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Defensive war strategy - by the numbers

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by ifinnem, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. ifinnem

    ifinnem Keep it interesting

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    Despite playing civ for many years now, I definitely lag my overall game ability in terms of my warring. Based on a recent game example here's how 2 different defensive strategies played out. I figured others could learn from this as well

    The clear lesson is that if you are at all like me sometimes its best to get over your "stubborn streak" and give up a city of yours... Lose the battle but win the war!:goodjob:

    How would you do it better?

    So in this game Genghis DoW mid game where I have gunpowder and guilds on him but no clear military advantage and while I anticipated the DoW, it was certainly not the ideal time to take him on in an offensive war (he had 14 cities + vassal vs my 8 cities)

    Approach 1
    Standard defensive tactics - build/whip a wall + castle and try get the AI to suicide most of its SOD. Have some mop up units nearby to finish the job.
    Spoiler :


    Approach 2
    Move most of troops out of from the city being attacked (ie abandon it temporarily) and use my siege to wipe out his SOD and retake the city with less losses than approach 1
    Spoiler :


    Approach 3
    Intercept the AI SOD outside of the city and cripple it with flanking (to damage the siege) and your own siege to damage everything else. Then mop up with pretty much anything
    I didn't even do this optimally - just 3 knights to flank and 1 barrage cat. It made all the difference though...
    Spoiler :


    Here's how it turned out (replayed from start of war) in terms of hammer cost. (Based on epic speed)

    Approach 1
    Losses (in :hammers:)
    1x Spear = 52
    1x Pike = 90
    7x LB = 525
    9x WE = 810
    2x Knight = 270

    TOTAL: 1747:hammers: LOST

    Kills (in :hammers:)
    1x SW = 60
    13x HA = 975
    11x Cat = 825
    1x Pike = 90
    3x WE = 270
    2x Treb = 240:hammers:

    TOTAL: 2460:hammers: KILLED
    KILL RATIO ~ 3/2

    Approach 2
    Losses (in :hammers:)
    1x Spear = 52
    1x Pike = 90
    8x LB = 600
    3x WE = 270
    1x Knight = 135

    TOTAL: 1137:hammers: LOST

    Kills (in :hammers:)
    2x SW = 120
    13x HA = 975
    10x Cat = 750:
    4x WE = 360
    2x Treb = 240
    1x Knight = 135 (yeah he got knights)

    TOTAL: 2580:hammers: KILLED
    KILL RATIO ~ 2

    But wait that's not the full story since when I get my city back its lost Granary + Mon + Temple + Barracks + Wall + Castle. Ignoring the last 2 since they don't need to be rebuilt, that is about 400:hammers:
    Which means the true hammer KILL RATIO is ~1.75 BUT...
    you have an intact SOD (with more experience) to counter attack with immediately

    Approach 3
    Losses (in :hammers:)
    1x LB = 75
    1x Cat = 75
    1x Knight = 135

    TOTAL: 285:hammers: LOST

    Kills (in :hammers:)
    2x SW = 120
    12x HA = 900
    10x Cat = 750:
    1x WE = 90
    1x Treb = 120

    TOTAL: 1980:hammers: KILLED
    KILL RATIO ~ 7 WOW:thumbsup:

    My conclusion - assuming you can go on the offensive immediately and take some cities and/or end the war approach 2 is clearly better.
    If you end up slogging it out vs the next wave from the AI against your city then I'm not sure there is a better since you're sucked into a crippling war...

    EDIT: Included the clearly superior approach 3 after the input from below. Key lessons
    1) Don't leave forest/jungle next to the city (yeah we all know this)
    2) A small amount of flanking and/or siege goes a long way
     
  2. mariogreymist

    mariogreymist Deity

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    If you chop that jungle, leaving no defensive bonuses for the attackers, you don't have to lose your buildings to nail his SoD, as you can do it from behind the city walls when he crosses the border. The only time you need to lose a city to gain initiative in an SoD v SoD battle is when his cultural borders actually reach one of your cities. (Pre-flight)
     
  3. Udey1

    Udey1 Prince

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    Strategy 2 works much better if it is a newly captured AI city that you abandon. Also depending on the lateness of the game you pull strategy 2 you will loose more and more buildings.

    Best way to handle an invading SoD is a couple barrage promoted siege, then a cleanup force. Losses will be minimal or even nothing but a couple suicide Catapults.

    You will need much better Kill/Loss ratio to succeed in high difficulty play.
     
