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Tower defense tips

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Written by Vera C. Last updated on .

Screenshot from tower defense game

Tower defense is an exciting and fun genre of game, combining live action with thought and strategy. It has the advantage of being able to be played even with just a few minutes here and there; it doesn't require a large block of time from you. There are many different tower defense games available.

Every now and then you'll run into a difficult level that's hard to get past. Here are where these tower defense tips come in handy. Try these out and you'll be beating levels in no time.

At the start of each level

You'll be limited by how many towers you can put down right at the start of the level. So it's important to be strategic about where you place these towers so they actually do kill all the units going past them, thus earning you more money for subsequent towers (and not allowing any to get past the finish line and possibly cost you the level).

So the best places to put your first few towers are:

  • Where they can attack more than one path - for example, if you have a zigzag path, place the tower in the middle of the zigzag so it can get units on the tracks on both sides of the tower.
  • Closer to the start than to the end - you want to begin killing units as early as possible, the idea being that units should be as damaged as possible by the time they get to the end.

It's really important to place your heroes judiciously at the start of each level. For example, if there are two exits in the level but you only have one hero, that hero should go on whichever exit contains the shortest possible path through the level.

The placement of your hero can make the difference between winning and losing. Of course, bear in mind that most tower defense games do allow you to move your hero's position during the course of the game, so take advantage of that if needed.

Beyond the start of a level

Once you've successfully gotten past the first wave or two and have earned enough to put a new tower down, do these things:

Use area-of-effect towers wisely

It's good to make use of one or more of these towers which attack multiple units at once. Typically these would be flame towers or cannons. These types of towers should go at any of the following places because those are where you would expect multiple units to be present together:

  • near the start
  • where your own ground troops are stationed (e.g. knight's den)
  • near any tower that slows down units
  • at intersecting paths
  • where your heroes are stationed, if this is before the exit

Decide which types of towers you need

The types of units being sent will determine the mix of different towers you need. For example, some units are resistant to flame but susceptible to bullets. Flying units are often only able to be taken down by one or two types of towers. Often though, you won't know what types of units will be sent. In that case, just try to have a decent mix of towers sprinkled throughout, so that you can handle different types of units.

Add new towers before upgrading existing towers

As tempting as it is to upgrade, in general you'd want to add new towers before upgrading existing ones. The reason for this is that no matter how powerful a tower's shot is, even if one shot from it can kill an enemy right away, the problem you'll face is that units will eventually start arriving faster than the tower's reload rate. So that's why I recommend putting another tower further down the path instead of upgrading the existing tower, so you can catch the ones that slip past the first tower.

Of course, and I'll say it again at the end, there are exceptions to every rule. In some cases it may make sense to upgrade a particular tower before adding a new tower, but that's the exception rather than the rule.

Add towers toward the start of the path initially and work your way toward the end

Now, this does not mean the first tower goes in the first open spot, the second tower in the second one, and so on. It simply means that all things being equal, it's better to add new towers toward the start of the path before adding the end towers. Otherwise, you wind up with relatively healthy units getting close to the end that you're all trying to kill at the last minute.

This rule may conflict with other rules on this page, which is why I said "all things being equal" to add towers toward the start. Often things are not equal. For example you might have a spot later in the path that can attack more than one path at a time. In that case, it may be better to place a tower here before you place one on a spot near the start that can only attack one path.

Think ahead

Think out your next tower placement or upgrade before you have the coins or points earned for it. You don't want to have a time when you could've had a new tower up but didn't place it because you were wondering which tower to place where!

It's also worth thinking ahead about your upgrades - for example,when you upgrade, certain types of towers can gain new abilities, or abilities found in other tower types. So bear that in mind. Of course, you might never earn enough to upgrade all towers before the end of the level, so don't over-think this.

If you don't know what to do...

If you're stuck, assume that your default is to place gunner-style towers. These are such a good all-around tower that they're good to have anywhere if you're not sure what to put there. Remember, you can add additional variety to a collection of gunner towers by upgrading them, especially if your tower defense game allows you to pick a special ability as an upgrade.

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