Battles are triggered when two opposing Armies face each other (if neither retreats), or when an Army attacks a City. The surrounding area is cordoned off to form the battle area, and Unitsare deployed from their Armies to each occupy their own Tile. Players issue orders to their Units in order to outmaneuver, attack and destroy the opposing side or capture their flag in order to win the Battle. Winning Battles then provides progress towards winning wars.
Armies can generally choose to Retreat at the beginning of a Battle: to Retreat an Army they cannot have retreated on their previous turn. Cities, for obvious reasons, are also not allowed to Retreat and, several special Units like, the Naginata Samurai, prevent their Armies from retreating. If either side chooses to Retreat, the Battle ends immediately, and the retreating side’s Army is forced to move away from their opponent. This also happens to the losing side’s Armies if there are any survivors.
Armies that have retreated on their previous turn only regenerate a fraction of their Movement Points at the beginning of the turn, and are unable to perform hostile actions including Attacking, Reinforcing, Bombarding and Ransacking until the end of their next turn. They are also unable to Retreat a second time in a row.
The battle area is a rectangular set of Tiles that spreads out sideways and back away from the meeting point between the attacking Army and its target. Because they define the battle area, the positions and angle of attack of Armies is very important.
Units in Battle can’t leave this area and Armies can’t cross it, though they can add their Units to the Battle as Reinforcements under certain circumstances.
Battle areas become both wider and deeper as more Units are added, but Tiles can only be included if at least one Unit in the Battle would be able to enter them; a battle which involves only naval units won’t expand across the neighboring continent for example, but it will start doing so is land units enter the fray. When a City is attacked all the Districts connected to its Main Plaza are included, as well as any adjacent Tiles.
Note that Battles can only ever get larger over time; dead Units still count towards the maximum size of the battle area.
Much like the Battle’s size, the maximum number of turns that a Battle can last before one side is declared the winner is defined by the total number of Units that have been added since the beginning of the Battle. The number of remaining turns and rounds for a given Battle can be found in the top panel when it is selected. Note that Battles can only ever get longer; dead Units still count towards the maximum duration of the battle.
During the Deployment Phase, participating Units leave their Armies to occupy the Tiles within a sub-section of the battle area called the Deployment Zone. Each side’s Deployment Zone is exclusive to that player, and its width and depth are defined by the number of Units on their side. The Deployment Zones are visible up until the end of the Deployment phase.
When hovering over a valid target with an Army selected, a preview of the battle area and Deployment Zones is displayed, as well as the balance of power between the two Armies, calculated based on their Combat Strength values. It is possible, by holding down the right mouse button, to check what battle areas various angles of attack would generate; so long as you don’t release the button while hovering over the target the attack will not actually be launched.
Sometimes launching an attack may require changes to your diplomatic relations to perform: for instance you can’t attack an empire if you’ve signed a non-aggression pact with them. If this is the case you will receive a prompt asking you whether you want, for instance, to declare war on the target in order to attack them.
If both sides agree, a Battle can be resolved instantly rather than being manually played. This is done by performing a simplified simulation of the Battle with the AI choosing how your Units will attack. You may want to manually resolve Battles that you’re not certain you’ll win!
Battles are divided into three main phases which take place one after the other in sequence.
When an Army attacks a City we enter a special preliminary phase which can potentially last for several turns before moving on to a regular battle. Sieges are discussed below in the “Attacking Cities” section.
When an Army attacks another Army on the field, or an Assault or Sortie is launched during a Siege, both sides are asked to choose whether they want to play out the Battle manually or to have the game resolve it for them instantly. It is also during this phase that an Army able to Retreat can choose to do so.
Instant resolution occurs only if both sides agree to simulate the Battle: if one side chose to resolve the battle manually and the other chose an instant resolution then the battle proceeds to the Deployment phase. The same thing happens if both sides choose to manually resolve the Battle.
During the Deployment phase players can then freely reposition each of their Units within their allotted Deployment Zone. Your deployment configuration is hidden from your opponent, and theirs is hidden from you. Once both sides have chosen how to deploy their Units, the Battle proceeds to the combat phase.
Once both sides have deployed the Battle enters the Combat Phase, and remains in this state until the Battle ends. This can happen early if one side is entirely destroyed, if the turn ends with the Attacker in control the Defender’s Capture Point, or if changes in Diplomacy make the battle invalid. Otherwise the Defender wins by default! The Combat Phase is the only phase of the Battle where players can attack each other’s Units, and Units can only be moved when it is your side’s Round.
During the Combat Phase players take sub-turns, called Rounds, issuing orders to all their side’s Units. If no side has won after 3 Rounds, then the Battle will continue on the next game turn. Most units can move and attack once per Round, though some units have special abilities that allow them to break this rule. Generally speaking though each Unit involved in a Battle will get to move and attack at most 3 times per turn.
