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The Baron's Guide to Countering an ACU Rush

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# 1Mortiferus Rosa Dec 15 2010, 00:51 AM
Hello, my name is “The Baron”. Anyone who has played ranked 1v1 has invariably run into an ACU rusher. Being rushed by an ACU sucks, I know because it has happened to me way too many times. If you are thinking, “If you can’t beat them, join them” please don’t. It only perpetuates the cycle and it will never end. Instead, learn how to beat them without having to ACU rushing “better.” Most players believe that it is a dirt cheap strategy that should be fixed; however, the problem still persists. This guide is to teach you how to better counter it.


What is an ACU Rush: An ACU Rush is where a player spends his immediate resources to build three or more Research Stations and immediately marches his ACU at his opponent. The player uses the research generated to only upgrade his ACU, with his main goal being overcharge (and/or the nanogun if the player is Cybran). There are several small variations of how an ACU Rusher will play, however the above remains the same.


Rushing Variants:

Engineers: Some rushers like to bring one of their engineers along for the ride in case repairs are needed to be made. This is more in the case of a Cybran ACU Rusher than Aeon because Aeon ACU’s can get healing nanites which are faster and more efficient than an engineer.

Aeon Point Defense Rush: Aeon Point Defense has longer range than both the UEF and Cybran equivalents. It is not uncommon for an Aeon player to use this advantage to place Point Defenses to chew away at your own defenses from a safe distance and slowly creep forward.


ACU Upgrades to Consider:

Aeon: Currently the most popular ACU for Rushing. This ACU is the best in ACU vs ACU combat and is extremely difficult to kill

Notable upgrades are:

- Overcharge: Rapes land units and kills a minor experimental in 4 or 5 shots.
- Teleport: Allows for travel across distances (not as far as jump jets). However it is instantaneous transport and can be used to escape or jump past poorly designed defenses
- Healing Nanites: Creates a unit that is used to instantly heal the ACU 5,000 hit points.
- Personal Shield: An additional 12,000 hit points that recharges every 45 seconds.
- Weapon Range and Movement Speed: Combined, it allows the ACU to kite virtually every land unit, including other ACUs.
- Energy and Mass Income Boost: Self explanatory. Allows the ACU to operate quite effectively without putting down additional resource buildings.


Cybran:Second most popular ACU for Rushing. This ACU is not as good vs. other ACUs, but it is the best against blobs land units.

Notable upgrades are:

- Overcharge: Rapes land units and kills a minor experimental in 4 or 5 shots.
- Nano-Gun: By itself a nasty weapon, coupled with the rate of fire upgrade it is preferable to overcharge for taking out blobs of tanks. Never approach a Cybran ACU with tanks while he has this upgrade.
- Jump Jets: Allows him to travel large distances, can be used to escape or jump past poorly designed defenses. Can be shot by anti-air and fighters
- LOA Tactical Missile Launcher: Tactical missile attachment, allows for long ranged strikes against defenses.

UEF:your opponent is ACU rushing with a UEF ACU have no worries. No sane person would try to ACU rush with a UEF ACU. If they do, you can probably kill them without my guide. Although the UEF ACU is the worst ACU to rush with it can still kill an enemy commander caught with its pants down.

Notable upgrades are:

- Overcharge: Rapes land units and kills a minor experimental in 4 or 5 shots.
- Jump Jets: Allows him to travel large distances, can be used to escape or jump past poorly designed defenses. Can be shot by anti-air and fighters
- BIL-E2 Tactical Missile Launcher: Tactical missile attachment, allows for long ranged strikes against defenses.
- Radar Stealth: ACU does not appear on radar, allows for sneaky attacks or easier evasion
- APDS Artillery: Another gun for the ACU

All ACUs:Upgrading Training on all ACU’s makes for a nasty piece of work. Each training upgrade increases health and damage by 25%. Training III upgrades the Area of Effect on the main cannon. Also, the shoulder mounted anti-air is available to all ACUs. It is quite deadly to fighters, bombers, and gunships because it doesn’t die until the ACU is killed and it has a higher damage output the more Training Upgrades the ACU gets. Finally, if you are wondering why they seem to know exactly where your raiding parties are and easily track them down, it is because they have upgraded the radar on their ACU.


Recognizing a Rush before it is too late: It requires both of the below tips
The Scoreboard: It is possible to recognize a rush before the ACU is knocking at your door. When the game starts, check the scoreboard (F2). There are two things to look out for. The first is the faction of your opponent. If your opponent is UEF, he won’t be rushing. If he does, laugh at him and kill him. An Aeon player has more of a probability of rushing than a Cybran. However, just because your opponent is Aeon doesn’t mean that he is going to rush. The second thing to check is the actual score. Keep an eye on it the first minute and a half of the game. If his score skyrockets compared to yours (see figure 1), he is definitely teching. This does not guarantee a rush by itself, it just means that he built a lot of research stations and is therefore teching. Your opponent may be rushing to get a minor experimental (the counter of that will not be discussed in this guide); however, it is a strong indication that a rush is eminent.

