Missions in this game come in three distinct types. For the purposes of this guide I'm going to refer to them as Guerrilla, Skirmish and Battle. Each one has its own strategies as well as its challenging factors. Often missions will begin one way (Guerrilla or Skirmish) and midway through it will change and become something different (Skirmish or Battle). Below is a breakdown of each type.
This is one of those love it or hate it things. Guerrilla missions are ones where you have no base and very limited resources and troops to complete the mission. Sometimes you have just a single unit (a commando) whereas other times you'll have a sizable force. These missions require the most patience out of all of them. Slow and steady is the key to victory and saving regularly is the most important thing to remember, more so than on any other mission. These are a personal favourite of mine but I understand most people despise these with a passion. In most missions there is room for personal choice or error but in order to succeed in these you'll need to follow my instructions to the letter.
Skirmish missions are the intermediate step between the small scale engagements of Guerrilla missions to full on wars of Battles. You have a base this time but the only difference is that you lack a Construction Yard (or Crane) which means you are stuck with what you've got. Unlike the other missions, Skirmishes require you to work fast and get things done quickly and efficiently. Some of the most difficult missions in the game are Skirmishes largely due to the fact you are constantly under siege.
The largest type of missions and the ones that give you the most choice, in these missions you have access to everything at your current tech level. These are probably the easiest missions but often take the longest time to complete. The best strategy here is to build up your forces while defending your base and when you have an overwhelming number of infantry, tanks and aircraft, swarm your opponents base. Because everything is at your disposal, what you decide to use to win the match is up to you but I've always got recommendations in case you are unsure.
Moving and Attacking Tricks
In Command and Conquer 3 you can set your units to one of four different stances. Aggressive, Guard, Hold Position and Hold Fire. By default all units are on Guard stance. Mastering the correct use of these makes the missions much easier. Most of the time you'll be using either Aggressive or Guard stance. There are only a couple places where you'll need to use Hold Position and few cases where Hold Fire is used (always involving a Commando, either directly or indirectly).
As well as the stances, you can tell your units to advance in different ways. Regular move and attack move. There are several differences between the two. Put simply regular move means they will go straight there in the shortest possible way. Attack move means your units will stop whenever they encounter enemies and destroy them before they continue on their path.
Using these different moves in combination with the stances can have different effects. The first thing you'll want to consider before issuing your move command is can your units fire while moving. If they can't then issuing a regular move is going to get them destroyed as they try to navigate into the enemy base while getting shot at before they stop to fire back. An attack move makes your units fire whenever something comes into range and is much better. On the other hand, units that can move and fire can benefit from charging straight into a base to take out key targets while firing on enemies automatically on their way in.
Now on Guard stance your units will attack only enemy units and turrets as well as some mission critical objectives (which isn't always a good thing). As a result then Guard stance allows you to take out an enemy bases forces while leaving the base intact. Now that there are no enemies you can either focus on the defenceless buildings or capture them for yourself. If you have your army in Aggressive stance, they will target all hostile forces including buildings. This then is great if you just want to obliterate any enemy base and leave nothing standing.
Using Aggressive stance and regular move at the same time though is rarely a good idea as it means your team will charge into the enemy base not only firing at enemy units but at building which aren't posing a threat. If you use an attack move though this wont be so much of an issue as if enemies arrive to defend your units wont continue to move in until they are destroyed. However using aggressive stance and attack move near an enemy base with walls is a tremendous waste of time as your team stops to destroy every last bit allowing your opponent time to train more units.
In short then you can safely use Guard stance when attacking without too much trouble but when using aggressive stance you'll need to pay close attention and make sure you don't waste any time or loose any units unnecessarily.
The last tip I can give you is how to move units at the same speed. In some Guerrilla missions you'll have both light anti-air and heavy anti-vehicle units and its important to keep them both together without one going faster than the other. To do this simply hold down A where you want them to go and then have the units make a small group in the same way you would set up a defensive line. This way all the units will move as one.
