Part 43: General Strategies And Analysis Of Enemy ArmiesOkay, so I've beaten Dark Crusade's campaign on Hard with about half of the different factions. Not all of them, but I'm working on that. I'm not great at multiplayer, but I know how to school the AI with the factions I've played. So I'm going to give some pro-tips for playing Dark Crusade's campaign on hard mode. Feel free to use these or criticize them, but I'm throwing them out there.
~*~*~*~BLIND SALLYZ GUIDES to DARK KURsAIDE~*~*~*~
MAKE USE OF THE PERSISTENT BASES. If you're new to Hard mode get in the habit of attacking enemies at poorly defended provinces, almost but not quite destroying them, and building a massive armed base across the entire map while you quarantine them. You will lose any buildings constructed within the areas that the AI attack from in defense conflicts, but that tends to be only two small corners of any map. If you dominate everywhere else, you should be able to adequately defend any attack.
IF YOUR ENEMY HAS TWO BASES make sure you destroy one quickly. The way it works with the AI, is that if you attack or defend in a province where the AI has two bases, you are effectively fighting a 2v1 match. Sure, you are fighting two AI of the same army, which can make countering them easier, but they are treated like two separate players. That means they get to field double the units you get to field. That means you could be facing two enemy commanders (as we know, not all commanders are made equal, and they can dominate the battlefield if not addressed quickly). If you don't have the necessary Honour Guard to destroy one base early on, it's not worth the attack. It's too easy for the AI to snowball and destroy your base before you can establish yourself.
Quick strikes at an enemy base are always preferable to turtling while you fortify your own defenses. An enemy army is defeated, meaning they are completely wiped out from the map, units, buildings, and capture points, if you destroy their HQ. The AI sometimes tries to mitigate this by building a second HQ, but that usually only occurs if their first one takes a critical amount of damage. So FOCUS ON DESTROYING HQS.
Always remember that IT'S A PERFECTLY LEGITIMATE STRATEGY TO RUN AWAY. I mean, there are some pretty sweet epic battles you can get into if you and the enemy get your forces built up enough to reach a maximum state of conflict, but the Dark CrusQuiade campaign can get long and frustrating if this happens for every single attack and defense. Also, as much fun as it can be to get "stuck in with da boyz", letting your AI opponent get to the point where they can field such massive armies lessens your chances of winning. If you find that the enemy is getting the upper hand and you're consistently having difficulty turning it around, it's often better to just quit. Like the Ork saying goes, you can always go back and have another go at it, so it's not like you lost the fight. Quick strikes into a base to take out key structures are far more effective than waiting to amass a throng of soldiers to go toe-to-toe with the enemy armies. To summarize: if you find yourself drowning in enemy soldiers and are unable to make any headway OR are consistently losing ground, it's more cost and time-effective to quit and try again. To add to that--
PRESERVE YOUR HONOUR GUARD. They get expensive, and that requisition can be better spent on fortifying your base defenses on the map screen or saving them for building Forward Bases (if you get that perk). Honestly, the Honour Guard are so powerful that losing them can be a severe blow to a fight. This is why quitting a losing match can be beneficial, as if you quit while your Honour Guard are still alive, they will all be preserved. If they die in the conflict, you'll lose'em, so what's the point? Note that Honour Guard units are unique and have higher stats than Honour Guard vehicles, which really just allow you to start a map with a vehicle.
Speaking of which, if haven't been, BUILD AN HONOUR GUARD! It's pretty much essential for the campaign. If you want to survive certain Stronghold attacks (Necron, I'm looking at you), you must have an Honour Guard. They also make late game assaults and defenses much easier.
REMEMBER: if you have to defend a province that your commander is adjacent to, you will be able to bring your commander and their Honour Guard into the battle. The further away your commander is from a defense, the less resources you get to start with. You can always summon your commander to a battle, but you CANNOT SUMMON YOUR HONOUR GUARD TO A BATTLE.
Has the AI relocate its base or set up somewhere else? ALWAYS BE CAPTURING STRATEGIC POINTS and reinforcing them. (This especially helps with Eldar, which can teleport their HQ). If you are stuck looking for the last building to destroy, having strategic points all over the maps help. They provide you with a constant visual glimpse of an area that you can keep an eye on to catch enemy builder units and squads that travel past them. Unenforced strategic points can always be captured, so having Listening Posts upgraded on those points are great in case they're able to kill any stray builder units. Furthermore, Upgraded Listening Posts are always nice if the enemy gets the advantage over you and you need to retreat, as any sort of attacking turret will slow them down. So don't forget to upgrade them! (Particularly if you're playing as the Necron, since Obelisk Posts aren't self-sufficient until at the maximum upgrade).
