Wargame: AirLand Battle

Wargame: AirLand Battle

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Tips & Tactics for Airland Battle v2015
By Conditional Love and 1 collaborators
A general guide on winning tactics for Wargame:Airland Battle. Now updating for 2015
 
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Introduction
This is a brief guide with a few pointers on winning Wargame: Airland Battle multiplayer.

Suggestions & criticism is welcomed, abuse is not. If you like this guide, can you please give it the thumbs up. Thanks.
General
NEVER lose one of your command vehicles to enemy fire. EVER
It is better to retreat and lose a sector temporarily than to gift your opponent a very high value target.

Recon units have very good optics (read:field of vision)
Use Recon! it is far better than lying in wait for unknown enemy forces. How else can you give your opponent a proper welcoming party?

Reduce enemy morale, then attack
aka use artillery barrages just before an assault.

units without fuel or ammo are basically useless
aka "'Tis better to refuel than buy a new car with a full tank"

Units without supply are also easy targets for your opposition to score points. Use the supply trucks to make your units useful again.

Make an effort to harass reinforcement lines on the map & to kill supply trucks
aka using sabotage to weaken your opponent's army.

People rarely make much of an effort to defend their rear zones. It is worth it in the longrun diverting some of your attacking force to harassment - even if just a token unit.

the easiest way to defend is with infantry

You do not need vision of targets to kill them
aka shoot them where they probably are

the [FIRE-POS] button will force your unit to fire their weapon whereever you choose. Admittedly [FIRE-POS] is much more effective with Artillery, napalm and other large area-of-effect weapons.
Anti-Aircraft for beginners
You don't need to have airdefence covering everywhere,
Aircraft arrive from the aircorridors and fly directly to their targets (unless manually controlled into weakspots by pro players). The imporant thing to remember is that you should have your airdefence be in positions so that their attack aircraft are Intercepted as they target your ground forces.

Airdefences give you easy points
Aircraft are expensive and easy to shoot down = you must have some airdefence

Most antiaircraft weapons need to be stationary to fire
When you see enemy aircraft approaching, make sure your antiaircraft units have their STOP command button inactive (unless they have a stabiliser)

Choose your Airdefence cover wisely

antiaircraft missiles vs cannons - AntiAircraft missiles have longer ranges than AntiAircraft cannons, this is a big factor when deciding on your airdefence cover. However, cannons don't require nearly as much supply and can attack ground targets. Another massive factor is whether the anti aircraft weapon is infrared guided or radar guided, ie [RAD].

vehicle-mounted or shoulder-mounted - tank-mounted missiles are usually bigger and are more effective. It would be better to go with anti-aircraft Infantry w/cover (buildings/forest) if you fear your airdefence is going to be attacked.

some antiaircraft cannons vehicles also have antiaircraft missiles
These vehicles will fire all of their missiles first before they start using their cannon. This is usually not a problem, but it might be if against stealthy aircraft, SEAD aircraft or you have poor missile accuracy. You can enable/disable missiles or the cannon or both (but why?) by selecting the unit and clicking the weapon you want on/off.

lesser value aircraft offer superior firepower for your points
Same principle as with tanks (see below), but aircraft also need to consider Optics (vision), Airspeed, Stealth & ECM (anti missile defence).

Use SEAD Aircraft to take out Antiaircraft missiles vehicles
SEAD = Suppression of Enemy Air Defences

SEAD only targets radars: units with the [RAD] attribute*

*Disable the radar weapon and the SEAD aircraft cannot touch your unit! (ignoring the chainguns) Eg. The 2K22 Tunguska has a radar cannon and AA missiles: disable the [RAD] cannon and you can still shoot down aircraft with your infrared missiles!

