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Winning without defensive units

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Strategy & Tips' started by ZubieMaster, Sep 25, 2005.

  1. ZubieMaster

    ZubieMaster Chieftain

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    In another thread someone was curious about how to win without building any defensive units, so here's an example game. It's emperor, vanilla 1.29, random settings.

    As I mentioned in that previous discussion, I used to be a classic "combined arms" player, mixing defenders, attackers and arty in a stack. What I have found is that the defenders are unnecessary. Your stacks are actually more effective without defenders, and you can actually win more easily if you don't waste the resources to build them (at least at emperor level).

    Disclaimer: I am an emperor level player, not a great player. I often automate workers and use the governor because I REALLY hate MM. Thus I will never advance in level above emperor due to wasting so many shields, but I really don't care because this is how I have fun playing (no MM math involved)! So please don't look at this for anything involving micro issues (except to realize how one can still win while never building defensive units despite being terrible in every other aspect of the game).

    As Russia, from reading the forums here I thought the blitz ability of the cossack would be a huge benefit. Turns out the blitz attribute was added after vanilla (gotta read more carefully). In vanilla the cossack has an extra defense point instead. This would seem to make Russia good for a "no defense" game, but turns out the game was decided by the time I got cossacks anyway.



    Our story begins in 750BC at the conclusion of the expansion phase. Things look somewhat bleak. I've got 9 whole warriors. I'm down 4 techs already. Egypt (yellow) south of me has built 2 wonders and is looking strong. The good news is they have no iron! So they will be my first victim. Babylonians (red) will make a perfect ally since they have only one border and it's all w/ Cleo. France (pink) also has no iron hooked up yet. I will soon have two, so I can ally France using my extra iron.

    So the plan is build more warriors before iron is hooked up, no research for cash to upgrade. First build for every city is one culture building (temple until I can get cheaper libs), then barracks if it's a good producer. Barracks cities go all warriors until horses hooked up, then go horses. Other cities go all cats. I don't want to build any swords if possible since they have no upgrade path in vanilla. If things go right, any excess swords will go into sword armies so they aren't completely useless.
     
  2. ZubieMaster

    ZubieMaster Chieftain

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    70BC:


    It's 70BC and I've declared on Egypt, allied w/ France and Babs. I built as planned, upgraded warriors to swords. What wasn't planned was my 2nd iron exhausted the turn before I declared so I had to pay Joan GPT for her alliance, which severely slows my upgrades (better than it exhausting during the deal I guess!). The "no-defense" military stands at 15 swords, 6 horses, 11 cats -- and 12 warriors waiting to upgrade when the cash comes.

    I probably declared too soon as a lot of my military is out of position. My "SOD" outside of Elephantine is just 2 swords, 4 horses, 9 cats. But note how there is a natural pipeline thru the mountains so reinforcements will be there constantly.

    The lesson is that thanks to not building any spears, I have enough cats and offensive units to be on the attack. My horses have an 70% chance of beating that yellow-lined spear in the town, 89% against red-lined. When it's Cleo's move, the worry is that the "defenseless" stack will be, well, defenseless. But since I'm on hills/mountains/behind rivers, what's Cleo going to do? She can slam her war chariots into me all she wants. My swords are at 78% odds to win. If she gets lucky and takes out my two swords, my horses on the hill are no pushover at 43%. Hammi and Joan offer much more tempting targets and Cleo's offensive units are spread around unable to concentrate on me, so my stack is safe even without a spear escort.

    10BC:


    10BC, things did not go great RNG-wise on the attack. Military has dipped a bit to 13 swords, 4 horses, 15 cats. Still 12 warriors to upgrade (no cash!). I have taken casualties so am regrouping. Yes, when you go no defense you take losses, but I've also razed two cities. I've lost some battles, but I'm winning the war. Our military is just average compared to them, but Egypt's sitting there with a bunch of spears and no threat, while I'm still poised to attack. That's the point when you build no defenders.

    270AD:


    Two hundred eighty years of war seems forever, but as long as everyone else is at war, too, it's slows the tech pace. Besides, I'm so hopelessly behind (France is in the MA, I don't even have maps!) my only hope is pointy stick research. Or Babylon is building the GLib next door in Ur so that would be parity (upon future conquest) for me right there.

