Home › Forums › Strategy Talk › 501st Bulldogs Battlefield Doctrine
This topic contains 3 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Khoo Bo Yan 7 years, 4 months ago.
September 21, 2015 at 08:12 #759
Khoo Bo Yan
PART 1: UNITS
UNIT #1 GRUNTS
2. Defensive meatshields
3. Ambushing/stopping armoured rushes
Basically the equivalent of the 17th Guards Grunts, minus the anti-infantry role which is taken over by Flamethrowers, plus the scouting function in the absence of a dedicated scout unit. With the Bulldogs’ play style, their meatshield function becomes especially prominent, remember that Grunts are the only unit able to heal without a Medic!
UNIT #2 LAV
1. Early-game grabbing of flags/deployment points
2. Flanking/infiltration mission to kill off enemy artillery
3. Tricking less experienced opponents into deploying anti-tank units against you (believe me, it still happens)
I’ve seen a lot of new players take point (1) to the extreme and deploy NOTHING but LAVs and Mortar Carriers at the beginning only to get steamrollered by the superior tanks and longer-ranged artillery of other commanders. I mean, what were they thinking? Just deploy enough LAVs to grab a majority of the flags and spend the rest of your points on core units. More on this strategy in Part 2.
Point (2) is important, IF it can be attempted. Most of the time with the Bulldogs you would be so pre-occupied with maintaining the front lines that you wouldn’t have enough points left for an LAV or two. But if you do, and if the map allows the use of this tactic, then artillery-hunting with LAVs may represent the only effective counter the Bulldogs have to enemy artillery. (The damage bonus certainly helps.) Well worth the trouble if you ask me.
In case it isn’t abundantly clear by now, the LAV simply does not have the firepower nor the durability to survive the knock-down-drag-out fight that occurs at a typical Bulldogs front line. The only reason I can think of to do that is point (3), so it depends on who you’re playing against. I for one would never deploy anti-tank units routinely against the Bulldogs when Flamethrowers and Javelins are the much bigger threats.
UNIT #3 FLAMETHROWER
1. Burning (literally) holes in the enemy infantry line
2. Burning (literally) holes in the enemy infantry line
3. Burning (literally) holes in the enemy infantry line
…you get the idea.
This is THE prototypical Bulldogs unit. Extremely short range, but guaranteed to eliminate any enemy infantry in two hits unless they’re on a fort. I’ve lost count of the number of times where I’ve advanced Flamethrowers blindly, run into an infantry ambush, brutally murdered the ambushing unit in two hits, and then healed with a Medic. Rinse and repeat.
UNIT #4 MEDIC
1. Keeping the front line meat wall healthy 🙂
I feel that support units tend to be overlooked in general. But it’s not hard to see why the Bulldogs were given this unit. Remember, the meat wall strategy becomes all the more dangerous if the meat wall can self-regenerate— and that’s exactly what the Medic is for. When fighting in completely closed terrain, sometimes you just have to push forward into ambushes, and doing that with a full-health unit gives you much more confidence that with one that will likely not survive an ambush!
UNIT #5 JAVELIN
Easily the most powerful anti-armour unit in the game; it has the highest damage output, good range, and indirect fire capability. It will kill a Medium Tank on a city in three hits, and isn’t hampered by smokescreens! The problem: with only 700 health, it can be killed in 2 hits from an MLRS even while on a forest! But then artillery is the Bulldogs’ weakness in general; fortunately the Javelin has just enough range that it can devastate enemy artillery in turn if it gets close enough. That’s a very big ‘if’…
UNIT #6 MORTAR CARRIER
1. Medium-range anti-infantry
2. Mopping up Medium Tanks that are almost dead from Javelin fire (1500 = 650 + 650 + 200)
3. Smoke, of course
Pretty self-explanatory. The low damage (200) against armour and relatively short range means that you probably won’t be conducting counter-battery fire operations with this anytime soon. Also note that for clearing out infantry, Mortar Carriers should fire first; their short range means that there may be no targets left in range if one moves the Flamethrowers first. Plus, they will usually need all three action points to eliminate a 900-health infantry unit on rough terrain.
