UUs: Power vs. Cost-Effectiveness

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Iranon, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,214
    Location:
    Germany
    While worldbuiilder-testing the usefulness of UUs recently, I stumbled across something that made me slap my forehead and go 'why didn't I think of this before?'.
    Assume the following situation: you're Rome, there's a stack of Axemen approaching on flat terrain. Are you better off tackling them with Praeotrians or your own Axemen?

    It depends. Praetorians will lose to an equal-hammer force of axemen... the fights will favour the Praetorians until the fresh Axemen will mop up damaged Praetorians.
    However, if you have a comfortable local superiority in numbers, using Praetorians will have you lose less material than using axes yourself.

    Generally, cost-effectiveness will not matter as much if you have overwhelming local superiority. The poster child for this are Malinese Skirmishers: On flat terrain, they will beat any equal-hammer force of a single regular unit for a very very long time.
    They will achieve better than parity against anything until knights... but they will not allow one to overrun a weak opponent with hardly any losses unless you can get them to throw their stack away against your invincible cities/fortresses.

    Sometimes, cost-effectiveness breaks this rule though. Praetorians solidly beat crossbowmen in the absence of defensive modifiers. Not only in an equal-hammer-force (where the cheaper unit gets the advantage of pitting fresh against wounded troops), but infinite praetorians attacking crossbowmen will result in less loss of material than attacking with crossbows yourself. They lose horriby to Macemen though.
    Likewise, ancient-era archer-killers can still be effective in the medieval era provided there are no counter units around. Suiciding Quechuas, War Chariots or Immortals against Longbows to pave the way for cleanup troops may be more cost-effective than using Trebuchets.

    *

    The bottom line seems to be: If you can fight mostly favourable fights anyway, do so. If you can't be cheap and throw away whatever unit seems to be the best value for the hammers... THEN clean up with the best you have.
     
  2. fed1943

    fed1943 Emperor

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2005
    Messages:
    1,185
    Location:
    Lisbon
    Sorry, but why praetorians beat crossbowmen?
    Isn't it 8v9 or 6v4?
    Best regards,
     
  3. Kaosprophet

    Kaosprophet Warlord

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Messages:
    244
    He's talking hammer-cost rather than troop counts. Haven't crunched the numbers myself to see if I'm interpreting right, but I think the theory is as such:

    assuming equal production capacity, you produce more prats than he does crossbows; you wind up replacing more units than him but spend less in the process, and <eventually> the cost differential wears him down faster than you.
     
  4. nanomage

    nanomage Longbowman

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    Messages:
    710
    Location:
    msk, rf
    i believe he says that 4 combat 1 praets (4X90 hammers, 8.8str. each) beat 3 combat 1 crossbows (9.9 str against prets, 3x120 hammers).
     
  5. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,214
    Location:
    Germany
    That is more or less my point, yes.

    I was counting two different scenarios: Same hammer value of troops duking it out, and an infinite force attacking until the defenders are gone.
    Praetorians beat crossbowmen in both scenarios.... i.e. 4 praetorians vs 3 crossbowmen would favour the praets, and an infinite number of praetorians beating down on a finite number of crossbowmen would lose fewer hammers worth of material (but more individual units) than infinite numbers of crossbowmen attacking finite numbers of other crossbowmen.

    So crossbowmen are entirely ineffective at countering Praetorians in the open; axemen at least work if the praetorians don't have numbers on their side.




    EDIT: I disregarded the case of superior numbers of superior units as trivial. Of course, an equal-or-higher number of crossbowmen will stop Praetorians dead in their tracks, with quite acceptable losses as well.
     
  6. nanomage

    nanomage Longbowman

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    Messages:
    710
    Location:
    msk, rf
    Are you saying that if you see a stack of prats approaching, and somwhow sitting in the cities is not an option, it is better to emergency whip axes than xbows?
     
  7. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    3,526
    I get what you're saying, Iranon, and that's a point few posters on these boards consider enough when planning their wars, I don't think the statement that Crossbows can't counter Praetorians is a right one to make - in a controlled environment, it proves the point, but in a real game situation, it's just not all that relevant.

    The thing is, if I'm using Crossbows as a counter unit, they're probably going to be Shock Crossbows going up against City Raider Praetorians, and at the point where I'm the one doing the attacking against a stack of Praetorians moving in open terrain, they're toast.

    I can fully support using Praetorians as a sort of "cheaper-Maceman," and they're very good for that. However, suggesting that "Praetorians beat Crossbows" with a lot of math in the statement is just the kind of thing that gets blown out of proportion around here. I'm just offering a sobering counterpoint.
     
