In Age of Wonders: Planetfall, the Vanguard is the “basic” faction. From a game design perspective, they were made so that players from other 4X strategy games had a familiar faction that they instinctively know how to play. Infantry Soldiers use machine guns, flying units get to ignore cover and rain bullets from above, tanks are slower but can take more of a beating and do more damage. There are very few bells and whistles, which means that most of the general tips for the Vanguard faction would be general combat tips for the game. So here are a few specific tips for the Vanguard faction.
Nanite Early, Nanite Often
The Vanguard technology tree has a technology called Nanite Support that it is useful to take early on. Nanite support does a few things, most of which you can ignore for now. What you want to focus on is the mod, Nanite Injectors. This mod costs some resources to apply to units, some energy and some of a space ore called cosmite, but it is one of the most useful mods in the game, and ideally you should put it on every unit you can.
Its effects are deceptively simple. All it does is heal your units and apply a defensive buff to them for a few turns. It can only be deployed once per battle, but here’s the catch. It’s a free action, meaning that you can take another action afterwards. It’s useful for keeping your units alive in battle. Even more importantly, if you haven’t used them on any units near the end of a battle, you can heal them up to full before taking the last shot to destroy your enemy. This lets you fight multiple battles in quick succession without waiting for your armies to heal up out of combat.
Two units that can be unlocked by focusing on the general tab of the tech tree are Engineers and PUGs. Neither of these is a full combat unit, and both fulfill more support roles. In a game where each army can only have six units, putting two support units on a team can be risky, but the PUG and the Engineer can make a powerful combination. The Engineer has the ability to create a stationary turret once per combat, which can deal out a lot of damage, with the tradeoff of not being able to move. The PUG has the ability to replenish the abilities of a unit. Put them together, and you can get two turrets for the price of one.
With an army made up of a PUG, an Engineer, a few Troopers, and a Hero unit with a good repeating rifle, you can bunker down and tear into any enemy units that approach you. This is especially useful if you don’t have any flankers to assign to an army to pick off units. Instead of attacking your enemy, force them to approach you and get mowed down. You can even replace one of the Troopers with a Laser Tank late game for more firepower.
Attack From Behind
When assembling an army that you don’t want to bunker down with, it can be important to include flanking units. In the Vanguard army, the best units for this is the Assault Bike and the Valkyrie. Both are highly maneuverable units that are very good at flanking enemies, which gives extra damage and prevents enemies from focusing on your front line. The Assault Bike boasts a powerful laser that staggers enemies, leaving them less actions on their next move. The Valkyrie has a melee attack and a grenade that blinds enemies, lowering their accuracy.
Before you try to flank, make sure that all your flankers are modded with Nanite Injectors. Other mods that boost their defense don’t hurt either, since they will be taking a lot of damage from the enemy team.
Smoking Allowed On These Planes
Here’s another entry about the PUG unit. Hey, he’s a helpful little guy. This one focuses on another one of its abilities, Blue Cloud. Blue Cloud surrounds a unit with a cloud of smoke, making it harder to hit. This is useful for any unit, but pairs especially well with the two flying units, the Gunship and the OWL.
One of the important parts of Planetfall’s combat system is cover. Units can take cover to reduce the likelihood that they’ll be hit by incoming attacks. Flying units can sometimes avoid this when attacking enemy units in cover, but they cannot take cover themselves, which makes them vulnerable. The OWL, which is a scouting unit that is something of a glass cannon, is especially vulnerable to being shot out of the sky on a single enemy turn. Use your smoke cloud on flying units, especially OWLs, in order to give them cover that they can actually take advantage of.
With these tips, you’ll be ready to take planets from all the nastier factions out there. Now get out and get ready for planetfall.