All screenshots are taken at roughly the maximum distance the red unit can be spotted at.
Note that since Israel, ground exceptional has had its spotting cap increased from 3.5km to 4.2km.
All screenshots are taken at roughly the maximum distance the red unit can be spotted at.
Note that since Israel, ground exceptional has had its spotting cap increased from 3.5km to 4.2km.
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.
Let’s recap the main points of the infantry section.
In open space pushes, the job of infantry is to lead, forcing enemies to either shoot it and expose themselves or concede the forest/town. The killing is done by fire support in the form of ground transports, tanks, or rocket helos.
In closed spaces, infantry does most of the work. In forests infantry engages first, shortly followed by transports or tanks which aim to inflict maximum damage before being targeted by RPG. As vehicles still participate it is important to use well-rounded infantry in forests. Towns on the other hand are too hard for vehicles to effectively operate in, so just one or two squads with decent AT can cover a large number of killer infantry without any anti-vehicle capability.
When taking a forest, an attacker has to win twice – first by achieving open space dominance and securing entry, then by winning the infantry fight for the deep forest. A defender only needs to prevent one of these from happening, so for example conceding the entry point but stockpiling infantry to make the inner forest impregnable is an option for large enough forests.
Many transports are cheap and just brought as a battle taxi with minor forest support capabilities, but the heavier options shouldn’t be overlooked. An autocannon IFV makes for a very versatile unit when working together with the infantry it carries, while a grenade launcher vehicle can contribute to forest fighting as much as an actual infantry squad.
Optics aren’t needed just for spotting concealed units, but also for seeing across open ground. For non-recon units we’re usually choosing between medium and poor optics. The difference is that against units with no stealth and no concealment, poor optics see out to 2.1km, while medium go as far as 2.8km. This means that poor optics units must rely on some other ally to spot for them, or they’ll perform..poorly. Without optics you’ll often miss enemy movements performed in plain sight.
What about the recon tab? Here we have choices going from good to exceptional optics. Without going into details, ground optics maxes out at 3.5km, which even good optics achieve provided no stealth and concealment are involved. Very good and exceptional ground optics help with spotting stuff in forests as well as units with inherent stealth, but don’t extend past that 3.5km cap. The cap is 5km when it comes to helo recon, with good optics maxing out at 4.2km.
But this isn’t a mechanics post, it’s a basic tactics post. Here’s the guidance – with optics, coverage is everything. It’s more important to have a good optics vehicle on every flank and every back route to your base, than to have an exceptional radar in mid. Keep that 3.5km figure in mind and place the good optics accordingly. 10pt unarmed good recon is fine; 25pt cannon or autocannon recon is even better, as it can repel half-hearted attacks and insertions without requiring your attention (in doubt, choose autocannon over cannon, as autocannons can kill helos defensively).
Wheeled good optics recon is also good for escorting opener forces – it tells you where the opposing force is and what it contains before you start losing units, and it spots targets for your wheeled tanks and ATGM jeeps if you brought any. Add being useful for cheaply testing forests for enemy presence, for attacking flanks, and for chasing retreating AA after tank breakthroughs. The conclusion is that good optics recon is a very versatile unit type that can be employed anywhere.
Recon helos, as expected, are another decent flank scout. They’re a bit more expensive and the lack of armament means you’ll need to notice and send units against any attacks that do get spotted, but they can be placed over water or other otherwise inconvenient ground. Frontline scouting is possible but riskier than alternatives due to the inherent fragility of helos; as mentioned, the helo view range cap is 5km as opposed to the 3.5km of ground scouts.
If good optics spots far enough in the open, what’s the use of the higher levels? Forest penetration. Most units will be spotted just fine when they fire from a forest, even by the medium optics of infantry. Recon units however are a bit stealthier, adding one more use to the already long list of virtues of armed recon vehicles – they can kill advancing infantry without exposing themselves to return fire, unless very good or exceptional recon is present.
Recon infantry is currently the best source of very good optics, as it costs just as much as normal infantry, giving you the optics for free. Let’s try that same push with recon infantry:
Way better, the stealthy recon defense is spotted immediately. Recon infantry is great for offensive recon like this, as it comes with both better stealth than vehicles and the inherent resilience of infantry, buying maximum time for fire support to mop up whatever it spots.
Recon infantry is also great for defending cities in the same way recon vehicles are – they stay hidden much longer, and in the case of recon SF they put out so much damage that they can erase pushing squads without being spotted at all. Here, too, the best way to counter is to push with recon infantry of your own. Failing that, smoke the entry point.
