Some people suggested that someone made a strategy guide. So I'll try to do it, I wanted to do it for a pretty long time. I will focus on powerless combat in this tutorial, I might one day make a separate strategy guide for CO selection and usage.
How to win
Obviously, by capturing the enemy HQ, or destroying all enemy units.
But, generally, before doing that, you have to gradually strengthen your position.
Basically, your position is stronger than your opponent's if:
- You have more units (and/or better units) than him
- You control more ground (and especially the important points of the map).
There are thus, essentially, three basic skills you need to develop to be good at AWBW:
1) Know what to build.
2) Know where to send units.
3) Know how to use the units efficiently.
These will be the three parts of this tutorial.
What to build
Essentially, you need to build the units that will counters the units your opponent builds as efficiently as possible.
An important thing is that infantry is an extremely cost-effective unit: it is needed to capture buildings, to protect your expensive units, and is also an extremely efficient weapon against enemy infantry and mechs. This means that you should never leave a factory empty
. Actually, I consider that most ground units are worth 2000 more than what they cost.
Unless you have an extremely good reason to do so (we'll see later the most common reason).
So, before you build anything, think about what you want to do with your money. If there is a front where you have a weakness, try to compensate for this weakness as soon as possible; If your opponent is on the verge of breaking, try to build the unit he won't be able to counter properly. Never rely too much on one type of unit, unless you know your opponent can't counter this.
Let's say your opponent just built his first B-copter, and sends it to fight your tanks. Then you must build something to counter it, so you'll build an AA in the nearest factory.
Now, let's say that you have a lot of tanks, but your enemy barely manages to pull you back with a line of artilleries. It might be a good idea to build either a copter or a rocket: both will help you to break his lines. And AAs (which your opponent might build to counter copters) have a hard time against tanks...
But, generally, to know what to build, you must know precisely each unit's strengths and weaknesses. Don't hesitate to look at the damage chart
to see how efficient each units are against each other. Sometimes, it is a secondary ability of an unit which will make you choose it.
And, of course, it might also depend of the CO you are playing as, and which CO you are playing against. Some COs are efficient with some units, and weak with others, which means that they are strong or weak against the units they counter. To give an example, mechs are especially efficient against Jess (because Jess's infantries are crappy) or Max (because Max's artilleries are crappy). Also, the time of the game is important:
If the game is still open, directs are usually more efficient. If moves are difficult, because there is a lot of infantry around, or if you are trying to break or defend a chokepoint, you'll need indirects. Also, keep in mind that you should deploy units you need quickly as close as possible to the position where you need them.
Before I make the unit list, I have two terms to explain:
- First strike: When two equivalent units face, the winner will be the one which strikes first. A tank does around 5 damage to an enemy tank, which means he only takes 2 in return. Striking first is thus a big tactical advantage.
- OHKO: One hit kill. If you can kill an enemy unit in one hit, it is pretty good. Indeed, if you are attacking an unit protecting a more important unit, killing it in one shot might be the only way to break through if you can only attack it from one side. It is thus an useful, but rare, ability.
So, here is the list. I won't cover piperunners and Black bombs because they're usually banned.
Strong against: Infantry, mechs.
Weak against: Recons, artillery, AAs, tanks
Infantry is the most useful unit in the game. You'll use it not only to cap cities, but to protect your valuable units (I'll detail how to meatshield later). Moreover, it is one of the best counters against mechs: they are slightly weaker, but still do decent damage, and get first strike most often than not, because of their higher movement. They are also very good against enemy infantries, because they're expendable, and you can thus send them to clear up infantries, letting the heavier units strike whatever expensive units might be behind.
Very few units can counter infantry cost-efficiently.
Recons can, because they're cheap too, and take very little damage against infantry. However, recons get raped as soon as the infantry is supported. Tanks can also wipe out infantry if they can find undefended
infantry and are more versatile than recons. They're not as cost-effective than recons, however, and can only be a good counter in open warfare.
Artillery is also pretty efficient against infantry. They nearly OHKO them, and, since they are ranged units, you may then send an infantry to finish off the enemy infantry, even if there is only one space from which you can attack.
AAs have one interesting ability against infantry: they are the cheapest unit able to OHKO infantry. Even if you don't usually build AA for this only reason, if you have AA around, it might be a good idea to use them to drill a hole in the enemy meatwall.
Strong against: Recons, Tanks.
Weak against: Infantry, Artillery.
Mechs is a very cost-efficient counter to tanks, but has a major weakness: it is very slow. Thus, a single mech is pretty weak, because the enemy will get first strike against it. This is why you often see mech spams, because, if the first mech is attacked, the following one will destroy the attacker, recon, tank, or A-air. Mechs are also very powerful on mountains, because they are not slowed, and get an extra defence. They may even be used to attack artilleries on the other side of a mountain range.
