CIV4 BTS - Engineering Attack GUIDE


Oct 4, 2020
Hello, just recently I made a video series explaining in depth and demonstrating an engineering attack. I thought I'd type out a written version here that's easily accessible and more concise to pair with it.

Engineering is a key military technology unlocking the powerful Trebuchet unit, along with several other units along the way. Engineering is one of the more off-meta strategies, compared to the usual elepult, cannon or cuirassier rush.
Personally, I think engineering is just as strong and maybe has even more potential for Immortal and lower difficulties, and a great pickup for learning players looking to move up levels, to learn to build a powerful standing army and use siege effectively rather than spamming cheesy horse archers or cuirassiers. On Deity its not always the best choice but can work very effectively for a fast and easy victory in a good number of pangaea games.
There are 3 primary ways to execute an engineering attack:
1. Peacefully expanding and beelining civil service like a normal lib game. After civil service, you go straight to engineering, trading or quickly picking up things like horseback riding and construction along the way. Adopting bureaucracy should give you around 200BPT allowing you to get to engineering at a pretty good date, around 500AD. build units such as swords, maces, catapults and elephants while researching the last few techs. Once you get engineering, whip out a couple trebs and then go smash your weakest neighbour.
2. Bulbing your way there by skipping fishing, meditation and civil service - you can use the BUG mod and view the tech tree "future technologies" on the great scientist to see more details on the bulbing priorities. This pathway is more niche and doesn't work with civs who start with fishing, or when you desperately need fishing/calendar for your empire's development. It also somewhat leaves your economy weaker because you can't research civil service. BUT you will be able to use great scientists (or engineers) to bulb Metal Casting, Machinery and Engineering. You will need to research the other techs manually. You also will not be able to build maces until after you've bulbed engineering (and teched civil service). Philosophical helps a lot with this method
3. A follow up to a construction or horse archer attack. Taken someone out, and have 10+ cities but can't research? worried about winning lib or the rest of the game? Get currency with your capture gold and use wealth and selling resources to push yourself to engineering. Metal casting, Machinery, Engineering. Only 3 techs! Add some trebs to your elepult stack and suddenly it's good all the way until rifles. Castles and pikes wont be able to stop you. Why spend ages trying to fix your economy and crawl to cuirassiers when you can just get 3 techs and build some trebs? Those catapults and elephants have more uses waiting for them!

Some notes/tips:
  • Ideally you reach the tech fast and attack fast - before your target has a chance to build castles, then you can take down defenses extremely fast and enjoy 70%+ odds with your siege weaponry (unless prot/hilled cities). This is very realistic for immortal and below, and quite often you can pull it off on deity pangaeas too.
  • Make sure you start building units before finishing engineering. You want to whip a quick round of treps in all your cities soon as you get the tech, you don't want to be wasting time building up elephants/swords/maces etc.
  • Consider using a golden age around the time you're researching machinery. This will not only speed up your tech rate and allow you to get there a few turns faster, but also allow you to stack units much faster, flip your civics to vassalage and/or theocracy right before engineering finishes for those sweet city raider 2 trebs, and overall be ready to attack about 5 turns earlier. This is super helpful for harder levels like immortal/deity where it's tighter and you want to get in fast before castles go up. It's all about the first war, you want it to be quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Once you finish engineering, guilds is next. Guilds will add knights to your stack being the cherry on top. While maces gain city raider promotions, they struggle a lot more against longbows than knights do, and crossbows are annoying. Unless you have a super strong mace unique unit like samurai or berserkers, stacking knights will give you better overall results attacking cities - once the pikes are hit by collateral damage they're useless due to their low base strength. Longbows will give the maces a hard time because of the way city raider works, subtracting bonuses that were added to the longbow instead of boosting your own strength like combat on knights does. Note the first strike immunity also. Knights also give you the ability to wipe out any reinforcing units or stacks open field. Soon as you vassal your first target you should regroup and immediately go for the next, and aim to seize control of the map. On immortal and below its very easy to take over the whole world before even seeing a single rifle with a good engineering attack. Knights also work as a future-proof unit for all of the renaissence until rifling. Promote pinch and they have odds vs grenadiers. promote charge and they have odds vs cannons. Promote formation and they have odds vs cuirassiers. If you have enough units you won't be able to be stopped by better tech.
  • What if they do get to rifling? After guilds, Cannons are only 3 techs away. Your tech path should be guilds -> gunpowder -> chemistry -> steel soon as you finish engineering, just start heading there. Paper/philosphy/music etc. are all useless (unless you are trading for them). Once you have cannons and 20 cities (or 2-3 vassals), someone with rifles isn't going to stop a mega stack of cannons and knights.
  • Bring 2-3 workers with your army to help road the tile you are on when you take a city incase its unroaded or your vassals/war allies pillaged it. this will save you having to move an extra turn and you can just heal in place then move toward the next city the following turn
  • If you have elephants, you do not need to build crossbows or pikemen, generally. Elephants do the job of both but better. A shock elephant counters maces and every other melee unit, axes/maces defend you from pikes. The elephant also counters all relative mounted units. It also counters crossbows and longbows. The only time worth building pikemen is if you are facing an enemy with a large amount of elephants, and you're aggressive so you can get formation easily.
  • If you do not have elephants, maces are going to be your primary unit until knights, I still wouldn't build crossbows in this era (They're only really good for bullying someone with axes/swords). You will obviously need several pikes to protect your stack from mounted units.
  • Catapults are worth building a few of. If the target city has multiple tough defenders giving you trebs bad odds (i.e heavily promoted hilled longbows or higher era units such as cuirs/grens/rifles), throw some barrage promoted catapults first to weaken them. This then gives your trebs significantly higher odds of winning the fights at the cost of catapults instead of expensive trebuchets. Fact: Catapults actually do more collateral damage than trebuchets, even attacking a city! I figured this out myself via worldbuilder testing. There's also a limit to how much collateral damage can be applied, and catapults have a higher value. Catapults are also much much better for wiping out stacks in the open field as you probably know.
  • Don't throw your units into castles. Make sure you build enough siege. Ideally the first target doesn't have castles up. If they do, or are starting to get them, then attack with 6-8 trebs so you can take them down quickly while trickling in reinforcements.
Your stack should look something like:
early stages:
30% trebuchet
15% catapult
20% mace
35% elephant
+ medic

