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Somebody please justify flanking for me!

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Bostock, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. Bostock

    Bostock Chieftain

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    I've tried giving my mounted units Flanking a couple of times, and I've been underwhelmed. What are the situations (outside of desiring Sentry or somesuch) where Flanking is a good investment?
     
  2. Snovvdog

    Snovvdog Chieftain

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    Flanking is for the retreat right ?

    Well I use it to weaken city defenders without losing my soldiers, usually cheaper to make horse archers than macemen and when I don't have siege weapons I attack with them first, hoping about 30-50% survives...
     
  3. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam GiftOfNukes

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    Flanking gives a withdrawal chance if the unit would otherwise lose.

    This has 2 uses:

    1. Attacking a very strong unit such as a cg III archer or longbow, in hopes that your unit survives but does it damage.
    2. Attacking and (hopefully surviving) a stack of enemy soldiers in your territory. If your mounted unit lives, either through victory or withdrawal, you damage the enemy siege. It is actually possible to KILL enemy siege without killing the other units defending it this way. In a war between armies with fairly large #'s on either side, this plus walls can easily decide who loses and who wins and keeps 75% of their stack or more. My highest scoring game ever (230k points just last night) involved just such a situation, against PRATS. I was Germany, and my HA's saved me big time.

    Also note that since flanking II gives first strike immunity, you can use that on cavalry to give them ridiculously high retreat odds and nearly guarantee damage to a defender - even those obnoxious units like machine guns etc.

    I've taken entire maps with combinations of flanking II, combat shock, and straight combat mounted units, supported by spies.

    It functions so that you want to use other promotions when you are likely to win, but you have the best % of survival and efficiency via flanking when the defender has higher strength than your attacking unit.

    Note that if you can somehow get them pre-1AD in force, flanking + combat HA's absolutely trounce the AI (I can vouch for it up to emperor). My 230k game actually led me to HA rushing sitting bull (!) since he was smaller than other civs and a heathen scapegoat target. Ignoring the drill/first strike was nice, the CG was a pain - but HA's IMO were just as effective there as ANY OTHER UNIT would have been, and as I mentioned above they saved me later on as I eviscerated 2 equal-size stacks with them...gotta love promotion advantages :p.
     
  4. azzaman333

    azzaman333 meh

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    When giving flanking to Horse Archers and Cavalry, you're pretty much guaranteed that half of your units that don't kill enemies will survive. Coupled with a Medic III unit nearby, they'll be ready to fight again within 3 turns plus the reinforcements you'd be bringing.

    However, flanking on a chariot, knight or curassier is a waste, you're better off going along the combat line due to the lack of base withdrawl.
     
  5. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam GiftOfNukes

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    Cuirassers have base withdrawal...and it's pretty decent...

    Cataphracts and camel archers should both consider it also - the former isn't first strike immune, the latter has base withdrawal and it's quite nice.

    Chariots normally wouldn't get flanking, the only time you'd want to use it is vs spears, but you should be hitting with them ASAP and pillaging metal like crazy to minimize the chances of spears while a chariot rush is still actually viable.

    Knights are interesting. I used to hate them very much, but now I actually like them. The lack ANY inherent withdrawal (making them equal to the elephant). Even chariots get 10% by default! Anyway, despite that weakness, knights have the highest strength of all mounted units vs other units in their era and retain first strike immunity. This means all you castle whores out there (all 3 of you or so) can take advantage of the espionage with knights + civics + spies. Combat II shock knights have the odds on pikes, and they move FAST. Medieval wars are usually slow but not if you do a knight charge. The difficulty is setting it up - you need both engineering and guilds, and this power only lasts until the enemy gets cuirassers, rifles, or cannon (I'd suggest going for cuirassers ASAP yourself as then the enemy will need rifling to fully counter you and they're earliest in the tech tree of the 3).

    Not every game goes well enough that you can use knights this way (protective gets a slight boost here with cheap castles) but it remains an option if things shake out correctly - knights with that 3rd promotion start looking nasty.
     
