Defense is always high on the list of good things to do for winning Commanders
in mutiplayer scenarios.
For Skirmish players, it is the No. 1 priority. Humans might pay attention to other things than pounding
you right out of the shoot, but the AI comes gunning for you right from the onset.
While many defensive tactics are obvious, there are a few tricks and tips that
can really help you get the
most bang out of your defensive buck.
How important are missile towers?
In the opening phases of the game they are critical. They cost about a quarter of the cost of a Light Laser Tower
and defend very well against air attacks. While many players squander time and resources building L.L.T.s first,
you will see nary a L.L.T. in any of our games. Instead, building a few missile towers and moving straight into
heavy laser towers is normally more appropriate.
Building three or four missile towers right after you get your first construction unit is always a wise choice.
The one exception to the spurning of L.L.T.'s comes in a few Skirmish maps
where the AI is serious about doing
nothing but penetrating your base. Then a couple of L.L.T.'s in front of each group of four to five missile
towers can often make the difference due to the higher hitting power of the L.L.T.
Later in the game, missile towers still play a critical role. Though they are
very weak against strong or
numerous ground-attack waves, they play the devil with air attackers. Even a player who isn't trying to
Porcupine will still want to build a good number (10-20) of missile towers to help defend his base.
A serious Porc is looking at a veritable ring of these useful tools (40-60).
My missile towers keep getting munched by invading ground forces.
This is always a problem. Missile towers are cheap but weak. However, proper building and spotting techniques
can help quite a bit. First, build your missile towers in clusters of three to four. This way when a cluster
starts getting overrun, nearby clusters are eating up the attackers. Next, plant a heavy laser tower in front
of your missile towers in the direction of expected enemy action. Not only do the heavy lasers dish out more
damage, but they take a lot more as well. The invading ground forces will concentrate on the heavy laser and
tend to leave your missile towers until they have neutralized the greatest threat.
The most important way to help your towers is to increase their spotting range.
This is so important we
will give it its own number.
How can I see things farther away to target them?
If you look closely, you will note that each of your emplacements has only a limited spotting range.
However, the range of the weapon, particularly missile towers, is normally much greater than the spotting
range. In order to get maximum bang for your buck, you must increase your spotting range so your weapons
are capable of targeting the enemy at longer ranges. Defensive units can normally target the enemy before
they come into range to use their weapons.
Increasing your spotting range relies on using spotters -- usually small Kbots in the opening segments of the
game.Level 1 artillery Kbots are good because they can dish out and take a reasonable amount of damage.
To get the most spotting use out of them, set them about a quarter of a screen ahead of your fixed defenses.
However, you'll soon notice an annoying problem: your spotters keep getting picked off. This is where spotting
aircraft come in.
When you get an Aircraft Plant up and running and have a couple of spare clock ticks, it is a good idea to crank
out a few spotter planes or fighters and assign them to patrol the perimeter of your base. This increases the
spotting range of your base defenses. Further, these aircraft are quick and nimble and hard to destroy, compared
to your ground-based spotters. If you haven't been using spotters, see how much of a difference it makes in the
effectiveness of your defensive perimeter.
Another spotting tactic, though more expensive and generally less useful, is
to build cheap buildings at
the edge of your visual range. When the enemy begins to overrun those buildings, they will expose
themselves to your defenses. This is fine in theory, but a smart opponent would use units with
long firing ranges to pick off spotter emplacements, like mines, from outside their visual range.
You would likely never get a good spotting on them for your defenses and the building would become
nothing more than a waste of time and materials. We definitely recommend using mobile units as spotters.
What's the most effective way to keep my base in good repair?
Those long battles start to take a toll on your base, even if you are successfully repelling wave after wave
of attackers. It becomes time-prohibitive to individually repair all of your damaged defensive structures.
The obvious way to effect repairs is to set construction units on patrol to
start repairing your base. But,
as we mentioned earlier, Kbots have a bad tendency to wander off grabbing metal in fire zones. We have also
found that sometimes they develop a mind of their own and ignore things that need repairing. On the other hand,
planes make excellent patrolling repair units. They almost always repair the things they should and don't go
outside of their patrol zone looking for trouble. In a fully mature base, most of our best players have at
least three roving construction aircraft wandering their base at any given time.
The only problem we have found with this is that patrolling construction bots and planes have a bad habit
of helping to pitch in on new construction projects. Normally, this is very helpful. But when you are desperately
trying to simultaneously add to your base defenses and repair old ones, it is really annoying to find that your
roving repairmen are solely helping with the new construction.
We haven't found a clean solution to this yet, and are just telling you about
it as a heads-up. If you are
wondering where your repair dudes are, then look to your new construction, pull them off and give them
I am sending out groups of units to battle and they come back damaged. What's the best way to repair them?