When fighting each army, SOME BUILDINGS ARE MORE CRITICAL THAN OTHERS. Here's a quick low-down on buildings that you should prioritize as targets when facing against them:
- ELDAR - Fuckin' Webway Gates. People who have problems with Eldar buildings teleporting around maps, or shrouding themselves, need to target these structures with a vengeance. They're the little hook-like buildings the Eldar drop all over the place (they're needed for squad/vehicle caps, contain the stealth/teleport upgrades, and for provide area for construction). Destroy any Webway Gate you see. They go down quick and it prevents the Eldar from moving buildings around or cloaking. In fact, if it's becoming a problems, target the Webway Gates before the Eldar HQ. I mean, if you have the firepower, target the HQ first, but if you see the buildings start the teleport process (they start to sparkle), focus all attacks on Webway Gates. Oh, and Webway Gates can also be used to quickly teleport Eldar around the map to other Webway Gates, so, yeah, as if you didn't have enough reasons to target them.
- TAU - Tau are kind of unique in that no buildings present any real priority. Barracks and Vehicle Beacons, I suppose, since you don't want to deal with reinforcements--but Tau vehicle reinforcements aren't too big a concern, since if you're in their base far enough to be blowing up buildings, you'll probably be close enough to any newly spawned vehicles to overwhelm their weak defenses before their attacks start doing any real damage. The AI in the campaign is frustrating in that it can and will build Tau Listening Post Turrets all over the base--even though this is not a thing the player can do. This is frustrating since the rail cannon can be pretty damaging. Still, blow up any building as all Tau buildings are necessary for their squad/vehicle cap, so you can potentially thin the attacking army by blowing up even a Command Post or Path of Enlightenment.
- SPACE MARINES - Always take out a Machine Cult. Space Marine vehicles have fantastic armour and melee attacks. Taking out a Machine Cult before it can spawn any Dreadnoughts (or worse, tanks) is always preferable to the long-term health of your attack. Also try to take out any Orbital Relays you see. That will prevent the AI from using Orbital Bombardment (and the AI is great at remembering to use Orbital Bombardment), and will also stop them from Deep Striking their infantry amongst your forces.
- CHAOS SPACE MARINES - Honestly, more or less the same as the Space Marines. Destroy their Corrupted Machine Cults first. Tanks and Defilers are always frustrating to deal with. Chaos doesn't quite an equivalent to the Orbital Beacon, but the Sacrificial Circle and Daemon Pit allow for Deep Strikes. Sacrificial Circles are less of a problem since Horror Squads are easily overwhelmed, but a Daemon Pit could mean Obliterators, and that would be a problem.
- ORKZ - Always be knocking down Waaagh! Banners. They go down easy, so it's a quick time commitment to deprive the Orkz of a necessary resource and it means they have one less turret. Depriving the Orkz of the means of vehicle production is always nice, too. Killz Kans are a pain to put down in the middle of a base siege, and Orkz with a Relic could potentially have a Squiggoth in production.
- NECRON - Honestly? Plasma Cores and Obelisks. The Necron don't use requisition, only power, so depriving them of Plasma Cores is a quick way to slow down their army. Yeah, Necron Warriors don't cost anything, but each built squad takes longer to make. You can expect to face one Necron Warrior team in rapid succession, but fielding multiple Necron Warrior squads takes a long time. This is similar with Plasma Cores, as each additional core takes longer to build and costs more Power. Necron are power hungry, so any destroyed Plasma Core will slow down Scarab construction of other potentially dangerous Necron buildings as they'll reprioritize to making new Cores. Taking out Obelisks slows down Scarab build speed, so even a large Necron army can be slowed by keeping their power and build speed low.
- IMPERIAL GUARD - Pretty much every Imperial building is dangerous since they add to squad/vehicle caps and can teleport infantry around within them. If you need a high-priority target, though, their means of vehicle production is always the best bet. Imperial vehicles are some of the most dangerous in the game, so preventing the Guard from building them is never a bad thing.
(I imagine a lot of this has probably come through with how I'm running the LP, but here's the condensed version of my strategy for re-taking Kronus with the Tau)
Build a barracks immediately, and build a couple of Stealth Suits. Have the Stealth Suits grab Requisition Points and build a couple of Fire Warrior Squads. Great, now you might not die if you suffer an early game gank. Shas O'Kais is invaluable, but will be vulnerable until you get some upgrades.
