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A flank attack in Civilization V is a battle maneuver in which several melee attackers on one team surround and attack an enemy. The attack then receives a 10% bonus to Melee strength Combat Strength for each adjacent unit aside from the one attacking.

In order to activate the Flanking bonus, move at least 2 units onto tiles that are adjacent to the same enemy. Every melee attack from any of these units will then benefit from a Flanking bonus. It doesn't matter exactly what tiles your units are occupying around the enemy, as long as they're right next to it. Flanking stacks with the Melee strength Combat Strength bonus for units on adjacent tiles from the Discipline social policy.

Flanking also benefits defending units: if the enemy has more than one unit adjacent to your attacking unit, the attack will suffer a -10% Flanking penalty.


On the tactical level of two or three units, the use of flanking is universally a good thing. Since there are no area of effect weapons besides nukes in the game, bunching up the units rarely backfires, and they can use the very important Medic promotion to heal each other, making them much harder to kill. Finally, two or three units have better firepower and can overwhelm even more advanced units.

Flank attacks may also be performed on a more strategic level as opposed to a tactical level. In the strategic sense, flanking is when one army uses fast units (e.g., Horsemen, Paratroopers, Helicopter Gunships) to go around the front line of powerful defenders to hit the weaker units (e.g., Archers, Artillery, Anti-Aircraft Guns) that support the front. If the strategy works, it opens the tough frontline units to attack from both the front and the back.

This strategy can backfire explosively, especially when the player ordering the flank has incomplete intelligence. If the other player has only a few defensive units that are not visible, the whole attack will probably force the enemy into a costly rout, and possibly a counterattack. Even if the flanking player doesn't encounter defensive units, any ranged units that aren't killed in one turn will focus fire on and possibly kill the flanking units. The strategy, like war itself, is risky.

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