Incoming!? It's a war game folks, let's not whine to the other player *cry* "why'd you hit me?, I didn't do anything to you...". That is just going to make good screenshot candy for them to post on their combine boards. So what do you do? Well there are actually quite a few options depending on how extensive your support network is.
- 1 Basic Defense
- 2 Advanced Defense
- 2.1 Modification One – The Mercenary
- 2.2 Modification Two – The Mercenary Wall
- 2.3 Modification Three – The Defensive Stack
- 2.4 Returning Fire
- 2.5 Countering Occupations
- 2.6 Combine Response Strategies
- 2.7 Getting Rid of Resources Fast
In the short term, there are really only two viable strategies for defense. The first is to defend with enough troops that you massively overpower the enemy and the second is that you simply do not defend at all. Let us compare those two options and a third option, which we will call the newbie option where you attempt to defend with a few meager troops that you've scrounged up.
Option 1: Overwhelming Defense
Assuming you have the troops for it (See Advanced Defense), the most satisfying defense is one that crushes the enemy troops being sent at you. This is a good choice because, well, the enemy’s army is crushed and they are not likely to come back anytime soon since they will have to rebuild their forces to do so. Of course, this assumes you do have the troops for it. Take a 100 Thunderhead offense as an example. This is not an all too unreasonable number for a blind raid by a high-level player (not necessarily a coiner). 100 Thunderheads = 168000 Offensive points. To counter act that you would need 232 Firedrakes (725 * 232 = 168200) just to win with a 50/50 split. This is assuming no research or equipment modifiers are applied to the troops.
However, let's take a look at what it would cost you if you didn't defend at all and left all your resources out, thus losing a possible maximum of 100k resources in the hit. A Firedrake costs 7.5k resources to make. You would thus lose a maximum of 13.3 Firedrakes worth of resources if you do not defend at all. In the above scenario, though you would have won but lost 116 Firedrakes. Thus, it would have cost you almost 10x the resources to "win" the battle. Now let us see how things fare if you had ten times the Firedrakes out. Your total goes up to 1682000 and the split becomes 9%/91% split in your favor. However, 9% of 2320 = 202 Firedrakes lost. You solidly won the battle, but you lost even more resource worth of troops.
Does that mean you should never employ option 1? No, the use of walls, defensive equipment and fully researched defensive units can make a vast difference in the tie of battle. Likewise you can push for even greater troop strength so that your defense is greater than 100 times the enemy strength resulting in minimal loses while at the same time annihilating the enemy.
Net effect of a 50/50 split is approximately 400 experience for the enemy, 200 for you, and up to 50k resources above your bunker limit gone. Net effect of a 90/10 split. Approximately 808 experience for your opponent and 360 experience for you and about 3k resources above your bunker limit gone.
Option 2: Don't Defend
So we've already explored what actively defending (alone) does for us. Let's explore what using the bunker does for us. First, upgrading your bunker should be one of your top priorities. You can upgrade it so that it protects up to 18k of each resource. Most of the bunker upgrades require less resources than the bunker protects for that level. The higher ones do take a small amount more but nothing that cannot be gather overnight and from a few close raids on low-level targets. It's permanent protection and assuming you spent down before you went offline, should be enough to prevent any resource losses for almost a full day. That means if you spend down and hide your troops before you go offline or if you see an incoming raid, then you will lose 0 resources to the enemy and the enemy will get 0 experience for the attack as well. In effect, you are starving the enemy. Players do not generally raid other players for no reason at all. It is usually either because you have many resources for the taking or you left out a bunch of defense (read experience) for them to collect. The simple fact is that nobody can take anything in this game from you if you do not let them (The sole exception being annexations to the tune of 25% of either Fuel or Munitions in exchange for their "protection" from other raiders). Thus unless you are reasonably certain you will do massive damage to the attacking forces, you are much better off just ducking.
Option 3: The Newbie Approach
Unfortunately, most players do not take either option 1 or option 2. They become victims in their futile effort not to be victims. Thus, it is common to see someone spend all their resources building tons of sappers and expecting that say 500 sappers will keep raiders at bay. Unfortunately, for them that is just not the case. All a real player sees is 500 free experience & extra resources just for the taking. Take the above example of 100 Thunderheads vs. 500 Sappers (We will even assume the sappers are fully upgraded). That is 26.6 Defense per Sapper or 13300 Total Defense vs. 168000 Offense for a 93/7 split. Meaning you manage to kill 7 Thunderheads and they wipe out all but 35 of your painstakingly built up Sapper army. Point is, if you are going to defend make sure you have the troops to really defend otherwise you might as well just throw the sappers against their base walls.