September 24, 2015 at 07:15 #762
Khoo Bo Yan
PART 2: GENERAL STRATEGY
1. Practically impervious to armoured attack due to numbers + Javelin
2. Less hampered by numerical losses than other commanders
3. Very high damage output which practically negates the effect of defensive terrain
4. Specialised ‘workhorse’ units are relatively affordable, thus making the basic fighting unit group relatively affordable*
5. Able to deploy large numbers with good battlefield coverage
6. Relatively non-income-dependent
7. Very strong healing abilities
*A “basic fighting unit group” is defined as the smallest group of front-line units that can engage all enemy targets efficiently without support. For example, the basic fighting unit group of the 17th Guards would probably consist of one Grunts, one AT Team, and one Medium Tank (total 475 points). The equivalent for the Bulldogs would be one Grunts, one Flamethrower, and one Javelin (total 500 points), which is very slightly more expensive in absolute terms but has higher damage output plus indirect fire capability.
1. Slow rate of advance, especially felt during early game
2. Short combat ranges
3. All units give away their position when they fire
4. Primarily infantry unit composition, coupled with (2) and (3), results in a serious vulnerability to massed artillery
5. Has almost no hope of victory under any conditions against the 606 Special Forces**
6. Extremely affected by the choice of map
**The 606 Special Forces’ units are practically optimised for taking out the Bulldogs’ units (whether this was intentional or not, I don’t know). Snipers have a whopping 4 action points and can eliminate two infantry units per turn even if they are on forests. Fire Coordinators do just enough damage to OHKO a Flamethrower on open ground or a Javelin on a destroyed city, will kill any infantry on Forts in 2 hits, and massively outrange anything the Bulldogs might send against them. Drones completely negate the concealment from fighting in rough terrain. Rangers kill Grunts on open ground in 2 hits and LAVs in 3 hits. SF Tanks have so many action points that they can do major damage to anything that is ambushing them. There’s simply no contest; all of the Bulldogs’ specialist infantry will get killed the moment they fire or get spotted by Drones, with no compensation whatsoever.
Just by looking at the Units section, one might conclude that the 501st Bulldogs are boringly predictable to play with/against. That certainly isn’t wrong. And after reading about their weaknesses, one might come away with the impression that I don’t like them very much, either. Well, if you belong in that camp, then you should probably stick to playing other commanders 🙂 Playing the 501st Bulldogs is for people who love brute force and raw power. There is very little calculation involved, and no worrying about lines of sight and craters slowing you down (gotcha there, didn’t I, tank lovers? xD). And although the game only “recommends” (stars) the Bulldogs on maps which seem very densely packed with cities and forests, I think they are still a good choice as long as the sector of rough terrain contains a majority of the income on the map. The Bulldogs commander can conduct a hard push to secure an income majority while simultaneously conducting a close-range defense of the opposite side involving plenty of smoke.
However, the following still apply as I said in the initial discussion in the Comments section of the “50% off” commander features (sorry, lazy to re-type everything):
1. Make your meat grinder efficient by deploying the correct mix of infantry. This is a bit of an art form, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when working in crowded spaces with e.g. short-range flamethrowers you need to be very precise with unit choice, placement and movement patterns so you don’t waste precious action points. Compensate for your relatively poor scouting by putting Grunts in harm’s way while keeping your specialist infantry *just* behind.
2. Depending on the map, 1-2 Medics may be well worth it. The Bulldogs are uniquely gifted with a cheap healing unit that can actually keep pace with the front-line units (unlike the Supply Truck) and heals units by a large amount (as a proportion of total unit HP).
3. Everybody thinks you’re not going to use LAVs much because they are relatively expensive for you and don’t really fit in with the rest of the infantry spam. So what do you do? Use them, of course xD (Assuming you aren’t preoccupied with trying to survive at the front line like I mentioned in Part 1.)
4. Steamrollers excel against impatient opponents who are more likely to make hasty mistakes (this is probably more applicable when playing with friends rather than anonymous online multiplayer)
5. I did say that the Bulldogs are relatively non-income-dependent but that just means they won’t die very quickly like the Royal Battery or 606 SF when at an income disadvantage. A meat wall is a meat wall and you need meat to build it. So pay attention to the income!
On the first turn, a Bulldogs commander should only deploy enough LAVs to grab all the defensible flags. Obviously it’s going to take some time for the main body of infantry to catch up, so if the enemy is doing to destroy the LAV and re-take the flag on the next turn anyway, there’s no point wasting income. The remaining points should not be spent if there is a helipad in a defensible position within reach on the next turn, since it makes far more sense to deploy infantry closer to the front. In each map sector, try to deploy the core units in their basic fighting groups (containing Flamethrowers, Grunts and Javelins). Only deploy Mortar Carriers if there is spare income on the first turn.
