Camo is the trickiest Bloon property by far. With many ways to deal with them, which method should you choose?
Guide to Make Camo Bloons a Non-Issue
Fortified and Regrow can be challenging, but Camo is the star of the Bloon property show. Camo is like an immunity (lead, white, etc.), yet any Bloon can have it, making it a top priority. And much like how there are many upgrades with the key selling point being Lead detection, even more give nothing but Camo detection. Ninja is an entire tower about Camo detection. Which generally works the best? What synergizes with what strategy? How do you make sense of all of it?
Well, there are two schools of thought: decamo and Camo detection. Decamo upgrades remove the Camo property from Bloons, essentially turning them into regular versions of themselves. Camo detection is all about giving a specific tower or multiple towers the ability to see Camos. Naturally, these factions don't live in harmony; some members of the groups are all stars, while others fail to even be recognized for their feats. Discord also exists between the groups. No need in hiding it anymore, decamo generally sucks. It's too specialized and most decamo towers are terrible at their jobs. Meanwhile, Camo detection suffers from no such weaknesses.
That's all you really need to know, but if you're one of those curious types, this guide also contains an entire, fully fleshed out guide in it. I'll be covering every notable member of the two groups, explaining what to use them for, if you should use them, and the juicy details behind them. Generally, the deeper you descend in the guide, the better the tower is at countering Camos, so hang in there! Or skip to the end, because everything besides that last one is pretty much irrelevant.
A little note before we begin: Some of the things I mention are real garbage, but just because I bash a tower for inability to handle Camos doesn't mean I'm bashing it in general. Overclock, Prince of Darkness, and Bloon Sabotage are all amazing upgrades you absolutely should not ignore. Even the upgrades themselves might be good for reasons unrelated to Camo. Shattering Shells is great not for its Camo removal, but its fortified removal, and it's a great addition to strategies lacking in lategame hyperdense DPS.
Featuring: Ezili and Brickell, Middle path Engi, Top path Ice, Middle path Ninja, Bottom path Mortar, Bottom and top path Wizard, Top path Sub
Heroes (No, I'm not talking about Etienne)
Did you know that Ezili removes Camo at level 9? No, and for good reason. Obviously, she's not some fast-attacking powerhouse that can consistently target every Bloon on screen, but even worse, it doesn't work against DDTs. Ezili is an extremely lategame-oriented hero, so much so that you might not use her in any other stage of the game. If an attribute like her decamo does nothing lategame, it pretty much does nothing in general.
Brickell has a much different issue, but it's just as telling as to why her decamo capabilities are forgettable. Her Sea Mines can strip Camo off of every Bloon including DDTs. The catch? She doesn't get this trait until level 15, which is very late for it to mean anything. By this point, threatening Camos no longer show up in dense clusters which would make use of Sea Mine's decent pierce, and they're all DDTs which can easily slip past Brickell in the gaps between her Sea Mine deployments. In the end, though, what really kills Brickell's decamo is something much more fundamental. She's Brickell. Isn't the whole decamo thing kinda redundant?
Do I even need to go over this one?
For decamo, Counter-Espionage is pretty low tier and cheap. Sounds like a good thing! The problem is coverage. Counter-Espionage doesn't act like a second pulsing attack like good decamo. What actually strips Camo is the Ninja's main attack. The Base Ninja. You're left with two options: spam Counter-Espionage, which... no, or use it as a crosspath for a better Ninja. The only good and cost-effective option for that is Bloonjitsu, and if you're comfortable with buying a Jitsu, then just swap the crosspath and add an Alchemist buff.
The worst part is that Counter-Espionage does nothing to the toughest Camos you would most want decamo for: Camo Leads. That's round 59's rush of them, and eventually, DDTs. Even Super Brittle has the common decency to combat Leads.
Signal Flare/Shattering Shells
We are finally getting into the decamo than can be sort of good. I'm not here to spread the gospel of Signal Flare, it suffers from a plethora of issues, but it can be used to decent effect with decent planning. First, the bad: it never attacks. Even with both speed upgrades, Signal Flare fires slowly and can potentially miss a ton of Camos in the gaps between shots. This alone is a deal breaker that usually makes it worse than Embrittlement, but it has strengths you can play to: pierce and AoE. Since Signal Flare is a Mortar, it comes with pretty substantial pierce that can allow it to decamo massive clumps of Bloons in one fell swoop. Signal Flare's AoE also gives it great coverage over points where lots of Bloons can occupy.
