gained either Interception II or Dogfighting II, you should go for Sortie, as this gives you an additional Interception per turn (so is similar to Logistics). Other promotions may be useful as a specific situation requires, but generally sticking to the same path is best. You will not often be using your Jet Fighters to perform a ranged attack, so some of the promotion options are not going to be very useful.
Just as you can gain air superiority through your use of Jet Fighters, you must be wary that your enemy does not do the same. Jet Fighters can present a serious threat to your Bombers and Stealth Bombers, and make conquest or defence much harder. It's therefore quite important to be able to counter them. The best way to do this is to simply have more Jet Fighters than your opponent. If they air sweep to use up your interceptions, then their Bombers and Stealth Bombers will be free to rain down death. But if you have a larger number of Jet Fighters, your will still have interceptions left after the enemy has used up their air sweeps, meaning you will be able to more effectively defend against attacks. Similarly, when attacking, you will want to use up the enemy's interceptions so that your Bombers and Stealth Bombers can do their job, and for this you will need more air sweeps than your enemy has interceptions. It's important to note that all of this is in combination with your other interceptors (Destroyers, Missile Cruisers, Anti-Aircraft Guns and Mobile SAMs), and you will need to decide on the correct mix for your situation. But keep in mind that only Fighters and Jet Fighters can air sweep, and they also have a much larger range.
So it is important in modern warfare to be keeping in mind air superiority. Without it, your job will be a lot harder, and with it, your wars came become cakewalks. Ensuring air superiority can heavily rely on the Jet Fighter, but it is important that you consider the best unit mix for the given situation. This will almost invariably involve Jet Fighters, but in varying numbers. If your enemy does not have any interceptors or air units, then Jet Fighters become largely unnecessary.
Combat Strength: 50
Required Resources: None
Mechanized Infantry is the core and standard melee unit of the modern era, forming the backbone of your military. It has no special abilities, but this also means that it receives no anomalous penalties. Additionally, it does not require any strategic resources, immensely increasing its usefulness for those that lack aluminium in this era. Without sufficient strategic resource deposits, you will be relying heavily upon Mechanized Infantry.
Mechanized Infantry will be your best option for taking cities, as Helicopter Gunships cannot take cities, Rocket Artillery cannot melee attack at all, Mobile SAMs have a lower combat strength and Modern Armor receive a penalty when attacking cities. Although Modern Armor will still have a higher combat strength than Mechanized Infantry in such an attack, they are best used specialising in combat in the field, where their strength can be utilised most effectively. So after you have softened up a city's defences with ranged attacks (or with the assistance of Helicopter Gunships, for instance), you should be aiming to attack the city with Mechanized Infantry.
In addition to this use, Mechanized Infantry can be used to attack Helicopter Gunships in place of Modern Armor if you do not have Mobile SAMs, or to attack Mobile SAMs in place of Helicopter Gunships if you do not have Modern Armor. Covering for the weaknesses of other units is also a key role of the Mechanized Infantry in a defensive capacity. As Helicopter Gunships and Modern Armor do not receive defensive bonuses from fortification, your Mechanized Infantry will have an advantage when defending (particularly when combined with promotions), and can be used to shield other more vulnerable units (such as Rocket Artillery). In an invasion of enemy territory where your opponent has the use of roads or railroads, making sure you block off these routes is important to keeping your forces intact, and Mechanized Infantry will perform this role more effectively than other contemporary units.
They can also be used similarly in a purely defensive capacity, making use of terrain and transportation routes to halt enemy invasions. It is important to know where to position your forces, and using Mechanized Infantry to shield other units is key to this. Make use of forests and hills, as they provide a defensive bonus, especially when combined with relevant promotions. Additionally, make use of rivers. Units receive a penalty for attacking across rivers, so you can make use of this in lining up your Mechanized Infantry along the edge of a river.
The two promotion paths that will assist in utilising terrain are the Drill and Shock paths. Drill provides a 20% bonus when fighting in rough terrain, and Shock provides a 20% bonus when fighting in open terrain. As with all other unit types, you should specialise your units. So either follow the Drill path or the Shock path for a particular unit, without mixing the two. Then place your Drill units on hills and your Shock units on plains. You may wish to take Siege to get a specialised city attacking Mechanized Infantry, but you should only do this after you have completed either Drill III or Shock III. If you have Drill III and are attacking a city on a hill, you will receive the 25% bonus from fighting in rough terrain, which is the same as you would receive if you had the Siege promotion, but you will not receive any bonus from the Siege promotion from fighting in other situations, whereas Drill III will be useful in all battles in rough terrain.