    Thebes (and its 3 wonders now) is mine. I've also built 2 new cities in former Egyptian lands. Military roll call is: 20 swords, 5 horses (damn things keep dying!), 15 cats. Just 6 warriors left to upgrade since I'm back up to making 28 gpt thanks to Egyptian road crews and more town-unit support.

    360AD:


    The 400-year war is over. I razed that last Egyptian city just before my Babylonian (red) friends got there. I've doubled my territory, grabbed another lux and gained 4 wonders from Egypt. For peace I got every AA tech, got mono as my free tech, traded for monarchy and revolted.

    Roll call: 23 sword, 9 horse, 20 cats. I've doubled my military via production during war with no defenders and without an overwhelming SOD. Would I have been able to do this wasting shields on spears? Perhaps, but why bother?

    Bad news is Japan built the GLib, not Babs, so my dream of easy tech parity is on hold. Babylon will still be my next target to allow me to expand into that corner and reduce my foreign fronts. I will ally France again for her to eliminate the northern Babylonian cities, and so she doesn't come in against me. Meanwhile, I'm still follwing the building plan: new cities get the cheapest culture building (now libs) then go on military -- horses or cats, no defense.

    (to be continued...)
     
  3. homeyg

    homeyg Chieftain

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    This is interesting but if wars are drawn into the modern age or even the late industrial age your stack of attacking units is in trouble (cavalry can easily beat cavalry and tanks can easily beat tanks).
     
  4. Tomoyo

    Tomoyo Fate

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    If you do this, it's very likely the game doesn't make it past cavalry...
     
  5. SJ Frank

    SJ Frank Spamalot Co-court

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    I think in this case, you won the war dispite not building defenders, instead of because of not building defenders. You could have done much better had you turned those "waiting-for-upgrade" warriors into 3 or 4 spear. That's because you had a stacks consisting of mostly swords and cats. With this kind of stack, defensive units do have important roles to play. If you really want to see the "no defender" strategy shine, try building mostly horses, and think about how to "use mobility to avoid losses".

    While your game is not a good example of the "no defenders" strategy, it is a good example of how important alliances are in high level games. Looking at your screenshots, see how many Babylonian units are scattered across the map. Those units are in perfect location to absorb Egyptian counter attack, yet not concentrated enough to breach Egyptian cities.

    The Babylonian AI is not smart enough to avoid exposing low-defense units to counter attacks, and the Egyptian AI is programed to always go after nearby low-defense units first. The end result is, a good AI ally can dramtically cut down losses for a smart human player, by absorbing nearly all of the counter attacks.
     
  6. Pentium

    Pentium Digital Matter

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    You can win with no units at all, not only without defensive ones :)
     
  7. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Chieftain

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    Catapults are defensive units. Bombard units don't count as offense until you get artillery.
     
  8. homeyg

    homeyg Chieftain

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    What do you mean? Catapults have an advantage over spears (bombard of 4 vs. defense of 2). Or are you referring to the fact that artillery can bombard 2 squares away instead of 1?
     
  9. ZubieMaster

    ZubieMaster Chieftain

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    Thanks for the quick feedback. A couple responses:

    * I was building all horses because I was attacking mostly with horses, only cities without barracks are building cats. The speed of the horses IS what's doing the "defending", as they can attack then retreat back to safety. This becomes more clear as the game progresses.

    * The alliance was ultimately why I won the war, yes, but note that I would make the same alliances whether building spears or not. And had I been building spears, I probably wouldn't have had the speed or punch to beat the Babylonians to every city, and half that conquered territory would instead be Hammi's.

    * I disagree that I won this war "despite" no defenders. For every 3-4 spear I had made, that's x number of less attackers I would have had. Early in the game every unit counts. Often that nth attacker makes all the difference of whether you take the city or not.

    * I like the comment about how "you can win without any units, too" -- what makes Civ great is all the different ways to win. This thread is just my twist after I got bored with classic combined arms stacks. After playing both, right now I'm swayed towards believing that not building any defensive units is actually more effective.
     
