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City defense - ugh

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Adam654987, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. Adam654987

    Adam654987 Chieftain

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    Nov 25, 2007
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    I am having trouble defending my cities. The AI will usually bring at least a dozen units in a stack with several seige devices and park his army on an adjacent hill or forest square, leisurely reducing the city defenses to zero. I play on prince and find I simply cannot keep up with the enemy unit production levels, so I usually must win by superior strategy. However I have no idea how to defend my cities properly in this scenario. I either end up hoping to make peace berfore the defenses hit 0% or I am forced to attack, but since I cannot attack his seige engines until all the other units on the tile are destroyed, it makes me, the defender, into the disadvantageous attacker.

    Is there a counter to this other than having simply many more units than the AI? Must we as the defender always be forced to attack the enemy army once it reaches the city?
     
  2. Morgrad

    Morgrad Attack Rodent

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    Pretty much, yeah.

    Due to seige mechanics, the attacker is at an advantage. So be the attacker.

    Bombard him with seige to weaken him, then smack him in the teeth with your units and kill his stack. He can't attack you if he's dead.....
     
  3. VoiceOfUnreason

    VoiceOfUnreason Deity

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    This is problem #1. You should at least be able to keep up with any single AI opponent.

    Not always - if your defenses are sufficient (walls, palaces, archers), and the enemy can't do any damage to you, you can wait for him to splash against you.

    Another thing to look into is the flanking attacks of some of the mounted units (assuming you are playing BTS), which can clear out some of the siege units for you when the conditions are right.

    You can also experiment with anti-siege promotions: ideally, if the enemy attacks, you want all of the siege engines to attack the same defender. But that still exposes everybody to collateral damage. You can mitigate the collateral damage with drill promotions.

    You've also got a movement advantage if you are on the defensive - since you can use your own roads.
     
  4. nullspace

    nullspace King

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    I've had good success holing up in my cities against bigger armies. You have a number of advantages in this situation.

    During the turns that the enemy is bombarding the city, you can build new units, move units into the threatened city, and fortify.

    Even if the enemy bombs your city defense down to zero, you still have the advantage of city garrison promotions, archers' city defense bonus, and the 25% bonus from being fortified for 5 turns. Plus, since you're defending, you get the automatic pick of best defender. The disadvantage is collateral damage from enemy siege weapons, but I think the defender still has the overall advantage.
     
  5. gallego

    gallego Prince

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    Really? Perhaps on prince, but even then it's hard. IIRC Sisiutl's games and Aelf's immortal challenges often show rival AIs with huge power leads for most of the game. I'm having the damnedest time trying to keep up with AI power on monarch on huge maps (you can see my thread)...I'm stronger than several but there are always one or two giants that could steamroll you if you fall on their bad side.
     
  6. zagnut

    zagnut Monarch

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    I also play mainly on Prince level. I have had a lot of success by following these guidelines:

    1. The AI will usually aim for a weak city near their borders with you or near your border with another civ with which they have an open borders treaty. Therefore, once they declare war if they are not adjacent to you imagine where you would attack if you were them and send as many units as you can spare to defend that city.

    2. The AI usually focuses all of its attack on one city. Therefore, you can strip units from other cities, especially central core cities that are not close to a border, and send them to the point of attack.

    3. When I am attacked by another civ I try to attack his forces before they can reach a strategic square, such as a hill or forest that is adjacent to my city. Just because you are being invaded doesn’t mean you can’t go on the offensive. In my opinion, this is the single most important tactic. Your units can move much faster around your territory on your roads than the enemy can. Move them to the point of attack. If you can catch his forces when they are on plains, grassland, desert or flood plains, they you can do some serious damage to him. Make sure you have built roads that connect all of your cities in a couple of ways.

    4. Plan the attack on his units that are in the open, just as if you were attacking one of his cities. Bring your catapults and trebs to weaken his units before attacking him with your offensive units. Use your roads wisely so that you can move to his stack and still have a movement point left to attack. You don’t want to give him the first strike at you by running out of movement on the square adjacent to his.

    5. Always check the odds before attacking so that you try to get your best unit against one of his weaker units. If you choose a unit to attack you will notice that his stack will choose the most effective counter unit to your unit. That is why you always want to check the odds. Your strongest unit may not be the best one to use first. You may have to sacrifice some of your lesser units in order to weaken his units, saving your stronger units for the definite kill.

    6. You don’t have to kill all of his units. Sometimes if you weaken his stack enough he will withdraw to heal.

    7. Don’t let the invading civ occupy a hill, forest or jungle next to your city. If you see him heading for such a square, then you should occupy that square before he does with several strong defensive units. This will deter him from attacking your fortified units on that square and, hopefully, keep him on squares that do not give him a defensive bonus and enable your other units to attack him more effectively.

    8. Once a civ declares war on you, stop being a builder. Switch all your production to military units. I find that the most effective units are the offensive ones and not the defensive ones. Perhaps that is because I always go on the offensive, even when I am invaded.

    I don't mean to imply that these guidelines are the only way to do it. There are lots of different strategies in this game. However, I have had a lot of success with these and I hope you do also.
     
  7. gallego

    gallego Prince

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    I agree with the above, but regarding number 2, watch out for stray AI units that go around pillaging. The AI just loves to use knights and harass you through the back door. If you aren't careful they can take lightly defended cities with these. Also, keep a separate stack on the other side of your territory to respond to any attacks there. The AI can sneak around, make sudden naval landings, or you can get dogpiled. But very good comments.
     
