A Summary Tutorial - Finer Points
Last edit: 06/08/2017
Since posts seem to have a character limit (dang!) I decided to split this off from the main thread (found here). As always, as I run across situations I will add them to this thread. Note this thread is meant for newer/ intermediate players, as well as for experts that would like an easy reference when training newer players.
It may seem that the points in this section are "common sense" and seem trivial, or not worth mentioning to some. However, those of us with considerable experience have all felt the frustration of trying to help someone that was convinced of an incorrect answer/ path, even when it seems such a trivial thing to explain. This section will provide a summary of very simple mechanics that may not be obvious when first experienced, leading to conclusions of bugs, bias, or even just incorrect logic jumps.
1) Killing offense naturally gives less PvP
A common misconception is that PvP is awarded based on how strong a unit is. By this logic, it is expected that killing offensive units should give equal, or in fact more, PvP than killing defensive. To understand why offense gives less when defending, it is necessary to identify what is taken into account. When offense defends, only it's defensive power matters. Since offensive units typically have 1/7-1/10 the amount of defense as offense (high lvl contracts fix this imbalance somewhat), they are inherently worth less PvP when defending than when they die attacking your defending units.
One way players typically feel cheated by this is through missiles. In such situations, the player sending the missile(s) will find them worth less if only a small amount of offense (<100k>
2) Occupation (siege) mechanics
This is prehaps one of the strongest, and most important, mechanics to understand in this game. Unlike raid mechanics, which now act at a 1:1 loss (i.e. you kill 20k defense but lose 20k offense - finer points held for a later section ;D), siege mechanics work on an overwhelming force model. I.e. if you send an army that outstrips your opponents strength, you will begin to see your losses decreasing. This mechanic is found not only when sending occupations at bases, but also mining complexes, combine HQs, repositories and depots.
This mechanic becomes visible (without direct calculations, with calculations it is technically visible immediately :P) once one side is roughly 5 times stronger, with it becoming easily visible at 10 times. If you are interested in working out the exact trace for this mechanic (which does exist!) I recommend picking a bud willing to work with you. Then use low cost units (recon and sappers are decently low cost) and fix one side's unit amount (usually you wont need a side with more than 500 units, usually done with the defensive side). You can then alternate the attacking force's strength to map out the curve. Remember to calculate the defensive value based on attacking unit type!
3) Resource difference in tournament rewards
This is in reference to those tournaments that offer the choice between offense and defense troops. In general, if the defensive troop number is 2 or more time higher than the offensive troop number, choosing the defensive troops will be worth more resources (the fuel, munitions and rations used to make them). This is useful if you plan to throw them into ZHGs, as you will get more out of them. Note that even if you are an offense player, it is likely that you would still make a profit on choosing a defense tourney reward and then converting them through ZHGs (even with the resource tax ;D).
However, the downside to this is that you may be paid out in a unit type (inf, hvy inf, armor, aviation) that you are not interested in building up. This usually would require a second loading of the ZHGs to correct. In general, even with a second loading you will still make a net profit, however the randomness of ZHG payouts can put you above or below expectations. Note that this issue decreases with higher lvl ZHGs and mainly effects those around lvl 20-40 (below this, payouts tend towards inf and hvy inf anyways).
4) Slowdowns/ crashes -> The game has a memory leak
Not quite in the mechanics part, but many people wonder why the game crashes after a certain point or becomes much slower, especially when doing ZHGs or looking at the map. The reason for this is effectively all forms of this game have a memory leak. This means the memory it uses constantly increases until it finally crashes or you close/ refresh it. This problem has been around for at least 2 years.
You can view this in action by doing the following, open task manager and look for your browser. You should see one process that uses a lot more than the others. Do some ZHGs, go to the map and look around, or just wait. You will see this slowly going up. Also, if you refresh the game, you will see this number slowly drop, until reaching a few 100 MB. At this point the game will visually reset on your monitor.
5) How to minimize losses while maximizing points from ZHGs
Note that this method does not focus on resource loading. This method instead focuses on maximizing rewards from ZHG/ EXP tournaments while minimizing troop investment.
