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Ranged units versus Speedy units, what do you prefer?


X3M

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Of course having both is fun too. But it also depends on the game and the strength of units in that game.

I always wondered how some game creators approached this issue. Even in the early RTS games, there was an obvious difference in low and high quality units regarding speed or range. And of course the impact of these units on the game play.

What I prefer depends on the game. I am going to mention 2 examples down here. Both are based on harassing your opponent. If it comes to defending, ranged are always better. So my main issue is always, if I attack? Will the Speedy unit be better?

Dune 2

We have the Rocket Launcher and Sonic Tank if it comes to terms of range.

We have the Trike, Raider, (Quad?), and yes, also the Ornithopter if it comes to terms of speed.

The obvious difference between the ranged and speedy units would be, the ranged units deal with opponents before they receive return fire. While the speedy units have to run constantly. (Mr Orni just dies) And they do not have the required fire power to deal with defenceless structures.

What about infantry? Well, lets assume you have a smart opponent that doesn't scatter them. But uses them for tank support. But then again, what a waist of space.

Since you win the game by destroying enemy units first, the ranged units are the first choice. After that, you simply choose strong units for your army. During the demolishing your ranged units are capable of shooting incoming defenders.

My vote on Sonic Tank, and with the Harkonnen and Ordos I go for a pack of Rocket Launchers.

In a slow paced game, ranged units work best.

Warcraft 2

We have the Catapult/Ballista, Death Knight/Wizard if it comes to terms of long range.

We have the Berserker/Ranger if it comes to terms of midrange.

We have the Ogre/Paladin if it comes to terms of speed.

Well, after gaining the power to build Ogre's and Paladins, you just stick with them. They aren't ranged, but their power compared to other units makes them the only ones to be "useful" around. Of course some Berserker's and Rangers are to be around in case you have to deal with air. But against Towers, there is no need any more for out ranging them. Since the Ogre's and Paladins make short work of them. To add things up, the cannon towers even have a minimum range and are defenceless. When they are in groups however, 1 Death Knight or 1 Wizard can use a mass effect weapon to make short work of them. But there is a lot of skill needed in a heat of combat.

So sticking with just the Speedy this time works best for beginners. In a fast paced game, speedy units work best.

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That depends quite a lot on whether a quick unit can actually outrun the missiles. In Dune II, a Raider is quite capable of successfully outrunning Rocket Turret fire, and is invaluable in dealing with enemy Rocket Launchers as well. However, its firepower is pretty negligible against heavy armour and structures, and the unit limit in the game makes a swarm of Raider for hit-and-run tactics simply impossible.

I remember that in Starcraft, on the other hand, most missiles hit their targets even if they're moving, but then again, you can literally have swarms of Zerglings and try to overwhelm the opponent (at least, in single-player, as I've never played multi I don't know about that), especially if you have the tier 3 attack speed upgrade too (and Dark Swarm ;)).

In Command & Conquer, I tried the tactic to destroy GDI medium tanks with packs of Recon Bikes, moving one that was targeted by the enemy tank around to avoid shots while everyone else fires at the tank. It works, but gets a bit more difficult to pull of if you face more than one tank at once.

In Westwood games, most ranged units seem to be of the glass cannon variety, so you have to keep them protected, and out of direct contact with the enemy. I've also noticed that in Dune II v1.07, Rocket Launchers are much less effective because they not only fire slowly but also miss a lot, even at long range, and the AI often rebuilds destroyed defences quicker than you take them out with Rocket Launchers (unlike v1.07 where the AI rarely rebuilds anything). So v1.07 pushes the player towards a Tank/Siege Tank rush in favour of Rocket Launchers (they still work nicely as support fire though, but the enemy isn't too dumb and focusses on them when possible), Sonic Tanks still win the day though, but I wouldn't have them waltz around without Siege Tank support either.

Warcraft III gave me the impression that you have to use both, but playing on higher difficulty settings (I'm again talking about single-player only) often pushed me into using ranged infantry almost exclusively.

Tiberian Sun: Nod Artillery (especially in vanilla TS). Their "homing" shells work for both defence and offence, and honestly this borders on game breaker (to say the least). Buggies and bikes are nice and cool too, but pretty average on the whole as far as I remember. GDI has a knack for infantry in this game, especially with Medics, and groups of Disc Throwers and Jump Jets are quite effective.

Red Alert 2: Prism Tanks can be unstoppable. OTOH, in Yuri's Revenge, Gatling Tanks can be unstoppable too.

However, to generalize, I believe that all units in most RTS games have certain roles that they fill, and long-ranged attackers are usually reserved for a supportive role, while quick attack units may function on their own, especially in situations where quantity is allowed to (over)match quality.

