Strategy guide PL and CoW in general

    • Strategy guide PL and CoW in general

      Hello all,

      For a while I have worked on a strategy guide. I have had some input here and there from other players. So eventually I will make some changes accordingly. It is quite the longread though, but if you like this game, and the PL in general, you basically cannot do without it. Mind you, what I wrote is for strategy/meta only - tactics and micromanaging is something for another day perhaps. The guide is based on Season 1 rules. Someone recommended pictures, but I truly suck at anything content related that is not a word.

      Enjoy the read!

      Detailed General Strategy Tips Guide to CoW

      Inspired by the Air Combat guide, I have decided to make a detailed strategy guide for newbies, intermediate and perhaps even some elite players that covers all aspects regarding strategy. Tactics and Operational will thus be skipped, as I feel other players are much more capable in helping in that department. This will probably be the longest post I ever make (but don’t despair, there is a summary!)
      I will start off with a summary for those that hate (my) longreads with the main points from the guide. The guide covers diplomacy, unit composition, the ‘metagame’, economy and everything that is not ‘micromanaging.’ Also, this guide is written with the rules of the Players League (PL from now on) in mind, but I am sure most of it can be used in most other game types (except alliance games).

      Summary

      Diplomacy: Pick your allies based on either your geographic, resource or skill needs, assuming you trust him. Pick and use your NAP partners based on your mid term strategic goals

      Economy: Pay attention to what you build based on your unit mix and strategy. Not all buildings have to be builded. Also be mindful how the game ‘flows’ from start to finish as some resources are in high demand at the start, and are useless in the late game – and vice versa

      Unit composition: Some units are always useful in all circumstances (planes). Some strategies revolve around just a few unit types (zombie strategy), don’t build anything else and let conquests fuel the economy you do not develop.
      Other strategies should revolve around defeating another one (anti zombie).

      A third type is a mixed approach, where you generally want to use huge stacks (doomstacks that are basically untouchable), aka both turtle and mixed strategy.

      Meta: The meta game is what strategies are most popular – do not be stale in your approach and watch what is popular and act accordingly.

      Now for the longread!

      1: Diplomacy

      An often overlooked part of the game, it can make or break you, especially in PL games where competition is fierce, intense and not without grudges spanning multiple games.

      When it comes to diplomacy, the first and foremost you have to look for is who to ally. Sounds simple enough huh? Not quite. When you look for a long term ally, there are some things to consider. How important each part is, differs per game. The 3 main parts are ‘who are your neighbors’ and ‘who are their neighbors’? What does someones service record tell you (including the alliance outside the game the player is part of!) and what resources do you need now, in the future and what will the other guy probably be able to spare. The resource part will be covered in Economy.

      Next up, assuming you are satisfied with your 2 allies (never take on more. The PL prohibits it, and there are only 3 spots for the winners anyway) - in other games I would also advice against it, unless you have to fight some super pact. You may start to look for 1 or 2 NAP (Non Aggression Pact) partners. People that could be a future target, but for now it is best to be at peace with them. Picking NAP partners is perhaps even more tricky, because both parties will realize this is temporary. Pick a tough opponent if you feel you will be swamped in fights soon, pick a weak player if you think he will make a great buffer against a future foe.

      Now how to do diplomacy? “Help, I can’t write properly.” Then you are probably at a disadvantage. But still, I can give some basic pointers that are quite simple. Do as you say, and say what you do to your allies and your most trusted NAP partner(s). Being evasive only brings distrust to others and a NAP is just a NAP, it can be broken even though it is frowned upon. Personally I never do it, unless extreme circumstances demand it. I pride myself in being known as such a player, and I can probably still count the number of backstabs I received with 2 hands….in 5 years playing time in Bytro games. And nobody likes to be backstabbed right?

      For other players, it never hurts to have good relations, even though you may enter a war tomorrow with them. Should the war not go your way, a nice guy will more likely be able to negotiate peace. Oh, and manipulation is just fine, but do it like a gentleman and ‘up front.’ It is just like in business, ‘sell your case well’ and results will follow.

