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The ultimate UU ranking, including PTW!

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Strategy & Tips' started by Grendel, Feb 14, 2003.

  1. Grendel

    Grendel Sacker of Peaceful Cities

    Sep 27, 2001
    Here it is, after months of blood, sweat, and toil: my ranking of all 24 unique units (UU’s) in Civilization 3, including the Play the World expansion. It's a long post. Or, rather, posts... :mischief:

    With a grade distribution a statistics professor would be proud of (a third of the units are above average, a third average, and a third below average), here is my grading scale:
    A: Great. Has the potential to single-handedly throw the game in your favor.
    B: Good. Very useful and advantageous.
    C: Average. Still useful, but nothing special compared to other UU’s.
    D: Poor. Little or no use/advantage.
    F: Terrible. A complete waste of time, money, resources, and UU slot.
    Essentially, units graded “B” or above are my favorites, and I think these civilizations are the most fun to play. However, probably any “C-” or better unit has the potential to be great in the hands of a skilled player.

    Since this is a ranking of units, I looked at them purely in terms of their military usefulness, not how opportune a time their triggered Golden Age is. I figured that unless a GA comes unusually early or late, it’s mostly a player’s style that determines whether it’s good timing or not (and if nothing else, a UU’s Golden Age is useful for cranking out more UU’s.). For instance, whether or not the French Musketeer triggers a better Golden Age than the Persian Immortal was irrelevant to my ranking; the Immortal is clearly a better unit. However, I was particularly harsh on units that are unable to trigger a GA (Korean Hwach’a, American F-15), since building a Great Wonder to trigger GA is oftentimes a crap shoot, and if you’re playing on Emperor or Deity, you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery. :undecide:

    Disclaimer: The beauty of a game like Civilization is the amazing breadth of unique strategies that players develop. Especially with early-game rush UU’s (Aztec Jaguar Warrior, Egyptian War Chariot), one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and thus my ranking criteria does not apply to everyone. I tried to rank the UU’s from a general point of view without a specific strategy in mind, but undoubtedly my personal preferences played a role. A unit’s usefulness also differs based on map size and type and the number of opponents, and my rankings are based on my experience with default (standard size) map settings and opponents. Also, these rankings don’t really apply to multiplayer games, since human opponents open a whole new can of worms. :slay:

    I’ve listed the units in (Attack/Defense/Movement, Shield Cost) format, plus units with bombard ability also have (Bombard/Range/Rate of Fire). I have the Civ3 1.29f and PTW 1.14f patches, the latest U.S. updates as of January, 2003.

    The rankings, from best to worst:

    Viking Berserk (6/2/1, 70s), replaces Longbowman (4/1/1, 40s). The Berserk is powerful. Extremely powerful. Ridiculously powerful. When I first read the description of this unit, I thought there was a misprint. How could a 4/1/1 unit be replaced by a 6/2/1 amphibious unit? My only guess is that the playtesters were asleep at the wheel for this one. As it is an early Middle Ages unit, the Berserk’s 6 attack is by far and away the most powerful attack of the era, a full 50% more powerful than Knights (and all their UU equivalents) and Medieval Infantry. And consider this: with the exception of the Ottoman Sipahi, no unit has a higher attack value than the Berserk until Tanks. The 6 attack value alone would rank the Berserk among the better UU’s in the game, but this isn’t even the unit’s most powerful feature. Its most powerful ability, amphibious attack, comes almost two full eras before Marines, the only other amphibious unit in the game. Whereas the Marines’ ability is balanced with (or, one might say, diluted by) the other units of its time period, the Berserk’s amphibious ability is an anachronism in the Middle Ages. The Berserk war party can go from port to port, pillaging and looting with impunity, while the enemy’s Knights and Cavalry spin helplessly in circles, since they can’t attack naval units. This leaves a naval counterattack as the only option, but until the advent of the Destroyer, naval units attack and defend equally, so naval superiority is merely a matter of possessing the most ships. This means that for the Vikings, a stack of naval units loaded with Berserks and guarded by empty Galleys/Caravels/Ironclads (depending on the era) is all but invincible. :mwaha: To top it all off, the Berserk has an additional point of defense over the Longbowman, and requires no resources to build. This is just icing on a mammoth wedding cake. Okay, the Berserk expensive, but it costs the same as a Knight, which means it isn’t exactly going to cripple anybody’s Middle Age economy. Grade: A+

    Persian Immortal (4/2/1, 30s), replaces Swordsman (3/2/1, 30s). The Ancient Era Immortal, just one technology’s worth of research for the Persians, could easily go by a different name: the Medieval Infantry. Compared to the Medieval Infantry, the Immortal has identical stats, is cheaper, and appears an entire era earlier. :goodjob: This grants the Persians a medieval attack force in the Ancient Era, an edge that is often crucial in the early game. The Immortal, which attacks on par with a Knight, continues to be effective through the end of the Middle Ages. Through heavy use of the Immortal, the Persians can easily gain an early lead and never look back. Grade: A

    Iroquois Mounted Warrior (3/1/2, 30s), replaces Horseman (2/1/2, 30s). I’ve always been a big fan of the Mounted Warrior, a unit which was single-handedly responsible for my first few Deity victories. :worshp: I used to think of them as “Swordsmen with 2 movement,” until PTW introduced the Gallic Swordsman, which literally is a Swordsman with 2 movement. Stacks of Mounted Warriors, complete with retreat capabilities, can be terrors of the Ancient Era. Indeed, I found them to be effective through at least half of the Middle Ages. Grade: A

    Ottoman Sipahi (8/3/3, 100s), replaces Cavalry (6/3/3, 80s). The Sipahi’s 8 attack, which is 25% greater than any unit until Tanks, makes for one hell of an offensive unit. The Sipahi are absolutely deadly against Medieval Era units, effective against Riflemen/Guerillas, and can even be used to good effect against Infantry :beer:, the unit which ordinarily signals the beginning of the end of Cavalry. I was torn between this and the Mounted Warrior for the last "A" ranking, and only the Sipahi’s high cost (the same as a Tank!) turned the tide, though I would still trade five Cavalry for four Sipahi. Grade: B+

