Scouting has always been an important part of RTS games. Whether it’d be sending dogs and bears in Red Alert 3 or SCVs and drones in Starcraft, the knowledge of what your opponent is doing can swing the course of the game. However, the importance of scouting in Command and Conquer Rivals isn’t obvious. In this guide, we will go over the basics of scouting and how to use the information we obtain from scouting.
Units like Rifleman and Militant are counterparts to each other. We will use the GDI name for these units, but this guide will apply to Nod as well.
In order to scout, we need to know which units to use. Luckily, the game has already made this easy for us. There are four units that have the special 3-tile vision trait. Rifleman / militant, Rhino / buggy, War Dogs and drone swarm. Notice how that out of these, the last two options are only available GDI. This is likely due to GDI being a more defensive and slower faction, and the developers gave GDI these tools to have more options for an aggressive early game.
Reacting to Your Opponent
The most common opener is the barracks opener. An early rifleman for scouting can be very effective. Assuming that your opponent starts with a barracks, you will be equipped to handle anything that he throws at you. He starts with rifleman? You are on even ground. Try to setup favorable engagements. He starts with missile squad or jump jets? Use your rifleman to force back these units or to protect your harvesters, making one more rifleman squad if needed. Against Shockwave Troopers, make your own shocks to have a favorable engagement using your own Rifleman as support, or transition to your factory or helipad for anti-infantry.
A common but effective tactic in the lower leagues is harvester rush. Scouting allows you to see this a couple of seconds earlier, which is very important in the early game. Say you see attack bikes rushing towards your harvesters, immediately create a missile squad and use it alongside your rifleman to block the bikes and ward off the attack. Because bike rushes tend to consist of at least 2 squads of bikes, holding off their attack can already put you at a great economic advantage.
On the other side of the spectrum is the double harvester opener. With scouting, we can obtain this information early and immediately stage an attack (or respond with your own second harvester, depending on the deck you run). This scenario is much more preferable to not knowing your opponent has built two harvesters and being surprised by tech lab units rolling out relatively early in the game.
While the rifleman opener is the cheapest and the most flexible, other starting build orders exist. The disadvantage of these openers is that vehicles and aircraft tend to be more expensive. This increase in cost can make a large difference in holding off a harvester rush. The payoff for these alternative starts is that drones, rhinos, and war dogs are very mobile and can be efficient in trading against barracks units.
If you are a barracks player and find yourself facing war dogs or drones, save up some Tiberium to transition into factory or air, while keeping your rifleman alive (run them around near your opponent’s base) to see what your opponents build. For example, Pitbulls supported by missile squads can efficiently trade against war dogs and predator tanks.
New players frequently express that Riflemen are useless. Indeed, Riflemen have poor combat capacity, even after the recent buff to their damage. However, their ability to scout makes them important for many decks. In a game of elaborate rock, paper, and scissors, knowing what your opponent is choosing is a large advantage.
Experiment with some scouting units, and they just might be able to surprise you with how useful they are.