How to play defense – Tannenberg

How to play defense – Tannenberg 1 -
How to play defense – Tannenberg 1 -

A three-part guide on defending points/trenches/strongholds. When, how, as well as tips and tricks.


First off, this guide concerns the only game mode with an active player base – Maneuver.
This guide will be split in three main parts according to the level of understanding of the game:

  1. Basic: Some mostly obvious things that most experienced players will know intuitively
  2. Intermediate: Some things that any player will learn with practice but which might speed up learning, should one know them in advance
  3. Advanced: Mostly unintuitive tricks or ideas I’ve learnt through personal experience and practice

In Maneuver, both teams attempt to capture and hold certain key positions until either team’s resources are drained or, in rare cases, the enemy headquarters is captured. Thus, it is in both teams’ interest to not only capture enemy trenches, but also hold the ones they’ve already captured. A mistake made especially by newer players or just more action-oriented players is to ALWAYS push, rationalizing their tactic with the phrase “the best defense is a good offense” – a phrase that will be touched in this guide, but that simply doesn’t work like that. Constant offense will lead to death or encirclement, thus it is imperative that a player ought to know both attack and defense; however a lot of guides have been written about movement and attack both for this game and Verdun.
Another thing is that while there’s no “dedicated defender” position in the game nor is it beneficial to your team to have a player that just sits back, a person or two making sure that your allies’ backs is covered before advancing is an underappreciated but invaluable role in the game and the developers know this. Thus, while no squad is pure defense, some squads (and especially some roles) have a significant advantage in defense.

Basic – Squads and NCOs

Types of Squads

Squads in Tannenberg are split into three categories:

  • Assault (consisting of the German “Infanterie” and Russian “Cossacks”)
  • Infantry (consisting of the Austro-Hungarian “K.u.K.” and Russian “Frontovik”)
  • Support (consisting of the Bulganians, the Latvians, and the Romanians)

While they aren’t that different, they each have some different buffs that alter the gameplay slightly. The Assault troops are best suited to attack, the Support troops to defend* and the infantry are vanilla, without anything spectacular other than their +20% to reload speed witch is quite nice.

  • Assault troops have count as 1.5 players instead of 1 player when capturing and objective from an enemy, while counting as 0.5 players when defending (meaning when an ally owned point is being contested, ie has been infiltrated by an opponent). Assault troops also have +50% more stamina, a huge buff that allows them to beat all other squads to the centre of the map in the beginning of the game.
  • Infantry troops only really have +20% reload speed, making them alright in all roles.
  • Support troops have the reversed buff of the a*sault troops (0.5 when capturing, 1.5 when defending) which is simply worse due to it being less versatile, but it’s still alright. Support troops however field HMG bullets with them at all times, meaning that IF there’s a useful and depleted HMG it can be reloaded, making it useful again. This should be used with some caution since some HMGs are more useful to your opponents than your allies, also, being mounted on a HMG makes you incredibly vulnerable (see Basic – HMGs).



In addition, each squad has their own arsenal, from individual weapons, to soldier abilities, to NCO commands. These are often much more impactful than the generic buffs mentioned above. Here are some key points:

