Saturday, October 07, 2006

Byte: Advanced Defcon 101

I promise I'll shut up about Defcon soon. But first I wanted to share a few more advanced tactics that you can use to get ahead in games. Just don't use them against me, m'kay?

1) Effective Bomber Use: Don't place your airbases right on the doorstep of enemy territory. This is so that your bombers will arm their nukes before entering enemy anti-air cover. Also ensure that all bombers are in the air five minutes before Defcon 1 is declared.

2) Don't commit your carrier fleets too soon: Entering into fleet combat immediately upon Defcon 3 will needlessly lose you a lot of fleet capacity. You specifically want to protect your carriers, as they carry a potentially vital resource of nukes. If you positively *must* engage in fleet combat, make sure that you use battleship fleets as a screening force for your carriers, and prioritise the launch of carrier-based bombers over fighters. This will not only give you a significant advantage in neutralising the enemy fleet, but will also ensure that your bombers are already in the air moving towards strategic targets in preparation for Defcon 1. Where possible, keep your fleets within range of friendly anti-air cover or airbases, so that land-based fighters can intercept any hostile air forces, and also keep the anti-air systems of enemy battleships occupied and prevent them targeting your more precious bombers.

3) Use every last nuke: This may sound obvious, but you need to commit your bomber force early, and use all the nuke capacity stored at your airbases as quickly as possible. Airbases are more vulnerable to counter-attack than your missile silos, so it's important to use them quickly. If you use all the nuke reloads at one airbase and have spare bombers sitting on the ground, don't be afraid to transfer bombers from carriers or other airbases to places where spare nukes are lying around unused. They're better off in the air than on the ground.

4) Coordinate your attacks: If you're attacking a target where anti-air defences are still in place, you need to have a very high volume of nukes entering the airspace if you want to have any hope of hitting your targets. Try to time attacks so that all your nukes will enter the target area in as short a timescale as possible. If necessary, coordinate fighter incursions into enemy airspace to give the anti-air facilities too many targets to fire at, increasing the chances of your nukes leaking through.

5) Use intelligence gained from alliances to your advantage: It's a dog-eat-dog world out there. If you don't stab people in the back first, it's going to happen to you. There are winners and victims. Don't be a victim...

6) Timing is everything: If you don't get the timing of your attack right, you're going to lose. Defcon is a game of thermonuclear chicken. In general (but not always), he who twitches last, lives longest. When the hard rain starts to fall, (i.e. when you start detecting enemy launches), don't leave your counter-attack too long, otherwise your nukes will be met with a reception of withering air defence fire. Ideally, you want to get your nukes in the air as soon as you know that the enemy's silos have switched from air defence to launch mode. This gives you a much better chance of landing hits on enemy cities. Just make sure that you have a couple of silos still providing air defence cover between you and the incoming nukes to minimise your losses.

7) Play the percentages: Always keep a small reserve of nukes until the victory timer starts, and keep at least one silo close to your major city in air defence mode at all times.

8) Errors in asset placement will hurt you in the endgame: Ensure that you place your assets in mutually supportive positions. Don't leave major cities without air defence cover, and make sure you have airbases that can not only penetrate deeply into enemy territory, but also quickly defend your coastline, in the event of submarine attack.

9) Don't commit your submarine force into an unknown situation: You don't want to surface into the middle of an enemy fleet and lose all your subs before they've been able to launch a single nuke. Either keep a healthy distance between the submarine fleet and the coast when launching missiles, or use friendly air cover from carrier fleets to screen the attack.

10) Don't get hung up on trying to destroy enemy assets: While destroying enemy silos, airbases and radar stations does give you a strategic advantage, don't waste nukes from your silos trying to destroy them, unless you find them early in the game (between Defcon 3 and Defcon 1), when a first strike will reap the greatest rewards. Otherwise view them as targets of opportunity for your submarine and bomber forces. It's the number of hits of major population centres that will win you the game, not how many hardware assets you destroy. In general, you can probably afford to ignore them completely, unless taking one out (silos in particular) would leave an exploitable gap in your enemy's defences. If your first awareness of a missile silo is when it first starts launching missiles, it's not really worth trying to take out , as it will generally have launched all its nukes by the time your missiles get there (to be shot down by the silo in air defence mode). So save your destructive power for the civilian population.
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