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Controlling the map in Broken Arrow Playtest is of great help in creating a strategy. In our guide, you can use the map as a source and focus on exploration, recon and strategies in difficult situations.
Map Control, Recon & Playing Aggressive
This is an intermediate guide focusing on strategy behind match openers, using the map as a resource, effective recon, how to push and harrass, and general advice for some tough situations.
Playing and Actually Winning
First and foremost, let’s ask the rhetorical question: how do we win? Either we capture every point on the map or hold the majority at the last second of the match (with the secret third option of everyone on the enemy team DCing). So at face value, this says that the times of the match that matter most are at the beginning where no points are contested to win immediate or at the very end with whoever bumrushes better; this isn’t wrong necessarily, but it’s also an oversimplication.
Yes, a 5-stack can win in 3 minutes by paradropping all of the points at the beginning…because they’re seal-clubbing and counting on not running into a moderately competent team that’s wise to what they’re up to. Yes, you can save up points and rush the winning point with 8 tanks at the last minute…if you’re in a position where the tanks will even survive to the point and it’s only one point you need and not three.
This is a long-winded way of saying that all of those 45 minutes do in fact matter; this is because, although there’s no UI window to tell you how much of it you have, map control is a core and vital resource and the ultimate goal of every action taken by a player comes down to getting more of that resource. You only need a certain amount of it to win once the clock hits 0:00, but the more you have the more you can afford to lose and the more you can use to get further control down the line.
The game’s rubber band economy is built entirely around this, too. When you lose units, assuming equal player skill and playing to avoid preventable loss at disadvantage your income will eventually rise above your opponent’s and your unit reserves will replenish so you will eventually level out to unit parity with them again; however, the short-term income malus means that there is a window where the opponent has time to leverage their temporary unit advantage (and exploit that a certain unit you’ve lost may be out of reserves temporarily) to take ground.
You can choose to contest them for further mutual attrition rather than replenishing your army to parity and they have their own regrouping they need to do to resupply their units and consolidate defenses in their newly controlled area, but this push-and-pull is the general idea that happens over the course of the game. The implication of this is that the game naturally pushes back against winning through attrition alone; in other words, a player can farm kills with artillery and have a K/D ratio over 10 and still not be actually helping their team win if they’re not converting that into seizing territory and let the opponent have a place of safety where they can replenish their losses.
This all can be a gradual, tit-for-tat process, but there’s also the possibility of a total collapse; if the player on the backfoot loses more than a typical amount of units in an engagement or they find themselves without any of something vital like recon or AA, the player in advantage can descend upon them and finish off as much as they can to allow them to swallow up win-determinative amounts of map or go for the ‘capture every point’ victory. This is inherently risky with potentially a lot to lose if it goes wrong, but we’re here to calculate that risk and take it when it’s correct to.
Openers in Broken Arrow are an odd beast; broadly speaking, they are not remotely game-determinative, except in the edge cases where the game can end right away. There are a lot of ways to go about it; there’s not really one right way to do it (and that’s the beauty of it), but there are certainly wrong ways to do it, which we will get into.
Keep in mind that these also are broad archetypes, not strict builds generally; the exact units used will vary from person to person and team to team and they’ll mix and match in a team of 5. Unless the strat in question is following a strict gameplan there is room to deviate with an unassociated unit or two to balance it out a little or hedge bets, and in many cases that’s probably for the best. With the nature of 5v5 and Broken Arrow’s comeback mechanics you can throw your entire start at times and recover from the abyss if the enemy team doesn’t punish you for it…though I would recommend you not take that as a lesson in habit-building as forcing your team to play a 4v5 is still forcing them to play a 4v5.
Finally, take this section in general with a pinch of salt simply because it’s probably setting expectations too high for your typical lobby of solo-queuing pubs at time of writing anyhow. We are living in an age of seal-clubbing so dumb throw strats are common and more successful than they have a right to be since understanding even the basics to avoid getting memed on is a sparse commodity in a solo queue lobby; even a lot of closed beta veterans believe themselves too cool and clever and funny to eat their veggies and they get memed on for it too even though they should know better.
Arguably the most basic and autopilot start you can do, and is a common opening for many players’ first game. With a good mix of recon, armor, infantry, and AA, it can be balanced, stable, and effective once it has its meeting engagement with the enemy.
