Let’s take a look at the plane types that haven’t been covered yet. Their usage and counters are broadly similar to those of AT planes and iron bombers which I already wrote on, so I’ll be brief on those points.
If there’s a unit that lets you feel like you’re a direct participant in the fight, it’s the rocket plane. You click a target and it is erased seconds later. Rocket planes give HE damage, same as iron bombers, but restricted to one or two targets, for a much smaller price. Most carry enough rockets to kill anything short of a tank, including AA. Against tanks, they’ll reliably inflict panic and maybe a crit, winning you the fight if you have a tank of your own to finish the job. Despite what the statcard might make you think, they’re very precise – 32 rockets at 30% accuracy each practically guarantees enough hits to kill any soft target, and the spread and AoE are small enough that nearby units are rarely harmed.
Directly right clicking will always use all rockets on the selected target, but some planes will only fire half of their ammo if you use fire position instead. This makes it possible to kill two separate targets in one sortie, as long as you use fire position on the first. While you’ll only get half the payload per target, rockets are lethal enough to soft targets that you’ll almost never see survivors even when splitting.
Rocket rearm length tends to fall somewhere between “fast” and “insanely fast”. This adds to the high efficiency of rocket planes. When playing against a rocket plane user, think carefully before attacking or otherwise exposing your units until you have a way of disabling the plane, as having a unit deleted once or twice a minute adds up pretty quickly. When using a rocket plane, exercise restraint – it’s tempting to try and use bombers as soon as they come off cooldown, but it is a bad mode of thinking that promotes suicide strikes. It is doubly tempting with rocket planes as they tend to be off cooldown all the time; but you simply won’t have a viable target conveniently pop up every 30 seconds, and trying to manufacture such targets by using fire position on last spotted AA or infantry positions is wasteful.
Rocket planes do poorly in larger games where killing a single infantry or fire support unit is not a reliable way of deciding an engagement, and their aggressive approaches become a big drawback due to better AA coverage.
Laser bombers are another type of precise HE bomber. They drop a small number of homing bombs. Most laser bombers can serve in an AT role as the bombs target top armor, the weakest part of tanks.
It’s possible to split the payload between multiple targets by selecting a new target just before each bomb is dropped. City infantry can dodge the payload by teleporting just before the hit happens; the bomb won’t be able to turn fast enough.
Cluster bombers generally cover a wide swath of ground with low-AP munitions that hit top armor. The advantage over HE bombers is the higher effectiveness against armor, the advantage over AT planes is that they don’t need sight and target a wide area; but on the downside, they’re not as dangerous to tanks as AT planes and can’t harm infantry like HE bombers.
Napalm planes are like HE bombers, but instead of doing high upfront damage, they spread napalm that panics and slowly does damage. Currently the napalm isn’t very lethal, and soft units can escape the area of effect before dying, while even lightly armored transports and tanks can just drive through if willing to take the morale and health damage. Napalm bombers are most useful for blocking off roads at the start of the game. Another use is for fast smoke walls, as the burning area will block line of sight just as well as mortar smoke.
There’s not much to say about countering the planes here that hasn’t already been said – use radar AA and ASF. Spread out when targeted by AoE bombers, and break line of sight when expecting direct-target strikes like those of laser bombers.