  • Assault NCOs by default only have access to Gas shells that can be called via telephone. Gas has two main uses, it works as a weaker smokescreeen, limiting visibility inside, and effectively blocking sniper vision through the gas. Gas is also poisonous, therefore when deployed all players have a small window of time to put on a mask (which further limits vision, much more so for the Central Powers than the Entente). This means that, since you can see on the map and as a notification when your team has requested a gas strike, you can put your mask on and exploit this small window of downtime of the enemy guns to advance. Obviously, this is much more useful in attack than defense.
  • Infantry NCOs by default only have access to bombardment, which forces all enemies in an area to take cover or face a high likelihood of dying, while only keeping the NCO that commanded it away from the target area since friendly fire is off by default while self damage is on. This can be used in a number of ways. The most obvious in an enemy point to force the enemies directly inside the targeted point, allowing your team to enter the point without opposition from within. It can also be used on your own point if enemies are trying to take it, since your team can spawn near said point and attack the enemies that are running for cover. A harder but more useful use is in enemy sniper/HMG nests. There are multiple points in most maps that allow for a single sniper to dominate an entire area while remaining relatively hidden; bombarding these spots usually guarantees the sniper’s death since most are exposed from above.The problem with this lies in the fact that this requires knowing PRECISELY where in the map the enemy is located. Alternatively, if you’ve spent enough time in the game you come to remember where players spawn, allowing you to guesstimate when to fire allowing you to spawnkill. This is really hard to pull off; do not attempt it if you’re not experienced.
  • Support NCOs are the most interesting in my opinion, they start with TWO main abilities.
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    A smokescreen, and a recon plane. These are arguably harder to use efficiently, but can be devastating for your enemies. Smoke shells are like gas but without the offensive capabilities and also lasts for a shorter time. HOWEVER, smoke doesn’t limit visibility through it, it effectively removes it. Players inside a smokescreen can see only about 2-3 meters ahead of them, while making it impossible to see out of it or into it. To use smoke effectively you need to know what exactly you want to do. Do you want to stop snipers and HMGs from killing your team, either throw the smoke directly on them, or use the smoke between the snipers and your team in such a way that the smoke covers two different buildings/trenches so your team can move freely though it. Smoke is also good offensively if you send it IN FRONT of a point/trench allowing your team to enter it, without allowing the enemy to hide in corners and wait for your allies to come to them, only to get stabbed. In defense, you can use it on your own point if enemies are entering so you can jump in with melee weapons and stab them (be careful, this can backfire). Another tactic, that is really extreme is dropping smoke in an area that has gas, making everyone inside basically blind. This is rarely VERY useful, but since smoke has a small cooldown, it can be a good idea. Recon planes are simpler. You mark an area, and in a few seconds every enemy in that area is shown on your allies’ minimap. This is usually good to send in an enemy trench before attacking, or in front of the trench you’re defending if enemies are about to break in.
    One last thing to be said of NCOs is to make sure you’re acquainted with your abilities (Q+LMB/RMB). Most of them aren’t particularly useful, other than helping with score, and vaguely coordinating your squadmates. The Cossacks, Latvians and Bulgarians however have a uniquely strong special ability on Q+RMB giving Infinite stamina for 30s, no weapon sway for 30s, and doubling capture weight for 30s respectively for a small area. Using these during an attack or when enemies overwhelm you can turn the tide of battle.
    As should be abundantly clear by now, NCO is arguably the hardest role in a squad because it requires good map awareness and familiarity with the map.


Basic – Weapons


Most rifles in Tannenberg are one-hit-kills. This means that your main weapon (damage-wise at least) doesn’t matter. This leads players to often pick the kit with the most secondary equipment. This isn’t necessarily a mistake, but you should think about your kit a little bit more. Especially with the central powers as well as Latvia, some weapons that are otherwise quite good, have really obstructive iron sights, which make aiming slightly harder. With experience this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but it is something to consider. You should also experiment in general, some weapons need to be reloaded a bullet at a time, while others reload with clips. Some reload whenever, some only when depleted. This comes down to preference; for example I can’t play with the Winchester due to the breach loading animation that screws with my aim.


In general, the value of a melee weapon is indeterminable in a kit, however the situations in which it can save you and your trench make it about as valuable as 1.5 grenades. Obviously this depends on your playstyle. What has less to do with playstyle and more to do with tactics, is the difference between a sword/spade and a bayonet. Bayonets are slower but allow you to keep your weapon out. This gives a clear advantage when defending, since enemies come inside points from multiple locations and usually emerge from blind spots of your defense, this means that the bayonet (which has a higher range?) is useful only when an enemy comes up in front of you and surprises you, where the draw time means death. Additionally, if you run out of bullets inside a trench you own (where there’ll be less enemies than if you were attacking a trench), you can usually afford to jump in cover and reload (an animation which the bayonet interrupts immediately, if need be). If you plan on defending, pick a bayonet!


