I compared the early ranged units. I'll abbreviate melee strength with MS and ranged strength with RS.

Unit             MS RS
Composite bowman 7  11
Catapult         7  8

Crossbowman      13 18
Trebuchet        12 14

Cannon           14 20

You get composite bowman and catapult about the samt time in the classical era, and the crossbowman and trebuchet is available in the medieval era. Also roughly about the same time.

The composite bowman is (as far as I can see) better in all aspects compared to the catapult. Same goes for crossbowman and trebuchet. And the catapult and the trebuchet have the huge drawback that you have to set them up before firing, which means that the enemy gets the first shot. The cannon which comes in the renaissance era is slightly better than the crossbowman, but not by much.

I know that the siege units (catapult, trebuchet, cannon) gets a bonus when attacking cities, but apart from that, is there any reason to use them? The only reason I can think of is that when you upgrade a crossbowman you get a unit with less range, which is a huge drawback, while the cannon upgrades to artillery that has 3 in range.

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    As a side note that might shine light on this from a different angle, I've generally found in all games of the Civ series, that none of the early units are worth it and by the time you have a reasonable amount of them, you also have more advanced units already. This is a scaling problem (e.g. on the scale of the game, training a single infantry unit can take 50 or 100 years early game). It's not surprising at all that the early siege units are of questionable efficiency. – Tom Dec 12 '18 at 16:06
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    @Tom that just means you're not good at the game and are playing it at a low level. The reason those units exist is because they are required. Any city is siegable in the first era, let alone the last. You might start to think the units are worth it when your base is being destroyed by barbarians or your neighbouring civ has an army.... – insidesin Dec 13 '18 at 6:18
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    Ever since Civ I, I can't recall barbarians being a major issue. They're typically one or two tech levels behind the player. Maybe I just focus on tech more than others, that's why I qualified my statement with "I've found..." – Tom Dec 13 '18 at 6:21
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    @Tom I believe they scale with the average player tech level. If you play on anything above Prince then (barring particular civs) you are always going to be behind in the first era. – OrangeDog Dec 13 '18 at 10:54

As you have noted, the main difference between the "seige" units (Catapult, Trebuchet, Cannon) and other ranged units (Composite Bowmen, Crossbows), is that the seige units have a bonus against cities.

However, it is not a small amount - each of them has:

Bonus vs Cities (200)

As such, your table against cities will look like this:

Unit             MS RS
Composite bowman 7  11
Catapult         7  24

Crossbowman      13 18
Trebuchet        12 42

Cannon           14 60

Whether you value this benefit enough to warrant their deployment, compared with the more mobile and higher base-damage units such as Composite Bowmen - is entirely up to your strategy.

However, the Bonus Vs. City is the main advantage of these units, and should be considered the main differentiating factor between them and the other ranged units.

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    Just a correction here- the (200) doesn't mean double strength, it means a 200% increase, ie triple strength. – Studoku Dec 12 '18 at 13:51
  • @Studoku oops, thanks very much for the correction - numbers updated. – Bilkokuya Dec 12 '18 at 13:53
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    I've only played the original and not Brave New World, so this might have changed, but non siege ranged units actually have a penalty vs cities (which can be removed with a level up bonus) which makes catapults etc. even more useful for that purpose. – adaliabooks Dec 13 '18 at 10:30

As you said, they get a bonus when attacking cities. This is not a small bonus- it's a 200% increase. That's 24 strength for the catapult (vs 11) and 42 (vs 18) for the trebuchet. When you're dealing with the high strength, health, and regeneration of fortified cities, you'll need that strength.


Another incentive to use siege units early is to increase their level to get the Range promotion (+1 range) as early as possible.

Early cities are realatively weak and need a few rounds to destroy a siege unit. You can attack a city, retreat, heal, attack again, etc. Later cities, in combination with occupying units, can obliterate a siege unit in one round, so this "training" is not possible anymore. If you have trained 2-3 siege units early on and keep them alive you can siege a city without it being able to shoot back. It's almost too easy from this point on. Even more so, if you also choose Logistics (1 additional attack per turn).

In summary, you build them early to use weak enemy cities or city-states to train elite siege units for later.

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