    Greek Hoplite (1/3/1, 20s), replaces Spearman (1/2/1, 20s). The Hoplite is basically a cheap Pikeman that doesn’t require iron and is available an entire era earlier. Only fools and Persians would invade Greece in the Ancient Era. Their cheap cost also makes them plentiful and efficient. In terms of cost, Hoplites are more effective defenders than Legions, Numidian Mercenaries, Pikemen, and even Musket Men! :groucho: Cost-compare a Hoplite, with 3 defense for 20 shields and no resource requirements to a Musket Man, with 4 defense for 60 shields and saltpeter. Unless you want to save on unit upkeep money, the Hoplite is clearly the better choice. Thus, the Hoplite, which is available from day one for the Greeks, has the potential to be used effectively all the way to the Industrial Era. Grade: B

    Roman Legionary (3/3/1, 30s), replaces Swordsman (3/2/1, 30s). At first glance, the Legionary seems to be quite an impressive unit. It essentially combines the attack of a Swordsman with the defense of a Pikeman. Once iron is secured, the Romans need not build anything other than Legions until the Middle Ages, and can create an attack force that is difficult to counterattack. However, this theoretical advantage isn’t that strong in actual gameplay, since attacking in the Ancient Era proves to be more important than defending, and the Legionary’s extra defense isn’t called into play as often as one would think. You don’t want to start the game next to Rome, but being them yourself hardly makes you unstoppable. Grade: B

    Chinese Rider (4/3/3, 70s), replaces Knight (4/3/2, 70s). Mobility is often the key to victory, and no unit embodies that more than the Rider. While an extra movement point for an already mobile unit might not seem like much, the 50% increase does wonders for attack position, resource denial, and flexible homeland defense. Use Riders for a while and standard Knights will seem maddeningly slow in comparison. Grade: B

    Japanese Samurai (4/4/2, 70s), replaces Knight (4/3/2, 70s). A great multi-purpose unit, the Samurai does it all. It’s mobile, it attacks as well as a Knight, and defends as well as a Musket Man while preventing retreating. The Japanese need not build any unit other than Samurai for a long time. The only drawback is that sometimes you don’t want your Samurai to be the primary defender in a stack, but it usually gets picked by default because it’s the strongest. As an added bonus, though, the Samurai has cool animation and sound. :ninja: Grade: B

  2. Grendel

    Grendel Sacker of Peaceful Cities

    Sep 27, 2001

    Celtic Gallic Swordsman (3/2/2, 50s), replaces Swordsman (3/2/1, 30s). Another unit which looks better on paper, the Gallic Swordsman initially appears to be an Ancient Era gamebreaker. It’s essentially a Mounted Warrior with an extra defense, which means it’s a great unit. However, the Gallic Swordsman is expensive. How expensive? Three Gallic Swordsmen cost the same as five Mounted Warriors :eek:, an exchange rate that I hardly think is worthwhile. At 50 shields each, Gallic Swordsmen create a heavy burden on early-game cities, and are also out of easy whipping range, which is half the fun and strategy of Despotic governments. Grade: C+

    Arab Ansar Warrior (4/2/3, 60s), replaces Knight (4/3/2, 70s). The Ansar Warrior trades a defensive point for 10 shields and a movement point. While this might seem to be a good trade, making the Ansar Warriors both plentiful and mobile at the expense of their secondary attribute, the lack of defense is actually a drawback. Consider that Knights, due to their 2 movement, traditionally have the potential to outstrip their defensive and artillery support, which both have 1 movement. With the Ansar Warrior, this potential is even greater, and, indeed, if the extra movement is going to be used fully, is almost inevitable. Thus, Ansar Warriors are often left on their own to defend themselves, which can be a very bad thing for them. Grade: C+

    Carthaginian Numidian Mercenary (2/3/1, 30s), replaces Spearman (1/2/1, 20s). As the newest installment in the trio of Ancient Era 3-defenders (the others being the Legionary and the Hoplite), the Numidian Mercenary has drawn favorable reviews in the CivFanatics forums. Certainly, a 100% increase in attack and 50% increase in defense is a considerable upgrade, but the problem is their cost increases as well. 30 shields is hard for a new and/or corrupted city to scrape together, and is a high price to pay for the only defensive unit of the Ancient Era – if you’re Carthage, you can’t build any of those 20-shield spearmen! :nono: Also consider the merits of the Numidian Mercenary compared to the Legionary and the Hoplite. If iron is available, 300 shields will get Rome 10 Legions, but will only get Carthage a mixed group of 10 Numidian Mercenaries and Swordsmen, which is much less flexible for either offense or defense. If iron is not available, 300 shields will get Greece a mixed group of 15 Hoplites and Archers, but will only get Carthage 10 Numidian Mercenaries, which is a net loss in most cases. (I would rather attack with 12 Archers and 3 Hoplites than 10 Numidian Mercanaries, and defensively this choice is a no-brainer.) Overall, the Numidian Mercenary isn’t as good as the Legionary or Hoplite. Grade: C

    Russian Cossack (6/4/3, 80s), replaces Cavalry (6/3/3, 80s). Normally, the “improvement” of a unit’s secondary attribute isn’t an improvement at all (re: Musketeer, F-15), but the Cossack’s extra defense actually serves it decently well. The Cossack defends as well as a Musket Man and prevents retreating. Thus, an attacking force of Cossacks can be a terror to the counterattacking force – if you don’t mind sacrificing a few for defense. Some people trash this unit because they think an extra point of defense can’t really help an offensive unit, but if you cost-compare to a Musket Man (a Cossack is 80 shields, a Musket Man is 60), defending with a Cossack doesn’t look like such a bad idea after all. Grade: C