You're going to want to play defensively, which is hard because Tau are essentially wholly offensive. It's costly, but build as many maxed out Fire Warrior squads as possible. The plan is to be able to destroy your enemies before they get close and present a problem. If possible, go on the attack to deprive them of vehicle construction capabilities. The problem with Tau is their units are costly yet you need to construct different buildings to bump up your vehicle/squad cap. It's a hard balancing act. Around this time, you should have upgraded your Stealth Suit squads to be awesome anti-vehicle/building squadskeep them with Shas O'Kais.
Go Kauyon upgrade to max out your Firewarrior squad capabilities--seriously, I'm only trying out Mont'ka to show off all the units in the LP, I usually only go Mont'ka for a laugh. If you can support it, build a fleet of Drones and utilize the "Drone Swarm" strategy. If you haven't defeated the enemy by now, your Drone fleets will be your saving grace because now you will have been in game so long that you won't be able to adequately diversify your squad enough to defend or attack the enemies. If you can get a relic, build a Kroot force with Kroot Hounds, Krootox and the Greater Knarloc. They're a great distraction for your Fire Warriors and can take a lot of punishmentan excellent alternative if you're facing a force that can counter Drone swarms (e.g., Eldar max upgraded turrets and Fire Prism tanks).
If you are dominating the map, quarantine your enemy and build bases all over. If you are attacked and O'Kais is nearby to defend with his Honour Guard, you'll be alright. If not, you'll be dependent on the limited reinforcements and hope you can build up enough defences to resist assaultit'll be hard. Fire Warriors and Drone Squads are usually your best bet. (Kroot Carnivores are a nice support unit, but I find Pathfinders to be more or less useless until I can establish myself).
Rely on O'Kais and your honour guard. Learn enemy base spawns and fucking rush them. If there are two bases, you need to be able to rush fast. Focus on getting lands that provide you with Firewarrior and Stealthsuit honour guards. Also, additional Requisition and Forward Base are godsendsbut Forward Base is difficult to capture, unless you're going in solely with an upgraded O'Kais. (See the update where I finally take Hyperion Peaks--it's a long slog, but O'Kais can basically do that mission on his own).
At this point, though, you can use the Honour Guard to defend your base and switch to Mont'Ka tactics. The Crisis Suits are excellent, but a couple of Hammerhead Gunships are devastating if you can secure the resources for them. Biggest drawback with Crisis Suits is that because they count as infantry, you can't repair them with Earth Caste Drones, like a vehicle. However, since they have such large health pools, it takes ages for them to heal if they are severely injured.
If you can manage to secure a fast enough Power supply rate, you can do the Temp Drone Fleet tactic (which I haven't shown off yet). Build Drone Harbingers, park them just outside enemy bases, tag spawn points as inside the base, and leave them to continuously spawn drones behind enemy lines. If it's a powerful entrenched force, they wont be deterred, but they will be distracted and slowly, ever so slowly, whittled down. At this point, use Fire Warriors to attack from the flank.
Get cloaking first. It's a must. Then get the infiltration detection. Also a must. Then get jetpacks. Boom, now Shas O'Kais is the most dangerous commander of them all. Subsequent upgrades should focus on making him beefier or more lethal. Save drone upgrades for last, they aren't super necessary. You are witnessing this in the LP and can make your own judgement on whether or not you are finding it to be successful. (Note: I've only lost two missions so far, and I'm leaving my attack route to the whim of the thread).
Build a single Necron Warrior squad, and team it with your commander. Build as many scarabs as possible and get capturing requisition points. You want to focus on building lots of power stations and a few obelisks to get your power rate and build rate up. you dont need requisition, but without power, you're fucked. Don't focus on building Necron Warriors. Yes, they are free, but with each additional squad you build it takes longer and longer to construct. Build one or two tops. Any more and it takes too damn long and just isn't worth the time.
Get your Summoning Core up, because you want Flayed Ones to deploy from your Monolith. You've probably marched your Necron squad (or two, if you're confident) somewhere with your Necron Lord. they are slow, so play your attack safe until you can spawn in Flayed Ones in the middle of the base to disrupt enemies.
Dont bother with vehicles unless you want a Tomb Spyder or two. Their strong offensive and defensive capability is awesome when combined with the ability to harvest corpses to make new squads. But otherwise, focus on maxing out your obelisks and power cores. only focus on other buildings when you can build no more Plasma Cores.
