A FOB costs 75 points and gives 16k supply. Pretty good deal. Many people seem to take them for granted and mandatory, plopping one down every game. You can even see this behavior at the lower levels of ranked, although higher up bringing a FOB becomes a rare and calculated choice.
FOBs are less efficient than they seem for two reasons. First, depending on your playstyle you likely don’t use that much supply in a game. For the price of a FOB you can buy 5000 supply in trucks; in a game with a FOB you’ll also need some trucks to bring the supply to the frontline, so we’re looking at 7-8k supply usage before we start saving money with the FOB. It costs 50 supply to repair a health point, and if you’re mostly using supply to patch up the superheavy and reload AA you won’t be reaching much less surpassing that 8k supply where the FOB starts saving you money.
Repairing your units only gets costly if you are fighting an infantry meatgrinder and you’re unusually good at preserving your wounded squads. I’ve only seen FOBs predictably drained by unit maintenance in ranked Wonsan games as USSR, where matches are about meticulously preserving your one-two cards of Spetsnaz and fighting off the entire Scandinavian zerg with them.
Here’s a litmus test I perform every other match. When the winner is clear, which can be at the end of the match but may be as early as 2/3rds in, I like to take a glance at our base. If the FOB looks like the picture above, buying it was a bad deal. That’s a FOB from which we’ve drained no more than 6000 supply. We would’ve been better off having a stronger opener and getting 80pts of trucks later.
The actually realistic way to use that much supply is with ammo reloads, for artillery or helos. Heavy burrito or rocket helo usage are certainly justified in bringing a FOB, as they’re both good tactics that are predictably supply-heavy. Keep in mind that usage needs to actually be heavy – a single Patriot battery doesn’t draw anywhere near enough supply, and even a burrito costs only 2k per full reload, so you’d have to empty it four times or also do a fair amount of infantry repairing.
Heavy AT helo usage I find less justified, as it is unpredictable. You can buy a longbow and get a perfect run, getting massive advantage – in this case resupplying at the FOB you invested in is an extra advantage but you’ll likely win even if you had to bring in trucks separately. Or you can fail the run, falling behind – in this case the useless FOB drags you down even further. So buying a FOB intending to mainly use it for the longbow helps games you’re already winning and hinders games you actually need help in. Bad.
The second reason FOBs are less efficient than they seem is the time value of points. In matches where you do use more than 8k supply, it may still be worth it to solidify your opener and pay a slight penalty for trucks in the midgame. Paying 150 points later when you could be paying 75 points at the start may seem silly, but think of it like this: how many points would you have to be given at the 20-minute mark to agree to start with 900 instead of 1000? The answer will depend on the point-density of your game mode and the importance of the opener, but it will certainly be more than 100. 100 points in the first minute are worth more than 100 points in the middle of the game.
But lets set the time value argument aside. Even without it, players almost always overestimate how much supply they’ll need. Start doing my litmus test yourself – you’ll be surprised at how many games end with untouched FOBs on both sides. The FOB has to look at least like the above picture, otherwise you’d have gotten the same value with midgame trucks.
I’d say that even in a 3v3, a single FOB is plenty even for a team employing burritos. For teams without artillery/burrito usage even a single FOB will be almost full at the game end, more often than not. Yet I commonly see such teams open with two-three FOBs. But my core idea here isn’t to get you to stop using FOBs completely – rather, I hope you’ll start checking your base at the end of games and get a feel for your actual usage. You don’t get a warning sound or point loss when you win a game with a full FOB, so that’s something you have to manually pay attention to if you want to improve it.