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The most unit-efficient way to defend cities from AI ?

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Camillo, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. Camillo

    Camillo Chieftain

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    Location:
    Poland
    I'm peaceful player focused only on self-defending wars. I play on Emperor.
    So far I tried very different strategies to defend my cities and borders from AI and I'd like to share my thoughts and ask you for comments.

    Mounted units:
    Very mobile but also very bad at defending cities and borders. The AI always spam a lot of spearmem/pikemen when attacking cities so mounted units are just almost useless...

    Ranged units:
    Are good and operate from a distance but do not inflict much damage. Usually I have to shoot 3-4 times to defeat a spearman in one turn not to mention that if I nearly do it can instantly heal next turny and all over again... AI tends to surround city with melee units and then shooting at it with catapults/archers plus attacking with melee... Even if I have walls and oligarchy and garrisoned archer in a city it is not sufficient to defeat AI formation before capturing my city... So even if I get there 3-4 additional archers the time needed to shoot out AI units is too long and AI manages to capture a city.

    Melee units:
    That kind of units I found to be the most efficient in city defense and borders defense. These are just extremely good on defending. If I have just a 3 let's say swordsmen agains the whole AI's formation of pikemen/bowmen/catapults it's quite sufficient to ruin AI's city attack. You just have to make your melee units fortify around the city. They get about +50% bonus when fortified and they block a city from AI melee units. Also, when AI while attacking city meet your melee units it seems to concentrate fire on these units first so you have time to damage them with city defenses. Also fortified melee units on your territory heal +20 per turn not to mention they can get a promotion after 2-3 hits and you can get them instantly heal, so they almost restore their full health able to take out another several hits while AI units are much damaged meanwhile. Also you can fortify strong melee unit on top of some resource like iron or lux and that unit really provide good defense preventing AI from pillaging. So generally the +50% fortify bonus + the ability to heal 20hp in your territory + the ability to take instant heal promoton after couple of attacks on your units makes a really good combination for defending purposes and usually means that AI has to sacrifice even 2-3 units and damage additional 2-3 to defeat your only 1 fortified unit. So far I found melee units to be definately the most efficient at defensive wars. In fact I suppose that with a 3-4 fortified melee units around the city you can defeat ANY AI city attack which would be otherwise impossible if you have had 3-4 archers or 3-4 mounted units. The point is not to try attacking AI's units when they enter your territory but just have your units fortified and let the AI attack you. The AI often make kamikaze attacks on fortified units and this way defeating it's own units...

    Do you have similar thoughts?
     
  2. EEE_BOY

    EEE_BOY Deity

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    Before Renaissance era ranged units (but better 1 tier higher in terms of technology, ie CB vs. archer/warrior/spear, X-bow vs. swords/pike/horseman.

    Later in industry era, mass lancers with roads are very effective at attacking and retreating in the same turn (roads on every tile around front line city, especially rough terrain)
     
  3. szcott

    szcott Chieftain

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    I play pretty much on immortal and I find city location to be the key factor. On a hill next to a mountain with a river is ideal. Also consider when on a hill, any adjacent hills/forest/jungles will block a ranged unit on flat ground from being able to shoot at the city. I normally only have an archer in the city and very few other units, which I will use to harass the enemy whenever possible. Embrace early wars and use them to level up your ranged units, get the first 3 rough terrain promotions, then take +1 range if attacking or double shots if defending.
    Getting to masonry for walls, and construction for comp bows is always a high priority.
     
  4. Njegos

    Njegos Chieftain

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    Citadel is very usefull for defence tho
     
  5. Walter R

    Walter R Great Engineer

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    My thoughts (from my new book "The Art of Walt"...)

    Build cities on hills wherever possible and build walls. Then your garrisoned comp/Xbow will have a much easier time...and get XP to become even better.

    Swordsman are good, yes indeed, but they need iron and you may not have that; also the invading army may trash your mines if you do. Pikemen are more use and cheaper to replace.

    Horsemen are useful against enemy archers etc. (in attack) so don't discount keeping one or two about; also they can screen your own field archers from flank attacks.

