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Death from Above: C3C Airborne Operations

Discussion in 'Civ3 Strategy Articles' started by scoutsout, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. scoutsout

    scoutsout Minstrel Boy

    Dec 29, 2002
    Check Six!

    The following Advanced Flight tactics are offered as a supplement to the tactics already in one’s personal "playbook". The author does NOT intend to debate the unit’s overall value, hold these tactics out as "best", or substitute paratroopers for other tactics and units. The author concedes that these tactics may not be the best alternative for a given situation.

    Having said that, many players enjoy experimenting with various units, including specialty units like the ‘Paratrooper’. This article is directed to that audience, and to anyone who enjoys analyzing tactical problems and possibilities. While this is an open forum, I would sincerely appreciate it if discussion could be limited to these tactics.

    On Tactics and Strategy

    This article presents tactics, not strategy. Before implementing these tactics the strategic decisions of when and why to fight should be made, alliances formed, etc. If you're considering paratroopers your war-machine should already be approaching the point of no return. This article shows methods to embrace that moment in a flexible, aggressive manner, using Advanced Flight units.

    Death from Above: C3C Airborne Operations

    The title of this article probably caused several people to have thoughts like: "A late industrial/early modern era invader that attacks no better than a Rifleman? How on earth do you invade anything with that? Are you nuts?"

    At first glance, paratroopers appear limited, perhaps useless. The Conquests version of the paratrooper appears weaker than ever for invading, with a 4/9 Attack/Defense compared to the 6/8 CivIII para. At 90 shields he costs no more than an infantryman, but the real cost is the technology. Before we examine tactics using Advanced Flight units, let's get to know paratroopers.

    "If you continue your foolish attack your losses will be tremendous."

    During the Battle of the Bulge the Germans asked for a meeting to discuss surrender terms with paratroopers surronded at Bastogne. The American officer sent to meet the Germans used those words when delivering a written statement from his own Commander to the Germans demanding their surrender. The American General's written response was a single word:


    Paratroopers are audacious. "Jumping out of perfectly good airplanes" is not normal behavior. Audacity is found in many soldiers, but it is a prerequisite for paratroopers. With a one-way ticket to combat, retreat is not an option. Likewise, these tactics are not for the faint-of-heart. We're talking about putting "devils in baggy pants" right in the AI's back yard, right from the word "Go!"

    "Invading with Paratroopers? Attacking with defensive units is nuts."

    Attacking with defensive units is not intuitive; you must "unlearn what you have learned". The paratrooper does not need to be a strong attacker. In C3C, two other units profoundly increase the power of the paratrooper.

    Critically important in an airborne assault is the role of air power, especially bombers. Fighters are used for reconnaissance, but the bomber has a far more central role. You simply cannot have too many bombers. Bombers are not new to CivIII, but an important change was made in C3C: Lethal Bombardment.

    Another key unit: workers. In C3C workers can do one very powerful thing: build an airfield in a single turn, right on the edge of your empire. This extends the effective range of paratroopers and helicopters. The full potential is that you can place an airfield in parts of your territory that you didn't own at the beginning of that turn. Any paratrooper with full movement points can move to that airfield on rails and get airdropped on the next target.

    D-Day Minus One

    Analyze the terrain along your border and around the enemy cities. Envision where you want to put your units. Move your workers to the tiles where airfields are needed, and build them. Put helicopters on the airfields if you plan to use them. Put your bombers in the city (or on the airfield) that you plan to use as a base. Also, never forget to keep a sufficient number of strong defenders on that airfield. This must be done the turn before you invade.

    The Airborne Assault - "Arrive and Survive"

    This is the basic tactic for taking cities with paratroopers. It is worth considering when crossing mountains or hills that would slow tanks to an infantryman's pace. Geography is rendered almost irrelevant. Paratroopers arrive at the city's gates from over the mountains as quickly as fast units could threaten any city on open terrain. The concept is simple:

    1) Perform reconnaissance with fighters.
    2) Airdrop paratroopers on selected empty tile(s) next to the city.
    3) Bomb the city relentlessly.
    4) On the following turn, Bomb the city some more. Ideally, you want to kill all defenders.
    5) Move the paras into a lightly defended (perhaps undefended) city.

    This is beautiful combined arms stuff. Lethal bombardment reduces the need for powerful attackers. The paratroopers’ mission: survive to the next turn. With lethal aerial bombardment, a decent defensive rating makes sense for the paratrooper.

