Fighter Strategy

In-depth tactical discussion on how to lose the least

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Tsar Bomba
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Fighter Strategy

Postby Tsar Bomba » Mon May 11, 2009 4:28 am

In 1v1 games the win is often determined by who has more material going into the end game. Even a slight advantage can make the difference - maybe even one fighter. There are lots of posts on general naval strategy, bombers, and subs. The poor fighters have been sorely ignored.

The Basics

Fighters are commonly used for scouting, attacking enemy ships (usually in swarms), shooting down bombers, and shooting down nukes. But they can be used in other ways too. Managing your fighters properly can make the difference between a win and a loss.

At Defcon 5 you have 5 fighters per carrier and 5 fighters per base. The base generates 1 new fighter every 17 minutes and fighters can stay in the air approximately 12 minutes. Fighters are the fastest unit in Defcon, excluding nukes.

Maximize the Number of Fighters

From the start you want to have as many fighters as possible. Bases hold a maximum of 10 fighters, but will stop generating fighters once it reaches five. The goal for maximum fighter production is to constantly have less than five fighters in each base. if you are using fighters from carriers to scout, you can easily transfer 1 or 2 fighters from the base onto your ships: left click base, left click and hold area off of base, release on ship. But if you are traveling across an ocean you may not want to release your fighters immediately. In that case you can transfer 1 or 2 fighters from 3 bases on to a forth base, but remember that you can only have a maximum of 10 fighters per base. You should continue this process until you have 10 fighters in 3 bases and 5 fighters in 1 base - I have never had this much time without needing my fighters, but it is possible.

Even if you want to get your land based bombers in the air as soon as possible, take the time to send one fighter from each base to your ships. This will take at most 5 real-time seconds, and it will give you a 4 fighter advantage over your opponent.

Fighters As Scouts

One of the most useful things fighters can do is to scout the enemy. They can be used to scout silos and other land units, ships, and bombers.

Fighters are easily shot down by battleships and silos. If you want to scout enemy territory with fighters you have 2 basic choices. 1) send massive waves of fighters from many ships, or 2) use bombers or nukes to draw silo fire while scouting with fighters. If I know the general location of my opponents silos and there are no ships between my fleet and his silos, I would use a minimum of 4 carriers (preferably 6) and send three waves of fighters toward the silos, e.g., determine the center of the silos, one wave of fighters covering territory to the right, one wave to the center, and one to the left. The fighters to the right will draw the fire of the silos and will be less prone to being shot down because they are not in the direct line of fire. The center wave will scout the majority and the left wave will scout the other extremity.

If you are using the second method, you can scout with relatively few fighters. The priority of silo anti-air targeting is: 1 - incoming closest nuke, 2 - incoming closest bomber, and finally 3 - incoming closest fighter. As long as there is a nuke in radar and firing range of every silo, the silos will not automatically target your fighters. However, a clever opponent may manually target silos and send other fighters to shoot your fighters down. It is very difficult to try to manually target fighters with silos. In the same method as stated above, you can use bombers to draw the fire as your fighters scout.

Using fighters to scout ships is very useful to provide radar for bomber attacks. If you are able to keep your ships out of radar while providing radar for attacking bombers, you will likely win the naval battle.

Another important use is that of scouting bombers. For example in a situation of EU v. Asia, Asia will usually send a huge wave of bombers on Defcon 1. you can use your fighters to scout where the attack is coming from and then send the rest of your fighters to dispatch the oncoming attack.

Fighters can also me used to provide radar for your silos. Radar coverage is very important for silos in anti-air mode. if you don't have radar coverage you can't shoot the nuke down. If you happen to lose your radar, you can use fighters to provide coverage. However, it is tricky, you waste a lot of fighters, and they don't have a very large radar range. Bombers are much better for this job.

Fighters Attacking Units

The most important targets for fighters to attack are bombers. This is because bombers are easily shot down by fighters. Bombers are very dangerous units: they have huge radar, can nuke cites and ground units, and can attack ships. But they are very vulnerable to fighters. In a group of unprotected bombers, 1 fighter can easily take out 5 or more units. In order to do this you MUST stay active. A fighter shooting a bomber coming directly at it has a better chance of killing it; if you hit it directly on the tip, it will often die with one or 2 hits (i don't have any proof for this other than my own experience). Once a fighter has destroyed a target it will annoyingly fly to the location of the kill before retargeting. You MUST retarget every fighter as soon as it makes a kill. If a wave of bombers is coming at me, i will put my orders tab on, direct one or two fighters to every bombers and micro manage; as soon as i see an untargeted fighter i retarget. Expect for your opponent to be yelling "Speed."

Fighters can also be used to attack enemy ships. I use this strategy a lot when the end of the game is near and i only have a few bombers left. The idea is pretty self explanatory. Simply launch your fighters on and enemy ship. I don't know the average number of fighters it takes to shoot down a carrier of battleship, I usually launch as many as I think i can spare. 2 from 4 ships should take out a single ship no problem. It may take a few more depending on how far away the enemy ship is. Fighters have a total flight time of 12.5 minutes and attack every 20 seconds, the closer they are to the target the more time they can spend attacking it.

