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The Stack o' Doom: Effective Composition and Use of Offensive Military Stacks

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by Sisiutil, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    That's exactly the point. I'm not here to tell people off or to say that you're wrong and he's wrong and all that.

    I'm just trying to figure out why you do what you do.

    1) Who ought to get the XP?

    I don't believe in using CR3 melee and upgrading them to gunpowder because I feel that CR3 melee are too specialized for city killing. Later on, I can always get Pinch promoted Gunpowder to act in a variety of roles, not just city attack. While I can appreciate the role of CR3 in a big enough stack, I don't like the fact that I can only ever use them best for taking cities.

    Siege units are another thing entirely. You only usually ever use promoted ones for attacking cities anyway, so there's nothing to stop you from specializing them for a role they're already specialized in.

    For this reason I prioritize the XP of Catapults for the eventual push for CR3 Cannon. While I CAN produce CR3 Cannon out of the gate later on, having a set of such units on the field where they're needed is a huge benefit, IMO.


    2) Who fights difficult battles?

    Well, obviously siege and flankers are best at that, and there's often talk of "suiciding" these units to great effect.

    Once I have a moderately experienced Cata or Treb that survived an unlikely attack, I push those to the safer part of the curve to preserve their experience. I'll usually choose a Treb to attack first simply because a Treb is stronger for attacking cities (8 instead of 6) so is more likely to achieve something whether or not it dies.

    This is especially so when I have a moderately experience Cata and a rookie Treb. I want to preserve XP gained AND the Treb is more likely to get the job done anyways. Why push the Cata?

    3) What do I so with outdated units?

    After I'm done picking them over for garrison work, I actually disband a fair bit of them, especially if I can make more promoted units fresh from the Academy than they would turn out if I upgraded them. I could suicide them against a stack I suppose, and I do that sometimes, but oftentimes they survive wars and stick around for too long under peacetime when everyone else is already wielding guns.

    Siege and Mounted units get upgraded because the promotions I favor carry over to the next war, but I don't have much use for upgrading Combat1 Cover Swordsmen when I can make Combat 1 Pinch Riflemen, and nobody's using Archers anymore.

    You could say that this is a push for making them City Raider Swordsmen, but that just goes into the previous arguments about City Raider Swordsmen and City Raider Riflemen again.
     
  2. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    I agree that you have to use a treb for the first attack rather than a catapult in the case of a very strong top city defender (eg. CR3 longbow among CR1 longbows). The hammers forfeited by the destruction of the treb may just save you the hammers forfeited by the destruction of two extra catapults, and it would certainly save you quite a bit of trouble if you don't have a whole lot of siege units at your disposal.

    If there's no particularly outstanding defender, however, this isn't necessary.
     
  3. pigswill

    pigswill fly (one day)

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    My preference for a stack of doom is to have as many CR cats/cannons (I seem to rarely build trebs, maybe I should start) as possible with a few units for defence ( shock axe/ medic spear to start and then improve). Usually I'm likely to have a few CR axes left from an early rush so they tend to get promoted and upgraded.
    Defence suppression is an obvious benefit which melee can't reproduce and cumulative collateral damage is a snowball.
     
  4. Perugia

    Perugia Prince

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    As far as I am concerned although the unit goes back to 10XP the point in upgrading is that the unit retains it's existing 4, 5 or in exceptional circumsances 6 promotions (that's why we don't want one of these being cover) and becomes a 10/26, 10/37 or 10/?? which is impossible for a fresh unit in vanilla (which is what I play) and I expect not easy to achieve in warlords. I believe fresh units are unlikely to start with 4 or more XP based promotions.

    Thus a highly promoted upgraded unit is going to be superior to virtually every a fresh one, available as soon the requisite technology and resources are in and is available right on any tile within your borders as required. Also since upgrades cost gold and new units hammers the two are not exclusive but complimentary.
     
  5. DaviddesJ

    DaviddesJ Deity

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    What are 8 and 6? Catapult is strength 5. Trebuchet is strength 4 with 100% city attack bonus (that is very different from strength 8). If your unit is going to die, then most of the value of the attack is likely to be the collateral damage that it does. The catapult does more collateral damage than the trebuchet (city attack bonus is irrelevant for collateral damage), at less cost.
     
  6. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    6 or so is usually the value I read off the odds calculator on a mildly promoted Cata. I confess that I don't keep too close an eye on the comparative amounts of collateral damage. I'm more concerned about survival and success odds.