  4. mirthadir

    mirthadir Emperor

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    Where is the option to build flanking mounted units, kill all the siege (and damage some attacking units to boot) and let him sucide into high cultural borders? Or to dump a few barrage pults into his SoD the turn before it attacks (the turn when the last of your cultural defenses gets bombarded away)?

    Either way, your kill ratios are vastly inferior to what you should be seeing with Giggles at this point in time. Burning a few flanking Knights (particularly when you catch the AI on open ground) to kill the pults is a much better kill ratio; as is suiciding pults.
    Is there a particularly reason you appear to have no Xbows?
     
  5. peapd

    peapd Chieftain

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    Seige. You have none.

    Seige initiative. You need it.
     
  6. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

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    Elephants don't get defensive bonuses. To make it fair, you should also suicide your siege against his army right before he attacks.
     
  7. ifinnem

    ifinnem Keep it interesting

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    Thanks for the thoughts everyone:goodjob:

    Yeah that was serious rookie error - was actually 2 worker turns away from having it chopped when he invaded...

    Actually I win consistently on Emperor+ despite my less than stellar warring - i hardly ever fight defensive wars though. I agree re the AI city - often use this tactic on offense. Barrage siege - might replay this with this approach and see the difference.


    Mmm - another approach. Worth trying to flank the siege. Will see if that improves the results of approach 1.
    No XBows since he has virtually no melees

    Actually I do they are just all Trebs - not so great for non CR work...
    Right so catapult siege in the open it is!
     
  8. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    Aproach 3:

    Maul the enemy stack with siege. Let them suicide if they want, pursue if they don't.

    Aproach 4:

    Use mounted units with flanking promos for the same effect

    Now on the facts:

    You were surely sleeping under a apple tree on this one. Like others pointed you have city attack specialized siege units and in little numbers and let a jungle tile right next to your city that is in a border with a agressive and most likely not so happy neighbour.... All of this summed makes the composition of your stack a little wierd for a defensive war, a thing that obviosly sweked things in favor of aproach #2

    To add, and since you have BUG with the fist alarm in case of hands full, you surely knew it was coming. That is , to be honest , adding shame to injury , since you probably had 15 turns of pre warning ( unless this is a limited war caused by a denial you made to him ).

    Just to end, even if it was a almost no warning attack, you could had placed your army in the jungle til in the previous turn ( given that the city in question was the obvious target of any mongolian stack coming to attack you ). That would force your enemy to either attack you there or to move to the open to try to get into the city, both very bad to him and with the bonus of leaving your city intact. If you want a good tip for civ IV defensive warfare, that is exactly the one I would give to you: the player that defends cities in the city walls is normally the loser, the one that defends in the fields normally wins....
     
  9. ifinnem

    ifinnem Keep it interesting

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    Just replayed the key turns based on the input - needless to say the results were spectacular. Will edit the original post with the results later today

    @rolo - yeah was a bit a sleep at the wheel...
    However, I thought he was going for Ghandi - his WE and also a land target... :cry: (so yes I was preparing for OFF not DEF)
     
  10. Tristan_C

    Tristan_C Emperor

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    If you have to blow trebs in the open just to get that collateral in, then you have to blow trebs in the open just to get that collateral in. Siege initiative is that important. So sacrifice the trebs and build a couple cats next game, and it's a well-learned lesson.
     
  11. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    But you border him ... and worse, you have enough EP on him to have city radius view in most of his empire ( noticeable from the minimaps ), so you would have some turns of early warning that was you the target if you had looked with good eye to the map.

    Don't think I'm stressing this point for nothing: having some turns of pre warning of enemy SoD moves is THAT important and a situation like the one you posted in the OP is the last choice you should want to make while defending: One will lead to lose valuable units, the other to losing a city , even if it is for just one turn ... and both could had been avoided with even such a small thing as 1 turn of advanced warning, a thing you had the means to have easily.
     
  12. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Deity

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    All this proves is that war elephants should not defend cities.

    Try approach #1 with 16 longbows instead.
     
  13. ifinnem

    ifinnem Keep it interesting

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    Agreed early warning is key and I certainly had means for this in the game posted. That was however not the focus of what I was trying to test although it is clearly what would allow you enough time to tailor your unit builds leading up to the battle in order to be able to choose of the best approach

    Thanks Dave - your input is always great. Definitive if not comprehensive ;)
    While you are right I think for me this clearly showed that #3 is so much better that even a better implemented #1 couldn't come close to being as effective.
     