  8. TRJS

    TRJS Warlord

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    One major way to assist your counter attack is the removal of all adjacent forests.

    Otherwise trying to hit his stack early with mounted always helps.
     
  9. illram

    illram Deity

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    Don't forget siege weapons, because as our good friend Mr. George Bush showed the world, there is nothing like a good pre-emptive strike to destroy the enemy. [/sarcasm]

    But in all seriousness siege weapons are an important part of a solid defense.
     
  10. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    Don't let them get to a Forest or Hill. Build lots of cultural defense, and/or put Forts on border hills and put units in them. Hill promoted units are very, very good at killing enemy attackers on defense.
     
  11. gallego

    gallego Prince

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    Will the enemy actually go for forts, or just go around them?
     
  12. Naismith

    Naismith Prince

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    The best strategy is not to get invaded in the first place. :)

    The AI consults its "personality" and the power rating when deciding whether to declare war, and who to declare war on. You have to know the personality of the various civ leaders, and watch the power ratings carefully. You will probably lag in power in the early game, but you don't want the gap between you and and a neighbor to get too large, especially if you have an aggressive neighbor. Having the same religion, giving in to demands, etc. is also helpful if you are lagging in power, and need some breathing space. You may already know this, but it's important to note.

    If you do get invaded, it's nice if you see it coming and have some time to prepare. Having three or four catapults (or even more) waiting for that 12 unit stack is very handy. Ideally, they don't ever get next to your city, you hit them hard on flat ground a couple of tiles away from the city. You suicide the cats, and then mop up with your remaining units. If you know they have horse archers, you should have prepared with some spears for pillage control.

    Having said all that, I hate playing defense. Losing units is inevitable, and you have nothing to show for it except punishing one of your opponents, and that's if things go well. (Ok, you might be able to make them give you some cash or a tech for peace, but that's kind of iffy.)

    The thing I especially hate is knowing that you can successfully take down an entire stack, maybe achieving a 2:1 kill ratio, and end up getting dogpiled when your power rating slips because you lost several units.
     
  13. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    If the game is early, you want to go for the right kind of mounted units. Horse Archers, Knights, and Cavalry respectively. With enough of these units, you can completely wipe out any attack stack's siege equipment, and without those, an attack stack is just XP waiting to be gathered.

    Usually, once an enemy stack runs out of siege, it retreats. It may leave behind pillage units which you can kill at leisure. If you have extra Catas, those are great for weakening enemy stacks, then finish it off with pretty much any available unit.
     
  14. Verge

    Verge Let's hug it out

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    I haven't noticed the AI attacking my forts with any regularity, if at all. I really just use forts to deter the AI from occupying key hills or forests, thus shepherding their SoD into a nearby grassland or plains tile where the units in my fort can pick them off easily. That said, you don't need a fort to do this, just a sizable stack of units occupying the strategic tile.
     
  15. Collier20

    Collier20 Warlord

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    To fight off an AI assault you need two things, mounted units and seige units with collateral damage promotions. Mounted units have a great special feature that allows them to flank seige units after attacking a SoD. Since mounted units are week to spearmen, pikemen, and riflemen throw a couple of seige units at the stack to weaken it up. After that send in your mounted units. In my experience a stack of five catapults can be destroyed by five mounted archers. With their seige units destroyed and other units damaged, an AI will usually retreat.
     
  16. Slip de Garcon

    Slip de Garcon Warlord

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    Always cut down forests one square around border cities!
     
  17. Airefuego

    Airefuego King

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    On flank attacks by mounted against siege units...

    does the siege unit have to be the chosen defender, or is it like "collateral" ie the siege units take a hit if the mounted unit beats some other defender?
     
  18. Onionsoilder

    Onionsoilder Reaver

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    It "collateral" because when you attack a unit stack with a Mounted Unit, they will fight the strongest defender(reguardless if it is Anti-Mounted, Archer, Armored or Siege), but they will still damage the Siege Units. If you attack enough times with flanking units, you can kill the Siege Units without ever direcly fighting them.

    Example: You have 5 Knights, 2 Longbowmen, a Maceman, a Pikeman, and a Catapult. Your opponent has a Pikeman, 2 Crossbowman, 3 Swordsmen, and 3 Trebuchets.

    You attack with your Catapult. This will go up against the Crossbowmen most likely dong 30% before dying, but it will cause collateral damage to other units in the stack, say 20%. Next, you send your Knights against the stack. These will go up against the Pikeman first. The first Knight will die, but deal 15% damage to each catapult. The other three knights attack, killing the Pikemen and two other invaders, while each doing 15% to the Trebuchets. Despite never directly attacking a Trebuchet, you know have all three of them at (15+15+15+15+20 = 80% damage) Now if you attack with one more knight, it will kill the remaining invaders, and due to flanking will obliverate all the Trebuchets as well.
     
  19. TRJS

    TRJS Warlord

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    Immortals are great for this. Throw a stack of them with flanking at any enemy stack and they do loads of damage and survive.
     
  20. lutzj

    lutzj The Last Thing You See

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    Use your own siege units to weaken the enemy stack.

    If you have BTS, use flanking cavalry to cut those siege units down to size.
     

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