later stages:
40% trebuchet
10% catapult
25% knight
15% elephant
10% mace

if no access to elephants, replace them with an even split of pikes and maces. Bring a few longbows to stuff into captured cities is not a horrible idea either, but doesn't make a huge difference really. Leaving a mace+elephant behind is also fine.

Why do I like engineering and recommend it?
- its a lot more fun and interesting than spamming 1 single broken unit, compiling the perfect army and smashing them with trebs is a lot more satisfying
- Its comes much earlier than cuirassiers. People tend to argue against it, but, on deity you can get VERY early engineering dates by bee lining civil service, bulbing philosophy and trading for metal casting, machinery and feudalism all around the 1AD mark. Then all you have to do is tech engineering and usually you can have it by 100-200AD if the tech trades work out. For immortal, your lib military tradition date is probably not going to be all that great due to lack of trades, so you probably aren't attacking someone with cuirassiers until 900-1000AD (after libbing at 700-800ad), while you can usually self tech your way to engineering by 400-500AD and smash someone a few turns later.
- You take very little losses and become a complete monster very quickly. Once you've taken out 2 guys, or 1 very strong guy, you should have a huge stack and huge momentum to keep going further.

some FAQ
Q: How many cities do I need to get to engineering at a good date?
A: anything between 5 to 8 is the perfect number, can be done with 4 but might be hard; consider the bulbing method. If you have more than 8 cities cuirassiers or cannons is probably better giving you more time to develop your land. If you have more than 10-12 just go for tanks or planes at that point.

Q: How do I recover from a crashed economy after attacking someone with engineering?
A: whip courthouses everywhere, run wealth and try and get a golden age with great people to push your way to cannons. If you are really struggling to raise your slider markets/banks are great.

Q: Do I need a forge in every city?
A: No only worth building if you can have it finished before you research engineering and actually get value out of it to pump units. In smaller cities with less food just 2 population whip catapults, pikes, elephants and maces without the forge. (wont be able to 2pop whip trebs).

More information on the video guide, and several examples of immortal and deity engineering attacks in my youtube channel. Quite often nobles clubs maps are good candidates!
Full playlist:

I also have a video guide on cuirassier rushing here;
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Maybe Oracle>MC, chop/whip forge. First GP is GS to bulb machinery, 2nd GP is GE to bulb engineering (so you can pick up sailing and calendar and research CS after GS machinery bulb). Easier to do on lower difficulties and/or industrious leader.
I wonder if strat #3 would have helped me in a recent Immortal game I played on a small inland sea map.

Was on a narrow crappy strip of land on the south edge of the inland sea. Was Wang Kon. Gandhi and Washington as immediate neighbors. Gandhi got in my face with culture, but I figured I could save him for later. I had Ivory, but no horse or metal. Set out to do a cuirs rush to practice with that. I went after Washington, with elephants and took his core by T111, and got the Great Library. I built up a little poorly, so I had to peace out a bit. Regrouped, and finished him off in T134. But maintenance issues wrecked my econ, and I bulbed to cuirs T165.

I didn't declare again until T170. During that time, DeGaulle took over half of Gandhi. Gandi was easy, but DeGaulle got big, and was annoying to cap. After I took them out the rest was very easy, and won conquest with Cuirs on T214.

I wonder now if I went back from T111, and went for engineering, if I could have sped things up substantially.
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