Ok. So we've looked at three different approaches to defense. We have seen one method that punishes the enemy but costs you considerably. Another method does not do anything to the enemy but ensures that nothing is done to you as well. Finally, we have seen how you should definitely not defend. Unless you plan to go for option 1 or a modified approach as listed in this section, your best bet is always to simply dump resources and stow your troops.
Modification One – The Mercenary
So, we’ve pointed out that keeping units out when you don’t have enough to really damage the enemy is just a good way to give out free experience and end up on someone’s combine board as a screenshot. There is however one caveat: The all-purpose mercenary. Mercenaries cost nothing, are worth zero experience to the enemy, and activate your passive base defenses. Therefore, there is no harm keeping your mercenaries out all the time. They may not do a whole lot of damage, but it’s better than nothing and it costs you, just that, nothing.
Modification Two – The Mercenary Wall
What is better than small group of mercenaries? A huge writhing mass of them. Still on the defensive end of things, this strategy involves having your friends & Combine members stack all their mercenaries on your base. Each mercenary is worth 50 defenses. Alas that means you would need 336 Mercenaries to counter one Thunderhead. That means seven players piling maxed out mercenaries on your base would kill just one thunderhead in the above scenario. Not a massive improvement, but it costs nothing from the contributing defenders.
Modification Three – The Defensive Stack
This should be your go to defense if you have the time to set it up. Why? Two reasons. First, you can easily (assuming you have a decent social network / Combine) amass enough defense to be punishing enough to the enemy as per Option 1 and the defensive loses are distributed amongst the defenders. Let’s revisit the first scenario 100 Thunderheads vs. 232 Firedrakes resulting in a 50/50 split. Except this time you have four or five friends defending with you. The total lost is roughly the same, but you each only lose about twenty or so (depending on how much each contributed to the defense) which is much easier for each individual to replace and stack again on another player’s base the next time. In fact due to rounding, you may actually lose less troops as a group than you would standing alone. Much akin to how sending one of every unit type against low-level Search & Destroy missions results in zero loses.
It is a known fact that many Commander's fail to actively manage their returning troops in a timely manner. You can take advantage of this by having your troops follow the enemy home and timing them to hit just after the enemy gets back to their base.
There are generally four basic speed categories for combat units.
- Very Slow - Riflemen & Light Snipers
- Medium (Fixed) - Mercenaries (Their speed can't be upgraded)
- Medium (Tank Speed) - Everything Else
- Fast - Sappers, Heavy Snipers, Assault Infantry, & Thunderheads
- Very Fast - The Mohawk
This doesn't include UAVs and Strategic Units neither of which should ever be sent on a raid or occupation by themselves. All units in party travel at the speed of the slowest unit. Every unit except mercenaries can be upgraded in the Training Center using Drill Sergeants. There is also Special Equipment that can boost the speed of various units often at a cost to another attribute.
Calculating Troop Return Time
The speed a party of troops travels at can not change for the duration of the mission. Thus if you happen to be online when the raid or occupation starts out, you can easily calculate the return time as being twice what the travel time to your base is which you can see either on the counters displayed in the lower left corner of the main screen or in the tracking center.
If however, you are not online when the attack is first sent, you can still estimate the return trip by taking measurements with your own troops. To do this "pretend" you are going to raid the enemy base and take measurements with a unit from each of the speed categories above. Based on the time remaining on the raid and how filled the travel time bard is on the tracking center, you want to estimate at which speed the enemy party is traveling. For example if you see 30 minutes remaining and the bar his about halfway gone, then the travel time is close to one hour. You will match that up with the measurements you took to see which is closest to an hour. That is likely close to the travel time of the enemy party.
To get a return time simply add the remaining time on the raid to the likely travel time to get the time remaining until those troops return home. However, you should note that depending on how many points you and the enemy have put into your training center upgrades could result in your estimate being off by some. Likewise Special Equipment can affect travel times. If you notice a discrepancy, simply use the rough estimate you would get just looking at the travel time bar in the Command Center. Again if you see 30 minutes remaining on an attack and the bar is half full, then the total travel time is roughly one hour one way. Thus 30 min + 1 hr = 1:30 hrs till they return home.
Timing Your Troop Launch
Now decide what kinds of troops you will send and get an estimate for how long it will take your troops to reach. Launch your troops when your travel time is just longer than their estimated return time. Again with the above example, there is 1:30 left on the attack, but if they are attacking with Mohawks, then they will be traveling at a much faster speed than if you were to send Za'am Tanks in response. Thus you might be in a position to send your troops NOW instead of waiting. In other words the time it takes the Mohawks to hit your base and return to their base might be less than the time it takes for you to hit their base even if you launch BEFORE their attack hits. Conversely if you are going to respond with Thunderheads and they are traveling at Riflemen speed, you would have to wait until well after they have hit your base before launching your troops. To keep things simple you can always respond with a party that has at least one of the slowest troop type they sent and no troops that are slower. In this manner you can send immediately after their attack hits and have a reasonable assurance that your troops will hit just after they return.
