Using Your Ranged Units Effectively
Tactics and Strategy
Getting up close and fighting dirty may not be everyone's cup of tea. For those who like to sit back and fire projectiles of death from afar, Civilization 5 has the units just for you! With the reinstatement of Ranged Units into the Civilizations series, the dynamics of combat have been expanded, bringing new life to this game. So, put away those "suicide catapults" and get ready to learn how to use Ranged Units effectively so your enemies will be begging for mercy.
- Key Concepts
- Line of Sight
- Standard Archery Units
- Mounted Archery Units
- Siege Units
- Keeping Out of Harm's Way
- Wonders of the World
Before we dive into Ranged Unit tactics here are a few things to keep in mind when using Ranged Units. For more in depth information about how Ranged Combat works, feel free to visit the general Combat Article.
- Firing Over A Distance - Ranged Units can fire on adjacent tiles and beyond. This is a one sided battle and your Ranged Units will not receive any damage from the targeted enemy. But beware, the enemy may be able to attack your Ranged Unit during their turn.
- Extremely Limited Combat - A Ranged Unit's Combat Strength is very low compared to their Ranged Attack and the Combat Strength of Melee Units. Also, Ranged Units cannot engage in regular Melee Attacks, they can only fire with a Ranged Attack. All Promotions earned by Ranged Units effect their Range Strength and not their Combat Strength. Note: Ranged Units can enter and clear empty Barbarian Camps.
- Line of Sight - This is where your Ranged Unit can and cannot see. Certain terrains, such as mountains will block your Line of Sight. If you cannot see it, you cannot shoot at it.
Line of Sight
There are certain terrains in Civilization V that you will block your path and prevent your unit from seeing the adjacent tile, even if it is within your visibility range. This lack of visibility also can reduce your how far your units can shoot. You are able to fire into the tile, but not past it.
The following terrains are not considered Open Terrain and can impede your visibility and firing range.
To overcome the visibility limitations of hills, forests and jungles you must elevate your units. To do, simply position your unit top of a hill. From this vantage, your units will now be able to shoot past other hills, forests on flat terrain or jungles on flat terrain. If the hills have jungles or forests on them, this does block your Line of Sight even if you are on top of a hill. This does not include shooting over mountains which are at a higher elevation than hills.
Spoiler Line of Sight :
Line of sight restrictions can be overcome by gaining the Indirect Fire promotion, which allows firing at any visible tile within range of the unit. Indirect Fire is a level four promotion (coming after three consecutive Barrage or Accuracy Promotions) but is automatically given to some units in the Industrial and later eras, such as Artillery.
If an Artillery is on the west side of a mountain and no unit can see the east side of the mountain, the Artillery unit is unable to fire onto the tile on the east side of the mountain. If an Infantry unit moves to the south of the mountain and therefore can see the east side of the mountain, the Artillery may now fire over the mountain and onto the tile on the east side of the mountain. This is possible because of the Indirect Fire Promotion. Had the Ranged Unit been a Cannon, it would have been unable to fire unless it also had the Indirect Fire Promotion.
Standard Archery Units
Your standard Archery unit will be with you from the start of the game until late Renaissance Era when Crossbowmen become obsolete with Rifling. During the beginning of the game, your Archery Units will help make clearing Barbarian Encampments easier and help weaken the enemy units your Melee and Mounted Units encounter.
The Units are listed in the following format:
- Name - Ranged Strength - Special Information
- Archer - 6
- Bowman - 8 - Babylonian UU - Replaces Archer
- Slinger - 6 - Inca UU - Replaces Archer - Withdraw Before Melee
- Chu-Ko-Nu - 11 - Chinese UU - Replaces Crossbowman - May Attack Twice
- Crossbowman - 15
- Longbowman - 15 - English UU - Replaces Crossbowman - +1 Range
In comparison to Mounted Archery and Siege units, standard Archery units are the cheapest to build, with comparable Ranged Strength to Mounted Archery units. Also, they are the middle ground of maneuverability. Given flat, open terrain, they are able to move one space and fire the same turn.
Scout Archer - In the beginning of game, your Scout might stumble across Ancient Ruins, which will potentially upgrade your Scout into an Archer. This new Archer will retain the Scout's ability of Ignore Terrain Cost, allowing it to move onto forests, jungles and hills and fire that same turn. The Ignore Terrain Cost ability allows the Archer to also cross rivers and fire the same turn. In Rough Terrain, this makes the Scout Archer an even more maneuverable unit than Mounted Archery units. Take care of this unit since it will be a valuable asset both in exploring and in war.
City Penalty - standard Archery units do have a -25% penalty against Cities. Early on in the game with a handful of Standard Archery units it is possible to bring down a City's Defenses. As technology progresses though, City Defenses will become greater. At this point, this becomes the job of the Siege units.