  10. ZubieMaster

    ZubieMaster Chieftain

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    [420AD]



    Here's the 2-prong setup to destroy Hammy. Up north Group A will target weak Akkad with 4 swords, 2 horses, 10 cats, and will quickly be reinforced with every horse built from the empire (5 cities are now on exclusive horse duty). It will then move in a NE direction to protect Krasnoyarsk. Group B must handle most of Babs' troops that are still down south after the Egypt war. It's got 5 swords, 7 horses and 10 cats to operate with. Hardly overwhelming stuff; in fact, I rank just average against the Babylonian military. But again there's great terrain to exploit along the border, and since I'm all offensive units and Hammi has a bunch of useless spears, I can attack!

    [460AD]



    A few turns into the Babylonian war. Group A has taken siege position outside Akkad with 4 swords and 10 cats, but all horses had to be diverted elsewhere. Group B is successfully holding its ground, including one sword that pillaged the iron and is now fortified on the mountain. The southernmost elite sword was on the mountain but I used him to attack a bowman that Hammy dropped off (so I didn't have to attack across river). The northernmost sword moved on the hill to force that spear to stay on the plains or advance into range of my cats. Here's the shocker:



    Hammi takes Rouen from France! Now I have another hotspot to deal with in the SW. Group C is quickly formed by redeploying 4 horses and 5 cats to raze Rouen.

    Gasp! Horses defending a stack? Yep. What's he going to do, attack with that mighty spear? Yeah, he has bowmen healing in there, but as long as he doesn't have four that can beat all my horsies in one turn, my cats are safe. I have reinforcements on the way and he's cut off. I can afford to lose a horse or two to win the war. That's the point when you build no defense, there's always another horse coming. And you have a flexibility in reaction that is impossible with spears, as I was able to quickly redeploy the horses to where needed, to the other side of my fledgling empire.

    [480AD]



    Two turns later. I've razed Rouen so I'm fighting Babs on one focused front again. Hammi is gassed, Group B eliminated all his discretionary units; what's left is sitting in his cities or advancing in a trickle. Group A razed Akkad and is wheeling NE around the mountains to begin the push towards Babylon. Group B is no longer necessary now that the south has been pacified (I can take care of his units that straggle in with what's guarding the cities).

    My military has taken losses but maintained it's level thru production: 21 sword, 10 horse, 23 cats. And since I'm not building any defenders, I'm still pressing the attack.

    [500AD]



    Two turns later I'm advancing on the capital, using the terrain. I'm gaining military at 2 horses per turn, which will only keep increasing.

    [610AD]



    A hundred years later and Hammi is an OCC and will be gone shortly. The no-defense military stands at 21 swords, 26 cats, and a hefty 33 horses.

    I'm feeling good so I'm splurging on builds like courts and harbors. But looming is the fact I'm 3 techs behind France and Japan is the top dog in score. I need to get those two fighting each other -- and I need the GLib from Japan. The problem is it's in Osaka (northern end of Japan's territory) and will be defended by pikes while I just have horses and swords. But I will be sending a lot of them. The plan is to ally everyone against Japan and let them fight while I march all the way thru China, thru the Japanese empire and straight on to Osaka.
     
  11. Heroes

    Heroes Heroes of Might and Magic

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    Zubie, thank you very much for showing us your interesting game. I agree that in this situation, no spear indeed makes better result. OTOH, I would like to say that the crucial point is that you can foresee that Egypt has no serious conterattack for 1. lack of iron; 2. your alliances. You can ally somebody in most cases, while your foe having no iron is just luck. Your version is vanilla, but anyway, if you are using maces to attack enemy with maces, attack 4 vs. defense 2 means both sides will suffer a lot of losses, and human cannot afford that much. Then 30 shields pikes will make sense to protect maces. After all, building which unit (or no unit at all) is not automatically determined by some rule, but needs to be considered in every different circumstance, which is a major fun of civ.
     
  12. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Chieftain

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    Catapults have 4 bombard, but they can only take one hitpoint. So one catapult does as much offensive damage per turn as one veteran warrior (1 attack, but potential to take 4 hitpoints!).

    Catapults will certainly give you a better kill ratio than attacking with warriors, but in almost all games kill ratio is not as important as speed.
     
  13. Heroes

    Heroes Heroes of Might and Magic

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    I beg to disagree. In typical sid games, your knights are bound to face muskets, if not rifles. How much can you gain even from rider's speed?
     
  14. ZubieMaster

    ZubieMaster Chieftain

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    But it would be the same "luck" whether I'm playing "normally" or not, so it's not relevant. Even if I was building spears, Egypt would still be my first target regardless (since they are my weakest neighbor and best opportunity). And I would be allying the same exact same way, with spears or without. So it comes back to the question -- why bother building the spears?