However, there is one key problem with this opener, and one that makes it something to avoid: you didn’t pay your air tax. I’ll be giving the compelling reasons for why that is, but in short that is a possibly game-dooming bad idea. Now, you could say you could just compensate by making sure you brought a lot of AA, and on some level you could, but that undercuts the main virtue of this start which is going in with a strong, balanced ground force to overpower what it immediately runs into, and even then that won’t do quite as much as you want it to.
1000pt Paradrop to a Random Point
This opener is a meme, and it’s not even a good meme. It’s not original or clever, everybody’s done it, it’s the way to paradrop that’s going out of its way to fail; people only get away with doing it because the average open beta player currently barely knows how to buy supplies and we both know that’s not going to last forever.
The thing is, dropping a bunch of infantry and light vehicles directly on a point alone doesn’t even mean much in the long term; there are no victory tickets for taking and holding points early, so it’s just a neon sign that says “I’ve set up my starting units in an obvious place, bomb me to the Stone Age please,” though that’s boldly assuming you even got that far. It’s not that paradrops are bad, they in fact can be really useful to the team, but we’re talking putting all of your eggs in one basket with no plan, no knowledge nor care about what the other team is doing, no fallback, and no assurance of success other than hoping for incompetence from the enemy team and for not even much of a payoff. You need to get yourself in a really, really bad spot in Broken Arrow for just losing units to be what’s losing you the game, but spending your entire starting budget on a 1000pt smoldering crater is certainly a good hard try.
I know my words are going to fall on deaf ears, but I’ve made my case; unless your goal is to buy yourself 5min to go make yourself a sandwich, just do any other version of a paradrop start, not this.
Escorted Paradrop Insta-win Rush
This is the opener the previous one fantasizes it is. It’s also a meme, but it’s a meme that can, has, and will end games within 3 minutes. Firstly this is a 5-stack strat, and secondly it’s a skill check for the enemy team. “Did you pay your air tax? No? Then get audited by the VDV.” This is also an all-in strat that often doesn’t bother to scout out the enemy team before committing units, but in this case it’s not negligence, it’s by design because every second counts. The majority of the time, the airbuses aren’t loaded all of the way and the remaining points are spent on multi-role fighters with at least some amount of SEAD in the mix. And similarly, the plan is simply to drop directly on the points, except this time it will be most if not all of them, and there are escorts now.
If the other team doesn’t pay their air tax, they have more than likely immediately lost the game. If they did, things get messier; there is a non-zero possibility the rush team still manages to pull off all of the drops, but usually enough interceptors get past the escorts to take out enough airbuses to prevent the outright win or an enemy airbus gets through itself to counter-drop troops and contest a point. And then, once that initial rush fails the rush team is in a really bad spot; they spent a lot of points on their airbuses and MRFs that are probably dead now and what they have to show for it are a couple of pieces of infantry and maybe light vehicles, with a fight on their hands to hold back the greater enemy forces that are coming for them now. From there the game’s salvageable for the rush team, but rough.
I don’t endorse seal-clubbing, but if that’s your prerogative then you do you I guess. Some people also do an uncoordinated, half-assed version of this that doesn’t really try to go for the 3 minute win…which kind of defeats the point of it and seems mostly done just out of being burned one too many times with the 1000pt airbus but learning the wrong lessons from it.
This is pretty much the baseline, catch-all opener for those without a particular plan and not leaving room to react to what the enemy team’s opener is, but at least know what they’re doing and not going out of their way to fail or BM. A lot of people do this and it’s fine; in the majority of typical pub games it’s what I do.
You pay your air tax (which can be an ASF, a MRF, an A2A gunship or two, or maybe a combination if you invest more heavily), then you send out ground units. This is also basically the opener a team averages out to when one player goes all-air and other players go all-ground; don’t take that as an excuse to go all-ground and just assume random teammates will make up for it, though. Sometimes you can go for a single airlifter heli with the plan of having it right away to ferry more troops to the front later. Since you paid your air tax (good on you), you can intercept enemy transports before they land or resort to bombs/rockets if they do; if they see no action, you can RTB them for the full refund and be no worse off. Maybe you go for a cheeky long-range SAM right away and try to snipe a few planes out of the dogfight furball that way.