The rest of the game is pretty straightforward. You know that it will be a matter of time before your opponent accumulates enough artillery to make the game very, very unpleasant. So as long as the front line is intact, CHARGE! As I’ve said many times before, a good Bulldogs player should have no problem blasting through any front line (well, except that of another Bulldogs player) given the sheer firepower afforded by the specialist infantry; it’s the opponent’s response, measured in artillery, that decides the game outcome. In between, sneak attacks by LAVs can help to swing the balance, but ultimately it’s about covering every square inch of the battlefield with Flamethrower and Javelin fire.
This one is easy. I haven’t said it upfront, but GOOD MICROMANAGEMENT UNDERPINS THE ENTIRE 501ST BULLDOGS STRATEGY. Play the Bulldogs if you want to improve your micromanagement skills. Have fun!
October 17, 2015 at 00:29 #775
Khoo Bo Yan
PART 3: OPPONENT-SPECIFIC STRATEGY
Before I proceed, did I mention that the 501st Bulldogs don’t fare very well on large maps, for obvious reasons? 🙂
501ST BULLDOGS VS 17TH GUARDS
If the 17th Guards player is smart, and has read my strategy guide, he will know that as long as by the time he accumulates enough artillery he still holds on to SOME of the income (i.e. you aren’t about to kill him off anyway), victory is his. Your goal as the 501st Bulldogs is to stop this from happening, obviously. All the principles of good micromanagement as stated in Part 2 apply, of course, but here are a few more specific tips that will come in handy:
1. Since all your units reveal themselves when they fire, it may be a better idea to hold fire on Javelins and sneak forward until they’re in a position where they can spend all three action points killing MLRS/Medium Tanks. (MLRS are more dangerous, of course.) The difficulty with this is that they risk getting spotted and killed by the Guards’ front-line infantry, but as long as you are aggressive enough and keep pushing at the front line, Javelins will start killing MLRS sooner or later.
2. Scouts spotting for artillery should be considered major threats and eliminated accordingly.
3. Mortar Carriers can be used to serve dual functions: they can draw MLRS fire in addition to helping clear the front line. (A smart opponent won’t bother with Medium Tanks anyway, they’re fodder for Javelins.) The Guards opponent has to make two choices regarding his MLRS action points: attack Javelins, which pose the most direct threat to the MLRS, or attack the Mortar Carriers, which will demolish his front line a lot faster.
501ST BULLDOGS MIRROR MATCH
This is either extremely boring or extremely intense, depending on how you look at it. It’s basically a micromanagement contest. A very, very bloody micromanagement contest. Oh well…
501ST BULLDOGS VS ROYAL BATTERY
This one is interesting. I recall saying earlier that the Bulldogs have no chance because they have no counter to the Royal Battery’s extremely powerful artillery units. However, a bit more experience has revealed the following weaknesses that the Bulldogs can exploit:
1. Your average Royal Battery player, if intelligent, is not going to get his second Heavy Artillery unit until roughly the 4th/5th turn (this depends on map, of course). He simply can’t afford to leave holes at the front that would compromise his entire game against a quick push. This means that you have valuable time in the early game to set up an advantageous tactical and income position.
2. The Royal Battery only has one choice of scouting unit, and it is very expensive (200 points). This means you are likely to encounter less of them, and also means that eliminating even a single one will cause major frustration to the effectiveness of his artillery.
3. Heavy Artillery and MLRS are only able to OHKO and THKO most infantry if they aren’t on forests. If they are on forests, then the Royal Battery must rely on its Spotters’ Fire Control ability. This reduces the number of action points they have left for scouting, and therefore reduces their ability to deal with large numbers of infantry.
4. All of the Royal Battery’s front-line units are infantry. This means you can split your army into 2 types of units: anti-infantry (Flamethrowers, Mortar Carriers) and artillery-hunters (Grunts, Javelins). The anti-infantry teams will be the ones firing, giving away their position and taking artillery fire at the front line, while the Grunts and Javelins save their action points for advancing as fast as possible to reach and kill the enemy artillery. This also means the ‘avoid overkill’ doctrine no longer applies here- if there is an enemy Machine Gunner with 200 health left that can be fired on and eliminated by either a Grunt or a Flamethrower, kill it with the Flamethrower and advance with the Grunt— this is obviously more conducive to the overall long-term strategy.
