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Rating the Unique Units by Ision

Discussion in 'Civ3 Strategy Articles' started by Ision, Jul 13, 2004.

  1. Ision

    Ision Master

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    I often get PMs asking me how I rate a particular UU. It is hard enough to rate the CIV themselves considering the numerous variables involved, while trying to keep a balanced view between the 3 play styles (warmonger, balance of power, peaceful builder). Rating a UU in a vacuum, without any context to the specific map, difficulty level, player skill level, terrain or victory type sought – is perhaps an impossibility. The best one can do is to create a standard that is based on a host of assumptions. In an effort to be fair one must attempt to remove themselves from their own biases that have been formed as a consequence of their personal play preferences and most importantly from the difficulty level that they typically play within. This last bias can often blind a player completely. A player struggling terribly to keep up with an AI in the early game (regardless of difficulty level) comes to far different conclusions than a player that is playing at a level in which he and the AI are on a far more equal footing early (I completely dismiss the opinion of players playing ‘well below’ their skill level – the game conditions in which they play often leads to very unsound conclusions).

    The standard I will use rest on these assumptions: the world size is standard or large, the map type Continents, the game is un-modded, the victory conditions are space, culture and domination, barbs are roaming or restless, terrain is ‘standard’, world age is 4 billion. There are others, but I think you get the idea – I have tried to use the ‘middle’ points and avoid the extremes while also taking into consideration the settings that I believe are player favorites. I will use a tier system of 3rds (best 10, next best 11, last 10) in which to categorize the UUs. Any attempt to numerically rate the UUs is doomed – without a broader categorization an already difficult task becomes impossible.

    Anyone familiar with anything I have written is also aware of my philosophy on unit value - or lack of value. My philosophy is derived from 3 elements: my hands-on use of every UU in actual game play, the basic strategic principles that I have learned from my life-long playing of war games of all types, and conclusions I have derived from my reading of military history. Fundamentally, the valuation is as follows: 1) speed 2) offensive power 3) cost-efficiency 4) longevity/viability prior to obsolescence, and 5) defensive power – all within the context of their respective unit class. I do NOT intend to debate the merits, or lack of merit in how I have weighted these elements. Some type of standard must be used otherwise the debate falls into a series of arbitrary arguments that cannot be measured or quantified even in a limited sense.

    The truest bottom line to the UUs is that they are as good or bad as the game conditions at the time of their arrival and the player’s skill level with that particular unit. Nevertheless, we all love to speculate, compare, measure, and debate them. In that spirit I offer the following UU ratings:

    1st Tier: Rider, Immortal, Sipahi, Ansar Warrior, Mounted Warrior, Dromon, Hoplite, Gallic Swordsman, Panzer, and the Beserk.

    2nd Tier: Babylonian Bowman, Enkidu Warrior, Impi, Jaguar Warrior, Samurai, Swiss Mercenary, Legionary, Man O’ War, Javelin Thrower, War Elephant, and the Keshik.

    3rd Tier: War Chariot, Chasqui Scout, Cossack, Musketeer, Numidian Mercenary, Hwach’a, Carrack, Conquistador, 3-Man Chariot, and the F-15.

    So there it is! Enjoy yourselves – ripping both each other and me to pieces!
     
  2. MSTK

    MSTK Chieftain

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    Isn't it Dromon?

    EDIT: Ision fixed the typo.
     
  3. Longasc

    Longasc Chieftain

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    Yeah, here we go!

    I am right now playing the Arabs, looking forward to those Ansar Warriors, too. I will add some meat why the missing Defende point can easily be compensated, but well.

    What about the PANZER? No doubt, speed kills. It can easily advance deep in enemy territory and that 1 extra movement is just incredible useful. It can retreat from other tanks, it is great if there are not railroads or roads everywhere.

    But it comes too late to be a 1st tier civ! Bombers come before Panzers or Tanks, they will form the mainstay of ground troops as soon as they are available, but Infantry+Artillery and Bombers, by that time you should already have the advantage so that the really good UU is just an advantage, but not a real killer like early Mounted Warriors and such UU's. I would rank them 2nd tier.

    As I am no Mayans players, the Jav Thrower is not well known to me. By itself it is not an impressive unit, but this enslavement ability... hm, not sure, 2nd tier might fit.

    Droman <-> Dromon. Besides that, the F-15 was your Avatar for quite a long time, now you have changed it and ranked it third tier. Shame on you. <g>
     
  4. MSTK

    MSTK Chieftain

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    Alas, just because it looks cool doesn't mean that it is good.

    I was quite surprised to find that out myself.
     
  5. DS_Legionary

    DS_Legionary Chieftain

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    I'd have to say that I agree with everything here except that the Cossack is third tier. I would have placed it in second tier and put the Man O' War third tier. With a movement of three and being able to attack more than once per turn is just begging to create leaders. They come before Rifles (all be it not much before) and with the help of Artillery can even take on Infantry.

    (Side note my latest game as Russia I owned an island that I defended with only Cossacks [no infantry or artillery] against Infantry, Rifles, and Cavalry. I had minimal losses even against the Infantry. It could have just been lucky RNG, but since then I have had a new found respect for the Cossack)
     
  6. Ision

    Ision Master

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    MSTK, - you are correct - I edited the word Dromon to reflect the correct spelling.

