Typical game progression
This is a guide explaining how a typical game progresses, after a typical opening. The game can be thought of as being organically split up into a few phases, each with a characteristic set of units and goals.
- Note that these are general scenarios - depending on the map and factory match-up the game can play very differently!
- From a 1v1 perspective
- 1 Raider phase
- 2 Midgame phase
- 3 Lategame
- 4 Late-late game
The raider phase is the first phase in a typical game. It is defined by a few characteristics:
- Most of the map is untaken by either player.
- No defenses covering most areas.
Due to this, the mobility that raiders have tends to make them the dominant unit class. When the map is fortified with light defenses, raiders are much less useful and it will be time to switch to something else.
You will want to expand as fast as possible here, and try to grab at least 50% of the map. Try to have two groups of constructors moving around the map taking mexes. Near each mex cluster you can put some light defences, but do not overbuild defences early game, and in non-critical locations (i.e. not a choke point or the centre of the map). Run around the map with your raiders, keeping track of where your opponents raiders are as well. You should be able to defend your expansion from enemy raiders with some light defenses and some of your own raiders. Since raiding properly is considerably more difficult than expanding, you should be encouraged to expand as fast as possible. You might be surprised at how much your opponents let you get away with! "Naked expanding" is when you just take a constructor and set it to build mexes in an area with no protection; all your units are near the enemy base. The threat of your units near your opponents base or expansion will often be enough to scare them into forgetting to raid. If you succeed in this phase of the game, you will have a massive eco advantage and will be able to swarm your opponent to death with units.
A very common mistake players make is that they don't build enough energy structures. This leads to a situation in which your metal income exceeds your energy income and you are unable to spend all your metal (called "e-stalling"). Having 1 constructor dedicated to only building energy structures can solve this issue.
Why not other unit classes?
It may seem intuitive to make riot units in this phase of the game. "They're good against raiders, aren't they?" you may say. However, their downside is that they are very slow. This makes them unusable for offense, as your opponent will see them coming and be able to easily respond. Also:
- Early game lone riot units can be overwhelmed by raiders.
- Light defenses are effective against riots, as they are DPS, not HP focused.
Because of this, they do not pose much of a threat (unless you don't scout a riot rush of some sort and lose anyway). The correct way to deal with an opponent making riots is to just expand faster than they do - they won't be able to punish this. When you get superior eco, then you can just overwhelm them.
Any other class
Skirmishers, artillery, assaults - all of these do very badly against raiders, so are not worth building at this point.
Importance of radar
Radar coverage is very important to get in this phase. If you do not have it, you have to play defensively in case your opponents tries to raid some of your expansions. The alternative is building tons of defences everywhere, but this is a losing strategy, as it leaves you unable to punish your opponent for expanding. If they expand they will just overrun you with units. By building radar you can reduce the amount you spend on defence, and can use it on offensive units instead. In the worst case scenario, you prevent greedy expansion from your opponent. In the best case, you just win because they were too greedy and have no units.
Dealing with defensive players
A strategy that many have trouble dealing with is when your opponent just builds lots of defences at every expansion site. The best way to deal with this, paradoxically, is to just ignore them and focus on expanding yourself. If they want to sit in the corner building defence, that is fine (for you). Since they have spent so much metal on this, they won't be able to prevent you from expanding, so just take the whole map, make lots of eco, and then come to their base with artillery and win. There is really no situation in which fortifying your self into a small section of the map is a winning strategy.
In this phase, strategic diversity opens up significantly. Players typically transition out of raiders into some of the following:
A common strategic switch people make is a shift to building raiders skirmishers rather than raiders. These units are capable of killing light defenses fairly well, so you can start pushing back your opponent and try to grab more territory. Use your raiders (which are hopefully still alive) to protect your skirmishers from harm. It is also common to see a few riots dedicated to protecting your skirmishers.
For some factories, it is possible to switch to assault units. These units will be able to punch through light defenses (unlike raiders) and do some economic damage to your opponent. Some examples:
- Thuglaw - Outlaws and Thugs - this combination from the shieldbot factory is a very potent assault force. It is good against raiders and light defences, giving it the potential to do lots of damage to an unprepared opponent.
- Ravagers - Fast assault rovers that can be used for raiding. They are able to eat through light defences, and due to their speed it is harder to position raiders to defend against them.
In this phase you will see striders and some of the more exotic tools available to the player.