Overall it’s safe, it’s balanced, it’s varied, it’s effective. Some more dedicated openers can trick or overwhelm this, but generally a team of five players doing this is up to handling most things and transitioning cleanly into an ‘honest’ game of Broken Arrow.
This is the heli version of the 1000pt paradrop, and it’s not uncommon to see a 5-stack all doing some combination of the two together. It doesn’t quite put all of your eggs in one basket and can either go wide with Venoms/Mi-8s or tall with Mi-26s/Super Stallions. It’s safer and less bad than the lone airbus, but only marginally so.
Unless the enemy team just lets it happen, the helis just take too long to go for the quick win; they give too much time for the enemy team to send counter-rushes to the points and do little to nothing to stop that from happening, and that’s ignoring that they’re just as much food to whatever A2A units come for them (though when players do try it, it’s usually with Venoms). The driving mentality seems to be believing that controlling the middle points at the start of the match is just that important, though I assure you it is not, or that they’re the only team that’s ever heard of cargo helis. Some try to be cheeky by loading them up with MANPADs so if they unload they can actually fight back against their assailants…but that rarely works as well as they’d hope even when bombs aren’t in the equation and even if it did work they’ll still just get run over by any forces that come to contest from the ground. Still bad, still don’t do this.
However, if both you and your opponent end up doing this, the best way to make the opponent’s units dead is to concentrate your troop landing on your near points and wait for the turkey shoot. They’ll be convinced you won’t be able to kill 10 Venoms just because you actually landed your troops first. You will.
Escorted Airlift Rush
This is the heli version of the ‘sick of getting burned but learned the wrong lessons’. The gunship escorts are doing more than nothing about what inevitably comes to kill the airlifters, but in all likelihood most are still going down before they unload their troops. One might think that using hybrids like an armed Mi-8 or an Mi-35 rather than a separate escort is cracking the code to making this is good opener; it is not. I ask if you’re counting on getting into A2A fights with anticipation of losses then why are you still rushing to that fight with the troops still on board.
It’s a step in the right direction, but honestly what I’d recommend is just doing a more conservative and midrange version of this where a hybrid heli or escort or two is there to support the infantry pushing up after landing further back rather than rushing to the middle and you spend your remaining points on other things to round it out; maybe have a loitering MRF to bomb whatever MANPAD you run into in the meeting engagement so the heli goes uncontested.
Gunship Insta-win Rush
This is the opener that perhaps scares me the most, especially if I’m solo-queuing, and flips the previous one on its head. It’s another risky all-in 5-stack strat, but it is much bloodthirstier than those mentioned so far. Rather than trying to end the game before the enemy team can react, the plan is to kill the enemy team’s starting lineup then win while most of their units are dead.
They take enough cheap transport helis to cap everywhere, but otherwise it’s all gunships heading straight for the enemy spawn. And the thing is, even for a moderate lineup of ASFs that’s a scary thing to go up against, and there is little hope for any paratroopers unfortunate enough to jump out of their bus with a dozen gunships waiting for them on the way down. They can and will run down and kill any caught-out ground units they can find.
So, what’s the enemy team to do? They need to keep calm, keep their units together, buy a lot of mutually-supporting short-range AA and ASFs, and just trade as favorably as they can until the rush runs out of steam. There’s no plan B if this rush opening fails, but the other team is working against the clock to secure at least one point to stabilize and sending a paradrop or airlift to do that quickly will be punished if not adequately supported. However, if the enemy team can weather the storm, all the rush team has left is a few small transports and cheap squads of infantry. This strat can kill even competent players that under-prepare for it and it’s a signpost for why scouting the enemy opener before committing units is important.
This is the opener for those that want to do a successful paradrop rather than ponder consequences, and finally one that scouts ahead. Maybe you buy a ground unit or two or maybe a small airlift just so you get some presence moving early, but the main thing is sending out a fast plane with good vision and seeing what aircraft show up. If you see a furball of enemy ASFs, either RTB or engage with your team depending on how the numbers look. After you RTB, use those saved points and the refund to then send out your airbus if and only if the sky’s looking clear. Otherwise, adapt to the situation. This greatly increases the chance of the paradrop ultimately being a success, and you may have even been able to shoot a plane or two down in the process (Sounds nicer than a 1000pt income malus, doesn’t it?).