Each Unit exerts a Zone of Control around itself, both in Battle (during the Combat Phase) and on the map, making it difficult to brush past or escape them. Moving out of a tile that is part of a Zone of Control consumes additional Movement Points.
Units can move the same number of Tiles in Battle as they can on the map, with movement cost modifications applied based on difficult terrain and Zones of Control in exactly the same way. The difference is that, in Battle, a Unit can only move once per Round even if you choose not to move it the maximum possible distance. In addition, Units (with a few exceptions, like the Egyptian Markabata) cannot move after Attacking in Battle even if they haven’t moved yet this Round.
When a Unit attacks in Battle it deals damage based on the difference in Combat Strength between its Combat Strength and the Combat Strength of the Defender Unit, known as the Attacker’s advantage value. For each point of advantage, the Attacker can expect to deal a few additional points of damage. A negative advantage similarly reduces the amount of damage dealt, but Attacks always deal a minimum amount of damage; you cannot reduce the expected damage to zero.
Most Units counterattack when engaged by a Melee Unit, meaning that the Defender also deals damage to the attacking Unit. It is worth noting that these two Attacks are resolved simultaneously, so it is entirely possible for two Units to kill each other.
When resolving an Attack the context is very important, as several factors -- most notably the terrain -- can have an impact on the attacking and defending Units’ Combat Strength. This effect can either be positive or negative:
The defending side generally has a Tile in their Battle Zone automatically designated as their Capture Point. This Tile can be captured by the Attacker by moving a Unit onto it and can be recaptured by the Defender in the same way. Once the maximum number of turns is reached the Battle ends in victory for the Defender if they still control their Capture Point, but if the Attacker controls the capture point at the end of any turn, then they immediately win the battle and force the Defender to retreat.
Under certain circumstances the defender might not have a Capture Point: wild animals, for instance, do not have a general’s tent to defend. In these cases the Attacker can only win by destroying the Defender completely: the Defender will win by default at the end of the battle.
Certain Units, for instance Spanish Conquistadores, can collect various Resources, including Food, Money, or Science, when attacking and destroying enemy Units in Battle. These Resources are not immediately acquired by your side, however: you only receive your spoils when the Battle is over, and only if you win!
If your Deployment Zone is too small to fit all your Units in, then any excess Units remain inside their Army until there is enough room on the battlefield for them to join. These Units are known as Reserves, and are visible in the Reinforcements tab when the Battle is selected: you can drag and drop Reserves at any time to define their order of arrival.
Armies which still have Reserve Units left to deploy can act as Spawn Points that are clearly visible on the battlefield. During your Round an unoccupied Spawn Point can be selected in order to deploy the next Reserve Unit onto the battlefield from the corresponding Army. This Unit can then be controlled as normal, and if it leaves the Spawn Point another Unit can immediately be spawned from it. Units can exit Spawn Points in this manner during both the Deployment and Combat Phases.
Because Reserves can only spawn onto unoccupied Tiles, an effective strategy is to place Units on your opponents’ Spawn Point Tiles, thus blocking the arrival of their Reserves.
Note that Units cannot get back onto a Spawn Point once they have exited it. Once a Reserve has been deployed it stays deployed until it is destroyed or the battle ends. As a result, once all the Reserves have exited the Spawn Point it has served its purpose and is destroyed.
Obviously, the attacking and defending Armies are part of the Battle, but additional Armies can also be included by either side once the appropriate Technology has been unlocked. An Army that has been caught inside a battle area is automatically included, while an Army that is outside of the Battle can be included by selecting it and ordering it to move onto one of the outermost Tiles of the battlefield, provided this tile is unoccupied.
Armies can only be included:
Once an Army has been included it immediately transforms into a Spawn Point, allowing Units to be deployed from it one by one provided space permits.
As well as choosing to resolve a Battle instantly during the Confirmation Phase, AI control can be toggled on and off during the Combat Phase; this is particularly useful if the Battle has reached a state where you feel confident you’ve won and would like the AI to take over to “clean up” the stragglers.
You can also activate AI control during Deployment to enable the AI to choose your Units’ initial positions.
Since AI control can be enabled at any time and since you can deselect your Battles in order to manage the rest of your Empire, it’s possible that a Battle will end while you’re looking elsewhere. When this happens an Aftermath Pin appears at the site of the Battle. Clicking on this pin provides information about who won and lost as well as the amount of damage taken by each side, and the spoils acquired by the winner.
Any Army can Besiege a City by attacking one of the Districts that is connected to its Main Plaza, but you must be at war with an Empire to Besiege their Cities.
Either side can end the Siege immediately by giving up. The Attackers can Abandon the siege, and the Defenders can Surrendertheir City. This result can also be forced by the other side; the besiegers can force the City’s surrender by launching an Assault, while the Defenders can force the besiegers’ retreat by launching a Sortie. In the event of an Assault or Sortie we proceed to the Confirmation Phase and a regular battle.
