To Stack or not to Stack?

To stack or not to stack?

  • Stack

    Votes: 3 30.0%
  • Not to Stack

    Votes: 3 30.0%
  • Stack but not quite (limited etc.)

    Votes: 4 40.0%

  • Total voters


Feb 25, 2019
Dear readers,

You may be familiar with "stacking" in Civilization.
Prior to Civilization V, the series had a feature where you might move multiple units onto the same tile and attack from that tile concurrently.

In Civilization V and Civilization VI, the developers made the jump to specify that only one unit (with exceptions) may be present on a single tile at a time.

Over these two games, you have the option to stack civilian units with military units, and support units with military units, for the sake of gameplay of course.

So what was the reason behind the change? I hear you wondering, of course.

Now, Civ4 was extremely notorious for it's "death stacks of doom" - something where you'd just throw tons of units into one position and delete everything. I suppose they wanted to move away from this and towards something that's more mechanically balanced.

In Civ6, you can sort of stack units by combining two identical units into one corps, or one army. This allows players to reduce their overall army size while retaining strength.

Now that we're all somewhat on the same page.
I'm about to give my opinion.

Right, now that you've got your warning out of the way, it's time to get into business :D

I'm aware that currently, a lot of veteran players are in favour of bringing back endless or limited stacks. Something like maybe only 3 or 4 units. Maybe it increases with techs. Maybe we just remake Civ4 HD.

I will have to play Devil's Advocate here; or rather you know, I hear so much about why stacking is so good, I feel like no one is going to come out and talk about why 1UPT (one unit per tile) is good.

1UPT emphasises the strategy involved in navigating the map. With 1UPT, the player has to think about how they move their units as a whole, rather than just mindlessly moving them through each other, as though they phase through each other.
For example, when you have a chokehold with 1UPT, the chokehold actually behaves as one, forcing your units to walk in one by one, putting them at a disadvantage, and adding a strategic advantage to grabbing a city near a chokehold.
If you could stack endless units, you would be able to walk all your units in at the same time.

Now for another case I want to address. People say Stacks are not overpowered, because you can counter them with siege - implying a system where Siege deals "splash" damage to units in a stack.
For all intents and purposes, I can say with a high degree of certainty that this can be true.
However - just because it can be countered does not mean that it is mechanically (or so to speak, from the perspective of game design) a desirable system.

To make an analogy, 1UPT is like Chess. The units move independently and it's easy to grasp for newcomers. Each unit takes damage independently. Everything works in a simple, easy to understand manner.
Stacking would be like adding a rule where the Bishop can stand on top of the Rook, balanced by the fact that you lose both if they're attacked, let's say.
Sure - it might be balanced - that does not mean it's desirable.

So to keep it short and concise, the Developers made the move to 1UPT for several reasons, which I can understand:
  • Easy to understand and grasp for newcomers.
  • Puts more importance on the structure of the map (eg. chokeholds)
  • Creates a more balanced combat / counter system.
For these reasons, I come to my own personal conclusion that, from the perspective of game designers, for the sake of making the game accessible and mechanically balanced, that 1UPT is superior to stacking.


Opinion warning over, and this is my addendum.

I totally understand wanting back the stacks, and actually, I don't mind limited stacks - which I did not really address that much in this post - as long as everything feels natural.

I hear a lot about realism related to these systems. Guys. Civ has never been, and will never be, totally 100% realistic.

I hope this post was informational, or that it might have helped someone see "the other side" - and it was mostly written for you stack lovers, because everywhere I go, I read stacks this, stacks that, I miss stacking legos as a kid :p
So yeah. I don't mind either really. But 1UPT is part of what makes these modern two games, the most played / playable versions to date.

Peace (don't forget to vote)
Last edited:

Henri Christophe

Aug 17, 2018
Rio de Janeiro, K11 (Kwanza)


Feb 25, 2019
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