Some of you might remember my first guide for this matchup that I posted about 6 weeks ago. It involved the intense micromanagement of a force composed of primarily of missile defenders with paladins/crusaders and tomahawks in support with some tips for handling specific Chinese units and attacks. While this strategy did (and still does) work, it is very difficult to use and I received a lot of feedback saying that it was too difficult for many people. So, after being out of the loop for a few weeks with a broken video card, I"ôm back and here"ôs a new guide that hopefully will help USA players beat the Chinese more often. Basically what this guide will do is give you a solid early game strategy that should help give you either a significant advantage or even victory over the Chinese opponent. Those who remember my old guide will see that my mid-game recommendations are similar to my previous guide.
The Early Game
In my previous guide, I recommended selecting the scout drone with the first GP since allows the USA player to see exactly what the Chinese player is doing early on. After thinking things over and doing a significant amount of play testing, I"ôve decided that putting the first point into paladins is better for two reasons. First of all, the Chinese have no effective early game counter to a paladin heavy force. Tank hunters and battlemasters won"ôt do the job if the USA player manages his troops and resources properly. Secondly, with paladins, you won"ôt have to worry about early game Migs. Often times when I selected scout drone first, I found myself facing Migs without having paladins yet, which is a very, very bad thing since the USA has no decent AA. So, since you"ôre selecting paladins first, your early game recon is not going to be as good. Thankfully, you still have the satellite to use. I recommend hotkeying your command center and using the satellite as often as possible to see what the Chinese player is up to.
Here"ôs the build order that you should use: 1) First dozer builds reactor, command center builds a second dozer. 2) Second dozer builds barracks, first dozer builds supply depot after reactor. 3) Second dozer moves to a nearby expansion site and builds a supply depot, first dozer builds a factory, first supply center builds a second chinook. Note: If you"ôre playing on a map that has oil derricks, skip building the second the supply depot and instead build 2-4 rangers and research capture building so that you can steal the oil derricks first and get the nice cash bonus. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS go for the derricks before building extra supply depots. I can"ôt stress this enough.
When your factory finishes, you"ôll want to get a couple tanks out ASAP to counter the expected gattling tank rush. To defeat a gattling tank rush, you DO NOT need to kill the gattling tanks, you only need to drive them away. If you try chasing a gattling tank, a good Chinese player will sneak the gattling tank(s) behind your tanks and have a free shot at your chinooks, so do not over-commit yourself when defending against the gattling tank rush.
Ok, once you"ôve survived that bit of cheese, it"ôll be your turn to go on the offensive. Once you have 4 paladins, move "ėem out. Now, hopefully you"ôve been good about scouting and using your satellite, so you should have a good idea what kind of defenses he has and where he"ôs expanded. Your first target will be his expo (expansion) if he has one. If he has no defenses at it or just a gattling turret, your 4 paladins should be able to take down the expo without a problem. If he has a bunker, you"ôll need 5-6 paladins. Now, if you did this quickly and correctly, the Chinese player will not effectively be able to stop you with his main army as he should be behind in the tank production race given that he built one or 2 gattling tanks. He may have as many battlemasters as you do, but he won"ôt have the horde bonus more than likely and he won"ôt have the propaganda center upgrades for the battlemasters. You should be able to destroy any force that he sends to stop you at this point in the game IF you were prompt in attacking him. If the Chinese player tries teching to Migs or getting a propaganda center, it will be even easier for you to destroy his expo. This is also a good time to take out any oil derricks that he might possess. Capture them if possible, but don"ôt hesitate to blow them up if you don"ôt think you can hold them. If he has no expo and no derricks, then chances are that you have the game in the bag as he"ôll be earning at most half as much money as you are (assuming that you have an expansion going). Basically, what you want to do is use your early game advantage with paladins to its fullest extent. Contain the Chinese player as best you can and try not to let him expand his money supply. If you succeed, the game is yours. Also, ALWAYS be on the lookout for opportunities to inflict damage upon your opponent, no matter how small they might seem. If you see something undefended that you can destroy with a comparatively negligible or low risk to yourself, then attack it. This includes expos, oil derricks, units, or even buildings in his main base. If you see that his base is undefended because he is teching up to Migs or propaganda center units, then ATTACK. What separates the mediocre players from the great players is the ability to assess and seize opportunities.