A single mech is pretty easy to deal with (a recon or an AA with first strike is roughly cost-effective), but, to deal with a lot of mechs, your main weapons will be infantry and artillery. I already detailed what happens with infantry, and artillery is really efficient, because mechs are too slow to attack artilleries from outside their range, and they are thus nearly destroyed before reaching the artillery. Thus, an infantry + artillery combo pretty efficiently rapes a mech spam.
Efficient against: infantry.
Weak against: almost everything else.
The best asset of recons is their speed, at least on roads. This means they are very useful to harass infantries in the early game. They also can be used to reach a rocket or artillery, after you break a chokepoint.
They do decent damage to mechs with first strike, but are generally not an efficient counter, because they are more expensive.
And, since they are destroyed easily by pretty much anything but infantry, you don't see them much after the early game, except in FoW games where their huge vision range is extremely useful.
APCs and T-copters are simply transports. They are very useful in the early game, to reach important points as soon as possible, and, later on, to make your infantry/mechs reach the front faster. You badly need them if you want to use mechs in a map where factories are not very close to the front. APCs and T-copters are also good meatshields, since a 1-HP APC can transport as well as a 10-HP APC. APC also have the ability to refuel,
which can sometimes be useful.
APCs resist better than T-copters to infantry (and to anti-air units), which makes them a slightly better meatshields, especially in the early game, when all you have to face is infantry. However, T-copters resist better to other units, and their better mobility usually makes them a better choice, if you have an airport at the time you need a transport. Moreover, building
a T-copters lets you build an infantry on your factory, which is still useful.
If you wish to attack a transport, destroy it if you can (a wounded transport is nearly as useful as a full-health one). Good weapons against APCs are mechs, tanks, artillery, or even recons; Anti-Air OHKO T-copters, and you only need 3 infantry shots to destroy one (so it's often a good idea to attack a T-copter with an infantry).
Strong against: infantry, mechs, Md.Tanks, NeoTanks, MegaTanks.
Weak against: Rockets, B-copters.
Artillery is the most basic indirect unit. It is indirect, so you will usually deploy it once you have meatshields around. Artillery does good damage
to virtually every ground unit, which makes it useful in most situations, provided you can protect it. Artillery is better used to protect other units:
placed behind a tank, it guarantees that if an enemy tank attacks yours,
the enemy tank will suffer in return. They are thus very useful to hold a
defensive position. Artillery is especially efficient against infantry walls, because they are indirect: if an artillery can fire, you don't need a OHKO anymore to break the infantry line. Mechs will suffer too, since they're extremely slow. Another situation where artillery is extremely useful is
against heavy tanks: they do decent damage (45% against Md.Tanks, 40% agaisnt neos) and do not suffer counterattack. Artillery is thus the most cost-effective counter to these tanks. To stop an artillery push, you have mainly three options: directs, like tanks, if there are not enough meatshields around, rockets, because they have a much higher range, and are thus able to make the artillery pull back, or copters, because they can easily sneak behind enemy meatshields to take down artillery, and do not take any damage from them.
Last but not least, artillery is cheaper than tanks, which means you might sometimes deploy an artillery instead of a tank just because you can afford it.
Strong against: Recons, AAs.
Weak against: mechs, B-copters, Md.Tanks.
Tanks are the backbone of any army. They are pretty quick, and deal
decent damage to infantry, recons, artillery, other tanks, AAs and rockets.
They are especially efficient in the early game, since mechs don't have the time to reach the frontline, B-copters are more expensive (and your opponent doesn't have his airport yet), and there isn't enough infantry in the field to protect artillery. After that, they still are useful: they're the best counter to AA, and their speed makes them a good weapon to hunt indirects whenever you managed to break the enemy lines. Tanks are an offensive unit, they're better used in a front where you're likely to move fast. The most cost-efficient counters to tanks are mechs, if they don't take too much time to reach the frontline. B-copters can be effective too, if your opponent doesn't have too many AAs around. Finally, Md.Tanks can also be efficient against tanks, but only on open maps (otherwise they'll be shot down easily by artillery), with high enough funds. But there are cases (especially in the early game) where the best counter to a tank is another tank.
Strong against: B-copters, fighters, bombers, infantry.
Weak against: tanks, Md. Tanks.
Anti-Airs should be built when your enemy has an airforce. They OHKO B-copters, and deal a lot of damage to fighters, bombers and uncloaked Stealths. They can also OHKO infantry and mechs, which is an interesting side-effect, deal decent damage to indirects, and can even be used to finish off a wounded tank. But their main use remains to shoot down B-copters. You don't usually need a lot of AAs: when any point of the frontline can be reached in one turn by an AA, it's OK, because if a B-copter attacks, it will be shot down on the next turn for sure.
To deal with AAs, the best weapon is the tank (or the Md.Tank if you want a OHKO). Mechs can also be useful: AAs can OHKO them, true, but mechs will cripple AAs if they can get first strike. And, since they're much cheaper...
Strong against: Tanks, artilleries, rockets, battleships.
Weak against: AAs, fighters
B-copters are the cheapest offensive air unit, and the most common one.
