Norad is a tricky deck that relies heavily on its fire support vehicles to overwhelm the enemy with massed firepower, with expensive singular units supporting this concept. This guide is intended to help you make a flexible deck for 1v1s and small team games.
Almost every Logistics tab should be 4 cards. 2 CVs, 2 Supply units (including FOB).
First, get a Command Jeep. This is your cheap, fast, plentiful command unit and your primary way of capturing zones, particularly ones not in obvious danger. Your choice here is between the M1025 Humvee CP, or the Iltis CP. The Humvee has 10 HP so it can survive light bombardment slightly better, while the Iltis is a bit faster.
Second, get a card of "Survivable CVs" for capturing more dangerous zones. Your first option is an Infantry CV, which is valued for being easy to conceal, since a spotted CV is most certainly a dead one. TACOM in the UH-60A Blackhawk or M998 Humvee work for this CV type. Your other option is an Armored CV. The CMD M60A1 is your cheaper option, which has 2 top armor to resist light bombardment. The CMD M1 Abrams on the other hand is expensive, but has 3 top armor, allowing it to resist quite a bit of punishment for a CV. However, it still will not survive long if spotted, and cannot withstand concentrated bombardment or heavy bombs, like most ground units. Downvet your Armored CV, if you take one instead of the Infantry CV.
Finally, you need supply units. NORAD is one of the decks where an FOB is pretty much required. Many of your top tier units are very supply hungry, and that's without artillery, meaning you should make good use of it. Next, get a card of supply trucks. This can be a bigger supply truck like the HLVW or HEMTT, or a smaller one, the M35 Cargo. Simply put, bigger supply trucks are faster and need to be ferried back to the FOB less often, and in this case can also sustain some very light damage. A smaller one on the other hand is much cheaper and more reasonable for supplying individual units, and as a bonus are easier to use in stacks, which resupply/repair/refuel other units faster.
- Note: always take 5 cards of Infantry. No exceptions.
- All Infantry should be downvetted unless specified otherwise.
First off, get a card of Riflemen '90 in the M113A3. When people say US has bad infantry, this is the exception. Riflemen '90 have a decent fast firing AT launcher, and the M113A3 has 3 armor which gives it some big staying power in forests. Combined, the Riflemen holds other infantry in place and deals with enemy vehicles, while the M113A3 follows up and finishes off the infantry. Remember that they are the backbone of your entire deck; make sure to screen all your other units well with Riflemen.
Next, get a card of Canadian Airborne '90 in the Bison. These guy's role is twofold: They're good at taking and holding ground in openers until other units arrive, and later on they're good at backing up other units with anti-infantry DPS and a decent AT launcher.
For the purpose of getting some autocannons, add a card of Canadian Rifles '85 in the TH-495. The TH-495 gives you some decent fire support against infantry and light vehicles, both inside and outside of forests. It's also the only decent autocannon you have access to, since the Bradley's slow rate of fire and high price make it very bad for forests.
The last 2 cards are flexible. Pick from the following until you have 5 cards:
A card of Riflemen or more Riflemen '90 in the M113A3. Base Riflemen aren't as good against vehicles like Riflemen '90 are, but they're cheap and provide you with more screen for your fire support.
Another card of Canadian Airborne '90 in the Bison. If you want more Shock Infantry to help against enemy infantry, this is a good pick.
A card of Highlanders '90 in the Bison. These are mostly defensive infantry, most valuable in the opener of the game. Similarly to Canadian Airborne, they hold ground until other units arrive. However, they're more anti-tank orientated and have short ranged ATGMs. This makes them a pain to root out of cover by the enemy. (Upvet this card if taken.)
A card of LAAD Stinger A or LAAD Stinger C in the M2A2 Bradley IFV. You're getting these more for the Bradley's ATGM than anything else. Usually dedicated AA infantry isn't recommended, but in this case it just happens to work well in the same place as the Bradley. (Watching over open ground) Additionally, NORAD doesn't get a real infantry ATGM that can zone out open areas, so this is somewhat of a stopgap for that. (Upvet if Stinger A is taken.)