When a City is besieged a battle area is generated which includes all the Districts connected to the Main Plaza. A city can remain under siege for a number of turns however before any units actually deploy. This pending battle area cuts the City off from the outside world. As a result:
Note that Cities with no Population and no Armies to defend them are immediately Occupied when attacked rather than being placed under siege.
Each turn that a Siege is maintained, the besieging Units provide progress towards the construction of Siege Weapons based on their total Combat Strength. This means that after a few turns your besieging Units will be joined by a special Siege Weapon Unit; the more Units besieging, the faster it will be ready.
You can also speed up the construction of Siege Weapons by clearing forests in the Territory of the besieged City. Siege Weapons are unlocked through technological research, and the maximum number you can build for a given Siege is the same as the maximum number of Units you can have in an Army. Note that all your accumulated Siege Weapons will be destroyed by the Defenders if you are ever forced to abandon the Siege!
When a City is placed under siege a certain number of Militia Units immediately take up arms to defend their homes: a City’s Defender receives a number of Militia Units equal to their City’s Population or their maximum Army size, whichever is smaller. In contrast to how Siege Weapons are gradually created, Militia Units gradually abandon their posts as the Siege takes its toll on War Support.
A Militia Unit will be lost every few turns, depending on the City’s level of Stability; the lower it is, the faster your Militia Units will disappear. Militia Units immediately return if, for whatever reason, the Siege is broken. Note that Cities lose Population whenever their Militia Units are killed in Battle, but that Population is not lost when Militia Units abandon their posts.
A Siege is a special Battle state; during a Siege both sides have access to a set of actions that can be performed to attempt to end the Siege on their terms.
Once the besieging side feels they have enough Siege Weapons and that the City has lost enough Militia Units they can trigger an Assault. An Assault works just like a regular Battle, but the Defender’s Capture Point is placed on the Main Plaza Tile. If the besiegers fail to capture it in time, then the Siege ends with the besiegers forced to Retreat. If the Assault is successful though, either because the Attackers control the Capture Point at the end of the Battle or because the Defenders have been entirely destroyed, then the City is Occupied by the besieging side.
The besieged side can also choose to force the issue on their terms by triggering a Sortie. Like an Assault, a Sortie results in regular Battle, but this time the besiegers are treated as the ones under attack. If the besieged City’s forces manage to win the Battle then any surviving besiegers are forced to Retreat and the Siege ends, destroying any Siege Weapons that the besiegers may have constructed. If the besiegers manage to survive and to hold onto their Capture Point, however, the Siege resumes, and the besieged City loses Stability.
Either side can give up at any time, Abandoning the Siege if they are the besieger, or Surrendering the City if they are the besieged. The result of this is the same as if the besieged had executed a successful Sortie or the besieger had executed a successful Assault respectively.
The owner of the City might choose to do this to avoid civilian casualties, because they are confident that they’ll be able to retake the City later. The Attacker, meanwhile, may need their Units elsewhere, for instance to defend their own Cities.
All District Tiles that are connected to the Main Plaza, as well as certain special Districts, are Fortified. Attacking a Unit located on one of these Tiles from the outside will impose a heavy penalty on the Attacker, as the Defender can take cover behind the City walls. The defending side can move freely in and out of Fortified Tiles, but the attacking side must scale them. Climbing over the walls into a Fortified Tile also consumes a Unit’s full move, and only certain Units can climb City walls at all; other Units must wait for a Breach.
Fortifications can be Breached by certain special Units that are listed as being able to attack Fortifications, notably Siege Weapons. Each Fortified District has its own remaining hit-points counter and a Combat Strength equal to the City’s Fortification value plus any local bonuses that might be applied by the District’s type and by its neighbors. Damage against Fortifications is resolved as normal, with both the Unit located on the Tile and the Tile itself taking damage independently. Once a Fortified Tile has lost all its hit-points we say that it is Breached.
Simply put, Breached Tiles serve as gateways through a City’s walls. Units on both sides can move freely in and out of Breached Tiles, and can move from Breached Tiles into adjacent Fortified Tiles without penalty. Units located on Fortified Tiles also do not have an increased Combat Strength against attacks coming from Breached Tiles, and Units located on Breached Tiles never gain a defensive bonus from the City’s Fortifications: the defenses have been Breached!
A City that has been taken as a result of an attack from an enemy Army (with or without a Siege) is considered Occupied. The occupying side gains a small amount of Money each turn based on the City’s default Money output, and benefits from the City’s Strategic and Luxury Resources, but is unable to manage the City in any way. Population Growth does not apply to Occupied Cities either.
To gain full control of an Occupied City you need to negotiate its transfer at the end of the war. Occupied Cities that are not transferred as part of the loser’s terms of surrender are returned to their original owner, and the occupying Armies are expelled from the City. To be clear, this means that a City can never remain Occupied at the end of a war -- it either changes hands entirely or is given back to its original owner.