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In this post, I'll give a basic overview of the combat system in Civilization 5, since it is vastly different than its predecessors in many ways. There are four major differences:
1) One unit per tile.
2) Hex-based grid rather than a square grid.
3) Combat is often not lethal for either side in an individual combat occurrence. Meaning if you attack an archer with a warrior, you're unlikely to completely destroy the archer in a single turn, unless the archer is already damaged.
4) Certain units do "ranged" combat, which means they do not move to attack and take no damage from the attacker, most of the time from multiple hexes away.
Melee Units: Melee units are the most straight-forward unit, beginning with your starting warrior and scout. Melee units attack directly and generally possess a high combat strength, with those that go on the swordsman -> longswordman line typically being more powerful than the spearman -> pikeman line. However, it should be noted that the pike line does not require iron to build (unlike swordsman and longswordsman), and get combat bonuses against mounted units. It is important to note that there is a bit of a split as pikemen upgrade to lancers, which upgrade to lancers (a mounted unit), and eventually upgrade to anti-tank guns and helicopter units, while swordsman follow the path straight into mechanized infantry. One last important thing is that ranged units and helicopter gunships cannot take cities. Even if you wear a city down to 0 health, you need a melee unit (or a naval melee unit) to capture the city.
Archery Units: Archery units are ranged units, meaning that they can deal damage to units without suffering damage in the process. Archers, composite bowmen, and crossbowmen also possess a 2-tile range, meaning they can attack distant foes (though keep in mind that they cannot fire over hills or forests unless they are on a hill themselves). Eventually, crossbowmen upgrade to gatling guns and machine guns, which still attack using a "ranged attack," but only have a 1-
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