Intermediate Strategy

In-depth tactical discussion on how to lose the least

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XF Clohvn
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Intermediate Strategy

Postby XF Clohvn » Thu Oct 05, 2006 9:24 pm

With all the game play settings and territory differences in Defcon is hard to write a definitive strategy guide, so I'll try to give some general tips that should improve your game play regardless of what specific settings you're using :) All specific values are for default game settings.

Enjoy :)

First, some links that have helped me improve my game:

A "newbie guide"- By Vanguard
Great if you're still trying to get a hold of game mechanics as opposed to strategy :)

DEFNETS and you! - By Soldant
An expanded version of my brief summary on setting up your defense, great reading and definitely improves your defensive play :)

Lets Talk About...
Battleships and Overall Sea Tactics
By Daemondim

Awesome articles on naval tactics :)

Thanks to these authors, and everyone else who contributes to the forums :)


Don't be afraid to drop down to real time speed for a few seconds every now and then to micro manage. It's especially helpful when you're trying to get nukes to arrive at the right times, or when micromanaging your fighters and bombers.

I believe that every territory is more or less equal, you just have to understand their advantages and disadvantages. Territories with very clustered populations like the USSR or Europe have very strong defenses, but are also easy to scout and open to attack from every other territory. Larger, more spread out territories like Asia or Africa are harder to defend, and you may have to abandon a city or two, but it is also harder to launch a well clustered attack against these countries, and they are harder to scout. They can also enjoy the benefits of their northern neighbours AA. A little practice with each should give you a good hold on these pros and cons. You'll generally want to attack those closest to you first, since you can make best use of your bombers and don't have to worry about your nukes flight paths crossing over other territories.

When making a nuclear strike, the first things you'll generally want to hit is the enemy radar, especially if they've been left in vulnerable positions. With crippled radar, many more of your subsequent nukes will successfully find their targets.

Ground Emplacements

Don't place your ground emplacements on top of your cities, because nukes do have a small splash radius.

+ Large supply of long range nukes (10 nukes per silo).
+ Main source of Anti-Aircraft defence.
+ Reinforced against nuke hits (takes 3 hits before destruction).
- Nuke launching reveals location to all
- Cannot act as AA while firing nukes, long switching time

Silo's are your primary defense emplacement, and should be placed as such. It's tempting to fire off all your silo's at once to try and overwhelm an enemies air defence, but this will usually end up with you being crushed by subs off your coast, or bombers. Your silo's should always be clustered around (but not one) your main cities, and given ample radar coverage. Consider what angle incoming nukes are likely to be arriving at when placing your silos. Your AA is crippled when firing at a nuke travelling perpendicular to your AA fire, so try to place your silos so they will catch the nukes head on. By mousing over the silo you can see its firing range, try to make sure that entire area (in direction you're expecting attack from at least) is covered by your radar. Here's an example of a good, all around silo setup for playing as North America.

(Taken from the end of a game, so you can see a few of the radars have been hit. Having overlapping radar coverage saved me the victory :) )

With some practice, you'll be able to figure out good setups for each territory following these general guidelines.

Silo's can be used offensively mid game, but its usually wise to only use 1 or at most 2 at a time. They are particularly effective being used 1 by 1 when an enemy territory has very little or no air defense left. Don't forget that by using a silo you're revealing its location, and it can then be the target of subsequent attacks of enemies who haven't even scouted your territory. An all out attack by your silos is usually used as a last ditch attempt to score points, or as a retaliation attack. For example, If there's 40 minutes left on the victory timer and you know your rival has little or no nukes, why not? :P When you do plan on firing all of your silos at once, try to micromanage their firing order so the nukes all arrive in as tight a cluster as possible. Obviously, your silos farther away from your target should be the first to fire, followed by closer silos.

When firing land based nukes, it is absolutely vital to consider their flight path. Attacking Africa from Asia without having Europe and Russia as allies is a great way to waste your nukes. Either make sure you have a clear flight path to your target, or ally with the nations in your flight path.

+ Increases silo effectiveness by increasing range.
- Easily destroyed by nuke hit. (Destroyed in a single hit)

A good radar setup is vital to having an effective anti-air defense. Ideally, you should have as much of your silos range as possible covered by your radar, with a overlapping coverage so the loss of one particular radar doesn't cripple your defense. Generally this means you'll want to have your radar surrounding your main clusters of silos. Radar emplacements only take a single nuke to destroy, so expect to lose some. Also, you'll want to keep your radar inside the range of your silos. It may seem like a good idea to spread them out as much as possible to cover a larger area, but covering a large area doesn't help you if you have no way to affect that area. Keeping the radar inside your silos AA range also prevents them from being easily destroyed by a single bomber or sub fired nuke.

