In general, any wargame, real-time or turn-based, has two fundamental levels for the player to consider: the
tactical and the strategic. The tactical level deals with winning individual small skirmishes or getting some
specific job done, such as maximizing Kbot production. The strategic level involves the overall way you go
about winning. This is the big picture stuff. Many people don't spend enough time thinking about the strategic
factors of any wargame. And in a game as unforgiving as TA, this can really be the long-term kiss of death.
You can be a great tactical player, but unless you start out with a strategy and a plan for executing it,
the details will pile up on you so fast that you end up getting hammered.
While most players will mix and match specific strategies to come up with the play style that works best
for them, we have broken down a few of the most common pure strategies that the Happy Puppy Destructive
Testing Team uses, along with their good and bad points to give you and idea of some of the things you
might want to incorporate into your strategic play. You might find it a good idea to try to play a "pure"
strategy for a few games to get a better feel for the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each game element
represented here. It will make you a better all-around player.
The Porcupine player is a base-defense specialist. A Porcupine doesn't send
out much in the way of
early attack or scouting parties and is less concerned with defeating his opposition than with becoming
invulnerable to attack. The idea is that if you are invulnerable, sooner or later the enemy will make
a mistake that allows you to get into their base and ruin their whole day.
The best player on our team is a Porcupine and wins about 90 percent of our
However, there are good points and bad points to pulling a Porcupine, and you need to know
them well before you start. First, Porcupines tend to have to build a fairly compact base in
order to get complete defensive coverage. This makes them more vulnerable to long-range artillery
fire, such as from the Arm Big Bertha, than some other players.
The next problem the Porcupine has to deal with, and probably the biggest hassle
of them all,
is the 500 unit limit. You can only have 500 units, including buildings, defensive structures,
mobile units and missiles. Now that seems like a lot if you are used to just playing the missions. But
start playing multiplayer against real operators and that 500-unit limit hits like a wall. A really
serious Porcupine defensive system for a good sized base can tie up 200 units just in the base itself.
That only gives you 300 units to go out and take the war to the opposition. And if they, heaven forbid,
are Porcupines themselves, then those units will need a special dispensation from the pope in order to
punch through your opposition's defensive perimeter.
The major good point of the Porcupine is that it takes one seriously hardcore attack to even think about getting
into your base if you don't make a blunder. In one particularly notable case, our favorite Porcupine player took
three back-to-back waves of 60 units and remained standing with enough defenses to win the game.
Another good point to the Porcupine is that while the base structure tends
to be somewhat vulnerable to
long-range artillery fire, odds are that the Porcupine player will get his Bertha up first. Since the Porc
isn't worrying much about sending out forays or building unnecessary mobile units, they tend to get their
Bertha up quicker, which, as we shall discuss later, is pretty much a sure win on smaller maps.
Overall, thinking Porcupine is a great option for the beginning player and
a solid option for even the most advanced
How do you Porc?
Basically, look at all of the details under the Defensive and Production sections
to come and use them liberally.
Don't let your base get any bigger than you can fully ring in defensive structures and don't start building anything
to send out on an attack until you have about 160 units in your base defenses, construction units and production
The Eagle is interested in exactly one thing: air superiority. The Eagle does
the minimum groundwork required
in order to produce airplanes and defend his air production facilities. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
Eagles, in general, win huge once they perfect their technique. There are some
serious drawbacks to putting 100+
air units into play. However on very large maps, Eagles dominate entirely. Even the most dedicated Porcupine or
Octopus might want to switch to an Eagle strategy on 20 x 20 or larger maps.
The good points about Eagles come mainly in mobility and all that comes with
it. Planes, even slow ones, are the
fastest things on the map besides a few underpowered scout units. That means the Eagle player can respond to threats
and project power more rapidly. A group of gunships in the right time and the right place can devastate an enemy column
and prompt a bout of cursing from most opponents.
Next, with a small sacrifice force, planes can at least get a good view of
an enemy base. While they will get chewed
up by a good air defense ring, Level 2 fighters will live long enough in enemy airspace to at least get a look into
an opponent's base. This is more than can be said for anything but the most overwhelming ground assault force trying
to get in on a Porc.
