So you wanna win the war eh? I can help you with that.
I've been playing CAOS since early Alpha and I thought it was high time that I shared my observations on what works well, though this will by no means be an exhaustive guide as that would require an encyclopedia to accomplish. I'll be writing several guides based around themes and I'll start with the basics, so here we go, a brief introduction to building armies in CAOS.
Right clicking on a headquarters while in the unit pool automatically selects all of its subordinates.
Divisions are important for several reasons and you should always base your armies around one or more Division Headquarters. There are 3 reasons for this;
Divisional Integrity Bonus: Any unit fighting along side another unit that shares the same headquarters and is within 5 hexes of the headquarters gains an automatic 20% combat bonus.
Replacing losses: Units can only replace lost strength points if they are attached to a head quarters and that head quarters has replacement points within it.
Convenience: You can simply right click on a head quarters in the unit pool and automatically select it and all of its attached units. Saves a lot of time when you're buying a lot of units.
More on integrity here:
Combined Arms :
An example of a small force (2 regiments + artillery) with full combined arms withstanding an attack by 2 entire infantry divisions benefiting from no combined arms at all.
Combined Arms is the most important combat bonus in CAOS, it's importance cannot be overstated. Put bluntly, if you don't have it you won't win.
Combined Arms increases the combat power of all friendly units involved in a battle and is accomplished by mixing Infantry, Armor, Artillery and Air Support.
Infantry + Armor = +25% Combat Bonus
Infantry + Armor + Artillery = +50% Combat Bonus
Infantry + Armor + Air Support = +50% Combat Bonus
Infantry + Armor + Artillery + Air Support = + 75% Combat Bonus
It's worth noting that you just have to have enough armor involved in a combat to grant the armored bonus of combined arms (you need at least 6 strength points of armor to get it). Similarly it doesn't matter how much artillery you have as long as there is at least 1 strength point of artillery either involved directly in the combat or providing fire support.
Theoretically you could stage an attack with 130 strength points of infantry supported by 1 strength point of artillery and 6 strength points of the worst tank in the game (arguably the CV-33 Tankette) and still get a +50% combined arms bonus. However just because you can doesn't mean you should, after all if your combined arms is resting on a tiny amount of artillery and a pitiful quantity of tanks if they take losses in battle or to enemy barrage you could suddenly lose your combined arms bonus and get slaughtered by a much smaller combined arms force.
More on Combined Arms at:
Mobility is key:
Before and after screenshots showing how much further mechanized units can move compared to their infantry counterparts.
Any unit moving at the mechanized movement rate (15 OPC points) is considered mechanized. This includes Motorized Infantry, Mechanized Infantry, Tank Destroyers, Armor, Motorized Artillery, Armored Reconnaissance and many other unit types.
Maximize the number of motorized or mechanized units at your command. If given the choice between a mediocre but fast moving motorized/mechanized brigade and a highly effective but much slower infantry brigade it is often wise to choose the faster unit. In most scenarios the ability to move forward aggressively and seize strategically important terrain is more important than having the most dangerous possible units. After all, if you can capture the best defensive positions early in the game you'll more than likely have time to bring up better units later.
Also motorized and mechanized forces can easily keep up with your fast moving armor allowing you to keep your combined arms forces together and strike your opponent quickly or contain an enemy breakthrough with relative ease.
Mobile units are key to victory but there are circumstances where their utility is limited or even worthless - mechanized units cannot mountain or swamp terrain without using a road for instance.
An example of an average beginning of game air deployment and the Air Command (you can find it under the Intel screen) where you can micromanage the mission focus of each air unit under your command.
Aircraft prices received a major overhaul in patch 0.3.4.5 and as a result I'll write a guide on aircraft later after I've played around with new combinations. The important thing to remember is that aircraft exist and you should have them! It is quite easy to finish your entire deployment and forget to purchase any air units...you'll regret that later.
Traditionally my basic aircraft setup has always been 1 Multirole (for combined arms), 1 Fighter, 1 Bomber, 1 Recon at least, but since most aircraft are now more than 50% cheaper than they used to be, large air forces are no longer prohibitively expensive.
What should you buy?
This will obviously change dramatically depending on the scenario you're playing and whether you're attacking or defending and a whole range of other variables but there are a few general tips to keep in mind;
Base your army around Tank or Mech Divisions: Most army's tank and mechanized divisions are fairly well rounded so start by buying one or two at the start of the game. It's easy enough to buy a few extra units to attach to them if they have any deficiencies. (Soviet mechanized corps are dreadfully short on artillery for instance)
Make sure you have combined arms: Make sure you have enough armor to insure combined arms, if you're ever afraid that you might be short on tanks then buy a few cheap Tank Destroyer or even Armored Car units to fill in the gaps.
Motorize your Artillery: Make sure as much of your artillery is motorized (moves at the 15 OPC rate) as possible. This will save you a lot of hassle if it needs to run away from advancing enemy tanks or follow up behind a successful advance.
In short, buy the fastest, most flexible army you can. My personal ratio is usually 2 motorized/mechanized infantry regiments for every 1 tank regiment. There are circumstances where you will neither need nor want vast hordes of mechanized troops, especially in defense scenarios but I will cover that in depth a different guide.
If you have any thoughts, suggestions or observations on what's worked for you let me know, I'm eager to hear what people think! My next guide will focus on the most indepth and decisive feature of the game - battlegroups and how they can transform even a mediocre army into a merciless killing machine.