A card of SMAW in the LVTP-7A1. Both of these units are for the purpose of fire support, mostly in forests, and need to be well screened for with Riflemen. SMAWs are decent anti-tank units and can also finish off infantry with their HE rounds, but they cannot survive much enemy fire. The LVTP-7A1 on the other hand melts enemy infantry with its AGL, and can suppress enemy vehicles as well if given the chance.
YMMV: You may see Delta Force, US Marines '90 and even Light Riflemen '90 at times. These are mostly units only useful for US national decks however, due to its restricted choices. Canadian infantry largely replace their supporting roles here. (Canadian Airborne '90, Canadian Rifles '85, and Highlanders '90 respectively).
First, let's start with AA. Get the Patriot, the best heavy SAM in the game, with the longest anti-plane range in the game. It's a spendy investment, but as long as you move them after firing and keep them well supplied, they will dominate the airspace. Even one piece will cover most of the map if positioned well so its a worthwhile and cheaper investment compared to say, two Hawks. Downvet the Patriot, since being stuck with one is risky.
Next, get an M48A3 Chaparral. This is your long range anti-helo AA, for use over open ground, creating a "safety bubble" around the rest of your ground units. Upvet it, since you don't need many of them and they can actually benefit from the increased accuracy.
To finish off AA, get the M163 PIVADS. This short ranged SPAAG screens for any targets the Chaparral might have missed, and covers rough terrain where missiles won't have time to react. Additionally, its good for covering flanks and low priority areas for cheap. You can upvet or downvet this unit, depending on how many you typically go through.
Next, get a mortar, either the M106A2 or M125A1. The M106 is easier to use for smoking since you don't have to move it up as often, and the M125 is better if you plan on stacking mortars and using them as fire support. Mortars are critical, as they quickly provide you with the ability to use smoke. Smoke can be used on a specific enemy unit to blind them (this is how you defeat ATGMs), behind an enemy town to keep their fire support away, in front of a town if you have more and better infantry than them, or to conceal your movement in general. Most importantly, you use this to make smoke clouds for your tanks to hide in, instantly breaking line of sight and preventing things like ATGMs, AT planes, and other tanks from killing them. A good habit is to pop your tanks out of smoke to fire, and reverse back into it to reload. As a bonus, mortars can be used in groups to suppress individual targets, and kill infantry or lightly armored vehicles. Mortars can optionally be upvetted, but it's usually recommended that you downvet them since the accuracy increase is negligible.
Artillery that isn't mortars is, as usual, optional. Pick one, if any.
The base M110 when used en masse are used to bombard static enemies either before an attack, or to break a particularly slow grind. It's quite powerful, but adds up to cost quite a bit, takes a long time to aim (35 seconds), and is slow to fire. (And as such easily avoided)
The ATACMS is a special unit designed specifically to take out individual enemy vehicles. It only really works against static targets due to very small dispersion, but will guarantee a kill if it hits. Less useful in small games due to the low density of units, and also quite an investment for a very inflexible role.
YMMV: The M48A1 Chaparral is alright when used in pairs or with a PIVADS, but covers less ground and is less reliable at the benefit of being quite a bit cheaper than the A3. You'll probably see the Wolverine too; which is a gimmicky anti-plane piece actually, due to its high rate of fire. Against helicopters its actually rather bad though, due to its low range and and accuracy for a missile AA piece. There's the Centurion Marksman is an otherwise decent cheap SPAAG, but its extremely slow and can't usually keep pace with the units it needs to protect. Finally there's the M113 ADATS, which is a very good long range anti-helo piece and an ATGM rolled into one. Sounds great, but there's a few problems with it. The ATGM part bumps the price up quite a bit, and either goes unused or exposes itself way too much for a 110 pt AA piece. Additionally, you might use up all the missiles on ground units and find yourself with no AA. That said, if you treat it like more of an AA piece than ATGM, its usable if overpriced.
