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Resolved: The Ballista Elephant Is the Crappiest UU in the Game

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by bovinespy, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. bovinespy

    bovinespy Chieftain

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    Resolved: The Ballista Elephant Is the Crappiest UU in the Game

    Discuss, pro and con, as it were....
     
  2. Bhruic

    Bhruic Chieftain

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    The whole "crapiest UU" thing is kind of silly to begin with. Most, if not all UUs are situational. In some cases they'll be useful, in some cases they won't. The only way you can compare them is to compare the situations. And that's hard to do with everyone having different game experiences. I don't think anyone would argue that Praetorians are only useful when you have iron. So if I play a bunch of games as Romans and I don't end up with any Iron, then the UU hasn't been very good for me, has it?

    In the same vein, the Ballista Elephant isn't going to be very useful if I don't have Elephants. And it's not going to be very useful if I don't do any fighting outside cities. And it's not going to be very useful if I don't attack stacks with Horses in them. Admittedly, that's quite a few more conditions than the Praets. But is it any more than, say, the Jaguar? Or a lot of the other UUs out there. If I end up having Elephants, and do get into fights outside cities with Horse units, I'm probably going to be happy that I have my Ballista Elephants. I'll be able to kill the Horses without having to worry about the Spears/Pikes taking me out.

    So what it comes down to then, is just how often that's going to come up, and if it does so enough to be worthwhile. And I'm not sure that's quantifiable.

    Bh
     
  3. Slobadog

    Slobadog Chieftain

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    This issue is not resolved. I suggest you try fighting a somewhat more distant powerful enemy who's horses cannot be pillaged early on. Use Ballista's to intercept enemy counter attacking stacks. Build the great wall for greater effect. Once your elephants are all promoted up from their successful easy battles send them on the offensive.
     
  4. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    I would not like being Saladin with the Khmer leader by my side during the Middle ages.....

    In a sligthy off topic note to the OP:

    There is a military UU in BtS that can't kill :crazyeye: . Compared with that, the Ballista Elephant, with all the if's , still is a nice unit...
     
  5. uncarved block

    uncarved block Chieftain

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    Me, I'd still vote for the Panzer. Very late, with a bonus that you're not likely to use very often. I'd take a move of three in a heartbeat instead . .
     
  6. kniteowl

    kniteowl Pirate Captain :P

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    I haven't play Khmer but even without Mounted units to counter the UU is great just as a normal War elephant, I Think the problem is how rare Ivory is.... but apart it's an ok UU... the easiest way to solve theIvory problem would be to make the UU resourceless but then you'll have to nerf it somehow.
     
  7. jason77024

    jason77024 Chieftain

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    How about instead making it not require HBR, as with the WE in Vanilla and Warlords?

    It's not the crappiest unit, but it is extremely situational.
     
  8. illram

    illram Moderator Moderator

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    edit: deleted. I thought they required iron but was mistaken. oops.
     
  9. Slobadog

    Slobadog Chieftain

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    Requires Iron?
     
  10. KMadCandy

    KMadCandy giggling permanoob

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    hubby would rather mod civ4 than play most days, he's weird. one of his projects is to give each civ a total of 3 UUs, in different eras. he wanted to give somebody one based on elephants that would require ivory, and my argument was that i end up without ivory in so many games i'd never play that civ. it just seemed such a waste of a UU given how often you'd never be able to build a single one.

    when the BtS info came out and he saw ballistas he gave me this "i told you so" look. i said "honey these game designers let you build and launch a spaceship without knowing the alphabet, okay? they make weird calls sometimes." yesterday i found out they changed it and you do need alphabet in BtS ... i haven't shared that top secret information with him.

    i haven't tried ballistas, but i adore fast workers! killing isn't everything, and when i do want to kill somebody, enough FWs stacked for game speed can move on to jungle/forest or hill and make a road in the same turn so that my entire warforce can get to the front lines quicker. plus, when i capture a worker, it magically transforms from the ordinary version into my UU, you have to admit that is totally spiffy. my army corps of engineers is definitely not the crappiest UU in the game :p.
     
  11. AnaNg

    AnaNg Chieftain

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    I don't think rolo's referring to the fast-workers, pretty sure the hwacha is the non-killing military UU. :sad:
     
  12. KMadCandy

    KMadCandy giggling permanoob

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    oops i missed the word military in my fanaticism to defend my fast workers *giggle*. can you tell i love to be gandhi? hwacha could kill when they were added couldn't they. big fat change there!
     
  13. Bhruic

    Bhruic Chieftain

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    Personally, I think the hwacha change isn't as bad as it's made out to be. Sure, they can't kill, but the issue isn't their killing ability, it's their survivability. The bonus vs melee units means they are more likely to survive, which means I need to build less replacements. To me, that's a good thing.

    Bh
     
  14. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

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    Set the conditions (tropical I think) so you'll get ivory.
     
  15. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    @Kmad
    Yes, I was refering to the Korean UU when I said "military UU that can't kill"....
    And I love Fast Workers as well...