Being a stock unit, there are no particularly special tricks to defending against Mechanized Infantry. General advice for using units in a defensive capacity applies to defending against this unit. Attacking Mechanized Infantry with Modern Armor is going to be most effective, due to its superiority in strength when attacking outside of cities. One important thing to note with Mechanized Infantry is that you will often be upgrading to them from Infantry, which themselves are upgraded to by Rifleman, coming from both the Archery line and the Melee line. This means you will often have quite a large number of ready-promoted Mechanized Infantry on hand for late game wars. The Professional Army social policy can help you here, reducing the cost of upgrading.
Combat Strength: 60
Ranged Combat Strength: 25
Required Resources: Aluminium
Abilities: Indirect Fire, Can Carry 3 Cargo, Interception (100), May Not Melee Attack
The Missile Cruiser is a late game naval unit whose primary feature is to carry missiles, both Guided and Nuclear. It can carry three missiles total at any given time. As with all naval units, it cannot melee attack, and as with all post-Renaissance naval units, it has the indirect fire promotion, meaning it can fire over obstacles anywhere visible within range. This range is 3 tiles, the same as the Battleship and the Nuclear Submarine, and one more than other naval units such as the Destroyer and Submarine. It is just as hardy as the Battleship, but has superior movement. On the downside, it has a weaker ranged combat strength, although one still superior to the Destroyer. Additionally, the Missile Cruiser has an interception ability.
The Missile Cruiser's primary function is as a transport for your missiles. Guided Missiles and more so Nuclear Missiles can be vital in late game wars, and having something to transport them in is important. This is particularly the case when launching an intercontinental or amphibious invasion. Missiles have a limited range, so you will need to get within striking distance, and a Missile Cruiser will allow you to do this. Striking deep into enemy territory can make all the difference in the world in prosecuting a successful war. When your Missile Cruiser is carrying Nuclear Missiles in particular, it is absolutely vital that it is protected. If your Missile Cruiser is destroyed, its cargo will be also. The lost 425 Production from the sinking of your Missile Cruiser is small change when compared to the potential additional 3000 Production loss when fully loaded. The Missile Cruiser is sturdy in itself, but it is highly recommended that you send naval units (preferably Destroyers, due to their high movement) ahead to scout the path your Missile Cruiser will be taking, and that you keep other powerful naval units close by (preferably Submarines and Battleships, due to their high ranged combat strength), both to destroy any nearby enemies, and to possibly draw fire in the event of an unexpected or unavoidable attack.
Whilst you will primarily build Missile Cruisers in order to utilise your nuclear missiles or provide some support through guided missiles, they do also offer a sturdy option as a purely naval unit. Both their strength and combat strength is higher than that of the Destroyer, so they will prove superior (note that this only holds until a Destroyer gains Logistics, which lets them move after combat and utilise their high movement to vacate the scene of battle to an unreachable distance). Their larger range gives them an additional advantage in this regard. This also helps when it comes to interception, as the extended range applies here as well. Missile Cruisers can be placed just off the coast, for instance, to provide additional interception support for nearby land units, which can be vital when launching an invasion.
Your promotion path for the Missile Cruiser (as with other naval units) should aim towards Logistics, which allows both a double attack on a turn, and perhaps more importantly, the ability to move after an attack. This can mean the difference between survival and destruction. To get to Logistics, you need to follow either the Bombardment or Targeting line. Remember, as with all promotions, that you should be specialising (so choose either one of those two paths, but not both), and which one you choose is dependent on the needs of your situation. Take Logistics at the soonest opportunity. Additional promotions such as Supply can also be helpful, but Logistics should be prioritised.
Defending against Missile Cruisers is done in the same way you would defend against other naval units. Submarines, Nuclear Submarines and Battleships provide the most effective anti-naval firepower, although Destroyers can take advantage of Logistics to retreat after bombardment and higher movement to get to the scene in the first place.
The overall utility of the Missile Cruiser is questionable. The primary role played is moot without missiles, and even then is reliant on your target being out of range. More so, the Nuclear Submarine also carries missiles. Whilst the Missile Cruiser is superior at this function, due to the Nuclear Submarine being more of an offensive unit and therefore being more at risk of destruction, Nuclear Submarines perform a very useful role as a naval unit due to its ranged strength, so you are more likely to build them anyway. This means that they can double as missile carriers, rather than wasting your gold on maintenance for another unit. Additionally, whilst the Missile Cruiser is a sturdy unit for naval combat, it is not the best in any particular regard. Given that one of the themes with managing your units is to specialise, you will often be better off putting your production into the alternatives available. That said, if you are not hard pressed for aluminium, you will find the Missile Cruiser quite a useful unit to have. If you can make the most of missiles or are facing a foe with a strong navy (that could threaten the safety of Nuclear Submarines, and require their offensive attention), it is recommended that you get your hands on some Missile Cruisers.
