First of all I want to say that what is mentioned here isn´t the last word. When you spec a match, like a Gold Rush Wide Open for instance, if you look at the mini map from the very start you quickly realize that the scouting is a very personal thing! But the goal of the scouting is still the same for all: to be able to see as much possible of the map (scouting) and avoid as much possible to be seen by the enemy (anti-scouting). These are certainly both important skills that will help the player.
The more you can see the map will give you time to make decisions like: where to attack, incoming attacks that can be stopped on the way, sneaky MCVs approaching, and so on. Also will give knowledge of the general situation on the battlefield and therefore more confidence as well.
The more you can avoid the enemy to scout you will give you fewer chances to be attacked, because nobody feels very secure jumping into a dark shroud: there could be just a little line of riflemans… or a huge amount of coils and tanks. It also allows you to keep your macro management safe from the enemy, so he won’t know what to do. In fact the whole macro management is very affected by what you know, and therefore, on your initial scouting.
If this were a real war it is certain that the band with more information will win for sure. In standard maps it’s a must for knowing where to grow and expand, where is the money, geographical advantages/disadvantages,etc.
So I’m going to mention some possible ways of scouting and anti-scouting. I’m supposing that you already manage the hotkeys, specially the bookmarks. In these cases I will be using bookmarks 1, 2, 3 and 4 as follow: W, R, Space and V. I´m also assuming that you can Q units and make the infantry line, using W, E, R.
As everything in this game speed is very important, so be aware that the 10% speed bonus for Ukraine works for all ground units, infantry included. Also have in mind that grenadiers are faster than riflemans. So we could say that the fastest infantry unit is a Ukraine grenadier.
2.1. Without bookmarks:
2.1.1. Diagonal/vertical line (E scouting):
Build infantries and send them up/down or diagonally using the Move click and the E key (or the infantry line combo W, E, R). Then press E for selecting them all, scroll to the front and send them all there. This comes handier if you play on high resolution.
2.1.2. Qed zig-zag:
Select one single men and Q him making a zig-zag pattern up and down moving forward, scrolling little by little (or in a pattern acording to situation). The drawbacks of this method: the scouting takes more time, the Qing consumes time that you could use on more important stuff, if the unit is killed on the way you just wasted time in Qing a lot for nothing. The advantage is that it can be done with a single unit, so it cheaper. Good for low money maps.
2.2. With one bookmark and scrolling (W scouting):
This is one of the most common ways for scouting the four corners of the map. Set bookmark W in your Barracks. Once you have the first men ready start the next one, select the one you already have, scroll to one corner of the map and Move click. Then press W and repeat the sequence for the other corners. Remember that is important to make the next men on the scrolling time, to make it productive. Every time you press W a man should be waiting for instructions at Barracks doors.
2.3. With 2 bookmarks:
2.3.1. Frontal scouting (F scouting):
As you noticed there are two dead times at the start of the match. First one, when you are building the power plant. Second one, when you are building the barracks. On these dead moments you can bookmark your base (Barracks position in particular) as W, scroll all the way to opposite side and bookmark it as R. Build the first men (lime line), once ready start the next one, press W, E, R and Move click. Press W, select the second men (red line) and Q him down to the bottom of the W, press R while holding Q, and click again. Repeat the sequence with a third man on the top of view to scout the last line (blue line).
2.4. With 3 bookmarks:
2.4.1. L scouting:
By adding one more bookmark you can extend your scouted areas more than just your front. This can be quite handy in a Wide Open if you are on top/bottom position to be aware from incoming attack from North/South, a sneaky APC is approaching, a grenadiers rush, etc.
Let´s suppose that you are on the South position on the WO, 4vs4. Start by sending your first 3 men to scout the front as mentioned before, then make your anti-scout line and/or perimeter (read forward). Now scroll to the left bottom corner on the map, bookmark it as V, scroll to the front of this bookmark and bookmark this new view as R. The sequence is quite similar to the F scouting, with one more key pressed and Move click. Look at the next image and notice that dots show the places where you Move click your Qed units. This way you can clear as much terrain as possible.
2.4.2. Shifting variation of the E scouting:
Shift mans like you do with tanks (grouping them with W, E, R, Shift+1, Ctrl+1), and have ready the V bookmark on the front. When the line is enough select the group, go to V and Move click. The advantage is that you can make larger lines on low resolutions.
2.5. With 4 bookmarks:
2.5.1. J scouting:
If you want you can include the fourth bookmark, Space, on the top right side of the map an add it to the L scouting sequence (so one more key pressed and click). This way you can scout all the way below you, to the front of the bottom of the map (we all know how important are south positions) and you have a chance to catch a view on the enemy base from the downside up, unless that the enemy has made a perimeter.
2.5.2. On standard maps:
You can also use this variation. The first men is directed with W, E, R. The second goes Qed from W to V and then R. The third goes Qed from W to Space and then R.
2.6. With 5 bookmarks:
2.6.1. O scouting:
The limit of this concept. H key isn’t a bookmark strictly talking, but you can use it as one. 3 scouts do a J scouting to the downside (lime, red and blue lines) and another group of 3 scouts do the same to the upside (grey, pink and golden lines). The next picture should illustrate this idea:
2.6.2. Wheel scouting:
If you are in the middle of a standard map you have this variation to save money. Image should give you an idea. Other patterns are possible, be creative with the bookmarks and the Q:
2.7. Spies as scouts and infiltrates:
A forgotten unit of the game, but very useful. The problem with the spy is that it requires a lot of micro management for it to be effective. But if u can manage it (along all the other madness going around) you can scout pretty much with some chance of not being noticed. Even better, if u can enter an enemy radar u will see all the enemy ground units that are moving and they will clear the map for you, even if there is gap generators you still going to see the ore trucks! No need to chrono and walk with gaps to send the helis.
