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Best Practices

Effective tactics will be listed here, as they become common place. Different terrain and unit constellations will require adjustments, particularly if there is no core, or the planet is covered by lava, but some tactics have generally been shown to be more effective than others.

Even so, these are not fixed rules (even if they sound like it). If the situation warrants it, unconventional approaches may give you an edge. When you are reading this, however, you are probably new to the game, and should start by following these tactics until you have a deeper understanding of why they work (most of the time).

Early Game

This is when you lack pretty much everything, particularly time. You're living off your minerals reserves, have little knowledge of the surrounding natural resources, lack energy and fuel, and see virtually nothing of the terrain. Many matches are decided during this stage.

Crucial Tactics

  • Start building a vehicle plant early, ideally in round 0.
  • Your initial generator can supply only one more active building (luckily the vehicle plant doesn't need energy, but additional mines will). Start building one or two additional generators, ideally surrounding a single clear cell of same height, to eventually place a reactor core there.
  • Build one laboratory such that you can later place at least two more next to it to form a triangle. Due to the proximity bonus of labs, a triangle is the smallest benefitial constellation, but building more than one at this stage is usually a dangerous waste of resources.
  • Build defense towers early, possibly to the point where you have one terraformer dedicated to this task from the start. Observe the range of your turrets. Make sure defense towers can see where they can hit.
  • Build lots of mines, but do not risk your terraformers (and/or mines) by leaving them alone in unobserved territory. A lost terraformer is a terrible toll during this stage. Distant resource clusters might be too exposed/unknown to claim, even if your surveyor somehow managed to get through unscathed. Generally, if assumed reachable by your enemies, build towers or deploy tanks first, then construct the mines. Such expansion is always a gamble but you can tweak the odds.
  • Tanks attack on their own if an attack is considered safe. Unless you require a particular attack pattern due to initiative or focused fire, it is often better to issue movement commands only. Cannon tanks will always fire at the start of a round if the attack on a hostile unit is safe, regardless of whether they are on the move (cannon attacks don't hinder motion, and vice versa). Artillery on the other hand requires the vehicle to remain stationary. If issueing attack commands manually, keep in mind that some (e.g. cannon) tanks can fire multiple times per round.

Situational Tactics

  • Tank trajectories benefit from elevation. Even one level of height difference compared to your opponent can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes it can be benefitial to build artificial elevations, and put your tanks on top.
  • Manually navigate your surveyor if you are in proximity of assumed dangerous areas. The automatic routing can only react to things you can actually see. A red Nexus base marker is not regarded by surveyor routing.
  • Build a fuel container to bridge shortage of fuel, and (temporarily) run more generators. Backup storage is generally cheap to build, and may be useful early on.
  • Claim nearby mountains, and place tanks on top, even (or especially) if it requires terraforming to get up there. These can be very easy to defend, particularly once you have artillery tanks.
  • Dwarven mentality: Dig down early (4 layers or more), and build your entire base beneath the ground. Hard to launch an offense from, harder to find and attack. In highly competitive scenarios this tactic can be used to simply disappear early on, having others fight it out above ground while you can undermine their mines, and eventually detonate their bases from below. Note that this tactic is slow, and not useful if you have just one enemy that anticipates such. It does pretty much lock out the AI, however. Beware of lava.
  • Walls (two levels or higher) represent an effective means to keep the AI out. Everything except surveyors can see about one cell behind a wall, but not farther (Important: this also applies to your own units). Vehicles cannot climb more than one level so they cannot get over the wall, and the AI will not consider attacking the wall itself unless it detects your units on (or directly behind) the wall. Later on, you will want to place towers on the wall. This transition can be tricky.
  • Vehicle stores enable instant vehicle transportation to remote stores. They are also cheap to build, and preserve stored units upon destruction if enough other stores remain. It is often useful to build one directly next to your vehicle plant(s) and set its/their gathering point to the store.
  • Claim Nexus Ports beneath blue goal markers. Build next to them to conquer them. Apart from being a game goal, they also provide useful resources. If distant, assume others had the same idea. Note that until it is yours, the port is owned by the Nexus (AI) faction, and it will see your construction attempt. If the AI already has mobile units, and is not tied up elsewhere, it will move in your direction.
  • It may not appear that way, but the radar vehicle is the single most dangerous unit type the AI has. Everything it discovers is memorized. A hoverrader suddenly standing in the midst of your base is a harbinger of doom. Keep them at range, actively hunt them if necessary.

