When I have a unit in a city and the city is being attacked - what should I do with this unit?

  • Garrison it?
  • Fortify it?
  • Use it to attack approaching enemy units? (Ranged vs. Melee units !?)

I'm asking because I'm really unsure -- for example it seems city bombardment strength is really crappy, my archers do a lot more damage, so I obviously like to use them to fire upon enemy units. But once the enemy is at the gates, could I hold out significantly longer if I garrison them?

What about melee units? Better to attack or to garrison?

2 Answers 2


You cannot fortify a unit inside a city, you can only garrison it. When the city falls, the garrisoned unit will be destroyed.

I've never found it worthwile to garisson a melee unit, but a ranged unit in a city can be very deadly. If you only have a melee unit in your city, I would use it to attack the enemy, if you think you have a decent chance of defeating the enemy army. The added attack rating for the city for a garrisoned unit isn't worth much in my experience. If the enemy army is overwhelming I would garrison the unit as long as the city has more health than the enemy can take down in one round, and before he captures the city I would disband the unit to get at least some gold back.


When defending a city I put ranged unit inside it therefore it can have a better reach to the front line without danger of being destroyed however note that garrisoned units will no longer be garrisoned if you use them to attack an enemy.

I put my melee unit(s) close to the city on rough terrain tiles and fortify them. The fort or even a citadel is ideal. The preference for building a fort is rough terrain tile parralel to the front line from the city itself. If you have a spare great general build a citadel (they are great!) in front of the city, meeting your enemy.

I put cavalry or tanks just behind the city and use them for hit and run tactics making sure they can retreat to the same spot after attack.

If the city is likely to fall try to see that in advance before its too late to make an organized retreat. Spare your units (they are worth a lot) - evacuate the city to heal and regroup. Use your rearguard units to clear any flanking enemy for safer and faster withdrawal.

  • by all means garrison it, as it gives more strength to a city and you can still use garrisoned unit for ranged attacks -- really? Sounds great :-)
    – Martin
    Commented Oct 18, 2010 at 14:45
  • yes, that unit is just skipped by available unit turnover, so you have to click on it yourself
    – Adj
    Commented Oct 18, 2010 at 15:14
  • correction :) apparently the turn you attack unit gets ungarrisoned :/
    – Adj
    Commented Oct 18, 2010 at 22:38
  • You can both get the garrison bonus and do ranged attacking, but there's a slight trick to it: start the turn by garrisoning your unit, then have the city attack, then have the unit attack. It's a little bit of a pain (Civ thinks you're done with the garrison unit, and will shift focus somewhere else), and you won't have that strength bonus on the opponent's turn, but at least you get a small attacking bonus. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 19:04

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