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Battlezone 2 Scrap Management Guide

This document was written by Nathan Mates, email nathan.j.mates@gmail.com. As this document may be updated over time, please do not copy out its contents to other websites. A link to http://www.matesfamily.org/bz2/scrapmgmt.html is acceptable. Note: this information is NOT provided as an official source; please refer to the game manual for that. Please do not call or email Tech Support for help with anything contained below.

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Version 1.01. Last Updated: October 6, 2003.

BZ2, while it may seem to have a fairly straightforward/simplistic approach to gathering scrap (resources), there is a lot of ways to get the most tank for your scrap, err, bang for your buck. This guide covers the following:
*Managing deployed scavengers (extractors)
*Managing free-roving scavengers
*Build order for map 'hilo.bzn'

Managing deployed scavengers (extractors)

Scavengers that have been told to go to a scrap pool permanently change from free-roving mode to a building called an extractor. While it may seem counterintuitive to cover the extractors first, you'll see the rationale for that after the extractor system is covered first here.

[Tip: if you want to play around with things without pressures of combat, start a 'LAN Only' Multiplayer Strategy game (or disable joins on handin a gamespy game), and choose a map like 'ST: High & Low' (hilo.bzn). You'll then be able to have a 'sandbox' for building things.]

Familiarize yourself with the scrap gauge at the left side of the screen. When you start a multiplayer strategy game, a default game will have that gauge consist of one large vertical component, filled with white, and count of 40 scrap below. That long component is your recycler, and it's at maximum capacity.

For any scrap to come in from extractor(s), two things must happen: (1) your recycler must be deployed (i.e. not a vehicle), and (2) you must have a extractor (deployed scavenger). When this happens, your scrap gauge will change: it will have a smaller section below the recycler's component. If you have a second extractor, it'll also appear below the recycler. An 'upgraded' (use a Constructor/Builder) extractor has a red background, and is below the regular extractor(s).

Also, note this: your maximum scrap capacity (i.e. what you can have on hand) is the sum of the capacities of all your extractors and recycler. If you want to build anything that costs more than 40, you better have an extractor built. Two extractors and a recycler give you a maximum of 80 scrap .

Here's the hard facts on the three sources of scrap via extractors:

  1. Recycler. Cost: N/A. Capacity: 40 scrap. Production rate: 1 scrap every 3 seconds.
  2. Extractor. Cost: 20. Capacity: 20 scrap. Production rate: 1 scrap every second.
  3. Upgraded Extractor. Cost: 80 (20 for original extractor, 60 for the upgrade). Capacity: 20 scrap. Production rate: 2 scrap every second.
This points out one important rule:

Your fastest scrap producers are at the bottom of the scrap gauge.

Next, note that the current level of scrap (the white bar) is contained somewhere within one of the segments, i.e. a specific extractor or the recycler. That happens to be the 'active' scrap producer-- and only one can be active at once. Anytime your scrap bar is within an upgraded extractor, you'll get 2 scrap per second. Anytime the scrap bar is within the recycler, you get one scrap every 3 seconds.

From this, I conclude one very important rule about extractors: 'Time is Money'. Consider a 3-second period of gameplay: if the scrap bar is within an upgraded extractor, you'll get 6 scrap. If it's within a regular extractor, you'll get 3 scrap. And if it's in the recycler, you get 1 scrap. Thus, your scrap income depends on how well you manage your scrap bar.

Most strategy guides for RTSs point out one thing: there's no interest paid for keeping your money in the bank-- it's better to keep it spent. BZ2 really reinforces that, as the lower your scrap is, the more you'll take in. [Of course, if you spend your scrap foolishly, just to keep it low, you're not guaranteed any success in the matter.]

Because 'Recycler Scrap' is so costly (3 seconds each), I try and keep from using it as much as possible during a game. Say you want to build a bunch of tanks costing 55 scrap each. The following is the time needed to go from 0 scrap to 55, with the given equipment, sorted by worst time first:

*Recycler only
Impossible: max scrap is 40, and your recycler will not produce scrap without an extractor.
*Regular Extractor + Recycler
First 20 scrap (coming from extractor): 20 seconds. Next 35 scrap: 105 seconds (35*3, coming from recycler). Total time: 125 seconds (2 min, 5 seconds).
*Upgraded Extractor + Recycler
First 20 scrap (upgraded): 10 seconds. Next 35 scrap: 105 seconds (35*3). Total time: 115 seconds.
*2 Regular + Recycler
First 40 scrap (extractor): 40 seconds. Next 15 scrap: 45 seconds (15*3). Total time: 85 seconds.
*Upgraded + Regular + Recycler
First 20 scrap (upgraded): 10 seconds. Next 20 scrap (regular): 20 seconds. Next 15 scrap: 45 seconds (15*3). Total time: 75 seconds.
*3 Regular + Recycler
All 55 scrap (extractor): 55 seconds. Total time: 55 seconds.
*Upgraded + 2 Regular + Recycler
First 20 scrap: 10 seconds. Next 35 scrap: 35 seconds. Total time: 45 seconds.
*2 Upgraded + Regular + Recycler
First 40 scrap: 20 seconds. Next 15 scrap: 15 seconds. Total time: 35 seconds.
*3 Upgraded + Recycler
First 55 scrap: 27.5 seconds. Total time: 27.5 seconds.
In the above, the biggest difference most players will see is between 2 regular + recycler (85 seconds) and 3 regular (55 seconds). That's 30 seconds off a tank's build time simply by having one more extractor. That all comes because 'Recycler Scrap' is just so much more costly than other methods. When I play, I try and spend out of 'Extractor Scrap' only, or dipping slightly into the recycler for things costing say 65 if you have 3 extractors.