Copters are masters of ground warfare, as long as there isn't an AA around. In maps where the motion of ground units is difficult (lots of rivers, sea, mountains...), copters are pretty effective, because several AAs will be needed to neutralize them. If there are AAs around, copters can still be a good counter to rockets, because they can easily sneak behind defensive lines, and do a cost-effective damage to the rocket before being destroyed.
In sea battles, they are able to fight cost-effectively a cruiser, are one of the best weapons available against battleships, and can destroy a
carrier if you send two or three of them in the same time.
To counter copters, the best weapon will in most cases be the AA, which will OHKO the copters, and is cheaper.
If the terrain is rough, or in sea battles, the AA will be less effective, and it might be better to use air units: other copters, or even fighters if the enemy has a lot of copters.
Strong against: Fighters.
Weak against: Everything else.
Missiles are very situational units, and are seldom used, because AAs are cheaper, more efficient against copters, and can attack ground units. There are mainly two situations where you may want to build missiles: Either the air battle has teched up to fighters, in which case the missiles provides you with a safe zone to park your air units (missiles OHKO fighters...), or you want to block an airport you can't reach directly (it's behind a sea, a river, a mountain, or a pipe). Since missiles OHKO all air units, your opponent won't be able to build anything on an airport threatened by a missile.
To destroy a missile, you can use pretty much anything. If you can't reach it by land, you can use copters. Also note that the range of missiles is 3-5, so they have a large blind spot in the middle you can take advantage of.
Strong against: artillery.
Weak against: B-copters, battleships.
Rockets are powerful, but frail. They should be deployed only if you are sure you can protect them well. Even an infantry will do 25% against a rocket, so make sure nothing can reach them. On the other hand, if they are protected, they are very powerful. They widely outrange artillery, so are a pretty efficient counter to artillery/infantry spam. They make a slightly higher damage than artillery, which makes them good against heavy tanks (but less cost-effective than artillery).
To fight a rocket, the simplest way is to send copters around the enemy's defence. If it can reach the rocket, the mission will be successful even if it is destroyed by an AA afterwards. The second way is to send battleships, which outrange the rockets, and treat them the way they treat artillery.
The third way is to break through enemy defenses, and kill the rocket with a tank. But this might be difficult if the rocket is well-protected, so sometimes the best thing to do is to build your own rocket to stop the advance of your opponent.
Strong against: Tanks, AAs.
Weak against: Artillery, rocket, NeoTanks, MegaTanks, Bombers, Stealths.
Md.Tanks are an expensive unit, but is sometimes useful.
Its greatest asset is that it is a tough unit, especially against directs.
It can thus be used to protect a critical point, e.g. a threatened base.
Md. Tanks also perform well in very open maps, since the enemy will have trouble protecting his indirects. They are not very useful if your enemy has well-defended indirects, however, because two artillery/rocket shots are roughly enough to destroy a Md.Tank.
To counter Md.Tanks, the best is to build artilleries, which are extremely cost-effective against them. Neo and MegaTanks also beat them, but are
rarely worth what they cost.
Finally, you may also use air units. Copters make more damage to them than they suffer, but they do not do enough damage to be good counters.
Bombers and Stealths do quick work of them, and can be used to counter them if you can take care of enemy fighters.
Strong against: Md.Tanks
Weak against: Artillery, rockets, MegaTanks, Bombers, Stealths.
NeoTanks are a slightly tougher version of Md.Tanks. They're not tough enough to justify the extra 6000, so Md.Tanks are usually better for defensive purposes. NeoTanks can however be interesting on very open maps: their greater mobility often allows them to get first strike against Md.Tanks, and they OHKO any low-tier unit. This is the only situation where the NeoTanks might be worth building, otherwise they're just too expensive.
You can deal with them the same way you deal with Md.Tanks: indirects, air units or a MegaTank will destroy them.
Strong against: Md.Tanks, NeoTanks.
Weak against: artillery, rockets, bombers.
MegaTanks are basically the toughest unit in the game. They can hold a
position against a pretty strong attacking force. You might thus want to use them to defend a very important property. They are no use however against a massive indirect attack, and will be slaughtered by hordes of artilleries/rockets. Since they OHKO every other land unit, it is generally not a good idea to attack them with directs, except bombers, which deal them a decent damage and take no counterattack. To kill a MT, you have to send a lot of artilleries and/or rockets and fire on it. An especially vicious way to deal with MegaTanks sitting on a property is to surround them with infantry, reduce them to 1 or 2 HP with indirects, and let them heal each turn before shooting them back to 1 or 2 HP. They won't do much damage and cost 5600 to your opponent each turn.
Strong against: B-copters, bombers, Stealths.
Weak against: AA, missile, cruiser, carrier.