An added advantage of using fighters to attack ships, is that when a fighter is shot down above another ship, the explosion will destroy the ship as well. This is very effective when the enemy has his fleet in tight clusters.

Fighters can be retargeted. Just like your other units they have a change over time. Fighters can be retargeted, but they will only acquire a new target every 20 seconds and have to be micro managed. If you want to return the fighter to the base, left click fighter, left click next to your destination, release click on your destination. Note that if you proceed by clicking on fighter and then clicking on airbase, the fighter will simply stop attacking its current target, i.e., not return to the base. If you simply want to change targets simply target the new objective. The fighter will attack the new target as soon it completes its current attack cycle.

Fighters can also be used to shoot down nukes. You must target the nuke, and you must send many, many fighters. This is very effective for me if you are my opponent.*

Kamikaze Fighters

Similar to the way that fighters explode over ships and kill them, so too can happen with land units. Under certain conditions this can be an effective strategy. I have found it most effective for taking out radar before defcon 1. I have used this as africa playing EU. I will send 4 fighters at a time to the radar and hope that one gets shot over the radar. It is hard to control the outcome, but it does work. And under the right circumstances it could be used for air bases and silos - although i have taken out neither with this technique.

Conserving Fighters

In battles where you have to cross an entire ocean, it is very important to conserve as many fighters as possible. In the scenario of Asia vs SA or SA vs USSR, you might be able to reload your fighters one time. In that journey, you will need to use those fighters to take out bombers scout ships, and finally scout silos. If you use your fighters liberally in a long distance trip, even if you get to the enemies shore and take out all of his ships, you will have nothing left to scout his territory or protect your subs. There is nothing worse than having your empty carriers taken out by a single bomber.

The easiest way to conserve is not to scout. Don't send fighters in front of you. Instead, group your units closely and move them as one unit. I like to have my bombers zigzagging behind by fleet. As soon as an enemy ship comes into the radar i have all my bombers firing at it. This way you have your bombers flying and your fighters ready to launch. If you do have to launch fighters, make sure when that skirmish is over, you retarget your fighters to return to the ship. This is a lot of work, but every fighter you save will pay dividends when it comes to scouting or launching subs.

I have seen other people send fighters a short distance in front of them, just past the radar of their carriers and then return the fighters to the ship. This is also an effective way to conserve and take advantage of the fighters scouting ability.

Odds and Ends

Here are just a couple of other ways to use fighters. During the end game, players will have bombers flying around their coasts, often armed to nuke. When they see a fighter coming, they will launch the nuke in the direction of the fighter. Similarly if your opponent has carriers full of fighters, he will launch many fighters in the direction of the scout in order to take out its home carrier. If you are worried about this, a good strategy is to launch the fighter to the side, then send the fighter the intended direction while distancing your carrier from the fighter.

In a situation where both you and your opponent are almost out of material with only a few carriers left and you are both trying to take each other out with fighters, the person who is able to manage fighters better will win. The key to taking out ships with fighters is having multiple fighters attack one ship and having those fighters be able to attack for a long period of time. The ideal situation is to have an equal number of fighters in every ship and no more than is necessary to attack once and retreat. This is because you don't want to lose a ship that is full of fighters. All those fighters will be wasted and it will take too long to regenerate. If you fill your ships up with 2 fighters, attack, and retreat, while your opponent tries to fill up with 5 fighters, you will be able to attack more often then your opponent. And if you take out one of his ships you will kill more fighters. Basically in this situation you are playing the regeneration time of your bases. If you take out a ship that is full of 5 fighters, you have won a considerable amount of time in the regeneration of fighters.



I hope this is helpful. If you have any suggestions or new ideas, I would love to hear them.

-Tsar

*I was just having fun when i said that fighters can shoot down nukes. They can't. I think maybe my humor might be a little subtle for some.
Last edited by Tsar Bomba on Mon May 11, 2009 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Stealth Mode » Mon May 11, 2009 4:47 am

Wow Tsar very helpful indeed thanks!!!
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Postby Why? » Mon May 11, 2009 8:30 am

Great tutorial! Looks like you covered everything. :)
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fighters can't shot down nukes

Postby Eral » Mon May 11, 2009 3:16 pm

Another top secret files revealed. You can be proud of you Tsar Bomba!




Another usefull strategy in big space is to use, a "air bridge" (Mc Arthur's copyright - see IIth WW Pacific Battle ) using carriers like little isles to devellop the normal range of air forces and reload the ones they are fighting.

Across an ocean with 3 or 4 carriers for fighters in the intention to reload them -could be used to be more efficient in defense if you need to retreat or for preparing a scout when the way is free and you don't want to move your carriers from their location (squat a good spot & defend it):
disadvantages: it takes time, and forces are moving during the battle, especially after defcon one when nukes are available for bombers. So, not so easy to manage.