Early games get easier, not with more wargear, but with a Necron Squad or two in your Honour Guard to save build time and focus early game on Scarabs.
With a couple of Necron Warrior squads and the Pariah Squad, your Necron Lord is pretty dangerous in early runs. Big problem is it's hell getting your team anywhere. It takes damn forever if you're not defending a map with buildings all over it already, and you may need a Necron Destroyer or your Necron Lord to play inference while your team makes its slow march to the enemy base. However I find you aren't able to rely on your Honour Guard as much with other races (see: the Tau), so capturing certain territories isn't as important as it is with other races.
Continue focussing on getting as much power up and running as possible. Rely on Flayed Ones as shock troops. With more resources at your disposal, try and get Tomb Spyders up and running as quickly as you can, as their effects are devastating. When you max out your Tomb Spiders, build Lord Destroyers, or whatever to get the most out of your vehicle cap. If you are playing against a race with sweet vehicles, use your Lord Destroyers to take them (e.g., steal a Tau Hammerhead Gunship--you will wreck them).
Working towards the C'Tan lord upgrade for your Necron Lord is okay, but frankly it can sometimes be annoying against an enemy that can infiltratewith your Scarabs busy keeping your economy running, why waste them as detectors for your squads when your Necron Lord can detect? Only problem is, when your Necron Lord transforms, it loses detection abilities. What you really want to focus on late game is the Necron Monolith. Power it up, teleport it to an enemy base and wreak devastation on the enemy. Continue to resurrect Tomb Spiders and drop Flayed Ones as shock troops.
I've found many of the Necron units remain fairly useless throughout. For one, Wraiths get used a tonne by the AI, and I never had a need for them. Lord Destroyers are sometimes fun because you can use them to get sick vehicles you normally wouldn't have. Nabbing Hammerhead Gunships from the Tau or Lemann Russ tanks from the Imperial Guard is hilarious and game breaking.
Infiltration detection first. Then focus on giving it damage and survivability. It's already one of the beefiest commanders, but with some upgrades it's an unstoppable early-game fighter.
Always give Taldeer a squad or two of Eldar Guardians, one to attach to and another as a decoy in case you need to run. Like the Imperial Guard, Eldar are unfortunate in that once you build their barracks and vehicle depots, you need to upgrade them. You also need to upgrade WAR LEVELS, but they aren't as critical as they are to the Imps. Get the Speed Run upgrade, since you'll want it to strike enemy bases or flee. Get all your Bonesingers out and build your power cores up while you send a squad or two to grab a couple of requisition points.
Taldeer is strong enough that with a few escorts, she can devastate unfortified enemy bases with her skills, destroying most squads and commando units with ease. You'll only need a few requisition points since you wont be spending tonnes of itonly on reinforcing your main squads.
If things start to get hot, your base progression should next go to getting a Soul Shrine up so you can build a vehicle depot. Research Wraithlords and spam build as much as you can. You'll need to build those weird teleport hooks to bump your squad caps, but that's okay as it gives you space to build power cores or stationary turrets. The Wraithlords are incredible at offense and defense, taking a tonne of damage. Upgraded with the Lance Cannons, they can make quick work of most vehicles and turret emplacements. Up close, they rule at crushing buildings. You can probably just spam them into a base and win.
If the match drags out, supplement them with infantry to draw fire off them while they focus on destroying the HQ. Harrlequins are okay for disruption, but the inability to attach to squads is a bummer. Some Dark Ones and Fire Dragons are great for heavy weaponsif you have time to build Warp Spiders, so much the better as they are great at melting infantry and even vehicles.
Hopefully you can rely on your Honour Guard a bit more. You'll still need to build a few guards squads for Taldeerwhich in that time you can use your Honour Guard to capture requisition instead of building an extra guard set for that job. Then get the Move Speed upgrade and rush to the enemy base. Break defense, kill the few guards and commander, and destroy HQ before they have a chance to get up and running.
If you are up against two bases, make sure you get at least one before retreating to build up strength.
Focus on getting Taldeer's ability cool-downs all purchased first. She can cause so much damage with them, so the faster she can re-use them, the quicker you can dominate a map. Once you have those all up, focus on survivability and damage wargears.
(I have yet to beat the Campaign with the Orkz, Chaos, or Space Marines, so they are forthcoming. I've conquered the campaign on Hard with the Imp Guard handily, but I'm going to bed, so I'll share my strategies with them later).