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[BTS] First strikes are insane

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by earthy, Nov 5, 2019.

  1. earthy

    earthy Chieftain

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    so after seeing all the AW threads I decided to give it a go, and despite doing pretty horribly I did learn one thing; first strikes are absolutely insane. this mad lad in the screenshot was killing 10+ units a turn without taking a scratch as soon as he had a few city garrison promotions with drill 4. I honestly could have just deleted the other defenders.

    this has me curious.. how do drill promotions match up against city garrison? would it be worth grabbing drill over CG if you're facing a large number of inferior units?

    Spoiler mad lad :
    fs.png
     
  2. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    170 XP, nice!

    "A large number of inferior units" is pretty much the ideal case for drill, since it makes a big difference helping to win the battles without taking any damage. Seems like you've found a great situation for it.

    Unfortunately, a lot of units have first strike immunity, like the horse archers I see in your screenshot. At some point they will upgrade to knights, and then you might be in trouble. Or if they start building more advanced units like rifles, then your longbow isn't superior enough for the first strikes to make a huge difference.
     
  3. AcaMetis

    AcaMetis Prince

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    If you're facing large numbers of inferior units that lack immunity to First Strike, yes, Drill can be better than City Garrison. The problem with Drill is that usually you're not going to get swarmed by units that are inferior to the relatively advanced and powerful defensive unit you beelined. Of course, as you've already found out, Always War is one of those odd situations.

    Hint for Always War, by the way: Don't exclusively rely on Longbows. Get them and get them early, of course, but also get a few Crossbows and train it up with City Garrison Promotions. I say this because unlike Longbows, which only upgrade into Rifles, Crossbows can upgrade into Machine Guns, which are much better "general" defensive units if the game gets to that point, and Machine Guns can't get City Garrison promos usually.
     
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  4. dankok

    dankok Chieftain

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    Great point. Machine Guns with CG promos are just unreal defenders against anything pre-Modern. Their immunity to collateral damage is just insane. A city with a bunch of MG's can be almost impregnable because you can't soften them up with siege.
     
  5. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    You can kill MGs surprisingly well with cuirassiers, or even knights (or flanking 2 cavalry). No first strikes, no gunpowder bonus.
     
  6. dankok

    dankok Chieftain

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    Surprisingly well doesn't mean well... :D

    A simple CGI MG in a 80% cultural defense city has modified strength of 36. That means it has >99% odds of winning against Flanking II Cavalry. Sure huge hordes of mounted can retreat and wear them down but they are damn tough. Assuming you have some nicely promoted ones it's very very costly for any attacker to dislodge them.

    I've tried using Infantry to attack them and it's still tough. Because of FS, those guys will often kill 2 infantries before going down.

    The only issue with MG's is they are passive defense. The enemy army can just pillage you to smithereens. Pillagers are very annoying in AW.
     
  7. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    Of course I'm talking about after bombarding the defenses. There's hardly any situation ever where it makes sense to attack against 80% cultural defenses. The AI is generally smart enough to bombard defenses, like in the screenshot from the OP.

    With the culture gone, MGs just have useless drill promos (they can't take city garrison or combat), and maybe fortify. So with 25% fortify that's a modified strength of 22.5, vs the cuirassier with 14.4. Odds to win are 8.9%. Not great odds, but you can usually win with the second one, or at worst the third.

    I guess you can do it with infantry too, but then the first strikes count and it can become more like the situation from the OP.
     
  8. AcaMetis

    AcaMetis Prince

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    It's true that mounted units with immunity to first strike are the soft counter to machine guns, but even so they're still better defenders against Cuirs or Flanking II Cavalry than, say, Longbows or Muskets would be. Of course Rifles are significantly better than any of them, but that's why you don't rely exclusively on machine guns for defence, you throw in a few promoted Rifles as stack defenders once you get to Rifling. That Longbow in the OP, for instance? Super Rifle. That guy backed up by Machine Guns and a Great Medic will take down whole armies until either Artilleries (the hard counter to machine guns, since they count as siege weapons and Artillery gets +50% against siege), fleets of Bombers (Machine guns have a 20% chance to intercept aircraft, but if you get one through they're not immune to the collateral damage) or Nukes.

    Also as an note, while Machine Guns indeed get basically nothing in terms of promotions (they're technically siege weapons that can't attack, so the City Raider/Barrage lines are completely useless to them) a promoted Crossbow can get Formation. And if you upgrade one to a Grenadier before you upgrade it to a Machine Gun you've also got access to the Woodsman line, for what that's worth.
     
