This post is about using and defending from iron bombers (dumb HE bombers).
Bombers, and planes in general, are mainly defensive units. Primarily this is because of two things:
- A defending enemy has his units well within the AA net. An attacker on the other hand is usually forced to keep his AA a bit further back, meaning that the bomber has more chance of getting out alive.
- Planes are very reliant on good spotting. When the enemy is pushing across open ground you get good and very reliable line of sight.
Iron bombers are primarily an anti-infantry weapon. While they don’t need line of sight to drop a payload, in order to hit anything it’s still paramount to have had sight in the past five seconds or so.
Thus far, the section has been about infantry. How do iron bombers tie into this? Well, until now I’ve been repeating over and over that infantry is god in forests etc etc. It follows that you can make a forest impregnable by just stacking a lot of infantry on top of each other:
Yet, in actual gameplay this is a terrible idea – you’d just get bombed and lose your entire force. If iron bombers and artillery didn’t exist, it would be impossible to take a reinforced forest – when the enemy puts 200 points of infantry in it, you’d be forced to wait until you get 200 points of your own, at which point they’d have 400, and so on.
However bombers do exist, and when an enemy spots any sort of infantry concentration, sending one to clear the board is the kneejerk reaction. Because of this, past a certain point density, adding more infantry to the frontline of the same forest is excessive. It could be that 30 Jaeger is enough to win most fights, with 60 Jaeger vastly increasing the bombing risk for no significant anti-infantry gains (because you’re already winning the fights). It could be that 30 Jaeger is already too much; it’s all contextual on things like opponent playstyle, AA density, and map type. You can still buy more infantry, but the prudent thing would be to send them to another part of the forest or just keep them in reserve at the back.
How do you use a bomber? It’s important to already have it up when you need it. If you spot the enemy infantry, call a bomber, and promptly lose sight, the 20 seconds needed for the bomber to reach the frontline and drop gives the enemy plenty of time to reshuffle his units and you’re effectively blindbombing, with little chance to hit. On the other hand, if you keep sight until the payload is in the air, it’s impossible to reliably dodge.
The maxim “the bomber always gets through” applies. Ground AA can kill an evacuating plane, but even dense AA nets struggle to kill a plane during its approach, before it has dropped the payload. Interceptions with ASF are possible and generally vital to protecting pushes, but require foresight and good timing.
There are two ways to drop iron bombs. You can use the fire position command and click on the ground, in which case the plane will drop according to its unit-specific bombing pattern. You can also right-click an enemy unit, in which case the bombs have a chance to hit the target directly, based on the bomber’s accuracy. The rest will fall according to the predefined pattern. The downside of this latter approach is that the bombs won’t be dropped if you lose sight during the run, so fire pos is usually preferred.
Finally, regardless of which targeting method you use, keep in mind most bombers can only drop in a narrow arc in front of them. If you change the target in the last second and the plane can’t turn toward it in time, it will fly over and into the enemy AA net without releasing its payload or starting an evac. The same behavior happens if you right click a target but then lose sight of it.
For the defender, the guaranteed lethality of bombers means that dealing with them is a matter of limiting losses, not completely preventing them. Infantry is cheap, bombers are expensive. The 160pt Deagle may be guaranteed to kill whatever it is sent after, but if you manage to limit losses to one squad each sortie and you kill it the first or second time it goes out, that’s a net loss for the bombing player. Hence making sure that infantry is never so concentrated that a suicide strike is worth it.
That’s it, really – the tactical role of bombers is to wipe out clusters of infantry or other light units. When using them, try to restrict yourself to defensive strikes or at least ones that don’t go too far into the enemy AA net. When countering them, it’s hard to guarantee that the bomber will die, but if you focus on minimizing losses and having some chance of kill on every pass, you’ll tend to come out ahead.
And a note on towns: it’s much easier to minimize bombing losses there, which is to a small extent why towns can hold much denser infantry concentrations. That said, don’t be too hasty in dodging, take your time and be sure what blocks will get hit before doing anything. Jumping too early is the main way to take damage from a town bombing – the 5 second cooldown means you won’t get a second jump if you accidentally move into the bombs’ path. It’s also common to get tunnel vision and concretate so hard on a town that you don’t notice the approaching bomber; the only advice I have for that one is to git gut with time and practice..