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Winning with Artillery

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  • Winning with Artillery

    Artillery is at the heart of my industrial/early modern era strategy. When used in sufficient numbers on the offense, there is no way the AI can possibly defend. Artillery appear at a time in the game when the balance is generally tipped toward the defender, since there is no offensive unit at the time more powerful than the 10 defense of the infantry. I've seen several posters talk about how they generally pull back their forces upon the appearance of infantry, and then wait for tanks. However artillery can overcome this defensive advantage.

    Let's say you're attacking with cavalry against infantry in a city. The key is to use artillery to get all the defenders down to 1 HP, and to get the city size below 7. Depending on how many defenders there are and how big the city is, a stack of 20-30 artillery should get the job done. Your cavalry are thus attacking against a defense strength of 11 (assuming the city is not on a hill or across a river, the infantry only get the standard 10% defense bonus). So you will take roughly 2 hits for every 1 you inflict. If the infantry are down to 1 HP from the artillery barrage, then even regular cavalry have the odds in their favor. Veteran and elite cavalry will almost always win.

    Getting the artillery into position can be a problem since artillery is not mobile. However artillery's range of 2 definitely helps. Ideally there is a tile within your borders that is also within 2 squares of the target city, and also ideally that tile is railroaded. In this best case scenario, you can roll up your artillery and fire on the same turn, and then attack with your cavalry also on the same turn (since cavalry have enough movement points to cross the border and still attack). If not, then look for a tile within range of the target city that is only one tile into enemy territory. That way you can roll up in one turn and fire in the next. Preferrably the tile you fire from will be hills or mountains, but this isn't critical given sufficient numbers of artillery.

    If the enemy's territory is railroaded, then you can easily conquer more than one city in a turn provided you have enough artillery. Use sufficient artillery to get the first city below 7 and the defenders down to 1HP, then take it with cavalry. Now his railroads are yours, and you can use them to roll the next set of artillery into range of the second city, all within the same turn. In fact if you have enough artillery, you can keep going like this for several cities in a single turn.

    IMHO, artillery is an extremely powerful unit. And due to the AI's inability to use artillery effectively, it is pretty much an unbalancing unit. The AI simply can't defend against huge artillery stacks, and it doesn't know how to do the same thing to you.

    Artillery is also very cheap - less than the cost of infantry or tanks. With a bombard attack of 12 and rate of fire of 2, artillery is clearly more powerful than a battleship (bombard 8, rof 2) and arguably more powerful than a bomber (bombard 8, rof 3). It is certainly cheaper then either of these other 2 units.

    And of course artillery requires no resources. This opens up a resource-less strategy of using artillery and rifleman. Even rifileman attacking at 4 have a reasonabe chance of defeating infantry defending at 10 if the infantry are down to 1 HP and not receiving a defensive bonus beyond the standard 10%. Your rifleman will roughly inflict 1 hit for every 3 they take, so regular rifleman have an even chance of winning while veterans and elites have the odds in their favor. So no more complaining about lacking resources; a rifleman/artillery army can conquer a city defended by infantry and no resources are required.

    I predict than when multiplayer comes out, industrial era warfare will turn into massive artillery battles, and attacking your opponent's artillery stack (or stacks) will become just as important as attacking his cities. If you take out his artillery, you take out his ability to attack you effectively until tanks.

    By the way, make sure you always defend your stacks of artillery with infantry. There would be nothing worse than to have the AI capture a stack of 30 artillery!
    Firaxis - please make an updated version of Colonization! That game was the best, even if it was a little un-PC.

  • #2
    I normally use large stacks of artillery, especially against an equal or better opponent. I normally protect them by an 3-4 elite infantry army. The AI usually never attacks such an army, even on open ground.

    Artillery is especially useful to wear down the 100+ foot soilder stacks the AI tend to send into your territory. Also see my mini-story and comments in the minitour iii spolier tread.

    It can also be used to prevent culture flips of captured metropolis cities, as most civilians are killed by 2-3 turns of 30+ artillery shelling.
    So get your Naomi Klein books and move it or I'll seriously bash your faces in! - Supercitizen to stupid students
    Be kind to the nerdiest guy in school. He will be your boss when you've grown up!


    • #3
      Bombard is the heart of my army in the ancient era, too. I'll attack peripheral towns without any, but any core city will have more defenders and reinforcements. They call for HP reductions before any attack.
      The first President of the first Apolyton Democracy Game (CivII, that is)

      The gift of speech is given to many,
      intelligence to few.


      • #4
        I used to use artillery to reduce defenders and city population, but if I intend to keep the city, it will probably lose its marketplace in the bombardment.

        I now prefer to either (1) expend the units, if available, or (2) use cruise missiles -- they target just defenders in the city and not population/infrastructure.


        • #5
          Once you've dispensed with your opponent the excess guns can be disbanded in your newly conquered cities. 10 shields each. 3 guns disbanded buys you a temple in 1 turn.


          • #6
            Frankly, you "need" artillery, even if you have tanks. Any city over size 7 with a fortified Infantry in it is going to be a major pain in the butt to take, even though the odds should technically be in the tank's favor. So, I definitely try (key word here is try, since I'm not very GOOD at it) to make use of the artillery fire.