It isn't that hard to stay out of the range of antiaircraft cannons with most air-to-ground missiles, just make sure your aircraft doesn't fly back over airdefences afterwards when evacuating. If you must fly over enemy AA, make sure you have a really fast plane and are flying straight.


did you know you don't need vision of your target to kill them?
Send your SEAD aircraft to an area to fire long range SEAD(ARM) missiles to hunt and kill lurking AA! :)

Unless your enemy has a 25 point shilka (radar cannon AA) in front of their expensive AA defences. :(

Understand your enemy
As Sun Tzu once said: to know how to defend against Aircraft you must first understand what they are and what they want. Specifically;
  • The fastest Jets travel at upto 1000kph: this leaves almost no time to react, so you must be prepared
  • You need more time & coverage to shoot down aircraft with high electronic air defences (EAD)
  • Is the opposing commander a beginner sending planes on blind suicide missions? Or is the opposing commander a "pro" who knows how to micromanage aircraft into your weakspots?
How to do Air Defence
You can't shoot what you can't see
The most important rule about Air Defense is having good vision. A good player will constantly attack you by air if they know you are blind to incoming air attacks. Keep in mind the opposite: it is very dangerous to send an aircraft when you know the aircraft will be spotted early before it arrives at its target.

The three best ways to gain vision of hostile aircraft are:
- Air to Air helicopters (such as OH-58 C/S, Sokol): vision is good and they can also defend themselves
- Air Superiority Aircraft - specifically aircraft Interceptors such as the F-14 Tomcat for NATO and the MiG-31&MiG-31M for PACT
- Scout helicopters & Spotting planes: the very best way to gain vision of incoming aircraft


The primary goal of Air Defense is to stop hostile aircraft from attacking your ground forces.
Air Superiority is the degree to which aircraft can operate without being harmed by the enemy anti-aircraft weapons. For your enemy to safely bomb your ground forces they need air superiority. In other words, for the enemy to gain air superiority they need to neutralize your ability to shoot down their aircraft.

To deny your enemy from gaining Air Superiority you do not need to shoot down your enemies' aircraft - you only need to maintain the ability to shoot down their aircraft and try to make it difficult for your enemy to bomb you. So as long as you keep your Antiaircraft fighters alive so they can threaten & challenge their aircraft then you will be denying enemy air superiority.

If the enemy wants to kill your antiaircraft units badly enough then let them come. Remember it is far more important to keep your antiaircraft units alive so you can use them to prevent the enemy gaining air superiority. Always challenging enemy aircraft = air defense success.


Do not hunt aircraft with your Air Defenses
This is a follow-on from above.

So as a general rule: do not move your air defense to kill enemy aircraft, let their aircraft come to your defenses.


Use layers of Air defenses

  • Ground defenses
    • Anti Aircraft Artillery (AAA) - AAA are fast firing cannons or machineguns which can also attack ground units but that is a bonus effect. Do not buy AAA to attack ground units. Why? Because they have very limited ammo capacity! AAA can fire while moving.

    • IR SAM (Infrared Guided Surface to Air Missle) - These heatseeking missiles generally have high range vs choppers and low range vs planes. You need IR SAM to counter enemy helicopters. As side effect is that IR SAM can't be detected by by anti-radar missiles from SEAD planes. However, if you have air based air defense (i.e. CAP) then SEAD anti-radar missiles won't be an issue.

    • Rad SAM (Radar Guided Surface to Air Missle)

      These are very accurate long range missiles. Units that have Rad Sam missles have the R“ on the unit icon. The reason why Rad SAM are so accurate at long range is because they use radar guidance. Some players would now explain you how exactly this works in real-life, but you can look that up on Wikipedia. For this game it has no relevance, just know that the [Rad] attribute is a disadvantage because it means these units can be found and killed by SEAD planes (with their Anti-Radar Missiles). Again, this shouldn't be big issue as long as you have your CAP doing their job. If your CAP is having trouble intercepting a SEAD attack, then click on the unit with the [Rad] attribute and disable the [RAD] weapon. This will deactivate the weapon so the SEAD ca no longer kill your unit, but in exchange it also stops your unit from being kill the SEAD plane. This is a worthy exchange because it's better to have your RAD weapon alive-and-available for later use rather than trying-and-probably-failing to kill the SEAD plane

  • Air Patrol - You should always have a aircraft patrolling behind your ground air defense. In worst-case scenarios you can use scout helicopters or attack helicopters as your aircraft based Air Defense.
    • Air Superiority fighters like the F-15C, the SU-27S and others have vision ranges of around 15km.