The use of grenades can’t really be explained adequately with text or images, you need to use them yourself and see. The only thing worth noting here is this one tip:
Holding the G button pressed allows you to wait the timer of the grenade before throwing it, giving your enemy less time to react to it. If you have sound on, grenades have a very distinctive clonk! sound. If you hear it, all you need to do it make sure you put a solid object between yourself and the vague position of the grenade. If it’s easy for you, it’s easy for them. So, all you need to do it keep g pressed for a few more moments, so the grenade explodes before your enemy can react.


Revolvers are good. They’re VERY good. The trade is rate of fire for reload speed. What does this mean? This means that if you trust your aim and aim for the upper body, pistols can beat rifles 1 on 1 almost all the time in close/medium range. Revolvers however have a lot of really large downsides for defending. First of all, if you run out of bullets in the gun before you run out of enemies to shoot, you will die. Defending allows one or two to hold off a dozen enemies. If you’re reloading the enemy will enter uncontested, and kill you. This is where automatic pistols come in. All the upsides of a revolver, with more bullets and faster reload. Automatic pistols are good enough to often replace rifles if you don’t plan on shooting over a long distance. Pistols in general however also cannot field a bayonet, which is a problem some times. They also run out of ammo easily; make sure you have an ammo box nearby. Weighing the upsides and downsides of pistols, I personally recommend that if you plan on holding an objective, pistols and revolvers are excellent side arms, but you NEED a rifle. Having a side arm is basically having a long range version of a bayonet. What do I mean? Should you find yourself in need of reloading at a wrong moment, a side arm can kill 2-4 enemies and buy you enough time to reload your rifle (worry about the pistol later) and get back to killing attackers.
My go to preference is (this is a generalization, kit should depend on the map):
rifle&pistol> rifle&2grenades> rifle&bayonet> rifle&grenade> rifle> pistol&melee> pistol&grenade(s)> pistol

Basic – Trenches and movement

Alright, so you’ve got yourself a trench, should you defend it, and if so, how? Well, that obviously depends. There’s like a hundred different trenches in this game, and not all trenches are equal. Obviously, a trench that is also a point for your team is worth a whole lot more than any old hole. But even points aren’t always a priority to defend, since people spawning in that trench and seek to attack will inevitably shoot at the enemy that tries to advance, thus defending too. So, which points to defend?
Points have different buffs (as indicated by their little image on the map). Here’s a guide – []  on what trenches do. The important part is that central points are the most important and also that unless you’re loosing in the next few minutes, faster respawn points are always worth defending. All other points range from OK to negligible (buff wise). That doesn’t mean they’re not worth having, just that (as a principle) the important points are more worthy of your team’s time and resources, and thus worth defending more than the others.
Additionally, if your team is winning on one side, but loosing on the other, your team runs the risk of loosing undefended trenches from behind them, on the side they’re winning. If this happens, and there’s no longer a clear line between your HQ (your edge of the map) and a blue trench, that trench becomes “cut off from HQ” and your team can’t spawn there to defend it, and thus will loose it soon, unless your team reestablishes connection. So, keep an eye on the map and see if there’s any weak spot on your side and defend it from encirclement, do however bear in mind that going all around the enemy team to encircle them is hard, and only a few enemies at most will come to attack, meaning that you’re not under much danger, and can afford exposing yourself more if it means being able to snipe at enemies from a distance.
This brings me to my next point. movement. So you’re in a trench that you think is worth defending. How do you move about. Of course, normal movement tips still apply, those being:

  • Don’t move weird, you stand out and it doesn’t make you much harder to shoot, just because you jump around and spin.
  • Run from cover to cover, standing in the open WILL get you killed.
  • Unless you’re close enough to see the enemy’s eyes, TAKE COVER FIRST, THEN SHOOT!

