Forts are super-strong defensive structures, and are also used to train a variety of units. Generals, spies, and elite cavalry units - most notably light Chariots and high-level elite infantry - are all raised from the Fort. In addition, they have a Border push effect, increasing the size of your territory. Forts are available once Level 3 Military (Military Tradition) is researched, and with further fortification upgrades, you can improve their ability to increase your borders and their defensive capabilities, making them very impressive indeed.
Note, however, that despite being strong, Forts are vulnerable to siege weapons, slingers and swordsmen. Slingers, while weak and easily outshot, can be deadly if amassed together. Sword and axe units, with their ability to damage buildings more, are also of a problem as are Battering Rams. If you are facing the Assyrian faction, then be prepared, for they are capable of raising Armoured Rams, which can make short work of your buildings.
Without Fortification upgrades, Castles will well fall foul of enemy siege units. Fortification upgrades enhance a fort's tactical capabilities as well as its effects on your borders.
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"Make a ramp and let it be set in its place!"
Grooves cut into walls allow for oversight and retaliatory fire by archers on the ramparts, whilst keeping them safe from enemy missiles fired in anger.
"How happy are those whose walls already rise!"
Strategy upgrades enhance the reliability of spies, and are also required for the creation of generals.