    If you're saying that not every game will have such a weak first target, I have to respectfully disagree. There's always an opportunity somewhere, and it will be the same weakness to exploit no matter what units you have. What I'm suggesting is that perhaps it is even easier to exploit whatever opportunity presents itself when you aren't building the spears.
     
  15. Heroes

    Heroes Heroes of Might and Magic

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    Excuse me, but I don't quite understand your meaning. I do agree that your choice of not building spears is CORRECT in that situation. What I added is just why it's correct and in what other situation it could be not so good. Simply putting, as a rule of thumb, at deity or sid levels, when your foe has iron or invention, I would say that you'd better build defenders. When you are being attacked by mace or longbow, using 40 shield mace is "criminal" comparing to using 30 shiled pike.
     
  16. SJ Frank

    SJ Frank Spamalot Co-court

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    I still don't think that building no spears is the right strategy for this situaion.

    Sure, you could be buliding swords instead of spear, but how many swords did you lose to enemy counter attacks? And how would you like to lose spears instead of swords?

    Spears cost only 20 shields, while swords cost 30. If you subsitute 3 lost spears for 3 lost swords, you would have gained 30 shields, or 1 sword, in the exchange.

    To look at the situation another way, for every 2 swords, you could have had 3 spears. You can absorb 50% more damage building spears instead of swords. So, just by using units more efficiently, you have gained 50% extra advantage. The AI production advantage at Emperor is 20%. The reason why human player can over come that advantage, is because of little things like these that uses tactics to save shields.

    What are the right situation for "no spears"? One situation is if the bulk of your army is mobile troops, and they move so fast that your spears could not catch up. If it turns out that a unit did not see any action during a war, then that unit is useless.

    Another situation is if the enemy is completely gased, and have no more offensive units left.

    The way the AI uses their units is, they leave X number of defensive units in each city. These units will not move during peace or war. Then, they use rest of their troops, which consists of some defensive, but mostly offensive troops as mobile reserve. During peace, the reserves hang out and do nothing; during war, all of the reserve units gets moving toward the target of their (individual) choice.

    Because of this kind of AI behavior, you're likely to see a lot of AI units during the first few turns of the war -- those are their reserves. But once you kill those units, the AI will have only the units that they produce that turn to throw at you. At lower level, that can mean very, very few units.

    So, if you catch an AI that has just exusted its reserve units, from either fight you or fight another AI, you can expect to face basically nothing but a few defenders per city. That is the other instance where you can forgo defenders.

    In this game, had you chose to build no swords and no catapults, and had an army of just a dozen horses when you attacked, then you would not need to build any spears. But since you decided to go with a sword/cat stack, then the best thing to do was to have 1 or 2 spears per stack.
     
  17. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Chieftain

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    You certainly need defensive catapults to survive an extended war on Sid. But if I wanted to go pure offense (say, an ROP rape to capture the Great Library) I would not use catapults on Sid.
     
  18. ZubieMaster

    ZubieMaster Chieftain

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    But I'm not losing "swords", I'm losing "upgraded warriors". I built no swords. I'm building horses and cats. So what I'm losing is a 10-shield "upgraded warrior" instead of a 20-shield spear (plus the gold it took to upgrade it). Am I actually coming out ahead then? I am going no research, what else am I going to do with that gold? I can't use it early to rush buildings since I'm still in despo. And it's not like it's being thrown away -- the sword is 100% more flexible since it can act as both offense and defense.
     
  19. Drakan

    Drakan Voluntas Omnia Vincit

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    Exactly. You have this German civ champion, Kronic, in the HOF forum who posted a Sid-level game with no military units at all.

    http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=84619

    Speed is essential in civ warfare because it allows the fast-unit (2 mp plus) to withdraw from combat when losing against a slow-unit (one mp), thus being able to fight another day and reducing your war casualties improving your kill-to-loss ratio. Each unit can then attack and withdraw as the carthagian cavalry did back in Hannibal's days. Attack-withdraw, attack-withdraw ...
     
  20. Heroes

    Heroes Heroes of Might and Magic

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    First, I think ROP rape is exploitive :)
    Second, if you are not going to ROP rape, how would you do to wage a war on sid?
     

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