    Additional Tactics

    Leapfrogging: Combined Arms at Speed

    When tanks become available, many abandon combined arms in favor of an all-out tank assault. Though effective (and fun) Combined Arms can be applied in new ways with Advanced Flight units, while maintaining the speed of tank assualts. Often, in rough terrain a city can actually be conquered faster with paratroopers than with tanks.

    While conventional infantry are stronger defenders and attackers, they need helicopters to be airdropped. Though helicopters can carry more powerful units, repositioning them costs the turn’s movement points. Any paratrooper standing on rails can move to an airfield and then be airdropped, a unique type of speed. After a city is taken, workers can move in to complete any rails needed, build a new airfield next to the city just taken and paratroopers that have full movement points can be dropped the next six tiles into enemy territory. Caution: don’t drop them beyond the range of your bombers.

    Armor Support

    When advancing tanks across open terrain, consider using Advanced Flight units to reinforce the armor. This can blunt a strong AI counterattack. Here you can get a little creative. If you've got a few helicopters, you can put Infantry in there with the tanks. If you have a lot of guerillas or TOW Infantry, you can drop paratroopers, and airlift the guerrillas. The goal: protect the tanks so they are in better condition to attack on the next turn.

    Hammer and Anvil

    Under most circumstances the game favors concentrating all invading forces onto a single tile. The respectable defensive value of Paratroopers opens up the possibility of surrounding or cutting off a city thus preventing the AI from reinforcing it. This can be accomplished by dropping stacks of paratroopers beyond a city while advancing tanks towards the city. Any forces the AI sends to reinforce the city must fight through the units that were airdropped beyond the city. Although this tactic carries risk, it has potential in choke point cities that have coastline or unimproved mountains on one or two sides.


    One widely discussed paratrooper tactic is to drop paratroopers onto a resource to pillage it. This can also be used on key transportation junctions or luxuries (which carry strategic importance when cities get past size 12). An advantage over simply bombing the tiles is that your paratroopers will have to be killed before the AI can repair the roads.

    Research Implications

    Many players research Motorized Transportation quickly to get Tanks. If you plan to use Paratroopers, consider researching Flight first, then Radio and Mass Production. Use that time to build a large number of bombers.

    Advanced Flight units can add some variety and fun to your game. They can also add some flexibility to your military. To those who think they are useless, here is my response:

  2. Ision

    Ision Master

    Mar 8, 2003
    good article scout!

    Far too many players (especially Ision!) pass up on the specialty units and miss out on new strats and increasing the fun-factor of the game.

    Another interesting reason to keep at least of few of these units around - is as a suicide mission force! This is more of a late game strat where you are shooting for a peaceful space race or culture win and are attacked by a larger enemy or an alliance of enemies - a few paras sent on suicide missions into enemy areas behind the lines will act as a magnet to the enemy forces. he will divert units to them, allowing you to more easily hammer his invading forces. Just 3 or 4 paras on a mountain hex behind the lines can often distract a very large portion of his units.

    Interesting article - especially the 'leap-frogging' concept.

  3. nanoboy

    nanoboy Chieftain

    Apr 15, 2004
    I'm thinking that paratroopers and marines might be much more interesting to use if the AI were to make fortress continents and the like. Since it's June 6, we can imagine that military planners for D-Day dealing with the Atlantic Wall. In Civ 3 terms, you couldn't land any units for a mass assault. You had to use marines and paratroopers. Anyway, food for thought.
  4. CIVPhilzilla

    CIVPhilzilla Reagan Republican

    Aug 24, 2003
    Very well done Scout. I think I will have to give the paratroopers another chance, I am tired of trying to invade a city with a huge border surrounded by hill, mountains, or jungles and having my tanks go through a crawl to get there. Your strategy might be a much needed solution.
  5. scoutsout

    scoutsout Minstrel Boy

    Dec 29, 2002
    Check Six!
    Thanks for the compliments, I appreciate it.

    @Ision: Your 'suicide missions' are an interesting variation on the feinting maneuver. I'll have to give that a shot myself next time I'm outnumbered...

    @nanoboy: There are lots of things the AI could do to make things more... interesting. :D Civ war isn't always reflective of the real thing...