There's really only two "mandatory" tanks in any deck's Tank tab. And that's a Medium (which are usually 75-100 pts) and a Superheavy or whatever other heaviest tank you have is. (Superheavies are 160+ pts.) NORAD is a bit different from most Tank tabs though, in that they actually rely on light tanks quite a bit as fire support. The same rules still apply though. Don't take more cards of tanks to "replace your losses" if your others die; you don't have enough income to realistically do that anyways. Instead, you take different cards of tanks for the unique role they fill; you'll rarely come close to using up a whole card.
So first, get your Superheavy, the M1A2 Abrams. Make this the flagship of your heavily focused flank. Superheavies dominate open ground when properly supported with smoke, infantry, and AA. They're very efficient at dispatching tanks cheaper than them when used at max range, and are generally good to have as hard to kill fire support if nothing else.The M1A2 is unique in that it has the highest AP of any tank in the game, 24 AP. This makes it one of the best Superheavies around, so make good use of it at range and use it to dominate open ground. Downvet this, as you should most Superheavies.
Next, get a Medium, the Leopard C2 MEXAS. Mediums are flexible, and usually the cheapest thing that you can really call a "tank" in its actual usage. They're excellent at providing fire support both on open ground and at close range when well screened by infantry, and will generally easily dispatch vehicles that are cheaper than them (Such as transports, light tanks, and recon vehicles), and from a safe distance at that. You can also group them up to kill heavier tanks at point blank in forests as well. These guys make up most of your real firepower throughout the game, while your infantry find targets for them. The MEXAS itself retains 10 RPM, which is nice for a Medium tank. You can safely upvet most Medium tanks.
Now, you want to get what's considered a "Forest Tank". These are light tanks usually with enough armor to withstand the dangers of supporting infantry in forests, while still staying fairly cheap. By far the most popular option is the base M1 Abrams. For its price, its very well armored, but has poor AP, making it largely restricted to killing infantry and light vehicles. (And sometimes lighter end tanks at point blank) Your next option is the MBT-70, which is almost purely designed for killing infantry. It has 5 HE, 10 RPM, and an autoloader, which means it can dish out a lot of damage against infantry, very quickly. Additionally, it has an autocannon that helps dish out damage at close range as well. The downside is the MBT-70 is bad at killing other vehicles (Thanks to its HEAT rounds, its low damage stays the same even at point blank), and it only has 12 armor, allowing it to be potentially killed in one shot by other tanks. Finally, your last option is the M1IP Abrams, which is rather pricey for a forest tank, but has extremely good armor for its price and is a pain to take down. It still has rather bad AP though and should still mostly be restricted to killing infantry and light vehicles. Definitely upvet whatever you choose, you won't go through a whole card and they can use the veterancy.
The 4th Tank card is optional, but often highly valued in NORAD. Pick one if any:
The M1A1[HA] is a Heavy tank. These tanks are stronger than Medium and Medium-Heavy tanks, but pay a decent price for that as well. Their man purpose is to bully Medium tanks and generally any vehicle cheaper than them, without paying the price premium of a Superheavy tank. They're not quite as invincible as Superheavies, and don't have the same top tier firepower either, but they can reasonably be relied upon to stop a Medium tank on open ground.
Then there's the M1A1[HC] Abrams. This is a bigger Heavy, but not a Superheavy; just a step underneath that. If you don't need the armor advantage of a Superheavy, but want something close to the firepower, this'll do it. This fills largely the same role as the M1A1[HA], so pick one as it's kind of a waste to take both.
Finally, there's the M8 AGS. This is a fire support tank with some decent AP and insanely good rate of fire, plus an autoloader. Very good at dealing with mass amounts of light vehicles over open ground, as well as infantry. It can't withstand damage from really anything though, so keep your distance with it, and preferably keep it tucked behind a heavier tank.
YMMV: The base M1A1 Abrams is a Medium-Heavy that US national decks use like a Medium. It's decent, but it overlaps with the MEXAS for the Medium role, largely. You can take it in NORAD in place of the MEXAS, but that somewhat defeats the point of picking NORAD over just a US deck.
- Make sure you have at least 6 individual recon infantry squads in any deck.