            The only way you can tip the balance here is with MA - MA is so incredibly strong that it punches through infantry and tends to wear down MI. While artillery does maintain its usefulness at that point, I've found that MA just moves too fast for the arty to keep up... but by that point, your game had better just be a mop-up anyway...


            • #7
              One downside of massive artillery bombardment is certainly that you destroy all the improvements in the city, which would be nice to have when you take it over. Cruise missles are definitely better in this regard (and their 16 bombard, 3 rof is very nice), but the primary point of the game when artillery is needed is in the industrial era before tanks. Obviously cruise missles aren't around then.

              To me, the benefits of reducing the population below 7 more than offset the cost of destroying all the improvements. A lot of them will be destroyed when you capture the city anyway. Assuming the AI has built up the infrastructure around the city (irrigation, maybe even railroads), the city will grow again quickly after you capture it. And the new citizens will be yours, not foreign nationals. Once the city starts growing again, you can rebuild or buy the basic improvements fairly quickly.

              As for ancient bombardment, I haven't done too much of that. I find that the weak bombard strength and 1 tile range of catapult make them generally not worth the effort. You would need large numbers to make a difference, and it's much harder to amass huge numbers of units in the early eras than in the later ones.

              One side note I forgot to mention in my first post. If the city you are attacking has a wonder, stop bombarding when it reaches size 2. I made this mistake once, and then I had to wait a few turns for it to grow back to size 2 again so that I could conquer the city without destroying it and its wonder along with it.
              Firaxis - please make an updated version of Colonization! That game was the best, even if it was a little un-PC.


              • #8
                Oh, I forgot to mention the benefit of using artillery against enemy ships that are bombarding your shores. If you hurt them, they will return to port for repair, leaving you alone for a while. I have never seen a coastal fortress actually work as intended, so manual ship bombardment with artillery (or bombers) is the way to go in my experience.
                So get your Naomi Klein books and move it or I'll seriously bash your faces in! - Supercitizen to stupid students
                Be kind to the nerdiest guy in school. He will be your boss when you've grown up!


                • #9
                  Re: Winning with Artillery

                  Originally posted by albiedamned There would be nothing worse than to have the AI capture a stack of 30 artillery!
                  It would be a lot worse if the AI knew how to use it.


                  • #10
                    Yeah, that's a definite area for improvement in the AI. I actually sent an email off to Firaxis with the suggestion. It seems as if the AI is only programmed to use artillery defensively. But it also seems like it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to code it to use artillery offensively. The key would be to teach it how to use the artillery in effectively large stacks, and to teach it how to defend the artillery by moving infantry with it. Obviously the AI already knows how to move around large stacks of units on the attack - we've all seen that! So maybe this is something Firaxis could do, either in a patch or in PTW.

                    Firaxis - please make an updated version of Colonization! That game was the best, even if it was a little un-PC.


                    • #11
                      I like using three catipults in a city for defence any time some one moves in to attack I bomb them to the ground
                      I have walked since the dawn of time and were ever I walk, death is sure to follow. As surely as night follows day.


                      • #12
                        I like Artillery a lot. Although I have moded them with lethal bombardment and I also gave them and Radar Artillery a defense of 1. That way they are never captured but almost always eliminated by attacking forces.
                        Excellence can be attained if you Care more than other think is wise, Risk more than others think is safe, Dream more than others think is practical and Expect more than others think is possible.
                        Ask a Question and you're a fool for 3 minutes; don't ask a question and you're a fool for the rest of your life! Chinese Proverb
                        Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. Warren Buffet


                        • #13
                          Due to the AI's inability to use artillery on the offense, I have to agree with some others that have said that enabling lethal bombardment breaks the game. There would be no reason to build any ground forces at all except for the bare minimum needed to occupy the city and quell the resistence. Your artillery could safely destroy all the defenders from a mountaintop two squares away, with little or no chance of counterattack.
                          Firaxis - please make an updated version of Colonization! That game was the best, even if it was a little un-PC.


                          • #14
                            I must admit that I rarely build bombard units.

                            I do a lot of early warmongering, and often capture a few catapults in ancient times. Later fighting will result in some captured cannon. Put together with upgrades, this often results in 10-15 artillery pieces, which I usually find sufficient unless I'm facing Infantry without Tanks. In that particular case, arty is valueable enough for me to build it, and built it in large numbers.

                            Otherwise, the odds are with the attackers so long as the attackers have superior numbers. I'd rather have another Cavalry, Infantry or Tank (though arty cost less shields to build, it's usually the same number of TURNS to build, or only 1 less).

                            in the dissent
                            grog want tank...Grog Want Tank... GROG WANT TANK!

                            The trick isn't to break some eggs to make an omelette, it's convincing the eggs to break themselves in order to aspire to omelettehood.


                            • #15
                              Depending on what path you follow through the industrial tech tree, it can potentially be a long time between getting infantry and getting tanks. I usually go for TOE, Infantry, and Hoover before I start up the path towards tanks, so in my case it's always a long time between infantry and tanks. If you're at war during this period, artillery is the key since the defender will always be stronger. You really can't win with cavalry and infantry attackers against infantry defenders unless you have vastly superior numbers, and even then you're going to take lots of losses. Why not build lots of artillery instead, especially since you won't lose them?
                              Firaxis - please make an updated version of Colonization! That game was the best, even if it was a little un-PC.