As for where you actually drop the troops, now it’s time to stop autopiloting to an objective and instead drop them in a tactically useful position; this can be in woods, suburbs, basically wherever they can spread out and have a lot of places to hide and set up ambushes or killing lanes, away from the first places people would think to blindly shell. Be wary of MRFs coming to drop welcome presents on them before they have a chance to spread out, however; an escort ASF wouldn’t hurt if you can find the room for it.
I can’t decide if this is doing all the scouting or not scouting at all. It’s pretty straightforward: you send a bunch of fighters out, they kill what they can, they go home, and then you do something else with the refunds. If you’re looking to meme for your YouTube clickbait or Reddit clip, a 5-stack of this is honestly not a bad choice, either dealing or receiving. Back to actual gameplay, this is mostly to punish air transports or just being too slow to RTB once you see these guys coming at you. It’s doing a spam to overwhelm like others we’ve seen, but its actual purpose is more for a team hedging their bets to shut down rush gimmicks and be satisfied with only a moderate starting advantage over midrange openers. I see players tend to be kind of greedy and go for KABs and the like by the spawn point, but it’s asking to get the tables turned on them and lose points they don’t have to as often as not. It’s an opener that tends to do its thing then the game kind of just moves on like it didn’t happen, though blowouts are possible.
Now we’re getting into an opener that may be too smart for your typical pub game. You send out a cheap sacrificial plane as bait and as the enemy fighters turn around after converging to murder it you spawn your own ASFs and SAMs right on their 6 and gun them down. It’s not the end of the world against a midrange opener but this is catastrophic against fighter spam. The main downside is that if you don’t splurge for a proper ASF as your first plane you’re slower to initially intercept transports and more may make it to their destination, but if you do you’re obviously paying more for a plane whose job it is to probably die.
You’re doing this opening for exactly one reason and it’s to be mean. Either you’re sending the TU-160 out right away and bumrushing the enemy spawn to carpet bomb the road or you’re waiting with a scout for the enemy to send a paradrop and you carpet where the troops are landing, not much else to it. You’re gonna be getting a lot of 600pt fireballs trying to do this, but I suppose that’s less bad than 1000pt fireballs cause at least if when it goes wrong you’re still playing the game which I’d imagine is a goal for you if you’re reading this guide.
SAM Spam Trap
Some people swear by this, though I’d personally recommend scouting first before committing to spending all of your points on hard-countering specific things. It does have the virtue of being able to refund those long-range SAMs relatively quickly since the whole idea is to snipe overly aggressive planes from the spawn; it’s still kind of slow to even begin considering to contest the map though which sounds like certified ‘support player’ behavior to me, but for the refund flexibility I won’t judge. If the first thing you buy after that is artillery, though, I might judge a little. Keep in mind that just because you shot a plane or two down and the others RTBed doesn’t mean that the skies are clear to get away with a paradrop for free; SAMs may have long range but even theirs usually isn’t enough to stop an interceptor from living long enough to do its job. I feel it goes without saying that this is something one person on the team does; a 5-stack strat making a cargo heli rush look good is probably an indication of a bad idea.
Personal Favorite: A2A Gunship Midrange
2-3 stripped down Vipers with Sidewinders, a token ground force of recon, and a few hundred reactionary points.
I personally love using A2A gunships in place of an ASF. A2A gunships are much slower on the intercept, but if they’re sent out immediately they usually can get to cargo helis in time before they start to land and maul them. They also do good cleanup after dogfights start to die down; they engage around the time enemy ASFs have gone through their countermeasures and moreover a lot of players just don’t respect how dangerous a couple of gunships with IR missiles can be to planes that get too close and how not worthwhile it is to trade into them with how comparatively cheap they are. Frankly, I find it hard not to get value in the first few minutes this way.
If things go well for the Vipers, they can even proceed along the roads toward the enemy spawn and see what ground units they can pick off like felons; frankly, this is pretty risky and generally more ballsy than good sense as you have no idea if you’re about to run into a Grad or a Pantsir and a lot of the time it’s the latter (and I say that as the person that likes to do this). Still, I’ve gotten away with some heinous things by the time all of the pylons are empty and it’s time to retreat. Another nice thing about gunships rather than ASFs is you can keep them around and re-arm them so they can continue to be rapid-response AA assets long after the opening stages of the game have ended, so a good reason to perhaps be more conservative with them once the transports are dead.