    • Interceptors [superior Air Superiority Planes] have Air-to-Air missiles with ranges of 10.9km – 12.7km and visual spotting range of around 20km (usually this is capable of spotting planes when they spawn). Some players with start patrolling their interceptors patrolling to catch any bomber rushes, also it is a warning that any aircraft you send will be shot down


Show the enemy that you can see his aircraft and that you are capable of shooting his planes
You should try to have one Air Superiority fighter circling around you just behind you frontline/air defence. This is called CAP (Combat Air Patrol) and good players will stop sending bombers until they can regain control of that airspace.

Pro tips;
  • The easiest way to gain air superiority is to lure the enemy into combat with your ground based air defense.

  • Have a combination of IR SAM and Radar SAM air defence because they have different roles.

  • SEADs plane (eg. the Raven & Su-24) and bombers will not survive against air superiority fighter planes.

  • Check the ranges of your air defence. Anything less than the minimum range and the enemy ground-attack plane will kill your unit before it is hit:
    • for Rad SAM it should be at least 3.5km
    • IR AA or AAA should be at least 2.8 km
    • vs choppers: bigger than the maximum range of their AGM (Air to Ground Missile)
    There are many AA units which do not meet these ranges. So what is their purpose? To be cheap...

  • Always spread out your AA into single units - never stack them up. The AA also need to overlap their coverage with each other. No gaps!

  • It takes 2 hits to shoot down a plane unless it is an A-10 Thunderbolt II which takes three hits.

  • Note that your AA has the range to shoot down your enemies' helicopters with AGM and not the other way around. If not then you need cover from air based AA

  • Radar SAM has a weakness vs choppers

  • If you have a unit that has both AA with cannons (which are radar guided) and also IR Missle -> then always turn of the radar and only activate the cannon when you need the cannon as back up.

  • Unless an AA unit has a stabilizer then it can't shoot during the movement - so keep them stationary or move them with an attack order movement. Do not hunt down choppers because they will wait then for you and get the first shot.
Tanks
Always keep your high value tanks supplied

High value tanks are just as vulnerable to Antitank Air attack as any other tanks

High value tanks are a great way to concentrate your force's strength
Instead of trying to get 10 lesser tanks through a gauntlet, it would be better to get 4 high value tanks through.

lesser value tanks offer superior firepower for your points
Try to send the weakest tanks you think you need to get the best BANG for your buck. Losing three 20 point tanks to destroy a 140 point tank, sure. I will take that trade anyday.
i.e. Theorycraft - 1 heavy tank gun, or 7 decent tank guns.

don't spend big on your high value tanks and then get overrun
I suggest you have a flanking force of low value tanks


Dealing with Tank Spam

fallback units to an entrenched defensive position
Tanks assaults thrive in open field conflicts. So your goal is to delay engaging with the tank assault engaging your forces until your forces are in a position to reply with a robust defense.

Spearhead assaults
If it is a spearhead of tanks coming to you, after you give some ground/fallback, FLANK them. This means your flanking force may advance as you are about to be assaulted. I find this to be the most common form of Tank Spam in Airland Battle.

Wave assaults
If it is a large wave of tanks attacking (spread out and advancing together), focus your counter attack on particular point of the wave. Then double-back/turn and destroy the rest.
Infantry
Infantry are great at defending
In buildings = great
In smoke = great
In woods = good
In transport vehicles = vulnerable
In the open = dead

When you create an infantry fighting force, use a mixture of anti-tank, anti-aircraft and general infantry

