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[Contra Tips] #1 - Early Game Scouting

By ~JoKeR~ - 15th April 2021 - 17:47 PM

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Early Game Scouting

Hello generals!

Following the launch of the Contra forum, we’ll start off our first tip with a fundamental aspect of Contra’s online gameplay: scouting!

Scouting is the act of gathering information about the map, including the movement and production of enemy forces. Seeing as scouting is a fundamental aspect of RTS games as it allows one to optimize based on knowledge of the enemy’s composition, we’ll start simple and go over early game scouting, its importance in Contra’s metagame, and the basic methods of scouting.

Why is Scouting Important?

When talking about early game scouting, we are looking at about the first 3 minutes of a game, to which the enemy can go as far as play a standard build order of double warfactory as China to going as aggressive as double dozer rushing you or enemy workers building tunnels in unscouted base corners. On top of that, when factions such as GLA Assault and China Infantry have the Demolisher unlocked right after building a Barracks for the former, and a volatile bunker rush for the latter, it is critical to adapt accordingly otherwise the game is potentially ended within the first few minutes.

A Demolisher rush that runs into 2 RPG Troopers not only becomes nullified, but will often mean that the Assault player had to sacrifice potentially having a tunnel or defenses on their supply, thus making them a lot more susceptible for a counter attack.

A bunker rush that is stopped by Rifle Infantry spam alongside 2 RPGs to kill the dozer will not only mean the Infantry Player is limited to 1 Supply (as he had to sacrifice a lot of early economy to commit to a costly rush), but is put in an awkward spot to basically be forced to adapt with his remaining army (such as potentially having to resort to oil caps to recover economically), which once again, allows you to counterplay and adapt accordingly.

Preparing counterplay for an opponent’s turret rush becomes much easier when you are able to scout and anticipate the movement of your opponent’s units early on, to which this also applies to standard build orders as well in terms of knowing what unit composition your opponent has (and as a result, what units you need to build in order to deal with your opponent’s composition). Does your opponent as China Tank send a Dragon Tank immediately to your oils to destroy them? You can adapt accordingly by positioning a Main Battle Tank there in order to stop them dead cold. Does your opponent commit to a lot of Battlemasters early on? Well then your opponent is susceptible to being overrun by RPG Troopers. The dimension extends further when the opponent scouts you as well, to which you start playing mind games as to which unit compositions you predict may come by, but that's a topic for another day, so we’ll focus on the surface level of scouting for now.

Now that we’ve gone over the fundamental importance of scouting, it's time to talk about the basic methods of scouting:

Methods of Scouting

Signal Mines

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Signal Mines is a default General Power given to all China Factions, where the location of the signal mine target gives vision for as long as the mines have yet to be dropped, while the cargo plane itself also provides a decent amount of vision. Your 1st Signal Mines drop is typically used on the Command Center door to try and decipher which direction the 2nd dozer/worker goes in order to predict your opponent’s strategy. Signal mines themselves release fireworks that provide vision when an enemy unit moves over them, allowing you to also catch out potential flank maneuvers if you place signal mines in a flank to preemptively indicate if your opponent may be attacking from a specific route. These are mines however, so they can be mine swept as well (but do activate the fireworks upon minesweeping).

Spy Drone // Satellite Scan

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Spy Drone is a General Power available to all USA Factions (and default for Cyber) that plants an invisible drone that provides a small amount of vision. This drone is especially helpful in early game as it is unlikely for your opponent to hunt your spy drones early on, meaning USA has perhaps the best early scouting of all factions as it is the only form of scouting that scales in the vision it provides without actually buying units to do this such as stealth detecting scouts (Radar Vans, Listening Outposts, and Sentry Drones). Furthermore, the Satellite Scan is a non interceptable default General Power for all USA factions (but a Rank 1 General Power for Cyber) that can essentially act as a complementary scan for your Spy Drone or just be used to scan at around the time your opponent’s 2nd Dozer/Worker comes out (to time this easily, just time it around the time you build your own 2nd Dozer/Worker).

Note: The Satellite Scan can be upgraded for some generals such as Airforce to also detect stealth, where it can be moved around. As this section is mainly focused on early game scouting, we won’t be going over this...for now.


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The Alshain are the GLA Faction’s dedicated scout unit, where 1 is given to a GLA player by default every game and can also be rebuilt from the Factory for 200$. It has a timer of 1 minute upon being built, where it is a flying infantry unit that can only give vision and nothing else (attacking will cause it to follow the targeted unit/structure). Alshains are especially useful in early game as unlike the other scouting methods for USA and China, you can specifically follow one target you want such as a worker or dozer and pinpoint its exact path with the Alshain. The 1 minute timer is important to take into consideration however, as once the Alshain expires, you do not get lingering vision for very long, meaning the player then has the choice to either renew his temporary vision for 200$ or scrap it entirely for other benefits (such as a Radar Van that also provides radar and can be camonetted). As you can see, the Alshain is the most temporary out of all the scouting methods, but it does provide the niche of being able to track down a specific unit and its pinpoint path for a full minute, something the USA and China Factions lack.

Dozers // Workers

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I’d like to add a special section dedicated to dozers and workers being used as scouting units, as technically you can use your construction units as scouting if you are planning to try and deny an Oil Capture or going for a Dozer Rush for example. These strategies themselves can provide you vision on what your opponent is doing, as if your opponent has 5 Missile Defenders ready to greet your Dozer going for a Turret Rush for example, then it’s very likely that his economy may not be very strong or could potentially be relying on an Oil Cap instead of a 2nd Supply to make up for the early manspam. Same case can be said for workers, except workers are a lot more spammable and can often abuse the lack of enemy presence by building up tunnels in sneaky corners if not caught out. While these are not dedicated scout units, it’s worth mentioning them as they can help out in early game scouting in ways that may not be immediately obvious to many players.

Credit to Marakar for producing this guide

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