In Civilization Beyond Earth, as in previous Civilization games, a Unit is any mobile entity, independent of cities, and able to exist or move around the world on its own. Unlike previous games, there are no civilization-unique units in Civilization Beyond Earth; however there are Affinity-unique units, which only a civilization that has advanced enough in a certain Affinity is able to produce.
According to their domain, units may be divided in several main types:
- Land units - those that move on land. Once the Planetary Survey technology has been researched, all Land units gain the Embarkation ability, which allows them to move on Water. Note that, unlike Civilization V, there is no limitation as to where on Water they may move (Coast or Deep ocean).
- Water units - those that move on water. They may also enter land tiles with a city on them. Note that if this city is built on the border with another large water body, water units will effectively be able to use that city as a 'canal' to cross into the other water body!
- Air units - those that move on air, but are unable to sustain themselves out of a base for prolonged periods. This means this type of units stay in 'bases' (cities, or Carrier units), and perform missions within their operative radius. They could also switch bases, an action which consumes a turn.
- Hovering/levitating units - those that possess technology to move several feet above the ground, or water. These units are the most versatile type, since they can move effectively anywhere, except Mountain and Crater tiles. Note that unlike Land units, Hovering units don't lose any MPs to switch from land to water and vice-versa, although they do have a combat penalty while hovering over water.
- Satellite units - the final type of units is also one of the biggest innovations in Civilization Beyond Earth, and exists in its brand new feature, the Orbital layer. Satellites are launched from cities and enter geostationary orbit above the target part of the world. Note that they may only be launched within the 'Orbital coverage' provided by your cities! Once launched, satellites stay in position for a fixed amount of turns and may not move. They provide certain effects on the land below within certain range (depending on the type of satellite). After their 'lifespan' terminates, satellites fall on the planet and turn into rubble, which may be salvaged by some civilization's units.
According to their purpose, units are divided in:
- Civilian units - those that perform economic, non-combat functions, such as the Worker or the Colonist. These units are able to move freely on land (and also on Water with Embarkation).
- Trading units - those are special units that service Trade routes between cities and Stations. Trading units are also considered civilians (and are thus vulnerable to attacks), but they cannot exist outside their bases.
- Military units - those that have combat functions.
- Main article: Strength (CivBE)
Each unit has several statistics which define its usefulness:
- Movement points (MP) - determines how far the unit can go each turn. Note that moving along a Road or Magrail allows the unit to move much faster, while moving through difficult terrain causes it to move slower!
- Sight - determines how many tiles the unit reveals nearby. Important for Ranged units (because they can't attack a tile they can't see). Do note that some terrain, such as hills, can block vision.
- Combat strength (CS) - determines the base strength for a unit when attacking in melee or when defending from any attack (for both melee and ranged)
- Ranged combat strength (RCS) - determines the strength of a Ranged unit when it attacks.
- Range - for ranged units, determines how far (how many tiles or hexes) they can attack from their current position.
- Lifespan - for satellites, this denotes how many turns they have stayed in orbit since their launch, and how many turns total they can remain operational.
Special unit operational modes
Air and satellite units have specific conditions under which they can operate. Unlike other types of units, they can't move freely on the map, and depend instead of a series of conditions.
Air units operation
Air units are extremely fast, capable of flying at high altitudes over any land obstacle and striking any target, regardless of its surroundings. However, this comes at a price- limited fuel capacity. In practice, this means that air units can only operate from a nearby base, and inside the range their fuel capacity allows. Air units may switch their base, also within a certain range (meaning that you can't switch to a base on the other side of the planet), an action which will consume a turn.
- Main article: Orbitals (CivBE)
Satellites are orbiting units which occupy the brand new orbital layer - a second field situated in geo-stationary orbit right above the planet. After being built in a city, a satellite has to be 'deployed' (launched) to a position in the orbital layer. This may be done only within the Orbital coverage of your colony (marked with a blue line around your cities), and only to a position where the satellite's area-of-effect won't overlap with another satellite's! Note that here all colonial satellites are considered, so if your neighbor has a satellite in an area where you want to deploy one of yours, you won't be able to do so.
Once deployed, a satellite will stay in orbit for limited duration - an amount of turns which depends on the satellite type. During its lifespan, the satellite will provide some special effect on the tiles below within its area-of-effect. 5 turns before the end of the satellite's natural lifespan, you'll receive a warning of 'An imminent de-orbiting'; clicking on the message will show you which satellite will soon fall to the planet surface.
Shooting down satellites
The orbital layer may turn into another battlefield, thanks to military capabilities some satellites possess, and also thanks to the fact that certain land units (such as the Missile rover) have sufficient range to shoot down satellites. To do that, these units usually have to move within 1 tile of the satellite's position (remember, despite being in orbit, a satellite is considered 'flying' over 1 specific land tile!), and then use their 'Orbital strike' ability. Certain special buildings allow increased range for orbital strikes.
Shooting down satellites becomes extremely important in the later game stages when nations have developed direct strike satellite technology, which allows certain satellites to shoot with impunity at land targets.
One of the most innovative features of Civilization Beyond Earth is the way (military) units evolve. Since there are no more Eras, and consecutively there are no more historic-related military tech advancements, unit evolution is now tied to a civilization's progress in Affinities.
All types of military units start in a 'basic' form, with low CS and basic abilities. They may earn Veterancy upgrades (see below), which will improve their efficiency in combat, but their base CS won't change until you start developing an Affinity.