Combat Strength: 40
Required Resources: Aluminium
Abilities: Interception (100), Bonus vs Aircraft (100), Bonus vs Helicopters
The Mobile SAM upgrades from the Anti-Aircraft Gun and as that unit's name would suggest, fill the role of a land based counter to aircraft. Whilst it can melee attack, and moves like a regular land based unit (with higher movement than the Mechanized Infantry), it can intercept any enemy aircraft that attack within two tiles. It requires aluminium to build, and receives a bonus against Helicopter Gunships.
The Mobile SAM's primary role is anti-aircraft. It is not as powerful as contemporary units in normal combat, so is a waste of 425 Production if built solely for that purpose. To be used as an interceptor, the Mobile SAM must simply be within two tiles of an attempted aircraft attack. It can intercept once per turn, so if two attacks are made and you only have the one interceptor within range, only the first attack will be intercepted. It is important therefore to make sure that you have sufficient interceptors on hand to deal with airborne attacks. Offensively, your Mobile SAMs should be placed behind your frontline troops, or within newly captured cities. Leaving them out in the open or without protection leaves them vulnerable to attack. Defensively, it is a good idea to place Mobile SAM units within cities, where they can intercept without the risk of being exposed to combat. This is a particularly useful strategy when combined with the Oligarchy and/or Military Caste social policies.
As mentioned, the Mobile SAM is weak in regular combat. However, it is superior to units from the Industrial Era, for example; it is just not the best contemporary option. As such, if you do have a Mobile SAM in an attacking force, it can be used to finish off units or cities. The exception to this inferiority is against Helicopter Gunships. You should take advantage of the Mobile SAMs bonus against these units and attack with them when given the opportunity. Similarly, Mobile SAMs can be used to shield units that are more vulnerable to Helicopter Gunships (such as Modern Armor) in the same way that other units would normally shield the Mobile SAM. As with all advice, this is highly situation dependent.
As the Mobile SAM is primarily not an offensive unit, you will be wanting it to make the most of terrain to improve its defensive capacity. This means that if dealing with open territory, you should follow the Shock promotion path, and if dealing with rough terrain, you should follow the Drill promotion path. Given that you going to be defending more than attacking, you are more likely to be utilising rough terrain, so Drill does have a slight general advantage here.
Mobile SAMs often make up a large contingent of the armies of your opponents, so it's important to know how to deal with them. As with other interceptors, they can cause trouble for your Bombers and Stealth Bombers. There are two main ways to deal with this. Firstly, Fighters and Jet Fighters can perform air sweeps to use up the interceptions of Mobile SAMs, clearing the skies for your bombing forces. Secondly, you can attack the unit directly. If you send in a Modern Armor, for example, then you can kill the Mobile SAM, due to its low strength, which will provide a more permanent solution to your path being cleared. The important thing to remember here is to make your ground attack before bombing. Dealing with Mobile SAMs as you come across them is not too difficult if you have the numbers available, but it is important in modern warfare to make sure that interceptors are destroyed.
The Mobile SAM is not the most useful unit in the game, and you should only build it if required. It uses up a source of aluminium, so you should examine your alternatives. Your enemy having Helicopter Gunships is one time in particular that Mobile SAMs are quite useful. If you are needing to strike a balance between building more interceptors and building more melee force, Mobile SAMs will also serve this purpose. If, however, you are in need solely of interceptors, a Jet Fighter is a better option. Likewise, if you are in need solely of ground forces, Modern Armor and Mechanized Infantry are better options. This follows the general concept that specialisation in warfare is important. Consider your need to build Mobile SAMs before making the investment.
Combat Strength: 80
Required Resources: Aluminium
Abilities: Penalty Attacking Cities (25), No Defensive Terrain Bonuses, Can Move After Attacking
The Modern Armor is a late game unit that upgrades from the Tank. It is designed as a quick moving unit that wages war in the open field. For these purposes, it has a higher movement movement than most contemporary units, at 5, and a 25% penalty when attacking cities. Importantly, it can move after attacking, allowing it to keep up a quick advance. The aggressive nature of this unit is reinforced by the 'no defensive terrain bonuses' ability, which means that no defensive bonus is received by the Modern Armor when fortified (although terrain bonuses and bonuses through promotions are still effective). Modern Armor does come rather late in the tech tree, and requires aluminium, whereas the Tank that it upgrades from requires oil. The Modern Armor has the highest combat strength of any unit other than the futuristic Giant Death Robot.