The purpose of fighters is pretty simple: fight other air units. And they do it
very well. They're usually a bit expensive to fight B-copters, but may be handy in maps where AA have difficulty reaching copters (and copters often hide in patches of sea or mountains), and if your opponent builds many copters. They're a pretty good counter to bombers (they OHKO the bomber, and, since bombers are more expensive, it's always cost-effective. Moreover, it will be hard for the bomber to hide from the fighter, since it's very fast. And, against Stealth, they're a must: they are the only unit (except another Stealth) able to shoot down a cloaked
Stealth. To fight fighters, any anti-air unit will do the trick. AA start to be a little weak (they don't kill them, but still do cost-effective damage). Missiles
may be a good idea (they OHKO fighters): if you park a fighter or a copter
at a distance of exactly four cases from the missile, enemy fighters won't be able to attack your air units without being destroyed in return.
Finally, in air/sea wars, cruisers and carriers good counters to fighters. Be careful that cruisers don't OHKO fighters, so they might be a slightly weak deterrent. Carriers are a nightmare for fighters, however.
Stong against: Md.Tanks, Neo Tanks, MegaTanks, B-ships, cruisers, carriers.
Weak against: AA, fighters, Stealths.
The bomber has a huge firepower, but can be destroyed pretty easily by anti-air units. It's thus especially efficient against aims where the damage he does is worth his cost, such as B-ships and carriers (they are a good counter to carriers, since they can reach them from outside their firing range). In land battles, it is the most efficient direct counter to heavy tanks, but it is generally outshined by indirects (unless you're Max). Bombers are generally easy to counter: either build two AAs (one isn't enough since bombers get first strike and nearly destroy the AA), one fighter (they OHKO bombers, so it's cost effective), or even a Stealth, if your opponent doesn't have a fighter. Cruisers are NOT a good counter: They do less damage to bombers than bombers do to them, and they need to get first strike to have some efficiency. And even them, they still take some counterdamage.
Weak against: Fighters.
Strong against: Everything else.
The Stealth is a very good unit, since, once it is cloaked, the only unit
able to shoot it down is the fighter, which is almost as expensive as
it is, or another Stealth. On the flip side, it has less firepower and mobility than a bomber, and runs out of fuel easily. A Stealth must be built as soon as possible if your opponent can't build a fighter (e.g. if he doesn't have an airport, or if this airport is locked down by a missile). Stealths are also very good in FoW, because your opponent will not always understand that he has to build a fighter, if you're careful. Generally, if you build a Stealth, your opponent will immediately answer with a fighter. It is thus better to build a Stealth when you do not have many other air units: it reduces the efficiency of the enemy fighter. Stealths are especially good against expensive units, since they do a lot of damage to them, and, unlike bombers, they can hit air units. Stealths are also good in large maps, where a single enemy fighter won't be able to cover the whole frontline.
The main problem of Stealth is that they do not OHKO units, and, if they are alone, they will be visible after they strike. This is why bombers are sometimes a better choice in sea battles. In land battles, Stealths are supported, and you can make sure that another unit can finish the work.
A Stealth is precious, and must be well protected: Especially, you should never let your opponent put two units around your Stealth: one of these units will detect it, and the other will be a fighter, and will kill it.
To counter Stealths, the best strategy is to build a fighter. Try to make sure that the fighter covers the whole frontline, and check where the Stealth did strike, try to clear two spaces at two sides of the Stealth, send an unit at one place, and kill the Stealth with a fighter. If you don't have a fighter available, you can try to surround them. A Stealth surrounded by infantery will quickly run out of fuel, even if you can't bring a fighter easily.
Black Boats are an extremely useful unit. They can only transport infantry and mechs, but often that will be all you need, if you simply want to capture properties, or to take a shortcut to the front (heavier unit can then be produced closer to the front). They are cheaper and faster than landers, and nearly as tough (the only notable difference being that cruisers can't attack landers). They are the meatshields of the sea, meaning you can use them to protect a battleship against enemy
subs, or to block a cruiser. They can also be used to meatshield on shoals,
and they're very good at that, since few land units can threaten them.
They also have an extra ability, which, well used, can turn the tide of a battle: the repair ability. It enables you to repair any nearby unit (including land units). It also refuels the unit.
It can, for example, help you finish the capture of a coastal property,
repair a unit just enough to break a meatshield, repair your meatshield so they can resist the next attack, refuel other sea units in large sea maps, and so on. If you have the choice, it is sometimes a good idea to
use a black boat rather than an APC for transportation purposes.
To kill them, the best weapon is usually the sub. Especially if you can get
a 10% attack bonus, in which case they OHKO the black boat. Otherwise the black boat has one chance out of two to stay alive, giving the enemy cruiser the position of your sub. Other solutions include indirects (B-ships do the same damage as subs, artilleries and rockets kill them in two shots), or air units (bombers deal the same damage as subs). Heavy tanks and cruisers can also hurt them, but they usually have better things to do.
Landers are only useful to transport non-infantry land units. They are only worth building when you have an important battlefield in a factory-less island: land units will then be needed to beat the enemy infantry. Otherwise, they work and are countered exactly like black boats.
