Objective values of Unique Units

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by Iranon, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

    Nov 14, 2007
    In previous threads about best/worst Unique Units, I suggested quantifying the benefits in units that would apply to all: promotions. I finally got around to do this for all, with some interesting results.

    A few guidelines: Free promotions were, naturally, counted at face value, without differentiating whether the promotion in question is particularly useful.
    If a feature was available for a promotion line that featured increasing returns to scale, I used the second promotion as a default; for example the +10% city attack of Swordsman was counted as 0,4 promotions (CR 2 gives 25%).
    In case of different base strenghts, I counted the number of combat promotions needed to get the weaker unit up to par (example: Jaguars need 2 combat promotions to get to the strength of 6 regular Swordsmen have).
    A + or - implies that the unit is slightly better or worse than the value given; often because the virtual promotion lacks the secondary effect of the real thing. Example: A first strike is less than a Drill II promotion because it lacks the collateral damage reduction.
    Immunity to first strikes was counted as equivalent to a full promotion.

    A word of warning: I can't account for all features in my quantifications. Some Uniques are more specialised than any regular unit of the type could be, and I can't think of an elegant way to account for how useful the actual promotions/virtual promotions are. Sometimes I really had to bend over backwards... for example, in the case of the Phalanx: On the defense, it has the equivalent of 4 Formation promotions... I just halved that for my 'virtual promotion number' since it doesn't apply on the offense. You can't get 4 of those. You might think it would be a ridiculous investment anyway when you can protect your stack with a few Spearmen. Points taken; my only point was to give as good a mathematically objective comparison of the UUs. I am perfectly aware of its shortcomings, this is mostly an exercise in geekery.

    The format blow is Unique Unit/Virtual Promotions/Real Promotions. The latter are important because they stick. Now, in order of theoretical badassery...

    East Indiaman 5+/0
    Quechua 5/1
    Landsknecht 4/0
    Skirmisher 3.8-/0
    War Chariot 3.5/0
    Oromo Warrior 3-/2
    Samurai 3-/1
    Janissary 3/0
    Praetorian 2.9
    Cho-Ko-Nu 2.7-
    Navy Seal 2.5-/1
    Immortal 2+/0
    Conquistador 2+/0
    Impi 2/1
    Bowman 2/0
    Panzer 2/0
    Phalanx 2/0
    Hwacha 2/0
    Cossack 2/0
    Berserker 1.4/0
    Keshik 1+/0
    Musketeer 1+/0
    Numidian Cavalry 1/1
    Gallic Warrior 1/1
    Cataphract 1/0
    Redcoat 1/0
    Holkan 1/0
    Vulture 1/0
    Camel Archer 0.75/0
    Dog Soldier -0.5/0
    Jaguar Warrior -1/1
    Ballista Elephant n/a
    Fast Worker n/a
    Carrack n/a

    Now the first thing that struck me is how useless the whole exercise was with respect to general gameplay. The leaders in points are hit-or-miss affairs. East Indiamen can ensure gamebreaking naval dominance, as often they will be a non-factor. A Quechua Rush can break the game by 2000 BC or the unit can fade into obscurity before seeing combat.

    In other cases, the sizable bonuses go to waste - sure, Landsknechts can competently fill a secondary role compared to Pikemen but they remain a niche unit; that a stack of two grillion Macemen + Trebuchets needs an escort of 3 Landsknechts instead of 2 Crossbowmen and 2 Pikemen for the same protection is a fairly marginal saving of resources.

    Bonuses to bread-and-butter units, especially ancient/classical age ones, are far more likely to play a major role in the game... but here too the question is mostly whether the unit fits the role required of it rather than how strong it is in abstract terms. The Vulture and the Dog Soldier for example don't look as if they would matter a lot, but ancient warfare is usually dominated by Axemen. Having a general-purpose attacker or a specialised defender that does its job extremely well can make a huge difference.
  2. MrCynical

    MrCynical Deity

    Oct 30, 2005
    The Dreaming Spires
    The East Indiaman is definitely a point where this system doesn't really work. Even on an archipelago map, stronger galleons really aren't that stunning, as they still can't hold their own against frigates. Astronomy - Chemistry isn't a very long window of opportunity, and naval dominance is of dubious value pre-privateer. The game isn't going to turn on a largely non-combatant unit being somewhat less weak.

    Their ability to sail through closed borders could be a game changing feature in some circumstances, since the ability to get a settler through closed borders could conceivably open up uncolonizable land (though still very rarily).