  6. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Chieftain

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    Flanking 1 is not very useful adding only 10% to the withdrawal chance. It does open up Sentry (which I never use) and for ships Navigation which I use extensively (but you're asking about mounted troops). Flanking 2 is much more useful giving +20% chance of withdrawal and immunity for first strikes. So generally I will either promote my mounted troops with both flanking promotions or none.

    Sometimes the extra withdrawal chance makes a big difference, especially if you are attacking a big SoD with lots of seige using out of date troops against good defenders or in a strong defensive position. The Flanking attack is an inherent ability of some mounted troops (unrelated to the Flanking promotion, confusing naming by Firaxis :confused:) and can be a very important way to get rid of a catapults/ trebuchets (HAs and Knights) or cannons (cuirassiers and cavalry). The Flanking 2 promotion means that a HA has a 60% chance of withdrawal even when it stands no chance of winning (against Pikemen on a hill, say) and that's double its usual 30% chance. For cuirassiers against riflemen (for a Flanking attack on cannons) the odds go up from 15% normal withdrawal to 45%, a threefold increase.

    Many mounted troops get an inherent immunity to First Strike but a few don't and particularly for cavalry facing Drill rifles this can be a problem. Flanking 2 cavalry can also be quite effective against longbows for a mounted rush, getting a 60% withdrawal chance and immunity to FS.

    So in summary I find several uses for Flanking2. In the middle game HAs and cuirassiers can destroy big stacks of siege. Later in the game cavalry can be used against cannons or Drill promoted troops.
     
  7. Bostock

    Bostock Chieftain

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    Oh, I know what it *does*, rules-wise. I just have always been underwhelmed when looking at the rise in retreat odds. I've been tending to use it on chariots though. I guess I need to try a horse archer rush to get a better feel for what it can really do to my success rate. Hard to ween myself off mass swords, though.
     
  8. Bostock

    Bostock Chieftain

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    This right here, I think, was the key. I need to start looking at the effects of Flanking II, not just Flanking I (and I need to start looking at it from a Theocracy/Stables perspective).
     
  9. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam GiftOfNukes

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    Oh yeah...you definitely need the 5 xp for the 2nd promo for mounted - it's one of their biggest draws. You have all non-archer counter promos and the option of flank II then - very versatile given their speed.
     
  10. kazapp

    kazapp Chieftain

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    Huh? :)confused: indeed)
     
  11. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam GiftOfNukes

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    If a mounted unit survives an attack, it will do damage to all units in the stack it attacked. This happens no matter what promotions it has (it doesn't need any). All you have to have is a modern-enough mounted unit. This is the "flanking ability".

    The above is not to be confused with the flanking promotion - which grants withdrawal chances. You can and often should flank a defending stack with units that do NOT have the flanking promotion. However, the flanking II promotion line is often the best choice, if the defenders are strong that the battle is otherwise low odds. The mounted troop doesn't have to WIN to do flanking damage, it just has to LIVE.

    So while the flanking ability and the flanking promotion are entirely different things, they do have some interaction also via allowing units the ability to survive to do flanking damage. Fireaxis apparently didn't see any problem with calling 2 different things by the same name, but w/e. At least when I play I don't code a lot of what I do into words so my line of thought is just something along the lines of "mass damage the siege" but not even coherent - I just do it because it seems optimal.

    Actually civ IV is a bad game for a player like me, as I often go long stretches without really thinking about what I'm doing - I just kind of do it. Of course, when I'm not playing I'll strategize, but during games...not so much...
     
  12. digitCruncher

    digitCruncher Chieftain

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    I use the flanking PROMOTION for 3 uses:

    #1: To improve the flanking ABILITY, against siege. (Note: I am a strident believer that the fact that mounted units can withdraw, and still devastate your siege is poor gameplay (speaking of which, I have hit all 4 main gripes I have against BtS in the last 48 hours... scary!!), as it means you have almost no counter to a rather small, flanking PROMOTED army destroying all your siege)

    #2: To weaken defenders before my main army (IE. Give flanking to some chariots / horse archers, and even though they are almost definitly going to lose, they have a 30-50% chance of surviving anyway, and they will always do some damage, for the hard-troops to finish off). This is obsolete with construction (and cats)

    #3: With the GG promotion (Tactics??) and flanking II, its easily possible to get some 100% withdraw troops there. Since GG's are notorious for dying, 100% withdraw is a VERY useful ability.
     
