Noncombat Units generally have a Combat Strength of 0 (zero). A military Unit’s combat abilities are determined by its combat values.
RANGED COMBAT STRENGTH: Only Units able to engage in “Ranged Combat” have this value. It is the ranged Unit’s combat strength when it is attacking indirectly.
RANGE: Only ranged combat Units have this value. It is the distance, in tiles, within which the ranged combat Unit can attack the enemy.
COMBAT STRENGTH: All military Units have this value. Melee Units use their Combat Strength when attacking or defending. Ranged Units use their Combat Strength when defending.
HIT POINTS: A Unit’s health is measured in “Hit Points.” When fully healthy, all combat Units have 100 hit points. As a Unit takes damage, it loses hit points. When a Unit’s hit points reach 0, it is destroyed.
Melee combat occurs when a melee Unit (any military Unit which doesn't have the Ranged Combat ability) attacks an enemy Unit or city. It does not matter if the defender has Ranged Combat; so long as the attacker doesn't have Ranged Combat, the resulting battle will be melee.
COMBAT STRENGTH: When two Units engage in melee combat, the result is determined by the relative combat strengths of the two Units – e.g., if a powerful Unit fights a weak one, the powerful Unit is likely to do more damage to its enemy, possibly destroying it altogether. However, many different factors may affect a Unit’s strength in battle. A Unit may receive “defensive bonuses” that will increase its melee strength when it is attacked while occupying forests or hills, or is fortified. Also, a Unit’s damage may reduce its current combat strength.
MULTIPLE UNITS IN COMBAT: Units receive a “flanking” attack bonus of 10% for each Unit adjacent to the target Unit. Some promotions and virtues may give an attacking Unit additional bonuses beyond the basic flanking bonus. These bonuses can be incredibly powerful when enough Units are involved. In general, the more of your Units that can “gang up” on the target Unit, the better the outcome for you.
COMBAT INFORMATION TABLE: When one of your Units is active, place the cursor over an enemy Unit to bring up the “Combat Information Table” and learn the probable outcome of any battle between the two units. This table shows your Unit’s modified combat strength on the left and your enemy’s on the right. The box at the center top of the screen tells you the likely outcome of the battle, and the bars in the center of the box tell you how much damage each side will take if combat occurs.
INITIATING MELEE COMBAT: The attacking Unit initiates the melee by attempting to move into the enemy’s hex. The attacker cannot engage in melee unless it can enter the defender’s hex. For example, a Soldier cannot engage in melee combat against a Gunboat since it can’t enter that water space except when embarked. To order an active Unit to attack, right-click on the target. The active Unit will initiate the combat.
MELEE COMBAT RESULTS: At the end of melee combat, one or both Units may have sustained damage and lost “hit points.” If a Unit’s hit points are reduced to 0, the Unit is destroyed. If after melee combat the defending Unit has been destroyed and the attacker survives, the attacking Unit moves into the defender’s hex, capturing or destroying any non-military Units in that hex. If the defending Unit survives, it retains possession of its hex and any other Units in the hex. Most Units use up all of their movement when attacking in melee. Their turn ends upon launching the attack.
Some Units such as Rangers, Missile Rovers and Gunboats engage in Ranged Combat (that is, they shoot various things at enemy Units) when attacking rather than engaging in melee combat. Such Units have two distinct advantages over melee Units: first, they can attack enemy Units that are not adjacent to them, and second, they cannot take damage when they attack.
RANGED COMBAT STRENGTH: Any Unit that can engage in ranged combat has a Ranged Combat Strength value. This number is compared with the target’s Combat Strength to determine the results of the attack. To see the potential effects of a ranged attack, with the attacking Unit active hover the cursor over the potential target. The “Combat Information Table” will appear, showing you the losses (if any) the target will take from a ranged attack by your active Unit.
RANGE: The Unit’s “Range” value determines the distance at which a Unit can launch a ranged attack. A range of “2” means that the target can be in an adjacent tile or one tile distant. A range of “1” would mean that the target has to be adjacent to the attacker.
LINE OF SIGHT: Generally, a ranged Unit must be able to “see” its target in order to be able to fire at it. A Unit cannot see a target if a blocking terrain type of feature is between the two – a mountain or hill, for example, or a tile with a forest. A Unit can always see into a tile, even if it contains blocking terrain, but it cannot see objects in tiles past the blocking terrain.
INITIATING RANGED COMBAT: With the ranged Unit active, select the ranged attack ability, and a red arrow will appear. Confirm the attack by clicking on the target.
RANGED COMBAT RESULTS: At the end of ranged combat, the target Unit may have sustained no damage, some damage, or it may have been destroyed. Remember that the attacking Unit will never suffer any damage during ranged combat (except possibly for air units). If the target is destroyed, the attacking Unit does not enter the now-vacant tile (as usually happens during melee combat), but you may send another Unit into the empty space if you've got one with the movement points available that has not yet moved. In general, units use up all of their movement when attacking in melee. Their turn ends upon launching the attack. However, a few special units have the ability to launch a ranged attack and then move in the same turn.
COMBAT BONUSES: Units receive a variety of benefits during combat, some from the Unit’s location, some from its defensive posture, and some from special circumstances. Some bonuses apply only to an attacking Unit, some only to a defending Unit, and some might apply to both. The most common bonuses come from the terrain the Unit occupies, and whether the defending Unit is “fortified.”
TERRAIN BONUSES: Defending Units get valuable bonuses for occupying forest or hill tiles. Attacking melee Units are penalized if they attack an enemy across a river.
