If fighting Orks, Space Marines and Eldar was easy, then the universe of the 41st millennium wouldn’t be embroiled in a never-ending, brutal war, and all those poor Nobz, Terminators and Wraithknights would be on the dole. But it doesn’t need to be a slog, either. Allow me to give you a leg up in Dawn of War 3’s [official site] savage multiplayer battles with this guide to its myriad complexities. By the end, you’ll be smashing your enemies’ frail bodies and crushing their dreams.
The main goal of Dawn of War 3’s chaotic multiplayer bouts is the destruction of your foe’s power core, a large metal target nestled between turrets deep inside enemy territory. Of course, you’ve got one too, a massive vulnerability that ensures you’re never going to quite feel safe. You can’t make a beeline straight for the core, however, because as messy as battles get, there are still rules.
Power cores only become vulnerable once you take out at least one of the ultra-powerful turrets, which can only be destroyed once you’ve blown up their paired shield generator. And each of these objectives has an extra ability that makes your task just a wee bit trickier.
Shield generators can house garrisons that are protected from ranged attacks, so you’ll need to send in melee units, preferably ones that can scatter enemies, like Assault Marines; turrets can stun units in a large radius as well as firing off devastating, long-ranged attacks; and the power core can become invulnerable for 20 seconds, potentially giving your opponent the precious time they need to launch a counter attack.
Getting to the not-so-squishy centre can be a big undertaking, requiring a diverse selection of units. Snipers to stay out of the turret’s range; hand-to-hand troops to run interference, stopping enemies from reaching the objective to defend it; heavy hitters to take out enemy armour and buildings; and units or abilities that can do AoE damage, like Whirlwind Tanks or super weapons, to take out big blobs of foes.
Scattered throughout the maps are another kind of objective: resource points. There are three resource types that you’ll need to craft your murderous armies: requisition, power and Elite points. These resources have an automatic base level of generation, but it’s slow, so you’ll need to venture out and capture resource points to increase the speed at which they accumulate. Once a unit captures one, you can construct different types of upgradrable generators depending on what nodes they have.
Initially, requisition is the most important resource, used for recruiting basic troops like light infantry. Advanced units, as well as army and building upgrades, require power. It’s a bit of a balancing act. If you want to churn out early-game infantry quickly, rapidly capturing points across the map, you’ll want to focus on requisition for a while; if you want to tech up quickly and field vehicles or use abilities like the Eldar’s Webway, then power is the way to go. Generally, however, you should keep a balance between the two, unless you’re in a team that communicates well or where you’ve picked a particular role.
Elite points pose less of a conundrum. You want them, and you want to start generating as many as possible as quickly as you can. This is the resource you’ll be spending to summon your game-changing Elite units like the monstrous Wraithknight and Imperial Knight, or the heroic Gabriel Angelos. It’s the most fleeting resource, and even on the large 3v3 maps you’ll only find two – one on each side of the map – so they’re hotly contested and worth defending with both listening posts (essentially guard towers) and troops.
Aside from listening posts, which must be placed on resource points, buildings in Dawn of War 3 can be constructed anywhere on the map, and this flexibility is integral to claiming victory in multiplayer. It can be tempting to start building up a base right where you start, near the power core, and that’s certainly an area that needs to be defended and watched, but there’s nothing stopping you from rolling up to your opponent’s front door and erecting a base right on their doorstep.
Indeed, that risky tactic can sometimes pay significant dividends. I’ve seen and been part of teams that coordinate so that two players lock down the Elite resource point near the enemy base using a stream of units, a listening post and Waaagh! towers (a special Ork-only guard tower that buffs the green tide) to maintain control. It’s dangerous, but it can provide a significant edge in the arms race as well as keeping the other team busy. And if you can defend it for long enough, it creates a fantastic staging area for the eventual assault on a shield generator.
That sort of tactic can fail pretty quickly though, especially if you’re facing a team that bothers to communicate. If they work together, depending on their faction composition, it won’t take too much to evict you. But while they’re trying to do that, you’re still stealing their lovely Elite points.
