Winning the reconnaissance war

Tips, Tricks and Pearls of Wisdom

Winning the reconnaissance war

Postby davouthojo » Sat May 03, 2008 11:51 am

More than nearly any other game out there, AE rewards the player who wins the reconnaissance war. Games that I have lost…..when a Machine killer stack turned up at my doorstep, leaving me only 1 turn to react……then there was the Longlance missile from out of no-where while my armies were kicking butt…..and who can forget Mata Boyds Nuclear Briefcase present……..on the other hand, whenever I win the recce war, I am able to out-think the AI.

There are some great posts on reconnaissance that have given me some powerful ideas.......I am starting this thread to pull it together on one of the most interesting "games within a game" in AE.
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Re: Winning the reconnaissance war

Postby davouthojo » Sat May 03, 2008 11:52 am

There are a number of distinct recce “missions” required in AI, each one requiring different unit capabilities:

Whole game: HQ Patrol
Perimeter Patrol
Capture enemy heroes
Early-game Explore your territory
Mid-game Locate enemy HQ

HQ Patrol
Task: Detect and capture assassins and saboteurs
How: Move one unit through and around your HQ every turn
Unit requirements: High Recce to detect stealthed units. High movement to get multiple recce checks; Rapid response to avoid AP drain
Best unit: Mutie Outriders. 8 Recce, 4 Move and 0 AP make Outriders the perfect Base Patrollers. Put one down and circle your HQ every turn to collect APs from captured heros!

Perimeter Patrol
Task: Detect enemy units as early as possible and prevent enemy recce finding your HQ
How: Deploy units on sweeps of your perimeter where the enemy are most likely to come from. Later in the game when you occupy most of the map, switch to watching the enemy perimeter, not your own.
Unit requirements: Recce range to watch more territory; Stealth to improve survivability
Best unit: Xeno Consorts. 2 Range means that you are likely to see them before they see you. Without moving, you see 17 hexes to any other recce units 7.

Locate Enemy HQ
Task: Find out where the enemy HQ is so that you can plan your attack on it.
How: Long ranged commando probe in the enemy’s general direction. When you find them, you can decide whether to reak havoc on their collectors.
Unit requirements: Command to keep high movement and defence beyond supply lines. High Defence and Stealth to improve survivability.
Best unit: Imperial Rangers. Commando, 6 recce and stealth and 4 defence, 6 hps. They cry out for the Combat Mutagen to make their Counterattack more effective. Very expensive though!

[You can use stealthed heroes or non-recce units to find the enemy base. In a pinch, use whatever you can, but remember that a recce unit will see 16 hexes each move, a non-recce unit 4]

Explore your territory
Task: Find all resources and specials in your territory
How: Get a recce unit out quickly and move it to unexplored hexes every turn in the early game when you have ample APs
Unit requirements: Cheap in AP and resources – get one out fast! High movement to sweep multiple hexes
Best unit: Empire Recon, Machine Spiderbots. Cheap, fast and cheerful.

Capture enemy heroes
Task: Find and capture all enemy heroes in your territory
How: Sweep through your territory regularly and then accompany your killer stack attacking enemy bases
Unit requirements: High recce to detect stealthed units and high movement
Best unit: Machine Spiderbots, Mutant Outriders (add a Bounty Hunter leader!)
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Re: Winning the reconnaissance war

Postby davouthojo » Sat May 03, 2008 11:53 am


If you can see the enemy, but they can’t see you, you will be able to out-manoevre them every time. Since AE opponents don’t “cheat” and can only react to what they see, you will get a major strategic advantage by destroying your enemy’s recce capability at every opportunity. An average 175 point deck will have 10 recce units, so you will leave them blind if you destroy one every 5-10 turns. There are three main ways:

1) Use your own recce screen. They are there on the spot. Mutie-Ravager; Xeno-Gangrel and Machine-Lich are all strong enough to destroy the enemies light recce units in the first attack and retreat attack.
2) Call in an air attack. If your perimeter defence has done its job, you will detect the enemy recce unit 4-5 hexes from your base. This is beyond the range of many stacks – however, air-attacks are perfect to catch these elusive recce units onbce detected because they usually have low hit points. Don’t bother going after Ravagers or Gangrels, but Airpower is the weapon of choice against Consorts, Outriders, Recon and Spiders.
3) A Fast Response Force. An ideal unit is one with move 3 that hits hard enough to kill the recce unit on the first attack - Mutie Zentarad or Xeno Degenerate. Led by a hero with Leader skill and few recce units will escape. Even better are Imperial Marines (unless you handicap yourself by not playing these uber-units!)
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Re: Winning the reconnaissance war

Postby davouthojo » Sat May 03, 2008 11:54 am

Your recce units can be led by heroes to make them more effective. Usually I only find it worth using heroes latish in the game – my first generals go to combat stacks and the double AP cost to patrol hurts before then. Most useful traits:
Trickster. My favourite; laugh as the enemy uses 9 APs to march his killer stack one hex, only for you to slip away before a fight. Hugely increases survivability.
Leader. Usually, your Leader will be the general for your main attack stack, but if you have one spare, you can recce an amazing number of hexes (25 with a Recon with +2 Leadership!)
Pathfinder. Your recce unit can now patrol for free
Bounty Hunter. Great for the specialist hero-hunter role
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Re: Winning the reconnaissance war

Postby davouthojo » Sat May 03, 2008 11:55 am


Before designing your deck, you should have a theme in mind – how are you going to win? What sub-objectives do you have to achieve? Then you can fit your recce force to deliver these objectives.