Many Units have the ability to “fortify.” This means that the Unit “digs in” and creates defensive works in its current location. This gives the Unit defensive bonuses, making it much tougher to kill. However, fortifications are strictly defensive: if the Unit moves or attacks, the fortifications are destroyed. While fortified, a Unit will not activate. It will remain inactive until you manually activate it by clicking on the Unit.
WHICH UNITS CAN FORTIFY: Most melee and ranged Units can fortify. Non-military, mounted, naval and air Units cannot fortify. These latter Units can “Sleep,” which means that they will remain inactive until attacked or you manually activate them, but they do not receive the defensive bonus.
FORTIFICATION BONUSES: The amount of the bonus depends upon the length of time the Unit has been fortified. The Unit receives a defensive bonus if it is fortified.
THE “ALERT” ORDER: The “alert” order is similar to “fortify,” except that the Unit will “wake up” when it sees a nearby enemy Unit. The wakened Unit retains the fortification bonus as long as it doesn't move or attack (so if you order it to go into alert mode again or to pass its turn it keeps the bonus).
Like land Units, there are military and non-military naval Units. Embarked Workers and any “Embarked” land units are non-military Units, and they are automatically destroyed when attacked by naval combat Units. Military naval units can be either ranged or melee units. Naval combat is resolved like normal combat.
Cities are important targets, and if fortified and defended by other Units, can be quite difficult to capture. However, doing so can reap rich rewards – in fact, the only way to knock another colony out of the game is to capture or destroy all of its cities.
CITY COMBAT STRENGTH: Cities have a Combat Strength, just like Units. The city’s Combat Strength is based upon the city’s size, its location (cities on hills are tougher), and whether its owner has constructed defensive works in or around the city. The city’s Strength represents its Combat Strength and Ranged Combat Strength. During combat the city’s hit points may decline due to enemy attacks, but its Combat and Ranged Combat strengths remain equal to its initial strength — no matter how much damage the city has taken.
CITY HIT POINTS: A fully-healthy city has 100 hit points. As it takes damage, the city’s hit points are reduced. If a city’s hit points reach 0, an enemy Unit can capture the city simply by entering its tile.
ATTACKING CITIES WITH RANGED UNITS: To target a city with a ranged Unit, move the Unit so that the city falls within the unit’s line of sight range and then right-click on the city. Depending upon the power behind the attack, the city’s hit points may be reduced by the attack. Note that a ranged attack cannot drop a city below 1 HP: the city must be captured by a melee Unit.
ATTACKING CITIES WITH MELEE COMBAT: When a Unit engages in melee combat with a city, the city may take damage to its hit points, and the melee Unit may suffer damage as well. No matter how few hit points the city has remaining, it always defends itself at its full strength.
GARRISON UNITS IN CITIES: A city’s owner may “garrison” a military Unit inside the city to bolster its defenses. A portion of the garrisoned Unit’s combat strength is added to the city’s strength. The garrisoned Unit will take no damage when the city is attacked; however, if the city is captured the garrisoned Unit is destroyed. A Unit stationed in the city may attack surrounding enemy Units and, if it is a melee attack, the Unit may take damage during the combat as normal.
CITIES FIRING AT ATTACKERS: A city has a Ranged Combat Strength equal to its full strength at the start of combat, and it has a range of 2. It may attack any one enemy Unit within line of sight and range. Note that the city’s Ranged Combat Strength doesn't decline as the city takes damage; it remains equal to the city’s initial Strength until the city is captured.
HEALING DAMAGE TO CITIES: A city heals a certain amount of damage every turn, even during turns it is attacked. Therefore, to capture a city the attacker must do more points of damage per turn than the city heals (and usually much more than that).
CAPTURING CITIES: When a city’s hit points reach “0,” an enemy Unit may enter the city, regardless of any Units already inside. When this occurs, the city is captured. The attacker usually has the option of razing the city or adding the city to his colony, either as a puppet or directly through annexation. Whichever you choose to do, the colony which loses the city has taken a deadly blow.45
ATTACKING OUTPOSTS: Outposts have no ranged strike capabilities and a weak combat strength, and are destroyed rather than captured when they are overrun. Units may be garrisoned in them, and will conduct melee or ranged combat as usual.
Damage & Healing
COMBAT DAMAGE: A fully healthy Unit has 100 “hit points” (HPs). When a Unit takes damage during combat it loses HPs, and if it reaches 0 HPs, it is destroyed. A Unit that has taken damage is weaker than a healthy Unit, and it is closer to destruction. It is usually a good idea to “rotate out” (move away from enemy Units) damaged Units from battle to allow them to heal before reentering combat. This, of course, is not always possible or wise.
EFFECTS OF DAMAGE: A damaged Unit is less effective when attacking than a fully-healed Unit. The more damaged the Unit, the less its attack – melee or ranged – will damage an opponent. The actual formula is more complex than this, but as a general rule a Unit’s damage output is reduced by half the percentage of HPs that it has lost. In other words, a Unit that has lost 50 HPs (50%) has the amount of damage it does reduced by 25%, and the damage a Unit that has lost 90 HPs (90%) inflicts, is reduced by 45%.
HEALING DAMAGE: To heal damage, a Unit must remain inactive for one or more turns. The amount of damage that a Unit heals depends upon the Unit’s location.
NAVAL UNITS HEALING DAMAGE: Naval Units cannot heal unless in friendly waters or a friendly city.
THE “FORTIFY UNTIL HEALED” ORDER: If a Unit is damaged, the “Fortify Until Healed” button appears in its Action buttons. If you click on this button, the Unit will fortify and remain in its present location until it is fully healed.