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Rome: Total War Europa Barbarorum mod, When using Arche Seleukia, I'd make Persian Archers like crazy, because almost every province could make them (easy to retrain, and build more for support). Basically find high ground and let them destroy other armies. Usually would need several spearmen for protection, and couple horse units to clean up mess or flank enemy.

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Well, the main issue for each game is. The game build up decides if players choose for ranged, or for speedy units. And by telling what you prefer for which game, indicates where the focus lies for that game.

That depends quite a lot on whether a quick unit can actually outrun the missiles. In Dune II, a Raider is quite capable of successfully outrunning Rocket Turret fire, and is invaluable in dealing with enemy Rocket Launchers as well. However, its firepower is pretty negligible against heavy armour and structures, and the unit limit in the game makes a swarm of Raider for hit-and-run tactics simply impossible.

MrFibble, it seems you kinda agree with me on the rocket launchers. The minimum range of the rocket launchers, how could I forget. Perhaps because I always backed them up with turret fire. However, when you have your "25" rocket launchers ready and you decide to move to the enemy. Some might hit the incoming trike/raider. Once close enough, 1 rocket launcher misses. But if you have a wall wide of 25, then about 6 to 12 will actually hit the trike, I believe it dies with that much incoming rockets :).

So is it a 2 out of 2 vote for that ranged units dominate Dune2.

I remember that in Starcraft, on the other hand, most missiles hit their targets even if they're moving, but then again, you can literally have swarms of Zerglings and try to overwhelm the opponent (at least, in single-player, as I've never played multi I don't know about that), especially if you have the tier 3 attack speed upgrade too (and Dark Swarm ;)).

Yeah, well, I don't know what is best in Starcraft/Broodwar. The zerglings where indeed very useful if it comes to harassing a player. Even micro worked very well with zerglings. Don't forget that most "splash" weapons actually miss a percentage if the targeted unit moves. However, the splash still did the same percentage, even if there was dark swarm. I am talking about the ranged units; siege tank and reaver. In SC/BW range seems to be very important. For example: guardians out range most defences. I guess you vote for speedy here.I would vote for both work fine on this game, it depends on the user.

Ow in C&C dawn, I especially vote for the slow and strong ones amass. The speedy don't have enough fire power. And most of the ranged don't have enough fire power either. Although, the MRLS, Artillery, AdvGuardTower, GuardTower and Sniper are useful against infantry just simply because the infantry is dead before it returns fire. With the obelisk, if done right, you can kill even Mammoth before they return fire. But once you use Mammoth, Medium or Light tanks amass, even the Obelisk doesn't stand a chance. Even though, ranged is somewhat useful against the lighter units. The fast ones are all weak and have weak weapons, most are also anti infantry. But why bother taking damage from the infantry? My vote on 1 ranged. Yours on 1 speedy?

Warcraft III: I agree on the ranged when I play with the night elves and undead. Even with the orcish air units. There are no real useful speedy units, except the wolf rider. He is specially designed for hit and run on enemy structures. And he can esnare enemy units which hunt him. Even though it was supposed to be a both game, I too vote on ranged here. So 2 votes on ranged.

Tiberian Sun: Yes, I agree on the ranged. Speed units did not have any chance here. And the armour of the Artillery wasn't that bad :).

So 2 votes on ranged here.

Red Alert 2: Same thing, and a couple of anti air, and you where safe. So again, 2 votes on ranged.

However, to generalize, I believe that all units in most RTS games have certain roles that they fill, and long-ranged attackers are usually reserved for a supportive role, while quick attack units may function on their own, especially in situations where quantity is allowed to (over)match quality.

True, but not all games manage in this. SC/BW is one of the few that does manage the usefulness of both types in my opinion. The vulture is even an example of doing both range and speed if your micro allows it. The same can be noticed in SC2, where a packed group of marines can hit and run, about 1,2 times per second. Demolishing equal groups of zerglings. See it like this: The marines fire on the zerglings, then they move away until they can fire again. The difference between the vulture and marines is, the vulture can run away permanently, while the marines are catched at a certain point. So ranged and speedy both work fine as mentioned before.

Sorry Andrew, I don't know that game. But I'll note a 1 vote for ranged for Rome: Total War Europa Barbarorum mod, When using Arche Seleukia.

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In emperor, the topic at hand is exemplified by minotaurus vs laser tank/atreides vs ordos. A laser tank can easily outrun a mino's shells. As long as it is micromannaged well, it will kill the lone mino without a single hit. The same goes for a group of laser tanks vs a group of minos.

All ordos units in emperor are designed around speed. They 're all fast, they all regen health and they all get slowed down significantly when hit. To counteract that, some of them, including the laser tank, got shields that will take the initial hits, and also regenerate on their own. That means that even if the laser tank takes the occasianal hit, it won't slow down and die.

