The Crouching Tiger has 10 more Ranged Strength and 1 less Range than the Crossbowman, which is also unlocked by Machinery; it has, however, the same Combat Strength. This makes it better suited for defense, especially when used in conjunction with the Great Wall (and placing five Crouching Tigers on tiles containing Great Wall segments unlocks an achievement). Nevertheless, if you time your attacks right, it's possible to move Crouching Tigers within range of enemy units and fire before they can react! 50 RS will do terrible damage to all Medieval Era units (excluding the Knight), especially if you've managed to accumulate some promotions beforehand. They can even do a fair bit of damage to the Musketmen and Bombards that start appearing on the battlefield in the Renaissance Era...which, unlike the Crouching Tiger, require Niter to produce.
Civilopedia entry Edit
After the Chinese discovered gunpowder c. 9th Century AD, they used it just for fireworks and making pretty, colorful explosions. But eventually someone figured out it was pretty useful in warfare too, and soon enough flintlocks and cannon were all the rage in Asia. According to Dr. Yongxiang Lu, the little-known Chinese “Crouching Tiger” lay somewhere between a bombard and a cannon, one of the earliest uses of gunpowder in warfare. A crude device, it was basically an iron tube, sealed at one end, wrapped with thick ropes to reinforce it and with two short legs at the front to elevate the barrel slightly (so the shot didn’t plow up the ground instead of smashing the enemy). It is known that the Crouching Tiger saw action c. 1368 at the beginning of the Ming dynasty, and was still being used as late as 1592 against the Japanese in Korea. When fired, it is reported to have had a range of about 800 paces, which no doubt made the enemy very uncomfortable since it outranged anything else at the time.