In summary, on your first turn deploy just enough LAVs to get to all the reachable flags on the 2nd turn (LAVs are pretty useless otherwise unless the map has enough space for you to infiltrate). Make sure they don’t get killed immediately by AT Guns! Deploy your units as usual and remember to include Mortar Carriers to deal with those troublesome Machine Gunners. Prioritise enemy Spotters above all other targets. Advance a small number of Grunts and Javelins as quickly as possible while clearing enemy infantry with your other units, and make sure your Javelins don’t fire a single shot until they actually get in range of enemy artillery (they’ll be detected and killed immediately otherwise).
The fact remains though that both the 501st Bulldogs and the Royal Battery are extremely map-dependent commanders and the map itself will still be one of the biggest factors deciding the outcome of the game.
October 30, 2015 at 12:48 #786
Khoo Bo Yan
501ST BULLDOGS VS IRON RAIDERS
This matchup is extremely unlikely. If it ever happens, one side is being stupid or unlucky (or both). After the Iron Raiders got buffed with the Mortar Carrier in v2.0, there is simply no way the Bulldogs are going to survive against them in an open field battle. And no decent player is going to pick the Raiders on a map with closed terrain!
501ST BULLDOGS VS 606 SPECIAL FORCES
This one isn’t classified because the Bulldogs player shouldn’t even bother playing. There is no way to win unless the 606 Special Forces player doesn’t know what he’s doing. Which, unfortunately, characterises a lot of 606 SF players because the commander plays quite differently from the rest. Oh well.
501ST BULLDOGS VS MECHANIZED MONGRELS
If you’ve read the Mechanized Mongrels strategy guide, you’ll know that the Mongrels are going to avoid as much direct exposure at the front line as possible, attempting to keep their distance and accumulate artillery. You also know that the Mongrels’ Rocket Artillery is a force to be reckoned with, and that all of their units are capable of doing major damage to infantry.
Since the battle will be won or lost over the enemy artillery, they are still your primary target. However, unlike the 17th Guards matchup…
1. There’ll be fewer Rocket Artillery compared to the number of MLRS deployed by a 17th Guards player, because of their increased cost
2. They are extremely easy to kill. Grunts are enough; you don’t need Javelins, strictly speaking
3. There are probably more holes in the average Mongrels front line than there are with the 17th Guards
4. The Mongrels’ scouting isn’t as good as the 17th Guards, which can theoretically make them less effective against units that are concealed by smoke and more vulnerable to infiltrations
All this combines to make the most effective strategy fairly obvious. The Bulldogs player must saturate the front line with Grunts, with occasional deployment of Mortar Carriers to lay smoke and Javelins to deal with tanks quickly. The objective is to sneak Grunts past the front line for flanking attacks or to attack Rocket Artillery directly, and to win the war of attrition with cheaper units. Ideally, the Mongrels player will find himself facing small attacks at multiple locations, which his outnumbered and fragile units will be unable to deal with without major concessions in income, material or both.
This method is understandably counterintuitive because a 501st Bulldogs player is probably used to concentrating his infantry in one big chunk, not dispersing them around the battlefield. Worse, this method will allow the Mongrels to punch through the front line occasionally- but since there will be relatively few expensive units in the back, these won’t do much damage, and the breakthrough forces are easily dealt with using Javelin fire from adjacent sectors.
Note that because Grunts reveal themselves when they fire, there may be a point in leaving Robots alive at the front line (firing on them merely guarantees the Grunts’ destruction by artillery next turn), or using Javelins and Mortar Carriers to deal with them instead. Everyone fighting the 501st Bulldogs will be eager to kill Javelins, so this is one way to turn that strategy against them- the infiltrating Grunts are the bigger threat in the mid-to-long-term. Also- no need for Medics because Grunts can heal themselves.
Having said all that, the run-of-the-mill Bulldogs strategy of a powerful frontal assault can still work; it’s just that the Mongrels player has a lot more room for creativity in that scenario. The Bulldogs’ superior numbers and battlefield coverage offers them more chances to sneak units through the front line, a tactic they could use quite effectively against numerically inferior opponents.
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