Strong against: Subs, fighters
Weak against: B-ships, indirects.
Cruisers are essentially an anti-sub unit. They also do a lot of damage to air units, but, since they also take a lot of damage, they are not usually a cost-effective counter to copters or bombers, unless they can get first strike. They can also finish off B-boats (but not landers).
To counter them, the best weapon is the Battleship, or, if the cruiser is near the shore, other indirects. They can also be countered by air units if there are no indirects available.
Strong against: B-boats, Landers, Battleships, Carriers.
Weak against: Cruisers.
The Sub is generally used in sea-only battles to counter battleships, or
sometimes in air-sea battles to counter carriers. It is also a good weapon against B-boats/Landers, especially when you can get a 10% bonus (which guarantees a OHKO). Against B-ships, subs are best used in pairs: two subs can kill a battleship, which makes more difficult the retaliation.
To counter a sub, the best thing to do is to build a cruiser, they OHKO subs, and are the only other unit able to strike a cloaked sub. Be careful that they can only strike a sub if it is detected. So:
- If you want to protect a B-ship against one sub, one cruiser is enough.
- If you want to protect a B-ship against two subs, you must have two well-placed cruisers, or two cruisers and a B-boat to detect the subs afterwards.
- If you want to protect a B-boat, you should have a cruiser and another B-boat around.
Another counter to subs is another sub. Just put your sub where you think your opponent's sub will attack, and you may ambush it, leaving it detected and vulnerable to counterattack.
Strong against: Most land units, cruisers, carriers.
Weak against: Subs, artillery, copters, bombers, Stealths.
Battleships are very expensive units, but they're worth their cost. They outrange any other indirect unit, and are more difficult to destroy,
since they can't be reached by land units. They can be used either to support your land units in a land warfare, or to counter enemy cruisers.
To counter them, the easiest way is to send air units (copters, bombers, stealths) to shoot them down. This is why they must be protected much more in air/sea maps. The second way is to send one or two subs to hunt them down. This is of course only possible if you have a port nearby, which is out of B-ship range. The third, and often overlooked, way to annoy B-ships, is to fight them with artilleries. Indeed, artilleries can hurt them badly if they can touch them: So, if you have two or three artilleries (which costs much less than a battleship), and the battleship isn't too far away from the coast, you can send two or three artilleries to threaten it,
making it pull back (without firing this turn). That way, the B-ship won't be able to get close to the coast. This last strategy works especially well when you have narrow patches of sea, where the B-ship won't be able to get out of range easily.
Strong against: Fighters, copters
Weak against: Subs, indirects.
The Carrier is the most expensive unit in the game. It is essentially useful as a support unit in air/sea battles: Indeed, it has a huge firing range (8 ), and OHKOs any air unit. It makes it extremely efficient against fighters,
or against lonely copters. Bombers, in the other hand, can reach them from outside their firing range, and Stealths are stealthy. Carriers are especially useful if they can get in range of an airport, preventing your opponent from building on it.
To counter them, you can use subs (with the annoying side-effect that your opponent will probably build a cruiser, further strengthening its anti-air force), indirects (including Battleships), or powerful air units like bombers and Stealths. Against Bombers or Stealths, the carrier will have to be backed by a fighter.
Where to send units
In this section I will address the general strategy, beginning with general
advice, and following with how to use specifically the different points of the
map. Remember that it is good to have a lot of ground and important properties, but if you lose too many troops in the process, your opponent might reconquer them with his stronger troops.
Being offensive has several advantages: you choose where to fight, and whether to fight. Your opponent will have to react to you, and thus be more predictable, which gives you an advantage. But you must be careful not to overdo it, and attack when and where you should.
When you attack, you can have two kinds of targets: either destroying as many enemy units as possible, aiming a key point, or both.
Attacking a group of units
To attack efficiently an enemy group of units, you need to spot your opponent's weaknesses. In early game, it will often be the lack of support: you can attack fearlessly an unit when you do not fear a counterattack. Good examples are tanks slaughtering infantry when the
enemy tanks are out of reach, or a copter striking every unit out of range of an AA.
In the middle game, a common weakness is a lack of defense against one kind of unit. Typically, if your opponent has only one AA around, and you have three copters, it might be a good idea to attack now: the AA might destroy one of your copters, but you'll destroy it afterwards and your opponent will be defenseless against your two remaining copters.
This kind of unbalance does not always appear naturally: you may have to create it. A good way to do this is to swap mobile units (copters, tanks, AA, typically) from one front to another, to create an unbalance. Be careful not to leave a too vulnerable front behind you.
In the late game, you might have to overtech your opponent to be able to
break through his defences (like building rockets to counter artilleries, this kind of thing). But, if you can, creating unbalances can still be very efficient. Generally speaking, you should not be afraid, when you attack, of letting your opponent hurt you if you know that you will hurt him even more afterwards. And, anticipating your opponent's movements is generally the key to victory in this game, but we'll go back to this in the
Attacking a specific point
Now, if your aim is to attack an important point of the map, you must be aware that there are several ways of attacking a specific point.
