Harassment is a prevalent tactic not only in R.U.S.E., but most RTS games that require resource gathering, as it generally focuses on damaging the enemy's economy and thus putting the harassing player at an advantage.
The tactic itself is somewhat unique in that it is not a means of directly engaging the enemy's force - indeed, a harrassing player would want the opposite - but it relies on bypassing the enemy's defenses using speed or stealth in order to do damage to an opponent's economy, usually by destroying an opponent's fragile Supply Convoys or Supply Depots.
Harassing an enemy is not a game plan in itself, but it should be used as merely a tactic for setting the opponent back, making him less able to respond to your strategy.
Since this tactic attempts to sabotage supply lines and limit the enemy's available funds, it will be far more effective against a turtling player, or against a player who bases his game around heavy research and expensive units, and thus needs every supply he can get.
Relevant Factors in HarassmentEdit
In order to harass an opponent successfully, a player must be aware of several factors that determine the success of the attack.
A player who commits units to harassment must bear in mind that the enemy's counterattack or defensive force could come swiftly. It is therefore a good idea to make use of light tanks, which while being weaker, are fast and can destroy supply trucks easily, or even isolated enemy units if grouped together. Fighter-bombers are also ruthlessly efficient at harassment due to their speed, and their ability to do damage against armor. They can be used to destroy supply depots as well as the trucks coming out of them.
Harassment must take advantage of where the opponent's army is situated, in order to avoid running headlong into a hail of gunfire. It is necessary to avoid the bulk of the enemy's force, and strike as far from it as possible so as to maximize the amount of time the harassing units can remain committed to the attack, doing as much damage as possible. Take advantage of an enemy's position by using recon units to identify the bulk of his forces, and ensuring that there are few enough defenses near the target area that a number of units can slip past. If the enemy is suspected of using Radio Silence or decoys, it becomes a necessity to use recon before making any kind of attack.
The features of a map can lend themselves to harassment. For example, a player might hide his infantry within a forest to ambush incoming supply trucks. If the enemy has no recon in the area, he will be unable to deal with this threat for some time. This, combined with the low cost of infantry units, means that even if a single shipment of supplies is destroyed (being worth $9 for all three $3 trucks), the $5 infantry unit will have caused almost double its cost in damage. To a lesser extent, AT guns can also be placed in forests at greater range from the supply depot, and can intercept trucks on the road as infantry would.
There are several ruses that can be used to enhance harassment. Most prevalent among them is the Radio Silence ruse, which will keep a harassing force hidden until they are spotted by an enemy unit, which may be too late to prevent the attack. The blitz ruse also has some, albeit limited, use in harassment in that it allows the harassing units a boost of speed that might enable them to escape from the enemy's territory if being pursued by defending units.
Aircraft, when used correctly, can be effective harassing units. The efficiency of fighter-bombers in terms of speed and damage allows them to swoop in and destroy an enemy depot before returning safely to base. Even fighters can be used, since the supply convoys can be targeted and easily destroyed by them. Therefore it is wise to use them if the enemy has not adequately protected his supply lines with AA or his own fighters. Contariwise, if the enemy has air superiority, then a harassing attack is riskier since he can intercept your aircraft, and fighter-bombers can easily catch up to and destroy an attacking force of light tanks or infantry.
Some of the factions lend themselves to more effective harassment. Italy and Britain will both have an advantage here; Italy for its speed and expendable units, and Britain for its superior air force and easy access to paratroopers. France's barracks can build a light tank, which also provides quick access to an effective harassing force. The U.S.S.R. has slower bombers and their units take more time to build, thus making them less suitable for, and more susceptible to, harassment; however their powerful infantry, if maneuvered and hidden properly, have an edge when attempting to ambush supply trucks or capture depots. Germany, who relies on more expensive units, will be more susceptible to harassment, although their units aren't particularly slow, so caution should still be exercised.
Dealing With HarassmentEdit
A proper defense against harassment can be as simple as a wide range of recon that serves to warn the player early of an incoming task force. An air force, or speedy ground units can be used to head off an enemy force before they can do much damage. Setting up infantry or AT guns in nearby forests is also an extremely effective defense, provided you have them on-hand to do so. Static defenses also serve to shut down attacks, although make sure you are using the defenses to as good effect as possible - if the enemy detects your defenses and decides not to send an attack, then the money you spent on defenses is no longer available to you, and your defenses in that position will not have any strategic benefit. Thus, the enemy's goal of restricting your cash was fulfilled despite there never having been an attack. If you build defenses to cover a supply depot, put them on a frontline, preferably near an approach to the depot you wish to protect, where they will find some use even if the enemy does not attempt to attack your supplies.
Ruses can also be used to defend against harassment. Camouflage Nets has use since it prevents the enemy from seeing supply depots until they've spotted it with a unit. Blitz is useful as a reactionary measure since it will allow your units the extra speed they'll need to intercept an incoming enemy force and drive them off. To a much lesser extent, decryption will allow a player to anticipate an attack, although this doesn't have much use as the player would have to suspect an attack beforehand in order to activate it for this purpose.
Of course, since harassment can also be done to lure a defender's units out of position or to unnerve him, it is very important to remain calm and stick to the strategy. If you leave units behind simply to defend against another harassing attack, then that's another handful of units that won't be joining your army in battle. Instead, be conscious of how they got past your forces and work to better secure the frontline. Make sure your recon units are in optimal positions to spot incoming attacks, and if they attacked using paratroopers or bombers, build some AA and/or make more active use of fighters to help fend off a possible future attack.
Paratroopers make EXCELLENT supply line raiders. Be on the lookout for supply lines that pass through cities or woods. These are ripe for the taking by simply dropping a para or two in. Without recon units in the area these troops are difficult to dislodge. This also forces the enemy to respond , spending more resources to clear you out. Usually a win-win. Depending on the distance from the enemy base , it is usually better to leave the depot under enemy control and keep hitting his trucks , as he cant stop supply trucks from leaving his depots. Like lemmings to the cliff............