When I was starting out, I tended to think of transports as that expensive thing I’m forced to buy to inflate the price of my infantry. I wasn’t alone; if I got a penny for every time I’ve seen someone lament the lack of 1pt trucks, I’d be paying for an editor.
This is a big mistake. Choosing what your infantry comes in is just as important as the infantry itself. Some decks are genuinely crippled by a lack of good midrange transport options – always taking the cheapest option is a tempting but poor choice.
Transports come with a wide variety of armor. The biggest difference by far is the jump between 1 and 2 armor – due to some non-linear scaling in the armor formula, 1 armor is dramatically easier to oneshot by tanks and even WW2 RPG, whereas 2 armor requires a modern RPG (16AP) or a high-end tank to destroy in one shot.
When a ground transport is killed, the amount of infantry that survives the explosion is determined by the amount of overkill the transport took. As trucks only have 5 health and 0 armor (which effectively doubles all damage), this makes it really bad to be in an exploding truck. On the other hand since 2AV transports are both hard to oneshot and likely to die with little overkill if a oneshot does occur, you can delay the unload time for the infantry being transported by quite a bit.
The most important difference between transports is their armament. The cheapest stuff comes with a machine gun. Midrange options generally sport an autocannon or rarely a grenade launcher instead. An infantry + autocannon card is very versatile, useful for both defending and attacking where enemy tanks aren’t present or heavier fire support is needed. Autocannons can attack helos and are also quite powerful in forests, but they’re a bit expensive if the opponent is reliably retaliating with RPGs.
Grenade launcher transports cost similar to autocannon armed ones despite being nowhere near as versatile. Grenade launchers don’t dominate the open ground the way autocannons do, but they’re a bit better at support within a forest, stunning and panicking even with the shortest of bursts.
There’s other ground weapons available, including ATGM, cheap HEAT cannons, very high-end autocannons. Pick with an eye to how you use the infantry – something that will mostly operate in deep forest or town probably doesn’t need an expensive transport, something that pushes or defends open ground should have a transport capable of providing cover, maybe fighting off other transports, maybe even fighting off tanks.
The other important dimension transports differ in is speed. Generally the higher speed of helos and wheeled vehicles is offset by a higher price, leaving cost-effective midgame reinforcement to tracked carriers. Wheeled and helicopter transports on the other hand are most useful for the opening landgrab, and for quick reinforcement of vulnerable sectors and overextended pushes during the midgame.
Without getting into the weeds of opener tactics, I’d like to note that autocannons on wheeled units are especially valuable at the start of the match. Wheeled units are more lightly armed and armored than tracked ones, so when your wheeled force meets the enemy one the winner is often whoever has more autocannons. On some maps both players are unloading at the opposite sides of a big town and thus the transports never meet, but on others it matters. If your wheeled force finds itself reaching an already occupied town because the enemy did a helodrop, having autocannons around will also allow you to quickly siege and gain a foothold without leaving the enemy time to bring in tracked reinforcements.