While roving base repair is a good thing, sometimes you will be generating groups of 20 or more casualties at
once. Planes are a good point for this. If you send out groups of planes just to attack something and then bring
them home, you have a lot of damaged planes landing in your base.
For serious wave-attack players, we recommend putting a construction plane
or two on patrol on an open
area near or in your base, then always putting your damaged units there. This will quickly get them up to speed.
The one downside is that you need to be careful when selecting these units to send back out to make sure that
you don't send the repair units with them.
When should I use the Aircraft Repair Platforms to help me with repairs?
Aircraft Repair Platforms and Carriers both provide a valuable service in helping repair damaged aircraft.
However, there are a couple of points to think about in using them. First, note that you normally don't
get a single plane damaged, you get a bunch of them damaged. That means multiple Air Repair facilities,
and that can be a real hassle in time, effort and space.
However, how you using your planes? Are you mainly using them for hit-and-run raids or long-term patrols
over hostile territory? For hit-and-run raids, then the open field/construction plane option discussed in
3.4 might be much more cost-effective for you. But Aircraft Repair Platforms and Carriers provide one real
service that the 3.4 solution doesn't: planes come to them automatically when damaged. A serious bennie.
Generally, if you are using lots of planes to patrol, you should build a few Aircraft Repair Platforms.
For sea battles, Carriers provide an even better option, as they have radar and excess power as well as
What is the best defensive structure?
That really depends on the player. Some people like to Porc out and others
base defenses. Some love Dragon's Teeth and others ignore them. However, here are a few
of our most popular combos:
The most basic defensive emplacement of the Happy Puppy Destructive Testing
Team is what
we lovingly call the Hard Spike. The Spike is three missile towers with a heavy laser placed
right in front. All of these units are placed right on top of each other. Through exhaustive
scientific testing (well, sorta) we have determined that Spikes combine long-range pain with
equal cover from ground and air attacks.
Most of our players also have a deep fondness for batteries of plasma cannon.
A serious Porc
might want to consider one battery for every two Spikes, though 4-to-1 is a much saner proportion
for the rest of us.
What about Annihilators and Doomsday Machines?
To a person, we have decided that Annihilators and Doomsday Machines are highly overrated. While they pack
an incredible long-range punch, they take lots of time and resources to build and all attacks will naturally
focus on them. They also have an annoying problem of taking quite a while to kick into operation, providing
a nice window of opportunity to take them out with expedient air strikes.
If you are going to use these weapons, we highly recommend setting a construction
unit to guard them, as any
enemy with a whit of sense is going to hammer them at every opening.
What's my best early defense?
In the opening moments of the game, a few anti-air Kbots can make a very big
difference. Against humans,
they slow the information going to the enemy, since most humans like to send out a few scouting planes to
take a measure of their opposition. Four or five Jethros can take out those pesky spies and can also move
as your base expands, allowing you to provide anti-air defense for each new area of your base, in turn
allowing you extra time before constructing missile towers.
Against the AI, the effect is almost the same, but in some missions the AI
will start out with more powerful
planes, and Jethros or Crashers are forced to become your only quick way to defend your resources. This is
not a hard-and-fast rule, but it comes in handy.
Are Dragon's Teeth worth the effort?
In general, Dragon's Teeth offer very good defensive bang for the buck. They play the devil with Swarmers and,
properly used, can stop any ground-based attack from gaining momentum.
We here at the Happy Puppy Destructive Testing Team need to admit that we don't
use Dragon's Teeth enough.
We tend to play more wide open, slugfest style games, as opposed to properly channeling our enemies into
kill zones with Dragon's Teeth. But this doesn't mean that we don't appreciate the tactic.
When using DT's, remember that they take a while to build. The best way we
have found to get lines made
is to start two construction units on either end of a line and have them meet in the middle.
Also, make sure you have some long-range weaponry not too far behind your DT
lines. A good tactic your enemy
will use is to pull up a few long-range attackers, such as missile vehicles, just outside of your DT line and
start hammering your base. The logic is simple; if the DT line stops them from getting in, it stops you from
getting out. A couple of plasma batteries at the right place are the cure for this.
Things are shooting at me from outside of my visual range. How do I stop it?
This is probably the biggest defensive problem a beginning player will have.
For your weapons to auto-target,
one of two conditions must exist: one of your units must have a visual fix on the target or the target must
be firing at you. In the second case, only the unit being attacked will fire back on the target.
However, you are going to get frequently pounded by things outside your visual
range. To counter this, use
your radar extensively and use the radar map to manually target your weapons on incoming enemies. If you are
consistent, particularly with plasma batteries, Doomsday Machines, Annihilators or artillery, you can often
down an offensive force before it ever reaches your base.