Countering the Retaliation
While we would love to say that this is fool proof, it's far from that. First as we have already pointed out, there are various troop upgrades that can create discrepancies between your estimate and the actual time. Your troops might travel slower or faster than their troops, even though you sent the exact same troop types due to those upgrades. Additionally, all it takes is a few seconds to bunker your troops, so if they happen to be online you have a small chance of succeeding in catching their troops. That chance dwindles even further if they are willing to spend the few meager diamonds necessary to instantly recall their troops. That said, it has been the experience of this commander and countless others that a considerable amount of commanders do not pay attention to their returning troops and you can catch them off-guard even if you don't quite time your troops to hit right after the enemy returns home.
In most cases Occupations come in two waves, first the enemy sends offensive troops to clear the way and then they send defensive troops to hold the position. You can take advantage of that if you are online when the occupation is going to hit.
Obviously you can defend against an occupation as per the normal defense strategies listed above, however there is another option due to the fact that the enemy troops don't instantly return home on an occupation. In this strategy you let the enemy commander win. You do so by dumping your resources (see the section below) and bunkering your troops. Just before the enemy occupation is set to land you recall your troops from the bunker. It takes 15 seconds to get the troops out of the bunker and you MUST ensure that the occupation hits BEFORE your troops make it all the way out of the bunker. You will then immediately Liberate your base with all your offensive troops. This happens instantly and since it generally takes several seconds or more to recall troops, if you time things correctly the enemy will have no chance to avoid your liberation. As establish in the returning fire section, commanders tend to be lax when they send attacks, so even if you don't quite time it perfectly, you still have a good chance of catching the enemy before they can get defense troops on your base.
Countering the counter
The simplest method of countering this strategy is to simply send large amounts of defense units with the occupying force. Contrary to common belief, defense units do not hurt an offensive action if that offensive action is already set to succeed. Granted defense sent alone on an offensive action is generally a bad idea, but sending them with a strong offensive force will not hurt that force and will in fact help (not much but help it will). Additionally, losses sustained for defensive troops is no different that the losses sustained for the offensive troops. i.e. there is only one loss % calculated for the battle and that % is applied uniformly to every troop type.
Let them win, and don't clear the occupation. Seriously. Quite simply, an regular occupation does absolutely nothing to hinder a base in any way. You can still raid, collect, resources, contribute to Complexes, etc. There is no functional limitation imposed by an occupation. The only negative thing that the enemy can do to you is Annex your base. If they chose to annex you then the only negative effect you will see is a 25% reduction to your base production of either Fuel or Munitions. That's it. As we establish in the raiding section, your resource generators contribute far less than a healthy raiding system does. Thus even annexation has only a small impact on a bases ability to develop. And in return you have some small protection from other attacks since other players may not wish to antagonize your occupier in addition to you.
Combine Response Strategies
- Coming Soon
Getting Rid of Resources Fast
So you have an incoming raid and you have resources above bunker limit what do you do?
- First and likely best option is to spend your excess resources on upgrades or units. If you have too much fuel, buy defense troops. If you have too much munitions, buy offensive troops. If you have too much rations, UAVs are not a bad option though a better option is to do a research upgrade if you have enough as those are generally high in ration cost. If you have even amounts of fuel and munitions you can go into a building and buy 50% of offense and 50% defense.
- Another option, if you are in a Combine with a Complex, is to make a contribution to the Complex if you have enough resources to do so.
- If you cannot spend it, then you can send some free resources to a fellow Combine member, or maybe trade with them for something you could use to spend down further. Facebook Friends and Partners are all a maximum of 1 hr. trip to send resources. Some of your closer members are likely only a few minutes away.
- An alternative to sending the resources to Combine members, if you need to get rid of resources faster is to simply send it to a dead low-level base close by. Sure you lose the resources this way, but they do not get them either.
- Let's say you are out of free convoys for the day (you have a maximum of six), and alternative is to trade with your friends on the Logistics Exchange. The same time limits apply, so if you have a close friend, that may be an option to you, and it doesn't use a "free Convoy"
- You could obviously just do a regular trade on the exchange aiming for the incoming resources to get back after the raid.
- Finally you can post a resource convoy at unreasonable prices (1:2 ratio) until the raid has come and gone. Of course there is no guarantee that someone won't take you up on the offer, and if they are far away they can tie up your valuable Convoys for up to 48 hours. Recommend this as a last resort.