Hellhounds function very similarly to Tarsiers in that they are both non-blocking units with 1 point of health that attack for 1 damage every turn. However, Hellhounds differ in the following key ways:
- Hellhounds have a build time of 1, while Tarsiers take 2 turns to build, so a Hellhound effectively deals 1 more point of damage than a Tarsier throughout the duration of the game
- Hellhounds cost more (5 instead of the Tarsier's 4)
- Hellhounds come with an Engineer when purchased
- Hellhounds, unlike Tarsiers, do not combo with Amporilla.
Generally speaking, Hellhounds are highly efficient, cost-effective units. At a cost of 5, it's useful to compare the purchase of a Hellhound to that of a Tarsier plus a Pixie (also costing a total of 5). If the Pixie is used right away, the Pixie and Tarsier together deal the exact same amount of attack as the Hellhound does (1 damage every turn after the purchase, since the Pixie negates the Tarsier's longer build time). However, the Hellhound comes with an additional Engineer, making it considerably more cost-efficient than the Tarsier and Pixie, especially if the Engineer can be put to good use as a defensive unit or energy supplier.
The key to using Hellhounds well is to put yourself in a situation where you can construct them cleanly (without having to make other sacrifices to avoid wasting resources or defending inefficiently) and get good value out of the extra Engineer.
Comboing Hellhounds with other Engineer-using units
The extra Engineer that each Hellhound comes with is key to Hellhound's strength. Though Hellhound is still a decent unit when the extra Engineers are only used for defense, the unit truly shines in situations where the extra Engineers can be used to add value in other ways.
Electrovore is the most common example of a unit that synergizes well with Hellhound. A Hellhound plus an Electrovore, when bought together, yield a total of 2 damage per turn worth of attack for a cost of only 9 (a full 2 gold cheaper than a Cauterizer, closer to the cost of a Hannibull but without the drawback of being Frontline). Moreover, this cost can be split across multiple turns if needed. Fission Turret can be combined with Hellhound in a similar manner.
Antima Comet is another example of a unit that benefits from the extra Engineer that comes with every Hellhound. It's possible to open with Hellhounds, switch to defense before any Engineers must be sacrificed, and then construct an Antima Comet to deal extra damage using the extra Engineers.
Tesla Coil is another Engineer-using unit that can combo with Hellhound in some situations. Often in games where Tesla Coil is one of your key attackers, you need to constantly spend 2 gold per turn per Tesla Coil just replenishing your stock of Engineers so that your Tesla Coils can continue firing. Hellhounds instead provide an alternate method of reconstructing engineers, and can effectively act as 3 Tarsiers with construction time 1 in cases where the Engineer would otherwise be a "must-buy" unit. Hellhounds also effectively extend the supply limit of 20 Engineers (which is frequently relevant in Tesla Coil games), as they do not consume any Engineer supply when constructed.
Using Hellhounds to Rush
Hellhound lends itself nicely to low-econ rushes that employ ten or fewer Drones. The core strength of these rushes is due to two strategic principles:
1) The cost of Hellhounds has a very low ratio of gold to coloured resources. This allows a variety of low-Drone builds to use them as a key purchase almost every turn off of a single Animus and Blastforge, without wasting blue and red resources. Instead of the 13 Drones required to efficiently use those structures in the base set (building 2 Tarsiers and a Wall every turn), it's possible to build a Hellhound and a Tarsier every turn with only 9 Drones. This allows for some very efficient and quick rushes that don't suffer from the problem that Animus-only rushes have: not being able to construct Walls.
2) Hellhounds are very cost-efficient at both attack and defense. Strong rushes put on as much heat as possible, but also need to offer some resilience in case the opponent counter-attacks. The extra engineers that come with each Hellhound add a bit of extra defense at very little cost, helping to support the rush and keep it alive longer.
Here are sample builds for both players:
- T + Hellhound
- T + Hellhound
- Hellhound + R every turn (switching to WR when defense becomes a priority)
- .. DD
- .. DA
- .. BT
- .. T + Hellhound
- .. WTT
- .. Hellhound + R every turn (switching to WR when defense becomes a priority)
In both cases, players end up with 10 Drones, an Animus, a Blastforge, a Wall, some attackers (Hellhounds and Tarsiers), and some Engineers. From here, it's possible to pump a Hellhound and a Rhino every turn, switching away from Hellhounds to Walls when defending becomes more urgent. Both players also have the option of building Walls sooner if necessary (which can be useful if the opponent opts for an aggressive response), but doing so may cause a red to be wasted.
Player comparison: Hellhound rushes don't tend to strongly favour either player, as both players have good timings and options to play more defensively if necessary. With the build orders listed above, player 2 gets the Wall out half a turn sooner, and player 1 snags an extra Hellhound as compensation. Player 1's build is probably slightly better against passive opponents, but player 2's early Wall might be favoured against aggressive responses.
Variations: The classic "red rush" units like Electrovore, Grimbotch, and Perforator can enhance the effectiveness of Hellhound-based rush builds, because they provide other options that are often stronger than pure Tarsier play. Chilling units like Iceblade Golem or Frostbite can also be effective if the opponent opts for a defensive or breach-vulnerable strategy.
Player 1 has better options with Auric Impulse (1)
- 2x Hellhound
This build enables double Hellhound continuously, can deploy a Wall if required.
Economic builds involving Hellhounds
A final use of the Engineers constructed during Hellhound construction is in building up a larger economy. Often players don't get attackers like Hellhounds until after they're mostly done with constructing Drones, but there are some situations where one or two early Hellhounds are used only to lightly harass the opponent while supporting a big economic play.
As player 1:
- D + Chrono Filter
- D + Hellhound
As player 2:
- .. D + Chrono Filter
- .. D + Hellhound
- .. DDD
- October 4th, 2014