  13. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam GiftOfNukes

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    IMO the changes to mounted to make them powerful anti-siege were useful. Without flanking damage, siege > all basically. Just put some things on top of it for protection and it owns.

    Note that tech-lead siege still can't be damaged by flanking ability. Knights can't flank cannons, for example. Although, that doesn't mean that knights aren't somewhat dangerous to cannon. I learned this the hard way a while back, as war-tested monty threw LOTS of combat III knights at me :(. I did have pikes too, but didn't have access to the formation promotion. Since this was an intercontinental invasion, it ended very, very badly for me, even though I had 15 cannons :(. That was a LOT of knights - like 25 knights plus whatever other garbage he had. Still, in theory with enough cannon you'll win since you WON'T get flanked at least.
     
  14. kazapp

    kazapp Chieftain

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    Thanks.

    I disagree flanking (the ABILITY) is a poor gameplay addition. It is almost the only thing that is an effective counter to the SOD strategy. Against a powerful enemy you need to protect your siege train which means having scout units slowing down the enemy advance (so you can attack rather than being attacked).

    I didn't realize you could get 100% withdrawal! I guess you need a base withdrawal chance for the unit itself, and that the unit needs to be mounted (to gain Flanking II) and then you put the Tactics-GG on top of that? Do you have an example?
     
  15. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam GiftOfNukes

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    I don't think 100% is possible on normal units. Flanking I + II is 30%. The tactics promo is another 30% IIRC. I can't think of any land units with 40% inherent withdrawal (I forget what submarines have), although some are pretty close at least.

    Granted, the guerrilla III promotion also opens up 50% withdrawal, but mounted don't get that promo, so under normal circumstances it would be pretty difficult/impossible to get a true 100% withdrawal, although the odds of winning + withdraw chance should make it highly improbably that you'd lose a flank II unit with good inherent withdrawal and tactics.
     
  16. slobberinbear

    slobberinbear Ursine Skald

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    1) Just remember that the mounted unit has to survive to do flanking damage.

    2) I too use flanking-promoted mounted units (even chariots) as ghetto siege units as you describe. In fact, this is a great way to do an early chariot rush; if your choice is between combat I or flanking I, often you'll end up with a better victory + withdrawal chance by taking flanking I. And of course, some of your suicide chariots may actually *live.*

    3) I always take the Tactics promotion if the Warlord/GG is going to be fighting and not just healing. Leadership and Tactics are no-brainers for the fighting GG.
     
  17. Killroyan

    Killroyan Chieftain

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    Flanking for me is a wonderfull promotion. When you chariot rush somebody my first 3 chariots will get a flanking promotion. They become the somewhat catapults of that time.

    In another game I got a stack of doom knocking at 1 of my cities. I rushed some knights there, gave them flanking and just ripped the siege apart. 1 knight can get 3 catapults from 5 to 3,5 in one attack (if I am not mistaken, it could be two also). That is powerfull.
     
  18. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    I thinked that as well until recently, when ori pointed me that the game has a lock on withdrawn chances in the XML and that is set on 90%. if you have a promo that would boost you for more than 90% chances of withdraw, it will simply not be accessible in the promo screen. So , no Flanking I +II + tactics :(
     
  19. madscientist

    madscientist RPC Supergenius

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    Great thread and informative. I rarely use flanking promotions except as Hannibal who's UU get's falnking I for free. I will certainly use more of the flanking promotions, especially in defense mode to take out those nasty trebs in SoDs which tend to be my achilles heal in defensive warfare.
     
  20. Polobo

    Polobo Chieftain

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    Keep in mind the display retreat odds consider the chance that you will win the battle and thus will not need to retreat. With a 30% chance to retreat if you have a 50% chance of winning your retreat odds are cut in half (15%) but if you lose the battle your chance of retreating is still 30%.
     

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