      2: Economy

      Also an often overlooked part of the game, especially in todays meta of ‘spamfests’ (meta will be handled later). Economy is the grand total of your own output, your allies output, the market and the current day of the game. Early game, you will notice that oil is abundant as is grain, iron is usually fairly easy to get and manpower, goods and rares are impossible to find. That is just the way it is. Early game units rely heavily on goods and manpower, as are the various buildings you want to get out. Plan for those shortages and be assured everyone experiences them.

      Later in the game, usually around day 5-7, you will see an increase of iron demand and a slight decrease of rares and goods. Grain and oil still easy to find in your own stockpile.

      In the midgame (around day 10-15) you will notice that rares plummet to nothingness, grain may get a surge, goods are relatively easy to find and oil and iron keep increasing in price…if you can find it at all. In the late game, oil is so valuable, that nobody trades it, even for 30 a pop. Exceptions are there, but this is the general gist of it.The other resources depend in the map, the meta and who is left standing.

      Trading is strangely enough almost never done, but a big cause of this, is that the aforementioned flow goes for all players, as everyone (save some exceptions) is in the plus for all resources. Still, it might be worthwhile to seek out trade partners. “But how do I do it when nobody wants to trade?” Simple, look at your own resources – what do you produce a lot of, and look at various other players core provinces. For instance on the 22p map Yugoslavia and Egypt are natural trading partners.

      Part of your economy is what buildings you will get. It is often recommended (in the PL) to not go overboard with railroads, as they cost precious oil, yet in some armies or locations it is strongly recommended to do so (double oil provinces for instance).

      Even more so harbors, be careful where you build them, as they cost a good chunk of upkeep in oil. Then there are barracks which are perhaps the biggest double edged sword in the game. Barracks give you plenty of manpower, but at the cost of grain. Learn to balance these 2 and plan way ahead. Are you going armor/planes? Don’t bother building them above lvl 1. Mixed units? Prepare to get out a few lvl 2 and even 3 barracks. For the smart player, it is recommended to stop barracks production at 90% of the level. You get the bonus, but not the grain upkeep hit. Same goes for harbors too.

      Factories should be the main focal point in most strategies, as they give you more and more resources, but don’t cost precious oil. Plus, you get out your units faster. Lvl 1 barracks in your most important production sites are also recommended, 25% faster production. Lastly, I personally usually start on day 1 with a factory (yes, expensive!) in the double resource province that has none. Especially double oil and double iron sites are usually worth it in the long run.
      Special mention goes to managing oil. As tanks and planes are uberpowerful and you basically cant win a game without them, its easy to go overboard early game with it. Try to decide your game plan for the next 5 days, and wonder whether you really need to stack up on your army, as these units eat a lot of upkeep. I admit I still haven’t found a sweet spot in regard to this myself.
    • 3: Unit Composition and the ‘meta game’

      Ah, this is the part that most people will probably find the most interesting. The core aspect of the game, what do I build and why.
      To start off, as explained in Economy, certain countries are better suited for certain compositions. Egypt for instance will likely never have a grand tank army, and as Canada you will probably never build a single infantry all game (assuming you know what you are doing). Look at your core provinces, take in a part of trade (not too much) and decide. As a rule of thumb, there are some general ‘meta’ strategies (finetune them to your taste) I’d like to explain that tend to work if executed properly. All others, rest assured, usually have mediocre to utterly bad results, unless you are lucky or the best player around. I will detail 4 main approaches, while there are certainly a lot of sub varieties, these are the ones to consider.

