Rush (video gaming)

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For the League of Legends player, see Rush (video gamer).
Not to be confused with Rush (video game).

In video games, rushing is a battle tactic similar to the blitzkrieg or the human wave attack tactics in real-world ground warfare, in which speed and surprise are used to overwhelm and/or cripple an enemy's ability to wage war, usually before the enemy is able to achieve an effective buildup of sizable defensive and/or expansionist capabilities.


In real-time strategy (RTS), real-time tactical (RTT), squad-based tactical shooter (TS), and team-based first-person shooter (FPS) computer games, a rush is an all-in alpha strike, fast attack or preemptive strike intended to overwhelm an unprepared opponent. In massively-multiplayer online first-person-shooters (MMOFPS), this also describes the masses of hundreds of players in massive, unorganized squabble in effort to win by gross numerical superiority. In these contexts, it is also known as swarming, mobbing, goblin tactics or zerging, referring to the Zerg rush tactic from StarCraft. In games where counter-strategies are difficult or ineffective, it is sometimes known as cheese. In fighting games, this style of play is called rushdown. In sport games, this style of play is called blitz or red dog. This also has a different meaning in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and competitive online role-playing games (CORPGs), where characters frequently deploy summoned creatures (pets) for use in mob control tactics known as mob control, sapping tactics known as minion bombing, or use of tactics that involve repeatedly throwing themselves (dying and reviving) at a boss mob. Collectible card games (CCG) and trading card games (TCG) can employ a strategy of weening, flooding or aggroing the opposing player with small, cheap and expendable targets rather than strong, well-coordinated units.


The common alternatives and counter-measures to rushing are:

  • Turtling (building strong fortification defenses combined with mass firepower using artillery and aircraft units, and sending out an advanced force projection army later in the game).
  • Steamrolling (creating rapid deployment of "expansionist outposts") to fuel a booming economy and using it to purchase better (and more expensive) units and technology trees than the enemy, thereby achieving rapid dominance which is referred to as a "boom" or "shock and awe".)
  • Because rushing strategies depend to a limited extent on the map employed in a game, the map selection can factor into a counter-strategy for rushing. For example, on a larger map, a player intending to use a rushing strategy will typically have to travel further to reach an opponent's base, which can allow the intended rush target additional time to produce or create units or structures to counter the oncoming rush. In a very limited number of cases, maps that prevent certain types of rushes due to their geography or other built in factors may also be used. One common example of this is a map that starts all players out on individual islands, eliminating the possibility of a ground rush.
  • In rare cases, parties privy to a game where rushing is a realistic strategy will observe a gentlemen's agreement in which the parties refrain from using rush tactics or impose a limited amount of time at the start of a game during which attacking other players is prohibited to allow for all players to build up some kind of force to attack opponents or defend their base. For this reason, it is usually rare to see the strategy employed outside of LAN or inter-clan games.

Strategy games and tactical games[edit]

In strategy games, to perform a rush, the attacking player focuses on quickly building a large number of units (or some very rare and potent early game units) early on in the game with the hopes of swarming the opponents before they can defend themselves; this is to catch them off-guard and often to cripple the opponent's economy structures. In the majority of cases, these units are fast and cheap to enable larger numbers and opportunistic attack strategies, but they may sometimes be chosen to exploit a particular weakness of the enemy. The player who rushes may sacrifice options such as long-term resource gathering, defense, or immediate research up the tech tree to opt instead for a quick strike, usually putting the rushing player at a severe disadvantage should the rush be unsuccessful.

A successful rush usually attempts to disrupt the resource gathering of the defending player or annihilate that player entirely. The rush is a risky tactic. If the rush is successful, then the player may have won the game or significantly set his or her opponent back; if the rush fails, then the rushing player may have lost valuable time and resources that would have been better spent on research, building defenses, and building more powerful units. A rush can also be considered a mass attack with primarily only one type of unit used, and depends on overwhelming numbers and force to succeed. The rush is often a suicidal attack (for the units involved); rushing units are often expected to die, but to nevertheless benefit the player initiating the rush by disrupting the opponent's operations.