Figure 1 IPB Image

Intelligence: Intelligence has always been important. However, it is crucial that you know exactly what your opponent is up to, the sooner the better. If you’re Build Order has your first factory being and air factory, use your first fighter (or bomber) to scout. Make a beeline directly for your opponent’s base because that is the direction the ACU will be coming from. However, if you don’t have an air factory in your Build Order, just plant an early radar. On most 1v1 maps a radar in the center of your base can cover up to the center of the map (see figure 2). If you see one (or two) blips making a beeline for you, it is most likely to be a rush (see figure 3a and 3b).

Figure 2 IPB Image




Figure 3a IPB Image




Figure 3b IPB Image





Intelligence Trick: There is a trick to see if the blip on the radar is an ACU or not. All you have to do is take an engineer and hover your mouse over the radar blip. If you see this (see figure 4) you can capture the unit and it is not an ACU. If you see this (see figure 5) then it is an ACU. As soon as you verify it is an ACU Rush, the following steps need to be taking immediately.

Figure 4 IPB Image




Figure 5 IPB Image





How to Stop an ACU Rush:

Game Start: I personally have molded the positioning of my build order so that my first two factories are already in position to protect my base if a rusher is present (see figure 6).

Figure 6 IPB Image





Early Stage:Stop building tanks (if UEF or Aeon). Upgrade the shield and tactical missile launcher add-ons onto your factories (but start with the factory in between you and your opponents ACU) and plant a point defense under the shield (see figure 7). Start building mobile missile launchers (watch how many you make, you don’t need 50 of them) if you are UEF or Aeon and assault bots if you are cybran. If you are a Cybran player, unlocking the cobra if the rusher is pushing with Point Defenses or is trying to set a base up right outside of yours (factories have tactical missile add-ons and can be used aggressively). If you have an air factory, make some bombers but do not spam them. You want to save the resources for gunships, which I will explain why later. If you can get your opponent to waste resources on anti-air towers and research on the anti-air upgrade on the ACU, it will take pressure off of you.

Figure 7 IPB Image





Destroying your Opponents Engineers: Simple enough… kill them. They will be in your opponent’s main base unless he took one with his ACU. Use your bombers and take several assault bots (if cybran) or mobile missile launchers ([and the few tanks you already have built] if you are UEF or Aeon) out on a raiding party (around your opponents ACU) to kill them. Try to have that base scouted so you know exactly where the engineers are and any point defense. If one engineer is with their ACU, use your bombers on it. Also, if your opponent’s ACU tries to run down your raiding force, split it into two groups so one is guaranteed to get there (see figure 8). Also, every moment you draw your opponents ACU away from your base is more breathing room for you.

Figure 8 IPB Image





Destroying your Opponents Starting Base: Most likely the engineers were in the main base, so continue on to destroy it. Just remember to use mobile missile launchers to kill any Point Defenses that may have been laid down so you don’t lose any units. It is critical to destroy your opponent’s main base so he no longer has the research and resource income needed to sustain his attack. Also, he can’t attack you and defend his main base with just one unit.

Middle Stage: Once you have a secure base (see figure 9) and have destroyed your opponent’s original base, the focus of the game changes. Now it is safe and necessary to build 2-3 research stations yourself. If your opponent has stopped attacking your base because he cannot crack it, feel free to expand a bit and grab a nearby mass extractor or two. If he is still attempting to attack your base, try to slip an engineer or two and establish secondary resource bases. During this time you focus primarily on teching and building something to kill his ACU with. It is different for each faction and will be discussed in detail later. Also, it is imperative that you never lose sight of your opponent’s ACU during this time. Just because he isn’t attacking your base doesn’t mean that he isn’t up to something. He may be using the time to build a base of his own. If he attempts to build a base, deny it to him. Use your mobile missile launchers (in several attack groups) to destroy the buildings as he makes them. Retreat one group while moving the others in (see figure 10). Preventing him from building a base denies him additional resources, research, and defenses and makes it easier for you to kill him later.

Figure 9 IPB Image




Figure 10 IPB Image





Destroying the ACU as UEF:Teching to the AC1000 Terror is ultimate goal for a UEF player. All it takes is one to give you opponent a bad day. Building standard gunships in the meantime is a must.

