Change is good! “In the midst of difficulties we should ever be ready to grasp every opportunity so that our object may be obtained. In a favorable situation, we should be alert in detecting our weaknesses so that we may avoid misfortune.”
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I’m writing this because I have been seeing more and more relatively good commanders that could be so much better were it not for this one simple quote.
There are a countless number of topics on this board that deal with playing as the Commander, and, more specifically, the tactics and strategies that are required to win as the marines. While the majority of these are extremely detailed and would most definitely lead a team to victory, there is a major factor that many players, myself included, often forget:No plan survives first contact with the enemy.
There will always be something that you hadn’t accounted for in the specific strategy you had in mind. As honed as your tactics are, the enemy will do something unexpected, every time.
This leads me to my main point of this post (about time, huh?
): Commanders need to learn to adapt throughout the course of a game. Even though your strategy has won you the last 10 games that you’ve played as a Commander, if the aliens start gaining some ground on you, if you still want to win, you need to stop what you’re doing and alter your overall plan for the game in order to reclaim what you’ve lost.
Your build orders shouldn’t last you more than 5 minutes into the game. Relying on a specific build template 10 minutes into the game will not utilize your resources and your troops to their full potential. If you’re not adapting your game plan by then, you’re already at a massive disadvantage.
In a few games I’ve played, I’ve literally taken my hands off of the keyboard and mouse, taken the headset mic off of my head, and said out-loud, “This isn’t working. I need to change this. Now.”
I end up getting some weird looks from my roommates, but I also usually wind up with another win under my belt. I’ve found that the marines you’re controlling are more than willing to cooperate with you – most likely, they’re as tired of dying as you are of losing fortifications at a key location.
Failure to adapt strategies throughout the course of the entire game has many negative results:
1. Loss of morale
. Your troops, the good soldiers that they (probably) are, are following your waypoints into an area that is critical to the success of your strategy. You controlled it at one point, but lost it after a massive assault. Now you need to re-capture it in order to get back on your feet. Your marines will get tired of running in to their death, respawning, and doing it over again. This is when you get a few “Rambos” on your team – the army of one that will go toe-to-toe with a group of Skulks. Not only does this cost you the cooperation of your marines, it costs you control of your forces.
2. Loss of resources
. Trying to secure that Hive when you’re getting flanked from all sides, constantly losing turrets, factories, armories, and personnel will get you stuck with next to nothing in your wallet. Remember that troops cost 1 resource point to respawn, and when you’ve just blown 152 resources on a forward base (factory, armory, 3x turrets, 3x siege turrets), those single resource points are going to start adding up.
3. Loss of time
. Every minute that you’re spending trying to salvage your strategy is one minute that you could be spending getting everything together in an attempt to try another tactic, and one minute for the aliens to bolster their forces. Also, as the game drags on, irregardless of how we’d like people to act, people playing on a team and just getting their butts handed to them are going to quit. This just puts you at an even greater disadvantage.
Losing morale, resources, and most importantly, time, is not typical of a successful plan. From the other side’s perspective, when you fail to change your strategies throughout the game, they are gaining all of the things mentioned above.
Keep in mind that your opponents most likely have a general strategy that they’re sticking to as well. When you change yours up, they will either have to adapt to counter it or fight a losing battle. You want to keep them on their toes the entire game. Don’t fall victim to doing what they’re expecting you to do!
The simplest solution to changing your strategy is to change your tactics. Yes, tactics and strategy are not the same – a strategy is an overall goal that you want to accomplish (securing a Hive location before the aliens can, for example). Tactics are the maneuvers that you use to fulfill your strategy (moving 2 squads in different routes in order to outflank an opponent, and then setting up a forward base).
The best way to change your tactics is to change them before you have a chance to even start them. I know it sounds weird, but hear it out. If you are gathering constant intelligence on your opponent – where they are, what units they have – you can determine ahead of time if the strategy you would like to utilize would succeed or fail. This can easily be done by getting an Observatory up as soon as resources permit, and researching motion tracking. You should be constantly using scanner sweeps throughout the entire game – for only 1 resource point, you can save the cost of respawning your troops and the equipment that they may lose if they die.
Now, you marines reading this probably don’t think this post really concerns you – you’re outright wrong. You are the ones that know exactly what’s going on during battle. If you know your Commander’s set-in-stone plan that won’t stand up to what you know is lurking around the corner, let them know. If you just so have happened to come across an unprotected area on your way to your waypoints (because you are following waypoints, of course), let the Commander know! It may be a huge boon to your team and a huge setback to your opponent if you move up through that area rather than the place at which they are expecting you. Regardless of what Commanders in other games have said, we really do rely on you guys to let us know what’s going on.
This concludes my opinions on tactical versatility, I hope some of you Commanders find it useful, and some of you marines realize that you play an extremely important role in this as well.