Speaking the language
(No, not dragon you idiot - this isn't Dr Doolittle? Attack language.)
Grouping - troops deployed from one location at the same time
Main drag force - typically the large group that gets you to the enemy TH
Main attack line - this is the line between your launch point and the enemy TH
Funneling - attacks to the left and right of your main attack line that prevent main drag force from wandering off the main attack line.
During a recent war we needed to decide which of two bases was easier to 2-star. One of the bases was #7 on the ladder and the other was #11. The war was close, we were behind, and the wrong decision would likely cost us a star. The consensus was that #11 would be easier to 2-star than #7. We made the wrong decision, it probably cost us a star, but we were fortunate it did not cost us the war. In victory it's easy to forget mistakes, but we need to learn from them so that we don't repeat them. Examining Base #7 and figuring out why it was easy to 2-star reveals some of the common mistakes we keep repeating with dragon attacks war after war. Here's what the base looked like:
A Four AD base with the TH set to the left. The two left AD are next to the TH and two right AD are almost out of TH range. The base is weapon symmetric along the horizontal axis - i.e., the weapons on the top half are mirrored on the bottom half. Any attack from the top has an almost exact counterpart from the bottom and vice versa. This image shows the ranges of the right ADs and I've highlighted the line of symmetry.
There are two main reasons this base is easy to 2-star; first, it's easy to funnel and second, the 2 right ADs, because of their placement so far from the TH, can basically be ignored. This means we can use 3 lightning spells to take out one of the ADs near the TH and our dragons will only have to deal with one AD to destroy the TH. Six or 7 dragons grouped together shouldn't have a problem with one AD - even taking into account there's four archer towers, two wizard towers, an Archer Queen and CC troops that will be defending.
Why is this base easy to funnel? Because with minimal troops we can make it almost impossible for dragons to do anything except attack the weapons and troops defending and at the same time lead them directly to the TownHall. On the top side we can use Barb King and Archer Queen to take out two elixir collectors outside the wall and one gold storage behind the wall. This is nothing special. They should be able to do it in their sleep. On the bottom side we can use one dragon to take out the dark elixir storage. That's it. Funnel complete. Removing those buildings from the map here's what we have left - the funnel is outlined by the green lines: (ignore the blue circle and arrow)
Since the object here was to get 2-stars we needed to destroy the TH and get at least 50% destruction. If we launch all of our dragons starting at the builder's hut on the left they will stay in the funnel until they reach the TownHall. We light one of the two ADs near the TH and we will likely destroy the TH, but after that the two ADs on the right, and hidden Teslas that are likely lurking around the TH, are going to chew our drags up in a hurry. But we shouldn't need more than 6 or 7 drags to destroy the TH. We used one up on the dark elixir storage, we can place 7 at the builder's hut to play it safe and still have 2 or 3 left depending on troop capacity - plus CC drag. There are plenty of easy buildings to destroy in the other corners. Put a drag in each one - or at least two of the three corners and 50% is assured. I haven't even mentioned where to drop a Rage spell - assuming this is a TH9 attack with 4 spells - because it's almost impossible it such a small confined attack area to screw it up. Unless you just forget to use it.
It's almost impossible to fuck up. I know - I tried to fuck it up and STILL got the TH and more than 50%. I never used my heroes special abilities. I forgot I had a lava hound in CC. I never used it in the main attack and instead launched it at a builders hut (thinking it was a dragon) near the end when I was trying to get to 50%. At least I remembered to use my Rage spell :) With all these mistakes made in execution it shows how easy the base really was. Once the funnel was complete even an idiot could get 2-stars.
The second base in this debate was #11. Here it is:
I spent a lot of time planning for #11. If there's a foolproof plan for a TH9 to get 2-stars, I never found it. There are a lot of plans that could work, might work, should work - but nothing that's as easy as #7. I had confidence in my plan, but our TH9 that did eventually attack got zero stars.