I think you see where I'm going. Where Mortars excel, Signal Flare excels. Just one can hit every Camo on maps like Moon Landing, making it a pretty cost-effective option... in certain circumstances. Ultra Juggernaut is also amazing DPS on like 5 maps, so take all this with a grain of salt if the map you're trying is at all difficult.
One last quirk of this path: There is a Monkey Knowledge that allows Shattering Shells to decamo DDTs. This guide is pretty focused on CHIMPS, but even if you're playing on another mode, is it worth that much for decamo? Cost efficiency is key in handling Camos. The goal is to make the whole ordeal as little of an issue as possible, so Shattering Shells is clearly not the best choice. And that's setting aside the fact that DDTs are fast and Shattering is not.
Shimmer is easily way better than anything else mentioned so far, yet it still leaves a lot to be desired. Cheap and versatile, it's almost earned the godlike status vocal, yet terrible players assign it. Its pulse has a substantial range that can remove all of the Camo among even the densest Bloon clusters with its high pierce. You also don't need 80 of them, saving a lot of up both cash and space. Already, Shimmer sounds like the unquestionably best decamo option, and it certainly is... in a pinch.
The problem is consistency. It's more trustworthy than anything else mentioned so far, but it still faces the problem Signal Flare has of slow attack rate. Shimmer seldom triggers and is basically unusable on shorter, straighter maps. Heck, its dependency on kinks and bends can screw it over on easy maps, since most tracks don't wind much at the start. You want Camos decamoed as soon as possible which is just too much to expect from Shimmer.
Before we leave, barely worth mentioning is Archmage's decamo. It gets its own Shimmer attack like it does with Dragon's Breath, something that would normally just be a nice, if useless bonus, but it's arguably impactful in this case. Archmage pairs well with (or rather needs) Ceramic cleanup towers like Bloon Solver and TB1, neither of which have Camo. Could Archmage's Shimmer save you a few bucks? Well, it seems like its Shimmer is more powerful because it's drawn much larger, but it's all a lie and it's actually as good as, if not worse than the normal Shimmer. Disappointing.
The next section will feature the two decamos ever worth using. I guess that means you can skip this one.
Cleansing Foam is a very, very interesting upgrade. On the surface, it's just another decamo option and seemingly far from the best. If Archmage has taught us anything, though, it's that looks can be deceiving. You're not playing to its strengths.
The elephant in the room is RNG. Cleansing Foam can squirt any track inside of its range. This is made a lot worse because Cleansing Foam is inconveniently after Larger Service Area, one of the most disproportionate range boosts in the game, skyrocketing the covered space and the RNG. One unlucky shot could kill your run, especially disastrous if you're hunting for a Black Border. This is where Cleansing Foam's first unexpected benefit comes into play. Obviously, an especially long, winding map is no place for foam, but this means short straight shots are actually the perfect environment. Cleansing Foam on Logs is a tragedy, but Cleansing Foam on Workshop is unmatched. This bias is even more present on constricted maps or in strategies with a lot of space reserved for other towers. Range becomes a huge asset many other decamos can't offer. Thus, Cleansing Foam is potentially the only upgrade in the game that works better on more difficult maps!
Pierce also seems like an issue. Each foam has 10 pierce which is not too shabby for such a cheap upgrade but par for the course with decamo. Dense Camo clusters can be a huge issue. However, if you're attentive, you'd notice that certain crosspaths improve foam. By how much? Quite a bit! 031 Cleansing Foam gets 15 pierce foam, 1.5 times effectiveness, and 230 attacks at a rate of 1.2 instead 2.0, almost double effectiveness. These are absolutely worth the cost and basically put any grouped decamo power doubt to rest.
This culminates in the leading Quad Black Border strategy. Mauler Spam is extremely oppressive but takes a ton of room and doesn't come with Camo detection like the old Grandmaster Ninja strat. Who has the space for that? Cleansing Foam, actually. It turns out to be better than Submerge and Support or even Radar Scanner since it's so cheap and can be so far from the track while still being effective. Cleansing Foam is most certainly the expert's decamo, as you can see.