The term "rush" is often preceded by a word describing the type of unit used in the rush, and falls broadly into the category of normal early attacks ("rushes") and all-in attacks ("cheese"). For example, in the game StarCraft, a Terran player may use a Marine rush (or in some cases an SCV rush), a Protoss player may use a Zealot rush, and a Zerg player may use the infamous Zergling rush (often called a Zerg Rush). The units used were almost always cheap, easy to produce, and weak compared to other units.

Occasionally, the term is applied to the different, but related tactic epitomized by the Tank rush present in the Command & Conquer series since Command & Conquer: Red Alert. The tank rush differs in the units are neither cheap nor easily produced, but in a sufficient group they can be nigh unstoppable. Similar to the StarCraft etymology, the term is often altered according to the units involved, such as the Rhino tank rush of Red Alert 2, the Flash tank rush of Total Annihilation, the Samurai Ship rush of Total War: Shogun 2, the Disintegrator or Bike rush of Command & Conquer 3, and the Banshee rush of StarCraft II. This alternate application can also be found in many gaming communities. Some rushes rely on units that may not be cheap or quick to produce but have a particular advantage such as flight or invisibility that requires specialized defenses to counter.

Fighting games[edit]

In fighting games, rush down or cheesing is a common tactic. Usually a player uses a move, or a series of offensive moves, to overwhelm the opponent. There are many ways to do this in fighting games, however, in general cheesing follows two forms.

The first form is usually an all out relentless attack by a player which can be maintained by using any and all attacks at the player’s disposal (button mashing) or through a memorized offensive combination routine. This tactic is usually more effective on beginners who have not mastered defensive stances and counterattacks. Beginners will tend to either try to match the more experienced player measure for measure, (and fail due to unfamiliarity with controls) or "clam up" in a complete defensive posture leaving them vulnerable to more powerful defense-breaking attacks. Sometimes, this tactic is used as a feint or an opening test of a player’s ability, rather than a style of play. Experienced gamers, in general, will be used to countering rush down techniques without sacrificing offense.

Another popular type of cheesing involves a manipulation of game mechanics. In this type a player uses rapid offensive maneuvers coupled with manipulation of the games design. For example, a player might rush down in hopes of trapping a player against the "corner", or some physical boundary developed by games so as to cut down their opponent’s ability to elude the assault. Another example is using graphic or timing discrepancies to incapacitate an opponent. For example, the game might have a series of "quick attacks" which might throw an opponent to the game's floor; the modeling of the player who is floored by an attack might be relatively slow. Players who are floored are usually unable to defend themselves until they're back in their set position. As such an opponent can use an attack to "floor" an opponent and then once floored can repeatedly use quick attacks to seemingly keep the opponent floored (and unable to defend themselves) indefinitely. A prominent example of this was in Mortal Kombat, in which the low level sweep kick could be used to keep the player semi permanently floored. This type of cheesing is frowned upon by inexperienced gamers, and may cause players to refuse to play with the offender.

Alpha Strike[edit]

An alpha strike denotes an all-out attack launched in hopes of achieving a decisive advantage.[1] This is usually considered a risky tactic, as if the attacker fails to gain a decisive advantage, it can leave the attacker's units overextended and vulnerable to counter-attack.

The term may have originated from Vietnam-era U.S. military jargon denoting an aircraft carrier-based combat mission where "all aircraft from a single carrier were organized into one strike group for a mission against a given target".[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sirlin, David (2006). Playing to Win: Becoming the Champion. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-4116-6679-5. 
  2. ^ Michel III, Marshall L. (2007). Clashes: Air Combat Over North Vietnam, 1965-1972. Naval Institute Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-59114-519-6.