Air combat, unfortunately, is one of the most obscure topics in the Civilopedia - that is, everything is explained but severely lacking in details.

In particular, I've noticed that when using the air strike mission, sometimes the attacked target will shoot back and sometimes it won't. I'm talking about regular shooting back, not the special attacks of anti-air units (such as destroyers) or interceptions by defending aircraft.

When I attack a unit or a city it will sometimes shoot back and sometimes not. Does anyone know the rules behind this? It doesn't seem to be entirely random, but I could not find any truly consistent behavior. I'm going to post an answer with what I know so far, but I would really like to see something more complete.

1 Answer 1


Well, it turns out that after the December patch the behavior was changed - now combat units and cities always respond to air attacks (respond = attack back).


  • Any unit and city responds to all attacks, even if it is attacked multiple times in a turn - just like units respond to all melee attack in a turn. So if a unit is attacked twice by two bombers in the same turn, it will damage both bombers back.
  • All combat unit types can respond, including non-powder units such as Pikemen (they use their anti-city animations). Anti-air units can respond (and inflict terrible damage) even if they have already intercepted an aircraft this turn.
  • Units can respond when embarked (using the attack animation of the embarked ships).
  • Non-combat units (workers, great people) do not respond.

Before the patch the behavior was a bit different, units did not always respond to attacks - that is no longer the case.

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