The atreides could try to force fire ahead of the tanks. But simpler than that is simply backing the minos with instant-hit units. All atreides infantry and the sardaukar serve this purpose well enough. They will take down the lastanks shields and slow them down allowing the minos to rip them apart. And lastly, if the minos are numerous enough, they will cover enough area with their salvos to make outrunning them impossible.

All in all, ordos' chances against atreides lie in the early game, using his units speed to harass the enemies' most vulnerable spot. Attack, kill some enemies, pull back, regen, repeat. Head for the spice field, attack the harvesters, pull back when enemy units arrive, head for the base. As the game goes on, Atreides is bound to gain the upper hand and win, though that has much to do with their complete air dominance. Ordos do have an artillery unit of their own but it has to be deployed and only matches mino range when on higher ground.

My preference was ordos and thus, speed.

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And don't forget out-ranging combined with speed, the ordos APC. I always took 3, and trained them to the maximum experience. Then I replaced the experienced ones with new ones. Until I had an army of about 20. Have fun with those ;)

But don't forget, the Mongoose has use against almost all, except the ordos APC.

Is there anything that can beat the Ordos APC when micro management is applied?

The Atreides APC has hitting chances, with enough, Atreides APC group can kill by surprise, however, they loose some too. The ration would be 3 Atreides APC versus 2 Ordos APC.

Has the Harkonnen Missile Launcher a chance? I don't know.

No super weapons! I want unit versus unit comparison.

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You are a bit wrong with dune2k, quads are speedy, they can attack a base while the slow pokes like the devastator need time to defend that point. The quads are very effective here because they are speedy.

The quads will be gone before the devastator has a chance. Besides, the devastator isn't really a ranged unit compared to the other ranged units. Siege tanks, Sonic tanks, Rocket tanks and Rocket turrets are the real ranged units.

I agree with C&C3, it's really well balanced. Even the pesky Mammoth and Juggernauts have anti.

Agreed with tiberian sun, the ranged units own in that game. I wouldn't call the speedy, speedy there :D.

But it's obvious that you prefer ranged over speedy. ^^

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's funny to see that on many forums, the discussion of the, "what beats mammoth tank CC3?", always results in people suggesting the strongest units of other races. Even other game units. Of course they are no match, since the mammoth tank is the most expensive one in the series of the strongest.

Every time when I see someone suggesting the counter options. Others are like, yeah, but then we have APC or Flame Tanks or Air units to deal with the support that's going to defeat the Mammoth. They actually mis the point since:
[french accent:] Oh, Nononono,.. wé àre,.. discusieng,.. mammoeth tanks that have to be defeated.

Now, lets see what actually works against mammoth tanks, only naming the NOD units:
- Rocket Infantry 6x: even 4 teams could win and once again, they can be stacked, thus against many mammoth, many infantry will win. But be carefull, stacked units receive splash.
Plus, Rocket squads rank up faster then the mammoth. 2 Dead Mammoth is 1 star rocket squad.
- Beam tanks 2,5x: even 1 can win if it uses micro. But it will take a long time. Plus, since they can combine their power against many, they win with ease.
- Obelisk of Light: Well, add a beam cannon and your there. Against many mammoth, once again, many obelisks of light with beam cannons will win. Without the beam cannon, the obelisk of light might loose.
- Fanatics 3x: even though they die with the suicide. They will have remaining units after the demolishing of all those mammoth tanks. If it's a 3 on 1 battle, you wont be keeping remaining units. You need to use the splash of their explosion.
- Avatar 1x: with some micro or without, they win. Against amass, they win.
- Bomber 1,333x: After a couple of times of replenishing their ammo. The Mammoth is dead. This requires some searching, and dealing in time before the Mammoth reaches your base.But obvious a speed issue.


So 5 options, the best one would be the beam cannons with range and slightly more speed, since you wont be loosing units if placed right. Right after the number one we have the rocket infantry. Which can be stacked. Yes, once I had like 200 stacked rocket infantry. They even owned the approaching flame tanks ^^.

The other options will include losing a lot. I almost never build obelisk of light, costs to much time to set it up properly in a constant heat of battle. The avatars however can gain experience. And then they are a real pain to deal with. Especially when you back them up with engineer. This requires however, pushing. So that the engineer can savely scavenge remaining avatars.

 

Edit:

I have more experience now with C&C3, and some stuff posted here was wrong. Scorpion tanks really suck against all other tanks of the same type.

 

Back to range or speed. The beam cannons are ranged. But if it comes to speed, use the bombers. Way better and less risky if you are dealing with an incomming opponent that still has to travel a lot. It requires scouting (speed) and hunting (speed again). If amass, the beam cannons work better again, especially when you use the Obelisk of Light that is charged.  C&C3 is a game that has a really good mix in speed and range.

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