Death from Above: C3C Airborne Operations

The following Advanced Flight tactics are offered as a supplement to the tactics already in one’s personal “playbook”. The author does NOT intend to debate the unit’s overall value, hold these tactics out as “best”, or substitute paratroopers for other tactics and units. The author concedes that these tactics may not be the best alternative for a given situation.

Having said that, many players enjoy experimenting with various units, including specialty units like the ‘Paratrooper’. This article is directed to that audience, and to anyone who enjoys analyzing tactical problems and possibilities. While this is an open forum, I would sincerely appreciate it if discussion could be limited to these tactics.

[i]On Tactics and Strategy[/i]

This article presents tactics, not strategy. Before implementing these tactics the strategic decisions of when and why to fight should be made, alliances formed, etc. If you’re considering paratroopers your war-machine should already be approaching the point of no return. This article shows methods to embrace that moment in a flexible, aggressive manner, using Advanced Flight units.

[b]Death from Above: C3C Airborne Operations[/b]

The title of this article probably caused several people to have thoughts like: [I]”A late industrial/early modern era invader that attacks no better than a Rifleman? How on earth do you invade anything with that? Are you nuts?”[/I]

At first glance, paratroopers appear limited, perhaps useless. The Conquests version of the paratrooper appears weaker than ever for invading, with a 4/9 Attack/Defense compared to the 6/8 CivIII para. At 90 shields he costs no more than an infantryman, but the real cost is the technology. Before we examine tactics using Advanced Flight units, let’s get to know paratroopers.

[i]”If you continue your foolish attack your losses will be tremendous.”[/i]

During the Battle of the Bulge the Germans asked for a meeting to discuss surrender terms with paratroopers surronded at Bastogne. The American officer sent to meet the Germans used those words when delivering a written statement from his own Commander to the Germans demanding their surrender. The American General’s written response was a single word:


Paratroopers are audacious. “Jumping out of perfectly good airplanes” is not normal behavior. Audacity is found in many soldiers, but it is a prerequisite for paratroopers. With a one-way ticket to combat, retreat is not an option. Likewise, these tactics are not for the faint-of-heart. We’re talking about putting “devils in baggy pants” right in the AI’s back yard, right from the word “Go!”

[b]”Invading with Paratroopers? Attacking with defensive units is nuts.” [/b]

Attacking with defensive units is not intuitive; you must “unlearn what you have learned”. The paratrooper does not [I]need[/I] to be a strong attacker. In C3C, two other units profoundly increase the power of the paratrooper.

Critically important in an airborne assault is the role of air power, especially bombers. Fighters are used for reconnaissance, but the bomber has a far more central role. You simply cannot have too many bombers. Bombers are not new to CivIII, but an important change was made in C3C: [U]Lethal Bombardment.[/U]

Another key unit: workers. In C3C workers can do one very powerful thing: build an airfield in a single turn, right on the edge of your empire. This extends the effective range of paratroopers and helicopters. The full potential is that you can place an airfield in parts of your territory that you didn’t own at the beginning of that turn. Any paratrooper with full movement points can move to that airfield on rails and get airdropped on the next target.

[i]D-Day Minus One[/i]

Analyze the terrain along your border and around the enemy cities. Envision where you want to put your units. Move your workers to the tiles where airfields are needed, and build them. Put helicopters on the airfields if you plan to use them. Put your bombers in the city (or on the airfield) that you plan to use as a base. Also, never forget to keep a sufficient number of strong defenders on that airfield. This must be done the turn before you invade.

[b]The Airborne Assault – “Arrive and Survive”[/b]

This is the basic tactic for taking cities with paratroopers. It is worth considering when crossing mountains or hills that would slow tanks to an infantryman’s pace. Geography is rendered almost irrelevant. Paratroopers arrive at the city’s gates from over the mountains as quickly as fast units could threaten any city on open terrain. The concept is simple:

1) Perform reconnaissance with fighters.
2) Airdrop paratroopers on selected empty tile(s) next to the city.
3) Bomb the city relentlessly.
4) On the following turn, Bomb the city some more. Ideally, you want to kill all defenders.
5) Move the paras into a lightly defended (perhaps undefended) city.

This is beautiful combined arms stuff. Lethal bombardment reduces the need for powerful attackers. The paratroopers’ mission: survive to the next turn. With lethal aerial bombardment, a decent defensive rating makes sense for the paratrooper.

[b]Additional Tactics[/b]

[i]Leapfrogging: Combined Arms at Speed[/i]

When tanks become available, many abandon combined arms in favor of an all-out tank assault. Though effective (and fun) Combined Arms can be applied in new ways with Advanced Flight units, while maintaining the speed of tank assualts. Often, in rough terrain a city can actually be conquered faster with paratroopers than with tanks.

While conventional infantry are stronger defenders and attackers, they need helicopters to be airdropped. Though helicopters can carry more powerful units, repositioning them costs the turn’s movement points. Any paratrooper standing on rails can move to an airfield and then be airdropped, a unique type of speed. After a city is taken, workers can move in to complete any rails needed, build a new airfield next to the city just taken and paratroopers that have full movement points can be dropped the next six tiles into enemy territory. Caution: don’t drop them beyond the range of your bombers.

[i]Armor Support[/i]

When advancing tanks across open terrain, consider using Advanced Flight units to reinforce the armor. This can blunt a strong AI counterattack. Here you can get a little creative. If you’ve got a few helicopters, you can put Infantry in there with the tanks. If you have a lot of guerillas or TOW Infantry, you can drop paratroopers, and airlift the guerrillas. The goal: protect the tanks so they are in better condition to attack on the next turn.

[i]Hammer and Anvil[/i]

Under most circumstances the game favors concentrating all invading forces onto a single tile. The respectable defensive value of Paratroopers opens up the possibility of surrounding or cutting off a city thus preventing the AI from reinforcing it. This can be accomplished by dropping stacks of paratroopers beyond a city while advancing tanks towards the city. Any forces the AI sends to reinforce the city must fight through the units that were airdropped beyond the city. Although this tactic carries risk, it has potential in choke point cities that have coastline or unimproved mountains on one or two sides.


One widely discussed paratrooper tactic is to drop paratroopers onto a resource to pillage it. This can also be used on key transportation junctions or luxuries (which carry strategic importance when cities get past size 12). An advantage over simply bombing the tiles is that your paratroopers will have to be killed before the AI can repair the roads.

[b]Research Implications[/b]

Many players research Motorized Transportation quickly to get Tanks. If you plan to use Paratroopers, consider researching Flight first, then Radio and Mass Production. Use that time to build a large number of bombers.

Advanced Flight units can add some variety and fun to your game. They can also add some flexibility to your military. To those who think they are useless, here is my response:


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