Radar is vital because without a good radar range your AA is crippled, and enemy nukes will have a far higher chance of getting through your defence. If your radar situation is getting desperate, you can use coastal carriers or battleships to supplement your radar range, as well as patrolling fighters or bombers.

+ Large number of bombers (5 bombers, 10 nukes)
+ Regenerates fighters over time (starts with 5)
- Easily destroyed by nuke hits (each hit also destroys landed aircraft)

Airbases should usually be placed within reach of your coasts, and within your silos AA coverage. This allows you to pull your fleet back and give it fighter coverage or bomber support if in need. Many players underestimate the effectiveness of bombers, and place airbases in undefended locations. This is a senseless waste of valuable bombers, and large amounts of nukes. Also, try to use your airbase fighters as soon as you can, so as to not waste time they could be regenerating. You can also use the airbase's regenerating fighters to "refuel" your carriers.


In general, I am not a fan of mixed fleets. Each type of navy unit has its own specific purpose, and putting carriers in harms way serves no real purpose when they are just as, if not more effective from a distance. My usual fleet composition is two groups of battleships, 2 groups of 6 subs, 1 group of 6 carriers, and 3 groups of 2 carriers for coastal defence. You could also throw in a single carrier with your battleship fleets for anti sub defence, but I usually find this unnecessary. The battleships are used to spearhead into combat, and soak up incoming fire, while the carriers hang back providing fighter cover and bomber sniping. Subs will be your main offensive weapon, so it is of utmost importance to keep them out of harms way until they've fired their nukes.

Shift clicking an order on any fleet will cause all member of that fleet to receive the order, which is great for setting up simultaneous nuke or bomber launches.

+ Effective against multiple targets.
- Vulnerable to bombers/subs.

Battleships will be the "tanks" of your navy. You'll want you battleships to be the first ships in to any fight, and soak up as much incoming fire as possible. Don't be afraid to lose your battleships, they carry no nukes and are expendable. You'll want to micromanage your battleships to take out enemy carriers first whenever possible.

+ Can launch fighters and bombers (2 bombers, 5 fighters).
+ Contains 6 short range nukes.
+ Can detect subs and drop depth charges.
- No direct defense.

Carriers are your most versatile unit, and your primary method of offense alongside subs. Each carrier carries 6 nukes, but your bombers must survive 3 trips to be able to deliver all of them.

I usually leave 3 groups of 2 subs off my coasts for sub defence. As soon as Defcon 3 hits, I switch one of each pair to anti sub, and one to bomber launch, so they can quickly react to both submerged and surfaced subs.

During naval engagements, you'll want to hold your carriers behind your battleships, and out of firing range of your enemy. Have some of your carriers launch a fighter cloud (I usually use 3 or 4 in a 6 carrier fleet), and have the others launch bombers. Mouse over your bombers in flight and notice how large their attack radius is in naval combat mode. By carefully micromanaging these bombers (right click for movement commands), you can keep the enemy just at the edge of the bombers firing range. This allows your bombers to "snipe" the enemy, inflicting massive damage without being in any danger. You'll also want to continue micromanaging your fighters and carriers at the same time. This is what real time speed is for :P

Effective use of bomber sniping will have you dominating the oceans in no time :)

+ Invisible to radar.
+ Large supply of medium range nukes.
- Extremely vulnerable when surfaced.
- Nuke launch reveals location.
- Vulnerable to carriers.
- No radar.

Your subs will be your most valuable weapon. Used properly subs are capable of completely decimating your enemies. As soon as the game starts, you'll want to switch to real time and place your subs first. This allows you to get them moving off to their target coastlines as quickly as possible. You'll also want to keep them away from choke points where you know enemy fleets are likely to be until you navy has cleared the spot. By right clicking on a sub and mousing over (not click) the nuke launch mode, you can see what their range is. Being too close to coast line usually ends in your subs being quickly spotted and destroyed, so you'll want to sit out as far you can while still having the enemies major cities in range. If your enemy (or ally for that matter :P) is foolish enough to launch all his land based nukes at once, your subs are now in a perfect position to quickly surface and completely demolish the enemy. If you have more land based nukes, and a clear flight path to your target you'll want to destroy the enemy silos primarily with your nukes. Otherwise, you'll want to hit his cities hard and rack up points while you can.

If your enemy is foolish enough to launch all his nukes at once, this is what happens :D


If you're not so lucky, you can still use your sub's nukes, but obviously it wont be as easy. Try to time your subs launches with the arrival of your bombers to overwhelm the enemies AA. Try to keep your nukes as clustered as possible and attacking specific cities to ensure they get through.

It can also be very effective to keep a fleet of subs in reserve until the very end of the game for last second points / back stabbing. Once you've fired off all your subs nukes, you can now put them on active sonar, and go fleet hunting with them :)

Air force

+ Effective against bombers.
+ Good for scouting.
- Easily destroyed by battleships or silos.

