This article is for those times when you generously choose to defend a teammate in war or from a regular raid, and you want to be effective. It will cover some basics of active defense strategy. Since this topic can cover a very large amount of material on tactics and overall strategies, I will divide it up into multiple articles.
There are two different attacks you can defend against, war attacks and raids. Both use most of the same strategies, but for war, your goal is to keep the number of flames the attacker wins to a minimum (hopefully zero), and defenders have a greater interest in the outcome of a war attack, because it impacts the overall war effort.
You start with a given number of supershots, often around 4, but if it is your own base you are defending, you will be given more at the start. These are your most powerful weapons, and, if used well, are much more powerful and useful than the Defense Armor, Defense Repair, or Defense Gunpowder boosts you are able to use. The biggest errors beginners make when defending is using them all up at once, using them on weak towers, or using them without considering the attacking dragon strengths and weaknesses. These supershots are the jewels in your treasury and unless you have extremely advanced research, you won’t be getting more of them. Use them wisely and don’t throw them away!
When you defend a base other than your own, which will be most of the time, you have very little idea of the layout of the defender’s base. You don’t know which towers are strong, which are weak, and what is the best place to use your supershots. Often the attacking dragon is already attacking by the time you get your bearings and you will feel panicked to use your supershots right away before the base is decimated. This brings us to point #1. I have listed below some basic advice (and rules of thumb in bold) I have found useful for supershots.
- Rarely is it best to use more than one supershot on the first island attacked. Until your teammates reach levels above 50 or 60, usually that first island attacked has their weakest towers. Sometimes it doesn’t even have a full complement of 5 towers. In addition, the attacking dragon will be strongest, with max health and lots of rage, when it has just started attacking. People also usually attack with their strongest dragon first, in the hopes that they can solo the base. Expect it to be wiped out relatively easily. On this first island, only supershot the storm tower or mage towers, if anything at all. Save your supershots for where they will count most. Storm towers will slow down the attack and mage towers will eat up the attacker rage, softening it up for future towers. While there are always exceptions, don’t throw away your supershots on this first island.
- Use your supershot on storm towers. Storm towers do very little damage, but they create invulnerability shields with your supershot, so use it on them. This will give the other towers time to bring down a dragon while it wastes time trying to take down the storm tower. If you don’t care anything about strategy and just want to help defend a base, this will be effective.
- Do NOT use your supershot on a tower that is already being attacked. There is a delay between when you select a tower for a supershot and when it actually uses it. If the tower is destroyed before it has the opportunity to fire, your supershot will be wasted.
- Rage is the key to successfully attacking. Reducing dragon rage is one of your main goals as a defender. Using supershots on mage towers will subtract from attacker rage as well as freeze rage regeneration for a short time. Sorcerer and Hunter dragons rely on rage much more than warrior dragons. Deprive them of this rage and they won’t last long. Though it does very little damage, use your supershots on mage towers early in the attack.
- If an attacking dragon has a shield, and you can choose between a cannon or a blue mage tower, use your supershot first on the blue mage tower. This will deprive rage and the blue mage tower will stop the shield. If there is no blue tower, use it on a cannon. ONLY use your supershot on a cannon if you are certain a shield is coming. For example, if the dragon has shielded or has the shield ability and is approaching a new island, it is highly likely the dragon will shield when it comes in range. Using it when a shield is not likely or possible is the most common mistake made by beginners. The cannon supershot REDUCES the damage of the cannon, despite how cool it looks. And ONLY do the supershot on a single cannon at a time in a group. Your goal is to make your shots effective. Using it on 2 canons in a group is wasting one of them and reducing the damage output of the extra tower.
- Don’t use your supershot on a farm. While there are specific exceptions, you are almost always better off using a Defense Repair boost over a supershot on a farm, and there are better uses for that same shot.
- If the enemy dragon is weak and has no shield, boost your archer towers. These dole out the most damage with their supershot and are excellent for taking down dragons quickly. Alternatively, lightning towers, while not as damaging, have the benefit of a virtually instant shot and often an attacker will get off very few shots before they hit.
- Save at least one shot for later in the raid. By the time the attacking dragon has hit the first island or two, it has often used up a lot of rage and is much weaker. It can’t take down towers as quickly and is vulnerable. You want to make your supershot kill the dragon so it can’t limp on to further islands. A dragon with almost no health can do a lot of damage if it can make it to the next island. Use your last shot to make a killing blow before it moves on. If the attacker is weakened and almost dead, but it coming around to a new island, using your supershot on a storm tower can protect most of that island’s towers from the attackers final burst of strength. This is when your supershot will count the most. Save your final shot for that best moment. The best moment to use your last supershot is never in the first 5-10 seconds of an attack.
- If you kill an attacking dragon and have any supershots remaining, spend them very quickly before the next dragon starts his attack. Shots that are not used are lost. You will have a small window of time after the attacking dragon dies to spend your remaining shots before the next dragon begins. At this stage, you are so limited in time, I recommend spending them on whatever towers are on hand, even if you don’t spend them on the ideal towers. When the next dragon arrives, you will have a new batch of shots to spend wisely.
- If you can’t remember any of this and it’s too much to follow while defending, you will help if you supershot in the following order: 1. storm towers 2. mage towers 3. trebuchets 4. lightning towers 5. archer towers. As you defend more and more, the other rules will become more apparent (hopefully!)