  8. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,214
    Location:
    Germany
    Probably. Crossbows seem close to axes against praetorians if you have superiority in numbers and might be better in some circumstances. If it's a close call and the stack of praetorians is actually a threat, axes will do better.
     
  9. nanomage

    nanomage Longbowman

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    Messages:
    710
    Location:
    msk, rf
    afair xbows whip for 3pop with large overflow, and axes for 2pop withlittle one. but that's blurry memories, but i may not be correct. still, if i am, whipping xbows is problematic, as it requires 6pop city, and even than it's really better to whp2 axes.
     
  10. mirthadir

    mirthadir Emperor

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2002
    Messages:
    1,194
    No, if I read correctly Iranon did some tests about how many :hammers: worth of one type of units it takes to kill a set :hammers: amount of another.

    For an emergency whip type situation you do normally are limited by turns till impact, rather than :hammers:.

    The real question I have is, how do these efficiencies work with upkeep costs? For instance the most :strength: per :hammers: is the humble sword (ignoring UUs) for most city killing missions (this assumes we are looking at the AI's preferred CG units). It remains the sword all the way out to infantry (if we count their +25% advantage, assuming we aren't hitting massed arty or MGs) or tanks (if we don't count the infantry bonus). The ulimate winner for cost effective :strength: is, of course modern armor. Obviously, though you run into a hard unit cap on production (two per turn city, max) and upkeep means you'd be further ahead to adjust your tile balance to less :commerce:, more :hammers: and get out fewer, stronger ("less efficient") units.
     
  11. nanomage

    nanomage Longbowman

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    Messages:
    710
    Location:
    msk, rf
    we also should not forget about promotions, which tend to accumulate on stronger units.
    all in all, this matter looks too complicated for me, and i think only real proof under any such calculation/speculation would be real game-tested efficiency.
     
  12. mirthadir

    mirthadir Emperor

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2002
    Messages:
    1,194
    double post
     
  13. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    3,526
    nanomage:

    Actually, it's not complicated at all. The OTHER factor you're latching onto is granularity - that is, how many units actually die in combat. A winning defender could get called to combat again and die. A winning attacker will survive at least part your own turn - at the very least, allowing you to expend promotions to heal them.
     
  14. Single Malt

    Single Malt Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Ireland
    It seems very impractical, and unusable information. Consider the above example of the xbows v praets. Chnances are 4 praets will not beat 3 xbows, they may, but there is no guarantee. 3 xbows will definitely not beat 4 praets. That leaves a probable one turn stalemate, and its whoever is on home turf that's at the advantage, as they can reinforce, ie have local superiority (both hammers and number of troops).
     
  15. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    3,526
    Iranon:

    See?

    Single Malt:

    The point isn't specifically about Praetorians and Crossbows. He's just using those particular units to demonstrate the principle.
     
  16. mboettcher

    mboettcher General

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Messages:
    524
    This makes sense but what about war weariness and promotions?

    Its not that I don't get the point of the post I'm just saying that these two modifiers can adjust the 'hammer value' of losing/saving units. I.e. don't more powerful units when promoted offer ore benefit for the same promotion due to higher power rating amplifying it more?
     
  17. Single Malt

    Single Malt Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Ireland
    I know, but what I said still will hold true. Local hammer production and numbers will always win out. Thats why, when I doW, I wait for the target stack, take it out at home, and then head for enemy cities. Take out the standing army, and then the hammer production is usually not enough to replicate the local troop numbers, putting the overall unit/hammer ratio in your favour.
     
  18. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    3,526
    In those situations, power counts over cost-effectiveness. In fact, Iranon makes this very statement himself.

    Seriously guys, did you not read his post? Did you latch onto a phrase you think you understand and try to comment on that?

    His point is that, if you're going to lose units and hammers on attacking strong points anyways, you might as well let weaker cost-effective units take the brunt of the losses before you send in your stronger units to mop up, if the localized hammer costs and losses are more important to you than WW and other such factors.
     
  19. dankok8

    dankok8 Elected World Leader

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Messages:
    1,283
    Location:
    Canada
    Iranon made a good point - X bows are 20% stronger than Axemen assuming equal promotions but >70% more expensive and require Iron while Axemen can be built with Copper. All Iranon is saying is that you may be much better off building Axemen to counter a large Praet invasion.
     
  20. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    3,526
    Given a choice, you should have a mixed force - Axemen to soften up the Praets, then finish off the remainder with high-odds Crossbow mop-ups.
     

Share This Page