There are however a few more tactics and tips worth utilizing:

  • Be original. The trenches already have a lot of infrastructure to use while defending. While that’s nice and can be useful, it also provides the enemy with a VERY clear place to expect and shoot you. It might be worth using a seemingly less optimal piece of cover (e.g. a cannon, a wagon, a metal roof, an actual roof, a tree, bushes etc.) where the enemy won’t expect you as much as the pre-built defenses. Be careful however, because many unorthodox cover spots look good enough for cover but in reality are very exposed. Wagons are notorious “noob traps”, they look so appealing for cover, but often, either due to your gun sticking out, or a nearby hill, enemies can see you clear as day.
  • If you have a metal helmet on a sunny day, IT SHINES. Not much, but enough to make a suspicious shiny spot inside some distant bushes. Not much you can do about it, but you might notice some spots working better with other squads/uniforms, or in different weather. Your gun also flashes when firing, so… expect people to notice you if you’re shooting constantly, make accurate shots, don’t just shoot non-stop
  • The enemy doesn’t have Alzheimer’s. Staying in one spot will often make some keen players notice you, or just guess your location by the area they get killed by you. You’ll need to change spots once a while. Especially if an NCO finds you. they’ll send 15 shells directly on your butt.
  • If you decide to use the pre-built fortifications, DON’T STOP MOVING. Strafing left and right or using the “standup-shoot-crouch” method can make you much harder to shoot while shots are fired left and right. Soon enough somebody will get you though, so make sure you don’t do that for too long.
  • If you took a little damage, a bot found you, it’s ok just kill it. if a shot goes over your head every few seconds with a small pause in between, a player is aiming at you. HIDE!
  • Unused HMGs can work as excellent cover. If a HMG is not currently in use, the gun itself as well as the metal sheet can give you excellent protection from bullets as well as camouflage, if the HMG is in a position that overlooks an open area, it might be more worthwhile to use it just for cover and shoot with your rifle than using it. This brings me nicely to…


Basic Extras – Heavy Machine Guns

Unlike Verdun and its Light Machine guns carriers, Tannenberg only fields Heavy Machine Guns, which are stationary. This means that the machine guns available are in pre-planned locations and put in places the devs considered balanced. These machine guns are shown as dots with a small angle on the map. This is their field of view. This field of view, in most HMGs is REALLY SMALL, only about 40-50 degrees, and since they cannot move, this makes HMGs much worse than Verdun’s LMGs because they’re highly situational. Sure, if a swarm of enemies comes down a hill and you have a machine gun on the other end, you can mow them down in seconds. But this rarely is the case. Here then are a few notes on how to use them:

  1. Don’t be a bot. Bots just pick the gun up, hold down the trigger for a few seconds at the vague direction of the enemy and then either die or just sit there. Don’t do that. If you see a lot of enemies (or if you’re experienced enough, expect them) coming, pick it up, shoot the ones you see a few times (a burst of 5 shots usually is more than enough) and get out of that gun before you get shot/grenaded to pieces. Why the hurry? Because
  2. For “balance reasons” HMGs are usually very exposed from one or both sides. So, unless your sides are very well guarded, you’ll be sniped in no-time, because HMGs are both loud and dangerous enough for everyone around to notice. Additionally, after being spotted using the HMG, you need to get out fast because experienced players can see you through the hole you’re using to aim. This becomes harder the darker it is, so on sunny days you’ll get sniped twice as fast as moonlit ones.
  3. Real world history can help you a lot. Soldiers used to be afraid of using machine guns because snipers prioritized them, but also, machine guns were big enough to be VERY accurate. This made LMGs, MMGs, and HMGs popular sniper weapons. Follow your great grandparent’s example. Using a machine gun shooting one or two shots at a time, especially from a huge distance, makes you a formidable sniper without drawing too much attention. This isn’t always possible, I’ve only done this successfully in the Carpathians, Dobrudja, Przemyśl, Romania, and the Baltic, using the large differences in height as well as the large open areas.