The first kind of attack is a simple capture. To do this, you'll have to send an infantry to capture this point (obviously), and to defend your infantry, either with artilleries and/or mechs positioned behind, or with meatshields protecting the capture. This is for a quick capture. Another way to capture is simply to begin with eliminating the enemy around, and,
once the property is behind your lines, then capture it. Be careful that, if the point is not very important (typically, a simple property), you should not capture too soon: it might actually be better for your infantry to attack the enemy infantry which would otherwise have interrupted the capture, giving your infantry the benefit of first strike.
The second kind of attack involves neutralizing production facilities. Neutralizing a factory gives you a huge advantage,
and neutralizing a key airport or port can also be very powerful.
So, how can you neutralize a production facility?
A first way is to put something on top of it. This way your opponent won't be able to build from it. The unit you put on the top of the facility should be tough enough to resist against enemy attacks. Units like APCs, tanks and Md.Tanks do fairly well, and sneaking a sub into a port can be deadly if your opponent can't build a cruiser nearby. Air units can also make good blockers if your opponent isn't able to counter them.
The second way is to make sure you can destroy anything that is produced in the production facility. An airport can be neutralized by an AA
close to it, or, more efficiently, by a missile (because the AA has to reach the airport, and can be destroyed by a counterattack: if the airport is important enough, your opponent might be willing to exchange a copter against an AA to be able to use his airport again). This actually is the main use of missiles. A port or a factory can be neutralized by indirects (one indirect won't be enough to completely neutralize it, but can be a deterrent).
The third kind of attack is to use your target as a fixation point. When you are far from having enough forces to capture your aim, you can still start a capture, and force your opponent to attack your infantry. This is especially efficient when your opponent doesn't have many infantries around, because he will have to waste tanks/copter attacks to get rid of your infantry. And, after that, you'll be able to counterattack efficiently, and deal him more damage than he does to you (because he'll have to waste shots on your capturing infantry). This approach is efficient on
strategically important points, like com towers, or even better, labs/HQs.
HQ are especially good aims, because your opponent will let you destroy his whole army before he lets you capture the HQ, and because the HQ has 140% defense, which protects very well your capturing infantry. After your enemy's counterattack, you also have the option to put a strong unit (like a tank) on the HQ, where he will be able to attack the units around, and where he will take little damage.
In this kind of attack, keep in mind that your opponent can't escape. This means that your indirects and your mechs will be very useful, because your enemy will have to attack you even if he's losing more than you.
Well, now that you know how to attack, you might also want to know how to defend. A good defense is something which can resist to any kind of attack, because your opponent will be more mobile than you.
Often, you will use a first line composed of cheap, or tough units, able to stand your enemy's attack. Mostly, first lines will be composed of infantries, or sometimes tanks (especially in high-defense spots), and the second lines will be composed of artilleries and mechs, plus at least an AA if there are copters around. This way you will be able to deal much more damage to your opponent than what he did to you. You should also take advantage of terrain: put your first lines on high ground as much as possible, and use chokepoints (narrow passages) to put your first defensive lines. Of course, this is an ideal defense, which you often won't have the time to build, but the general principle remains the same: protect your most important units with meatshields, and always make sure that you will deal more damage than your opponent if he dares attack you. If his forces are stronger, you should have replacements ready for your first lines: Otherwise he will attack your first lines, lose what he has to lose, and then finish the job with what he has left.
When not to fight
It is important to know when to fight, and when not to fight. I usually have a pretty offensive playstyle, but this does not mean I will always fight. If you see that you would not gain anything by attacking (his counterattack would cost you much more, and your attack wouldn't be enough to disturb his defence), then you should not attack, and either send reinforcements, or try to find a weakness somewhere else. You might also try to make some guerilla warfare, to force him to spread his forces. But do not attack something which is obviously too strong for you.
Sometimes, you will also have to retreat. When you see your opponent amassing an obviously overwhelming force, you should not wait passively to be crushed, but you should step back a little: it is better to give your opponent a few properties than to let your whole army be destroyed.
Always put in mind that, if you retreat, this means your armies will be stronger (because your units will take less time to arrive), and his armies will be weaker (because his units will take more time to arrive). Imagine you build one infantry and one tank per turn. Then, by pulling back 3 squares, you have one more infantry, and half a tank more, and your opponent has one less infantry, and half a tank less. This might give you the strength to stand your ground.
Another reason to retreat might be when you see before you a stronger, but less mobile, army. Then you should send your mobile forces somewhere they will be more useful, and build a defensive line to stop your opponent's advance.
Important points of the map
There are key points which must be taken if you can, and harshly defended. It is important to be able to evaluate properly their actual strategical importance.
The most important of them is the HQ. It has to be protected at any cost, and I mean at any cost. In the same way, if you see an occasion to capture the enemy HQ, you should take it. Even if you have to sacrifice half of your army to get it, it is worth the price. But, if the move is risky, make sure that your opponent has no way to counter it before you capture the HQ, otherwise it might backfire badly.
