MNBrian recently approached me and suggested that I make a guide on counters. That reminded me of how intimidating a facing a new unit could be for a new player. Often, it takes some experimentation to find out what units are actually good or cost effective counters in practice. Further, new players tend to have a limited arsenal. So today, we will take a look at counters, soft or hard, to all units in this game, using only units that are available at level 11.
Special mentions will be made if a unit unlocked with higher player level is an especially hard counter. You can combine this guide with the deck building guide to ensure your deck has appropriate counters to most units you will face.
As this guide will cover all units in the game, it will be quite lengthy. It may be helpful to use ctrl+F to find out about counters to a particular unit. If you cannot find a particular unit, try looking for its counterpart in the other faction.
Similar to in the scouting guide, we will use the GDI name for units like riflemen and militants, which are counterparts to each other.
I chose level 11 to be the level to use for this guide because players unlock the venom at this level. This addition is roughly Nods’ counterpart to GDI’s talon and makes Nod have the same tools as GDI. Level 11 is also relatively easy to achieve. Let’s take a look at what units are available to level 11 players.
GDI: Riflemen, Missile Squad, Shockwave Troopers, Rhino, Pitbull, Predator Tank, Drone Swarm, Talon, Orca, Wolverine, Zone Troopers, Sandstorm, Titan.
Nod: Militant, Laser Squad, Flame Troopers, Attack Bikes, Buggy, Scorpion Tank, Tick Tank, Banshee, Venom, Widowmaker, Flame Tank, Rockworm, Cyborg.
We can see that both factions have similar arsenals. A notable exception is the fact that GDI lacks a heavy anti-infantry option like the flame tank.
In this section, flame tank absolutely murders all units except scarabs so it will not be mentioned.
Riflemen: Countered by… pretty much anything anti-infantry. Nothing notable here.
Missile Squad: Riflemen and shockwaves are premier cost-effective ways to deal with these. Rhinos are mobile options that trade somewhat effectively against these units as well. Wolverines will also trade very well against missiles squads, especially on defense.
Shockwave Troopers: Personally, I like to counter these with better controlled shockwaves, but common answers are rhinos and talons. In the lategame, wolverines will also do very well against these units.
Jump Jet Troopers: These units do high damage but are relatively fragile. Shockwaves and even riflemen can kill these fairly quickly. Because of their mobility, you need to position your units well to deny jump jets room for manoeuvring. Rhinos again do a fairly good job of trading, partly because jump jets are much more expensive. Talons will be able to tear through these guys without retaliation, while wolverines still do a good job of fighting them, especially on the defense.
MG Squad: Fairly uncommon to see these units, but they are actually quite similar to scarabs in countering. Catch them while they move with anti-infantry units. What you make to counter these units will depend on what your opponent is using to block. For example, when dogs are blocking, combine tanks with shockwave troopers or rhinos. Talons can be effective answers as well if your opponent isn’t guarding his MG with anti-air.
Sniper Team: Countering snipers also depends on what your opponents are using to block. They are a little less vulnerable than MG squads while moving, but are much less effective against vehicles. Either push through the blockers (typically riflemen) with shocks, or use rhinos and talons to take these units out.
Chemical Warriors: The are essentially slightly stronger shockwaves/flamers. Counter them the same you would to counter shockwaves, though you’ll need to have even better control and placement to fight these with shockwaves.
Scarabs: Many guides have been made about how to counter these units. Essentially, you want to push with at least two units at a time, possibly after sacrificing a squad to take out one scarab first. After that, push forward and hold ground with anti-infantry units. Scarabs pushing into shocks will die before they are able to set up. For holding ground, most anti-infantry units will work. A special note about flame tanks: although I’ve never seen this match up, I expect flame tanks pushing into scarabs to take a hit and be moderately to severely damaged before clearing out the other scarab. Not cost effective but it works.
War Factory Units
Rhino: Infantry generally does poorly against these units, but missile squads can be cost effective in groups. Aircrafts like orca or banshee can kill it relatively quickly without taking much retaliation, but the main counter to these guys reside in your war factory. Pitbulls, bikes, tanks… all work very well. All of your tech lab units, even the anti-infantry ones, will be able to take these out because rhinos and buggies are relatively fragile and don’t do much vehicle damage.
Pitbull: Missile squad does fairly well against these units, but raider makes them mobile. Tanks are a good early game answer and you can use all anti-armor tech lab units to murder these in the late game. Aircrafts like banshees and orcas are decent against pitbulls but will suffer against large numbers of pitbulls (raider really helps in these engagements, especially when microed well).
Attack Bikes: Bikes gets its separate section since it has some key differences from the pitbull. Mainly its lack of raider. Everything that does well against pitbulls will do well against bikes, and pitbulls themselves are a counter to bikes. Aircrafts, however, will struggle a little bit with the high alpha damage of bikes, and should rarely be used against bikes on offence.