    German Panzer (16/8/3, 100s), replaces Tank (16/8/2, 100s). The Panzer is a nice unit, with all the benefits of mobility and blitz and all, but it has the distinction of being the latest-arriving UU (with the exception of the American non-unit, the F-15). UU’s are arguably more important earlier in the game, when battles for territory and Golden Ages can impact the prosperity of a civilization for years to come. Thus, the Panzer might come too late to lend that kind of advantage. Also, with the advent of railroads, the extra movement point doesn’t seem to be as useful as it was in the early Middle Ages, with the Chinese Rider. Modern Armor isn’t all that far away, either. Grade: C

    Zulu Impi (1/2/2, 20s), replaces Spearman (1/2/1, 20s). The main function of the Impi is to be annoying when you’re playing against the Zulus. :die: When you’re playing as the Zulus, the Impi has three main functions: 1) Scouting and resource securing. 2) Moving in-step with an attack force of Horsemen. 3) Denying mobile attackers their retreat ability. All these abilities are good, but not great. Also, the Impi’s scouting potential is somewhat limited by the fact that the Zulus already have Scouts and need to research Bronze Working to build the Impi. On the plus side, the Impi need not fear barbarian goody huts. Grade: C

    Aztec Jaguar Warrior (1/1/2, 10s), replaces Warrior (1/1/1, 10s). There are some interesting strategies involving an early rush with Jaguar Warriors, but outside of that, their main function is scouting – a function which essentially makes the Aztecs expansionist without protection from barbarian goody huts (a drawback on Emperor or Deity). The super-early Golden Age is hardly useful, though giant stacks of these guys roaming the map and attacking things is a funny sight. I have a friend who refers to them as “monkeys on crack.” :smoke: Grade: C-

    Egyptian War Chariot (2/1/2, 20s), replaces Chariot (1/1/2, 20s). Let’s see, a (2/1/2) unit that requires horses to build – must be Horsemen! No, it’s the War Chariot, which is made obsolete by Horsemen! :crazyeye: That’s right, with the weirdest upgrade path in the entire game, Chariots and War Chariots are made obsolete a mere one technology later! (edit -- oops, War Chariots aren't necessarily made obsolete by research.) And don’t forget the terrible placement of the early-game Golden Age and the movement restrictions placed on Chariots. In order to effectively use War Chariots, which aren’t that good of a unit anyway, you have to avoid Horseback Riding like the plague for as long as you can, which is just a silly way to play. :p I know this unit has the potential for a nice early-game rush, but from a general-use perspective, it’s just not that great. Also, the fact that many players value Chariots solely for their cheap upgrade to Horsemen is hardly a ringing endorsement for War Chariots. Grade: C-

    Babylonian Bowman (2/2/1, 20s), replaces Archer (2/1/1, 20s). Technically, the Bowman replaces the Archer, but realistically it replaces the Spearman, since it has the same defense value and costs the same. An extra attack point for a defensive unit isn’t that big of a deal, and an early game Golden Age is wasted, especially for the culture-endowed Babylonians. This unit’s usefulness is limited to securing a source of iron if you don’t have one, otherwise it can’t achieve much that a mixed stack of Archers and Spearmen couldn’t. Grade: D

    Indian War Elephant (4/3/2, 70s), replaces Knight (4/3/2, 70s). The War Elephant is a Knight without resource requirements. It’s intriguing, but my philosophy on iron is thus: if you don’t have it, send out a dozen Archers or Horsemen and get it. :hammer: Until the advent of Gunpowder, Civilizations live or die based on iron. If you haven’t secured a source of iron by the Middle Ages, chances are you’re either weak or lucky. As for horses, you’re going to need them for Cavalry, so you should be busy securing them, too. Independent of my resource philosophy, though, War Elephants are only useful when you lack either horses or iron, which means they aren’t useful in every game. And for me, the only time I lacked these resources but wanted to build Knights was when I was in North America on the world map. And I wasn’t the Indians. Grade: D

    French Musketeer (3/4/1, 60s), replaces Musket Man (2/4/1, 60s). Do you believe that the Musket Man, which is used exclusively for defense, is somehow improved by an additional attack point? I don’t. Grade: D

    Mongol Keshik (4/2/2, 60s), replaces Knight (4/3/2, 70s). You’ve got to be kidding. I have a hard time believing the Mongols took over half of Asia with a UU like this. The Keshik, a so-called improvement over the Knight, trades a defensive point for 10 shields and the ability to travel over mountains as if they were grasslands. And as for the not requiring iron thing, see my philosophy on the War Elephants. I guess Keshiks could potentially be useful on a mountainous map with no roads and no counterattacking force and no source of iron nearby… No, wait, they’re not useful. Grade: D

    Korean Hwach’a (B12/R1/F1, 40s), replaces Cannon (B8/R1/F1, 40s). Don’t be fooled! While the civ3.com site (http://www.civ3.com/ptw_prof_koreans.cfm) claims that the Hwach’a has lethal bombardment, it does not. Which means it is incapable of truly “winning” a battle, and thus it has the dubious honor of being the only unit other than the F-15 that is unable to trigger a Golden Age (edit -- evidently the F-15 can indeed trigger a GA, so the Hwach'a is alone in its shame). Also, I will admit outright that I never use early/mid-game artillery. Never, ever, ever. There are many players who do, and do so effectively, but I’ve found that I am better off on a shield-for-shield basis building straight-up military units. Maybe the Hwach’a is the best thing since sliced bread for an artillery-oriented player. I dunno. All I know is that, from where I stand, it would be ridiculous to cart around these 1-movement juggernauts when my Cavalry force is humming with 3 movement points. Oh, did I mention these things are also on wheels, which gives you the same stupid movement problems as Catapults and Cannons? :wallbash: Yes, on paper Hwach’as attack as a half-price Artillery, but they also have only 1 range, 1 rate of fire, and the movement restriction. No GA and no mobility for an increase in bombard strength? No thank you. Grade: D-