Perhaps the single most important thing in campaign is unit veterancy. Never underestimate the power of a maxed out unit. Indeed there is one point midway through the Nod campaign where a force of only five enemy units with the most veterancy levels assault your base and will walk all over your army numbering thirty plus units.
Units can get a maximum of three veterancy ranks. They are Veteran, Elite and Heroic. For each faction these will appear as a different icons next to a units health bar. For GDI, Veteran units appear with a small downwards arrow, much like an upside-down private symbol. Elites appear as two of those arrows while Heroics appear as a star. Nod Veterans appear as two triangles. Elites are four triangles and Heroics are a Nod symbol of some description. Scrin Veterans appear with a small “approximately” character. Elites with two of these and Heroics with an alien character.
Here is a break down of what the advantages are for each rank.
+50% Rate of Fire
+50% Movement Speed
To put the effectiveness of a fully ranked unit into perspective, one fully ranked Mammoth Tank can easily destroy a force of five brand new, fresh off the production line Mammoth Tanks. Or to put it another way one tank costing 2500 credits can ruin the day of someone who has just spent 12,500 credits on their force of tanks. Perhaps an equally impressive feat is that one Predator Tank, costing 1,100 credits, with the most veterancy can take out two much larger Mammoth Tanks.
So how do you take advantage of the veterancy? Well there are two ways. The first is available to all teams (although Scrin has real trouble using them on the important units) and that is to use the veterancy crates. In Guerrilla missions you'll need to carefully plan out who picks up the veterancy crates and make sure you don't accidentally stumble onto them with some useless infantry.
The second method can only be employed by GDI and requires careful use of Rigs and choke-points. What you do is deploy a Rig at a choke-point and then create a line of friendly forces in front of the Rig and have them Hold Position. This line of units will then destroy anything that comes near while the Rig heals them. You then sit tight while the units gather XP and gain ranks. I'll speak more on how to get this to work for you as well as problems that might arise when this becomes a viable strategy in the campaign. Until then just remember there are few things more dangerous then a Heroic Mammoth Tank.
The second method relies on the XP system. The game keeps track of each units kills and while this information isn't available to the player it does influence their veterancy ranks. To gain a rank without crates requires the unit to destroy the equivalent of three times its own cost. Or a unit costing 1,000 credits must destroy 3,000 credits worth of enemy units or structures to gain a veterancy rank or 9,000 credits worth of enemies to become Heroic. Having said that its only the unit that gets the last shot in that gains all the XP (except building where XP is spread evenly across the units attacking it depending on the damage they are doing to the building). So then if a simple Missile Squad gets the last hit on a pair of Avatars then they already have more than enough to reach Heroic status. Now this can be helpful but also inconvenient and there's not really much you can do about it.
The key to success in any strategy game is to have a diverse range of units capable of handling any threat. Its just not possible to win the game building only one type of unit. However, each team has one unit which you will use extensively throughout the game and with them you can defeat any army.
The GDI unit of choice is unquestionably the Mammoth Tank. Its two main guns do tremendous damage and the rocket pods serve as an effective back up. The ability to drive over small vehicles makes its ability to storm into a base unhindered even more effect.
Nod commanders should rely mostly on Stealth Tanks. The barrage of rockets these things can produce is overwhelming and can cloud the screen with explosions and rocket trails. The fact that they can turn invisible even when moving makes up for them being weaker than most other advanced units.
Finally, Scrin have the Planetary Assault Carrier. From each one of these eight fighters are released and fly around the battlefield dealing small but concentrated fire on enemies, vastly outnumbering most armies. Again, with enough of them the screen becomes totally filled with plasma fire and fighters.
Why Mammoth Tanks and not Predator Tanks?