Eagles also tend to get visuals on the whole map and identify enemy positions
before anyone else. With their rabid
focus on getting planes in the air, they normally will have scouted the whole map in about the time more ground-oriented
players are getting their first air units up. And often by the time their slower opposition are managing to get airborne,
the Eagle has enough fighters on patrol to maul opponents long before they can field enough high-level planes to even
venture outside the confines of their own base's air-defense ring.
The bad points to Eagles are few, but serious. First, planes aren't as powerful
as ground forces. While that is hard
to say right after a group of 10 gunships have eaten half of your base, the right group of Level 2 Kbots would have
done the job a lot quicker. Under most conditions, 10 Fidos will eat a base more rapidly than 10 gunships.
Powerful planes are produced less rapidly than ground forces, and in a nasty
corollary, construction aircraft build
things less rapidly. Since the really serious Eagle minimizes his number of ground forces, and in more extreme cases
never builds ground forces at all, Eagles need to double up on construction aircraft in order to equal the building
rates of their mud-bound brethren.
How do I become an Eagle?
Well, the answer is pretty much as simple as asking the question. Build planes.
Build lots of planes.
If you are really serious about being an Eagle among Eagles, don't ever build a ground vehicle at all.
As a matter of a fact, it should annoy you quite a bit that your Commander doesn't have wings.
Eagles don't build just one airfield, they build at least three Level 2s and
have them continuously
cranking out new aircraft. In order to provide adequate base defense, the Eagle will have to build some
ground defenses backed up with lots of patrolling planes on patrol. As an Eagle, you should maintain a force
of about 100 air units.
What are my tactics as an Eagle?
There are a few things to keep in mind when you are going to stick to the high road. First, you need to break eggs
in order to win. Planes get chewed up on a regular basis. Make sure you don't neglect to put up at least one Level
2 aircraft plant for each type of plane you are going to be using on a regular basis. In most cases, that means
one plant for fighters and another for gunships. You probably want to put up at least one more to produce
construction aircraft or to augment your gunship and fighter production.
Make sure you assign multiple construction units to assist your air production
facilities. This is covered in
more detail later in the Production section.
The biggest plus to being an Eagle is the ability to take out one or more buildings
in the enemy camp at will.
In order to stop 50+ planes from at least getting some damage done means your opponent must become the most
serious of Porcupines. A favorite tactic of serious Eagles is to take out an opponent's missile defense system
and them immediately hit him with a couple of nuclear missiles.
As a cheap trick at the start of a game, Eagles can build a transport or two
and go Commander hunting.
This involves flying your transports around and trying to find an enemy Commander out and about without
enough air cover. Pick up the enemy Commander and run your transport right next to some enemy defensive
emplacement. When the transport dies, so does the enemy Commander, either depriving the enemy of a powerful
unit or defeating the foul evil-doer altogether, depending on the game setting.
Also note that when you get to the levels of the preset missions that give
you Level 2 aircraft plants,
becoming an Eagle will in most cases assure a quick and painless win (more details can be found late in the
The Octopus takes a radically different approach to strategy than the Porcupine
or the Eagle. Instead of
specializing in base defense or air power, the Octopus specializes in building bases themselves. The Oct
tries to spread out all over the map in order to maximize its ability to take damage and worm its way into
being able to hit from different angles.
When properly done, the Oct has some real advantages, but a passel of bad points to offset them.
The major advantage of the Oct is resistance to long-range artillery fire.
When you have four bases spread
out over a third of a medium sized map, a particular artillery hit doesn't mean as much to you as it does
to a player using more traditional base-building techniques.
Also, the Oct tends to be less vulnerable to being overrun by a wave attack.
The Oct will lose a section
of its base more rapidly, but needs that section less. And if they are building quickly, might have the
replaced the lost sections elsewhere almost as rapidly as they fall.
The Oct can also up secret emplacements near enemy lines fairly easily. When
everyone gets used to seeing
you spread out all over the map, they are less likely to notice when a unit or two strays out from under
your jammer cover when you are building a secret emplacement.