    That said, for the more normal military units, most of the usual suspects have ended up at the top or bottom of the list as applicable.
  3. catfish99

    catfish99 Warlord

    Feb 13, 2008
    Iranon-was Marine supposed to be Navy Seal?
    Nice effort on this...I'm on BTS Game #3 (many Civ 4-3-2-1 games before), and am trying to prioritize my order for Civs going forward. Was planning on Augustus next, so nice to see his UU higher up on the list.
  4. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

    Nov 14, 2007
    Oops. Of course I meant Navy Seals.

    Have fun with the Praetorians... in actual game terms they are a contender for the best Unique Unit. The finest overall combat unit of the classical era, requiring a mere 2 techs.
    Personally, I like anything that allows me to take archer-defended cities painlessly; Quechuas, Immortals, War Chariots, Praetorians and Vultures in roughly that order.
    The only other military unit I rate very highly (about on par with Praetorians) would be the Cho-Ko-Nu.
  5. AmazonQueen

    AmazonQueen Virago Moderator

    Nov 25, 2007
    Sailing the Homeward Ocean
    Did you give a bonus for being resourceless. I notice the resourceless units don't seem to do very well in this list. I suppose its hard to quantify how much of a promotion being resourceless is worth.
  6. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

    Nov 14, 2007
    No, this is all about straight combat prowess. Resources, hammer cost and techs required do not feature at all. But yes, it's worth noting that the bottom 3 are resourceless and that the Jaguars are also cheaper than the unit they replace.
  7. Bushface

    Bushface Deity

    Nov 28, 2005
    Torquay, England
    The problem with trying to set comparative values for promotions is that only the Combat series always come into effect. Even Drill 4 doesn't help if the adversary is immune to first strikes. And if you have two similar units, one with Cover and one with Shock, attacking a little stack containing an archery unit and a melee unit, the one with Cover finds itself against the melee unit and the one with Shock fights the archer: both your promotions are useless. In defence, of course, the converse is true. (Here I have assumed units of equal base strength). Of course, it is also true that City Raider and City Garrison promos are useless in the open field, and other situational bonuses may well not apply when the fight starts.
  8. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

    Nov 14, 2007
    In practice, things rapidly get very very complicated. Even strictly better units aren't.
    Example: If I have a Quechua Horde of Doom and expect mostly archers after pillaging their metal, I might require a unit that can hold its own against defending Axemen but not so well that Archers have a better chance.
    This way, I have 1 or 2 suicides followed by many favourable battles that are even more so after considering the resources... in that case, Cover instead of CR2 might be tactically superior even if every single battle I expect will feature the same or worse odds.
    In the light of this, pretty much all promotions are situational.

    Your argument has some merit though... some units weigh in at more than they should.
    Landsknechts get the equivalent of many virtual promotions, but not a type you would consider for the unit.
    Janissaries have the equivalent of 3 different counter promotions... just going along the combat line would make more sense for a general purpose unit.
    Others get decent bonuses but can very well remain obscure... MrCynical named East Indiamen as an example and I generally agree.

    Conversely, some seemingly humble entries provide quite a tactical advantage... although those I consider the most prominent examples (Vulture, Jaguar) are double-edged swords and could be considered inferior to the units they replace.
  9. The Snug

    The Snug The Civ Heretic

    Dec 5, 2003
    I see the dog soldier is low on your list, but after my first emperor game, I'm more scared of those units than any other.

    I built a giant Holkan defense force to ward off the barbs and any other civ, but then discovered the Natives on my continent. Their dogs walked all over me and destroyed me in no time.

    I think picking a civ based on its UU is, for the most part, absurd. Really, every game comes down to situational factors. Which civs are going to be your enemy, which resources do you possess/lack and which resources do they possess/lack.

    And terrain plays a factor too. The great tactician doesn't plan his game around which UU he has available to him, but upon the actual tactical situation.

    I always like to let the computer randomly pick my civ so that I won't be biased in any one direction. Like the last game I played on an inland sea map, and had Portugal. Never built a single damn Carrack or their UB. lol
  10. Jazzmail

    Jazzmail King

    Jul 23, 2005
    A little anecdote here from when my Kmer were fighting Willem: the dutch AI would send their empty UUs against my Ships of the Line.

    One on one, the first indiaman would prolly lose, but not always. Then a damaged sotl would likely sink to the next one.

    Considering the SotL 50% bonus only works against frigates and then considering the hammer cost, this may actually be rather clever trick I may copy one day.

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