Recycle your transport units
After your transport units have delivered their cargo, use them as scouts on your flanks. Do not place transports units where you think they will see combat (ie put them in dense cover), because most/all transport units are useless for fighting with.
Aircraft or Artillery?
Aircraft
+ surgical precision
+ targets hit will probably die
+ very high mobility
+ loitering on the battlefield (patrolling an area)
+ very good range
+ doesn't use supplies on the battlefield
- high cost, must be used sparingly
- vulnerability
- short-lived presence
- rearming & repair time

Artillery
++ not exposed to loss with each salvo
+ high terror factor
+ bigger and better AoE
+ collateral damage
+ good accuracy - it will hit in the right area
+ reload time is consistent and not as long as aircraft reload time
+/- comparable cost to mid range aircraft
- reload time
- poor precision - unlikely to exactly hit units (ignoring collateral damage)
- high demand for vital supplies
- maximum range & minimum range
- very vulnerable if targeted by enemy & firing gives away its position
- poor mobility (slow)

In short? Artillery is best when killing groups of units or there is simply too much air defence, otherwise the flexibility of aircraft is generally superior.

If you are a beginner, then I recommend you buy no more than 2 artillery pieces, plant them next to a FOB, hotkey them, and then use to destroy static defenses all over the map.

Special exception that proves the rule: the soviet Burratino. It is a very short range artillery piece for a large AoE napalm salvo. Best used:
  • to kill all the infantry defending a town
  • destroying the morale of large bunched up armies
Opening stages
at the very start of the game, the enemy is all bunched up
Artillery strike their starting area (and the forest area where people always hide their command vehicle).

and they will go along the starting routes like they always do
helicopters tend to rush to the middle of the map. Send your antiaircraft-aircraft to where they might go - your aircraft don't need a pre-designated target to enter the map.

Transport trucks and tanks tend to go to the nearby side capture zones. if possible, set an ambush with helicopter mounted infantry & helicopter gunships.
Meta strategy
Maxmise destruction, minimise losses
KEY RTS Concept Below

"trade of points" - in each "battle"/engagement, it is the net total value (in points) that each side destroys of the opponent's forces.

eg. I lose four 20 point tanks, but my opponent lost one 140 point tank = I am ahead 60 points in the 'trade'.

capturing zones is much more important in very large point victory condion games
. The opposite is also true: In small scale battles, your prime focus is to win every "trade of points". Don't be confused about the point scale of the battle, if your force only has a thousand or so points to spend, then it is a small scale battle even if you have teammates fighting another war on the otherside of the map.

You are allowed to shift your forces in multiplayer
Imagine a typical 4v4 multiplayer game. If you are confident one person can hold down a side of the map solo, then you should probably shift your army to the other side of the map for some 3v2 domination.

Terrain has a real effect
You see those thin grey walls, they are small impassible cliffs. Primarily the effect of terrain is to block vision (and most weapons because line-of-sight is required), and secondarily to block ground movement. If you want an effective ambush, you will use terrain to your advantage.

Economy mode : the first team to accumulate a set amount of unspent command-points wins. The amount of unspent command points required to win slowly decreases with game time played. You can also win by dominating the capture zones.

This game mode strongly favours defensive play (but you can still lose by being overrun). Note: using Aircraft, Artillery and other long range weapons is a viable defensive strategy.

Keep yourself in a winning position by checking after every engagement that you won the "trade of points". The challenge is then spending the least amount of command-points in preparation for the next.

Destruction mode: It is all about the trade of points, nothing else matters.*

* = ok, I lied - remember you can still win by dominating the capture zones. Also, you need zones to keep your forces strategicaly positioned.
Advanced: Resource Management
wisely exchange your resources
Confused? This is an advanced RTS concept and you can skip this section if you are only into casual play.

Don't be fooled, there is more than one type of resource in Wargame:Airland Battle

  • Your Command-Points - of course.

    but there are also other 'meta' resources.

  • Your attention
    it is limited, and you can't focus on everything all the time.You gain only one second of attention every second, so spend it wisely.

    If you want to maximise your attention, learn how you can maximise your 'APM' (Actions Per Minute) - i.e. Using hotkeys to quickly select units and for commands.