“Everything I've read online up until now has told me that Predator Tanks are the way to go.” Well for multiplayer that may certainly be the case and its the strategy that most GDI forces use. Overwhelm them in the early stages with strong and hard hitting tanks before they can build tougher units. However campaign is not multiplayer and vastly different strategies are required. A single Mammoth Tank can defeat three Predator Tanks. On top of that its difficult to defend your base with an army of Predator Tanks while you train more of them to attack whereas a pair of Mammoth Tanks can defend a base quite easily.
Why Stealth Tanks and not Avatars?
“They are more than five times as strong and you can outfit them with lots of upgrades.” Lets get this clear right at the start of the guide. Avatar Warmechs are hideously expensive for what you get for them. You are paying 3,000 Credits for a single laser that fires at a painfully slow rate. A Stealth Tank does 1.5x the damage of an Avatar and sure they too have a lengthy reload but for the same cost you can get three of them which totally ruins that argument. And the idea of being able to commandeer technology from other vehicles is nothing more than a cunning trap to catch out players caught up in the idea of it all. That feature is largely useless especially since you have to pay a further 3,600 credits to get all the upgrades for a single avatar. The only thing that keeps people using this is the sheer novelty factor of being able to rip apart your friendly tanks and steal their equipment. Please, do not fall for this trap.
Why Planetary Assault Carriers and not Devastator Warships or Annihilator Tripods?
“They may not be as strong but they cost less and do more damage.” There is one very good reason why you want to choose an army of PACs over anything else in the Scrin force. It is also the main reason why you pick Mammoth Tanks over Predators and Stealth Tanks over Avatars. And that simple reason is that they can target enemies both on the ground and on the air. You try and attack Nod with ground units that can't shoot up and they will Venom and Vertigo half your force before you even reach their base. Worse still is attacking the Scrin whose army is largely based around aircraft with units that can't engage air targets. And so that is why you don't ever send an army composed of only ground to ground or air to ground units.
But why can't I just send some other units along with them to take out aircraft?
Well because its one more thing to worry about. You've got to make sure they aren't directly engaging the enemy and are at the back of the lines which just adds to the stress of battle and makes it unnecessarily more complicated. Plus by the time you factor in the cost of these additional units it surpasses that of a force that doesn't need them.
What if I want to use my own units, will your guide not work?
My guide will work regardless of what forces you use (within reason, mass armies of Engineers are a no). By all means use whatever units you feel most comfortable commanding. Just remember that shooting aircraft, even though aircraft are almost always in the minority in armies, is the most important thing. In fact these power units as I'm going to call them aren't even available until later in the game so you'll need to use other units before them.
Here's a couple of suggestions.
GDI's APC when combined with a Missile Squad is a fantastic and versatile unit that can handle most threats in the earlier stages of the game and indeed in the later levels too. Steel Talons have the Titan which is an incredible unit. Combined with a handful of Slingshots and Wolverines and you've got a nice attacking force. ZOCOM has a secret super unit, Hammerheads with the Ceramic Armour upgrade carrying Zone Raiders. You'll be laughing at how quickly the Raiders fire their weapons when garrisoned in these units. Only the Purifier kills faster.
For Nod, a mixed force of smaller vehicles is a very enjoyable way to play. Raider Buggies, Attack Bikes and Scorpion Tanks are all very quick to produce and support each others weaknesses nicely. Venoms too are devastating against armies (but often costly when attacking bases). The Black Hand should make full use of their wonderful Purifying Flame upgrade. As I've said above Purifiers are just too powerful with this upgrade. The Marked of Kane can use their Supercharged Particle Beams to make Venoms even more effective.
Scrin players have less options but Seekers are an often overlooked vehicle in campaign when other things become available but still stand up well. With the new upgrades in Kane's Wrath the Seekers go from an effective alternative to competitive against top tier units. Reaper-17's Shard Walkers are also oddly effective. Traveller-59 does not have anything more than the Seekers and it's power units are even less effective. The idea behind this faction is to use deception and trickery. However most Kane's Challenge maps aren't set up with this as a potential strategy and so it usually just boils down to using overwhelming aircraft numbers.
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