Why Scouts Should Be a Priority Build


Sep 25, 2016
As per the discussions about what to build first, and how to fight the barbarian hordes, people are underestimating Scouts.

I build 3-5 Scouts in early game (along with slinger and settler) and they are a great long term investment. Here's why:

1. They have good movement and can catch the Barbarian Scouts and stop them from getting back to the barb camp, thereby preventing the flood of barbarian horses.

2. No, they usually can't kill a barb scout on their own, but because of ZOC (zone of control), they can pin the barb in place or force it to move a certain direction... where your slinger or warrior can finish it off!

3. Because I'm using them for combat a lot (and I never lost one), they get XP and get upgraded and become even more useful.

4. They are super useful for herding other countries' units so they don't get in your way. Most importantly, you can stop a pesky foreign settler from encroaching. (Without declaring war). It takes some maneuvering, and you have to put the scouts a few deep, but it can work. BTW, foreign settlers can move THROUGH your units, so plan accordingly.

5. When you get to the industrial era, scouts upgrade to Ranger (3 movement, 45 melee and 60 ranged combat), and if they have the Guerrilla (can move after combat) and Ambush (+20 combat in all situations) promotions, they are quite nasty!

Based on my experience, Scouts are the most cost effective units you can buy in early game, and they remain useful for most of the game.
I usually build 2 pretty fast, among the first 3-4 builds. Another a few builds later, seldom need more than that to cover the exploring. If I need fogbusting I go slinger/archer or warrior which I can later upgrade to swordsman. I find the biggest problem in classical/medieval era is to keep up with AI armies unless playing for wars. I have a gut feeling scouts don't contribute to army size, and thus don't act/or act less as a deterrent compared to military units. My 5 cents.
Thing is, though, that warriors and slingers can usually kill the barbarians that spawn due to a lack of scouts; and more importantly, they can be used to rush your closest neighbor, giving you way more benefits over the course of the game than a few highly promoted units.
a scout might catch the barb scout, a warrior however can eliminate the camp before it starts spaming units. I usually start with scout-warrior-warrior-slinger and buy a builder whenever i get enough money
I have yet to build a second scout in any game, I think the opportunity cost of a warrior or slinger is not worth it unless perhaps you have an isolated start.

I'm usually racing to get that slinger to an archer asap. Ranged units offer so much protection.
OP forgot to mention what difficulty level hes playing. To invest so much into scouting hes gotta play king or below.

On higher difficulties investing into more than 2 scouts early is an opulence.

And defense is superior to opulence, as you might know :)
That barb camp who spawns 4 horse units and rushes your capital though. :D On Immortal+ this really can become a problem.

At the moment, I feel more comfortable with scout - builder - warrior. Early builder because he can instantly add production or luxuries to sell. Slinger later because let's face it. A slinger without warrior support is very likely to die.
The scout's job is to find three city states, a natural wonder and a 2nd continent while the two warriors can safely explore the map around your capital.

I play mostly on Fractal and if I feel like I'm on a big land mass, I might grab a second scout a bit later though.
I always build one first thing first city, and a second one if there are no urgent barb problems close, but I rarely, if ever, build a third one.
if you have nearby horses, just beat campe then place a scout on the horse itself and a new camp spawning horsemen wont spawn, imho this is possibly the quickest cheapest and easiest way to beat barbarians.
I always build at least 2 and then hope to get a couple more from goody huts. Even 4 scouts is not too many on a pangaea map. It's very possible to find goody huts (particularly in the tundra/snow) for tech boosts and be the first to meet a CS even past turn 100.

I haven't tried going down the right side of the promotion tree yet and upgrading to rangers. Definitely going to look into that.
I find them good for exploring and little else. They are better than Civ 4's scouts tho.

My build order is usually Scout > Slinger > Slinger > Slinger (converts to Archer) > Builder. While researching Animal Hus and Archery techs. As soon as Archery pops, I upgrade Slingers to Archers. Have never had problems with an AI's armies or Barbarians at that point. The AI takes ages to tech Archery or upgrade their rare Slinger unit.
I don't think that they are that useful. In most games I go scout -> builder or scout->slinger->builder to trigger the inspiration for Craftsmanship, slap the Agoge (and later Conscription) policies and spam slingers while teching archery and bronze working. By 25-30 I already have an army and I use it to trigger eurekas and inspirations, and when I upgrade to archers, I kill my neighbor ;p .
The best build order I've found is scout - builder - then according to situation.

The builder can help you complete whatever you want to build, even scouts, by chopping woods. Builders are the best long term investments.
I usually just build ~7-8 Warriors (+1 Worker) and skip scouts entirely. Scouting-related Eurekas are not of critical importance for most strategies (and thus just drive up district costs quicker), and you have no chance of getting the Goody Huts in the center of the map anyway, while the ones at the border of the map will usually be there for most of the game. Those Warriors easily zone out any barbarian aggression, can often be used to snatch a city (or a settler) at turn ~25-30 or so if the spawn allows it and easily hold the line until archers kick in. Then later on 1-2 horsemen can scout most of the map really quickly and reveal all the City States + pick up whatever is left of the Goody Huts in the snowy areas.

This also means meeting other Civs later, which is actually a good thing, as I'll often already have things I can trade + Open Borders, which allows me to offset the initial diplomatic penalty.
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I don't even build scouts anymore. There's really no point. Diplo league will recoup any lost envoys and if you manage to found a religion, missionaries are the best scouts in the game.
WIth a few more hours under my belt, count me in the "Scouts are trash" camp. They're great if you manage to upgrade them, but that's hard. Waiting one more turn gets you a Slinger, which upgrades into an early OP unit and isn't that much worse at early fogbusting.
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