    English Man-o-War (3/2/4, B3/R1/F2, 60s), replaces Frigate (2/2/4, B2/R1/F2, 60s). No one in his/her right mind would ever build a Man-o-War, apart from triggering a Golden Age. As many have observed, the age of sail is just so short. By the time one builds a Man-o-War and moves it somewhere useful, chances are that Ironclads are already being cranked out. :sad: This unfortunate design error severely limits both the strategic and atmospheric possibilities a true age of sail would provide. Add this to the frustrating uselessness of naval units in the game (why ship yourself across the continent when you can railroad yourself there instantaneously?), and you have yourself one bad, bad UU. Grade: F

    American F-15 (8/4, B4/R6/F2, 100s), replaces Jet Fighter (8/4, B2/R6/F1, 100s). The only positive trait of the F-15 is the fact that, unlike the Man-o-War or Conquistador, you might actually build one during the normal course of the game, but only because you need something to fly air superiority missions. I don’t even know where to start on this thing. 1) You can’t trigger a Golden Age with it. (edit -- never mind, it can trigger a GA. But that brings me to my next point...) 2) Even if you could, would you want such a late-game GA? 3) Its improvement over the Jet Fighter is an increased bombard capabilities – nice if you have something against building actual Bombers. “Improving” a Jet Fighter by adding slight bombard capabilities is like improving Bombers to (poorly) fly air superiority missions. Why bother? Indeed, that’s the big question with the F-15. Grade: F

    Spanish Conquistador (3/2/2, 70s), replaces Explorer (0/0/2, 20s). Maddeningly, the Explorer’s designed purpose, exploring, is pretty much useless at the end of the Middle Ages, when you can first build them. Thus, the only use for Explorers is resource denial and reconnaissance (an excellent discussion of these strategies can be found in this thread, http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=18252). While some of these actions may or may not be cheating (peacetime resource denial is considered cheating according to the Game of the Month contests, http://www.civfanatics.com/civ3cheats.shtml), there are still some great uses for the Explorer. However, in gaining attack and defense values, the Conquistador loses the Explorer’s special abilities. Unlike the Explorer, the Conquistador is considered a military unit, and therefore cannot enter enemy territory with impunity. The Conquistador is thus a severe downgrade from the Explorer, and the stupid thing costs three and half times more! :confused: I guess a Conquistador has the potential – maybe – to reach farther into enemy territory during wartime than an Explorer, but its meager attack and defense values give it little hope in a world populated by Cavalry, Riflemen/Guerillas, and Infantry. Maybe you could use it to capture a Worker or two. Yipee. And if you want to trigger a Golden Age, you had better find some poor Warrior to pick on. The best trait of the Conquistador is the fact that it makes the Man-o-War and F-15 look useful by comparison. The Conquistador has the distinction of being the only UU that is worse, indeed far worse, than its original unit. :vomit: Grade: F-

    That’s it for the rankings. Any comments? What is your favorite unique unit? How would you rank them?

    As a special bonus for those who read through such a long post (or posts, heh), I’m going to immediately follow this one with my suggestions for editing the bad UU’s!

  3. Grendel

    Grendel Sacker of Peaceful Cities

    Sep 27, 2001
    Editing Suggestions

    I used to think that a civilization’s UU was more or less balanced with its attributes (religious, expansionist, etc), which would explain why the French, with the nice combination of commercial and industrious, would get the crappy Musketeer as their UU. However, with the PTW expansion, this theory was thrown to the wind. The Mongols and Vikings, for instance, are both militaristic/expansionist, but the Vikings get the Uber-unit Berserk, while the Mongols are stuck with the crappy Keshik. :crazyeye: With that in mind, here are my suggestions for editing the UU’s to even the playing field a bit. I’ve given suggestions for balancing the weakest eight UU’s (“D” or worse) and the strongest three “A” units.

    Babylonian Bowman (2/2/1, 20s): The improvement of the Archer would make more sense as (3/1/1, 20s). At 20 shields each, this might make for an unstoppable horde of Bowmen in the early game :evil:, so their price could be raised to 30 shields. At this price, I could see either (3/1/1, 30s) or (3/2/1, 30s) being a fair value, and the Bowman would basically act like a Swordsman without iron.

    Indian War Elephant (4/3/2, 70s): In addition to the resource-free requirements (or at least without requiring horses), the price of the War Elephant could be dropped to 60 shields, which would be useful for the player with horses and iron. A precedent for price reduction already exists in the Ansar Warrior and Keshik, so this wouldn’t needlessly unbalance the game. Alternatively, the War Elephant could be changed to (5/2/2, 70s), which seems like an good trade to me. I’ve always been perplexed as to why, with the gaggle of Knight-equivalent UU’s in the game, not one of them was improved to have a 5 attack. :confused: In the Ancient Era, the Persians get a leg up with a 4 attack while everyone else is stuck at 3, so what’s the harm in raising the Middle Ages bar from 4 to 5? It’s a mystery. At any rate, I think a (5/2/2, 70s) unit with no resources (or just iron) required would be a decent UU.

    French Musketeer (3/4/1, 60s): The corollary to my question about the lack of 5-attack Knight UU’s is the lack of improved defenders in the Middle Ages. The Ancient Era is chock full of defensive units with improved defense, but the Middle Ages have exactly zero. Neither the Pikeman nor the Musket Man has any UU with an improved defense, even though there is reason, precedent, and usefulness to do so. Even without this observation, the Musketeer’s improvement is dead obvious: make it (2/5/1, 60s) – a Musket Man with an extra defense point.

    Mongol Keshik (4/2/2, 60s): With my 5-attack Knight question in mind, the solution, again, is obvious: instead of (4/2/2, 60s) with some namby-pamby movement rules, make the Keshik (5/3/2, 70s). This 20% improvement in attacking power over the standard Knight would actually make the unit useful and would fill a niche, but it wouldn’t be unbalancing. Heck, you can require both iron and horses, too.