Finally, let’s go back to passively spotting across open spaces for a second. We have three options here. Good optics vehicles are cheap, usually fast, and usually armed to provide decent fire support. Fighting recon infantry is convenient – coherent forest defense starts with an infantry squad, so having that infantry squad be recon costs you nothing.
The last option is non-fighting infantry, either a sniper team or a border guard squad. Border guards are cheap, but useless at anything but spotting, making them little better than an even cheaper 10pt unarmed recon jeep. Sniper teams are more expensive but have exceptional stealth, meaning they’ll frequently keep spotting even as the frontline collapses all around them; just put them in a bush that enemy units are unlikely to drive directly into.
To sum it up: recon has three uses. Passively, you use good optics to spot across vast swathes of open ground. Defensively, you use armed recon to stealthily kill attacking forces, ignoring any armor advantage the opponent may have. Offensively, you use very good or exceptional recon to spot stealthy defenders, be they recon units or ATGM squads, and you also use mobile autocannon recon to punish a lack of flank defenses.
EDIT: Since the Israel DLC, ground exceptional optics recon has had its spotting cap increased from 3.5km to 4.2km. All other ground optics are still capped at 3.5km. This doesn’t seriously change the tactics described above.
Missiles with the [SEAD] tag can target radar AA that has been left on, and nothing else (well, ships too, but the damage is lacking). With the exception of the ka-52 recon helictoper, they’re exclusive to planes.
How to use them? First, don’t be too aggressive. Yes, this applies to all planes, even the ones that counter AA. While SEAD comes with the highest ECM values you can get for the price, sending them directly at the enemy AA will eventually force them to fly over and past it. SEAD can only shoot what is directly ahead, so you can expect all radar AA to turn on and shoot back as soon as the plane flies over or tries to evac. Getting too close also exposes the plane to deadly short-range IR AA.
Instead, know where the enemy AA is likely to be and start turning away as soon as you start getting in range. This allows the plane to shoot at any radar that is on while minimizing the time it spends exposed to return fire.
Second, don’t think of SEAD as a way to earn destruction points. Better players will keep radar AA off until they need it, making SEAD-only runs pure risk, with no reward. SEAD’s job is to protect another plane, sending it alone is usually pointless. The correct usage is to send your bomber to do its task as usual, and time a SEAD plane to arrive on the scene just after that. Having the SEAD arrive first means it will start evacuating while the more fragile bomber is still on the field, exposing it to AA. Having the SEAD arrive later will allow it to cover the bomber’s evac, and potentially even bait the enemy into turning their AA on.
How do you deal with SEAD? The direct counter is to intercept the enemy bomber train with a fighter, rendering the SEAD meaningless. The indirect one is to find a way to position IR AA close enough to get kills. Planes fly at different altitudes, with SEAD and fighters usually being very high up, so getting IR in range is extra hard against SEAD. Finally, bigger numbers of heavy SAMs can reliably down SEAD as it turns away after strikes.
If you want more on the topic, here’s Razzman showing how to juke SEAD missiles by toggling radar AA (juking is after 4:00, but he also shows some SEAD usage before that):
Warning: I’m not a heavy artillery user, so I may be omitting some roles. Be more skeptical than with the rest of the posts in the guide.
There are broadly three types of artillery and three jobs that artillery does. The types are MLRS, howitzer, and mortar; the jobs are dealing damage, demoralizing, and spreading smoke.
MLRS is artillery that shoots lots of rockets in a short period of time. Some spread napalm, others cluster – these effects are the same as what I described in the plane section. Napalm is generally not lethal enough to kill but may block off sight lines and force units to move out of it, cluster does some morale damage and is mostly dangerous to thin-skinned support vehicles.
You’d expect the last type of MLRS, pure HE MLRS, to be used for the damage its rounds can inflict, but they’re surprisingly harmless. Instead, its main job is to suppress groups of enemy units just before an attack. Moving the MLRS closer to the frontline shrinks the dispersion of its salvo – while most pieces can reliably panic a fairly large area simultaneously, shooting all the way from your base may spread the hits out too much and leave some enemy units untouched.
If you know you’ve panicked everything, you can stop an MLRS mid-salvo and use the rest to target a separate area. This is especially useful for units with long salvos. The buratino has such a long salvo with so effective individual rockets that you can get 5-6 powerful strikes out of one reload if you babysit it enough.