The standard Archery unit's job is to help soften up any targets that are launching a counterattack against your forces. At the end of the turn, if your Archery Units have no unit to target, taking a shot at the enemy City within range can be a good move since it will both decrease the City's Defense by a small amount and give your Archery Unit some XP (Experience Points). This XP will help your Archery Units gain promotions and bring you closer to spawning a Great General. Beware, moving a unit to a new position just for the sake of taking a pot shot at a city may open you up to attack from other troops. Keep your eyes open for potential attacks!
Upgrade Promotion Loss - One of the major downsides to Archery units is that when they get promoted into Riflemen (or an equivalent UU), you will lose all promotions that are directly related to Archery. There are only a few promotions that convert over when your Archery unit is converted into a Melee, Mounted or Gunpowder unit. With each promotion, it takes more and more XP to reach the next promotion. If you lose two promotions during the upgrade, it will take much longer for that unit to receive two more promotions than for a new unit to receive two promotions.
Early on in the game, this shouldn't be an issue for your since you need to focus on what promotions will serve you best at this time. When it comes time to modernize your Archery units, you have four options:
- Disband and Rebuild - If you have cities that are dedicated to building military units quickly and have buildings such as Barracks that give XP to new units, disbanding your Archery units and building new Riflemen might be your best bet to keep your military well experienced.
- Upgrade and Take the Loss - If you don't have cities that can give automatic XP to new units, upgrading your Archery units despite the loss of promotions might be your best option so you can keep your Cities' Production focused on other items that will best further your goals for victory. Having an inexperienced Rifleman instead of an experienced Crossbowman may be your best bet in Renaissance Era warfare.
- Disband - If you have a bloated military budget that is starting to drag your empire's finances into the negative, disbanding your standard Archery units may be the best choice since they will be less effective against Renaissance Era units and they will not carry over their promotions.
- Don't Upgrade - older units can still prove to be formidable opponents, particularly if they have a lot of promotions that would otherwise become obsolete via an upgrade.
- Cover I & II: +25% Defense bonus against all Ranged Attacks
- Siege: Combat Strength bonus VS Cities
- March: Unit will Heal Every Turn, even if it performs an action
- Logistics: 1 Additional attack per turn (similar to Blitz: Unit may Attack multiple times per turn)
A Ranged unit that gets a Logistics promotion and is converted into a Gunpowder or Tank unit will be able to attack less times per turn than the same unit with the Blitz promotion. That means a Chariot Archer that gets the Logistics promotion and then upgraded all the way to a Tank will only be able to attack two times per turn. A Tank with the Blitz promotion will be able to attack up to five times per turn.
Mounted Archery Units
From the Ancient Era into the Classical and for some the Medieval, Mounted Archery units will be your tool to dash across wide open plains and help reinforce your troops in battle where help is needed.
The Units are listed in the following format:
- Name - Ranged Strength , Movement - Special Information
- Chariot Archer - 7, 4
- War Chariot - 7, 5 - Egyptian UU - Replaces Chariot Archer
- War Elephant - 8, 3 - Indian UU - Replaces Chariot Archer
- Camel Archer - 15, 3 - Arabian UU - Replaces Knight - Can move after attacking
- Keshik 13, 5 - Mongolian UU - Replaces Knight - Can move after attacking
With a bit more Production (or Gold) you can bring Mounted Archery units onto the battlefield. On flat terrain, their high level of movement will allow you rush support to your Melee units when and where the help is needed. These troops are the most mobile of all the Ranged units. For example, the Chariot Archer can move three spaces over flat terrain and fire all within one turn.
Kiting - For those playing Mongolia or Arabia, the Keshik and the Camel Archer can be great units at "kiting" a slower moving unit. Kiting consists of taking a shot at the enemy unit and then moving back out of the enemy's movement and attack range so that enemy unit is unable to attack you back. This process is repeated until you successfully kill the unit, the unit retreats or you run out of space to maneuver.
Some players might be upset with the loss of the Knight's heavy hitting power when they play as Mongolia or Arabia. A Pikeman's +100% vs. Mounted Units makes the base Combat Damage higher than the Knight. Keshiks and Camel Archers are able to attack the Pikeman and not suffer damage (since a Ranged Attack is a one sided battle). With their ability to move after attacking, they pull back and stay safe. This can be especially helpful if, for instance, Germany decided to spam Landsknechts, their Unique Unit.
Rough Terrain Penalty - For the Ancient Era Mounted Archery units, the Chariot Archer and the Egyptian War Chariot both lose all of their remaining movement points when moving into rough terrain. So if your area of combat includes lots of forests, jungle and/or hills, this is probably not a place that you want to bring your Mounted Archery units for combat. The Indian War Elephant, Arabian Camel Archer and Mongolian Keshik do not suffer from this penalty but they do lose two (or more) movement points just like any regular unit that moves onto rough terrain.