    Korean Hwach’a (B12/R1/F1, 40s): Admittedly, I’m more or less at a loss for this one, since I have no experience using mid-game artillery. :blush: Why not make the thing a full-blown Artillery, but cheaper, like (B12/R2/F2, 60s) without the wheeled movement penalty? The precedent already exists – the Immortal and Hoplite are cheaper versions of units that appear an entire era later, but if this is too unbalancing, the stats could be tweaked a bit. Still, I’m a sucker for mobile attack forces, so my biggest complaint with artillery is its slow movement. What would happen if the Hwach’a were (B6/R1/F1, 40s) and had 2 movement points – a weak Cannon with an extra movement? :satan: This might throw the game all out of whack, since there’s probably a reason no artillery unit has more than 1 movement. Still, this unit’s inability to trigger a Golden Age is troublesome, leaving Korea no choice but to play the Great Wonder Lottery. I’m tempted to scrap this unit’s artillery attribute altogether, and instead replace it with some sort of shock troop – maybe something like (8/2/1, 70s) – slow, but powerful. The precedent for an 8-attack unit has already been set by the Sipahi, so it’s not like this would be a gamebreaker. Another argument for making this a standard unit is that computer players rarely make good use of artillery (and who knows what they would do with a 2-movement artillery unit), so making a standard unit out of the Hwach’a might be more fair.

    English Man-o-War (3/2/4, B3/R1/F2, 60s): There’s no real fix for this one, short of overhauling the tech tree entirely to make room for a true age of sail. Maybe it could be improved all the way to (4/4/4, 60s), with or without the extra bombard ability, so it would essentially be a cheap Ironclad. This is the only hope for the Man-o-War’s salvation, as far as I can see. My friend suggests giving them the ability to carry Tactical Nukes. :rolleyes:

    American F-15 (8/4, B4/R6/F2, 100s): Instead of the completely useless and superfluous bombard ability, give the F-15 extra attack power and range, improving it to something like (10/4, B2/R8/F1). Or, given that Jet Fighters already kick the hell out of Bombers, maybe really jack up the F-15’s range, (8/4, B2/R10/F1) or so. Either way, it still couldn’t trigger a Golden Age, but at least it would be marginally useful. Though the best solution might just be to think up an entirely new unit.

    Spanish Conquistador (3/2/2, 70s): If you’re gonna replace the Explorer, at least keep the 0 attack and defense values and make the Conquistador (0/0/3, 20s) with the special movement ability. Or maybe have it replace the Knight instead. Its 6 movement in enemy territory might be a little too unbalancing in the early Middle Ages, though. The thought of flying around, pillaging all the iron/saltpeter in sight without fear from stronger units, just makes my head spin. :mwaha: Alternatively, the Conquistador could be some version of Cavalry (minus the special movement stuff), but there’s not much left, given the Sipahi and Cossacks. A cheaper Cavalry, maybe? A 70-shield Cavalry might be nice. Or maybe a Cavalry that doesn’t require saltpeter (I know this is heresy given my philosophy on strategic resources, but not needing saltpeter might actually be a bonus).

    Viking Berserk (6/2/1, 70s): Balancing this one back to Earth is a simple ultimatum: it can keep its inflated attack value or its amphibious capability. :nono: Thus, it would either be a normal (6/2/1) unit, or have the stats of the Longbowman (4/1/1) with amphibious attack. Either way, the Berserk would still be useful and effective, and you could even reward it with a price reduction to 50 or 60 shields for its cooperation.

    Others: If you think that the Ancient Era “A” units, the Persian Immortal (4/2/1, 30s) and the Iroquois Mounted Warrior (3/1/2, 30s) are too powerful, the Immortal could easily be reduced to (4/1/1, 30s) without loss of functionality. The Mounted Warrior’s solution is less obvious – (2/2/2, 30s) would make it a weird defensive unit and (3/1/2, 40s) might not be worth the cost. An extra movement point instead of an extra attack point, (2/1/3, 30s), is an intriguing possibility, but who knows what this would do to Ancient Era dynamics. I personally don’t think these units are out of hand, but if you really want to even the playing field, you could do it.

    Thanks for reading! :)
  4. Beamup

    Beamup Higgs boson

    Jun 8, 2001
    Very interesting analysis. Not much I can really disagree with except that I might give the Panzer a B- instead of a C - the faster movement in enemy territory is rather nice IMO. Overall, nice job. The only other thing I can add is that I also don't think the Immortal or MW need further balancing.
  5. Dark Yoda

    Dark Yoda Student

    Jan 15, 2003
    On the top floor of my halls.
    i think that C for the panzer is harsh. granted, its late in the game but when u play as germany and get motorized transportation then u r pretty much unstoppable. the panzers make light work of nearly any other industrial age unit.
  6. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Chieftain

    Oct 8, 2002
    Why do you give Riders a B and Ansars a C? With 3 moves you can do a pre-emptive strike before anything gets close enough to attack. If you really need to defend a location, Pikemen will get the job done better than either of them.
  7. phizuol

    phizuol Chieftain

    Apr 2, 2002
    Don't forget Samurai don't require horses.

    And just a plug for my Numidians they're great for trying to secure iron as they are the perfect nemesis to the Swordsman with a good chance to win either offensively or defensively. Once you place one in a city you don't need to worry about barbs again either. They are not the best for specific purposes, but I give them bonus points for versatility. =)
  8. china444

    china444 Ain't no thang

    May 10, 2002
    Battle Creek, Michigan
    I have to say, Sipahi should be an A-. They are sweet. They can win a battle for you, and they are around longer than Immortals. Medieval Infantry are the same stats as Imm. ,and medival infantry come in early middle ages. Sipahi are better and last longer.
  9. Mojotronica

    Mojotronica Expect Irony.