    Longasc - remember in my second paragraph were I listed some assumptions that I had to apply, and then said there were others - among those 'others' is the assumption that the game is still at least somewhat competitive at the time your UU arrives. I judged the Panzer with that assumption included.

    DS Legionary - many players incorrectly view 'blitz' ability as an extension of speed - it is, but only ever so slightly so. It is primarily an extension of both offensive power and defensive power. Offensive power, in that it allows you to use that off power yet again. Defensive power in that your ability to use your off power again SUCCESFULLY is closely tied to the amount of damage you sustained in the first round of 'blitz'. The Cossacks defense of 3 is woefully low (within the context of the units it faces in its time period) in order to be able to consistantly use blitz ability succesfully. Unlike tha Panzer, blitzing with the Cossack is far more dangerous and has a much higher 'risk-reward' ratio. Also, unlike the Panzer, it has no actual movement point bonus over the unit it replaces.

    Ision
     
  7. Reinhard

    Reinhard Arrrr!!

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    Because of their ultra-cheap prize hordes of war chariots can be used in devastating offensive warfare throughout the ancient age. Not to mention mass upgrade to knights/cavs and going in again. Otherwise I'd even put them in the first tier, but they trigger GA too early and can really suck in jungle maps. Still, I'd suggest higher rating for them!
     
  8. Yaype

    Yaype Me

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    Nice job, Ision! :thumbsup: I agree with pretty much all the ratings, but I was surprised by the berserk being on the 1st tier. I have not yet played as Scandinavia, and I know the berserk has the same capaibilities as the marine as well as an ultra-high attack, but I thought its cost was high enough that it made it somewhat difficult to use to a great extent. I shall have to try things out with Scandinavia and prove my doubts wrong. ;)
     
  9. Ision

    Ision Master

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    Reinhard - I cannot argue the ability to effectively use a fast and relatively cheap UU available so early. I would wager that every player has used them well to varying degrees - especially in their novice stage. Nevertheless, IMO they have a very tiny window of usefullness - here is my rationale for the ranking: their speed is no better than the 2 units they can substitute for (chariots/horsemen), their offensive power is better than a chariot but no better than the standard horseman, their cost efficiency IS a plus, they are obsolete after a mere 2 techs! - in the ultra-early game with a barley roaded world I would rather have a horseman at 10 more sheilds than the 'wheeled' WC, their defensive value is equal to the chariot but slightly inferior to the horseman (the horseman can defend from mountains and swamps). They simply do not 'add' up well.

    Ision
     
  10. Nad

    Nad Known Troublemaker

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    On the whole I think that list is very good, and very similar to my ranking.

    This would be my grouping:

    1st tier (excellent UUs): Rider, Immortal, Sipahi, Ansar, Hoplite, Berserk, Enkidu, Impi, Swiss Merc.

    2nd tier (good UUs): Mountie, Gallic,Panzer, Bowman, Jag, Samurai, Legion, Elephant, War Chariot, Musketeer, Numidian.

    3rd tier (poor UUs): Dromon, Man O War, Javelin, Keshik, Chasqui, Cossack, Hwach'a, Carrack, Conquistador, 3-Man Chariot, F15.


    I think something like enkidu and impi are awesome UUs...they give you so much added security in the expansion phase, allowing you to concentrate far more resources to expansion than defence. Gallics are very nice but 40 shields for a unit, albeit a good one, is still very painful in the ancient age at higher levels. Panzers usually arrive too late in games to be gamebreakers though their extra move point is very nice. I don't rate the dromon very highly even though the Byzantines are one of my favourite civs. IMO, navy hardly ever wins any games, it is still only fractionally as important as land units.
     
  11. Arathorn

    Arathorn Catan player

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    My criteria are similar to Ision's, but I look at cost-effectiveness and lifetime of the unit as overall modifiers on its movement/attack/defense (in approximately that order), with consideration for timing of the unit also playing a role.

    My final list is somewhat similar, but I significantly downgrade naval options as typically having very little bearing on the outcome of any game.

    Top: ansar warrior, rider, sipahi, mounted warrior, hoplite, gallic swordsman, war elephant, berzerk, enkidu warrior, immortal

    Middle: swiss mercenary, war chariot, panzer, javelin thrower, samurai, legionary, jaguar warrior, musketeer, impi, keshik, hwach'a

    Bottom: dromon, carrack, bowman, three-man chariot, chasqui scout, man-o-war, F-15, numidian mercenary, cossack, conquistador

    My biggest disagreement is with hwach'a being bottom tier -- I debated making it top tier. The ability to kill land units with no chance of dying (or even losing hps) makes the hwach'a pretty close to broken. It has an incredibly long life (mid-middle ages through the rest of the game) and is cost-effective.

    War elephant as top-tier is a no-brainer, too, in my book. The extra hp is about as good as an extra attack point AND most of an extra defense point. The power of hps is not to be denied.

    Good article as usual, though, Ision.

    Arathorn

    EDITED Aug. 13 to add immortal. I missed it the first time around and just now added it.
     