And certainly you won’t get blinded like when you lose your Tech Center after the GPS satellite has been launched. In worst cases James Bond is discovered and he dies, or he is just squished but some passing vehicle. Another unhappy possibility is that the radar is destroyed or sold. You can spy at any building, and all them give you some kind of info, but for far, spying the radar is the best function the unit has. Unfortunately it has the Radar Dome as prerequisite, so this is more likely to be used in a mid game situation, after the initial ones mentioned in the guide has failed.
If you are willing to make the trade you can make the Tech Center and sell it, so you get the technology from it, but you don´t take the risk to go blind. In this case, spies are your best friends. Be logical on this: on a Ribbon Isle or Rasta, where the spy must cross a well defended gate… you can forget it. But maybe you are lucky!
You could just use a single bookmark for the barracks and then scroll to every place you want to scout, but as you noticed just the bookmarks + Q are the key to speed up the scouting and make it the most effective possible, making the infantry easy to scout for long distances without having to scroll so much in moments that could be more productive.
So it should be part of your daily game play to try to master the bookmarking as much as you can. We all know that good bookmarking is certainly a pro skill. And using it in manners like this is something that will require practice.
3.1. Line with W and R:
Let’s go back to the WO situation: now that your explorers are on the go you have to make sure that the enemy won´t see you. So now press W, then scroll a logical distance to the front, and re bookmark this as R. Start a sequence of building the men, select (either click or drag), press R and send this guy, let’s say, to the top side of mini map area. Repeat and send to middle of radar. Again to the lowest part of radar. And again to every production slot, or until you are satisfied with the density of this line. If you want to extend it a bit up or down you can scroll after every time R is pressed. Leaving these men in Guard mode (with G) may be a good idea. Riflemens are more adequate for anti-scouting than grenadiers.
3.2. Line with W, E, R:
Press W (make sure that truck isn´t at view), scroll a logical distance and bookmark as R. Make sure that R is outside W or you will make a mess. Now start pumping infantry and making the infantry line (with W, E, R, Move click) sending them to the R bookmark, but distributing them all the way upside down or vice versa. Be aware that if your 3 first explorers are at W view u will cancel their orders, so make sure u can´t see them also. With this method u can make a more dense anti-scouting line with less effort. Maybe is a good idea as well to Scatter them (with X) and leaving them in Guard mode too (with G).
Having your front covered doesn´t mean that the enemy won´t come from the sides, so you can use any of the above mentioned ways to make a perimeter on your sides, but surely this will be more likely to be done with just the mouse.
Perimeters are especially useful in standard maps, where also you can (and should) take advantage of geography of the map: trees, cliffs, bridges, or anything else can be helpful.
But not only on standard maps: if u are on one of the top/bottom positions of the WO, or Liquid, your partners expect that you cover your side and don´t allow the enemy to walk behind you and all them. So be elegant, and make a nice perimeter. The team will appreciate it.
If you are on a middle spot, but you distrust your team or just too paranoid place one man above and another below your refinery. The ore line is most commonly where the sneaky enemy will appear if a partner hasn´t done the perimeter.
The less necessary infantries can be used later for an L or J scouting.
3.4. Pro team play:
Your partner next to you has decided skip his barracks and go straight to the War Factory. You have two choices: giving a shit about him, “if they see his base is not my problem” or being a pro team player and cover him as well as yourself, having covered the first tanker or builder of the match… and he is in your team! Also, as a courtesy, you can do some scout on his front. Try not to wait until he asks for this cover, or it may be too late. Always be aware of what your team is doing and how you can help them.
In the next picture you can see how:
- Yellow has skip Barracks, Red and Blue share the work of covering him
- Orange, Blue and Red do a F scouting
- Oange and Blue make perimeters and then some L or J scouting
- Red collaborates with Yellow front doing a Qed zig-zag
Note: If YOU are the one that is not making Barracks it´s always a good idea to inform your team of this decision anyway.
3.5. Dogs as anti-scouting:
3.5. Dogs as anti-scouting:
Besides the fact that dogs aren´t much used on the game they are the man best friend! They also have a very large Guard range, and can be quite effective against grenadiers. Unfortunately when the tanks arrive the dogs won´t be of much help. But don’t despite them for their purpose!
Anti-scouting is useful, but it´s not perfect. A line of riflemans on Guard mode won´t stop a grenadiers rush from south position, or a light tank… But this is no reason for stop doing it, because it may make the difference on the match. Probably the enemy soon or later will find out what is going on in your base, one way or another (Spy Plane or GPS Satellite), but the later he finds out is always better.
4. General resume:
The best way to make the scouting effective and fast is using the bookmarks and the Q in a logical way according to situation. On infinite ore maps you should try to do some frontal scouting first, then cover/perimeter your zone, and then do some deeper scouting as an L or J scouting. Always play in a pro team play attitude and work with your mates. In standard maps you should start with a 3 or 4 men scouting on the sides and corners of the map, then Q a single scout around the environs of your base to see all possible access, so now you can make a cheap perimeter according to geography.