- Recon units should be downvetted unless specified otherwise.
Keep your Recon tab at 4-5 cards for any unspec deck. It's not only important to support other units, but it's got a nice mix of cool fighting units.
The most critical recon unit you should have in any deck is Recon Infantry. This is because they're cheap, very stealthy, survivable, and can defend themselves against minor threats. Meaning, they can get closer to the enemy than any other recon unit without being killed, so that they can spot any hidden units.
Rangers are your only worthwhile Recon Infantry here, but they're pretty decent. Shock Recon Infantry are the most flexible recon infantry, and should be the first recon you take in most decks. (5 man recon or 2 man sniper teams are best avoided whenever possible; they can't take fire and can't really defend themselves either) Take them in M35 for cheap, M998 Humvee for a faster transport, or the V-150 for the additional optics you can use elsewhere after you drop them off.
Next, you want a cheap armored recon vehicle. These units watch flanks on the defense, passively spot on the attack, and are actually pretty good in their own right at fighting due to their stealth bonus. (A recon vehicle firing from a forest will usually require recon to spot and kill) The LAV-25 Scout is more flexible as flank defense thanks to its autocannon, and can help openers too due to it being wheeled. However it's not very good as fire support due to its slow firing autocannon. Your other option is the M551 ACAV, which is more on the side of fire support. It has a 5 HE cannon which gives it considerable utility vs. infantry, especially for its price. However vs. vehicles its HEAT rounds aren't going to do much against anything except the thinnest skinned units.
One of the unique Recon units of NORAD is the AH-64D Longbow, which is easily the best anti-tank helicopter in the game. It can spot for itself, has 26 AP, and 2800m range, but by far its main advantage is that its missiles are [F&F], which means they track targets even if you lose line of sight to it. Additionally, it means the Longbow fires much faster, and double taps targets with two missiles. Pop this unit out briefly to kill targets of opportunity, and quickly retreat it back into your own territory. Your enemy will do anything they can to take it out, including using planes to dive on it. Keep that in mind and consider having an ASF around to protect it from that possibility.
The rest of these Recon units are flexible, pick 1-2.
The M3A2 Bradley CFV is a nice Recon ATGM vehicle that is especially nice in NORAD since you don't get ATGM infantry. It doesn't quite have the stealth of infantry, but it still has Medium stealth, and some excellent ATGMs. It's a bit spendy, but it's well worth the combination of optics, potential killing power, and its ability to zone off open ground. Use it purely as an ATGM however, since its too expensive to risk as fire support in autocannon range, and its autocannon isn't that great anyways.
The AH-1J Cobra is a scout helicopter with an AGL and two rocket pods, making it quite good as cheap fire support, and can keep stuff stunned and suppressed for a bit. As all cheap Recon Helicopters are, it's also good for easily keep an eye on flanks or other gaps you might have in vision. You can upvet the AH-1J since you're unlikely to call out more than 6.
Another card of Rangers is always good too, either in one of the previously mentioned ground transports, or as a second card you can take them in the UH-60A Blackhawk for helodropping them early in the game to get a head start. You can use the Blackhawk for flank or base defense after you drop off the Rangers, since their miniguns can deal with other lightly armed helicopters or infantry that tries to sneak through.
Depending which one you took before, you can take the M551 ACAV or the LAV-25 Scout and have both of them, since they fill different roles. (The ACAV for anti infantry fire support, the LAV-25 for flank defense)
YMMV: Recce look like cool sniper dudes with their TAC-50 having an AP value and all, but for practical purposes they can't really defend themselves, die to almost anything in 1-2 shots, and are quite expensive for what you get. Really sniper teams are only good for one thing, which is getting into the enemy spawn at the start of the match and sitting there spotting for your artillery. If that's something you consistently do, you can give em a try, but consider that you can do the same thing usually just as well with 10 man recon teams and even regular infantry sometimes.
- Skip this until you finish the plane and helo tab.
- Keep this tab as empty as you possibly can, 2 card maximum if you really find use in it.
