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The under-utilized recon unit

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The under-utilized recon unit

Post  Daakuma on Sun Jan 18, 2015 1:40 pm

As a disclaimer I am by no means a perfect player, however I have greatly increased my recent win rate by using recon units.

Recons are the cheapest vehicle that costs slightly more than half a tank. Often it is used seldom for FOW because of its great vision rate.

Many players refuse to use them because of their mobility being mediocre on plains and the fact that they can be destroyed by tanks and are only effective against infantry.

What people don't realize is that a recon can be brought out a full turn before the tank can be purchased. This means that a recon can easily reach the center properties and harass infantry that are capturing. While it is true that tanks make recons run, recons can outrun tanks assuming there are shoals or nearby roads. This allows them to hit-and-run early infantry. Now while it seems mediocre to delay a few captures and hit a few infantry, what people don't realize is the cost of those delays. A capture delay of 1 turn is worth 1000 funds on its own, meaning your one attack is already at about 1500 payed off b/c the recon will take no damage. Now this damaged infantry will not be able to capture other nearby cities for a while delaying more funds, allowing this single attack to easily nearly payoff the recon.

So the advantages with a single front like this are shown, what people then complain about is when you can only cover one front, because the fronts are divided. Little do the realize is that in these situations recons become even more useful. in a situation with 2 fronts that are hard to transverse between and there are 2 factories, a recon can force the enemy, whom if is refusing to build recons, to counter with a tank costing a full 7000 funds. While the player refusing to recon sends another infantry to the second front. Assuming that both players had 8000 funds at the start of their respective turns, that player can send another recon allowing a very strong position on the second front.

The next complaint that often is brought up is that recons become useless once tanks hit the field. While it is true that recons cannot deal with tanks, they continue to be useful so long as they are backed up by tanks. It is worth it to have a recon attack an infantry if the infantry is only protected by one tank and a few other infantry, as infantry cannot harm a recon cost-effectively, if your recon is covered by a tank of your own. The cost of the recon getting hit, is easily worth the value of getting first-strike in a 1v1 tank situation.

None of these situations mention the fact the recons can lay waste to anybody attempting to use an early artillery, but it is very evident I believe of the effectiveness that recons can deal with those in particular. This is useful for dealing with frustrating heavy infantry-artillery swarms that are the current alternative opening to the standard tank. Early artillery simply don't have a place if one uses recons, assuming the map isn't extremely catering to them.

Overall recons are greatly underused in 1v1 match ups due to the common stagnate tank meta that AWBW has fallen into and urge others to try early recon strategies.

Edit 1:
I have decided to add some examples of my experimentation:
http://awbw.amarriner.com/replay.php?games_id=220855&ndx=7
This one is still ongoing, however my recon has already prevented a capture and just escaped from a tank.

I am almost certain that the only reason I won that top front was because of my early recon harass.
http://awbw.amarriner.com/replay.php?games_id=220189&ndx=14

Daakuma
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Re: The under-utilized recon unit

Post  WalkerBoh on Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:12 am

Usually the issue with recons is that it delays your first tank by a turn. Vehicle count (especially early on) is a critical stat for winning games, and early recons aren't used commonly in high-level matches because of this.

As you pointed out, the main advantage of a recon is in delaying early captures. But in my opinion it's usually not worth disrupting an early capture unless either A) you can keep your opponent off of a key property in the long-term without sacrificing other key positions, or B) you can impede your opponent's early funding enough to gain a vehicle advantage yourself.

In the case of B, building a recon by itself will already almost guarantee you won't be able to gain a vehicle advantage. Case A is the more likely reason for building a recon, but I find that on most maps the recon gets chased off by a tank without doing any real damage. Usually the opponent can counter with a tank quickly enough that at the worst one capture is delayed by one turn. There may be some maps where switching fronts with a recon is viable and disruptive, but I would still argue that in most cases you will lose on vehicle advantage and end up worse off in the long run. Keep in mind that tanks are much better at disrupting captures and controlling sections of the map than recons are.

I did not look at your game examples in detail, but I suspect that your opponents simply played poorly in response to your early recons, and did not properly take advantage of the opportunities it created for them. I would be more than happy to start a couple test games on the map of your choice if you're interested in putting theory into practice though. Smile

WalkerBoh
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Re: The under-utilized recon unit

Post  Everdan on Sat Jan 31, 2015 12:03 am

Early recons don't really pay themselves off by disrupting a capture. True, you delay the capture of a city by 1 turn and get in some free damage, but that's only 1500. And unless there aren't any other infantry nearby (quite unlikely, if this is true your opponent has probably played badly by overextending) the enemy can usually take a loss of 1 infantry without too much trouble.

Nonetheless, if the recon is able to kill a capturing infantry, I think it's almost always worthwhile. This is because the capture of that city gets delayed by at least 2 turns, usually 3 or more, which is 3000 funds denied to your opponent. Add to that the cost of 1 infantry the recon killed and it's pretty much paid itself off, and is still able to do more damage. For me, I think of it this way: I've spent 4k on a recon and denied 3-4k to the opponent. However, the recon can help charge my meter at the very least, while he has nothing for his lost funds. It's a small difference, but I think every little advantage adds up over time. The ability of the recon to pay itself off also means you can sacrifice it later with no extra cost.

The viability of recons also depends to some extent on the matchup. Versus vehicle-heavy COs like Sasha and Max, you're probably better off saving for a tank, because those COs will be flooding you with tanks and copters, and your recon is more of a liability than an asset. However, versus COs who play mech spam, like Sami, Adder and Koal, recons may be more useful than normal because they can do as much damage to mechs as a tank while costing less. (I'm not saying you should build recons to counter mechs, because arty + infantries do that better, but if you already have recons against the mech flood, they're probably better choices to use to kill mechs than your tanks.)

It also depends on the map in question. The problem with recons on most maps is that there are too few roads/bridges/shoals to make them viable. E.g. All Roads Lead to Sol and Aphotic Arena: the main fronts are filled with plains/forests, which really hurts a recon's viability. With a movement range of just 4 on plains, it can't effectively harass enemy infantry which are just 1 square slower. it's just strictly outclassed by tanks there. Another problem (perhaps more to the point) is that your recon usually fails to disrupt the capture of any important properties, or arrives too late to do much damage before the enemy tank can arrive (this is related to the first point.)

That said, I do think early recons are viable on quite a number of maps, one example being Black Patch War. The presence of a base with a long stretch of road in front means the recon can easily harass capturing infantry and retreat out of range of oncoming tanks. The shoal bridges also allow it to switch fronts easily, disrupting the capture of the vital central cities. At the very least it can park itself on a city and prevent capture by enemy infantry, which is definitely a plus in my book.

Another map I think is conducive to recons is Blood on my Hands, where it can usually kill at least 1 infantry and disrupt/delay capture of the airport. The long stretch of road at the sides makes this a cinch. I'm not able to link to AWBW right now, because the server's down, but you can check out a recent game by ANT13 against Blanci on the map. As I recall ANT13 built an early recon on his southwest base, which ended up killing an infantry and delaying the capture of a city and airport by 2 turns each. That's a good investment IMO.

So while recons have their limitations, I do agree that they are under-utilised on the maps where they are actually viable, and players shouldn't dismiss them out-of-hand just because they're not used all that much.

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P.S. I think this thread should be shifted to the "Strategy" subforum.

Everdan
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Re: The under-utilized recon unit

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