Submerge and Support
The best of the best. If Cleansing Foam makes everything else look like junk, Submerge and Support makes Cleansing Foam look like junk. It's not even a debate.
Submerge and Support has decent range, but it doesn't matter. With only a short section of the track, it can control the thinnest stretches and densest clusters of Camos, utilizing its high pierce and fast attack speed in doing so. Not cutting it for you? Buy Airburst Darts or even Bloontonium Reactor for the deluxe package. The only thing holding this upgrade back is placement. There are those pesky maps without water, and many maps with it might not have it in prime real estate. Otherwise, Submerge and Support is easily the best choice if you want decamo... for some reason.
But it's time to stop screwing around. Now that we're done with decamo, we can get into the real side of combating Camos. Ready?
Featuring: Etienne, Generic Camo upgrades virtually every tower has, Base Village
As early as level 8, Etienne literally trivializes Camos. No worrying about range or money or reliability, just literally permanently rendering Camos the same as regular Bloons (besides 010 Sniper). Clearly, his UAV is his greatest asset.
Well, you're only 1 letter off! If you see an incredibly hard chimps run involving Etienne, it was probably for his UCAV. That's a whole other thing, I said before that I wanted to separate the Camo ability of towers from their actual strength, but know that UAV is much more an extremely beneficial bonus than a primary selling point. It can be amazing in certain cases, don't get me wrong. Using a tower like Inferno Ring for for Spillway? Etienne's the obvious choice. But honestly not really because of that.
At the end of the day, Eti got extremely lucky. Being the best hero in the game justifies all of the traits you lack in. Take another look at that IRing Spillway run. You can give it Camo detection just fine, it's more of a hassle than anything. Eti's the MVP because his UCAV destroys midgame, IRing's weakest stage of the game. So yeah, go nuts with your Etienne UAV strategies, knowing you'd use him anyways.
There is one portion of the game I haven't mentioned yet, though: Co-op! You might be the best player in the world, but randoms in co-op who know nothing about the game can render all that useless. If you're playing with especially bad people, Etienne is a solid choice of hero since he can catch any lackluster strategic decisions.
An Overwhelming Defense?
Arguably a third category of handling Camos, there are the upgrades that give that one tower Camo detection. These are usually tier 2s alongside a crappy range upgrade for tier 1. Nonetheless, if you're going for one super beefy DPS tower that others directly buff, you'd be pressed to find something cheaper. There is a cost, however, and a huge one. Some towers can get these upgrades basically for free, since they're already on their path or the ideal crosspath. This stuff like Grandmaster Ninja, Prince of Darkness, or technically sort of Sub Commander. Those are some of the best 5th tiers in the game! Not all of them, however. 5th tiers like Apache Prime have tempting Camo crosspaths, but you'll you miss out on a ton of DPS in going for it. That's not even mentioning support. As an example, Sub Commander can see Camos quite easily, but one of the best supports for it, MOAB Glue, cannot. Something else will have to be done, whether that be decamo or other Camo detection. Lategame, this strategy sort of falls apart.
There are two other stages, though. Singular tower Camo detection is absurdly good midgame and unquestionably the best in earlygame. No, I'm not buying Radar Scanner for round 24. I'm just getting a Ninja. This philosophy holds up pretty much until round 90 and at least the 60s, where one tower like Alch buffed Bloonjitsu or Armor Piercing Darts solos practically everything, including the Camos. Because of these amazing midgame synergies, Leads are arguably a bigger problem than Camos in the first half of a CHIMPS run.
This is the single most underrated upgrade by casuals. It is a quintessential piece of the Bloons meta, so unbelievably important that it's easy to forget the name of, yet many inexperienced players are quicker to recommend decamo than this (I guess this is because Village XP is very hard to get while something like Sub XP is nice and easy?). Well, Radar Scanner alone makes Camo detection as a group better than decamo.
Imagine Etienne that doesn't take up a hero slot. That's enough to make Radar Scanner one of the best upgrades in the game. It's honestly too perfect for me to give much commentary on it. I suppose the biggest drawback that makes some strategies gravitate towards other options is just that it's the one Village path you can skip if you really need to, so some strategies in very specific situations will use an X0X Village and find some other way to deal with Camos. That is extremely rare, so much so that I believe I've already covered every case where this occurs.
Use Radar Scanner.
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