You've got a few somewhat decent Vehicles in NORAD. Most popular is the M163 CS, which works quite well as flank and base defense, particularly vs. stray helicopters. Additionally, it can stunlock units and melt infantry in forests if well screened for, but keep its thin armor in mind as it can't take fire from AT weapons and survive.
The M728 CEV is a weird fire support vehicle that can vaporize a lot of infantry in one hit, but is short ranged and takes a long time to aim. If you give it the time to do its thing, it can delete infantry stacks pretty quickly, and suppress nearby units as well. It also has decent enough armor to make it pretty survivable in forests.
The COMVAT is a standalone autocannon that's good primarily for use against light vehicles over open ground. Its slow rate of fire make it rather bad vs. infantry, however. Good as kind of an IFV bully that keeps lighter autocannons at bay.
YMMV: The Chimera looks like a free Medium-Heavy tank in the Vehicle tab, but in reality it's just..a worse Medium-Heavy tank in the Vehicle tab. Due to its lack of turret and painfully low rate of fire, it can't take advantage of the extra armor it has, so its not really worth its price and you're better off using an actual Medium-Heavy like the M1A1 Abrams. The Zippos are not usually worthwhile, as with other flame tanks, since the napalm effect is only relevant for a few seconds on certain chokepoints, and it doesn't really do much damage or even suppression sadly, it's just there to slow down units briefly and block line of sight.
- Skip this until you finish the plane tab.
- Upvet your Helo tab; you'll rarely bring out more than 2-3 of any helicopter in a normal game.
Keep the Helo tab to 1 card as much as possible, 2 cards if you really value them/can't find anywhere else to dump points.
NORAD's Helo tab is actually not very worthwhile, simply because you two of your best helicopters are in the Recon tab. However, the MH-60L DAP fills a role the Recon Helicopters don't, which is an AA Helicopter. These are good for escorting openers and Longbows, quickly reacting to enemy helicopters in your own territory, or simply as backup for areas that are difficult to cover with ground based AA.
YMMV: If you don't end up taking the AH-1J in the Recon tab, there's reason for taking the AH-1S or AH-1E cobra as cheap fire support gunships. The AH-1W Supercobra fills a niche of SEAD helicopter, but it largely overlaps with the Longbow as an AT Helicopter, so its not usually worth the card. For any other AT Helicopters here, that applies doubly so, there's really no reason to bring "backups" simply because the Longbow will be infinitely better at the job no matter the context, and because you will be very hard countered if you spend that much just on AT Helicopters.
The plane tab is an easy place to dump your remaining Activation Points while still being relevant. If you're satisfied with your Support, Tank, and Recon tab, fill this up until you have 1-2 Activation Points remaining. In NORAD, you easily wanna take 4-5 cards here.
First, by far your most important plane in any deck is a "Workhorse" ASF (Air Superiority Fighter). These are 100-160 pts and have a purely air-air loadout (SemAct or Radar guided missiles along with Infrared missiles). Their job is twofold; to spot enemy aircraft for the rest of your AA (and for you, obviously), and to intercept aircraft that might pass over into your lines. Whereas ground AA usually only kills bombers or AT planes after they've already done their job, ASFs will kill them before they become a problem. In NORAD, you have the choice between two planes: the CF-188 Hornet which uses SemAct missiles, requiring the missile to hit or miss its target before firing another. However, this plane has higher veterency (meaning higher accuracy) and is cheaper than the F-16. The F-16C Block 52, on the other hand, uses F&F Radar missiles instead. It has less veterency and is quite a lot more expensive, but it can more rapidly fire its missiles and requires a bit less micro managing due to the F&F aspect. Remember to always upvet your ASF when given the option.
The other important plane type is an Anti-Tank Plane. You want to look for planes with anti-tank missiles that have the F&F tag on them; this means that even if they lose sight after firing, the missile will still hit, making it significantly easier to use, and more effective. NORAD has a couple of these, but the most relevant one for killing heavy tanks is the F/A-18C Hornet. It's fast, and has enough high AP missiles to kill a Superheavy twice over. Its spendy, but well worth it if you snag a Superheavy or a couple Heavy tanks. As with most AT planes, you can safely downvet these guys.