Intermediate – Strongholds

This is overall very obvious as an idea, but difficult in practice, thus the intermediate level.
Defending a specific trench/gun in the map is all about stopping enemies from entering; There’s nothing stopping you from doing that from outside the point itself. This is generally only worth doing around the main point(s) of the map and maybe the reduced respawn timer point, which due to their value will always have defenders inside and a lot of enemies outside. What makes a specific hole/tree/house good enough to leave the valuable trench and protect it from the outside? Many things, actually. No stronghold is good enough to have all of the positive attributes, but here’s a list of good things a spot can have. Keep in mind that the better the stronghold, the more known it is and the more outstanding it is, making enemies mindful of you.

  • Curveball. If the spot you’re in isn’t particularly noticeable, you might be able to escape the enemy’s notice, allowing you to shoot while not getting shot at. Additionally, not being inside the point, allows you to dodge most bombardments and gas attacks.
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  • Better view/ altitude. by definition, a trench is an bellow ground level. This will often mean that your view is limited, creating blind spots or cause you to peak out and expose yourself.
  • Better defense. This is mostly true of houses, but can be said of other spots. Many times a spot next to a point may allow you to keep your flanks completely secure, and let you focus entirely on what’s in front of your gun.
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  • Second line of defense. When you fail to defend, and enemies start capturing the point, your team will try to rush and stop them before they capture it completely and can start spawning on it. This will definitely lead to more dead allies than enemies, because that’s how rushing works. But for that minute or so that the enemy is capturing, they can’t afford many losses there. So, many enemies will also rush to reinforce them. This is where you come in. A stronghold as a second line of defense is good if it can at the same time kill enemies rushing in to help, and also take pot-shots at the enemies inside that get cocky and try to poke their heads out.
  • Sniper nests. These aren’t just a little farther than the point, these can be on the other side of the map, at your spawn even. There aren’t many GREAT sniper nests, but Carpathians has a few and so do some other maps. Sniper nests must keep you almost completely covered, except for the head (which could use some camouflage), but let you see a really large or really important part of the battlefield.
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Intermediate – Map awareness

There’s not much to say here other than that you need to train yourself to be aware of your surroundings. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind:

  • If you’re inside a trench defending it, if you’re looking out for opponents trying to break in, always be aware in case the blue colour of your trench begins to flash. If that happens it means some enemy is now inside. That enemy is a much larger threat than enemies outside, and you need to kill them before they kill you. They might be coming sneakily with their rifle, they might be rushing you with a melee weapon, they might come running with a pistol in hand. Keep your eyes and ears sharp. Any hint as to their whereabouts or their approach is a hint they don’t have about you. The element of surprise is key here.
  • If you’re playing as NCO, you need to both do your soldier duties AND constantly call for support. This not only requires you to keep a timer on your head for when you need to find a phone, but also to go to said phones at the correct times both so that you don’t get shot, and that your phone has the maximum impact it can have. If you’re in a trench defending, WHEN to visit a phone is relatively simple. It’s a few moments after you killed the last of what seems to be a wave. this was likely a spawn of bots and players that’ve just spawned and died. Go fast, because if you go when all is quiet, they might spawn exactly when you leave. You also need to make a quick decision by glancing at the map to make an impactful call. If you have bombardment, bombing the main point if it’s contested or occupied is usually good enough, with the others you really need experience to make a good call.
  • If you’re playing the third role (gunner/support/ammo carrier) you always have ammo on you, do visit your teammates, they might need a few bullets. You also can reload HMGs. Some of those, like the Cossack support have powerful abilities (access them with Q). Some deploy phones (incredibly powerful), some deploy ammo crates. DEPLOY THEM.
  • Grenediers, you’re the most offensive of your squadmates, if an enemy sniper is giving your team trouble, take them out. you have both melee, grenades, and rifles. If anyone can, it’s you. Also, the trees are your natural habitat, due to hiding you while leaving large enough gaps to throw a grenade. Finally, if the enemy is in a trench, grenades can save you or at least make you a kamikaze.