City Penalty - Just like the standard Archery units, Mounted Archery units suffer -25% when attacking cities. Early on in the game a goodish amount of Mounted Archery units will be quite a threat to a City. Later on in the game as technology moves forward, using Siege units would be a better choice.
Again, use these units to help fight off any enemy troops that are repelling your assault on the city. At the end of the turn if there are no other targets for your Mounted Archery units to strike, taking a shot at the city for XP is again a viable option. Remember, moving your troops just to fire at the city could open you up to an attack from other enemy units.
No Defensive Bonuses - When your Mounted Archery units end their turn in a forest, jungle or on a hill, they will not receive the +25% defensive bonus that other types of units get when they are defending this position. To avoid this, keep your Mounted Ranged units out of harms way. The best way to do this is to have Melee units defending your Mounted Archery unit in the tiles between you and your enemies. Also, having certain terrain between you and your enemy will allow you fire at the enemy without being exposed to attack that turn. Some terrains include rivers, marshes, forests, jungles and hills. This will be discussed further in the Keeping Out of Harm's Way section of this article.
Upgrade Promotion Loss - Just like the standard Archery units, not all of the Ranged promotions will transfer over when upgrading Mounted Archery units. For Chariot Archers, Egyptian War Chariots and Indian War Elephants, this happens in the Medieval Era when you upgrade to a Knight. On the plus side, since this happens relatively early in the game you will have had less time to accumulate promotions and the loss may not be that great.
For Mongolia and Arabia, your Chariot Archers will keep their promotions when they are upgraded into the respective Medieval Era Mounted Archery unit. When it is time to upgrade to the Renaissance Era Calvary, this is when the upgrade promotions loss becomes an issue.
There are four options for dealing with upgrade promotion loss: disband and rebuild, upgrade and take the loss, disband, or don't upgrade. Information about these options can be reviewed in the Standard Archery Unit Upgrade Promotions Loss section.
Siege units will be providing you with lots of firepower throughout the entire length of the game. You will find that they will form the backbone of your army when laying siege to a City or defending a vital location.
The units are listed in the following format:
- Name - Ranged Strength , Range - Special Information
- Ballista - 14, 2 - Roman UU - Replaces Catapult
- Catapult - 11, 2
- Hwach'a - 25, 2 - Korean UU - Replaces Trebuchet
- Trebuchet - 16, 2
- Cannon - 26, 2
- Artillery - 32, 3
- Rocket Artillery - 46, 3
Compared to the standard and Mounted Archery units, Siege units cost much more but with the benefit of a much higher Ranged Strength. One the major drawbacks to these powerful units is their very low rate of maneuverability. Since there are Ranged units all the way to the end of the game, there are no issues for Siege units with upgrade promotion loss.
Set up for Ranged Attack -- Before firing at an enemy unit, a Siege unit must set up. This action uses up one of the unit's movement points, greatly reducing their mobility. For most Siege units, moving one space over open terrain (without a road or rail improvement) and then setting up for a Ranged Attack will leave them without any movement points and unable to fire that turn. This attribute can hinder one's advancement in taking an enemy city but isn't that big of a deal for a Siege unit that has dug in for Defense.
Bonuses VS Cities -- When firing upon a City, early Siege units get an extra 50% to their Ranged Strength, with Cannons, Artillery and Rocket Artillery getting a 20% bonus. This makes them a extremely valuable asset to any army that is on the offense. A handful a Siege units can fire at a City and soften up its Defenses, making it ready for an assault by Melee or Gunpowder units. Due to their need to set up for a Ranged Attack, they will probably not be able to fire the first turn they are within range of the City.
No Defensive Bonus -- Just like the Mounted Archery units, Siege units receive no bonus when defending in any Rough Terrain that would provide Defensive Bonuses to Melee and Gunpowder units. The best counter for this is to position defensive troops between your Siege units and the enemy. More of this will be discussed in Keeping Out of Harm's Way.
Limited Visibility -- Siege units have a visibility of one hex, which is less than their Range. Usually this is not an issue since defensive units are placed in front of Siege units for protection. Even though a Siege unit might not be able to see the target directly, it can still fire upon if in the visibility range of any of your other units. This of course is require that the target is within range and their Line of Sight isn't blocked by any Rough Terrain.
Spotting -- In order to overcome Siege units' limited visibility, other units may be needed to see the target. Unfortunately, this can that spotting unit in harm's way. Since the minimum movement points for any unit in Civilization 5 is two, a unit can both spot for a Siege unit and keep safe. This requires the spotter to move into position to see the target. Before moving again, have all of the Siege units (and Archery Units) fire upon the target. Afterwards, have the Spotter move back to prevent them from being exposed.
Note: If attempting to move in territory of an enemy who has built the Great Wall, your spotter will ended up spending two movement points instead of one. This could easily leave your spotter stranded and exposed to enemy fire.
Spoiler Forward Spotting :
Spoiler Forward Spotting :
Spoiler Naval Forward Spotting :
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