How To Use Artillery Defensively

There has been much debate about whether Artillery is useful and the best way to use it. Moonsinger wrote an article in the War Academy on how to use Artillery offensively. This article is about how to use Artillery defensively.

I always produce Artillery units. The most common use for them is to reduce the population of an enemy city so that the units in the city do not get a defensive bonus when you attack. However, Artillery can also be used to weaken attacking units before you attack them. This strategy is valid for any level.

  1. You should plan ahead to use this strategy. Once you discover Metallurgy, have a couple of your outlying, less productive cities, start building Cannon. The Cannon is a fairly ineffective unit because it only has a one tile range. Your intent is to stack the Cannons in one central town and then upgrade them to Artillery when it is discovered. This allows you to get a head start on building up a stack of Artillery without adversely impacting your production.
  2. Once you enter the Industrial Age you should discover Steam Power quickly and then devote all of your Workers to the construction of railroads. The best way to do this is to use stacks of Workers for the construction. First develop a spidery network of railroads from north to south and east to west. The goal here is to be able to move units quickly from one end of your territory to another. Once you have the main rails in, then make sure all cities are connected. Then worry about filling in other spaces. Do not leave this job to the Governors. They focus on railing resources and don’t care whether you can move units quickly from one end of your territory to the other.
  3. Once you discover Replaceable Parts you should upgrade all of the Cannon to Artillery. You are now in a position to withstand almost any ground attack. Those attacks will come in one of 2 ways:
    1. If you are at war with a civ on another continent, then the AI will have to land units from its ships. The Transport is the best vessel for this as it can carry 8 units. I will use that in my examples as it is the worst case scenario. You can sucker them into landing at a place where there are only plains, desert or grassland by leaving a nearby city undefended and putting some old units on any coastal hills, forests or mountains. They will then be unable to achieve a defensive bonus from the terrain when they land.

      The AI is terrible at maritime invasions and will invariably unload only one Transport at a time. Sometimes it will be smarter and unload 2. Very, very rarely will it coordinate an attack with more than 2 Transports. Therefore, you can expect 16 units, at most. Your worst fear is that they will all be Tanks or Modern Armor. But, not to worry. With Artillery, they don’t stand a chance. Once they land they can’t move until the next turn. Just move your stack of Artillery two squares away by rail and bombard them all down to one hit point. Then your offensive units can have a field day destroying them and becoming elite at the same time.

      How many Artillery do you need to do the job? For a stack of 8 Tanks that are a mix of veteran and regular, you will need about 3.5 Artillery for every Tank. Therefore, figure on about 28 Artillery to reduce a stack of 8 enemy Tanks to one hit point each. This is an unscientific analysis, but you will find it close enough in practice. Therefore, to be able to easily defeat 2 Transports loaded with Tanks you will need 56 Artillery. This is easy to achieve if you start early and build consistently.

    2. The second alternative is a ground invasion from an adjoining civ. In this situation the AI acts in a more intelligent, coordinated manner. It understands combined arms and uses them. However, it will invariably attack by the shortest, most direct route. Therefore, unless you are surprised by the attack, you can move defensive units into your border towns to protect them. Fortify the border towns before any attack because the AI knows where you are weakest and will attack there. They will bypass heavily fortified towns to attack a weaker town behind it. This gives you an opportunity to sucker them into a killing field.

      Station your Artillery in a city or terrain which gives a defensive bonus and protect them with 2 or 3 Infantry. The AI will not attack a stack of units protected by 3 Infantry, especially if it is on terrain with a defensive bonus. The 2 square reach of the Artillery allows you to use the terrain to your advantage to bombard the enemy units. They also have the disadvantage of only being able to move at most 3 squares in your territory, while your units are very mobile on your roads and railroads.

      Once you blunt the enemies initial attack, you can use your Artillery in the traditional manner, to reduce their cities population before sending in your offensive units.

  4. With regard to seaborne invasions, artillery is also useful in redlining many ships once they approach the coast. This not only drives back many invaders, but also greatly limits naval shelling of the coast. Add the odd destroyer to your ports to pick off the redlined vessels, and the enemy navy will start shrinking pretty fast. [Added by Txurce]
  5. As you can see, the Artillery is an essential unit for warfare in the Industrial/Modern Eras. It is cheap, powerful and can be used both offensively and defensively.

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