Destroying the ACU as Cybran: Building massive amounts of gunships is the Cybrans best option. Once again, the ACU’s biggest weakness is air and Cybrans have the best gunships in the game with the rate of fire and damage increase boosts. Focus on getting those, followed by shields and training.

Destroying the ACU as Aeon: Once again, building tons of gunships to kill him is the best strategy. Once gunships are unlocked, tech to the holo-decoy flares. If you have the DLC you want to tech to teleport second. Another option is to go with tanks and tech to teleport. The Aeon is the only faction where attacking with land is still a viable option (however, I personally stress gunships). You can then teleport your army onto your opponents ACU. However, there is some strategy involved. First, teleport a fraction of your army to try to get him to engage overcharge. Once overcharge is used, teleport the rest of your army onto him to finish him off. Also, keep in mind that A LOT of tanks is required for this too work.


Land Experimentals Minor land experimentals are not advised because the overcharge ability will make short work of it. Also, the Fatboy and Megalith work best at range, but tend to miss many of their shots. The Urchinow suffers from the problem that it can never catch an ACU if it tried. Major Land Experimentals take too long to tech to. It is more efficient to mass gunships (or AC-1000 if UEF).


Bombers vs Gunships: Bombers are excellent for destroying a single target in single pass and moving out of range of other defenses. They rely on a higher damage output and superior speed for this tactic. However, when taking out an fully upgraded ACU bombers are inferior to gunships. Although a bomber’s projectile does more damage than a gunship’s, the bombers require time to turn around to continue their attack. Gunships, once they are in range, provide constant firepower. In addition, gunships have more hit points (between 1 and 2 times) than bombers. Finally, in the case of Aeon and Cybran, gunships are cheaper and built faster than fighter-bombers. Although UEF gunships are more expensive and take longer to build, the shortcoming is made up when the AC-1000 comes into play.


Upgrading your ACU: You’re not an ACU rusher if you put research points into your own ACU. It is actually a horrible idea if you don’t, especially if you are facing an ACU rusher. It takes seven research points (four if you're cybran) to upgrade to hunker. A well timed hunker will prevent even an overcharge from killing your ACU. If you have free research points (in that you have teched to the unit you plan on killing his ACU with) feel free to upgrade your ACU to survive. Also, the training upgrades boost the overall health of your ACU.


Other Tips:

Slowing your Opponents Research Point Gain: If your opponent is attacking something, whether it is a lone mass extractor or a small raiding party that cannot kill the ACU, destroy it yourself (CTRL-K) so he does not get the research and veterancy bonus from it. Any damage done to the ACU can be quickly repaired for free, so staying alive to make “every shot count” is only detrimental to yourself.

Point Defense: It takes 6 un-upgraded tanks (for UEF and Aeon) and 7 un-upgraded Assault Bots (Cybran) to kill a lone, un-upgraded, Point Defense (any faction).

Escape Pod: Only problematic if you do not have any air. The Escape Pod has no attack, but if you do not have any fighters it can buy him enough time to escape and rebuild his ACU.

UEF ACU: Although the worst ACU in combat, the UEF ACU is the best at staying alive. It is the only ACU with two hunker upgrades and two health boosts.

Mass Extractor Guns: Although an excellent upgrade, I would suggest to wait until after you research the AC-1000 unless you are absolutely desperate. It costs 9 research points to get to.


ACU Rush or Aggressive Land Push: Sometimes it can be easy to confuse the two. An aggressive land push that is supported by an ACU is not the same as an ACU rush. I will not delve into the specifics of that strategy and will leave it for a different guide. The difference between the two is: the ACU is supported by other units (see figure 11), the ACU is barely upgraded (if at all), and no research stations were built at the start of the game.

Figure 11IPB Image






Final Notes: First off, do not be frustrated if it takes you a while to actually kill your opponent. I have taken upwards of thirty minutes of game time to kill a fully upgraded ACU and know of people that nearly took an hour. Second, it is a lot easier to ACU rush than it is to counter it. Therefore, even with this guide you may still lose to rushers (I still do every once in a while); however, it is my hope that with this guide you lose less. Finally, I hope this guide was helpful and if you thought it was, please recommend it to your friends.

Special Thanks to Pulse for being my guinea pig and Skython for helping me run some tests.

This post has been edited by The-Baron: Dec 16 2010, 03:13 AM

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# 2Cygnus A Dec 15 2010, 11:47 AM
Nice guide, but isn't going urchinows also serves as a nice counter against the ACU? They're quite cheap, have the most HP out of all minor exps (16K) and have the greatest DPS compared to it's counterparts due to the main splash cannon + front pulse lasers that do TONS of damage. Oh yeah, they also never miss unlike the fatboy.