The primary use of the Modern Armor is as an offensive unit in open combat. The high movement of the unit allows it to reach a lot of units that are not hidden in cities, which can be particularly effective during an invasion, clearing the land forces of the enemy. An example of where this really shines is where the enemy has a large Mobile SAM force preventing air attacks. Modern Armor can overwhelm this force with its vastly superior combat strength, clearing the skies for your air units. The simple general advice for this unit is to priorities its usage in attacking those enemy forces that have made the mistake of leaving cities. Note that you need to be aware of combat penalties that your Modern Armor will suffer, just as attacking units on hills, or across rivers, and you don't want to leave your unit vulnerable to attack during the enemy's turn. But this is a consideration that should be made regardless of the unit that is doing the attacking, and the Modern Armor fills this role most adeptly, particularly with its ability to move after combat (assuming it still has movement points remaining). It is important to note that in similar situations the Modern Armor is a good unit to pillage enemy roads, railroads or improvements. This is making use of the high movement, and although the Helicopter Gunship has higher movement, this is balanced against the Modern Armor's higher strength.
The other primary function of melee units is attacking and taking cities. Note again the penalty that Modern Armor receives in this regard. But even then, it has a higher strength than any contemporary base unit in such situations. So Modern Armor will certainly do the trick. The issue is maximising your gains. Your Mechanized Infantry will be better suited to attacking and taking cities, whilst your Modern Armor is better suited to attacking in the open field. In a situation where there is a choice between the two, it is wiser to go for the Mechanized Infantry, as this is making the most out of your assets.
Again given the high base strength of the Modern Armor, it is not going to be too shabby in defence. But also again, using it in a defensive role is not going to represent a highly efficient use of your forces. It does not receive any fortification bonus, so Mechanized Infantry will again prove better at performing this role, with your Modern Armor being there to follow up on the enemy when they do decide to attack those defending units.
One important drawback of the Modern Armor is its strength against Helicopter Gunships. They receive a 100% advantage when attacking Modern Armor, which means you need to make sure you don't get stuck in a vulnerable position. Helicopter Gunships counterattacking your Modern Armor invasion force can essentially be a knife through hot butter. This is another reason why it is a good idea to have Mechanized Infantry form your front defensive line. They receive no such penalty, and will shield your Modern Armor (assuming there are not mountains that the Helicopters Gunships can use to get around your Zone of Control). This is one important problem to beware of, as it can completely ruin well-laid plans.
The promotion path for Modern Armor is just as it is for other melee units. Take Drill or Shock, depending on the terrain that you will be predominantly going through. Charge can be a robust later option. It gives a bonus when attacking wounded units, and given that you will be using your Modern Armor primarily to attack units rather than cities, Modern Armor can get the most out of this promotion. Blitz is another possibility after Drill III or Shock III, but you do not gain as much as with other units, due to the fact that you'll already have the ability to move after attacking.
Given the immense firepower that the Modern Armor offers, it is important to be able to defend against them. They are the primary reason you need to be able to make good use of defensive strategic tactics in the late game, both shielding your weaker units, and making the most of terrain. Mechanized Infantry again will form your primary defensive line, and you should be familiar with how to utilise this unit most effectively to counter aggressive manoeuvres. Additionally, the Helicopter Gunship will be the most effective at dealing directly with Modern Armor specifically. Sufficient air support to weaken Modern Armor is also highly recommended.
Modern Armor overall represents a very good investment. As the late game progresses, Production costs remain roughly the same, but units get more and more powerful. Modern Armor costs only marginally more than Mechanized Infantry, for example, but is an overall superior unit. You are getting more bang for your buck. If you have aluminium to spare, you should be building Modern Armor instead of Mechanized Infantry. It is also important to note that a lot of the time you will not have to build Modern Armor, but will upgrade from Tanks. These units upgrade from the mounted unit line, so if you are playing as a Civ with a mounted unique unit (just as the Mongol Keshik), you are more likely to be relying on Modern Armor in the late game. Your unit mix in general is going to be largely dependent on what earlier unit types you are using, and it can be important to keep this in mind when making earlier decisions. As you will likely often be relying on upgrades as opposed new units, the Professional Army social policy can be quite important. In sum, keep in mind that a balanced army is quite important, and Modern Armor will not win a war on their own. It is important, for example, to give them air support. But despite this, what is certain is that the Modern Armor will be a very useful unit for your late game conquests.