    Sep 24, 2002
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Awesome post, Grendel -- thanks!
  10. Angmar

    Angmar Chieftain

    Nov 20, 2001
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    I have played a couple games as Carthage and their UU is very strong in my opinion. Mind you while it is expensive, NO ONE WILL MESS WITH YOU.
  11. Sullla

    Sullla Patrician Roman Dictator

    Feb 9, 2002
    Baltimore MD
    Grendel, this is an excellent analysis and ranking of the UUs - and there have been a lot of rather poor ones on this site from time to time, posted by players who had little to no experience playing on Emperor or Deity. Very nicely done, and I agree with you on almost all of the points mentioned. Of course I don't agree with you on everything (what fun would that be?) so here's a couple of my opinions on the same subject.

    Viking Berserk: I love this unit too, and completely agree with the "A" ranking. But your description puts this unit up and above EVERY other unit in the game, and I don't feel it is that good. The problem is that the zerks, for all of their attack power, are still longbows at heart. They hit hard, defend poorly and - most importantly - they're SLOW. With only one movement point, there are quite a bit slower than most of the offensive units you'd otherwise be using in the Middle Ages. Now on an archipelago map this is not a problem; as mentioned, you can sail around with impunity and terrorize the planet literally up to the advent of infantry. If there's a lot of islands on the map, zerks blow all the other units out of the water and are a full-fledged A+. But on a pangea map where barely 10% of the AI cities are on the coast, they are just not the same. Still an awesome unit, but not: My only guess is that the playtesters were asleep at the wheel for this one. I don't see the berserk as any more game unbalancing than the Immortal - but I think the Immortal is pretty far out of balance as it is.

    Greek Hoplite: This is the one "A" unit that you're missing on the list. :) This is by far, hands DOWN, the best defensive unit in the game. As you pointed out, the hoplite is better than the pike, better than muskets, and at their cheap cost could even theoretically give rifles a run for their money. I don't know if you're familiar with this, but a couple of players have been experimenting with playing Always War games on Deity, and the unanimous opinion is that the Hoplite is absolutely necessary to win. Now I know that a good player is probably going to be on offensive more than defense in most games ;), but this unit still deserves to be ranked with the best offensive units. It's certainly much better than some of the other units listed with a "B"...

    Roman Legionary... like the Roman legion. Look, I love the legions historically and they certainly look good in this game, but they most definitely do not deserve equal ranking with the hoplite. I always find myself asking what purpose this unit is supposed to serve, with an extra defensive point on an offensive units. You wrote about the musketeer: Do you believe that the Musket Man, which is used exclusively for defense, is somehow improved by an additional attack point? I don’t. Well, I don't think that a swordsman is improved by having an extra defensive point. If you want a defensive unit, building legions (which upgrade to Medieval Infantry, or not at all in 1.29f Civ3) is only going to be helpful for the ancient age. If you're using legions on offense, they are no better than a sword. That's not to say that the legion is a BAD unit, but I'd put it more at a "C" than a "B". (And I'll get to the subject of the Numidian Mercenary later.) I just don't see this unit offering a significant advantage, certainly far short of most of the other "B" units.

    Japanese Samurai: Maybe it's just me, but I've never been sold on the idea of the samurai. Again, it's an offensive unit, so you aren't going to be defending too much; the extra point seems to be in the wrong place. And it upgrades to a unit with LOWER defense, so if you try to use them to defend your cities you'll have a lot of obsolete defenders before long. I'm sure that you could find a creative use for them, but again I don't think it's the kind of thing that makes an enormous difference. Certainly nowhere near as good of a unit as the Rider (though again, the "cool" animations and sound that the Samurai gets has made them amazingly popular in the Civ3 community).

    Carthaginian Numidian Mercenary: Don't even get me started on this unit. In many ways it's WORSE than a spear, even if it does have higher defense. At 30 shields, you can't whip one out to defend a city at risk and the attack is all but useless. It's the same cost as a legion, with less attack for crying out loud! Maybe it would be helpful if you lacked iron, but again, if you are missing iron: Civilizations live or die based on iron. Couldn't agree more! This unit doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Hoplite. It's really a UU PIKE, with 2 attack instead of one. Not a very good unit at all.

    German Panzer: This unit is much, MUCH better than what you posted, as several others here have noticed. The difference between 2-move and 3-move units is enormous, and with panzers the balance tips decidedly in your favor. Sure, it's very late for a UU and many games have already been decided by then, but panzers can blow open a tight game. Just mobilize for war, have every city produce these, and crush all your enemies. The AI civs simply cannot stand up to a sustained assault by three-move units, and a well-planned blitz can take out entire civs in a matter of turns. If you don't believe me, I can show you some games where exactly that happened (even on Deity). :p

    For the most part, I agree with everything else posted here, though I think that Aztec Jags can be used for a lot of different things as well; pillagers even cheaper than explorers, for example. Regardless, this is an excellent guide, very well done. :goodjob: I should mention though that an F-15 CAN trigger a golden age if it kills a unit while on air superiority. Since this is incredibly rare though, I concur with your view of the unit.
  12. jack merchant

    jack merchant Internationalist

    Sep 1, 2002
    The Netherlands
    Great posts ! This wouldn't, however, be a discussion forum withhout some discussion, implying disagreement :) There are some UU's that I'd value differently:

    The Egyptian War Chariot: While made obsolete by horsemen, you can always build your UU as long as you haven't had your GA yet. Thus, the obsolescence (sp?) issue doesn't figure. Since apart from beinng unable to enter mountains/jungles WC's are functionally equivalent to horsemen, this allows you to research something useful instead of the dead-end HR tech.
    The Numidian Mercenary: hrm, yes, expensive. Since I play at Monarch, their cost is not as fatal to me as it would probably be at higher levels. Just designate a high-production city as troop-producer instead of having other cities produce them on their own. Plus Carthage's industrial trait will allow you to have higher production cities sooner. I'd agree that the NuMe's extra atttack point is wasted (I've never attacked with a NuMe),but somehow, they do make me feel safe :)
    The Sipahi: I'd rate this one higher, too. My experience with the Ottomans so far has been that by the time you can build them, the cost is hardly a problem. Taking the GA into account, it appears at an even better time, as you'll likely be able to build factories and hospitals with a Sipahi-fuelled GA.
    The Ansar warrior: I've played one game as Arabia, entering into three campaigns with them; the first two were against relatively smallish empires, where the Ansars speed helped them to hit the opposition before they knew where they were coming from; also, the AI only starts to consider a city threatend when enemy units are two squares away, meaning that with Ansars, you will be able to hit cities before they are reinforced. The third campaign was against a bigger empire that attacked me. They had knights and musketmen for defense. I could dearly have done with the extra defense there. So, depending on what you are up against, either they rock- or they are indeed pitifully inadequate.
  13. Tacit_Exit

    Tacit_Exit Chieftain

    Dec 5, 2002
    I'm certain I have triggered a GA with F-15 after it was intercepted
    in Vanilla civ3 (may have been unpatched).
    Has this changed with patches or PTW?:confused:
  14. Bismarck

    Bismarck The Iron Chancellor

    Aug 21, 2001
    Missouri, USA
    Great analysis -- honest, and grounded in solid experience.

    I appreciate the fact that you have written this with a Deity/Emperor perspective, since some strategies (e.g. Impi rushes) are viable on lower levels but not on higher ones. Hence a C grade seems justified for Impi.

    Like others, I would argue that Riders are much more valuable than Legionaries. Legionaries are one of those units that can really help an AI, but are only moderately useful in the hands of a human. The reason? They make an AI neighbor annoyingly difficult to conquer in the ancient era. However, in the hands of a human they won't help your conquests much.

    Riders should definitely rate higher. As others have noted, the AI is poor at defending vs. 3-move attackers, and Rider reinforcements arrive very quickly. Plus the GA timing is perfect.
  15. Michael York

    Michael York On Sabatical from Civ

    Apr 22, 2002
    How about making the Immortals a variation upon spearman or Archers, 2/2/1. That would be more historically accurate & having 2/2/1 units is very usefull. On Deity & emporer, I'd love to have defenders that can strike back at that 1 HP Longbowmen..arrrrrr
  16. redhulkz

    redhulkz Chieftain

    Oct 31, 2002
    good job Gren!! keep up ur good work!!:goodjob: :goodjob: :goodjob:
  17. lz14

    lz14 Chieftain

    Jan 26, 2003
    Great article, really hope to see more in the future.
    I actually quite like the F-15. I mean if the game purpose is only to WIN, then it's not good at all. But if you like to use modern technology, F-15 is pretty cool, it's certainly better than man-o-war. I just want to add it has the 'precision strike' ability normal fighters don't have, so it's kind of replaces the stealth planes, although it actually does an awful job in precion strike.
  18. West German

    West German Warlord

    Oct 14, 2002
    In Berlin
    Great job on the guide.
  19. Psychlone

    Psychlone Architect of Aggression

    Dec 1, 2001
    As pointed out, the Egyptian war chariot can continue to be built even after the advent of horsemen. It's really not a bad unit, I tend to build a couple, then hold them in reserve to trigger a GA later by hitting an archer or longbowman, but I don't use them as a regular unit.

    Here are some of my thoughts on some new ideas/tweaks for UU's. Overall I'm fairly satisfied with them, but I haven't used them all yet, although I've seen them all in action many times.

    England: Scrap the Man-o-war and give them a land unit (you know, something useful). What could be more English than the longbowman? Say perhaps a longbowman with stats of 4/2/1 or 4/1/2 at the same cost. Or perhaps even 5/1/1 at a higher shield cost, if you're one who likes the stronger attack on UU's. Call it the English Longbowman.

    America: Again, scrap the unit (or just make the F-15 available to all as an upgrade, say at Smart Weapons tech). When I think of historic American military power I think of our tendency to get into wars with small armies and then just go nuts and make a huge army seemingly out of nowhere. So how about a G.I. (or maybe call them Dogfaces) that is just like regular infantry but cheaper, say 80 shields instead of 90. Or infantry with an additional attack. Sure it's still a somewhat late unit, but it's certainly much better than the F-15.

    Korea: I'm not really too sure on this one, but I do realize that it needs a lot of help. Perhaps just make it a regular unit with a strong attack rating as well as its bombard capability, keeping its movement restrictions.
  20. Sirp

    Sirp Chieftain

    Nov 19, 2001
    Grendel: I second Sullla's comment on the quality of your analysis. However, I do have a few comments of my own.

    My first comment is about the common idiom that 'an extra point that goes against the unit's strength doesn't really help'. I don't think it's as simple as that. More attack doesn't usually help for a defensive unit. This is because attacking is a choice of the player who owns the unit. The player who owns the unit just isn't going to attack with a defensive unit, and still not with a defensive unit that has been souped-up from 'dismal' to 'mediocre' in its attacking.

    Unless a unit's attack strength matches it with the best of the era, its attack strength is entirely irrelevant, because you're not going to attack with it. I bet many people wouldn't know that a musketman is 2/4/1 and not 1/4/1. They're just looked at it and placed it in the "NA/4/1" category. Ditto for riflemen. Change a rifleman's defense, and it'll change the game, change the rifleman from 4/6/1 to 1/6/1 and hardly anyone will notice.

    True, people occasionally do just manage to finish off a city with a spearman or a musketman, but really, how often does this happen? Not much!

    However, defense is a different story. Every unit can be and is attacked, and so every unit's defense is relevant. No-one would care if some civilization had some zany worker that had 1 attack. Who would ever use it? (exception: you could send you initial worker out to attack but that's a bit extreme :) ). If your civilization's worker had 1 defense however, that'd make a difference.