All that being said, I feel I’ve said enough to make clear that this approach has its pros and cons like any other, though I’ll tack on the end that A2A gunships very much follow the rule of ‘one is none, two is one, three is some’.
Recon and stealth are not new concepts in historical and modern war RTS, and in Broken Arrow a lot of the basic concepts apply: if you can see it you can shoot it, you can never have too much vision only not enough, smoke is the most broken thing to ever be consistently underused, etc. However, this needs to be applied to the context of the game’s map/range scale and general lethality.
Broken Arrow’s designed with a compressed scale compared to reality and other games; vision and weapon ranges are shorter, units get around quicker, and nowhere is beyond reasonable reach of a determined opponent. This is not a game where the only thing artillery has to fear is aircraft and other artillery, and engagements can happen anywhere overland, not just along major roads and towns because traveling overland isn’t so slow and far to go that it’s impractical. Also keep in mind that ground vehicles have no concern for running out of fuel either so they stop when they want to stop or something else stops them. For the compressed scale, maps are pretty expansive too; there are many directions a player can push, flank, and hide, and a unit that manages to go unnoticed along an uncovered flank can get very, very far.
As for lethality, it’s a bit of a paradox; as a soft rule the game is balanced around few ways to 1-shot units, but at the same time even expensive, relatively durable units can die if in a bad spot very quickly, and things like AA, air strikes, and artillery are in general very deadly and the only thing holding back their reliability is manageable bugs.
This all comes together to mean that, in Broken Arrow in particular, having a healthy amount of both passive recon and active scouting is essential. Assuming a tank’s not going to pop out of a thick patch of forest because driving through it would take 10 minutes is not a thing. Backline units like artillery and long-range SAMs being mostly safe simply by being deep in your territory is not a thing.
So, what do we actually do with this information, past the obvious of just having some recon units around? First of all, you need to decide whether a piece of recon’s job is to be active or passive.
Passive recon’s job is to just hang around and watch from a place of relative safety, generally avoiding direct participation in fights if it can help it (often involving disabling weapons to not give their position away) and making it so advancing enemies are spotted and can be dealt with by your other units before they become a problem, or at least let you know when it’s time to start pulling units back; recon infantry, unarmed recon vehicles, and jeeps are the most common choices for this.
Active recon is the first step in securing uncontested territory by letting you know your other units can take that space safely, and also your means of assessing what you’re up against when you’re ready to push and where artillery and air strikes need to go to be the most impactful. Given this job is inherently dangerous, this is best left to units that are cheap and expendable like jeeps or drones (granted drones are mostly just to see where AA is by getting shot down), snipers whose stealth and vision are so uniquely good they can often escape notice of even enemy recon, or armored recon vehicles specifically to accompany regular units in a push (mostly to spot targets for shooting, not to scout what’s there to begin with). As you find quiet, uncontested parts of the map, it’s worthwhile to move in a passive recon piece behind your active scouts to keep tabs and possibly ambush whatever token recon the opponent may send in that direction…let them know that part of the map is yours, in other words, and give them the choice to either concede it or send actual combat units far away from their frontline support.
As a general rule, always be either actively scouting or planning where to scout next; our plan isn’t to durdle on the front line and wait for a skirmish to go well, we’re there to assert ownership of as much of the unoccupied map as we can get away with, seek out vulnerable enemies from that staging point, then kill them.
So, you have some recon up, you’ve got yourself a spot on the map where you have units hanging out, and you have a vague idea of where the enemy is and what they have. Good. Now you actually have to convert that into dead enemy units and more map under your control.
First things first, though, you need to make sure your defense is alright as well. Assume that everything will go wrong and you will lose every unit you move up, because there’s a real chance that happens; if you’d have no units left to halt your opponent pushing back, you’re probably bidding too many units or you’re just not yet in a good position to be pushing.