Also, consider your spending habits and consider skewing them around: with 2 regulars and a scavenger and a scrap gauge around 50, it's far better to buy a tank (cost 55) then a scavenger, rather than the other way around. Do the math: buying the scav first will set the scrap gauge back to 30, where it'll take 55 seconds to get to 55 scrap. However, if you wait 15 seconds to get to 55 scrap and buy the tank, your scrap gauge will usually be near 20 by the time production of the tank is done. In other words: buy the expensive stuff first.

Note the following, though: for the first 12 seconds of a extractor's time in the scrap gauge, it pauses while it starts up. [This applies to when it first deploys and when it's upgraded.] You can see this easily by telling two scavs to deploy at roughly the same time, when your scrap is at zero. Both will be added to the scrap bar, but it'll wait 12 seconds for the first extractor to start producing, and it'll get to 20 scrap. Then, the second scavenger's 12-second dead time starts before it starts producing scrap. This delay happens for only 1 time, though, and is unavoidable.

Given their cost of the upgrade (60 scrap), when does it make sense to upgrade an extractor? Do the math: it'll take 30 seconds for that extractor to produce that 60 scrap back, plus the 12-second delay. Also, during that 12-second delay, you won't be producing anything as opposed to 12 scrap in a regular extractor. Thus, your scrap gauge will have to be in that upgraded extractor about 50 seconds to pay back the cost-- or fill that segment completely just over 5 times. Factoring in time/risk to get a (vulnerable and slow) constructor out to the extractor, I figure that if a extractor is going to be in use (fill up 20 scrap) for more than about 8-10 times, it's worth it to go for the upgrade. The extractors close to your base(s) should definitely be upgraded for a long game-- they more than pay for themselves in a game that lasts over half an hour.

Managing free-roving scavengers

Each time a free-roving scavenger drives over a piece of scrap on the ground and picks it up, you get 5 scrap, instantly. [Subject to available capacity.] Also, as long as you have a deployed recycler, they can scavenge, no need to have an extractor first.

From the above, we know that the worst time for extractors is when the scrap gauge is in the recycler. So, the best time for free-roving scavengers is when the scrap gauge is in the recycler. Do the math: +5 scrap when the scrap gauge is in an upgraded extractor is roughly 2.5 seconds worth. If it's in the recycler, that's 15 seconds worth of income. It's more micromanagement to control your extractors so that they scavenge mostly when the scrap gauge is in the recycler, but you can get serious wins that way.

Build order for map 'hilo.bzn'

I've had a lot of practice on this map while testing stuff, so here's my fairly well optimized build order for this map. You may have to adapt it for other maps, as the amount of loose scrap on the ground determines how fast you can reach the various stages. See the directions above for playing a lan only game by yourself to practice this.

1) Deploy your recycler. This takes a significant amount of time, and it travels slowly, so you may want to just tell it to deploy ASAP. However, with practice, you may determine better locations and/or orientations for it.

2) As soon as your recycler (key: 1) icon appears, build a scav. [Tip: bashing the 1 key too quickly will get it ignored.] When that scav (F1) appears, set it to scavenge.

3) Build a second scav (scrap now 0), F2 group. When it appears, set it to deploy on the scrap pool near the starting location. Your F1 scav should have about 10-15 scrap by now.

4) Start heading towards the upper half (NW side) of the map. When your F1 scav has collected 20 scrap (usually before F2-scav finishes deploying), build a third scav (F3).

5) Send the F3 scav to the close uphill scrap pool, and set a nav beacon on the mountain nearby.

6) As soon as you get 20 scrap again, build a 4th scav. [F2 group now empty, so it'll go into F2]. Your F1 scav should be done collecting the loose scrap near your base by now, so it's free to be pointed somewhere.

7) At this point, be scanning your radar to see if your opponent is doing the same thing topside:

7A) If they've not come up there yet, redirect your F3 scav to the far top pool, and the F2 (4th) to the close top. Then, hightail it over the cliff (no damage) to the 'close' (to your base) lower scrap pool, where your 1st (F1) scav should go.

7B) If they have come up along with you, send the F2 scav to the nav beacon, and head over the cliff to the close lower scrap pool, sending your F1 scav to there.

8) Set a nav beacon by the mountain on the lower side. If you haven't already, send scavs to both, and when you see them near their target locations, set them to scavenge.

Summary: if your opponent followed the same build order, you've split the scrap pools evenly between you (3 each, the close ones to your base), and are in shape for some well-matched combat. However, if they aren't ready to immediately expand, you can collect 4, maybe even 5 scrap pools, plus all the loose scrap. That's a huge tactical advantage in the early game to be ahead in resources.

Downsides to the above: you cover a split-level battlefield. You can go over cliffs, but your AI wingmen may want to take the long route around.

And, a final tip: a pair of turrets posted near an *enemy* extractor do wonders in the early game for knocking them out (they're real tough), and fending off the inevitable response.