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  9. Tobiyogi

    Tobiyogi Prince

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    Sidenote for AW games: I would generally not only rely on defensive units at all, no matter if long- or cross- or whatever bow, because not every AI is stupid enough to hit their head against the wall several times. After two defeats, they might avoid your super-defended city and head for the capitol. At the very least, they could destroy all your cottages (or whatever you have there) with their mounted units in a 1-tile-per-turn-moving stack. That could be dangerous, as the core cities are not always on hills and when you shift defenders, they won't have fortific. bonuses neither.
    There might be lucky map shapes with a kind of "bottleneck" and a big portion of core cities in the backland (like in Lain's AW game with Ramsees on Youtube), but in most of the cases, you have a large front line or even 2, 3, 4 fronts where AI stacks can slip through if they want.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
  10. Tobiyogi

    Tobiyogi Prince

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    But I highly agree with Xbows, rather for their offensive power, with C1 they win most fights vs. catapults, after C2 they can get "formation" and melee units are breakfast for them anyway. When you play China or Sitting Bull (6 exp points for archery units), it's Xbow time anyway. The fact that Xbows have a first strike too (and Cho-ko-nus have even 2) helps a lot in taking down enemy stacks while preserving the own units. Imo, it's a waste to let them only sit in the cities, you can do a lot of damage in the offense. For example, with Guerilla 2, you can jump over enemy mines and plunder resources, with Drill 2-4 on a hill, you can bait enemy catapults into attacking you outside of the city, and if you are lucky and meet a pure melee stack, well, those guys will never reach your city.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
  11. dankok

    dankok Chieftain

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    MG can have CG promos if they are upgraded from earlier units.

    I was talking about quick assaults with no bombardment. If you're using Cavalry and bombarding then you're going to be as slow as a 1-move army.

    Why are Rifles better than MG's against mounted? Yes they get +25% but only 14 base strength so that's 17.5. All other defensive bonuses apply to both and MG's have higher base strength so they would usually have higher modified strength.

    I just realized that Cavalry attacking MG's would be one situation where the seemingly unused Charge promotion (+25% vs siege) could be useful because MG's are technically siege. Never thought of using it to kill MG's before...
     
  12. AcaMetis

    AcaMetis Prince

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    Easy access to good promotions. Without any promotions in play, yes, MG do better than Rifles, but even a PRO rifle beats a stock MG. And when you add the fact that the only benefit that a MG gets through promotions (against Mounted anyway) is utterly negated by Cuirs or Flanking II Cavalry, yeah. MG will do a good job, don't get me wrong, but odds favor promoted Rifles better than promoted MG.

    And yes, that does mean that if you upgrade a heavily promoted Crossbow than all bets are off...if you get attacked. A Rifle can actually attack units himself, whereas a machine gun cannot.
     
  13. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    My main point was that without the first strikes, you no longer get the "absolutely insane" super defenders like in the OP. Sure, a rifle or a machine gun can get great odds against one individual mounted unit, but you can't use one to mow down endless numbers like a drill 4 longbow against axes can. And in the lategame of an always war game, 6 AIs all attacking the same city can throw some serious numbers at you.

    I never thought of upgrading crossbows to machine guns though, that's a good idea, so you can still get the city garrison or formation promos. And their immunity to collateral is also really good. But at some point, like Tobiyogi said, you have to go on the offensive.
     
  14. dankok

    dankok Chieftain

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    Going off tangent a bit... In my opinion Railroad is the best defensive tech in the game. The use of railroads to move armies gives the defender a huge advantage because they can move essentially all of their force to whichever area is being attacked. It's not until Tanks that the advantage swings back to the attacker.
     
  15. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

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    And for the opposite, having a commando stack can really confuse an AI with lots of railroads.
     
  16. Tobiyogi

    Tobiyogi Prince

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    what is needed to promote commando? (except spies)
     
  17. dankok

    dankok Chieftain

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    Commando needs Combat 4 and you also need to know Military Science.
     
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  18. drewisfat

    drewisfat Prince

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    Some counterpoints to the amazingness of first strikes, cuz I'm a hit at parties:
    Drill 4 is an amazing promotion with +2 first strikes, -20% collateral damage and +10% to mounted units. However, the rest of the drills are underwhelming.
    Drill 1 is particularly awful with just +1 first strike "chance"
    Drill 2 is +1 first strike and -20% collateral
    Drill 3 is + 2 first strike chances and -20% collateral (this is actually slightly worse than drill 2!)
    So you have to put a lot of investment in weak promos before you get the amazing drill 4.

    Always War games are kind of the first strike niche. The reason for this is first strikes don't affect how "difficult" the battle is in terms of getting exp, so this is great at farming experience!
    Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, these super defenders are a double edge sword. The result of not getting hurt in most battles is that the top defender(s) gets most of the exp, like what is shown in the OP. Then they can get so much exp that they're able to take more promos than just the drills, but taking those would affect exp earned. It's also typically a lot more advantageous to have 10 units with 20 exp than 1 unit with 200 exp. The latter is great if you're just trying to run a skeleton crew defense to minimize unit cost, but it does nothing in helping you go on offense. That unit is now a dramatic risk, a terrible dice roll can wipe away 200 of your hard earned exp. And that unit is still only going to attack once a turn. And of course exp -> promos follows an exponential function. You get a lot more overall promotions spreading that exp around, and then you have a lot of really good units that you can go on offense with.
     
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  19. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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    I try to experiment with first strikes every now and then.
    9 times out of 10, it only results in dissapointment. :)
     
  20. Fippy

    Fippy Micro Junkie Queen

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    They are great on Oromos ;)
     
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