How many Recce units do you need? First some numbers about your starting hand. What are the chances of getting a recce unit in your starting 8 card hand with a deck of 55 cards)?
99% chance if you have 24 recce cards in your deck
90% if you have 14
80% if you have 10
50% if you have 5

Also think about how many recce units do you want in action at any time? I would like 1 for HQ patrol, 1 to seek out enemy HQs and 2 to 3 on my perimeter. 4-5 total.
If I lose 1 recce every 10 turns, I’ll need to activate 10 units over a 50 turn game length.

The bottom line - I usually go for 8 - 12 units. Race, map size, Cults, resources are all factors as well as theme:
12-13 for Xenopods and Mutants on Huge maps.
7-8 for Machines or Empire on a Normal map.
More with Cults – they are harder to find and Fist/Love especially chew up recce units.

Huge maps need more recce units and a higher proportion of the more expensive Commando/survivable units. Normal maps and low resources argue for more cheap and cheerful patrollers – you can usually find the enemy with one patroller on a suicide probe.
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Re: Winning the reconnaissance war

Postby davouthojo » Sat May 03, 2008 11:56 am


Sweeping beyond the perimeter
End the turn with a Speed 4 unit on the edge of your supply range. Move it out 2 hexes and then back into supply. You will see 7 new hexes beyond your perimeter and also protect the recce unit by distancing it from counterattack

Suicide probe
As above, end the turn with a cheap speed 4 unit on the edge of your supply range. This time don’t return to supply – see 5 hexes beyond your perimeter directly towards where you suspect the enemy HQ is. Empire Recon is good for this, as their stealth makes it less of a suicide mission. I often use Spiderbots in the endgame for this. The Machines have no commando recce, and I can immediately finish the enemy off with Penetrator/Apparition strikes.

Keep moving!
A static recce unit sees 7 hexes. If it moves 4, it not only sees 12 new hexes, it generates 3 recce checks for the hexes it moves over. Triple chances to find stealthed heroes!

Advance Guard
You don’t want your killer stack blocked by a weak unit, running into a minefield, or attacking blind. Lead it with a single recce unit. If you park the recce unit next to the enemy base, it will enhance the main stack’s capture attempts on defeated heroes.

Move recce first
Before you deploy new cards, make tech or tactics, move your recce units. That way, when they discover something (e.g. Ry’leh wandering on his own) you have enough action points to react.

Destroying Collectors
Once you have found the enemy base, you usually get the opportunity to destroy collectors around it. Trading a recce unit for a collector is usually a bad deal – they can replace theirs for a few resources and APs, you have to draw a card, deploy it and then march the recce unit back into the action. Improve your odds – move the stealthed unit onto the collector, then wait until the next go – you can restealth and be 3-4 hexes away before the response comes.
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Re: Winning the reconnaissance war

Postby davouthojo » Sat May 03, 2008 11:57 am


Xenopods – Best recce race, and they don’t even need it!

What’s not to love? You should dominate the map with your superior intelligence. The best perimeter patrol bar none (Consorts); cheap Critters for base patrol and one of the best units for finding the enemy base and surviving to tell the story (Gangrels). Ample airpower to take out enemy recce. As if this is not enough, the Remote Viewer will be in your grasp by turn 30-40, revealing all bases and major armies on the map every turn.

Consorts are fragile and valuable - deploy them further back from the perimeter than other recce units. Use the last movement backwards, reducing the risk they will be ambushed by any enemy revealed.

Thanks to your Egg Chamber, you can create heavy combat units ad infinitum. Therefore you need fewer heavy units in your deck. For a huge game, often half the units in my deck are recce.

Mutants – Second best recce, and recce essential for hit-and-run success.

