I have heard many on these forums question the use of Dog Soldiers because of their lower strength than regular Axemen, but let me tell you… they are a very strong UU and this guide will hopefully convince you of that as well as tell you how to use them effectively.
This guide assumes you are NOT playing unrestricted leaders (thus Sitting Bull of Native America) and these strategies have been tried in MP and only up to Monarch level and I cannot guarantee that they will work well in their entirety at higher levels than Monarch in SP. I would appreciate any constructive criticism and would be glad to incorporate the ideas of others into this guide as well.
The 2 great features which distinguish the Dog from a regular axeman are:
1) No Copper requirement; This is huge!! – you can get it out very early.
2) +100% vs. melee; this makes them stronger against melee units than a non-Aggressive Axeman; this includes other Axemen, Swordsmen, Warriors, and even Praetorians!!
The first feature in particular makes it amazing!!
A major weakness of the dog is its lower strength (4 vs. 5 for a regular axeman). This has 2 major consequences:
1) Dogs are NOT as good as Axemen at taking Archer-defended cities on a unit-per-unit basis. Archers are the most likely defender you will run into in SP on Monarch and above. Never attack Hammurabi or even Mansa Musa on Monarch and above or in MP – you have been warned!!
2) They are EXTREMELY vulnerable to Chariots. Horseless targets should be attacked if possible. If the target has Horses, the Pasture(s) should be pillaged ASAP.
Tech Order: Mining – Bronze Working – Animal Husbandry – …
Build Order: Worker – Barracks – Dog – Dog – … (if the start is coastal and has seafood, insert Workboat in the beginning – it slows you down a bit, but that’s life)
Since Sitting Bull starts with Agriculture and Fishing, he does not need an immediate worker tech right off the bat in most cases. While the Worker is building, use the Warrior to explore the surroundings and find your rivals.
As soon as Bronze Working is done, get your Worker to quickly chop out 2 Dogs while researching Animal Husbandry. If you plan to rush several opponents and have high food in your capital, switch to Slavery and whip although I’ve never found a need for this. Even a single turn you waste revolting matters. Speed is of the essence!! Barracks obviously helps – give your dogs CRI.
SP – Prince and below.
Go straight in and capture their capital. There is no way the AI will have anything better than warriors at this point (your dogs should get 99%+ odds against these). Just crush them and their cap is yours. Build a few more dogs at home and move on to the next target’s capital. Rinse and repeat until you clear the continent and/or win the game. 🙂
SP – Monarch and above.
This strategy is weaker here because the AI starts with Archery. If the city is not a hill and you move in fast enough, your 2 Dogs should get you their capital as the AI is unlikely to have more than 1 Archer at this point. In case there are multiple defenders (Archer and Warrior or 2 Archers), either do not declare war or if you could not see the defenses prior to declaring, try to steal their worker and pillage around, but don’t risk your dogs. Try to stick to defensive terrains – forested or jungle hills are best, but forests/jungles and even plain hill work. Dogs have higher strength than archers and are tough to dislodge – the enemy needs at least 2 Archers/Dog. If your enemy has Horses in the BFC, head to those and pillage them if there is a pasture.
Once your first 2 Dogs are done, check if your potential target has Horses in the BFC (circle around its capital early). In MP, this is important, because people know they should build Chariots if they see you around as Native America, at least if they are good.
If your enemy has horses in the BFC (relatively rare – maybe 10% of games), move in quickly if your enemy does NOT start with Hunting or Agriculture. If your enemy has horses in the BFC and starts with one of these techs, they have some Chariots built for sure if they know what they are doing. It’s too big a risk and you should move on to a new opponent while making sure you grab a source of Copper and build a Spearman or two in case this person is trying to chariot-rush you!! If no Copper, quickly grab Hunting and Archery and whip a few Archers that start with CGI/CGII/Drill I.
If your enemy has Horses, but does not start with Hunting or Agriculture (ex. Romans), it’s unlikely they got a Chariot built (a pasture improvement this early takes 4 turns I believe + they likely need Wheel as well to connect the Horses). If you got your Dogs out as quickly as possible, feel free to send them in. If the Horses are not pastured or connected (or there are none), go for the city first if applicable. Use common sense. You don’t want to pillage a pasture on Horses that are not connected while your target chops/builds a defender. If your enemy has a single Archer defending, attack the city if it’s not on a hill. If there is a 2nd defender, the city is on a hill, or you’re fighting a Protective civ, choke the city. Pillage any improvement if you can do so safely and prevent him from working/improving high yield tiles while building an occasional reinforcement to keep the choke on. Your target is likely to quit from my experience. Even if he lifts the choke (don’t dedicate your whole empire to keep this guy choked), he’s been seriously weakened and is a non-factor in the game 99% of the time. Make sure to keep a sizable army near your other borders and build new cities, buildings to avoid looking like a target.
Use of Dogs Later On:
Dogs are great anti-melee units and should be used that way. Along with Spearmen, they form great pillaging stacks much later on into the game when your enemies have chariots. If you go out conquering with Swordsmen or War Elephants, bring a few dogs to protect against enemy Axemen and Spearmen respectively. If you are playing a Roman player (human or AI), use Dogs. Dogs are much cheaper than Praets and can fight them on even ground. Nevermind the fact that you can rush and kill/choke a Roman player with Dogs before he even gets near to Praets. Dogs later on in the game benefit mostly from CI/Shock promotions. It improves their main strength further. CR promotions are useless since they should not be used to attack cities later as are all other specialized promotions because of their low attack strength. Maybe Medic.
Dogs are powerful because they can come out earlier than any other Bronze Working UU except the Holkan. The Holkan can be used in a similar way and while it is slightly stronger against Archers as it is immune to first strikes, it is weaker against warriors and vulnerable to Axemen. Dogs come out earlier than your enemy can get an adequate defense. This is the main strength of Dogs that should be leveraged!! Finally Dogs kill Holkans so they are better. 😆