As an aside, if it frequently seems to you like your artillery quickly reaches 50% ready to fire and then gets stuck, that’s because the bar above each weapon isn’t one indicator split in two rows, it’s two entirely separate indicators. I’ve tried to explain how reloading works here.
The next artillery branch are the howitzers. This is a messy one, in big part because the most important stats are not listed in the armory at all. These important stats are salvo length and aim time.
There’s broadly three types of howitzer. One is the spammy regular piece, lobbing normal shells with decently long salvos and a very long (~30s) aimtime before each salvo. The low price and long aim time makes these mainly useful for shelling towns and other static positions.
Modern FCS artillery is a sidegrade to spammy artillery, costing at least twice as much with little increase in firepower. The advantage in modern FCS is the 10-second aimtime, making these a lot more flexible and usable on a dynamic battlefield. Keep in mind that modern FCS varies wildly in effectiveness between nations, with the BKAN-1C being three times as effective as a Paladin and rivaling spammy artillery in shots fired for the price. For details, test yourself or check the hidden stat spreadsheet, tube artillery page.
There’s usually a unit sitting between spammy and modern FCS, a mix between the two – both expensive and with long aimtime. This is as useful as it sounds.
Finally, there’s what some call sniper artillery – pieces with usually very short salvos, the aimtime of spammy artillery and the cost of modern FCS, but firing shells between 9 and 10 HE. I believe these are mainly used for CV snipes as the blast range maximizes the chance of blindly killing something.
MLRS and howitzers are fairly niche; it takes big unit concentrations for it to be worth it to buy a stunning unit instead of an extra tank, and buying howitzers to rack up kills takes a while to pay off. The next artillery type, mortars, is not niche. Mortars are easily the most important part of the artillery tab, being simultaneously precise, fast to aim, and cheap. They’re used effectively for both panicking soft targets and spreading smoke.
The damage and panic role of mortars is obvious – target positions you see AA missiles emerging from, target infantry that is fighting your own, target spotted enemies. High-HE mortars do better here. Using mortars for damage is fairly high-micro, so it’s mainly done by very fast players who have micro to spare or when playing destruction (as destruction is less demanding on that front).
The harder to master aspect of mortars is smoke. The smoke puffs are basically small pieces of forest, with the middle being impossible to shoot through and the outer part providing penetrable concealment. There are multiple ways to use smoke, but for me the main issue wasn’t coming up with uses for it, but rather remembering that smoke is an option at all, when the challenges of enemy ATGM or crossing open field came into the picture. Buying a mortar at the start of the game and binding it to a main control group (1-3) helps here. You could even make a macro for smoke.
For smoke, it doesn’t matter that much which type of mortar you use – 3HE makes smaller puffs but fires faster. If there is no price difference, take 5HE for the greater range, otherwise it depends on how much you value the cost savings vs the convenience of range. Smoke almost always lasts 90 seconds.
Talking about infantry transports, I mentioned that rocket helos are among the deadlier types of fire support. On superheavies, I kept bringing up that they’re countered by AT planes. Time to give the spotlight to antiair, the class of units meant to deal with these threats.
There’s two types of ground-based antiair – radar and nonradar (IR). IR weapons lend themselves to dealing with helos; radar ones come with good antiplane ranges. Of course, that isn’t to say that radar weapons can’t kill helos or vise versa – as you can see, the roland 3 above has a very usable antihelo range, it’s just slightly less than that of the equivalently priced crotale. Fighting a helo at 2.8km, the crotale would also be more accurate than the roland due to range scaling.
The [RAD] tag isn’t just shorthand for the range stat though. It also has a drawback in that any radar weapon can be automatically spotted and targeted by SEAD aircraft. The only way to protect your radar weapons from this fate is to turn them off when SEAD is around (it’s only necessary to turn off the weapons that are actually radar; a tunguska will be safe with its missile turned on, for example, as long as the radar gun is off). Because SEAD planes can be used to escort bombers, it’s generally necessary to mix in some IR even if your opponent isn’t a heavy helo user.
What else is there to consider beyond RAD vs IR? Missile count is a factor. Many big SAMs only come with 3-4 shots. If using them on the main frontline, resupply is just a minor inconvenience. For flank defense or extended pushes however, the lack of self-sufficiency is a big drawback. Wheels vs tracks is another – it helps to have a wheeled AA piece to escort your forces in the opening minutes.
