It’s not easy to pull off the perfect attack in Eugen Systems’ new RTS, Steel Division: Normandy 44. With so many individual units slugging it out on quickly shifting front lines, sometimes it’s all you can do to just keep up with the rush. A perfect attack is possible, though. It’s just a matter of planning ahead and taking advantage of every opportunity you see. Here’s how you do it.
“Watch the clock” is a weird bit of advice for an RTS. In many strategy games, players race to unlock advanced technology upgrades and special units, but that has nothing to do with the actual time. Steel Division works a little differently. Battles are divided into Phases A, B, and C, and each phase comes with a different amount of income and unlocks different kinds of units. Ten minutes after starting Phase A, Phase B starts at the same time for everyone. Ten minutes after that, everyone starts Phase C together. Each phase also unlocks more and more powerful units for you to deploy.
Depending on your army and your tactical style, play each phase a little differently. On the allied side, for example, the 3rd Armored Division has the wimpiest Phase A, with only 65 resource points awarded per minute. By Phase C, the 3rd Armored is a juggernaut with 150 resource points per minute and a devastating spread of heavy battle tanks. The 2e Blindee, an army of free Frenchmen, have some of the fastest-deploying units in the early game, but they’re the weakest army in the late game.
Use these differences to your advantage. As the 2e Blindee, you’ll be able to outspend any other army during Phase A, so move aggressively to grab up territory and push that front line out as far as you can. Players commanding the 3rd Armored, meanwhile, would be better off starting with a defensive stance before bringing down the hammer in Phase C.
In Steel Division, control of the battlefield is measured by a constantly shifting dynamic representation of the front lines. Like an old newsreel showing how battle lines twisted and bowed during the Battle of the Bulge, armies control the space around them and the bright red and blue lines shape to fit the fight.
You can use these lines in a few ways. If you want to grab a lot of ground, mechanized units and commanding officers have a big effect on the front lines. This means that a strong armored advance—supervised by a command unit—will pound a big dent into enemy territory. If you want to make sure you control a certain farm or climb from 49% map control to 51%, this could be just the ticket.
If you can flank an enemy unit until they’re surrounded and cut off from their territory, they’ll immediately suffer penalties to morale. If you’re trying to destroy a troublesome enemy unit for good, cutting them off puts an end to constant retreating and skirmishes. This is another time when fast-moving mechanized units with a big influence on the front lines can be useful: keep front pressure on the enemy and swing your mechanized units behind them to flank and capture fast.
Finally, keep in mind the one unit that doesn’t effect the front lines at all: light recon patrols. Slipping a recon squad along the edge of the map won’t capture any ground for you, but recon teams see where enemy troops are digging in without the tell-tale movement of the front lines giving them away. Their intel could be an essential part of a successful advance or an accurate artillery strike.
Bring It Together
When you combine what you know about escalating phases and territory control, a little planning can put together the perfect attack. Keeping an eye on the clock, save up some resources during the last few minutes of Phase A. As soon as Phase B begins, spend all of those hoarded resources on new, more powerful Phase B units. With your powerful new troops, concentrated, overwhelming advances can grab territory and cut up enemy defenders.
Be careful, though. It’s a sure bet that your opponent will be trying to do the same thing to you.