  12. Longasc

    Longasc Chieftain

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    Good points, Nad, wars are still won on land. And from the Air with C3C and by the Red God of War ((c) J. Stalin). The Navy is good for transporting the initial landing forc and shore bombing plus carriers and their bombers. But in the beginning, for what is a galley useful? For early contact and trading, suicide galleys come to mind.

    On Archipelagos Man-O-Wars can make you the predominant seapower, but for a limited timeframe and still you are right. Wars are won on land. hm....
     
  13. IbnSina

    IbnSina Former Lurker

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    My list would look like Arathorn's, except that the positions of musketeers and numidian mercenaries would be reversed. In particular, I've always liked numidian mercenaries, even though they're expensive. They hold their value very well, and I've used them to get golden ages at many different stages of the game. Conversely, they always cause me trouble when I fight against them. They're second tier, in my book. Musketeers aren't really so bad, but they work only as well as regular muskets, so they have the same problems as the cossack - why bother?
     
  14. Ision

    Ision Master

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    Arathorn,

    First thanks for the positive comments.

    The Hwach'a: I do not consider this unit cost effective. Its -zero- defense requires that the unit be escorted. To measure the cost-effciency of this unit one must take into consideration that it must be built in great numbers and it MUST have a significant escort. IMO, unlike the Industrial age, - in the early to mid game one rarely has the luxury of both fielding a SOD of cannons AND keeping a proper number of standard units. Lastly, I will admit to a little bias here - due to the the completly broken nature of artillary use in this game.

    UU Naval Units: My initial appraoch when listing the Naval UUs was the same as yours - but then I changed my mind. The naval UUs I rated SOLEY against each other and their degree of greater value over the unit they replace. I felt that to rate them using the same impact criteria as land units was unfair. That said, your game impact reference cannot be argued.

    Ision
     
  15. Arathorn

    Arathorn Catan player

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    Different perspectives will naturally lead to different results. That's why I tried to clarify my methodology a little bit. I think different perspectives are good, especially when one understands WHY the perspectives are different. And that neither perspective is better than the other...just different.

    As for hwach'a, I'm perfectly content, if situation dictates, to build a SOD of these and not use them until Replaceable Parts. Artillery to soften, infantry to defend, hwach'a to kill. Or use a single broken army to cover them, and no other unit is ever needed, but that's at least borderline exploitive. Their effectiveness, though, I would argue, is very high.

    I should note I was exclusively considering the C3C versions of all UUs, so that musketeers are 2/5/1 with defensive bombard, not 3/4/1, thus my inclusion as second-tier and not third-tier. Similarly, cossacks now blitz at 6/3/2 instead of being 6/4/2. Blitz is very useful for generating elites by getting two cheap kills in one round (in defensive war), but I still couldn't justify a mid-tier rating, as much as I wanted to.

    I should also say that I'm rating these in the HUMAN's hands. The AI does things very differently than a good human player. The list for UU's in the AI's hands would look significantly different. That's part of my justification, at least, for having numidians as third-tier. Plus, early, I'm more concerned about flexibility with MPs and locations. 3 spears > 2 NuMercs in a LOT of situations, hence third-tier. <Shrug> Reasonable people can easily differ, even with very similar perspectives.

    Arathorn
     
  16. Ision

    Ision Master

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    Cossacks are now 6-3-3.......Formerly 6-4-3

    exactly my point - you are not measuring the unit within the context of the time period in which it arrives, but rather within a very specialized long term strat - a strat, that I agree with you, is highly exploitive.


    Ision
     
  17. Arathorn

    Arathorn Catan player

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    Right. Brain fart. They were 6/4/3 and are now 6/3/3 with blitz. Why I put 2 is, well, a mistake. Maybe I should prefood posts twice.

    :blush:,
    Arathorn
     
  18. IbnSina

    IbnSina Former Lurker

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    Oops - I haven't played the french in C3C, so I hadn't noticed the change in the musketeer... Thanks.

    Yeah, I should have mentioned that part of my opinion of the units -is- how much trouble they cause me when the AI plays them. Still, the numidians are better than hoplites, albeit more expensive. But, as you say, ultimately it is a matter of personal preferences.
     
  19. dgfred

    dgfred Sports Freak

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    I am using them in my current game on Monarch. The Berserkers are nasty.
    Any coastal city can be mine if I want it, it is just a matter of which I want
    and how long to get there ;) . I only have about 12 total berserks but have
    been plenty so far. They rule the 'Viking', I mean the Medieval Age :hammer: . The only problems I have had so far is having spearmen, or
    now pikemen along in the attacks to secure cities, I don't seem to have
    enough galleys :blush: . Early game the Iroquois attacked me and got :spank: , then the Celts same. Just a few turns ago in the early MA the
    Japanese demanded 44$ from me- now they are regretting that decision as I
    have taken 5 cities and have a Beserk Army heading to their core island now.
    I will let them survive but in a much weaker state- they began the war in 2nd
    place as far as points go ;) .
     
  20. yankees

    yankees Chieftain

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    excellent article ision, again!

    what do you people think of the swiss merc?

    Y
     

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