Predator Tank: Missile squad will be your main counter to tanks, as well as your own better controlled tanks. Aircrafts will prey on these helpless hunks of metal, just watch out for anti-air support. In the tech lab, zone troopers will do especially well against tanks. Rockworms, titans, and sandstorms also do fairly well against tanks.
MLRS: A common theme with ranged units will be to counter the blockers. Against an exposed and unprepared MLRS, a tank or a squad of missiles will do fairly well, though the retaliation will leave your tank on low health. Generally, look to tank a volley with infantry before sending in your armor. Tech lab anti-armor work well against MLRSes if they can be reached. Banshees and orcas will have a field day on these tasty snacks, as long as you can keep your aircrafts safe from anti-air.
War Dogs: Dogs are more annoying than scary. Missile squads will do well against them but will struggle to catch them. Pitbulls and tanks are good choices. Tech lab units will also come out ahead in a direct fight. However, keeping these off of pads in the late game is mostly about body blocking them by dancing your units.
APC: Think of these as stronger rhinos. Similar counters will apply, but missile squads will have more trouble chewing through these. Have an anti-infantry unit nearby to clean up the missile squad left behind by the APC and don’t forget to pull your armour away.
Tick Tank: Once a tick tank is deployed, missile squads and zone troopers may be the only cost effective solutions. However, they are vulnerable on the move, and will even lose to tanks when caught out in the open. Just like MGs and scarabs, you’ll want to catch them undeployed or force them into attacking your anti-armor units. Rockworms, titans, and sandstorms will still do fairly well against tick tanks, though maybe not as cost effective.
Giga-cannon: Countering the giga-cannon is similar to countering the MLRS with a few differences. Once a giga-cannon is charged up, it is very difficult to approach, even with infantry. Pull back your units if you see the giga-cannon’s beam become thicker and stronger. Tanks are even better against exposed giga-cannons but a lot of the time aircrafts will be your best bet. Fun fact, the MLRS counters the giga-cannon because its burst damage can take out the giga before its beam charges up.
Chem Buggy: These guys are like mini flame tanks. They will clear out your infantry with ease. Any anti-armor vehicle will do well against them, however. A special note that zone troopers are especially good against chem buggies (much more than cyborgs are) because of the tiberium damage immunity they have. Aircrafts can also be used since these buggies lose their anti-air capability.
Stealth Tank: Keep fragile units away from stealth tanks. Because of their speed, missile squads will struggle to catch up and kill these sneaky vehicles. However, when defending friendly units, missile squads will do fine. A good counter is tanks, but anti-vehicle tech lab units will also do well against these units because they tend to be tanky and the stealth tank itself is very squishy.
Drone Swarm: Just like dogs, these are more annoying than dangerous. Missile squads and pitbulls should keep these at bay. Any anti-air unit works against these flying pests.
Talon: While missile squads can trade fairly well against talons, pitbulls are the cheapest option that can hunt these down in practice. Otherwise, anything capable of attacking air can take these down as talons are very fragile. For venoms, add talon to the list of counters because those things are helpless against air targets. However, expect missile squads to work less well against venoms than against talons.
Orca: These units are very fragile but high in burst damage. Missile squads tend to be the best answer, though they will have trouble chasing orcas down. Pitbulls will work if in groups, but prepare to lose at least one pitbull for every orca you take down (still a good trade). Zone troopers and cyborgs are great against orcas, capable of two-shotting them. Wolverines and sandstorms can destroy these in a 1v1 fight, but be prepared to take a heavy beating from the burst. In wolverine’s case particularly, the orca can pull back after firing its volley, leaving the wolverine on very low health. I personally would not recommend using wolverines to counter orcas. On the air side, talons and banshees can chase down orcas and kill them easily.
Hammerhead: No air units available to you at this point will be able to contest these. Give up the air game and any ground based anti-air unit can take them out.
Banshee: Infantry based anti-air, namely missile squads and zone troopers, will work well against banshees. However, these infantry units tend to be slow and may have trouble catching banshees. Groups of pitbulls can take down banshees fairly easily and can chase banshees down as well. Any tech lab anti-air will do pretty well against banshees but may also have some trouble catching these. When using talons to answer banshees, look to set up 2 on 1 engagements and be prepared to lose multiple talons. I would not recommend talons for this task.
Inferno: Any ground based anti-air will suffer against infernos unless in groups. However, when multiple infernos take the field, even groups of anti-air will have difficulty stopping them. The only realistic answer to groups of infernos are your talons and your banshees. When dealing with a single inferno, groups of pitbull can work well. Zone troopers on defense can take out an inferno, survive its bomb and fire damage, then regen back their health. Cyborg is less reusable in this aspect, but can still trade for an inferno. Missile squads are too slow to effectively deal with these bombers, and other tech lab anti-air units face the same problem as when they face orcas – not dealing well with the hit and run, especially on offence.
Tech Lab Units
Wolverine: Tanks. Tanks are most likely going to be your solution to these units. They come out earlier than any other tech lab units and will shred your infantry. If you are floating some tiberium, titans, rockworms, and sandstorms will all do fine against wolverines. Zone troopers are not cost-effective answers to wolverines, even on defence, but can supplement your other anti-armor units in fighting them.
