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» Turtling - Art, Science or boring?

We can all recall great French military victories of the last 200 years; just think of, erm, emmm, ok, maybe not, they got wasted off the Germans. Three times in a row. However, as if demilitarising the Rhineland, refusing the them an air force, and giving them an army on a par with the mighty strength of Belgium wasn't enough, The French, to their wisdom built the Maginot line to keep the Germans out. A grand system of defence was constructed; Unbreakable said one diplomat. He had obviously not heard of Bombers.

Despite this setback, the French spirit of building grand (And futile) defences is continued in Red Alert 2. A tactic that many players will have encountered on WOL is "The Turtle". The player, usually picking France as their nation, will build little or no army, but instead build prism towers, patriots, pillboxes, and several Grand Cannons to defend their base with. With this “impenetrable” defence, they usually then slowly begin to build up the usually mix of Mirage, Grizzly and Prism Tanks. The game can end in several ways:

  • The Turtle successfully defends his base and economy, before crushing other player with high tech unit rush.
  • The opponent tries in vain to get the better of the turtle, fails, and leaves in frustration.
  • The opponent exploits the turtle's weaknesses - Economy and Power, before crushing them.
(I suggest reading Rob's strategy guide for tips on how to deal with Turtles - You can find it here)

But are turtles as bad and hard to beat as everyone grumps about? Or are they testament o the flexibility of game tactics? In my opinion they are a benefit. What people don't see about turtles is that they are simply misunderstood, I know - I used to be one! Everybody has the right to play in the style that they please; some rush and some defend, others fall somewhere in the middle of these categories.

The classic turtle will be a newbie to playing online, who has found that on Skirmish, the AI's attack can be easily crushed with a grand cannon or two. Sadly for this player (Usually B3@nIe or something similar) they have little knowledge of the 'real world'; that is, the world of big bad rushers like Rob. And so typically, they are defeated in a hail of shells and many a piss take about them being so defensive. On one notable time, a newbie accused me of cheating because 3 tanks that I had sent to the foot of one of his grand cannons blew it up rather rapidly. Unfortunately for him, and thankfully for me, our friends at Westwood didn't take the same line.

Perhaps then, the turtle is a stage in a player's development, I know I went through it, and I will be interested to hear who else did. In saying this, it is just a stage, and any half-decent player will come out of it. Of course they may be a sad few who continue, but I can guarantee they will progress little through the ladders. I am presently ranked around 5,000, but I'm a casual player (Honest!) who plays about 5 matches a week, during my turtling phase (And before the enlightenment of Rob's strategy guide!) I was around 20,000.

You will always get people who moan about turtling, and how it is a scourge of Real Time strategy. But compare this tactic to rushing, and sneaky tactics, it is just another way to play the game. Granted it may not be too successful - but give them some peace! Just because a few defences make you think twice about sending your prized tanks straight into the heart of an enemy base! Thus, I would promote Turtling, not as a tactic for champions, but promote it to stay in CNC! Ever since the hmmmmmmmm - ZAP of the Obelisk of Light and the “Shhhhhhh - pang! pang!” of the Advanced Guard tower, solid defences have been a part of CNC. (I'm getting all nostalgic now *sniff*) And so, long may it continue, the naivety of the newbie gamer forever emblazoned in the rubble of his defences.

Afterword: With the Yuri's Revenge due for release any minute, it would be daft not to mention the effect it could have on the turtle. Through the reliable word of Rob, and through the limited press releases available to us, it is almost a certainty that YR will have new options for turtles, and will actually favour them. This is shown in the fact that tanks will have slower build times, and that defences, such as the tank bunker, will be beneficial to the conservative player. Another thing are the new anti-tank units - Namely the Brute and Guardian GI's. The effect these will have cannot be measured nor ascertained until the YR is active on WOL for at least a few weeks, but we can only hope that the loved and loathed rush will stay with us.

» Jim

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