Will try and write a unit guide. Feedback weclome. Feel free to modify and post on strategy guide sites such as Jazzcash's.
First some general comments on BA balance:
Mobile Vs Static
Mobile units can move. Static stay in one spot. Static units are more effective for their cost. But mobile units have the big advantage of being where you need the to be. This often allows the mobile units to concentrate more force in a given area.
Assume an attacking player puts all their metal into mobile units, and a defending player puts all their metal into static defence. If the defence is built all in one spot, and the attacker attacks this headon, the attacker will die quite badly.
However on most maps, if the defender puts all the defence in one spot, the attacker can simply attack somewhere other than this spot. The defender then needs to spread their defenses out across the map to defend everywhere. This means the attacker can concentrate all their firepower against a small proportion of the defender's forces, and should win.
Note that in many team games, it may feel that one player attacks one opponent in one spot, giving the advantage to defensive units. However with good play this is not necessary so. If several players build mobile units and attack in the same spot, this then has the same effect of concentrating overwhelming mobile force into one spot and winning the battle.
So why build any defensive units? To protect one of the players most valuable resources - time. If you build no defense, then an opponent can attack whenever they want, with as small an attacking force as they want, and you will have to respond by moving units to intercept. This usually takes more micro time than giving orders for units to attack. A light screen of cheap defensive turrets means that an opponent can only attack effectively if they send a reasonable number of units against you. This means means the opponent cannot attack as frequently, and you have more time for activities other than ensuring that an opponents single peewee doesn't kill half your resource units.
Expensive units vs cheap units
It seems unalterable human nature that when you learn a new game the first thing you want to do is try out all the biggest most impressive and expensive units. However with the balance in BA this is usually a bad idea.
In general cheap units are more cost effective than more expensive units. A good player learns that cheaper units should be the focus of their production.
Why include any expensive units at all then?
Because the cost effectiveness of cheap units only goes so far. As the number of units increase, they tend to become less effective in some ways. Units get in the way of each other and can't fire through each other. When charging a heavy defensive line they get in each others way. The units in front block units behind them and slow them down. Defensive lines nearly always have longer range, so it is important that units close into range to start dealing damage as soon as possible. In some cases A heavy defensive line can destroy cheap attacking units as fast as they can approach and the attacking units might never do any damage at all.
So more expensive units are worthwhile, if you need to concentrate more firepower into a smaller space than you can achieve with cheaper units.
flea: Very cheap and very fast scout unit with long line of site. Has a weak short range attack. Useful for early harrasment of any early economy units that are left unprotected, or to at least pressure your opponent into protecting their economy and so slow their expansion. Later game can be used effectively in large swarms against enemy units that cause splash damage. These fast units can quickly close with some such units which will kill themselves with their own area of effect. These units can also be used as spotters to improve the accuracy of longer range units.
Peewee: Cheap with good speed and very high damage output (compared to cost). A great unit for attacking any position not defended well enough to keep them out. These units are more energy intensive to build than other units.
Rocko: cheap to moderate with high range. Generally cannot fire over obstructions, and outranges light laser towers, t1 tanks, but not heavy laser towers. Keep these units in lines so they are not blocked by each other when trying to fire. Retreat away from shorter range units to take best advantage of the time it can fire without being fired at in return. Their shots are slow and enemy units can sometimes dodge these shots, particularly if they change direction just as the shot is fired. A very good units for pressuring commanders who walk forward early to set up light laser lines as they can keep out of range of both the commander and the light laser towers built by the commander.
Hammer cost 50% more than the rocko, has a little less range and is slower. However it is has a higher hp to cost ratio, and can fire over obstructions, which tend to make it a better unit later in the game when the battlefield is more likely to be clogged by wreckage, and when it can be built in larger numbers where rockos would tend to block each other a lot.
Jethro Anti air kbot. Cannot fire at ground units. Rather slow, amphibious. Generally missile towers seem to be a better aa option, however if you need mobile aa and only have a kbot t1 factory this is your choice.
Warrior The most expensive t1 kbot. Slow and heavy. Generally kbots are more maneuverable but weaker than tanks. This unit seems to be too expensive for its power. One possible use is for air drops. As it is the most powerful kbot, an airdrop of this unit has the most impact for a given number of air transports.
Construction kbot This unit builds fixed structures. Compared to construction vehicles, it is cheaper, more fragile, slower, but more maneuverable. It is best at building cheaper units in tighter spaces where its manuerabiltiy often means less time wasted dealing with obstacles.
Rector This unit cannot build anything, but can resurrect units from wreckages, and reclaim. It is faster more maneuverable and more fragile than construction kbots, and is much better at quickly reclaiming wreckage on the battlefield. It has stealth so can reclaim near the battlefield without being fired on if not spotted.
Core Kbot Level 1
AK cheap raiding unit, with the line of site of the flea, and damage output similar to a peewee. A little slower than the peewee, and a bit less damage, but longer range.