Once you start developing an Affinity, your army also starts developing. Each level of any Affinity will allow you to upgrade one of your basic unit types to a next-level unit. The first unit upgrades unit are streamlined (regardless of the Affinity you choose), but beyond lvl 6 the exact name, and qualities of the new unit will depend on which Affinity you developed. For example, at an Affinity level 6, your Marine will upgrade to a Brawler if you develop Harmony, Sentinel if you develop Purity, or Disciple if you develop Supremacy. Each upgrade has not only a unique name, but also a unique appearance and different choice of Perks which effectively alter the way the unit behaves on the field. The final result is a highly customizable unit, which doesn't come tied to a particular civilization, as in earlier games, but depends on your development with either civilization you choose, and this is a very different line of development for this game series.
The Affinity level and the unit affected by the upgrade are tied - i.e., a lvl 1 Affinity will always upgrade the Soldier, a lvl 2 Affinity - the Ranger, etc. Also, after you do the upgrade once, earning a level 1 in another Affinity won't allow you to upgrade that unit again, or change the existing upgrade! The order of the upgrades correlates roughly to how sophisticated the unit is; thus units like the Soldier upgrade first, while flying units upgrade last.
You gain 2 benefits at each upgrade:
- Combat strength upgrade, which is fixed, and raises the basic CS of the unit type;
- Later game upgrades (Tier 3 and 4) also may give the unit some other special abilities, such as levitation or additional range. Refer to the individual unit information for details.
- Special ability upgrade, or Perk. Here you can choose one of two options, which differ widely with unit types and levels. There are some very cool bonuses, for example the ability to move after attacking, etc., although those come only at the highest level upgrades. Still, each Perk you select helps you develop your army in a slightly different way; they also help develop the game storyline.
Once you've upgraded a unit, you cannot revert the upgrade, so think carefully of the way you want to develop your army! The upgrades you choose will affect strongly your abilities on the battlefield, and may help or hinder you according to the style of play you've chosen! You are allowed to delay the upgrade (not decide which of the two options you'll choose right now), but the CS and Production cost of the unit will still rise!
Also note that, unlike Civilization V, a unit upgrade affects automatically all units of the particular type, without you having to do or spend anything.
Finally, your units will gain experience in combat, in a way similar to older games. However, the choices for veterancy upgrades are limited to:
- New recruits, which amounts to an Instant Heal option. The unit heals 50-100 hp, depending on the level of the unit.
- Discipline upgrade, which nets a 10% Melee and Ranged CS bonus (cumulative). The 5th level, achieveable only with the Precog Project wonder nets 20% Melee and Ranged CS bonus. Note that this doesn't change the base CS of the unit! However, since the base is changed with Affinity upgrades, the veterancy bonus will be pertinent throughout the game.
In Civilization Beyond Earth the unique units don't belong to a specific civilization, as in previous games, but are rather associated with one of the three Affinities. Each Affinity has 4 unique units, which may be built only by civilizations that have reached a certain minimum level in that Affinity (and of course, after they research certain technologies). Those units also cost Strategic resources, relevant to the given affinity. The level 12 unit of each affinity is considered Ultimate, and is awesome indeed.
Unique units are conceptually, visually and (in many cases) strategically different and diverse. For example, the SABR Supremacy unit is a dedicated siege monster capable of leveling cities from a safe distance; while the Rocktopus Harmony unit has the unique ability to fly and switch from normal air to the Orbital layer, where it can attack and destroy enemy satellites!
These unique units may also be upgraded with Affinity progress. What is interesting here is that you can also choose a different upgrade, based on what other Affinity you have developed. To do that, you have to reach a certain minimum level in one of the other two affinities, as well as a higher level in the unit's own affinity. Or, you can choose to continue developing only the unit's affinity, in which case the upgrade will come at a little higher level.
In Civilization Beyond Earth units are much more diverse than in Civilization V, and their development - much less linear. While in the older game you could expect practically the same units from your adversaries (with some differences related to their current Era and whether they managed to keep up with upgrading their units; and also with some additional flavor for special units), In CivBE you have three distinct 'sets' of units, related to the three Affinities. Not only that, but the 'basic' units get upgraded to different versions in the later game! This not only makes for a quite involving experience (with every affinity-unique unit having spectacularly different appearance and fantasy), but also for some large strategic differences, simply because a Harmony player has access to units that a Purity player hasn't, etc. But much more important that simple appearances and combat strength differences are some basic advantages which distinguish different Affinity units. For example, the levitating Purity units have no problem operating across any terrain (including Water!), while Harmony units are generally faster and can use Miasma as a weapon. This makes for a much more diversified later game, in the combat aspect of course.
On the other hand, unit development isn't intrinsically related to Era and technological progress anymore, but rather - to Affinity progress (well, not unless the player is dead-bent on only researching Affinity technologies). So, for example, a player which has 20 technologies might end up much stronger than another player with similar number of techs, who hasn't however developed his primary Affinity that much. The reason, of course, is that at each Affinity upgrade, the base CS of some type of unit is raised, similarly to how Era-advancement worked in Civilization V. Plus, at each upgrade, you get to choose an important Perk to customize your unit type.
While Civilization V depended heavily on accumulated experience as means of diversifying your units (via different high-level bonuses which bestowed perk-like bonuses such as Double attack), in Civilization Beyond Earth we see a much broader approach where the same perk affects all units of a certain type (irrespective of their personal experience), and individual experience only adds a simple combat bonus. So, we get a unit development on macro level, rather than on micro level, and a much more general sort of development, in line with the spirit of the series.
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