If you do not have the necessary forces, you should rather use it as a fixation point.
If there are no HQs, labs function as HQs, but with one important difference: you live as long as you have one lab. So, if at least one of your labs, and one of your opponent's labs, is well-protected, the labs are virtually useless to capture. The last lab has the importance of the HQ, except the defender might get out of this trap by capturing another lab.
Keep this in mind before sacrificing all your army in attacking or defending a last lab. An interesting case is when you have several labs, but all of them are exposed. Here, an attack on a lab is quite powerful, because your opponent won't have the choice of the fighting ground anymore if you manage to capture it. You can also try a simultaneous attack on both labs. But you shouldn't sacrifice half of your army to attack or defend a lab if it's not the only one.
Bases are extremely important points of the map: In most maps, capturing an enemy base, or even neutralizing it, means victory.
This means that your first infantries should almost always be sent to capture neutral bases. Harassing a base under capture is almost always a good move if you can do it (recon rush). Having a base near a frontline gives you more flexibility, because you will be able to react quickly to your losses, and to the enemy moves, and units like mechs will be able to reach the front quickly. Bases are difficult to threaten or capture because of this: you need a very versatile army. But, if you have an occasion to threaten or capture an enemy base, do it. Even if it costs you a lot of units.
The importance of airports depends a lot of the map you're in. Generally speaking, the more airports there are, the less controlling one precise airport will be important. However, if there is only one airport in the map, controlling it will be the key to victory. If there are two airports and you can capture or neutralize your opponent's, it will be a big step towards victory. Airports far away from any other airport can also be very important, because they allow you to react quickly.
This shows how harshly you should attack/defend an airport.
Airports should be captured quickly on the early game: it allows you to react to an early tank while spamming infantries.
Depending on the map, ports can be useless (if the map is land-dominated, and you don't have many funds), or fundamental (on an island map, or on a sea-dominated map), or anything between these two extremes. Generally speaking, when sea units are important, it is good to neutralize or capture a port which can't be replaced easily, for example if it's the only port available on this part of the sea. If sea units are not important, ports can be even less useful than properties.
When you need boats to reach important points of the maps, the ports should be second on your capture order, after factories.
Com towers tend to be pretty important: a 10% attack bonus is nothing to laugh at. However, it will not be that useful in the early game, so com towers will not be your first aim. However, you must control your com tower when the heavy fight starts. A com tower tends to be a good fixation point in the middle/late game.
Property have two uses: giving you funds, and repairing your units. The second use is the reason why it is very good to control properties on the frontline, and are a good reason to send infantries to contested properties early, before even capturing the properties near you. On the flip side, capturing the properties near you first allows you to get more funds quickly, and will give you a numerical superiority once you will have finished capturing (because your opponent will still be busy capturing properties).
Chokepoints are narrow passages, which are easy to defend, and thus are important to control. If you put a good defence on a chokepoint, your opponent will have a hard time dislodging you, while you will still be able to attack from your chokepoint if you wish. They are important on the mid/late game, when you have enough units to take advantage of them.
Other good spots
You may also want to control high-defence spots (emptied missile silos, mountains, forests...), especially when they can only be attacked from low-defence spots. Putting artilleries in spots with natural protections (mountains, rivers, pipes) can also be a good idea.
In this section I will give tips, beginning with general tactical tips, and then giving a few tips for each phase of the game.
This is maybe the most important tip here: to play well, you should anticipate the moves of your opponent, meaning you must plan all your moves, see what the remaining situation would be, and ask yourself what your opponent can do. If you see that your projected moves would leave a weakness in your defense, think again.
In simple situations you can even forsee a few turns in advance.
Unit health and repairs
The usefulness of an unit is not proportional to its health. Indeed, a 7-HP tank, for example, will not be worth 70% of a full tank, but much less. Not only will it do less damage, but it will take more counterdamage against a full-health tank. This is true for any unit which often takes counterdamage, which means infantry, mechs, recons, light and heavy tanks, fighters. However, a 8 HP AA can still OHKO a copter, so a slightly wounded AA is still as useful (a 6 HP AA is worth repairing however). In the same way, a wounded copter will still be quite efficient, except against other copters, and is a pain to repair anyway.
So, you should repair your 4 to 9 HP units (and especially the units quoted above) as soon as you have an occasion (meaning if you don't need them in the front right now).
Unit with fewer HP are not always worth repairing: indeed, a tank with 2 or 3 HP can still be used as a meatshield, and needs to be parked during at least 4 turns to reach back full HP. However, as the game advances and your opponent starts to have many wounded units, the two extra HP can make a difference, and allow your wounded tank to wipe out a 2 or 3 HP tank.
The one very low HP units which is always worth repairing is infantry, because it doesn't cost you much, and this increases your unit count at very little cost. Repairing a very low HP infantry means you don't need it as a meatshield right now.