  • Speed
    What is the practical value of faster units? Transports arriving faster = saving time. Aircraft less exposed to antiaircraft cannons = better survivablity. etc. A practical application of this is spending +1 point for trucks to transport your infantry, or +25 point chinhooks (consider the cost vs benefit in this situation).

    There is a strong link between Attention & Speed when in combat.

  • Map Control - You need to 'control' an area to safely manuver, reinforce and etc.

  • Command Zones - If you go into deficit of command zones, you lose - and vice versa. Also, Reinforcement lines & Air Corridors for are needed for new unit supply -

    strongly linked with Map Control.

  • vision (optics) - self explanatory.

  • etc.

The Resource Management approach is essentially: spend your resources wisely to gain other resources.

I am not saying that you need to consider everything all the time, but a resource management approach does give an objective analysis for optimising your decision making.
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65 Comments
The Sultan Jan 21, 2017 @ 5:41am 
Pretty solid guide. Found the anti aircraft section particulary useful
human315 Jul 10, 2016 @ 5:41am 
@Conditional Love i liked this guide cuz im still a noob in the game but there is still stuff that i dont understand bcz u use complicated words so yeah i learned somethink thx to this guide but i didnt learn all the stuff that is in the guide
STRIKER Mar 21, 2016 @ 2:16am 
@ Conditional Love

could i play with you or Tacoshy on wargame to discuss and test the strategies around these units?
STRIKER Mar 21, 2016 @ 1:50am 
@Conditional Love

i'd honestly be pleased to be part of this guide, though honestly saying, i myself am quite the beginner in wargame airland battle, and since i mostly use french unit, i haven't got to use the flamethrowers and support fire vehicles much. ill try and gather factual information on these units and try and write a section on them for your guide (btw, how do i send you the guide section?)
Conditional Love  [author] Mar 21, 2016 @ 1:21am 
@Striker - I don't totally disagree with you, but most infantry are not special "low visibility" infantry. Yes you can quickly move infantry between forest cover, but the context of this guide is about infantry who are actively defending.

If you write up sections about anti-tank warfare, flamethrower and whatever, then I'd be happy to add you as a contributor or co-author.

STRIKER Mar 19, 2016 @ 1:28pm 
i don't totaly agree with infantry being "in the open = dead", low visibility units (scout teams) tend to go unoticed when going short ranges between forests. And gaining control of an area before moving in the infantry to said area would allow them to go without suffering the enemy fire.

+ i'd like to mention that you haven't mentioned the tactics regarding the placement and play of Anti tank vehicles (or so i think) and that the varieties whithin the Infantry units available wasn't mentioned . You also haven't mentioned the tactics regarding the short range or inacurate artillery (rockets, mortars,...) and the more specific vehicles (flamethrower tanks, rocket armed tanks, and support-fire trucks and vehicles)

it might not be relevant to the overall strategy, but their capabilities, uses and purposes aren't mentioned in the guide.
SH Southern Jan 1, 2016 @ 9:00pm 
@Fallen#, the best way to get additional Arty is when you setup your deck, instead of just copying an existing deck, use the "Create" option. Then under faction, choose "NATO" or "PACT" depending on what side you want the Deck to be built on, and you will be able to choose from all of the "NATO/PACT" countries. This will allow you to choose as much Arty as you can afford, point wise. Also this goes for any unit type, if you need more of a particular specialty. Hope this helps.
Conditional Love  [author] Jan 1, 2016 @ 8:43pm 
@Already_Fallen#*** - I seriously doubt you need more than 2 artillery. If you insist, change nation and/or your deck.

@SH Southern - Thank you.
Conditional Love  [author] Jan 1, 2016 @ 8:39pm 
@Krzeszny - You can take psychedelic drugs to change your perception of time, unfortunately it's a singleplayer only hack.
SH Southern Jan 1, 2016 @ 3:31pm 
Good Guide, short and sweet. Points out the important aspects of the game, and nice overviews of each unit type, style of play, and their pro's and con's. Good job.