The Town Guard costs 20 material (or 15 in Beginner mode or 25 in Insane mode), which is more than double the cheapest possible.
Its movement ability is the standard minimum 1.5.
It has an attack strength of 4, which is the lowest possible for any unit that has any attack strength.
Its defensive strength is:
- outside a city: 6, which is the lowest defensive strength for any predesigned ground unit, and is probably no higher than any unit that a player might design
- inside a city: 12, which is the highest defensive strength for any unit available in the first few dozen turns. If it has experience stripes or the fortification bonus or there are City Walls, the value is greater than 12, but the in-game help is unclear on that point.
If "green", a Town Guard supposedly protected by City Walls will lose to an attack from a hardened 18/6/2.5 or 18/12/1.5, a common type of early unit as noted below. The "12" defensive strength is made up of a basic 6 and a city bonus of 6; the walls add 200% of the basic, so the total is 24, which loses to 27. However, a Town Guard usually sits in the city turn after turn, thereby earning the fortification bonus of 50%, i.e. 3, taking it up to 27, which means the attacker dies too.
The distinctive features of the Town Guard are:
All other units require resource support only in particular circumstances related to city size and government. The Town Guard always requires support amounting to one resource per turn.
Support does not have to be from the city it is in, but moving it out to a more resource-rich city, for switching support, then back again may be costly unless there is no current need for its "morale points" (which could be, for example, just after you create settlers and thus reduce city size).
A Town Guard is very useful in your first city, quickly allowing the city to grow from the initial 4 (with the standard built-in 4 morale points) up to 6 fairly efficiently. In that respect it is as good as a temple but at only half the construction cost, and it can be started straight away, whereas a temple cannot. The maintenance cost will outweigh the initial saving after 20 turns (or 15 in easy mode or 25 in insane mode), but the temple has a similar-sized cash maintenance cost (unless you own The Oracle), so there's generally no pressing economic need to replace the Town Guard at any time during your Despotism period (which may last for millennia!).
It can be similarly useful as the cheapest quick fix under Despotism for a captured city that has a population of more than 4.
A city that you build may benefit from building a Town Guard, but may be able to use one that migrates from your capital or another city. Consider travel times, construction times, and how close you are to Revolution.
Disband or integrate; or moveEdit
As with all other units, a Town Guard can be simply disbanded or it can (more profitably) be integrated into the resource cost of a new unit being produced in the same city - but contributing only two-thirds of its original resource cost (rounding down fractions).
However, if you are still under Despotism, a Town Guard that is no longer useful where it is (e.g. because a Theater or Cathedral has been built) can be moved to another city so as to delay the need for a morale-boosting building there. You can decide whether it should switch support to the new city, bearing in mind that the support cannot be absorbed in the "free" units tally.
Enemy Town GuardsEdit
AI nations that have moved out of Despotism seem unable to make profitable integrations of their Town Guards and may send them to "besiege" your cities. Leave them alone unless they are seriously hampering unit movement or reducing your production, because each one you kill adds to the productive capacity of its home city.