Home > multiplayer, strategy > Putting a Great General to good use

Putting a Great General to good use

Uses for a Great General

Super Healer

The most common use in multiplayer of a general is a Super Healer, a unit (almost always scout or explorer) with Medic I-III promotion. It is moved together with slow stacks in order to hit, heal and hit another city. Also in defense it can factually strengthen all your defending units in case the attack lasts longer then one turn.

The March promotion only works for the healer itself, not for the stack it´s healing. Is it negligible since the healer is supposed to net get into fights himself till the bitter end anyway, hence scout or explorer as unit of choice.

Military Academy

+3 culture
+50% military unit production
Can be built by Great General

The Military Academy requires the technology Military Science which so low priority in Renaissance games that you will see it only in Industrial and above. In Modern and Future it is very easy to get a city to producing one unit per turn. So the only target for the Military Academy are Industrial games. There though it´s a good and often overseen option to get that magic one unit per turn in a city.

Settling in City

The main reason for settling a general in a city is in order to boost a not Aggressive (the trait)  against an aggressive civ or the other way round. The general enables a not aggressive civ which is at an disadvantage during early unit on unit fights (ancient to medieval start) access to the shock promotion (+25% vs. melee units). An aggressive civ can promote city raider I and II or forest cover I and II, giving it different options for early action. The boost of a settled general gets slower the more cities a player has making the percentage of the army that comes from that city smaller.

Super Unit

A example of a Super Unit would be a Swordsman with Cover (+25% against archers) and City Raider I-III (80% city attack).Such a unit can make the difference between choking and killing someone who is defending with archers against early send metal units or enable pillaging a players metal.The main use for the Super Unit though is a defensive unit, like a Spear that was even more strenghtened against horseback units or a Longbow with city defense I-III and more. In a crucial situation where bare survival of a player means the victory for his team, such a unit can make all the difference.

Additional promotion for small stack

Another nice trick is the ability of a general to give several units one additional promotion. This can be a an additional city raider and shock promotion for a stack of 10 Swordsman. Units having 3 experience require another 2 (if not charismatic, then 1)  for the next (crucial) promotion. That´s 10 units for a non-charismatic and 20 for a charismatic that a general can “upgrade”.

Example: In an ancient start 5v5 Team_Battleground you got Bouddicca of Rome with a non-agressive leader. you build 20 praetorians with barracks and receive a general from your bravely fighting Imperialistic team mate. Now your 20 praetorians got enourmously stronger by each receiving another promotion. City Raider I and II is an option, combat I and Shock another.


In order to promote a galley with a general, it has to be empty and the general loaded in and then attached. Once done the galley has access to promotions Morale, Flanking I -> Navigation I and II, giving it an overall of 5 moves.

This can be used to hit opposing cities that otherwise at this technological point in the game wouldn´t be accessible by sea units or at least none with 5 moves. It´s not often a 5-move-galley can kill a city because of its suprising nature, but I´ve seen it done in competetive games more often then you´d think.

The Commando

Promoting a unit to a Commando is the best – so good, it´s the only choice in Modern and Future start games. Here is a description done by Imhotep in an earlier article on Attacking in multiplayer.

Using the Commando promotion is an advanced attack option in the later eras. The Commando promotion is enabled if a unit has the Combat IV promotion and is eligible for another promotion (so basically it’s enabled at 26 XP for non-aggressive and non-charismatic leaders/ at 17 XP for aggressive leaders / at 13 XP for aggressive and charismatic leaders). The Commando promotion allows the unit to use the roads/railroads in enemy terrain. This is used a lot in Modern and Future era games – you can either direct hit a city with Gunships and then use the Commando unit to kill the empty city (of course the Commando needs enemy roads leading to the city for that) or you can aim for the back cities which often are empty or only garrisoned with 1 or 2 units. To see how this works I’d suggest creating a Commando unit and toy around with it in Single Player mode using WorldBuilder. A Commando in action:


  1. Moineau
    December 8, 2009 at 16:30

    In industrial i usually use great generals for super galleon move to hit back cities or even commando cav (killed some good players with that).Theoricaly it would be better to use them in academy indeed, it’s what you do with them in indus?

    • December 8, 2009 at 20:33

      Commandos in Industrial have much less moves then in modern or future since there are no railroads (well, unless the game is so far, that there actually are, but I don´t think such a focus on tech is possible anymore in the current 3v3 setup). Still, can be an option of course to move on roads 6 tiles without and 9 with additional move promotion and commando (use the charismatic leader to upgrade :p).

      What we do depends on the settings and game situation. Current indu games can be so defensive that you get a general only once you are already attacking. But I guess healer and Military Academy are the two main targets for a general in indu for us. Additional moves on galeons being another option, as you said.

  2. jimmy
    December 10, 2009 at 10:51

    I wasn’t aware that you could upgrade a galley’s movement to include movement in sea tiles…I thought that was a fundamental game design feature (i.e. no sea movement without optics) for early game balance, etc?

    • December 10, 2009 at 13:57

      You can´t! It can never move on sea tiles, just coast and within own culture. I checked the post again and it doesn´t say otherwise anywhere ;). I probably should have mentioned that the 5-move-galley can just move the same way as a normal galley. Thanks for helping clarify this 🙂

  3. Spyro
    December 11, 2009 at 18:51

    This can be used to hit opposing cities that otherwise at this technological point in the game wouldn´t be accessible by sea units or at least none with 5 moves.

    That could be the phrase which can be missleading.

  4. Dece
    December 15, 2009 at 13:03

    Medi final, a few CCCs ago.

    I was Byzantium, we were 3v2, I was one city down due to a somewhat 2 fronts setup which they exploited with a sneaky attack bombing again their front city while I had my stack moving to the other front.

    Top power by a lot, last turns, comfortable win. They move in with a nice stack on a front and with a 3 moves general knight hoping to kill a back city. I smash their stack with catapults and cataphracts and suddenly die ?!?!?!!?!?

    My front was on top of the map and unseen in my screen they sneaked a 5 moves galley towards my back badly defended port. If I had 3 units in there I could have survived, but sadly I didn’t and also I didn’t notice the galley being preocupied by their general knight and smashing their stack.

    Great move, Panda! 🙂

    • December 15, 2009 at 13:09

      Civvy made a drawing back then of that incident 😀

      Panda boating Dec with a 5-move-galley

  5. HowPow
    January 17, 2010 at 14:27

    Just a simple “noobish” question: When I use the general on a stack of units, will the 20 bonus exp be shared equally among the units of the stack?

    • January 17, 2010 at 16:42

      Yes, it gets distributed equaly.

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