    As for the Operation Overlord "D-day", something like that would be difficult to replicate in Civ war. IIRC, it was the largest amphibious assault combined with the largest Airborne assault of any war at any time. About 20,000 paratroopers and glider troops landed at St. Mere Eglise. ...glider troops... now if you want to talk about crazy... there's a winner. The only think I can think of that would be crazier than jumping into Normandy would be deliberately crash-landing into Normandy. :wow: I digress...

    @CIVPhilzilla: Let me know how it goes next time you're faced with that tactical situation. In testing these tactics I deliberately chose a 3 million year old pangea map. My conclusion: paratroopers work great in nasty terrain.
  6. Longasc

    Longasc Deity

    Jun 18, 2003
    You should have planned Overlord, I am sure you would have come up with a more material friendly solution... ;)
  7. yankees

    yankees Chieftain

    Jan 4, 2004
    this is soooooo true. i have done this many times with great results. it also helps because the ai will be weaker in the cities after it mov to attack the paras, so when you do this 1 turn before you attack a civ they will be weaker in the cities

    very nice article!

  8. dgfred

    dgfred Sports Freak

    Apr 21, 2004
    N.C., USA
    Good work scout :goodjob: . I love to use the para's and have practiced
    different tactics with the WWII scenario. Your ideas are great, Lux pouncing
    is nasty and the AI really gets [pissed] . Waiting for some more articles
    from you :scan: , they are good.
  9. IbnSina

    IbnSina Former Lurker

    Jul 1, 2003
    That was a very appropriate article for D-Day! I don't think I have ever created a paratrooper - maybe I'll have to give them a try...
  10. ongwin

    ongwin Rebel w/o A Cause

    Dec 6, 2003
    Well done scout, this is the article i've been waiting for... anyway, I have one suggestion that you can add to your article regarding combined arms.

    Marines loaded into helicopters can be used as the offensive while paratroopers can be used as the defensive (on the same tile of course). A few bombers to soften up the defenders but not kill them, then lead the marines in. Again, excellent article scout!
  11. scoutsout

    scoutsout Minstrel Boy

    Dec 29, 2002
    Check Six!
    @Longasc, Ibnsina: believe it or not, posting that on the 6th was a conincidence. I've actually been working on it off and on for a couple of months, while playing a couple of test games in between SGs and other games.

    @ongwin: My original concept was to use Marines as a sort of helicopter borne "Air Assault Trooper" while airdropping Paratroopers. This is tempting, because the C3C Marine attacks almost as well as a tank!

    Though I still consider this approach tactically sound, there is a strategic problem. At the stage of the game when you can research Avanced Flight or Amphibious Warfare, you have two endgames at hand: UN and Space Race. Unless these victory conditions are disabled, researching both of these dead-end technologies can allow the AI to get a significant tech lead in the modern era, especially in upper level games.

    This is why I worked on testing airborne assault tactics that did not use marines. Of course, if you can buy or steal Amphibious Warfare (or simply beat it out of an AI opponent for a peace treaty) then you can overcome that strategic weakness.

    Thanks for the feedback everybody, I appreciate it! :thumbsup:
  12. Kozmos

    Kozmos Jew Detective

    Jun 21, 2004
    Sitka District
    Great article scoutsout!

    I really like using paratroopers,thanks for all the strategies.
  13. LordOfFlame

    LordOfFlame Chieftain

    Sep 26, 2004
    Why not use paras to block important routes e.g
    1.Railroads on mountains
    2.Choke points

    Reasons:1:Once cities are captured hit them hard
    using there own roads
    2:Block off reinforcements

    All of these in preperation for a big assault
  14. Mistfit

    Mistfit Deity

    Apr 5, 2004
    Northern Michigan
    This is now on the War Accademy. Good job Scout another insightful wirte up. Especially for a unit that comes from a tech that I don't think I have every researched. I plan on trying them out in my next personal game. Thanks.