Don'ts

  • Stay clear of red Nexus Base markers; at least until you have a working defense perimeter. Give them a wide berth (about the distance between any two markers/Nexus Ports).
  • Do not send your terraformers alone into distant, unexplored terrain. This is a recipe for terraformer loss, and possibly disaster.
  • Do not try to build planes early on. While this may appear to give you an immense edge, planes are simply too expensive to build at this stage, and will cost precious research time to even be able to build. A terraformer building a plane factory will be tied up for a long time, and not contribute to your station security.
  • Do not enter alliances with people you do not trust. As soon as you accept an invitation, every alliance member will know where you are. The alliance does not protect you, even if it is not immediately dissolved.
  • While this may appear promising or even crucial, rushing way out of your defense perimeter into distant, possibly unobserved territory to claim contested Nexus Ports usually ends badly. It's always better to be the one with the tank on the nearby mountain than the one that hastily built a storage next to the port but failed to establish sufficient defense in time. Everyone can see where the Nexus Ports are. Assume your enemies expect you to go for them.

Mid to End Game

Usually, when you get here, you have a decent tower network, vehicle plants, lots of mines, and start wondering what to build with that terraformer that just completed its jobs. Usually you have a good idea of where your enemies are, your defense/offense is somewhat balanced, and the battle fronts are semi-stable.

Tactics

  • Put units to sleep that you don't need right now, so you can focus on units that really need your attention (use the space key a lot). If available, put mobile units into vehicle stores so you can deploy them instantly at any other store.
  • Make sure your air defense is solid (place enough anti aircraft vehicles/towers).
  • Build a plane factory or two.
    • Try to gain air-superiority by deploying raptors.
    • Observe large areas by placing a carpet of sensor drones.
    • uranium300 (depending on configuration) enable nuclear air-to-ground attacks. If you fight above ground (and even if you don't), try to carve out a path to deploy bombers above hostile terrain.
    • Planes can be spawned, or landed into vehicle stores. This way, they can be deployed in remote locations on demand.
  • Use surveyor vehicles and towers to make sure nobody undermines your base.
  • If you intend to do so with your enemies, now is a good time to start digging, and researching the bomb turret. Dig deep (5 levels+), so regular hostile units can't see you. Use surveyors to scan into the ground. Beware of enemy surveyors.
  • Start accumulating uranium and fuel in uranium storages and fuel containers. Both are prone to explode if destroyed while non-empty, so either place them away from your core structures, or such that they are near impossible to attack.
  • If you have sufficient uranium, EMP launchers can be very effective against enemy radars and launchers.
  • Build roads and bridges to connect your empire. Vehicle stores may get blown to bits. Cargo planes can also be used to quickly transport mobile units.
  • Build at least some heavy/cat terraformers as they build/dig twice as fast.
  • Have a standing heavy/cat artillery+cannon (+radar) army, even if it isn't needed right now. Cannon tanks are the most effective hunters, and tend to not live long, so build most of those. Store them in vehicle stores.
  • Multiple vehicle plants are a good thing to have right now.
  • Construct large areas filled with laboratories. Once done with unlock-research, configure the four most important endless topics (usually radar/artillery/missile launcher range, or heavy/cat health).
  • Claim as many mountains as you can by putting artillery+vehicle store+AA on top. If you drill caves into them from a well protected side, those places are easily accessible (by you), well protected, and hard to observe from the outside. For perfect security add a couple sensor drones, and have a raptor on stand-by.
  • To crack such a location there are a number of (bad) options:
    • Research heavy base or hoverbase health to rediculous levels, then rush a larger number of cannon tanks up the mountain, possibly in secluded paths constructed by a terraformer. The mountain peak can hold a limited number of tanks, each with a limited number of attacks per round. Also, the sensory of the defending party down to the valley may be partially blocked by the mountain itself. If the defending party has bombers on stand-by, this is a lot harder, possibly requiring mobile AA or raptors.
    • Try to position an EMP tank such that the defending party cannot see it, but the top of the mountain is in attack range. Fire blindly. Good luck.
    • If the mountain is high enough to be in near-horizontal range of raptors, and the defending party cannot prevent the approach via their own, your raptor(s) can easily outgun even stationary AA towers.
    • Dig a tunnel, then nuke the mountain.
    • Try to determine the range of enemy AA, possibly via sensor drones, then position a bomber just out of range of it. Nuke the mountain. If the defending party notices this, most likely the bomber will be attacked by a raptor before it can fire. Otherwise, expect the mountain to be gone alongside your bomber.
    • All of the above.