Joining units is a delicate move to perform: indeed, by joining units, you lessen your unit count. However, you should do so in some cases:
- If you have two 5 HP tanks, or one 4 HP tank and one 6 HP tank, and lack the time or properties to repair them: one 10 HP tank will be more efficient. Also, joining two 4 HP tanks on a friendly property might be a good idea. If you have a 2 HP tank and a 8 HP tank it is usually better to repair the 7 HP tank and use the other as a meatshield. You can also do it with most direct units (see above), except infantry: a low HP infantry is still very useful as a meatshield.
- If you really need one unit right now, and you can't afford it: you might try to join expensive units to gain more funds (air units like copters or fighters tend to work well in this respect, because, as I said before, land units are worth more than they cost). Example of this: one of your factories is threatened, you need a Md.Tank right now.
- Because a wounded air unit is often worth less than what it costs, it might be a good idea to join wounded air units. If you don't have anything better to do with them, of course, and you can replace them easily.
Early game: opening, open warfare
The early game is generally dominated by infantry and directs units (tanks, recons, copters, AAs). You'll especially see a lot of tank vs. tank fight and infantry vs. infantry fight. To deal with them correctly, you must respect a few key principles.
One to one
If you have a one to one fight (lone inf vs. lone inf. or lone tank vs. lone tank), then the key ingredients are first strike, and terrain.
The unit who gets the first strike will always win the encounter, except if it attacks from a vastly inferior terrain (such as road vs. city).
This means that you must position your unit either just out of range of your enemy or in a very good defensive spot (a city or mountain which cannot be attacked from anything else than a road (or maybe a plain).
An especially good spot is a city you control: if your opponent attacks you, you will not only be on high ground, but get repairs, which will help you to backfire more efficiently.
However, you rarely have one to one encounters: infantries are often found in files, and tanks are not alone very long. This means you often have support behind you. If you have some support, this means you can advance a little further, as long as you are on high terrain: if your opponent attack you, your second unit will attack him back from high terrain. However, this is no longer true if your opponent can destroy your unit, and take control of the terrain. To avoid this, you should start to use meatshields, or have a heavier support ready to take back the terrain.
Middle game: Getting into position.
When you start to have the firepower necessary to take enemy property by brute force, this means you are reaching the middle game. In this part of the game, the lines are still very fluctuating. You must have the better position when the fronts start to stabilize, or even break your opponent's line before he can stabilize them. This is very often when games are decided. Strategy is very important here: you must choose where you attack, and where you defend, which units you will use, and so on.
You will also start to make your first attacks.
How to build zone control
You want here to start controlling important zones of the map. You can do this with:
- Directs: you have a slight zone control on all the tiles your direct can attack. An hostile unit can still go into this zone, especially on high terrain, so this is a weak zone control.
- Directs + infantry: Infantries can reduce the freedom of movement of your enemy, allowing you position a direct behind them, and gain some ground. If your enemy can tear down your meatshield with infantries, it will be much less useful (in this case it's better to have backing for your infantries, and to ensure your directs are on high ground).
- Indirects + meatshields: Indirects are powerful units to assert zone control, but you must be sure that your opponent can't attack them. This means you must have enough meatshields, or especially good spots.
How to advance
When you attack, there is one important thing you must keep in mind: your opponent's units can only strike once! This means that, once you have put an infantry in the range of his artillery, you can put as much as you want without further damage. In the other hand, it is often bad to move an single valuable unit just in range of a (direct or indirect) unit, which otherwise wouldn't be able to strike. In other words, when you attack, try not to give one target to your opponent's units: give them too many! If you can do this, you will usually make more damage than your opponent can deal to you.
Advanced tip: the kiss of death
J'embrasse mon rival, mais c'est pour l'étouffer
[english translation: I embrace my rival, only to suffocate him]
This quote essentially sums up this point: if your opponent has a powerful unit in first line, you may bother him a lot by surrounding it with meatshields: Indeed, if you use this tactic well, he won't be able to use his unit effectively: he needs to move it before his infantries can tear down your meatwall, but if he moves it before his infantries tear down your meatwall, his unit (typically a tank) won't be able to strike what's behind! Be careful, because this tactic can also be used against you, so be careful when you put a powerful unit in first line.
End game: How to beat a large army
Beating a well-organized army is difficult, but if you want to try, the best way to do this is by disorganizing it. Try to create a lack of a vital unit (it might be anti-airs, artilleries, rockets,...). And, once you create it (even if you must sacrifice a few of your units to do so), take advantage of it (ex: you sacrificed a few copters to eliminate the enemy AAs, meaning that your copters now dominate the field and slaughter tanks and arties until reinforcements can arrive). To defend against this attacks, you must be careful to protect well your important units, and to have some backup if necessary (if your opponent has three copters, you'd better have more than one AA, for example).
You can also create an unbalance by teching up (rockets, Sea units, Stealths, or Md. Tanks may work, depending on the situation), creating units he has no counter to.