    Welcome to CFC LordOfFlame!
  15. juz1138

    juz1138 Chieftain

    Mar 5, 2005
    :D Excellent article i have been singing the praises of combined arm tactics especialy with the paratrooper for quite some time :goodjob: and have implemented the strtategies you discussed prior to reading so i am obviously in agreement however paratroopers can be quite useful in one other role :mischief:decoy. unethical as it may be sending paras to die in some remote part of the rival civs empire while your armor waits to pounce their border cities is effective especially if you are outnumbered and want to avoid a strong counterattack. This works on the principle that the ai will often pounce upon any intrusion into its territory with everthing it has thus giving you a window of oppurtunity to successfully blitz deep into its territory with armor and mechs. the solid defensive value of paras helps too as they may take a few enemies with them. :nuke: :king:
  16. 502nd PIR

    502nd PIR Rise to Empire

    Feb 20, 2006
    Great article! I've used paratroopers many times before, but only really used them in a battle once (all the other times they just secured roads, divereted enemy troops, and raided the country side). They were effective and i love using them just for the simple fact that your enemy never expects you to try airborne operations.
    Oh, Scout, i know this dates very far back in the forum but what you said about Operation Overlord being the largest airborne operation in the wolrd:

    "D-day", something like that would be difficult to replicate in Civ war. IIRC, it was the largest amphibious assault combined with the largest Airborne assault of any war at any time.

    is not true. Actually, operation Market Garden was the largest airborne operation in history. It was propossed by Britsh Field Marshal Mongomery. The goal was to land the first allied airborne army in the Netherlands on Sunday, september 17, 1944. The goal was to use paratroopers (numbereing 35,000 British, American, and Polish paratroopers) to secure several bridges that lead to Arnhem, where the British 1st airborne division (numbering 10,000) would capture a bridge across the Rhine river, and secure it long enough until British tanks from the second army could cross the Rhine into Germany, ending the war by Christmas. It was a brilliant plan, but one that was doomed for faliure. The British 1st airborne division lost 8,000 men, and was practically destroyed. It was considerd the last great German victory on the Western front. in the end, Allied losses were at 18,000 casualties, while German loses were at 13,000 casualties.Sorry for the history lesson. Death from above.
  17. Sovin nai

    Sovin nai Prince

    May 5, 2007
    Apperently, paras could drop onto an unoccupied enemy city, and take it. If you completely bomb the city, or nuke it, you could drop a couple paras, taking the city. Because helis can't drop men right onto an enemy city, once you take the city by dropping the paras, if you have enough helicopters, you could drop millions of marines, or infantry, so the enemy couldn't take it back in a counter-attack. You could even rush build a barracks in the newly captured city, drop tons of infantry, then upgrade them all to mech infantry. You would need to have some riches, however.
    One problem: if you don't kill every enemy soldier in the city, even if a measly conscript is left there, your para will die immediately, no fight. That is of course, if you decide to drop right on the city. You should probably recon it, to make sure nothing is left.
    1: Bomb everyone out of an enemy city, and I mean everyone.
    2: Drop a couple paras into the city itself, capturing it.
    3: Helidrop lots and lots of marines/infantry into the city
    4: Rush build a barracks.
    5: Upgrade all of the infantry to mech infantry
    6: Send your mech infantry and conquer everything
    1: No fight to conquer the city, just walk in
    2: Easy base to attack from, and you can helidrop men in
    3: To conquer an island city, if it is the island (i.e. there is only one space on the island, and that is a city), you just interdict the island with ships, drop a nuke, or bomb it, and drop a paratrooper. No need for even a few other units, as long as you have a backup para in case the first ran into the last surviving unit on the island. Any enemy units trying to take back the island will run into the naval screen, and you shouldn't withdraw that until the city has enough men to protect itself without any help.
    1: Could be quite expensive
    2: Relies on airpower; if you don't have nearby airbases/cities, it won't work, and unless you use an ICBM, you can't do it unless you have nearby bombers.
    3: Risky, unless you continously bomb it, and recon each time to see if there is anyone left. If there is one soldier left, the whole plan fails.
    4: Needs tons of fighters, helicopters, men, and bombers. That could run into quite a commitment over time.
  18. Virtual Alex

    Virtual Alex King

    Jul 1, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN, USA
    Excellent article. I will give paratroopers a try in my current game, if I make it that far. I have been having tough luck on Demi-god.

    I used paras ALL the time in Civ2 though.
  19. ZanzibarZim

    ZanzibarZim Chieftain

    Apr 15, 2007
    In a Grass Hut
    In Civ 2, a great endgame tactic was to use a combination of Paratroopers and Stealth Fighters to mop up remaining enemy cities that were on islands or otherwise unconnected to road/rail networks. It was a major dissappointment to me that the new Civ 3 warfare system precluded this excellent strategy.

    I've never used Paratroopers in Civ 3, mainly because in Civ 3 Vanilla, you have to use a city with an expensive Airport to launch Paratroopers and the range was so limited. I don't have C3C.


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