    Play as England (Longbow), China (Chu) etc. for great UUs.

    (...for more bogus and cliched advice, why not buy my book...:) )
     
  6. StrideColossus

    StrideColossus Warlord

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    All sound advice.

    One thing not mentioned so far is that effective defence isn't just about the actually fighting during a war or siege, it's also about preparation during times for peace for the inevitable next war!

    e.g.

    - It's always worth keeping military units in strategic locations (choke-points, rough terrain, etc) ready for when the AI attacks. Done well you can often wipe out the enemy or seriously degrade their ability before they even get to your cities.

    - Roads can also be important, it's worth the extra GPT loss to have a fast route to the front-line. (Same when attacking actually, I always bring workers to wars now)

    - Citadels have already been mentioned: these can be great to place in a strategic location where you expect to get attacked from, or even in the middle of a war to turn the tide.

    - Don't forget about forts: they don't make a huge difference on their own, but combined with hills in a strategic location, a good ranged unit and some melee/horses to mop up the injured units they can be used for 'killing zones'.

    - On appropriate maps, ships with anti-unit promotions can also make a huge difference, sometimes even worth building them on inland seas or lakes for this purpose.

    stride
     
  7. Socratatus

    Socratatus Emperor

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    Once you got the right units defending a city it`s almost impossible to take it, even against the AI defending and having greater numbers without huge losses.

    What I do like about attacking and defending cities in Civ5 is it does take thought and preparation, just attacking willy nilly doesn`t work- Which is realistic. And I like realistic.
     
  8. Memoryjar

    Memoryjar Emperor

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    I play Emperor also.
    Like said before :Hills, wall, composite or cross bows.
    Target AI range Units. Let AI melee units waste them heal on your wall or castle, finish them after. Manage your city hit points.
    Mountains are also a good help. I currently have a game with Babylon, playing science (surprise). Neighboors, the sea, Gandhi, Shaka. One of my city was sieged by Massive Impis (maybe 9 or 10), i resisted with 3 crossbowmans.
    Hills + mountains + river.

    If you think there will a war with a city, create it with this thougth. I try to put a picture later.
     
  9. Camillo

    Camillo Chieftain

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    Yes, but not every city may be built in such a good defensive locations.

    So what about a city witout walls yet, non settled on hills, not surrounded by mountains and just settled in the open terrain? How to best defend it? In this case I guess fortifying 2-3 strong melee units (swordsmen) around the city is much more effective to defend it than having 3-4 composite bowmen. Would you agree that one?

    BTW - question about fortifying archery units: if I have an archer fully fortified but then I'll use his ranged attack to fire at enemy - does the unit loose it's full fortify bonus or it's still fully fortified? And how about gatling guns and machine guns? If are fortified and make a ranged fire do they loose full fortify bonus?
     
  10. Ninakoru

    Ninakoru A deity on Emperor

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    To defense the best option is to mix some units with ranged. You will want one ranged/sigue at city location, and if possible a ranged naval unit. 1-2 melee units to not let the enemy surround your city so easily, If the city is at a good location, one melee to disrupt enemy placement is more than enough. Then one or two calvary units, to hit-run their melee and specially ranged and siegue. The rest would be ranged units, with some siegue in the mix only if you plan to counter or you get to artillery. Of course bombers are great on defense once you get to them.
     
  11. joshua43214

    joshua43214 King

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    If you are using swords for defense in a peaceful game, then you are way way off the ideal tech path. Pikes are stronger than swords, and a pike in a citadel will take hits from GWI and shrug them off. If you didn't get an upgrade on your starting warrior, research BW when it takes 2 turns and build a spear if you have a hostile neighbor, otherwise you can just build a pike once you research CS. In most any game, IW should come after education, and even in early domination CB's + spears/pikes are better than swords (swords suck). I do not even research IW until I am making my run for Scientific Theory

    Fortify a single Pikeman next to your city on the square that you would use to attack the city from. 3 or 4 range units positioned to take advantage of terrain will stop any unit spam from the AI.