Another idea is to cumulate a large number of bombers in a location, using the carrier to let them all in flight (that carriers are always in bombers launch mode). When you're ready, send them all - it could be usefull to avoid radars while you're fighting in another place, preparing a quick answer to an ennemy launch or just before you scout (hard to manage on two fronts). How could an ennemy know you're preparing a such attack when he thinks, you've just a few carriers for your defense and the rest is on the principal front?
Disadvantages: you should be prepared to sacrify a large number of bombers. It means that your attack must be well prepared to be the most efficient you can.


Tsar Bomba wrote:
In order to do this you MUST stay active. A fighter shooting a bomber coming directly at it has a better chance of killing it; if you hit it directly on the tip, it will often die with one or 2 hits (i don't have any proof for this other than my own experience).




Same observation here, i'm pretty sure to have seen it sometimes....but...
Last edited by Eral on Mon May 11, 2009 3:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby trickser » Mon May 11, 2009 3:29 pm

very good.

A situation games sometimes end in is: the fleets are smashed, all bombers dead, but silos and airbases intakt. The players have 6 or so carriers left (and maybe subs) each. They reload them and try to kill the other remaining fleet with them, but these have the same reload time. Often several reload cycles are needed. One wins or both lose.... strange dance anyway :) ... the fighters entraped them to.
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Postby tllotpfkamvpe » Mon May 11, 2009 5:30 pm

Nice guide. Remember that fighters are very awkard to turn and don't like responding to new orders. So, if you spend a lot of time shuffling fighters between carriers you can get really caught out from the enemy coming directly at you. While the fighters performing a temporary order, it is effectively out of the game for that moment.

1 fighter in the hand is better than 2 in the bush.
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Postby Why? » Mon May 11, 2009 5:37 pm

Another scenario tip...

Sometimes, after a fierce naval battle, you'll find yourself without a fleet and low on bombers; but you know that your opponent only has a few ships left. You have a feeling that your opponent is back near their coast, reloading fighters, for a scout. How are you gonna stop the scout? FIGHTERS!

Stock them up in your bases/carriers, and when you see your opponent, send ALL of them to attack the ships. When your fighters approach the ships, their fighters will automatically leave the ships, to attack the fighters. They won't be able to redirect them back to their ships, until the fighters are gone.

If done correctly, they will run out of fighters and lose a couple ships before they get to your coast. Generally, they need at least 3 waves of 3+ fighters, to get a scout on tight silos. (without nukes distracting AA-fire)
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Retargeting

Postby Tsar Bomba » Mon May 11, 2009 7:06 pm

I just added a section on fighter retargeting. It is under the heading "Fighters Attacking Units."
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Postby Ace Rimmer » Mon May 11, 2009 7:42 pm

I didn't read all of the above so it might have been mentioned already...

Fighters can be retargeted. Just like your other units they have a change over time. Fighters can be retargeted, but they will only acquire a new target every 20 seconds and have to be micro managed.
If you do micromanage, give the fighter the ability to auto-target first. That is, once the fighter has killed it's last target, don't wait for it to reach it's last known point of order, simply tell the fighter to fly where it is already and it will auto-target without the time delay (unless it's still counting down). Once it auto-targets, if it picks another fighter instead of a bomber (for example), you can then change it's orders. If you tell it to attack something directly, it must wait for the timer before it ever fires the first shot.
Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast...
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Re: Fighter Strategy

Postby torq » Tue May 12, 2009 8:03 am

Tsar Bomba wrote:Fighters can also be used to shoot down nukes. You must target the nuke, and you must send many, many fighters. This is very effective for me if you are my opponent.*


FIGHTERS ARE USELESS AGAINST NUKES!

This is a guide, after all, not just some @#$! for mocking the noobs.
NMO
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Postby sfericz » Tue May 12, 2009 9:11 am

I've also just tested this method, When you (left click then right click) on the fighter that has no target, It takes three seconds to auto target.

Just for the "nitpicks" out there :P
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Re: Fighter Strategy

Postby T-95 » Tue May 12, 2009 10:21 am

torq wrote:
Tsar Bomba wrote:Fighters can also be used to shoot down nukes. You must target the nuke, and you must send many, many fighters. This is very effective for me if you are my opponent.*


FIGHTERS ARE USELESS AGAINST NUKES!

This is a guide, after all, not just some @#$! for mocking the noobs.


"*I was just having fun when i said that fighters can shoot down nukes. They can't. I think maybe my humor might be a little subtle for some."

:roll:
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Postby Why? » Tue May 12, 2009 10:25 am

Yeah, you should read the whole post before you talk shit. Ass munch. If you or ATOMIC need another spanking, let me know.
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Postby T-95 » Tue May 12, 2009 10:28 am

Why? wrote:Yeah, you should read the whole post before you talk shit. Ass munch. If you or ATOMIC need another spanking, let me know.


Was that directed at me?...
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Postby rus|Mike » Tue May 12, 2009 10:29 am

At torq.

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