What We Learn
What do we learn from this? That sometimes people disagree? No, that happens all the time. That some people are right and others wrong? No, might be reverse situation tomorrow. What we should learn is that you want a path for your dragons to follow - what we call funneling. The less chance for dragons to wander the better your chances. We also want our drags to face as few enemy ADs as possible. Sometimes that means lightning spells, sometimes it's heroes or hogs, sometimes that means using pirate balloons.
So to recap:
Your main dragon attack force should almost always be released all at the same time. One of the common mistakes we've been making is releasing 3 or 4 dragons, waiting until they're almost all chewed up, then releasing 3 or 4 more. This is a losing tactic. While the ADs are killing your first group what are your reserves doing? Nothing. just sitting waiting to be released. They should be out there destroying something. The ADs can't fire at all dragons at once - so while some are being attacked the others will be doing damage. And the more dragons doing damage the faster the group as a whole will be able to move forward because buildings will be destroyed quicker. Also seeing a lot of wave attacks where a group would be better. Waves are usually better than the stutter/slow release, but they don't concentrate drags where Rage can have best effect.
Dragons will attack the nearest building, CC troop, or hero. So it's important to make a 'funnel' to prevent them getting distracted and wandering off your intended target line. You do this by destroying a few buildings on both sides of your target line before you launch your main dragon force. If you've destroyed buildings on both sides of your target line, dragons are forced to go inwards on your line towards TH.
Obviously ADs are a major obstacle. Your attack plan has to figure out how to deal with them. If there are a lot of buildings between your dragons and the ADs, and the buildings are in AD range, then your dragons will just be sitting ducks. Hogs, balloons, or Rage are the ways you can limit the damage ADs can inflict. If there's a path for hogs to get there that's one option. Pirate balloons are another option. Timing on balloon release can be critical - they should pass dragons just after dragons are in AD range. If balloons get in front of dragons too early the ADs will chew them up - and balloons won't be able to take the ADs out.
CC troops and heroes
As mentioned above, dragons are easily distracted. Unless you *know* the CC troops or heroes will not be part of the action it's best to deal with them head on - make them part of your target line. That way drags won't wander off target line to deal with them. Typically you do this by using Rage at the appropriate time. If you know the CC troops are going to do a lot of damage you may need Rage and Heal spells.
You want to use Rage where it will have the most effect. This varies from base to base, but you want it to cover as many dragons as possible in the area where they are going to be under fiercest weapons fire. Dropping Rage too early is a far more common mistake than dropping it too late. Also remember to drop Rage in front of your dragons so that they make use of it for as long as possible - don't drop Rage right on top of your drags - you're probably wasting half the spell if you do. Rage is best used to get drags to the ADs as quick as possible so that the ADs can be destroyed before drags are wiped out. If you draw your target line so that CC troops are there at the same time, then Rage can serve a double purpose.
- Dragons work best in groups
- Dragons tend to wander so they must be 'funneled'
- ADs that can kill your drags must be destroyed quickly
- CC troops should be attacked head on
- Rage must be dropped to help drags destroy ADs and/or CC troops
- Three lightning is not always the best spell combination
- Consider using Pirate balloons or Level 5 Hogs in your CC to help take out ADs
Paul adds in Clan chat that Base 7 also sets up well for the use of a Freeze spell (a TH10 spell). The Freeze spell stops weapons in the spell area from momentarily attacking - it freezes them. This allows your troops a couple seconds of worry free destruction. It is especially effective when weapons are grouped close to each other. The lava hound (that I forgot to use in my CC) should have been launched so that it reached AD range right ahead of my main force of dragons - the opposite of balloons which you want to arrive inside AD range right after dragons do. Careful - the hound moves really fast:) It targets Air Defense and with a high damage level would have taken on much of the damage otherwise dealt to dragons. In addition to high hit points, once destroyed the lava hound bursts into 12 'pups' that further confuse defensive weapons and CC troops.