Out of all the factions, it’s the Eldar who can really take advantage of buildings. After teching up, you can use any building as a makeshift Webway Gate, allowing your units to leap across map in a single step, building to building. This makes them the masters of sneak attacks and hit-and-run assaults. Even Eldar buildings can be teleported to new locations. If you’re fighting them, always be on the lookout for their builder units, the Bonesinger, and keep an eye on the areas near the entry points that lead to your shield generators or power core just in case a building suddenly appears.
Exploiting the battlefield
Dotted around the war-torn arenas of Dawn of War 3 are a multitude of interactive elements that can be exploited to give your foes an unwelcome surprise or your vulnerable units a bit of breathing room.
Long grass and smoke-spewing vents make units inside them largely invisible. They can be found all over the multiplayer maps, and are especially handy when you’re trying to guard a resource point. Or maybe you’d prefer to be a bit cruel and use the resource point as bait. Don’t capture it. Instead, hide a few units and wait for your enemy to start capping. When you’re done letting them waste their time, strike, and then walk over their corpses to take the point for yourself.
To avoid being on the receiving end on tactics like this, use units with the Detector ability, and if you’re pretty sure there are some hidden enemies, maybe it’s time to do some AoE damage. Grab a Whirlwind or equivalent and blanket the area in death. Elites like Ranger Ronahn can be handy in these situations too. His map-spanning sniper attack not only cuts through rows of enemies, it cuts through the fog of war, giving you an idea of what’s waiting for you and then killing it.
Relic have replaced the cover system used in Dawn of War 2, itself based on the Company of Heroes cover system, with defensive positions that can be captured. Units inside a captured shield bubble are protected from ranged attacks. You’ll want to use melee units to clear out these positions, especially those who can cover a lot of ground rapidly to avoid taking damage during the charge.
High walls and structures can also provide cover, though they can’t be fired over and are just as likely to be hiding enemies on the other side, invisible to your eyes. Send out scouts to draw any foes lurking on the other side over to yours, and remember to order your troops to hold their fire so you don’t ruin the ambush until the clueless enemy unit is right where you want it to be.
New paths can also be opened up on some maps. Doors can be opened and bridges extended to give you a faster route to new resource points or the opposing objectives. To open them up, however, you’ll need to destroy their heavily armoured control panels, potentially giving the other team time to march around and take your warriors out before they finish the job.
Each battle is dividided into four escalation phases, adding more wrinkles to the already pretty involved brawls. These phases last ten minutes, and when a new one begins, you’ll see a big notification pop up on the screen, accompanied by a distinct audio cue. Here’s what each phase does:
Phase one: When a unit dies, 25 percent of its cost is refunded
Phase two: When a unit dies, 15 percent of its cost is refunded; resource generation is increased by 50 percent; objective structure health is increased by 50 percent; and listening post health is increased by 25 percent.
Phase three: When a unit dies, 5 percent of its cost is refunded; resource generation is increased by 100 percent; objective structure health is increased by 100 percent; and listening post health is increased by 50 percent.
Phase four: Resource generation is increased by 150 percent; objective structure health is increased by 150 percent; and listening post health is increased by 75 percent.
The unit refunds don’t feel particularly noticeable, and by the time that refund amount gets reduced you should already have several upgraded resource generators, which will also receive a buff. So what escalation really means is you can start churning out troops, vehicles and upgrades at a faster rate, but the objectives become increasingly tough to destroy.
This makes it sound like it might be easier to take out objectives in the early-game, but the chances of you being able to field the large, diverse army needed to tackle a turret in the first 10 minutes of a match are low. Absolutely take some swipes at the shield generator, however. If your opponent is still busy trying to capture resource points and hasn’t garrisoned troops, make them pay for it, and set yourself up for an assault on the turret once you’ve built a decent mix of units in phase two.
On page two, we look at the meat of Dawn of War: the factions, and their particular strengths and weaknesses.