Helicopters kind of meh? Or am I missing something?


Feb 20, 2012
I'm betting its the later, I'm missing something.

With Civ V vanilla, and now with G&K, I'm finding that I generally ignore building helicopters. When I first got the game I was excited to use them because they sounded like a really cool unit. Sit a bunch on a mountain range and sweep down on your enemies. Until the first set of artillery decimated my little squadron.

They seem to be very fragile. Low hit points to start with, no defenses, and their big benefit is attacking armor. Killing the opposing armor is what my bombers are for. So even with the huge range, they really don't seem to be very useful for things other than as an indirect fire and bomber spotter.

I was hoping that the general hit point increase in G&K would help them, but my limited experience so far is that they are still just as fragile as before.

Is there a strategy I'm missing that makes them more effective?
Use them to flank your enemy's melee screen, and hit their soft juicy tubes and rocket tubes.

And ad hoc scouts on the mountain ranges of Frontier maps.
Use them to flank your enemy's melee screen, and hit their soft juicy tubes and rocket tubes.

And ad hoc scouts on the mountain ranges of Frontier maps.

Hmm, that's probably my problem right there. To this point, my preferred Civ has been the Americans, so I have a couple dozen B-17s to wipe out the units behind the melee units. Playing other Civs might make them more useful, especially something that specializes in horse units, so it ends up being on the upgrade path.
they are on the spearman line... also the anti-tank gun line. Kinda lackluster from my experience, but they look cool, and it's fun attacking with them and the sounds that they make... otherwise I would probably rather have rocket artillery..
They are quite lackluster.

Even worse, they require aluminum.

About the only time I ever use them is when I am just rolling in aluminum and it's an upgrade of an ancient, well-promoted unit.
Pictish Warrior -> Gunships is simply awesome! I made 5 of the pups, and they were excellent mopper-uppers. They were also ok in hit-n-runs on cities. I like having a couple of gunships help me break out of a beachhead, as well.
Helicopters in real life are mostly used for scouting and tactical strikes, which is about the same role they have in civ. It's not like you're going to start rolling with an army of them, but it would be really cool if they added a carrier slot for gunpowder units to them.
Can they move through zones of control without stopping? It seemed like that in one game but it could have been a move back and re-enter.

I tend to only have them if they are upgrades for pikes or spears I built in the early game. I could see them against an enemy who uses a lot of tanks but the AI never seems to do that. The whole anti-cav/anti-tank tree is, in my opinion, fairly weak after the middle ages.
The only cool way to use them is as the ottomans along the sipahai line. 5 moves, move after attack and pay zero to pillage. You can literally pillage every tile in your enemy's land, but even then they're a niche unit and not designed to be the core of any strategy.
they can be fun, but you pretty much need them to be highly promoted; blitz so they can move after attacking and march so they can heal up every round.
to that end, you'll have an easier time getting units to a useful state on epic or marathon.
The Blitz promotion is usually more important because XP accumulation tends to go faster once your Heli can attack multiple times in a single turn, but that's dependent on a typical tech lead and softer targets. When attacking harder targets, getting March first is important so the Heli can stay in action more often (combos well with Faith Healers).

Helis are good for pillaging key resources deep in enemy territory, snagging Workers, and picking off weakened enemy infantry or armor. They're especially useful in difficult terrain when you're not Armerican (and thus do not have upgraded Minutemen). In Artillery vs Artillery, sighting often wins. Helis can clear enemy sighters and/or pick off the occasional badly positioned Artillery piece. They are useful sighters for Artillery, themselves, able to get into and out of tiles very easily.

In a Bomber-centric plan, the Heli has less of a place, since the same tech that gives you Bomber also gives you Paratrooper (IIRC) and they have some overlap in what they do.
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