Combat Strategy? Well, it is a war game… Of course there’s combat…
The Brutal Truth About Combat
Size matters. All other things being equal, the bigger and higher level army will clobber the smaller and lower skilled army. Generally speaking, you don’t want to directly solo fight people bigger than you. You can usually hammer little guys with impunity, until another larger player arrives to even the odds. Just saying. It’s the game.
That being said, there is place for skill and audacity. Properly handled bases can deal out punishment equivalent to base several times their power rating. This does require a little thought and planning.
And there is a big place in this game for the diplomat and the organizer. If you can’t beat them on the field, start negotiating and whispering in ears. There’s often a way to stir up trouble if you look hard.
The Dance Before The Dance
So the first thing that happens is an elaborate dance around finding which bases are vulnerable to attack. Assume you’re not tile hitting. Or maybe not. I’ve gotten plenty of very honorable kills from tile hits during state vs. state (usually evading a beast of base intend on killing me afterwards).
Timing is a critical factor in managing combat. You designate a target and the troops will march out from your base to engage it. In many cases, the target has the option of withdrawing or shielding before the attack hits. This facilitates an element of strategy around timing: it costs gold or teleports to get right next to a particular target before launching an attack, which increases the odds of surprise. So you can easily run up a bill when you’re hopping around the game universe chasing an enemy. Read up on our guide to protecting bases and commanders for an idea of the mechanics of blocking an attack.
And for the devious, there’s nothing wrong with setting out a little bait and luring a larger player into an ambush. We did this rather successfully during a recent state vs. state event. Our bait team acted like a bunch of clueless noobs farming a gold tile. Large enemies kept teleporting next to the tile to attack them. Our heavies were on speed dial and sprang their own ambush. Surprise!
Point is… you have options to control who you fight and when. Use them. Pick battles you can win. There’s no shame in evading a 100 million power beast coming to crush you when you’re a mere 5 million power. That is also the game! You should taunt them mercilessly in the process, the big bully…
The Business of Fighting
Combat consists of two separate dynamics:
- Regular Troops (Infantry, Special Forces, Tanks) who have a rock-paper-scissors system where each troop type has a preferred target type and a feared enemy.
- Artillery vs. Traps (base defenses) if the fight involves attacking a base. Artillery is generally very weak and easily killed if you attack it outside of a base.
Within similar opponents, commander and research bonuses can play a key role in propelling your regular army to victory. Our general doctrine is to select a single troop type to specialize in and assemble a collection of gear which provides powerful bonuses. Similarly, we use the mod slots on that gear to install mods relevant to that troop type. When making research choices, the combat research for that troop type gets priority. Finally, we load up the points in the commander skill tree for that troop type’s attack skill. Any additional points go into troop defense and health (see the discussion in the skill tree guide; we generally prioritize health over defense).
The troops are organized into tiers (currently 1 – 4), with each higher tier being more effective. Losses are generally taken against the weakest troops first. So if you’ve got some nice expensive Tier 3 or Tier 4 troops, it sometimes makes sense to mix in some junior (Tier 1 or Tier 2) troops to serve as shields. They may die, but your expensive senior troops are more likely to live.
Traps are a source of complexity. Artillery is something of a white elephant (expensive, vulnerable to pretty much everyone else)… until you run into traps. So a good decision tree here is to ask first if you care about targets with large amounts of traps. If you’re comfortable walking away from them, do so. If you are serious about clearing traps, build up the appropriate skills / research and invest in artillery. You’re usually safe ignoring artillery until you’re a senior player.
It’s worth a brief discussion of roles within a combat team.
Scouts: We spoke about this during the discussion on using farm accounts and alts. A scout is a lower level player on the team who exists to launch scouts towards the enemy. Since they are low level, they cannot lose their commander in an attack (and usually don’t have troops anyhow). They are a critical source of intelligence.
Raiders: Medium strength players with a large contingent of regular troops. Ideally using T3 troops. Good for tile hitting, trashing farms / lower level hives, and unfortified bases. Needs to be very agile and get out of the way when the other side’s heavies show up. Still, can rack up serious points hitting the other state’s soft targets. They also are great for causing chaos in the other guy’s rear area.
Heavies: Large players who are positioned to participate in rallies. These are best used for rally attacks on large enemies and control point battles. Excellent, but you never have enough of them.
Trap Bases: Always. Always. Always. Check the kills of a potential target before you attack. Similarly, it often is good idea to sneak a peak at their commander to see what kind of gear they are wearing. Both can give you a cue that you’re facing a trap account. Trap bases are set up to look like free kills but are loaded chock-full with defensive research, gear, and traps. They are effective against raiders and heavies, luring in deployments and eating them alive.
- VIP combat Bonus: You get a modest boost in attack and defense once you get a certain level of VIP. It’s worth turning on VIP before you go into battle.
- Attack / Defense Boost: A traditional boost card (like food or resources); adds a 20% bonus to your attack or defense statistics.
- Anti-Scout: Another generically useful card. This shields you from the enemy scouts for twenty four hours. Recommended for Traps and people impersonating them….