The Middle Game, which generally occurs between the 15-35 minute mark. This
is perhaps one of the broadest topics for TA, as there are so many options available
to carry out your plans for domination. This is when Level 2 units start to
make an entrance, and when sufficient defenses or units are available to protect
resources from raids. This part of the strategy
guide will focus on gaining the advantage to setup your end game assault in four sections. The skirmish,
killing the resource facility, the beginning of the air war and units of note for the middle game.
One of the more important aspects of the middle game is land control. Controlling more land has many advantages:
Enemy planes have more hostile territory to fly through, thus you have the
potential to fire more anti-air weapons at
them as they approach their target (really, the only way to stop a large bomber strike).
You have a serious advantage if your plasma artillery is in range of juicy enemy targets and the enemy's artillery is
not in range of yours. More room to spread out your key facilities. If the enemy can't use a few scouts to find all
your important structures, you'll last that much longer.
So how do you take more land?
Build units that are dedicated for killing other units at long range
The Samson/Slasher or Slasher/Crasher combos are still great for this job,
as you won't be facing that many enemy
Level 2 units at this point in the game.
Get proper radar coverage
If you can see where the enemy is coming from, you can intercept or move your
forces to defend. If you can see the
enemy on radar, but he can't see you, you'll have the advantage of being able to always fire at range to maximize
Know when to fall back
If you see two dozen Flashes coming at you (you do scout big radar movements,
right?) and you have two dozen Slashers,
falling back to your defenses while firing all they way will ensure that you come out on top. If you had eight Slashers
left over, that's eight more Slashers controlling the field for the next engagement, and a hoard of metal in easy reach
Killing the Resource Facility
It's usually during the beginning of the middle game that Geothermal Plants
have been completed and Fusion
Plants have begun being erected. Scouting becomes an important factor, as killing a resource facility gives you
a major advantage.
Geo's should be pretty easy to find -- you can either see them on the main
screen, or in the case of unmapped games,
the Geos are always in the same spot. Memorizing their location is a good idea.
Fusions will take a little more effort, as they're often buried at the back
of a base. So what's the easiest way
to take them out? I always recommend bombers over ground forces. Sure, you may be able to rush a few units to the
Geo early in hopes of killing it while it's still under construction. But from my experience against good players,
their Commander is always there guarding the Fusions, which are also usually fortified with Dragon's Teeth, so
bombing is often the only sure-fire way to go.
How many bombers will you need? That depends on which side you're playing and
how much AA is in the area. You can
usually kill a Geo in one pass with two Core Shadow bombers or three Arm Thunder bombers. However, if AA is going
to be high (e.g. a player using lots of Slasher/Samson units), I recommend four Shadows or five Thunders just to
make sure. Just remember that if you blow the bombing run, the enemy will repair his units, and you'll have to make
all the bombers all over again.
The Fusion is a bit heavier armored, often requiring five Shadows or six Thunders
to nail in one pass. In a heavy
AA environment, I'd recommend seven to nine Shadows or 10-12 Thunders.
Psychological note: On a map with an accessible Geo vent, most players will
get the Geothermal Plant up as soon
as possible to power the production of a Fusion Plant or lots of aircraft. If you keep bombing the Geo every
five minutes or so, your enemy will never get his Fusion Plant or his air force up before it's too late. You'd
be surprised how many players stubbornly keep pumping resources into creating a new Geo after you've blown it
up two or three times in a row.
The Beginning of the Air War
The middle game is also the point in which many players begin building air
plants. Aircraft are often the deciding
factor in a battle, so the faster you get them up, the more damage you can be dealing to your enemy's infrastructure.
Scout planes come out of a Level 1 plant, and they are, without a doubt, the
best scout unit in the game. They are
cheap, mobile and equipped with radar. They can get to places the other scouts cannot, and they can only be fired upon
by AA-enabled units. Couple the scouts with bomber production, and you have a quick way to kill key enemy targets.
The Level 1 plant also produces air transports (flying bombs anyone?), construction
aircraft (great for getting to an
area quickly for construction) and the Level 1 fighter aircraft. But you have to take the bad with the good here --
that Level 1 fighter may look nifty, but it has almost no effective use. Except, of course, dying and wasting resources,
which it does exceptionally well.
Things of note for middle game air power:
Like I said, it's a waste to build Level 1 fighters. The reasons are numerous
-- You can't stop bombers with them
because their weapons don't do enough damage. The fighters' relatively wide profiles almost beg AA units for a
direct hit, making them less effective, yet more expensive then scouts for recon. Level 2 stealth fighters can
eliver a severe beating to Level 1 fighters. And lastly, any investment in Level 1 fighters becomes unwise after
you have seven or eight of them in the air, because by that time your enemy might be starting to roll out his
stealth fighters from a Level 2 plant. Construction aircraft have half the build rate as a construction vehicle,
so it takes a while for them to do any work unassisted.