Finally, if you see the Chinese player turtling, then let him turtle. Since he is busy building a buff defense, you are free to expand across the entire map with little or no risk to yourself. With the huge income that you will be generating you will easily be able to crack his defenses whether you decide to build twenty particle cannons or a gazillion tomahawks. Also consider loading up a bunch of chinooks with tanks and infantry and ferrying them either around or over your opponent"ôs defenses (chinooks can take A LOT of punishment) to the back of his base; this is always very amusing. During one game, a Chinese player thought he was really swift when he turtled like mad, built two nukes, and then proceeded to double nuked my main base"¶that is"¶until about 20 seconds later when I ****d him from two sides with separate armies built at my other two bases. Classic moment: he nukes me and I ask him, \"Are you ready to lose now?"Ě
Note: I"ôm assuming here that you"ôre playing a map that has expo sites. Most do, but a couple don"ôt. Since those maps are few in number, and suck anyway in my opinion, I"ôm not going to cover them.
The Mid Game
If this strategy is executed properly, then most Chinese players will either die or be dying by the mid game. The better ones may manage to survive. For this section I am going to assume that you and the Chinese player have nearly equal incomes.
Your basic force should be a combination of paladins, missile defenders, tomahawks, and TOW hummers, with either rangers (with flashbangs) or snipers for anti-infantry support. I personally like to build a lot of missile defenders due to their high damage potential but you may find it better to build an additional paladin or tomahawk instead. With this force you should be able to take down pretty much any Chinese ground force of equal monetary value. When going into combat, use your tomahawks to take out anti-infantry units first, such as gattling tanks, dragon tanks, and overlords with gattling turrets first. This will help preserve your missile defenders, which are the main pain dealers of your army.
Things to look out for:
Black Lotus: I"ôm going to assume that you all know how to deal with this tramp by now. Look out for the propaganda center and make sure that you have hummers with scout drones at your base entrances by the time it is built. You should be safe after this.
Migs: With your paladin-heavy force, you shouldn"ôt have to be too worried about Migs, but you"ôll want to destroy them anyway just to be safe. Option #1 is to sneak a hummer full of missile defenders over to his airfield. Option #2 is to use a chinook to drop a bunch of missile defenders at his airfield. Option #3 is to take out the airfield with 2 auroras. Option #4 is to use special attacks like A10s, FAE"ôs (Fuel Air Explosive [bomb]), or particle cannons. Option #5 is Burton. Option #6 is to destroy the Migs in flight, which is really tough since USA AA is terrible. The only way to do it is to catch the Migs mid flight, meaning that you will need to post AA units in front of your main army to take out the Migs before they hit you or on their return trip. The unit(s) that that the Migs are attacking will NEVER destroy the Migs.
Nuke Cannons: This one is easy. Get an airfield and build 1 raptor for every nuke cannon that he makes. 1 raptor attack will destroy 1 nuke cannon, though chances are you are going to lose your raptor to enemy AA fire. Thankfully, raptors are cheaper than nuke cannons so you"ôll come out ahead in the deal. You can also try using tomahawks as well, but it is very risky.
Overlords: These can be tough at times. You"ôll want to load up on tomahawks and really abuse their long range abilities against the overlords. Generally a force of paladins and missile defenders of equal value to the overlords should do the trick.
During the mid game you will want to do everything that I prescribed in the early game: attack his expos, destroy anything that you can, seize opportunities, etc. Continue to expand yourself and don"ôt forget to begin building supply drops as the map resources run out.
The Late Game
Sometimes you will find yourself going into the late game, which is characterized by each player being fully teched up, loaded with generals abilities, and running off of non-map resource economies (hackers, supply drops, black markets). If you see yourself heading towards the late game (neither you nor the Chinese player seems to be able to secure a definitive and conclusive advantage during the mid game), you will definitely want to invest in at least one particle cannon as it will prove to be invaluable as the game drags on. Also, keep building supply drops whenever you can. Usually what will end the game is one player"ôs economy will stumble due to getting hammered by superweapons and generals abilities, resulting in the other player running him over with a larger army.
Here"ôs what you"ôll want to do: continue to do everything that you were doing in the mid game. In addition, use your particle cannons, A10 strikes, and FAEs to pummel the Chinese player"ôs economy as best you can, meaning killing hackers. Sometimes this can be tough since hackers are easily spread all over the place. Sometimes you"ôll get lucky and find decent sized clumps of them, which you"ôll want to destroy ASAP. Other good targets include airfields, propaganda centers, and factories. You may even consider directly hitting his army if it"ôs all lined up nice and neatly for you. If you"ôre facing a nuke, make sure that you spread out your buildings as much as possible and try not to lump together important buildings like strategy centers, supply drops, war factories, or power plants. Keep as much distance as possible between buildings.
This part of the strategy guide may seem a little vague, but it"ôs really the best that I can do. The longer the game goes, more and more unforeseen events and opportunities will occur. I simply can"ôt outline all of these possibilities. The most important part of this guide is the early game section as the winner of the early game will usually be the ultimate victor.