There are a few ways to go about playing defensively. You can focus on opening aggressively, managing hard points, and literally setting up defenses such as structures around them, or alternatively you can play the long match focusing on supply and gradually overwhelming the enemy over time. The latter is my favored and what this guide will be geared towards.
The benefit to playing defensively is that you get to see what the enemy does first and play counters to them. This, ideally, lets you trade up and should create a supply gap between you and your opponent. The idea is that after that, you will systematically deploy counters to whatever you see on the field, keeping one pilot or one titan in your hand at all times to respond to the enemy. Things should "naturally" die so that redeployment shouldn't be a huge issue.
The downside to playing defensively is that you're always responding. This means you might not have hardpoint control and you're probably fighting an uphill battle for most of the game. Letting the opponent get an early point lead also gives you very little room for mistakes with your counters. You'll be on your back foot most of the time and mistakes will be very costly as you won't be giving yourself a good point cushion.
For this guide we will refer to the Near Hardpoint as A and the Far Hardpoint as C. (Until the Examples section.)
- Strong mid to late game strategy.
- Capitalizes (and snowballs) well on enemy mistakes.
- Counter focused. (Potential to punch above weight.)
- If you lose the first engagement (in terms of supply) you're probably not coming back against a player on top of their game.
- "Weak" early game. (This is kind of a deception though.)
- Heavily reliant on titans. (Especially if you're a lower level than the enemy.)
- Somewhat Map dependent.
- Prediction required.
Most favored map, all Hardpoints are encountered on the way to the base. Easiest to control in terms of game flow.
Right after Training Grounds, the far Hardpoint is like an itch you can't scratch. After 2:00 mark titans will not naturally cover it.
Having "2" lanes, harder for Titans to cover. Often will Titans will push to the base.
Having "4" lanes and poor coverage on B this map is the hardest to maintain a defense on.
The current approach I use to a supply mindset is a "blackjack approach". As an engagement is in progress I think about the costs of how much I invested and how much the enemy invested. Let's say I have a Holo, Gunner against a Pyro, Gunner. That's my 5 supply against their 6 supply. My pilots win the fight but die in the pyro thermite. At the end of this engagement I'd be "+1". You want to trade up, you want to be + rather than -. Hard Points will come eventually.
Deck BuildYour deck should be comprised to mainly defensive structures and counters to the cards you have problems with in your rank. Most cards are able to be used defensively, so they're all available to you. The only card you'd steer away from would be Core Ogre due to its strong suit being base pushes and poor flexibility, but it can slow down a match fairly well if you wanted to use it that way. Generally you want your deck to be pretty "balanced."
Early Game (4:00 - 3:00)
In the early game you should wait and be patient. Generally the most confusing opener the enemy can deliver is sending a pilot to C and B. If they wait as well make a small investment into A (Stim Bruiser, Holo Grenadier, Boomer) C if you're on Angel City (right-most point). Your only concern should be winning the first engagement. See what the enemy puts out and then deploy your pilots and burn cards accordingly to counter them. This phase will be all about trading in terms of supply. This changes on Crash Site, instead you want to win the fight at B.
Mid Game (3:00 - 2:00)
In the mid game for the Linear maps it's okay to deploy your titans early. Get the conveyor belt moving. Your Titans are gonna move out and cover A,B,C in a systematic fashion, you'll have two out at a time and one in your hand if the enemy tries to back-cap on you.
For maps like Angel City and Boneyard you'll hold back and drop your Titans in response to things your pilots can't handle. For example a Boomer. You want them covering the point as much as possible and not rushing the base, but it's hard to avoid.
Late GAME (2:00 Onward)
Supply Boost will be the biggest bump in your plans, use your supply as best as you can to counter the offense the enemy pushes back with.
Otherwise after that everything is routine. Your late game is similar to your mid-game but if you see an opportunity or will lose otherwise you can try for a base push. Now the very important clinch moments here are using your burn cards, to not make trades, but to hold points and merely delay captures for those points. (This can also be done with Sim Ninja) They'll die for the sake of getting points. Can be important in reaching your end goal. Grunts are an excellent late game burn card to stall captures.
Note on A "Defensive Base Push"
When you play defensively you don't aim to achieve a base push. What will happen is, if you have a large supply advantage your Titans will push up and do damage to the enemy base. Think of it as your supply lead "overflowing."
My computer isn't strong enough for video editing so you'll just get raw footage.
This match primarily showcases flexibility and time management. Despite not being able to secure C I often send a Stim Bruiser to it or Spectres. Neutralizing it will at least give me time to work on other parts of the board. Stim Bruiser is good for this being 2 cost, and Spectres are good for this as they won't just stay there after capture.
This first match is a fairly "textbook" application of this strategy. You can kind of see the points I panic, trying to deploy things without the supply. A bit of a negative trade on the first engagement but made up in the second trade (Holo for Grunts + Arc Mine.) Gunner vs. Stim was also a favorable match up for me. I stumble a bit on the BT drop, not knowing how to counter it.
This match primarily showcases map awareness, panning back and forth across the map during "downtime", checking the enemy base and watching for deployments to the back.
As this is Crash Site, I rush B. I make okay trades, but fail to capture the Holo Grenadier in the way I want to. Important to note is due to not capturing C (my near hardpoint) when I waypoint my Holo Grenadier I don't achieve the behavior I desired. This is important to keep in mind for micro-managing engagements. Issues and hesitation arise in countering Ion as it has AoE damage. Wasn't sure how to deal with that.
This match is not won by points, and may even have been a loss if it went on longer.
It showcases a Defensive Base Destruction, which is a side effect of the playstyle.
First major error is the preemptive mine that didn't take in to account my enemy did not capture A. This mine traded poorly, only damaging a Holo Pilot. From then on I play fairly passively and make a decent comeback, but it can be said I play too passively and that's how the enemy takes the points back. Most notable mistakes is I fail to properly kill a Ronin with a Gunner which hurts me in the long run as instead I need to dedicate a Titan to that job.
Showcases importance of predicting enemy moves and unit movements. As well as the "high-stakes" nature of the strategy, and how quickly the tables can turn.
Opening trade is biffed. Gunner should've been sent further from the Sentry bait, would've saved it from the Holo Grenadier. Bad follow-ups such as a useless sentry to be killed by a Gunner. A lot of unnecessary losses taken in the early game, weakens my later supply cushion. The biggest error is the Gunner pathing used to combat the Core Scorch. Had I properly predicted where the Core Scorch would be and placed the Gunner appropriately that Gunner could've taken a Core Scorch and a Ronin. That mistake probably cost me the game.
Showcases a weakness of the strategy (more my own tunnel vision). I tend to focus less on the score and more on trading. This leads me to lose by points. Being overly passive is also a mistake.
Error(?) in not sending a Holo Grenadier to A to accompany my mine. Error in not killing the Holo Grenadier with a drop and Spectre to both kill it and take B at 2:19. Eventually the enemy sets up a strong defense of their own and I am unable to break through it. Perhaps this showcases their powerful defense. Heh.
Showcases difficulty of returning from a bad start and struggle of control on Boneyard. (Also me panicking. Patience is really lacking here.)
This match is a personal shame of mine, losing to a Charge Sniper. My first and biggest mistake is missing the mine. Immediately afterwards I make a rather lousy trade with my Barrage (the shield grunts are not in a power position and not worth killing in that manner.). I then should've let the Medium Turret eat some damage to get rid of the Spectres and Spectre Captain. I panicked trying to make up for my mistakes with the mine and made poor decisions.
Disclaimer: I'm only Gold 1. (The matches might say Gold 2, but I belong in Gold 1.)