Your fighter serve two main functions. Their first function is to protect your bombers during naval combat. Having air superiority is absolutely vital to doing well during naval combat, and your fighters need to be keep the enemy fighters off your bombers, as well as shooting down the enemy bombers. Fighters can also be used as scouts when launched in mass number from your carriers. During naval combat you'll want to micromanage your fighters to shoot down enemy fighters and especially bombers as a first priority.

At this point its unclear whether fighters can shoot down nukes. A fighter launched from an airbase or carrier can be set to target the nuke (but not a fighter already in flight), but it hasn't been confirmed whether the fighter's shots actually have a chance of downing the nuke. Until this is confirmed I guess it can't hurt to try :P

+ Carries a single short range nuke.
+ Extremely effective against ships.
+ Nuke launch does not announce location.
- Easily shot down by fighters.
- Slow moving.

Bombers serve as another primary form of offense. Bombers are devastating to ships in naval combat mode. When you see subs firing near your coast, the first thing you'll want to do is launch whatever nearby bombers you have, as bombers are extremely effective against surfaced subs. They also carry a single short range nuke. Bombers launched during Defcon 3/2 will still launch with a nuke, but are unable to fire it until Defcon 1. Bombers take a certain amount of time to arm their nuke before the can fire it (which you can see by mousing over them). Make sure your bombers aren't entering their firing range (or enemy AA) before they can actually fire their nuke, as this leads to senseless losses. If need be, switch them to naval combat mode and send them away from their target before switching to nuke firing mode. This can also be used to keep your bombers circling one spot until they've been properly massed into a large clump. You always want your bombers as clumped as possible, as opposed to arriving in a line. Bombers are especially handy in attacking coastal targets, as they can usually stay far enough out at sea to be out of harms way. Used properly, and with a little good luck, the majority of your bombers should be able to survive at least 2 nuke launching trips.

Bombers can also be used to devastating effect to back stab an ally. A fleet of bombers innocently passing over on the way to a mutual enemy can quickly become an unstoppable nightmare when the alliance gets broken :twisted: Just the other day this little tactic catapulted me from 3rd to 1st in (literally) the last 10 seconds of a game :)


This only applies when alliances are unlocked (per default) obviously :P

I thought this was worth mentioning, as a lot of people seem to misunderstand the victory conditions. The game never displays VICTORY FOR RED ALLIANCE :P Scoring is for each individual, and as such you should never ever trust your allies, unless you know where they live :P Never expect an ally to cover one of your coastlines for example, because he could very easily be setting up his subs to back stab you. Always keep an eye on anything going on near your territory, and your allies nuke trajectories. I usually refuse to let my allies fly bomber fleets over my land, unless I have subs off their coast :D On the other hand, your allies can also be a great source of last minute points when you're hovering around 3rd/2nd. Expect to be back stabbed, and expect to back stab yourself if you expect to win :twisted:

That's all I've got for now, hopefully the overall quality of my opponents will improve :P
A. Smith
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Postby A. Smith » Thu Oct 05, 2006 9:32 pm

excellent post. sticky please?
.78 Chance
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Postby .78 Chance » Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:22 pm

Agreed- this is excellent, well-illustrated, easy to absorb info.
Kudos, sir~! I'll be sure to keep a lookout for your name heretofore.

Sticky, seconded.
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Postby xander » Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:28 pm

A very nice overview of Defcon strategy. Thanks, and kudos.

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Postby dazDEFCON1 » Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:43 pm

great info
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Hegemon Hog
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Postby Hegemon Hog » Thu Oct 05, 2006 11:07 pm

Great overview, I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up! :D
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Postby Daemondim » Fri Oct 06, 2006 10:08 pm

Great work, and thanks for the mention!

Keep up the excellent work.
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Re: Intermediate Strategy

Postby pirate0r » Fri Oct 06, 2006 10:56 pm

XF Clohvn wrote:Expect to be back stabbed, and expect to back stab yourself if you expect to win :twisted:

when playing defcon that phrase is my motto lol :twisted:
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Gen. Ripper
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Postby Gen. Ripper » Thu Jan 04, 2007 6:59 pm

just bumping this to the top for new people to read
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Postby torig » Fri Jan 05, 2007 6:58 pm

Gen. Ripper wrote:just bumping this to the top for new people to read

Thanks for the bumb ; I had missed this excellent post!
Nice links as well. Kudos.

I second that sticky
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Postby MIKES » Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:14 pm

yeah same here.

Hey XF Clohvn,

Excellent strategy and presentation.
We have currently 3 players in EU dedicated to tactics.

Please contact us should you wish to contribute.
Nice work!


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