But say you’ve got your AA and ATGMs for your frontline defenses ready to go and you feel you’ve got a good force to make something happen. Now you need to decide where to push; attack where they’re weak, not where they’re strong, and don’t go through if you can go around. This is where recon pays. If the enemy frontline has a bank of ATGMs and two tanks and you have four tanks and a mortar, fight the enemy tanks with your tanks and avoid tangling with the ATGMs that should be left to the mortar (whether that being actually wearing them down with HE or blocking LoS to your tanks with smoke). Once their tanks are dealt with, those ATGMs are now not as scary to deal with in turn. If you were to attack into the ATGMs first instead, their tanks can reposition to engage your tanks at the same time in a way the ATGMs cannot, and that’s bad.
A lot of that has to do with concentration of force, basically just how much ‘stuff’ is thown at a single point at once. If you have a lot of stuff in one place and only a couple of enemy stuff in that place, whatever other enemy stuff that may be around theoretically isn’t there to help, which is good and you profit. Obviously more is better, but understand that this also has diminishing returns; you can reach a point where your units can only kill as fast as they can spot, but the opponent will always be able to punish you more if you concentrate more forces in the same place. You also need to make sure you have the essentials like AA and vision moving with your push; there’s not much point in having an AA piece keeping enemy gunships at bay if you move your tanks beyond its protection bubble. Basically, strike a balance between making sure you’re concentrating enough to score those kills on enemies before they can retreat, but also spread your units out enough and cover your bases so that the opponent has more than one place they need to concentrate their defense and not have opportunities to punish you that wouldn’t be presented on the defense.
This is also a word of warning to saving up a bunch of points and just sending a spam of units down the road, especially one type of unit without support; you may overpower whatever spread-out defenders they come across with a spam’s sheer volume of fire, but if you don’t do enough to preserve them they’ll quickly start dying before they earn their points back, and that’s assuming one bombing run doesn’t just make them disappear. And make no mistake, there will be a bombing run to make them disappear.
When it comes to units trading blows, you often have a chance to disengage or force the fight until one of them dies, or the only way for an enemy unit to die in that fight is to sacrifice a unit so it can get one last shot off. In the ideal, fictional case, you never have to trade, you only kill without losing in return. But, if you’re considering trading then make sure to trade up; a Patton for a SEP v3 is just good math. Another important thing, and this can be hard, is to not be overly optimistic or desperate for the trade to go how you want it to; if you’re trying to get that shot off but you were ignoring that another unit has just showed up to kill your unit first, you should have just popped smoke and reversed. Better to cut your losses and get repairs for next time than throw away units for nothing to show for it, much less to the point where you’re running out of a certain unit on your front.
Also know that your opponents have repairs to worry about, too; if you can see what direction their damaged units seem to be retreating to, you may be able to catch them out and finish them off, or maybe blow up the supplies they were looking for, which may delay them getting back into the fight. Every small edge that may get your opponent to lose units or give up ground matters, and a lot of it can simply come down to timing.
Then there’s the use of artillery and air strikes. Basically, any kills with them you can get away with are nice, but at their most helpful they are a means to an end and that end is supporting the units doing the main fighting. Let’s go back to the earlier example: why was nullifying the ATGMs useful? Is killing them as useful if your tanks didn’t survive the encounter to kill and push back the enemy’s other units? Between nullifying them quickly with smoke or slowly wearing them down while they’re still shooting, which would keep the tanks alive better? If hypothetically there were other enemy units besides the ATGMs and tanks, would those be more important to focus on first? Those are the sorts of questions and decisions that can mean the difference between winning and losing a fight.
Now let’s say things have gone well; you were able to kill more than you lost and some occupied ground is now yours for the taking. The time is now to consolidate; move your defensive line up into a new position further up so you now keep that ground your opponent gave up and start getting some supplies closer up as well so your damaged and spent units can keep up their rate of resupply. If your pushing units are in good shape, though, you may want to press your advantage and see what more kills you can find, and keep that train going; just don’t bite off more than you can chew or else you may soon end up giving up what you’ve just gained or more.
Invading the Backline (P1)
Recon, take fight, win fight, move up, repeat isn’t a bad strategy on its own, but with all of that map probing, there is a strong possibility that you will find yourself going behind where the enemy has been concentrating most of their forces, and you’ve met little to no resistance in some forgotten part of the map. The flank is yours, or at the least you’ve found a gap in it. This is where the true work begins: harassing if not destroying the enemy backline, alternatively known as engaging in the art of ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥.