Zone Troopers: Shockwaves are the best way to deal with zone troopers. Your wolverines will take a beating marching up and killing these guys, but are still cost effective. Flame tanks continue to eat any infantry for breakfast, including these infantry. Other anti-infantry units like rhinos and talons do not handle zone troopers well. On a side note, riflemen can take out zone troopers very cost effectively. But if you are dumping three to four population space into riflemen at that stage of the game, you’re probably going to lose. Realistically, stick to shocks.
Sandstorm: I haven’t seen these guys too much, but they are easily taken out by zone troopers. Missile squads will also work against sandstorms. Throwing tanks at sandstorms is another solution, though you’ll want to throw your tanks in one by one to avoid the multi-tile damage of the sandstorms. Heavy tech lab anti-armor like titan and rockworms will do well against these relatively lighter vehicles.
Titan: Zone troopers can withstand the particle cannons of these battle walkers and deliver a beating. Tanks in groups and microed well can take down a titan as well. I’ve never seen a rockworm fight a titan, so I cannot give an evaluation on that match up. Any anti-armor aircrafts like the orca or banshee will laugh at titans as they rain death from above.
Disruptor: This is like the flame tank of GDI. No infantry, not even zone troopers, can face the sonic weapon of the disruptor. However, any anti-vehicle unit that’s not infantry can take out disruptors fairly easily. As this is another ranged unit, respond to what your opponent is protecting it with. My go to solution would be tanks, but aircrafts and tech lab anti-armor will do fine as well.
Kodiak: This is a tough one for players at level 11. Hammerheads and phantoms are not available at this point so the most realistic options are talons and banshees. Those take a while to kill kodiaks and can be taken down by other units that your opponent deploys to protect the kodiak. On the ground, missile squads and zone troopers are good options to fight exposed kodiaks but will struggle if they kodiak is backed up by anti-infantry units.
Juggernaut: If your opponent gets a juggernaut out and sets it up safely, you are in big trouble. Air is pretty much your only option at this point, so I hope you brought an orca or a banshee (although, orcas are bad in general, and I do not recommend putting them in your deck). Otherwise, try to catch your opponent moving the juggernaut and face hug it with a anti-vehicle unit. The juggernaut cannot attack units immediately adjacent to it. This is easier said than done, and juggernauts generally spell bad news for you.
Mammoth Tank: Mammoth and the avatar have very few counters. Once these roll out, you should look to quickly close out the game before they engage in combat. After all, your opponent paid 250 tib for these giant late-game vehicles. Air units are your best options, as the mammoth’s air attack is relatively weak and the avatar lacks an air attack. Still, if a mammoth already reached the central pad, it’s more likely that you are going to lose.
Flame Tank: After the many nerfs, flame tanks are no where near as scary. Avoid going anywhere near it with infantry, and any anti-vehicle armor can take it out. Aircrafts also work fine against flame tanks. At this point, I find disruptors harder to deal with than flame tanks.
Rockworm: Infantry based anti-vehicle like missile squads and zone troopers do well against rockworms. They are also helpless against aircrafts, so orcas and banshees can destroy them easily. Throwing groups of tanks at rockworms work okay, but its better to use infantry and be cost effective. Don’t forget the rockworm has an AOE attack upon submerging from the ground.
Confessors: Two squads of shockwaves will be able to handle confessors on defense. However, much better is to use vehicle based anti-infantry. Wolverines and flame tanks will crush these guys. Groups of rhinos will work as well, though I’m not sure exactly how effective they will be since I rarely face confessors.
Artillery: I’ve only seen this unit once in battle out of the hundreds of games I’ve played. I assume they are worse juggernauts, much much worse juggernauts. Air will do fine against artillery, groups of tanks should work out as well. I will update this entry if artillery gets a buff and becomes meta again.
Basilisk: Just like the kodiak, I would recommend hammerheads and phantoms for these capital ships. However, those aren’t available to a level 11 player, so stick to talons and banshees. This is possibly the most unbalanced unit to face as a new player. Its range makes it difficult to deal with using zone troopers and missile squads as they can be blocked. Talons and and banshees are vulnerable as well when fighting Basilisks. Hope your opponent makes a mistake and leave these sitting vulnerable and punish them with your infantry or air based anti-air units.
While low level players can theoretically deal with every unit (save the mammoth and avatar, but that’s not due to the limited arsenal), there are some important units that can make decks more versatile locked behind level-gates. Several archetypes, such as air decks, require high player levels as well. This is definitely a problem and one that the developers are working to change.
Still, we can see that the limited arsenal can get new players pretty far. As long as we build a balanced deck and play smart, we will do well even against higher level and more experienced players. This is further supported by the numerous F2P players who started at full release hitting Tiberium league (my own journey can be found here).
Let me know if you’ve any questions or comments. Metahub’s discord server has recently added a C&C channel. There’s not much going on there at the moment, but you’re welcome to join us.
Good luck on the battlefield, commander.