I know that in Civilization 5 there is no stacking of units. However, sometimes when a unit needs an order, the blue button in the bottom right of the screen will say "stacked unit needs order" instead of what it usually says which is "unit needs order." If there is no stacking of units, what is this referring to?


Unit stacking is allowed in Civilization, its just restricted.

"in Civilization 5 there is no stacking of units" is an oversimplification. From the Manual:

Units are subject to “Stacking” limitations – two military units may not end their turn in the same hex, nor can two non-military units, but one military and one non-military unit may end their turn stacked in the same hex.

Because of this, there are two cases in which units can become stacked:

  1. One combat unit can be stacked with one non-combat (civilian) unit by normal movement or other means like below. (And they may end the turn this way.) This means your worker is allowed in the same square as your warrior, which is important for defending your vulnerable non-combat units.
  2. When you build (or buy) a new unit in a city, it is initially stacked with any units that were already in the city. I'd guess, but have not yet seen, that this can also occur due to receiving a new unit through other means, such as ruins or a city-state gifting a unit to you.

When a unit in the first situation need orders, the game uses the usual message "Unit needs orders" because nothing is wrong. When a unit in this situation needs orders, the game uses the special message "Stacked unit needs orders" to let you know you MUST move a unit.

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    Yeah, I figured out that this happens when you, for example, build a ground unit and it appears in a city that already contains a ground unit. It's basically telling you that you MUST move it. – Apreche Sep 23 '10 at 13:01
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    @Apreche I think I've seen "Stacked unit needs orders" for just a worker/warrior pair, in which case it doesn't mean you MUST move the unit. The message that means that is the one bwarner got. – WillfulWizard Sep 23 '10 at 16:57
  • Having tried it in game (now that I've remembered) the message I get when two units are legal stacked on each other says nothing about being stacked. So I'm betting you and @bwarner are correct: you only get the message when two units are illegally stacked, you MUST move the units. That makes much more sense anyway. I will confirm the illegal stacking when I get a chance. – WillfulWizard Sep 24 '10 at 6:01
  • Confirmed, and edited back into the answer. That's exactly the situations in which you get those two messages. – WillfulWizard Sep 24 '10 at 6:13
  • You actually can't buy a unit when another unit of the corresponding type is already in the city, but production can complete in such circumstance. – Mark B Jan 10 '12 at 22:33

I got a message for the first time today that said "Move stacked unit". It occurred when I had a great person in my city and another one was generated. Since two non-combat units can't end the turn in the same place, the message was saying that I had to move one of them before I could end my turn.

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    Common stacks: Great General + Land unit, Embarked land units + warships. – Scott Chamberlain Sep 22 '10 at 19:26
  • Another Common stack: Worker + Military Unit - protects the worker of in dangerous territory – barrylloyd Sep 25 '10 at 9:10

Since I can't comment yet, I'll clarify WillfulWizard's second bullet in a new answer. When a city-state gifts you a unit, the unit appears within their territory (not in any of your cities).

  • While this is true, you could still have several units nearby (ie when defending the city from invaders) such that they have to stack the units. I have not encountered this yet, but what else could the game do? – WillfulWizard Sep 24 '10 at 6:03
  • Ah, yes, good point. I mistook "this can also occur" to mean specifically units being stacked in a city, rather than units being stacked in general. Now that I read it again, it seems clear. – super_aardvark Sep 30 '10 at 0:04
  • I have seen a city state gift new units in my borders 3 tiles from its city when there wasn't enough room within its own borders. I guess eventually it will run out of places to put them, but it seems highly unlikely. – Bubblewrap Oct 10 '10 at 10:01

One stacked unit I had occur last night was with mechanized infantry and a modern tank. The mechanized infantry unit advanced on a city and attacked, and then I had a tank unit move in. The tank stacked (I thought I was placing it on an adjacent tile) with the infantry unit, attacked, and then I got a "move stacked" button, and I moved the tank back off the unit (move after attack ability).

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