Storm Core equivelant of the Rocko.
Thud Core equivelant of the Hammer
Crasher Core equivelant of the Jethro
Construction Kbot Core equivelant of the Arm conbot.
AK cheap raiding unit, with the line of site of the flea, and damage output similar to a peewee. A little slower than the peewee, and a bit less damage, but longer range.
AK has 500 Los, Flea got 550. Sounds like it shouldn't be a problem to park either one in front of a llt (range 435) for spotting without getting shot at, but its actually alot easier with the flea, so imho its a noteworthy difference. However, AKs are imho the better spotter for unit to unit combat spotting, as they have alot more HP than fleas.
While aks LOS is slightly smaller than flees, their health makes them more easily managable spotters for rockos/ storms.
Giving a repeat move order to lines of rockos, with close movement points, is a nice hassle-free way of dodging some rockets. This is worse than individual micro, but useful for situations when you dont have command time.
Thanks for the comments and corrections. I use t1 kbots more than any other unit type, so there will be more chances to add to what I advise in further sections of this guide. I will certainly take into account if I get around to writing a final version for posting on Jazzcash's site.
Arm Vehicles level 1
Jeffy: Very cheap, light scout unit with large line of site. Useful for early harrasment of any early economy units that are left unprotected. Later game can be used to cause units with area of effect to damage themselves, and as spotters for long range units. If one of these is raiding your base you may be able to reclaim it with a construction unit, if it stays within range long enough.
Flash: Powerful fast tank that does a lot of damage for its moderate cost. With its high speed it is the combat unit of choice on large open maps. Is tough enough to be used in assault against moderately heavy defence. Cannot fire over obstacles, so loses effectiveness in crowded battlefields.
Stumpy: Heavier and a little slower than the flash tanks. The unit of choice when the battlefield becomes a little more crowded, and one of the most popular units in the game. However the unit does come at a cost, and is a poor choice early in the game when it cannot be made in numbers.
Pincer: Amphibious tank. Not as effective as flash or stumpy, but it can travel underwater, to attack in a part of the enemy's base that is hopefully insufficiently protected. While in water it is defenceless, if an enemy is able to target the tank with torpedoes.
Samson: Missile truck, long range missile weapon with low damage, that cannot shoot over obstacles, but rarely misses, and can hit both land and air targets. Also has a long line of site, and high hitpoints for its cost. A handy support unit for harrassing enemy commanders, as it can stay out of range of light laser towers. Later a useful support unit as it will help protect against air. Also a good unit to use as a screen for tech 2 long range units - line of site, hitpoints and anti air.
Janus: Rocket truck, slow and costs a fair bit. Fires slow rockets that do high damage, knock units away and can fire over obstacles. With high damage, if you can get several in range of an enemy commander, it can kill the commander with very little time to react. Unit seems a little costly and slow to be regularly useful, but seems efficient enough to add to your unit mix for a little variety. If any more experienced players can provide additional insight into the usefullness of this unit, please do.
Shellshocker: Artillery tank. Long range, slow and moderate cost tank with low armour. Can be moderately effective in a static battle against a player relying mostly on static defences. However alternate options for such a situation seem to generally be more effective - to invest in economy and teching, or using regular assault units to attack whereever the defence is lightest, possibly in combination with an ally against an ally of the opponent who is building too much defence. If this unit is used in breaching a defence line, the unit then becomes relatively useless in pushing forward fast to try and capitalise on such a breach. This unit is also very weak against mobile units as its projectiles take a long time to land.
Construction Vehicle: Builds static units. It has quite high hitpoints so is very useful for reclaiming metal in combat, as even under moderate fire it is likely to live long enough to reclaim more than its cost in metal before it dies. Every attack force of tanks should be followed by construction vehicles to reclaim as much wreckage as possible.
Beaver: Amphibious construction vehicle. A bit slower and more expensive than the con vehicle.
Podger: Stealthy mine laying vehicle. Mines seem to be rarely used, as they primarily are only useful if you lose territory that you otherwise should be controlling. If you are fighting against mines, the easiest method is simply to trip them with cheap units.
If anyone has experience in the effective use of mines, perhaps they could write a mine laying guide....
Core vehicles Level 1
Weasel: Core equivelant of the Jeffy.
Instigator: Core equivelant of flash. Slighly longer range, a little slower and a little less cost effective. As laser weapons do reduced damage at range, generally you will want to move this unit as close to enemy targets as possible.
Raider: Core equivelant of Stumpy. Seems a little less cost effective, certainly not as popular.
Muskrat: Core equivelant of Pincer
Slasher: Core equivelant of Samson
Leveler: Relatively expensive tank, similar to a raider, but with less hitpoints, and a powerful weapon that does area of effect damage and knocks units away. Very useful against light swarming units such as peewee, flash etc. Quite slow, and can damage itself if enemy units get close enough. Should be carefully arranged in a spread out line to maximise the damage it does to enemy units, and minimise the damage from friendly fire. Vulnerable to rocko/Storm units which significantly outrange it and can move fast enough to stay out of range.