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# 3Mortiferus Rosa Dec 15 2010, 13:22 PM
QUOTE(Cygnus A @ Dec 15 2010, 06:47 AM) *

Nice guide, but isn't going urchinows also serves as a nice counter against the ACU? They're quite cheap, have the most HP out of all minor exps (16K) and have the greatest DPS compared to it's counterparts due to the main splash cannon + front pulse lasers that do TONS of damage. Oh yeah, they also never miss unlike the fatboy.


Perhaps... however, I think the problem with Urchinows is the same as it has always been. It needs to catch the ACU first. We both know it is slow as molasses.

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# 4Birk Dec 15 2010, 18:03 PM
Awesome guide. smile.gif

I might throw this a bit of a spotlight but I can't portalize without it going through some editorial scrutinizing. tongue.gif

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# 5TheWord Dec 15 2010, 18:14 PM
Looks good dude, even though my normal build deals with ACU rushers quite well wink.gif

This could be good for portal after a look as Birk said, good work!

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# 6dawumyster Dec 18 2010, 20:30 PM
I would recommend not getting TML upgrades on the factories as you cannot target with them and they can easily be rendered pointless. Building a few MMLs is better.

You also don't need shields/PD on all your factories until they have JJ or teleport. Even so, most ACU rushers don't understand the concept of flanking and will still be attacking from just 1 or 2 directions.

This post has been edited by dawumyster: Dec 18 2010, 20:30 PM

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# 7Mortiferus Rosa Dec 18 2010, 22:26 PM
QUOTE(dawumyster @ Dec 18 2010, 15:30 PM) *

I would recommend not getting TML upgrades on the factories as you cannot target with them and they can easily be rendered pointless. Building a few MMLs is better.


Yes, MMLs are better than the factory addon; however, there is merit to that upgrade because it does have greater range than the MMLs and is not as easily destroyed. I will put more stress on getting the shield first because it is more important.


QUOTE(dawumyster @ Dec 18 2010, 15:30 PM) *
You also don't need shields/PD on all your factories until they have JJ or teleport. Even so, most ACU rushers don't understand the concept of flanking and will still be attacking from just 1 or 2 directions.


The key word is most. My guide is not necessarily a step by step instruction to beating and ACU rusher. Everything is situational and requires proper adaptation.

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# 8WindlordRyu Dec 19 2010, 22:07 PM
I was ACU rushed in a 3v3 on Open Palms (spawned on the right) today. And my opponent was in my base building 3 PDs (ACU + 2 engneers) before my factory was halfway done. Is it even possible to counter something like that?

The BO I used was:
ACU: 2x Mex -> 2x Land Fac.
Engineers: Mexes/Generators

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# 9TheWord Dec 19 2010, 22:49 PM
Yea that is really hard to beat. The way to beat that is build a factory straight away with your ACU while your engineers build you eco. That way you can get MML's straight away for when he pushes you.

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# 10Mortiferus Rosa Dec 20 2010, 15:54 PM
Yes, what Word said. That is technically called a 3 PD rush, not an ACU rush. It is common for Aeon players that spawn really close to their opponents (3v3 on open palms and 2v2 on treallach island). If you opponent is Aeon and it is one of those two maps, a PD rush is entirely possible.

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# 11DoommasterAM Dec 7 2011, 18:01 PM
may i say something baron... you left out one VERY vital upgrade about the UEF ACU that every UEF rusher (should) use, the ESCAPE POD! also the UEF ACU needs to be effectively used by the player other wise... they are a noob... and will not survive the match. i myself haven't played the game in a long while so im pretty rusty at the moment. I also recall seeing your name on a hamachi server that i used to (use) to find other Supreme commander players with... that wouldn't happen to be the same you would it?

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# 12Mortiferus Rosa Dec 8 2011, 13:46 PM
QUOTE(DoommasterAM @ Dec 7 2011, 13:01 PM) *

may i say something baron... you left out one VERY vital upgrade about the UEF ACU that every UEF rusher (should) use, the ESCAPE POD! also the UEF ACU needs to be effectively used by the player other wise... they are a noob... and will not survive the match. i myself haven't played the game in a long while so im pretty rusty at the moment. I also recall seeing your name on a hamachi server that i used to (use) to find other Supreme commander players with... that wouldn't happen to be the same you would it?


I am not saying how to rush as a UEF player... I am saying how to counter the generic AU rush (I just happen to use pictures with the UEF). You should never upgrade to the escape pod if you are defending from a rusher... there are far more important things to spend your RP on.

Edit: I doubt it, I only used GPGnet (FA), Steam (SupCom2) and now FAF.

This post has been edited by The-Baron: Dec 8 2011, 13:49 PM

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