Bring recce in force – the Mutant hit-and-run game only works if you can see what to hit and can stop him finding you when you run. You have a good selection of units - Outriders are the best patrollers in the game, Commando Ravagers are tough, rounded off with stealthy Chameleons. I take all 5 Outriders in my Mutant decks – I can always find something useful for them to do. Have one permanently patrolling your HQ, have one accompany your main attack stack to capture heros, have a couple patrolling your territory constantly
Ravagers look great, but are not a perfect fit to recce missions – they are expensive patrollers and their lack of stealth ability severely handicaps their survivability on “find the enemy base” Commando missions. Chameleons are solid stealth recce – and with Mutagen and Cobra/Venom can pack a hefty punch.
You can give your opponents a nasty surprise by equipping your Outriders and Ravagers with Longbow anti-air.
You have no airforce, so have to rely on Ravagers and a rapid reaction force to destroy enemy recce – Zentarads are good for this since they strike hard.
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Re: Winning the reconnaissance war

Postby davouthojo » Sat May 03, 2008 12:00 pm


Empire – OK for recce, run a very precise recce war

The Empire’s recce war has a different feel to the extravagant Xenopods and Mutants. It can be tightly focused. Their Rangers are the best “find the enemy HQ” unit, but are so expensive that they they should be used surgically on missions rather than thrown about the map. If you kit them out with Mutagen and Shiva Nukes or Burst Lasers and they are a potent offensive force, but then you need to protect your investment even more.
Recon are great perimeter patrollers – cheap, fast and stealthy. Just as well, unstealthed they last no time. I usually bring all 5 to the party.

Leopards are recce generalists – robust and cheap, they can be used to plug any games the specialists leave. Between F117s and Marines, you should be able to ensure any enemy recce doesn’t get a second chance.

Machines – worst recce race – thank God for Spiderbots!

If you want living proof that variety does not make up for a lack of quality, look at the Machine recce options. They are severely handicapped by their lack of recce capability beyond supply range, forcing them back on there slow, but irresistible build strategy. I focus on creating a tight net in my own territory, and destroying enemy recce units whenever possible. This may be the only faction where I rely on stealthed heroes to find the enemy base.

Spiderbots are well designed patrollers and hero-hunters. Nearly all my Machine decks have all 5 units in them. None of the other units “fit the mission”:
Lich Platoon are too slow, and not commando so can’t go base hunting
Hydras are too expensive for patrollers and too weak and fragile to hunt other recce
Ghost Probe Bots won’t last long. They have weak stealth and defence/hps.
Spectre and Phantasm. Aircraft are no substitute for feet on the street.

You are well equipped to destroy any enemy recce testing your perimeter, through a mix of Airpower, Revenants and fast reaction forces.
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Re: Winning the reconnaissance war

Postby Keypunch » Sat May 03, 2008 7:12 pm

Wow, that's extensive!

You make a lot of good points, and I agree with nearly all of them.

But of course, I've got addendums and differring insights.

For starters, as important as recce is for uncovering the playing field, it's not half as important for keeping it covered.
- A big stack is too unwieldy to approach in any other direction than straight from the area an opponent occupies. It's more important to keep tabs on bases than on hexes. After all, bases provide supply. Supply is the limiting factor for an effective assault with any decent stack. Catching you blind-sided is hardly possible.
- The lone wandering spider bot/ravager/whathaveyou should not pose a threat to any base of importance (either a decent garrison at the HQ, or an effective respondiing force able to get there in two turns for outlying bases).
- Enemy assassins are the biggest threat. Sparing a recon at the HQ garrison is usually sufficient.
- A collector also provides recon. Putting one in a 3-point mover near his base will help you keep tabs on when he destroys it. The AI seems loathe to enter high-movement squares with big stacks. So, it's a good way to catch a hero/recon element.

My own doctrine is to keep recon focused: The battlefront is the corridor of bases from my HQ to the enemy HQ, with recon usually only at both ends, and active recon only at the tip of the line.
(Note: HQ may be shifted, but in my experience, the starting base is such a vital resource that I've yet to lose a game after taking that one.)

Also, beware of the Leopard! I think this is the single most-versatile recon unit out there. It's dirt-cheap, the strongest stats of the entry-level R units and with 6HP has higher survivability than most!

One thing I miss: Sentinel Suits (Mutant)/Sensor Drones (Xeno). It's worth putting one of these in your killer stack. It will help capture heroes and save you AP maneuvering recon elements.
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Re: Winning the reconnaissance war

Postby ZeroTheHero » Sat May 03, 2008 9:29 pm

Agreed. Recce is everything. one caveat. I dont have leaders attached to my deep recon rangers whose stealth is 4, as the leader with stealth of 4+ also becomes 4. So a leader (assassin/saboteur/espionage) stays in same hex (usually) as recon but different army. Also with rangers only being 4 stealth I try and finish in hexes that have movement of 2+ to aid in hiding.
I use a 40 card deck (132 pts) which I will post later, that I win when bonuses applied to A.I including giving them 275+, 15 etc (stll not used cults yet waiting till I have created a 40card deck for all factions then switch cults on).

Due to the deck limit I only have 3 rangers so not making mistakes and losing even one is a pain... so very careful with them. I use the Imperial recon units within supply and usually moving around HQ/Outposts or choke points.

I tend to hit recce units prior to any other target (precision strikes)...
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