Advanced – Smoke and gas: making the best of a bad situation

The Advanced part of this guide is mostly about things that are highly situational and not always useful, but there’s not a lot of things one won’t have figured out after 50 hours in this game, that being said, let me start with this.
Especially if you’re holding down the main point, especially when there’s only one in the map, you’ll find your trench almost permanently ga*sed, smoked, bombed, or all of them simultaneously. Obviously, there’s not much you can do about it. Sure, you keep an ear out for the distinctive weezing sound of shells falling and you likely already know to crouch to avoid having your head on ground level. But there’s more you can do with gas and to a lesser extent smoke.
Firstly, if there’s enough light, you might be able to look into the smoke to discern shaddow patterns moving a certain way. usually that’s the enemy. This is usually hard to do and you probably have more pressing matters to attend to, but it is a trick you can use especially if you’re in a spot where the enemy is likely to jump inside.
It’s worth remembering the cla*sic trick of laying down with a bayonet or crouched by a corner with a sword, but also, if you’re playing as Infanterie, tell your NCO (or better yet, be that nco) to use the Q+RMB that makes the squad invisible to recon planes. This makes those tactics even more effective.
One last thing about gas, it might be worth getting accustomed to keeping your gas mask on at all times. This is significantly easier with entente (especially with the Romanians whose masks don’t even stand out), but central powers might be able to use that distinctive Russian mask white Pinocchio nose to their advantage.

Advanced – The use of altitude

In my experience, a higher altitude is often a disadvantage against good players. Yes, mowing down inexperienced people or bots from a hill is really fun, but a good player can be sneaky from bellow and blend with the environment. Here’s how I like to use low ground

  1. Kill impatient players. if you have a good position, you inevitably get cocky with kills and try to enlarge their field of vision, at which point their helmet pops out. (Maximum resolution and graphics here can make a huge difference, unfortunately).
  2. If the altitude difference is large enough, gas is to your advantage. Align yourself so that the enemies coming down have the sky as background and they create shadows when approaching, while you don’t
  3. If you can, find a spot that has a roof and a wall in front of you. Because you’ll have the dirt behind you, you can both camouflage yourself very well, as well as hear the sound of bullets hitting behind you, letting you know when somebody is trying to get you. Just be mindful of your helmet, which when the sun is high, shines bright if it’s metal, especially the Prussian helmet (of Infanterie)


Advanced(?) – Crouch is better?

For this I cannot tell if it’s the game or just me, but it seems to me like the playermodel, when crouched, makes the required part of the head to peak over a trench slightly smaller. What I mean is that I believe that the way the player holds the gun when in the crouched position puts the gun closer to your face and can leave you slightly less exposed when peaking. I’ve not tested this extensively, but it’s just a thing that feels true to me.
The prone position (laying down) is similar to this, but has other downsides; namely that you can’t reload (or even chamber a round) and move, and also that your body sticks out sideways. Especially in holes in the ground a prone soldier often bugs out a bit and shows from certain angles.
These have led me to the strange conclusion of “if you can afford to be crouched, do so”. If you have a different opinion, please put it in the comments, I’d love to read and even add contributions here.

Final notes

In the end, what really works best, is your own refined playstyle, spots, guns and equipment. Just remember:

  • Run straight to cover.
  • Cover first, shoot later.
  • HMGs will get you killed quick.
  • Smoke in front, not on trench (unless you plan on a melee fight).
  • Keep those phone calls coming.
  • Don’t overexpose yourself.
  • Don’t camp the same spot, the enemy isn’t stupid.

I’ll keep an eye out for tips you feel should be included or with which you disagree with in the comments.

I hope you enjoy the How to play defense – Tannenberg guide. This is all for now! If you have something to add to this guide or forget to add some information, please let us know via comment! We check each comment manually!

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