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Attack Move vs Guard Mode vs Manual Attack Guide

By Medihev` - 26th June 2010 - 16:48 PM

There are many factors that can influence the outcome of a battle; army size, unit composition, micro, formations and even the way 'how' you attack. With 'how' I mean the type of attack just like attacking units one by one manually, using attack move or guard mode. You will be suprised what differences it can make if you choose the right style of attack. Hence this guide will explain you all the pros and cons of the different styles so that you will be able to decide which type of attack suits best in common situations.

But why should we actually use some sort of automatical attacks? Isn't it the player himself who knows best what he wants to attack and in which sequence? Theoretically it is true, the best way to attack is to give thousands of seperate manual attack orders, but let's stay honest - noone of us can actually perform such an outstanding micro and as soon as there is a little delay in the game it becomes impossible. That's why Command and Conquer Generals gave us tools such as 'attack move' and 'guard mode', it makes it easier for us to micro and focus on different things like flankings or macro.

Click here to kill your opponent...
The easiest and most common type of attack; just left-click on the opponent's unit. What good does it do? It forces all of your units who recieved the order to attack this fiend. Such simple attack orders can be essential in certain situations when it is important to focus enemy core units which threaten your victory. For example focus fire on a Dragon tank to prevent it from doing a flame wall to save your low armored units such as infanteries, kill a Nuke Cannon before it fires its deadly shot, a Technical with Terrorists which trys to pass by your army, of course there are a lot more situations that can require such a focus fire. However it also has its dark sides, if you give your units such an attack order they will mostly ignore everything 'till they killed the target, which can make your units vulnerable to all sorts of damage in the meantime.

A very common mistake that you can even observe at good players is that they lock on enemy units which they are chasing. The problem is that they will stop moving when they are in shooting range and have to catch up to get into range again, you lose a lot of important time - an enemy Dragon Tank could deal serious damage to your economy in this short time window. You can avoid this failure if you only give movement orders to cut off your opponent's way, doing so you stay in range permanently and your unit can shoot on its own.
Another faux pas that you see very often in CvU is the 'Gattling-Tank-locks-on-a-Missile-Defender'-case. Many China players already managed to fail in a 1 Gattling Tank vs 2 Missile Defender fight because they locked on the closest MD and forgot to attack the second MD aswell which stands a bit behind the first one. So keep in mind that it is usually better to lock on the infantery that stands furthermost, so that your Gattling Tank is already in range for the remaining units. However then it is better to use...

'A' click away from victory... -
... Attack Move. You can use attack move with pressing 'a' and then left click on the ground (sidenote: don't attack units/ buildings directly or you cancel the attack move), your unit will now attack everything between the starting and the destination location. This can be very useful in match ups where you mostly rely on light armored units such as infantery, best examples here are CvU and CvG. Most players spam a lot of Redguards and Tank Hunters out of several Barracks and waypoint them directly into enemy's base to immediately reinforce their troops. However these units are very vulnerable in the meantime and are easy targets for infantery killers like Technicals, Ambulances, Gattling Tanks and even for normal tanks since those waypointed units won't shoot back or try to evade. You can prevent this failure at least a bit if you use attack move, your units will now at least try to defend themself what makes them less vulnerable to tanks which try to overrun your infantery.
Attack move has an even more important role in terms of attacking your opponent, especially if you have to reposition your units several times. While repositioning, your units are once again vulnerable to fast hit-and-run units such as Scorpion Tanks or Technicals - by using attack move you will be able to keep these hit-and-run attacks to a minimum.
But attack move is also very essential in CvU especially if USA goes for a lot of infantery (as already mentioned above - 'Gattling-Tank-locks-on-a-Missile-Defender'-case). It can be very exhausting to always attack enemy infantery manually to get the best cost efficient result. However attack move will redefine your CvU, a spinned up Gattling Tank with attack move is the most lethal weapon against infantery.
But even attack move has its disadvantages; you always have to regard your unit's aggro range or your units might run accidently into counter units or turn away from the battlefield. Have a look at the following image to get an idea about what i mean...

Unfortunately EA failed to give our units a smart A.I. (e.g. attack specific units to hard counter them), so you have to make sure that there is no distraction between your attacking unit and the actual target if you use attack move (sidenote: attack move doesn't auto attack buildings). But luckily we still have another attack possibilty to deal with this problem...

... Guard Mode
Usually most players tend to use guard mode (hotkey: 'G') in a rather defensive role. For example Gattling Tanks in your base to stop Black Lotus from capturing your buildings, same goes for MiGs, Nuke Cannons in guard mode to secure a certain area, Paladins on the flanks to stop Gattling Tanks from entering your base and of course there are many more trivial examples of how to use guard mode in terms of defense.
There are also different possibilites to use and abuse the functionality of guard mode which you can check out here and here.

All this doesn't interest us for a moment, we rather focus on the more offensive roles of guard mode. But first of all, what distinguishes guard mode from attack move? Units in attack move auto attack units on a given route whereas units in guard mode auto attack units and buildings in a given circular area. The advantage of guard mode is that your unit won't shoot at the closest enemy to itself but at the unit closest to the center of the guard mode circle. So your unit will automatically attack your opponent's units relating to their distance from the center. The following image should light up the dark...

Knowing and applying this can influence the outcome of a battle immense. It is a common situation that a Gattling Tank gets killed by a Tech RPG because the Technical was "shielding" the RPGs or your Gattling Tanks get owned by some Missile Defenders because a dozer distracted them. Such situations can be very frustrating if you lose your way superior force. But of course it can be avoided with the help of guard mode as you have seen in the image above.

By keeping this knowledge in mind you should now be able to master most common situations with flying colours.

Discuss this guide with everyone else!