      A: The zombie strategy (aka Zerg tactic)
      Perhaps the most popular strategy in CoW today, while in slight decline meta-wise. This strategy revolves around spamming endless streams of light tanks, backed up by a monstrous airforce, while caring little for economy. Do not be surprised to see more planes then any other unit. Navy depends on your country, but usually that means subs…subs…and more subs. Or only destroyers (never mix!). The idea behind it is that your economy is fueled by your rapid conquests, so you don’t need many buildings, aside the bare minimum needed to get the strategy going. It is by far the most flexible of all strategies and very hard to beat (there is a way though!). The reason why it is so hard to beat is that the weakness of the LT (cities, ATs TDs) is offset by the superior airforce that supports and blasts away anything in their path. The LT speed helps to conquer stuff faster than you can get your next cup of coffee. Sees a variation that includes arties currently

      B: The turtle
      The turtle usually thrives by a fast early conquest of AI and weak players, and then digs in for the remainder of the game – only to pop out with a monstrous army at the end of the game and destroy all in his path. Usually done by forting up the borders and trying to stay in the top 3 of biggest armies, making himself a very undesirable target. While it can be effective in the hands of a good player, the results tend to be hit or miss, as a focused attack by multiple players (with bigger economies to suffer the losses) tends to kill the turtle. A good strategy in some cases.

      C: The anti-zombie approach
      The name says it all, you build everything that is needed to counter a Zombie. This means plenty (well, LOTS) of fighters and AA units, and anti tank units (AT/TD, but also own tactical planes). Build little else, aside perhaps a few specialist units depending on circumstances. This strategy is suited for only 1 thing usually, and that is to face the Zombie. Strong advice to start SPAA on day 16 as research, they are stronger because they are armor based. The reason this strategy can be strong, is because the zombie strategy is used by so many people.

      D: The mixed approach
      While in the past it was a recipe for disaster against all other strategies, in the meta there is a rise in popularity in the PL. It can win against all other 3…but it can lose to them all the same. The mixed approach relies on knowledge of State Based Damage Efficiency (see also Air Combat guide), be in the top of the research at all times, have a strong economy and well, be good at everything. Needless to say, it is the most difficult of all, but executed properly, almost impossible to defeat. The mixed approach is a jack of all trades, and uses large ‘doomstacks’ to get what it wants. Stacks are a variety of units, usually with (relatively) strong AA capabilities. You have a decent airforce yourself (doesn’t need to be the biggest, just big enough) and do not skimp on artilleries, you need them. This strategy is basically unbeatable after day 17, assuming the player researched SPA and SPAA to compliment their stacks. No zombie player will dare to attack it, because a mixed doomstack takes down tac planes with ease, and be cheaper cost wise to do it. A turtle will likely lose on economy, and the anti zombie player should be pitied and just give up. Be warned though, that this approach to work for you, you need to be pretty good at the game, be active and generally know what you are doing.

      Addendum: While it saddens me personally that planes are all powerful in all strategies, it is nearly impossible to win a game without them. I almost succeeded a few times, but almost is still not a win. The reader will probably have noticed I haven’t mentioned some units – it is because most other units have very very specific uses (doesn’t mean they are useless!) and generally are not produced in large quantities to make a decisive impact. Special mention in that regard goes to battleships, aircraft carriers, naval bombers, motor/mech infs. Commandos are useful in their own right and should be researched 9 out of 10 times, but they aren’t the backbone of any strategy.


      Addendum 2: Oh, and rockets? Very very useful, the most powerful unit in the game probably. In the PL they are forbidden this first season, but in other games…well, make room for them…lots of room. Research them lvl 2 and higher for maximum effect.
    • The turtle actually is little used. I've seen little people use it. As for zombie... well, from what I faced, those players only put shock and awe on tanks. no aircraft. Although it did delay my conquest of them to take care of the little disturbances first. Anti-zombie is used if you're ABSOLUTELY sure that the enemy is using zombie, since it can be countered by inf, but it's a good defensive tactic. Mixed approach works when you're sure you can last longer than most players since it requires a diversity in research.

      Basically:
      Zombie - offensive
      Turtle - defensive then sudden offensive (basically pretend to be weak)
      Anti-zombie - defensive
      Mixed - self-explanatory
      "As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable." Albert Einstein

      "Giving up is not an option in war, for it proves one's incapability and incompetence as a leader." - Me (Little Racoon)