Before we talk about what to do, though, let’s first talk about what your possible targets actually are: supplies, transports, and artillery/long-range AA. Supplies are your most vulnerable target; they are, after all, mostly immobile and only require a light poke to explode along with everything within it. They can be a jackpot if enemy units are caught resupplying (especially if you find artillery/AA permanently parked in it), but if you’re not getting that extra value for destroying them they alone are not worth giving up the element of surprise for. Transports tend to be found going up and down the same typical routes to the front from spawn, whether they be trucks, APCs, or helis; this makes them fairly predictable to locate, though keep in mind most newly-spawned combat units will likely be taking a similar path as them. And finally there’s the arty/AA, whose placement and typical guarding by other units can especially vary by map; generally speaking, these are your ideal targets, but are also the ones the opponent will most fiercely defend if they’re onto what you’re doing.
Next, let’s talk about our tools of choice. The main qualities we’re looking for are speed, stealth, and cheapness because they are relying on ambush and in all likelihood they’re on a one-way trip; with most of what we’re looking to kill being lightly armored at best, a simple HMG, minigun, or AGL should usually be enough, an autocannon being nice to have but is often overkill, and an ATGM just often being a liability with how important it is to keep moving and kill the target before they can retreat.
Given this, jeeps are the undisputed kings of pouncing on helpless arty and SAMs and can also take cargo helis down in groups; however, even humble B-kit armor can slow a lone jeep’s attacks down which can make a difference in tense situations being decided by seconds, and defensive weapons do pose a legitimate danger to them (though an AGL can often provide enough suppression to secure the death race).
Fast APCs like LAVs and Bumerangs can be quite effective but they’re somewhat using a hammer in place of a scalpel; they will cleanly overpower any self-defense packages they run into and have a good shot of downing unarmed helis by themselves, but with worse vision and stealth they may get detected too early and be dispatched by a reactionary force before they can find their targets, though having smoke can help buy time. Specifically with the LAV, I’d actually recommend the LAV-L over the standard variant; you’re giving up the autocannon that’s often overkill for a vehicle about half of the price so you can send multiples for the same points.
Snipers get to the backline at the speed of smell without a transport, but with their raw stealth it’s pretty safe and you can cause a lot of problems by the time they’re caught, or even just settle on them being a passive spotter for all of their artillery and supplies depending on how deeply your own indirect assets can reach.
And then there’s sending a cheap gunship or two; this one’s tricky and high-risk high-reward. I highly recommend doing some thorough scouting to be certain their flight corridor is clear (and always, always keep at low altitude until it’s time to strike), but if they’re clear then they can lay waste to what they can find very quickly before they’re inevitably shot down, because here’s the thing: long-range SAMs don’t shoot down helis and even when it’s the right call to have short-range AA guarding the backline, it’s still paying upkeep for a unit to sit mostly unused. Even then, that AA bubble is most likely not covering for transports on their way to their drop-off point, which makes them still viable targets; not a lot causes paranoia quite like watching an unseen Ka-52 pop up from behind some trees right next to your Super Stallion.
Invading the Backline (P2)
And then, there’s the actual process of taking out your targets, which I’ve already somewhat alluded to. Against some opponents you can get away with just sending a jeep down the road until it finds something to kill, but it’s better to assume that if the opponent sees your units they immediately know what you’re up to and won’t hesitate to put a stop to it, which will warrant more of an ambush approach. A lot of it’s just common sense and intuition, but basically you want to get as close as you can without getting spotted, recognize when you’ve been spotted, and keep one step ahead of whatever reaction is coming your way. So, use whatever vision and stealth advantage you have to spot without being spotted, always keep in cover or behind LoS blockers until it’s time to go for it, and so on.
Once the chase is on, that’s when it’s time to start getting creative, especially if you have multiple units; you can send out one sacrificial unit in one direction as a diversion to lure tanks and gunships away while the others keep trying to get closer within cover, or you can fan them out and capitalize on whichever one manages to slip through the net. If you have smoke, use it to give yourself time to slip between LoS blockers. Remember that minimum ranges exist and if the way to survive against an ATGM launcher is to hug it then do that. If you have a lucky break and pick off a few isolated units you’ve been able to find, whether it’s to retreat or keep looking for more always keep moving. Finally, depending on your micro abilities and ability to communicate with your team, there are fewer better opportunities to air strike, launch ballistic missiles, or push the front line than when the enemy backline units are too busy running for their lives.