There are certainly many more strategies and nuances to defending, and I will do my best to cover them in future posts, but the tips above are the basics of supershot defense.
In addition to supershots, the defender can use defensive boosts. The boosts are for Attack, Defense, and Repair. The attack boost increased damage of towers by 30% and the defense increases tower health by 30%. The repair boost repairs part of the damage a tower has already taken. These boosts can be placed on up to 5 towers grouped together in the glowing circle, so be sure to include as many as possible. Here are some basic tips on using these boosts. Some may seem obvious, but in practice, when you are defending a base that you’ve never seen before and have limited time, it is not always easy to follow these basic rules.
- Use attack and defense boosts on the strongest towers. There is no point in boosting a level 2 tower or a group of towers that is weak overall. A 30% addition to the health of a tower with 10,000 total health gives an extra 3000 health, but the same addition to a tower with 50,000 health gives an extra 15,000. Both boosts cost the same, but the second option is far more effective. The trick is boosting towers on a base when you don’t know their relative power. For this, look at the towers themselves. Higher level towers have more barrels (for cannons), or more bows and arrows (for archer towers), or appear to be gold, or simply look nastier. Since you will use a boost from your inventory, make sure you are using them where they will count.
- Use attack boosts on groups of towers that can do serious damage. If there is a group of towers that has a storm tower, 2 mage towers, a ballista and a cannon, only the cannon will do real damage of the three. It would be a waste to put an attack boost on that group, compared to one with 2 archer towers, a cannon, a mage tower and a storm tower (which has 3 towers that deal serious damage).
- Use defense boosts and attack boosts together. These boosts are far more effective when used together instead of separately. The defensive boost means your tower will likely last longer, giving it more shots, and the attack boost means every shot will do more damage. A natural one-two punch. Place them one immediately after the other.
- Use defense and attack boosts before the attacker arrives. Boosts take a moment before they have an effect. If the attacker has already arrived at the towers on an island, he will have a chance to destroy them before your boosts work. You’re too late if you are trying to boost towers already under attack.
- Use boosts only when they will count. If the dragon attacking you is far more powerful than your base can handle, skip boosting your towers. If it’s a lvl 20 base and in a war attack a lvl 40 hits it, the battle is a lost cause. It may not be a lost cause if you can keep the attacker from getting 5 flames, but don’t boost your final archer tower against a full health Amarok. Unlike your supershots, your boosts come out of your personal inventory, and a boost used today is one that will not be available in the future should you run out of your supply. Sometimes you just have to accept a loss and move on.
- When fighting a sorcerer dragon, don’t boost an island with no red mage towers. This deserves it’s own spot, even though it is very specific. An island with no red mage towers that gets boosted in advance will 100% of the time get hit with lightning or fireball. The target becomes too dangerous, so the attacker will wipe it with one shot. Your boosts will have no impact on the raid if the towers are destroyed instantly.
- Don’t boost towers that the attacker resists. This is very basic, but many people fail recognize that most attacking dragons have resistance to certain tower types. The resistances appear below the dragon’s stats. If the dragon resists lightning, don’t supershot or boost lightning towers, and don’t bother to repair them while they’re being destroyed. You’re wasting your time and your resources. Instead boost archer towers, or cannon towers, or anything else at all that isn’t lightning.
- Repair before damage starts. Timing with repair boosts is critical. If the tower is already being damaged, it will be destroyed by the time the repair boost becomes active. The time to use the repair boost is just before the attacker hits, as he’s rounding the corner to your new island.
- Repair boosts work best against sorcerer dragons and weak warrior dragons. Since the sorcerers attack is not a concentrated attack, you can often repair towers and keep them alive. This can force the attacker to use valuable rage on a spell, or give the towers the extra shot necessary to kill a dragon.
- Repair farms to improve results in a losing war battle. Farms have a surprising amount of health and many dragons cannot keep up with the pace of repairs. This can often save one or two flames when the attacker simply can’t finish the base. This often requires the use of multiple repair boosts, one after another, on the same batch of farms grouped at the very end of the attack. Don’t do this if the attacking dragon has death gaze, as death gaze will simply kill the farm. This strategy doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s fun and effective. And you can imagine the attacking going crazy as he just can’t manage to destroy your farms and finish your base.
- All or nothing works better than a little, when it comes to attack and defense boosts. I recommend either using a lot of boosts, and boosting groups of towers in advance, or few to no boosts. Since they are coming from your inventory, decide whether or not you are going to use boosts, and if you do, fight to win! Boost all your towers on all your islands before the attacker arrives. Just one or 2 boosts are really if there is only a single group of decent towers on the base. Remember, the goal is to kill a dragon before it advances to the next island, not just gravely wound it. A dead dragon is the goal and that is best served by boosting all the towers on your long 10 tower island for both +30% health and damage.
Defending depends on timing and understanding the attacker’s strengths and weaknesses. The rules above all have exceptions, but as basics for defense, these rules will vastly improve your effectiveness. I hope this list of the basics of defense helps. In an effort to keep this post of reasonable length, I have had to leave out many of the more advanced tactics. There will be more advanced articles in the future on the specifics of timing and tailoring your defense to the attacker.