  14. ICNP

    ICNP The Third Superpower

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    Poor Catapult troopers, they never even have a chance...

    Its easier to fight 4 Str, Keshiks than 6 str. The evidence is clear, siege initiative is important.
     
  15. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Hit with a few cats, and nothing contemporary can touch knights in the field. Mop up time. This will remain true until mounted falls behind the strength of standard gunpowder. In other words, at infantry.
     
  16. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    As he demonstrates later there is a 3rd approach and that is to actively defend "from" the city walls, using all the advantages of being inside a city. That might be what you mean by "defend in the field" but I distinguish between actively defending from inside a city and countering the enemy stack with your own field army from outside the city.

    I see three options and depending on circumstances and the composition of attackers I might use any of them.

    1. Passive defence of city using defensive bonusses and promotions
    2. Counter with own field army somewhere outside the city
    3. Active defence of city

    The problem the OP outlines is clearly a case where option 3 is the best solution. In other circumstances option 1 is low cost and often used to buy time. Option 2 requires a bigger and better army able to face up to the enemy SoD and sometimes your main army is elsewhere and can't get there in time even if it is strong enough. Option 3 has the advantage that it combines the normal defence of the city (longbows and walls in this case) with counter attacking troops that can arrive as quickly as they can get there (3 tile road movement)
     
  17. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    It is the second time this week I hear that argument.... and it is the second time I'll have to explain why IMHO it is wrong :D

    My idea was not obviously to simply put the units in the field and wait for the enemy to attack, in that part we agree. But making active defense from a city is no diferent than making active defense from any other tile in the map that belongs to your city, except for heal rates, if you can assure to be out of range of the first attack. In here , given the distance between the city and the border, there was no much of options besides using the city as starting point, but in other situations that allow it, it might be a good idea to wait outside of cities for the enemy instead of holing in the cities and only attack when they get near the city walls, even if to avoid pillages.
     
  18. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    I think you are missing several other advantages that can sometimes be significant besides the higher healing rate. If you wait until the enemy moves next to the city walls that gives your "stack defenders" more time to fortify on their chosen ground. It gives more time for reinforcements to arrive in an ad hoc manner. Next to the walls the enemy seige units have 2 uses, bombarding or collateral, and the AI makes a series of (apparently) random choices sometimes mixing the two in a highly suboptimal manner. Our forces get to heal the collateral damage which was delivered too early while the AI is wasting the chance to bombard the defences. Our defenders might gain a promotion from the sporadic attacks.

    The longbow defenders are usefull attackers once the enemy has been weakened, and they don't lose their fortify bonus. This effectively makes our counterattacking force larger. They and obsolete troops, like chariots and axemen in the OP's game, are often the units I use to clear up the damaged enemy SoD.

    Our own siege is immune to flanking damage inside the city. This is important in large battles that stretch over several turns.

    But the main reason is simply strategic and a matter of timing. In order to destroy an enemy SoD efficiently I need a powerful and co-ordinated field army with sufficient catapults for collateral softening, enough mounted to deliver flanking damage and enough combat troops to do serious damage to the weakened enemy. I need to be sure I can get all that together at the best place before the AI SoD reaches its target. If I choose to defend at the city it is easier to organise a defence, just send everything to one well defended tile.

    The only case I can think of where I definitely preferred to meet the enemy in the field rather than in a city was when his attacking force contained a huge number of trebuchets. They are good against cities and very weak against field targets, other sorts of seige are less affected by that tactical consideration.
     
  19. dirtyparrot

    dirtyparrot Upholding Brannigan's Law

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    And I really wouldn't wait until the fist came up before trying to determine what kind of stack a warmonger bordering me has. You should stay on top of these kinds of things, as that will allow you to better prepare.
     
  20. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

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    I agree with unclejj if the attacker doesn't have much siege when they attack. I agree with rrolo if your army will take a lot of collateral damage.

    Example 1: pre-catapults, shaka attacks your walled city on a hill. You defend with some axes and archers. Obviously, defending from inside the city is best.

    Example 2: Half the enemy stack is cannons/catapults. You have minimal flanking damage. Attack from outside cities, or keep most of your army outside of the city for a counterattack. Or if you have similar numbers of units and don't want to lose the city, attack with your siege first, keep just enough units to fend off his attack, and keep the rest outside for a fresh counterattack.
     

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