The biggest bad point to the Oct is that in trying to build defenses for a
number of smaller bases, it is
impossible to get the full advantages of overlapping weapons coverage that more traditional base-builders
enjoy. By definition, splitting your base up into small units is going to require less defensive units on
each base. This means attackers take less pain taking down any particular section of your base.
The other disadvantage to this strategy is just keeping everything going. As
a human, you only have so
much attention and a limited reaction time. The Oct is constantly jumping around the map trying to get
things built and working. In most cases this time loss is what ends up doing the Oct in as much as the
enemy attacks. Coordinating multiple base emplacements, particularly if you are facing threats on more
than one base module at once, can stretch your time management resources past the breaking point.
How do I Octopus?
Spread out! The first thing the Oct does is build multiple Kbots and send them
off to the far-flung edges
of the map. These Kbots then set up little base modules far from the main base.
There are two different Oct thinking processes at this point. The first is
to make sure that all of your
main base functions are happening in at least two different modules in order to provide some amount of
overall safety if one module is overrun. This philosophy requires two Level 2 Kbot Labs at two different
modules, two Advanced Aircraft Plants at two different modules, and so on. While this technique has its
points, it also pushes the builder closer to the 200-unit limit.
The other type of Oct builder will have each module more or less specialize
in a certain task.
One will build vehicles, another Kbots and another ships or aircraft. One thing to keep in mind if you
follow this strategy: spread your infrastructure (metal and energy production) around. If you have one
camp producing 90% of your metal and it is overrun, the end is near.
What are my main tactics as an Oct?
Other than stringing out your base so that one simple strike can't take you
down, the only major
tactic is to build artillery in range of your enemy's base, which is covered later under Attacking.
The Swarmer is dedicated to the simple proposition that huge numbers of small attackers will
overcome most opponents. And this can be a surprisingly effective strategy against silly humans.
The Swarmer techniques are fairly self-explanatory. The sole tactic of the
Swarmer is to build waves
of 50+ small attacking units as rapidly as possible, then launch them at the enemy. The idea is that
base defenses can only focus on so many units at any one time, and a decent percentage of attacking
units will do damage before being destroyed.
If you are employing good, high-speed building strategies against an opponent
who is a bit lax about
his base defense construction, this can be a quick and easy win. And even if your opponent is on his toes,
it can still result in much pain and mayhem for the hapless recipient of your most unloving attentions.
The good point of the Swarmer is that with enough pounding, even the most hardened
Porc will start to feel
real pain. It might take four or five waves to break through a really good Porc defense, but when you do,
each wave afterward will be hitting where it hurts.
Swarmers, however, cannot both build a secure base and swarm at the same time.
A good Swarmer needs to have
one wave of 50+ units on the way to the target, one wave about to be launched and another under construction
so his attacks will hit close enough to take advantage of any holes punched by the waves before them. Do the
math and you see that between 100 and 150 units are tied up in attacking ground units at any given time. Not
a pretty picture if you are hit while all this is going on.
Another bad point lies in attacking a player who is seriously into Dragon's
Teeth. A good wall of Dragon's Teeth
will stop your waves cold and make your units so much fodder for long-range base defenses.
How do I become a Swarmer?
Think Eagle with ground units. The primary difference between Swarmers and Eagles is that while the Eagle won't
have all that much use for Level 1 units, your waves will primarily be made up of Level 1 bots, as they are much
faster to build. The key to Swarming is maintaining the highest production rate possible. It isn't the quality
of the attackers that counts here, it is the quantity. Just a few Fidos or other good Level 2 attack bots mixed
in with a whole pack of lesser bots will really make a disproportionate difference, since the defenses are more
likely to target the weaker bots due to sheer numbers. Swarmers require multiple Kbot labs assisted by construction
units to stay at peak production rates.
Too much in the way of base defense isn't for Swarmers. Do what you can with
your extra clock ticks, but remember
that the key here is getting waves out and onto the enemy as quickly as possible.
What are Swarmer Tactics?
Build 50+ units, send them at the enemy, repeat. That is really all there is to the Swarmer.
Note that this tactic tends to work much better against humans than against the AI. The AI doesn't suffer
from slow human reaction times in rounding up its ground forces and redirecting them to your assault points.
Humans tend to lag and get dusted.