    Even so, I HAVE tried it suiciding Catas first and it seems to cost me more in terms of troops (and hammers, consequently), primarily because the Catas almost always die and they don't do a lot of damage to the unit they're attacking.
     
  7. Cer

    Cer Warlord

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    You've hit the nail on the head. A stack composed of 80% to 85% siege weapons is deadly. Enemy units with anti-siege bonuses (defending or attacking) are unusual. Mixed attack groups of other types run in to the problem that your sword goes up against an axe, your pike doesn't get to attack vs a horse (hits a longbow/crossbow first), and your axe might attack vs a crossbow. Your war elephant and horse archer might fight against spearmen. All of those attacks vs a specialized counter-unit typically require you to have 2 or more attackers per defender, whereas catapults attacking vs longbows, you 5 attackers per 4 defenders, or maybe 3 for every 2 if you're unlucky. Those multiple collateral-damage attacks really help. And of course, if the enemy defends with melee units rather than just archery, they'll be that much easier to pulverize with a stack of catapults.

    There's also the fact that if you have 7 catapults, you don't need to find a stack of 4 catapults with 5+ experience to destroy the enemy's culture defense in 1 turn. And if you only have 5 or 6 catapults, you can use one of them to bombard on its second turn, and attack with the rest.

    A downside of catapults is that they're expensive to upgrade. But you can sacrifice them to the collateral-damage gods to keep your cannons/artillery for the winning attacks, and catapults alongside artillery can be a viable bombard setup.

    If I were playing a version that allowed it, I imagine I'd use trebs a fair bit too. Since I favor running the science slider as high as I can most of the time, I don't make a habit of upgrading siege weapons, and since I depend so little on non-siege units for my attack stacks, I usually don't upgrade those either.

    I have played many kinds of maps, many different leaders, Civ4Vanilla on monarch-and-lower levels... and in those circumstances this strategy works very well.
     
  8. Plato90s

    Plato90s Chieftain

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    If you avoid the Chemistry tech, then pikeman and rifleman are simultaneously available, so that if there's sufficient gold you can build/promote/upgrade straight to City-Raider rifleman.
     
  9. Sisiutil

    Sisiutil All Leader Challenger

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    Are you talking about vanilla/Warlords or BtS? I only ask because Grenadiers have been moved back from Chemistry to Military Science in BtS.
     
  10. joasoze

    joasoze Warlord

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    In BtS you have to be careful of the flank attack. That means that you need more anti cav/knight defenders, and they should be promoted as much as possible to ensure victory (only a victorious cav/knight will hurt your cats/trebs). This changes Bts a lot from Warlords.
     
  11. PibbZ

    PibbZ Paladin

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    Flanking does not work while defending either, otherwise an excellent guide :)
     
  12. blitzkrieg1980

    blitzkrieg1980 Octobrist

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    Posted to subscribe.
    [reserved for later comment]
     
  13. DaviddesJ

    DaviddesJ Deity

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    Please just choose "Subscribe" under "Thread tools". We don't all need to know when you subscribe.
     
  14. blitzkrieg1980

    blitzkrieg1980 Octobrist

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    Okay... You seem kinda touchy about it, there buddy. I'll keep it mind next time just for you, tough guy.
     
  15. Fire.Soul

    Fire.Soul Chieftain

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    Just dropped by to thank Sisiutil for his great work with this magnificent article. I SUCKED at warmongering but, after reading this article now I got really fond of aggressive behaviour, and am really doing fine! City after city, I can really conquer the world :D It's really helping me, and in a few games I think I'll be perfectly suitable for Monarch matches.

    The article's very complete, explaining the mechanics and then giving examples to be fool-proof. And there's never that annoying patronising tone some guys employ in their guides, which really helps the less experienced not feel too dumb. Great job. Bring more! ;) (note: also love your Oracle/MC/Pyramids gambit :p)
     
  16. Plato90s

    Plato90s Chieftain

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    Vanilla.

    But the point remains that you can have pike/rifle available simultaneously by avoiding the grenadier-tech.
     
  17. Sisiutil

    Sisiutil All Leader Challenger

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    I just posted the latest version. Minor revisions, mostly--and I incorporated some references to Warlords/BtS.
     
  18. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Deity

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    Good stuff, Susiutil. I've read this before but fallen into habits that ignore some of the good advice here, so glad to be reminded of it.
     
  19. Sisiutil

    Sisiutil All Leader Challenger

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    I posted a revised version of the guide in the first post.
     
  20. Murky

    Murky Deity

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    One thing that often baffles new players, is "Why didn't my stack of doom" win vs. a given stack of defenders and failed to take a city.
     

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