Wolverine: Core equivelant of the Shellshocker
Construction Vehicle: Core construction vehicle
Muskrat: Core equivelant of the Beaver
Spoiler: Core equivelant of the Podger
Tanks vs Kbots at T1
The primary advantage of tanks are their speed, and combat power. On wide open maps, their speed enables faster expansion, and makes it extremely difficult for a kbot player to defend with mobile units. Their combat power can help a tank player to overrun a kbot player in the late t1 stage.
The primary advantages of kbots are maneuvarbility, lower cost and hill climbing ability. On hilly maps kbots can reach hills that tanks cannot, which may mean expansion of the economy to places tanks cannot reach, or the ability to attack via hills that a tank player has great difficulty in defending against.
Maneuverability means that kbots are more effective when they are microed well. If you are the type of player that wants to simply tell their units to attack using a frontal charge and leave them to their fate, then tanks are for you. Kbot micro involves: -kiting, retreating a longer range unit to remain out of range of an enemy unit as long as possible -dodging, changing direction to evade slower projectiles -surrounding/flanking - arranging your units so many can attack but only a few enemies can counterattack -evading, using agile units change of directions to keep out of range of enemy units attempting to intercept -Shadowing, hiding behind enemey non combat structures to avoid return fire.
Lower cost - Cheaper factories, con units, and combat units means that a kbot player can mount a viable offensive earlier than a tank player. Rocko/Storms are cheap and dangerous to enemy commanders attempting to set up a defensive line with light laser towers. However later game the combat power of stumpys, combined with the combat reclaim ability of con vehicles gives the tank player the opportunity to overwhelm a kbot player, although the recent buff to hammer/thud may help kbots be more competitive with tanks in the late t1 stage.
amphib con vechs can climb hills just like kbots, that is important information.
important note on general unit usage : do not waste units, only attack if you are reasonably sure you can secure the battlefield afterwords (reclaiming the wrecks is most important thing). It is much better to build up your forces while harassing your enemy. Wasting units is only worth it if their wrecks dont leave metal (peewees, aks, fleas and jeffies) and you can do significantly more damage to the enemy. So sending 1-2 flash on a suicide back country raid is good if you know you can get many mexes or power plants, but sending in 5 flash against a few llts and units is not good.
you should note that wolverine/shellshocker outrange HLT, which is basically their only purpose
This is their most important role. Often times you can trick the enemy into investing in heavy t1 pork, eg 3 heavy missile towers, and then slowly take it down with wolverines/slashers.
The other use of wolverines is putting them on a high hill that overlooks enemy econ (eg the ridge over the lake filled with tidals in tabula). Every other t1 unit can't really shoot down from that kind of height.
janus can be used to great effect if built early on, used in conjunction with scouting and proper micro
janus are also great against ak/flash/peewee spam, as they knock them over like bowling pins in much the same fashion that riot tanks do. They cause slight knockback to heavier units (eg stumpies), especially when two janus hit the unit at the same time.
This can make janus very deadly when the enemy tanks all need to bunch together (eg climbing a narrow hill or going through the hole in your dragons teeth) -- two or three hit the lead tank, it nearly dies and goes flying into the tanks behind it, causing them extra damage and pushing them back a bit, giving the janus more time to reload.
Fat mines cost a lot of energy, so they're not particularly viable early game. However, a single Fat mine can kill 4 flashtanks at once if they're moving in a swarm group like they normally do. Three mines planted next to eachother can kill a commander, however even when you know your enemy blindly comm pushes a forward mex in the early game it's tough to get up a minelayer/3 fat mines unless you're being fed energy.
If a podger plants a single fat mine and he kills 2 or 3 tanks with it he more than pays for himself. The biggest reason not to is because they require a lot of micro to work - which makes them much better for coop.
The best way to use mines is for the enemy to not know they're there. This works at any tier - fat mines are still powerful against very heavy units like goliaths and sumo, and sometimes mines alone can stop a heavy assault. If you put mines in front of porc of various sorts then it makes it much harder for the enemy to run jeffies on top of them (and even this takes considerable time/effort on their part).
Anyway, the secret anti-mine weapon is the juno. A juno missile will kill all mines, radar, and jammer weapons in its radius. This is especially worth it if you're killing advanced radar, since the advanced radar costs about as much as the juno.
Btw, minelayers can clear mines too, for free: Tell them to attack ground and they will clear in a huge area, they can clear mines further than an llt range away!
This is helpful, however this ability is a little unintuitive and is very rarely used. I wonder if it would be better if minelayers would just attack enemy mines one at a time ("sweeping") whenever they moved near em
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