    @Bhruic

    Hwacha's are still a very valuable unit, they just aren't " a axeman on wheels" like they were in Warlords. I was just stating that having a military UU that can't kill is somewhat strange in terms of game design ( and I'm not sure it was intended to be this way....)
     
  16. KMadCandy

    KMadCandy giggling permanoob

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    i'm so used to games where i keep the bad guys controlled diplomatically that i didn't even see the word military there! i done brainwashed myself *giggle*. i played as korea once or twice long ago, they were cool but it was odd having to make myself fight (what is by my definition) so early. i should try khmer, i like big cities so the UB would be handy for that. and the ballistas sure are cute.

    looks are definitely part of my "how crappy is the UU" ranking system. impis ... great dance, great UU. jaguars ... tacky outfit, lame UU. immortals ... they're pretty, the animation is freaking awesome, and even i can conquer the planet with them, they're insane. ballista elephants are doing good on the looks ranking. and bonus points for the fun civilopedia entry, it has the phrases "mountainous pachyderm" and "unsettling smell".
     
  17. lilnev

    lilnev Chieftain

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    They can too kill things. On defence. OK, it sounds silly, but it means they can double as stack protectors for your swordsmen, you don't have to bring along shock axes as well.

    just sayin'
    lilnev
     
  18. bovinespy

    bovinespy Chieftain

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    Sorry to start this thread and not return for a while. Please allow me now to state my case against the Ballista Elephant in a systematic fashion.

    Now, of course, no UU is truly “crappy” when compared to the base unit which it replaces. They are all improvements over the standard units. However, when comparing UU’s to each other, I feel that certain judgments can be made such that some UU’s are essentially “better” than others.

    Obviously, “better” is a pretty loaded word, and I can already hear some of you starting to chant the mantra: “Every UU is useful and powerful in certain situations.”. True enough. But certain situations are more common than others, and accordingly, those UU’s which are useful in a wider range of circumstances than others can, I think, fairly be labeled as being superior UU’s.

    To put some meat into this discussion, I have made my own detailed analysis of all 34 of the game’s UU’s. I have classified them according to 7 groupings, which will be explained, and have provided my comments on each. In making the classifications, I have not attempted to list every characteristic, which would defeat the purpose of grouping similar UU’s, but rather what I feel are the most salient features of each. Let’s begin:

    I. Strength Bonus

    Byzantine Empire = Cataphract (replaces Knight)
    12 strength (base of 10) – 20% increase

    Egypt = War Chariot (Chariot)
    5 strength (base of 4) – 25% increase

    Mali = Skirmisher (Archer)
    4 strength (base of 3) – 33% increase

    Rome = Praetorian (Swordsman)
    8 strength (base of 6) – 33% increase

    Sumeria = Vulture (Axeman)
    6 strength (base of 5) – 20% increase

    Netherlands = East Indiaman (Galleon)
    6 strength (base of 4) – 50% increase


    Perhaps the most straight-forward of advantages, the strength bonus is also arguably the most versatile across a wide range of situations. These units have a significant edge over the base units they replace, and this edge carries over to all combat situations, regardless of offense/defense, terrain, opposing unit class, or opposing stack composition. It is no surprise that some of the most highly regarded of the UU’s are found in this class, including the mighty Praetorian, about which nothing more be said that hasn’t already been said 1000 times. I have a suspicion that, in time, the Cataphract and Vulture will also be regarded as top-notch UU’s (I’ve personally had some of my best BtS games aggressively using these two).


    II. Movement Bonus

    France = Musketeer (Musketman)
    2 movement points (base of 1)

    India = Fast Worker (Worker)
    3 movement points (base of 2)

    Mongolia = Keshik (Horse Archer)
    Ignores terrain movment costs, i.e. all non-road movement = 1 movement point

    Zulu = Impi (Spearman)
    2 movement points – also starts with Mobility promotion


    Unlike the first group of UU’s, whose unique status confers a direct combat advantage, the UU’s in this group possess an indirect edge in warfare. In essence, their increased mobility allows their controller to have a strategic advantage by being able to choose the field of battle – or even avoid battle entirely (a godsend to pillagers). Like the first group of UU’s, this edge applies in all combat situations, regardless of terrain or opposition. Leveraging these units’ power requires a bit more of a subtle touch than the first group demands, yet their inherent flexibility is undeniable.


    III. Free Promotions (including extra First Strikes)

    America = Navy SEAL (Marine)
    March and 1 or 2 First Strikes

    Ethiopia = Oromo Warrior (Musketman)
    Drill I and II and 1 First Strike

    Japan = Samurai (Maceman)
    Drill I and 2 First Strikes

    Vikings = Berserker (Maceman)
    Amphibious


    We are now beginning to get into the realm of more specialized roles. More specifically, March is of little use in static defense, Amphibious is not much help in the middle of an arid land mass, while Drill and extra First Strikes have different effects, dependent upon opposition tech level (extra First strikes will allow backward units to cause some damage to superior enemies, while when facing inferior opposition, their major bonus is a preservation of combat strength). However, these UU’s still have an edge regardless of the unit class of their opposition, or dominant unit class in an enemy stack. Of this group, I only have recent experience with the Oromo Warrior, but it definitely made grabbing my continent much easier.