    In the case of attacking units, it matters even more, because they are in the very front lines, the most likely to attack. Yes I know, you can cover them with defensive units, but who has the resources for this when you're preparing for an attack, and what about when your defensive units get wiped out?

    Sure, in most cases it is better to have improved attack in an attacking unit, but improved defense isn't to be sneezed at. In fact, I think better defense is a very good alternative to increased movement. Why? Well one of the big reasons for a fast moving unit is so they can strike quickly, before the enemy has a chance to attack them. That's a big advantage of the Rider: they move in fast, and attack, spending little time in enemy territory to be counter-attacked. This is what makes the Ansar Warrior a good unit: they don't have to worry too much about their poor defense because they decide when to attack.

    But it works the other way for good defensive units. Samurai and Legions (I much prefer the name 'legion' to 'legionary') can just waddle through enemy territory with impunity. I think they're both very good units. I wouldn't rank legions as highly as immortals, or samurai as highly as riders, but riders and immortals are two of the game's best units. Legions and samurai are simply 'good' units though.

    Likewise, a horseman with 2/2/2 would be a strong unit, not quite as strong as a mounted warrior, but not too far off either. Probably stronger than a samurai or legion though. Cossacks are also reasonable, their main problem being how late they come.

    The only unit this logic doesn't apply to is the Babylonian Bowman. Why not? Well, because archers are such a little used unit anyway, useful only for rushes, that improving them a little doesn't help much. Improving a crappy unit a little is going to give you a slightly improved crappy unit :)

    Likewise, I consider the new medieval infantry to be lots better than longbowmen. I hardly built longbowmen, but I build lots of MDIs.

    So, I do disagree with Sullla somewhat on attacking units with improved defense. I think they are not to be underrated, although generally aren't quite as powerful as extra attack or movement.

    Bezerk it's really not that powerful for a land-locked civilization. Consider that in ancient times, you have the choice of a 3/2/1 swordsman, or a 2/1/2 horseman to typically fight 1/2/1 spearmen.

    So, you can lop 33% of the offense of a swordsman, and 50% of the defense, in exchange for extra unit. The choice of swordsmen vs horsemen is a difficult one. Some people prefer one, some the other, for some it depends on the situation.

    The point is, that it's not dissimiliar to the choice in the middle ages if you're the vikings. You have 4/3/2 knights, or 6/2/1 bezerkers going against 1/3/1 pikemen and 2/4/1 musket men.

    Now, you trade in 50% of your attack ability for an extra movement and 50% better defense ability. The knights are faster moving, *and* better at defending than bezerkers. That means that if you prefer horsemen to swordsmen you'll definitely go for the knights. If it's a close call for you, or you mildly prefer swordsmen, now you'll still be inclined to go with the knights. Leaping from a defensive deficit to a defensive advantage is a huge difference! Only players who really truly prefer swordsmen might consider the bezerker better.

    That's not that I consider bezerkers poor units. They are great. Most civilizations aren't completely landlocked, and even on pangeas a good proportion of cities are coastal. But, without the amphibious assault ability, they really aren't *that* great.

    Still, the change I'd make to them is make them replace medieval infantry instead of longbowmen, because I think it's a more logical match. Then just make them have amphibious assault, and leave their a/d/m and cost the same. Alternatively leave them as longbowmen and do the same.

    Oh and while we're talking about longbowmen, give the English an improved one of them instead of that silly man-o-war thing. In fact, give everyone else a crossbowman, and give the English a longbowman which is an improved one of them. 5/2/1 maybe.

    War Chariots: Most people seem to think war chariots are mediocre or 'just good in rushes'. I disagree entirely, I think they're a great unit. The only reservation I have about them is how early they can trigger the golden age.

    Why are they so good? They cost just 20 shields! They're as cheap as an archer! You don't have to rush with them though, because they're as good as a horseman, and horsemen don't become obsolete until the end of the ancient era.

    So, you can build lots of them, 15, where another civilization can build 10. Since you don't have to rush, you can be fairly late in the ancient era before you attack - if you're in a position to dictate the timing of wars. I think getting them as cheaply as they come is a big advantage. Then as an added bonus, you can upgrade them to knights. In fact, as the Egyptians, I build few spearmen, and lots of war chariots. Being industrious lets me build roads to send these things along fast, so that if anyone attacks, I'll have about 5 war chariots in the threatened region in a flash. They also work well as highly-mobile MP.

    Sure, they're not as good as mounted warriors, but I would definitely put them in the 'good' category.

    Impi: Lots of people don't seem to like these guys, but personally I put them close to hoplites. Why? Well when a city is threatened, impi can move along roads so fast that you can shuffle them around and have the threatened city covered in no time. This lets you play a bigger farmer's gambit, knowing that your mobile defenses can rush to any threatened region.

    Add that to their additional capabilities: worker snatching, pillaging, stack-with-horseman, and resource denial, and I think the impi are almost as good as hoplites. Sad that the Zulu's other capabilities are so crappy compared to the Greek's.

    Musketeer: All I have to say about these guys is they are so crappy they should probably get an F :)

    Keshik: Yeah I know you used them to good effect in your Epic Sullla, but I think you could have done the same with knights. I guess that working in reverse, you don't care about a defense point being dropped as much as I do.

    I think these guys are really mediocre. In fact I might give them an F because I can imagine lots of times I'd prefer not to have them at all. Grendel is right, I just can't imagine the largest world empire ever formed being championed by these guys. My suggestion would be either keep em at 60, give them their defensive point back, and make them able to move over *all* terrain as if it were grassland (or at least hills as well as mountains! How counter-intuitive, that hills are harder to move over than mountains!)

    Otherwise, go for the 5 attack thing. That'd be nice too.

    The thing is....when I think of playing the Zulu or Mongols, I think of playing a civilization with a very very strong attack ability. You just don't get it with either of these civilizations.

    Heck, I'm thinking the Mongols might be even worse than the English. At least I don't sit there thinking "I don't want these man-o-wars, give me back my precious frigates!"


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