“Funneling,” “wiz-cutters,” “breaking the trash ring,” … We’ve heard it referred to in all manner of ways. For the purpose of this article I’m going to say, “funneling.” But more important than what we call it, everyone has seen the hallmarks of good and bad technique – even if they didn’t know what they were looking at. Still not sure what I’m talking about? Ok, imagine you’re a TH9 and you’re sending in your royals with 2 golems and 7 wiz and a jump to kill the enemy AQ. You drop your golems, and drop your wiz in a line behind them. A few seconds later, the jump goes down and then you release your royals. To your dismay, instead of heading towards the jump spell, they march off towards a gold collector on the perimeter! From there, as some say, “they go shopping.” Your attack is ruined. You post in clan chat, “Stupid KING!!!!”
Or, maybe you’ve seen the other case. Golems down with wiz following, then a jump, then royals, and miraculously the whole group falls into a neat formation and jumps in to start gutting the enemy base. You post in clan chat, “awesome job, Player X!” The question is: how can we get our troops to do that more often, and keep the King, Queen, or other non-defense targeting units predictably heading in? Let’s take a closer look.
First, I want to introduce a few concepts, and I’ll define them while I’m at it:
Funnel: a way of shaping your attack via specific drops of troops, so that your main group of non-defense targeting units moves into a specific direction of attack – usually into the base as opposed to walking the perimeter.
Breaks, or Funnel Breaks: buildings destroyed on either side of the drop point for your main group that prevents them from targeting a building in an undesirable direction.
Breach: assuming you are funneling into the enemy base, the point at which you want you main group to break walls, jump over, or otherwise enter.
Bread-crumbs: buildings left intact between your breaks that will lead you main group on a path towards, and into, the breach.
Outer ring, or trash ring: the ring of buildings that surround a base, which will lure non-defense targeting units to move around the perimeter rather than heading into the breach.
Having said all that, we can now say with some clarity that in order to successfully funnel, we need to first establish breaks, drop your key troops while there are still bread crumbs to the breach point, and then effect the breach. If you do all of this correctly, then you should have a the solid foundation for a good attack. Let’s look at each step in more detail.
The first step, although we haven’t mentioned it, is choosing your attack point. You shouldn’t have yet decided what troops you need, as depending on the base and the challenges it presents you may have to modify your KHC in order to make the attack happen. I suggest that when you’re scouting the base for an attack you look for the buildings that are going to give you difficulty funneling and try avoid those in selecting an attack point.
For instance, you wouldn’t want to choose an attack point centered on a collector that was flanked by three storages on either side. In this case, it may take a lot of time and resources to wear down the storages (high HP/tile density). In general, army camps are very helpful in funneling, especially if you can choose an attack point that has them on either side. They are easily destroyed, and are 5 tiles wide so they’re a natural break. So in our scouting the ideal location would be low hit point buildings, with army camps on either side, and a few low HP buildings in the middle we can use to lead us right up to our breach point.
But very often, especially at TH9 and 10, you need to make the attack point work even if the funnel doesn’t set itself up nicely. You have to make it happen. In this case, keep an open mind about your army composition. Don’t get it in your head that you have to use a standard troop build and hope it works. Is there an open defense that will draw your golems in early? Maybe you need to add two giants to tank for your wiz long enough for them to get the funnel breaks done. Maybe you need to use a couple of valks to break the funnel instead of wiz. These are just options, but the point is that you need to think through the details of this part of the attack.
Lastly, while you’re scouting, make sure you look to see which defenses are covering the outer ring. Are the buildings at your break point covered by a cannon and a mortar? Use a minion or two if so. Can you drop your arch or wiz to break the funnel in such a way that they can fire at the buildings just out of range from defenses? Drop them there. And of course, have a backup plan in case traps eliminate your troops breaking the funnel prematurely.
Once you’ve decided on the attack point, and you’ve started envision how your troops are going to head in, do a quick check and count out the distance between your drop point and the breach, or your bread crumbs. If you’re dropping 4 tiles from an army camp, and from there it’s 7 tiles to the archer tower at the breach point, then I would want my funnel breaks to extend out at least 12-13 tiles from the drop point (7+4=11, plus 2-3 for good measure). Go ahead and count it out and make sure your funnel breaks are wide enough to keep your key troops going in.
Now, you’re ready to build your army. The first question is: “I want this group to get into the base and kill the AQ – what troops need to get into the breach to make that happen.” Build those troops. The kind of standard is the King and Queen, two golems, and three to four wizards. Now look at your funnel. It goes without saying that if you’ve got to set up funnel breaks well away from your attack point, the units you use to break the funnel probably aren’t going to walk back towards the breach and go in with your team, so plan an extra 2-4 wiz (depending on the base) to get the funnel breaks done (NOTE: if not wiz, you can look at other combinations of units. Generally I don’t think it should take more than 16 space). So in this example, you would take your standard K, Q, 2 golems, and 4 wizards, and let’s say add 3 wizards as funnel breakers. In some other cases your attack point will have an open defense that will make your life difficult by drawing your golems in towards a central point, potentially leaving your funnel breakers exposed. In this case you may need to revert to two valks instead, or throw in a few giants further out to draw fire while you get the breaks established.
Now that the army is built, it’s time to attack. You draw out the clan castle, kill it, and start your KHC2. First the golems go down. They are spread apart far enough that they can cover for your funnel breaking wiz, but no so far that they won’t alert on the defense inside the base once the breach is open. Now your funnel breakers go down. Give them a second or two to start getting things broken. If you’ve got good bread crumbs, you can go ahead and drop your KHC in so they can start walking in. If you don’t have bread crumbs, and you need the KHC to walk across a bigger open space, you’ll need to be more patient with your funnel breaks.
If you are wall breaking, make sure all the defenses that could destroy them at the breach point are occupied with your other units. If it’s a jump, you’ve got less to worry about.
Here’s an example of a TH9 funnel gone wrong:
Now, what are some common errors we see that ruin a good funnel:
- The funnel breakers are dropped properly but are targeted by defenses without a tanking unit, and die before they can break the funnel.
- The funnel breakers are dropped as part of a big spam line of wiz that destroy the bread crumbs along with the funnel breaks, making the attack even riskier.
- The funnel breaks are done and they’re good, but the attacker trickles in his troops. As they march in, they destroy not only the bread crumbs but also the buildings just inside the breach point. By the time the BK and AQ go down, the inside of the breach point has no targets to draw them in, so they alert onto a building way off on the perimeter beyond the original funnel breaks (key troops need to go down while there are still buildings to draw them in).
Watch this attack to see a good example of funneling, including using giants to tank for wiz in order to ensure good breaks.
Funneling is a critical part of every TH9 and TH10 attack, and for many TH8 attacks as well. But don’t take for granted that if you drop your troops they’ll do what you’re hoping. The troops only have their AI, and it’s your job as the attacker to shape the base such that your key troops have no choice but to go where you want them to go. Give this part of your attack a little more deliberate thought, and you should expect to turn some of those two stars into winning attacks. ~CM