In case you haven't noticed yet, troops in the ZHGs have different defense stats. Generally, each unit is more effective against its own type (for example, Jackals -aviation unit in ZHG- have 240 defense against aviation and 80 against everything else). There's an additional interesting relationship between each ZHG unit. To make it obvious I'll list them out.
Tiger Commando (ZHG inf unit): 20 offense; 60 def against inf, 20 against all else
Roughneck (ZHG hvy inf unit): 40 offense; 120 def against hvy inf, 40 against all else
Dingo (ZHG armor unit): 60 offense; 180 defense against armor, 60 against all else
Jackal (ZHG aviation unit): 80 offense; 240 defense against aviation, 80 against all else
What this list means is that, every ZHG unit after Tiger Commandos can be represented as a multiple of them (i.e. Rougnecks are weighted as 2 tiger commandos).
Now, to use this information to discover which type of troop a particular ZHG is weak against do the following: multiply number of ZHG hvy inf by 2, number of ZHG armor by 3, and number of ZHG aviation by 4 (i.e. if a ZHG had 4 jackals, 1 tiger commando, 1 roughneck, and 1 dingo it would look like: 16 aviation, 1 infantry, 2 hvy infantry, 3 armor). Applying these numbers for a ZHG depends on its type, offense or defense. If offense, choose the unit type corresponding to the lowest number (i.e. infantry in the example). For a defense ZHG, choose a unit strong against the largest number (in the example this is aviation, so Creightons/ Firedrakes would be a good choice). Note that I have highlighted an important point for defensive ZHGs. You do not necessarily send the same type corresponding to the highest number, instead you send a unit type that is strong against the type with the highest number. If the highest number was for armor instead, you could send hvy snipers, maulers or hailstorms (note only one of which is of the same type ;D).
6) Don't need to be friends to send troop reinforcements faster in a combine
Going back to the "simple" origin of this post now. This misunderstanding comes from the days people had before joining a combine. Your troops are automatically sped up when sent to a fellow combine member, no need to wait on a friend request to get them going. Note, I am unsure if the one week combine membership mechanic, that affects other content that comes with combines, affects this as well.
For those that don't know, stimulants are those that come from those boxes that are sometimes attached to your tactical reports, and appear in the Medical Laboratory. You can get them from doing any of the following: completing a Spec Ops, succeeding or failing a raid, similarly for an occupation, similarly for a recon, hittings ZHGs (not necessarily breaking them), and also hitting MCs, HQs, repositories, or depots. Generally, you can think of it being a possible reward for doing anything, and seems to encourage activity in the game.
Now the benefit of stimulants is that they are yet another boost you can use to increase your unit offense/ defense. The downside is you can only use 3 of them and they each only apply to a specific type of unit (i.e. aviation, armor, etc.). Additionally, the path to max level stimulants, lvl 12, tends to be very long (1.5-3 years depending on your activity). The reason for this is that each lvl 12 is made up of 2^11 (2048) lvl 1 stimulants. The reason for this is that every level requires 2 of the previous level (i.e. a lvl 12 requires 2 lvl 11s). Since there are 8 types of stimulants, and boxes give out stimulants randomly, you generally will need to have 5-6 times this amount in boxes (10240-12288 boxes!!!) before you get your first lvl 12.
It is possible to buy stimulants boxes to go through this route faster, however, the price of buying at least 10k boxes is astounding. This totals over 3 million diamonds!!! As such I recommend going through this normally, by just waiting to slowly accumulate them through in-game activity. However, there are methods you can use to boost your collection of stimulants. Every new base you recon or attack has a higher chance of giving a stimulant box than the base rate. Additionally, there are points in the game when the earning rate of stimulants becomes extremely high, jumping to 1 in every 3-4 actions. Whether this is a hidden game mechanic Plarium has included or if the server is glitching at these moments, I do not know. Assuming it is intentional, if you find yourself in such a situation I recommend spamming recons and raids at bases to collect a few hundred before it ends. I should note that there is no way to know when this is happening except to have experienced it while going about your daily grind or having been told by someone else that it is happening at that moment.