    What to do about cities settled on a flat with no terrain defenses? Simple, do not settle these cities unless they are in your backyard. Settling toward the AI with no terrain defenses is just asking for an early DoW.
     
  12. njmfff

    njmfff Prince

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    Pikeman with Medic promotion fortified on Citadel can take crazy amount of damage before he's killed. :crazyeye:

    I am currently at England game and both Japan and Zulu keep attacking me. This poor Pike is my only melee defense, and it seems that he just won't die... perfect meatshield for Longbow sniping. :D
     
  13. Memoryjar

    Memoryjar Emperor

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    First, yes of course, such good conditions are not common (Dur-Kurigalzu).

    For open terrains, I mix, one or two melee units and 3 ranged on back side and in the city. I allways look AI troups movement on my borders, so I can see where war will come.
     

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  14. Barghaest

    Barghaest King

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    I usually don't play on upper difficulties because I have issues with AI getting free tech; however, I find the best way to defend my cities early on to be a combination of good city placement and not waiting until the AI reaches the city to defend it.

    Most of my games I've had terrain to use to defend - forest, jungle, marsh or hills tend to separate me from my nearest AI. I use this to my advantage and my first four "army" units are scouts so they can move quickly and skirmish (and once they get Survival III - usually have II from barbs - make excellent skirmishers). The trick is not waiting until they're beating on your door to start defending. Keep an eye on your scouts a bit outside your territory and when you see AI mobilizing that way start getting all your garrison units moved towards that force. Put your units in his way outside your borders to either slow him down more or force a premature DoW instead of letting him getting within striking distance of a city. Or if you feel you have the advantage, DoW first and do some initial damage.

    By the time I'm approaching medieval, the AI is deterred by my military size so I seldom get others DoWing me. I tend to build to my limit of military support (2 per city and 1 per 2 pop in a city - so a City of size 8 is supporting 6 units) and spread it out among city garrison units and standing army... after I've got about 4-6 cities of pop 8+, I'm the dominant "pointy stick" holder - mainly because I never waste a promo on instaheal - instead I'll pull the unit back and move a healthier one up to protect it - so my units tend to be true veterans where the AI units are either dead or short on promos.
     
  15. rodrigoq

    rodrigoq Warlord

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    3 archers and a spearman. The AI are stupid. If it's vs diety Aztecs/Zulu/Huns/Momgols, you'll need 4 archers 2 spears. Then kill them all before Med. era
     
  16. jlim201

    jlim201 King

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    2 Archery units and 2 melee/horse units.
     
  17. Camillo

    Camillo Chieftain

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    OK, I totally changed my mind about this after couple of recent games and wars.

    The most efficient units at defending are actually 100% ranged units if there is a lot of rough terrain inside borders. If terrain is flat ranged units are still the best but some support of melee units is needed.
     
  18. Anawrahta

    Anawrahta Chieftain

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    I do agree to the approach with few melee to block and some more range to do the damage. That works best if you manage to get the enemy units queue up towards your city. If they surrounded it, you'll probably lost.
     
  19. Dgodus

    Dgodus Chieftain

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    I play emp as well and my best defense is pretty much opening info addict and staying around 2nd or 3rd in military ranking. With that, typically even military civs don't declare war on me (unless they're number 1 by a large margin) even if they're my neighbor. I'm only ever really attacked early when I've neglected my military and have become a "juicy target".

    The best medicine is preventative medicine.
     
  20. Rombizio

    Rombizio Chieftain

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    No one mentioned that the best defense for coastal cities is a good navy. Subs are specially good on that. But there is one additional trick that works well with frigates and battleships: you can keep them inside your city and they can still shoot enemies approaching from land. :lol:

    That means will get the city defense shot + the battleship or frigate shot every round. Not only they are strong, they are great to wipe artillery at 3 tiles away, before they can be set. :)

    Regular artillery, trebuchets and catapults do very little damage against melee units. Rocket artillery, however, hits hard, so they can be used for city defense better than any other ranged unit (except battleships). :goodjob:
     

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