One unique plane that NORAD has is the F-117 Nighthawk. Not only does it have Exceptional Stealth, but it's of the category of LGB (Laser Guided Bomb) Planes. This means the bombs track the target and hit their top armor if it's a vehicle, making these planes excellent vs. both infantry and armor. However while the Nighthawk is very nice and flexible, it's not very survivable if spotted, so it should usually be used in areas that aren't so hotly contested, or are close to your own territory. Aside from ground based AA, enemy ASFs will make short work of it if they're sent out.
The rest of the Plane tab is flexible, pick 1-2:
First we have SEAD. These planes target and outrange enemy AA pieces with the [RAD] tag on them, as long as they have their weapons turned on. NORAD has a few good planes for this. The EA-6B Prowler is valued for its long range SEAD missiles, as well as its slow speed not outpacing other planes sent out. The EF-101B Electric Voodoo is an excellent cheaper SEAD that still maintains great ECM while being reasonably fast. Finally, there's the EF-111 Raven, which has better Stealth than the other two, and the best ECM in the game, as well as longer range SEAD missiles. It's a bit on the spendier side though, and you only get one. If given the option, you usually wanna downvet SEAD planes, though that rule is flexible.
The A-10A Thunderbolt II is a decent plane for smaller games, although its role is often misunderstood by inexperienced players. It has 6 F&F anti-tank missiles, allowing it to reliably kill any tank given the chance, or to kill multiple targets of all vehicle types if managed well. Of course its main gimmick is its 2 front and back armor, which allows it to soak twice the damage of a normal plane. However, it will not survive against a real air defense network, and this is almost purely to compensate for the plane's slow speed to help it survive when evacing. Its slow speed is a bit of an advantage too, however, as it allows it more time to fire on targets before passing over them. And before you get the idea, no, the cannon is not relevant 90% of the time. It really only works when all the enemy air defense is gone (including ASFs), you somehow have line of sight on a lot of their units, and you have a lot of time to allow the plane line up shots. (In other words, you've already won) You'll wanna upvet this plane since you usually shouldn't find a reason to bring out two, and its lower tier missiles could use the accuracy.
The F-15D Eagle is a rather expensive bomber for what you get and you only get one of them, but its still got a decent loadout of 1000kg bombs. This means its capable of killing more than just infantry and light vehicles, and has quite a large splash radius. It's useful for what it is, a heavy bomber for punishing tightly packed groups of unit, and mostly defensive as bombers usually are.
The F-15C Eagle on the other hand is in the category of Super ASFs. These are expensive, but effective ASFs usually used to support your Workhorse ASFs and wrest air superiority from the enemy, and are inherently more aggressive orientated. They've got excellent ECM, F&F missiles, and Elite veterency when upvetted, making them the best of the best. As with Workhorse ASFs, always upvet Super ASFs.
YMMV: The AV-8C is a rocket plane sometimes used to kill lightly armored vehicles and stun heavier ones, as well as occasionally being used to dive helicopters. I don't really recommend rocket planes for inexperienced players, however, due to how they need to lineup and usually have line of sight and such. The F-4S Phantom II is on the borderline of what could be considered useful napalm bombers, because of just how much napalm it spreads in one drop. However, its still pretty expensive for what you actually get out of it, and napalm planes are still a niche that are really only useful for delaying enemies and being annoying. The F-14 Tomcat is what's called an Interceptor, which is a plane type mostly used for spotting enemy planes over great distances due to its greatly increased air optics. However in an unspec deck, there's simply not enough room for it usually, and its missiles are incredibly unreliable without the veterancy bonus of a Marine or Airborne deck.
- Example of a finished deck.
You should have 4 cards in Logistic, 5 cards in Infantry, 4-5 cards in Support, 3-4 cards in Tank, 4-5 cards in Recon, 0-1 cards in Helo, 0-1 cards in Vehicle, and 4-5 cards in Plane.