    IV. Combat Bonus vs. Specific Unit Classes

    Babylon = Bowman (Archer)
    +50% vs. Melee

    Carthage = Numidian Cavalry (Horse Archer)
    +50% vs. Melee

    England = Redcoat (Rifleman)
    +25% vs. Gunpowder

    Germany = Panzer (Tank)
    +50% vs. Armored

    Greece = Phalanx (Axeman)
    +100% defense vs. Chariot

    Holy Roman Empire = Landsknecht (Pikeman)
    +100% vs. Melee

    Inca = Quechua (Warrior)
    +100% vs. Archery

    Korea = Hwacha (Catapult)
    +50% vs. Melee

    Native Americans = Dog Soldier (Axeman)
    +100% vs. Melee (base of +50% vs. Melee)

    Ottoman Empire = Janissary (Musketman)
    +25% vs. Archery, Mounted, and Melee

    Persia = Immortal (Chariot)
    +50% vs. Archery

    Russia = Cossack (Cavalry)
    +50% vs. Mounted

    Spain = Conquistador (Cuirassier)
    +50% vs. Melee


    These UU’s get, on average, a much higher percentage combat boost than the UU’s in the first group. The strategic drawback, of course, is that their advantages are only in effect against certain unit classes of opposition. However, this is mitigated by the fact that these boni are applied regardless of terrain, offensive/defensive positioning, or opposing stack composition (except for the Phalanx, although its defensive bonus completely neutralizes its natural counter). Many of the most highly regarded UU’s (at least at CivFanatics, from what I’ve seen) are in this group, including the Redcoat and the Immortal. Strangely enough, my personal favorite is the Landsknecht, although I’ve admittedly only had one game as Charlemagne.


    V. Reduced or Eliminated Resource Requirements

    Arabia = Camel Archer (Knight)
    Requires no resources (base unit needs Horses and Iron)

    Aztec = Jaguar (Swordsman)
    Requires no resources (base unit needs Iron)

    Celtia = Gallic Warrior (Swordsman)
    Can be built with either Copper or Iron (base unit requires Iron)

    Maya = Holkan (Spearman)
    Requires no resources (base unit requires Copper or Iron)


    This group’s primary advantage is entirely dependent upon the resource distribution in the particular game you are playing. In one sense, it can be seen as a binary-type bonus, i.e. you either don’t have the required resources for the base unit and the UU is of the highest importance, or you do have the resource, and the UU is (relatively) worthless. However, in between the world of black and white, there is an ocean of gray. Say that in your game, there’s only Horse resource on your entire continent, and it’s in the inner radius of a newly founded city of a most powerful Montezuma. If you’re playing as Saladin, this is of some interest, but only one of many factors to be taken into consideration. If you’re playing as anyone else, you better believe that one of your most important foreign policy goals will center around controlling those Horses until you unlock the secrets of Engineering (or Construction, if you have Ivory). Of the group, I’ve had a lot of fun with the Gallic Warrior, but most of that was due to the free Guerrilla I promotion and playing as Boudica. I’ve no experience with the others in this group.


    VI. Powerful Special Unique Abilities

    China = Cho-Ko-Nu (Crossbowman)
    Causes collateral damage

    Portugal = Carrack (Caravel)
    Can carry 2 military units (including Settlers and Workers)


    Now, just because these two UU’s are in the sixth grouping doesn’t mean that they are not each very good UU’s. To the contrary, it’s merely a result of them not being like any of the other UU’s. The Cho-Ko-Nu is the only non-Siege, non-promoted land unit in the game that causes collateral damage. The Portuguese are the only civ that can cross oceans to grab land before the discovery of Astronomy. Neither of these are insignificant advantages, although the Carrack is a little less useful on a Pangaea map. I’ve loved the Cho-Ko-Nu’s all-around usefulness, whether on attack or defense, for two years now, and I’m sure that once I get used to Joao II, I’ll have a lot of fun with the Portuguese as well.

    VII. Special Unique Ability

    Khmer Empire = Ballista Elephant (War Elephant)
    Targets any Mounted units first in combat outside cities


    Hmmm…. What have we here? The Ballista Elephant.

    Since it’s a UU, it must be stronger than the base unit, right?
    Nope.

    Well then, I bet it moves faster.
    Nope.

    I know – it has a free Combat I promotion or something.
    Nope.

    Huh. Well, there must be some type of units it especially tears up, then.
    Nope.

    No Ivory to build it, right?
    Nope.

    Damn, can these pachyderms fly or something?
    Nope.

    This is what I am talking about. Look at all the other groups I’ve laid out, and then compare them to the last group. And then I want you to look me in the eye and tell me it’s not true that the Ballista Elephant is the crappiest UU in the game. It’s OK – if you can’t say it, then I won’t think any less of you…. ;)
     
  19. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

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    Camel archers have 25% withdrawal, which to me is as big an advantage as no resources.
     
  20. bovinespy

    bovinespy Chieftain

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    @ vicawoo :twitch:
     

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