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Retreat Guide

By Asmon - 8th October 2012 - 21:03 PM

With its Real Time Strategy Games, Relic has introduced an innovative mechanism called retreat, whose purpose is to allow infantry units to fall back towards a rally point. In Dawn of War 2: Retribution, to issue a retreat command is very common, but rarely insignificant.

The Critical Points

Only infantry units can retreat; vehicles, monstrous creatures and Tyranids spore mines cannot. Moreover, Space Marine Terminators are the only infantry units that cannot retreat.

The retreat order is issued via the key X by default, or a click on the retreat button in the unit command board. When you demand a unit to retreat, you must be aware of every consequence of this action, for they are many and major. Indeed, here is what happens to a retreating unit:
  • The retreat symbol appears over the unit's head.
  • You loose control over the unit! It will return to your control once it reaches the rally point.
  • The unit becomes immune to weapon knockback, takes 80% less ranged damage, but 30% more melee damage.
  • If the unit has melee resistance, it loses it (and will regain it once arrived at destination).
  • Abilities activated by the unit via a toggle on/off are switched off .
  • The unit runs toward the rally point, usually following the shortest path between the rally point and its starting position.
For example: Shields like Force Commander's Iron Halo and Hive Tyrant's Warp Field are turned off. Eldar Warlock under Providence remains invulnerable for the whole 25 seconds, even if he retreats.

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The retreat button as it appears in the infantry units command board.


While retreating, the unit will accelerate and finally gain a maximum speed, higher than its regular one. This means that abilities which give a speed bonus (for example the Eldar Warlock's Swift Movement, Ork Weirdboy's Warpath) cannot make retreating units go faster than they naturally do. However, such abilities can increase the accelerations of retreating units and therefore make them attain their maximum speeds faster.

The natural rally point is you headquarters. Space Marines have the exclusive advantage to enjoy two additional rally points: the Landraider Reedemer and the Techmarine's Orbital Relay. Other races can benefit from these rally points in team games.

You can command several units to retreat at the same time by selecting them all and hitting the retreat button. Plus, by default, the key combination ALT and X will make all of your infantry units retreat. Use it carefully though, for it is very rare that all your forces need to retreat.

You cannot reinforce or buy upgrades for a unit when it is retreating. Yet, what has been purchased before you hit the retreat button keeps being produced while your units fall back.

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Ork Shoota Boyz in retreat, taking 80% less damage from these Inferno bolts.


Remarks and Tips

If a retreating unit meets an impassable obstacle (the usual word for this is pathblocked), it will stop retreating but not immediately. Thus, retreating units that are pathblocked often turn into easy targets.

Opposing players will try to predict the path your units follow while running away, in order to use high-damage abilities (grenades, globals such as Imperial Guard's Rocket Run) and attacks that do ability knockback – it works on retreating units indeed! That's why you must always make a rough estimation of what might encounter a unit on its way to the rally point, before deciding to make it retreat. You can also pathblock your own retreating units to make them take a safer way to the rally point.

To use melee attacks on retreating units is sometimes more rewarding than ranged attacks, even with ranged squads!

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On the left, Tactical Space Marines are shooting at retreating Imperial Guardmen, doing 2.9 dps each at level 1. On the right, they are now attacking in melee, doing 24.7 dps each.


For example: Tactical Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines do unwonted melee damage although they are ranged units. Carnifexes upgraded with Barbed Strangler should always use their melee attacks on retreating units.
Ork Shoota Boyz with Big Shootas do pitiful damage in melee compared to their ranged damage.


A unit with melee resistance will take 116% more damage from melee attacks once it starts to retreat, because the melee resistance is lost. So be careful with retreating when one of your units is surrounded by melee attackers. It is often best to issue a move order first to help get your squad out of a thick mass of enemies before telling them to retreat.

Reinforcement works for retreating units! In consequence, if a retreating squad has a reinforce command in queue, the command will be executed as long as the squad remains close enough to a reinforcement point. Upgrades that add a member to a squad (Howling Banshees Exarch, Chaos Heretics Aspiring Champion, etc.) also work in retreat. Yet, one exception exists: Lord General's retinue is not reinforced during retreat.

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Banshees chasing retreating Chaos Space Marines, doing 45.49 dps each (66.86 dps for the Exarch) at level 1.


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Aspiring Champion upgrade is complete and adds a member to the Chaos Marines squad.


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It has saved the squad from being wiped, as the third member dies to the Banshees' blades.


Imperial Guard Guardsmen have the unique ability to cancel the retreat command, through two methods: the Commissar Lord upgrade, which is available in Tier 2, and the Inspire Courage ability of the Lord Commissar commander.

You cannot issue a retreat command if a unit is in the process of setting or de-setting up. Set-up units have to de-set up when they receive a retreat command. This can be deadly for them, especially when they get engaged in melee. When melee attackers are too close, the clever move is to wait for your set-up team to be struck, which will immediately disassemble it, then quickly hit the retreat button. Thus, your units immediately retreat! It's sometimes the difference between a dead and a living squad.

At the very beginning of knockback animations, units cannot retreat. Thus, units that are continuously knocked down can be easily killed. Plus, when a unit is knocked down while it was using an un-cancelable ability, the retreat command cannot be issued due to a bug. This usually causes the death of the unit.

Melee units at a fight don't flee immediately when you command them to retreat. They stop their swings (except if it is a special or a sync-kill, in such cases they finish it), mark a pause, then retreat. This is another reason why it is always best to issue a move order to have your unit stop attacking, then hit the retreat button.

When a unit is chased down all the way to your HQ by a ranged attacker, you can mash the retreat button in order to benefit from the 80% ranged damage reduction; even if it stands at your base, every time you hit X your unit will retreat for an instant and therefore take much less damage from enemy fire. Such a move may save a unit while you wait for reinforcements.

For example: Your Eldar Rangers are badly hunted by a Space Marine Razorback in your own base. It is only a matter of seconds before the Razorback kills them all, unless you repeatedly hit retreat, waiting for anti-vehicle support to arrive.

A good understanding of the retreat mechanism will be decisive in battle. I hope this article was helpful. Thank you for reading.

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