The range vs price tradeoff is just as important as the RAD vs IR one. Some cheap AA pieces lose range compared to costlier alternatives, but keep most or all of their accuracy. This makes their role a defensive one – their range prevents them from covering pushes or dealing with carefully used bombers, but high lethality for the price allows you to cheaply protect your airspace from being completely trampled over. Full-featured AA on the other hand comes with much more convenient engagement ranges, but may be too expensive for low-importance flanks. MANPADS, aka infantry AA, are a common example for defensive AA – very cheap compared to conventional AA (always take the highest end ones), barely any range, but a stack of two is enough to create an instant death threat.
When picking defensive AA, keep in mind that range scaling does NOT apply when shooting at planes. This is the only exception – every weapon in the game becomes more accurate the closer the target is, except when shooting planes. The antihelo osa pictured above for example, while it has low accuracy, will become a lot more reliable as it gets closer to enemy helos. Regardless of how close a targeted plane gets however, the kub and osa will both remain inaccurate. This isn’t to say that a low-accuracy AA unit is automatically useless, but it’s different from how all other cheap units work and a factor to keep in mind.
What about SPAAGS? The cheap ones trade some lethality for the ability to stun anything within seconds, and for a decent fire support role, making them versatile defensive AA. The expensive ones are as different from each other as they are from pure missile AA, but they’re all very lethal.
Finally, an important hidden stat – the number of tubes on an AA piece’s model determines how many shots it can fire in quick succession. For most units this is only important when being swarmed by helos, but the roland series for example only comes with two tubes per piece. Where many radar AA will have enough time to shoot thrice at a bomber, the rolands always enter a lengthy reload after the second shot.
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.
The theme thus far has been fighting in closed spaces. Let’s take a breather in the open field again.
ATGM are long-range high-AP missiles that make anything but the cheapest vehicles a stressful pain to use. It’s hard to provide fire support against a forest when the forest is shooting missiles that oneshot your 60pt tanks and twoshot the 100pt ones. Compared to vehicle-tab ATGM, infantry squads are exceptionally stealthy. This makes them hard to counter, because they break the basic push formula I described earlier, killing the fire support of a push without being spotted by the pushing infantry. Generally you need to either somehow sneak recon close enough to spot them, or smoke off the launcher.
ATGM infantry is always a good thing to bring if you can spare the deck space. Even if you don’t get any kills with it, the inconvenience you’re causing your opponent for just 30-40 points is always worth it. Don’t go overboard and spam it in large numbers – even a single squad is lethal enough. Be mindful that they run out of ammo quickly and require a fair bit of supply to rearm. ATGM infantry is mostly only useful on the defensive as it requires cover – either a forest or a town – and some distance between itself and the target.
Finally, a deckbuilding tip. There’s generally two to three types of ATGM infantry for each nation, each being a straight upgrade from the last. Don’t be cheap; always bring the high-end option. The cost increase is always worth it. A similar rule holds for MANPADS.
I’ve been referring to AT planes as the only reliable superheavy counter. Why?
Most things that can harm a superheavy are defensive in nature. An ATGM requires the superheavy to stay spotted for a long time; this is usually the case when the tank isn’t being microed or is in the open. Infantry requires the superheavy to be encroaching on an occupied forest. Neither can be used to push – if your infantry is walking in the open to reach an enemy forest, the enemy tanks can take potshots and hide before ATGM can hit. Just as importantly, any ATGM hits that do connect will only damage, not outright kill, leaving the controlling player with a wounded but intact superheavy that he can repair after repelling your attack.
An AT plane, on the other hand, can circle behind a push and dive on the first defending superheavy that appears, killing it in one pass. This isn’t a strong way to use your AT planes; it tends to get them killed, and careful micro can still hide the targeted tank in time. But in a deck without superheavies of its own, it’s usually the only way to deal with a defensive superheavy protecting lots of open ground.
AT planes, as all planes, are much better when used defensively. If you target tanks in the middle of crossing open ground and time it right, they won’t be able to reach a forest and hide from the instant death missiles. Such approaches also decrease the likelihood of losing the plane to AA. Conversely, when controlling expensive tanks, try to only cross open ground when an ASF is available to intercept airstrikes, and keep in mind how long it would take you to get to cover.
There’s not much else to say about AT planes as far as beginner tips go – expect them, bring some of your own, and don’t waste them on cheap targets because you’ll need them for the superheavies. On the other hand, not every run is a suicide mission.