And so now, whether you’ve been successful or not you’ve caused a big fuss for the enemy team; how they react to it can vary and you’ll need a combination of scouting and good old intuition to gauge it. Sometimes, whether they’re too busy trying to replace what they lost or just don’t think you’ll try it again they leave their flank as wide open as before (maybe even more, if you took out a token early warning unit); if that’s the case, second verse, same as the first.
However, chances are they’re going to try putting up more recon, more ATGMs, more AA in that backline and make a repeat performance harder. If it’s still mostly a token defense, you may still be able to pull it off, more likely with a unit type that you didn’t use before to throw off their attempted counter. If it’s something more substantial though you need to assess how badly they’re hurting and how the actual front line is doing. If they were able to mostly repel you last time and are only more prepared then just let those units sit there and eat upkeep; even in failure you’ve succeeded on some level. If they lost a lot of units and are spending their points afterwards on defense, that means it’s time to start putting more pressure on the front line without so many of those HIMARS and Patriots to worry about.
Maybe they’ll even sally out with their own retaliatory force along the flank to see how you like it; hopefully you’ve already got your passive recon set up to spot them a mile away and if so then take them apart with a tank ambush or air strike at your leisure. The main thing is to make sure to keep the opponent playing your game and hit them where they’re weak, not where they’re strong.
Dealing With Problems
“They keep finding and picking off my units even when they hide, I can’t seem to keep anything alive!”
Sounds like a sniper may be causing you trouble, and unfortunately the main advice of just finding and killing em’s easier said than done. You can always get snipers of your own, and to increase your odds of tracking the enemy’s down try to remember where your units keep getting bombed out of nowhere to narrow down where they may be spotting you from. Maybe they’ll get greedy and fire a few shots off, and if you see those tracers from that building or trees then you’ve got em.
“I’ve tried to apply everything you said but the opponent shut down everything I tried to do!”
Sometimes that sort of thng just happens, especially if you’re still learning, and that’s fine. Just keep your cool and if there’s something right going then roll with that and see how far it gets you. If something doesn’t work out, try to give the time after the game to ask why so you’ll maybe have a better shot next time. Everybody’s new to this game anyway, so try stuff. Make mistakes. Learn from them. Little by little, improve.
“The enemy’s AA is just insurmountable, my planes and ATACMS can’t get anything done!”
This is why I endorse and put so much time into talking about diving the backline rather than dealing with that. Like I said, attack where they’re weak, not where they’re strong. To try to mitigate it, though, the best hope for ballistic missiles is to combine them with SEAD to punish the interception, but as for planes it’s often best just to save them for defense against enemy pushes to minimize exposure to AA.
“I’m just getting buried by artillery spam!”
The worst thing you can do is be passive and play their game; they are counting on slowly beating your army back and taking your map with little resistance and the way you beat that is to do the exact opposite: double down on the aggression. Go for their jugular like you’re the third tiger in line for Noah’s ark and it’s starting to rain. If they’ve spent that many points on artillery, they’ve had to make concessions somewhere; either their frontline is weaker than it appears to be or all of their precious toys are exposed along the flanks. Scout aggressively, find where they’re weak, and hit them with everything you’ve got before they can build up adequate defenses, and don’t stop to consolidate and give them time to regroup if you can at all afford it, keep moving. Be wary though of neglecting things like vision or AA; keep that BFIST and SHORAD rolling with your tanks and if you run into an ATGM roadblock then smoke them with mortars and keep smashing through to their precious supply and support pieces. Also be wary of another opponent seeing your own vulnerability in stretching yourself thin and pincering you; if you can play the aggressive game then so can they.
“I’m trying to use recon but keep getting punished for pushing!”
Have you truly scouted enough? Despite your scouting, are you attacking where they’re strongest? The point of it is so that you lessen your likelihood of losing units to the ever-present cycle of ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ around and finding out, and in the worst case making sure you’re at least only losing 40pts if the worst happens rather than 300pts. If your jeep drives somewhere and then explodes, you should take note of what made it explode so you can take the necessary steps to make sure it fails to make your tank explode. If you knowingly can’t prevent your tank from exploding when it goes there, it probably should go somewhere else.