Transports can be used to steal enemy units, like enemy construction units that allow you to build enemy units.
Imagine having Flash tanks AND Goliaths at your disposal! Reclaiming the Level 1 factory for metal after
building an aircraft construction unit can go a long way in getting that Level 2 plant up faster. You can start
using advanced air tactics, which will be discussed in the next article about End Game strategies.
Middle Game Units
As in the last article, these are the supreme units of Level 1 skirmishing
on the battlefield, as they can concentrate
fire at long range, killing the enemy and quickly retreating. These units are a great way to start expanding into
territory. If the enemy decides to chase you out with anything other than AA units, let him. Retreat and fire on the
incoming units at the same time. When you have the advantage, move in and mulch them, reclaiming your lost
territory with a numbers advantage as you reinforce your units while the enemy is left to replace his.
The scout plane is the best unit for taking a look at what the enemy is doing,
especially when you have to get inside
his base defenses. A few patrolling outside of the enemy's radar range will alert you when the enemy is coming. They can
also be used to figure out where the enemy is expanding, too.
The best units for removing a key emplacement are bombers. Even the Level 1
bombers are effective in the late game,
with stealth fighters and Flakkers everywhere. Level 1 bombers simply deliver so much damage on their first pass, and
take so much damage to put down after detected, that almost all bombing runs of sufficient numbers will get some bombers
through to deliver a payload.
With a few Cans taking the battlefield quickly, Core can expand quickly into
Arm territory. A Core player will often not
have enough Slashers in outlying areas to prevent Flash tanks from killing a few metal extractors. However, a Can with a
few Slasher backups can make short work of any raiding tank force.
In general, guided missile forces that succeed in raiding you on the outskirts
of your territory indicate that you're not
keeping the enemy occupied -- he has time to micromanage a few units to harass you. The Can, with Slasher backups, will
come in handy in this situation, as their heavy armor will allow them to enter enemy territory and last long enough for
an effective counterstrike. As an added bonus, the Can's weapon is devastating. They can dish out some pain!
A long-range unit with mobility and speed, the Fido is an ideal Level 2 unit
to go with your Samson forces. Putting them
in the lead of your Samson force often makes the difference when you engage an equal number of Slashers. Often the enemy
will fire his first Slasher salvo by merely using the mini map radar signatures. The extra armor on the Fidos can often
make the difference in the first salvo exchange.
Small groups of Fidos also make excellent raiders, often able to kill a metal extractor before coming under fire.
The Panther is one of the best skirmishers in the middle game, with great acceleration,
good armor, a guided missile like
the Samson and a lightning gun for those unfortunate Level 1 units who get a bit too close. The only negative thing about
the Panther is its long build time, so make sure you're using assisted production. You can use Panthers in the same
hit-and-run role as the Slasher/Samson because of its incredible acceleration. The lightning gun can be used up close.
Of course there are many other units in the Level 2 factory, but those are
best used for base assault or late-game
skirmishing, as will be discussed in the next article.
As a side note: The Freaker/Zipper may be cool units, but they are expensive
and fragile. My advice is not to bother
with them in a serious game because:
Missile units chew them up bad.
They are weak -- if you use them as raiders, chances are you can use scouts just as easily for a fraction of the cost.
You could be using the advanced Kbot Lab for building better, less specialized units.
More plants are not the answer to creating more units. A single plant assisted
by construction units can produce units
just as fast as two plants. You'll end up saving metal by investing in cheaper construction units instead of a more
expensive new plant. For example, adding two construction vehicles to assist an advanced air plant is far cheaper and is
equivalent in total production to building a second advanced air plant.
Building an expensive unit?
Always have five or less of that expensive unit queued up. If you see scouts
fly overhead and then the bomber blips
right after, cut production on those units immediately. When a partially created unit is cancelled, you get all the
resources back. Losing the factory is bad enough, but you don't have to lose the metal you just put into that
Bored construction units?
You'd be surprised how often I see construction units idle in an enemy base.
Sometimes there's simply no room for a
construction vehicle to help assist unit production and sometimes you've let a construction unit simply run out of
commands. The solution? Always have construction units patrol after they've completed tasks. Queuing up a movement
back to your base and then a patrol line along your perimeter at the end of your unit's tasks has several advantages.
You always know where your constructions units are when they're not busy.
If they're patrolling around base defenses, even five seconds of repairs during an enemy attack can be the difference
between a 20-second repair job or a two-minute rebuild.
Auto-reclaim. Usually the place where wreckage accumulates is just outside your base defenses; a patrolling construction
unit will automatically reclaim any available metal or energy.