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Advanced Commander Guide
One of the most fundamental concepts that I have embraced in teaching people advanced skills is the concept that I nor any other expert can teach you. I can show you the door, but you just have to open it. Experience is a key component to becoming good at anything, and commanding a competitive NS game is no different. I started my commanding career on October 30th 2002 - the day NS was released. The whole commanding concept fascinated me. I had been playing Starcraft and Warcraft III for a good amount of time before NS was released, and I found the concept of mixing FPS and RTS elements interesting. A passion for what you do also is important - if you hate doing commanding, don't bother. Find something else that better suits you and stop reading this guide. A commander is essentially a support unit for the marines. He does recon, resupply and constructs the base and resource node network. He's a medic and an engineer all rolled up into one. He calls the shots in matches and leads the marines to victory.
Let's put it this way if you're familiar with the game Starcraft, you know how Terran Marines perform when they are by themselves. But if you're a true fan of Starcraft, you also know how much more effective they are with medics. That's what a commander does essentially in the world of Natural Selection. Commanders keep marines alive far enough so that they can do their work, not only by dropping ammunition and medpacks, but also by making tactical decisions.
Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann in the movie Full Metal Jacket put it best when he had his platoon chant -This is my rifle. There are many like it but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle I am useless. This is exactly the same with a marine and his commander. Without a good commander, a marine is worthless in the world of Natural Selection. Therefore, I will break down this guide into several main parts of descending importance - tactics, base designs, and reaction times.
The most important role of the commander is to do what the marines can't. The commander can see and hear things that infantry cannot. For example, the first thing the commander should do after building his base is listen for the alien's home resource node (giving away the home hive position). Aside from being able to listen for the home hive - the commander can also listen to skulks trying to hit the base, gorges building nodes/walls of lame and hear morphing life forms.
Call the strat
In competitive play, commanders are expected to tell his men what to do for the round. A commander needs to know the best tactic to use against the aliens. Two very important factors in deciding the strategy for the game are: 1. how good your own team is and 2. how good the aliens are. For example, I wouldn't suggest using a strategy for a match in a pub game as commander. Instead of using your team to pressure and take down nodes on their own volition - a better suggestion for a public game (with less coordinated players) would be to try and utilize phase gates and lock down hives. You'll often find that trying to force a strategy on a pub team that you'd normally use in a scrimmage will often have adverse results. You should always gauge how good each player on your team is. Normally, your best bet is to balance the skill on each team. You'd want some very good shots on the pressure, but also on resource node duty. If you put all your worst people on your base team, you'll never cap any nodes, and without nodes, your pressure team will fail. Ideally, you'd want equally skilled members on each team - but when you have to work with what you have, this is usually the best way to go.
When I command, I have some basic rules for my team to follow:
1) Always follow my orders, do exactly what I say, no matter how nonsensical it sounds. For example, calling suicide rushes on nodes, gorges, or hives. Or perhaps I might even want several people to kill themselves so they could come back to base for guns.
2) There should be as little talking from the marines as possible. There are only a few phrases marines should ever need to say over the microphone, such as 'Fades incoming,' or 'Watch your back' or 'quick I need lots of ammo.' There should be no strategy calling from marines on the field. The commander needs to know what to do at all times, and even if you don't know what to do, you still have to say something. The commander should be talking almost the entire time, constantly giving EACH marine specific orders.
As for those specific orders, always tell each marine what to do. When assigning marines to the pressure team, tell them where you hear skulks or fades across the map. Tell them also where you hear something morphing at a resource node at the start of the game. That's where you should send your pressure team. Another strategy that works is a well timed shotgun rush. If you know where the aliens are, send the marines to pressure their hive, if the aliens are concentrated in another place. Keep in mind that you must continually get upgrades and keep map control. Dropping medpacks, reacting swiftly, and clicking on upgrades is the easy part. Knowing what to do, where to send marines, and what orders to give is the hard part of commanding. It's difficult to give advice in these areas, possibly because they usually come naturally with experience. It's simple to be good with meds and upgrades, but what separates a great commander from the rest is the ability to seize tactical opportunities. Experience will teach you what to do and look for, not reading articles or talking about it. This article will only inform you of what you need to know and what you need to improve upon. You have to get in the chair, get comfortable with being in control, and execute successful strategies. Each game will be different, and if you can't roll with the kick, your strategies will fall apart. Your marines won't accomplish objectives and you will lose.
Try to always be calm in the chair. There should be no reason to get mad if your marines are following orders and killing. If your strategies are too complex then you're just adding more ways for it to go wrong. 'Just keep it simple, stupid.' Get a general layout that your whole team knows and understands. For example, destroy resource node X, then go and repeat the process with node Y. Player A, go cap these nodes. Player B, protect these nodes. Pressure team, keep up the pressure. Remember that if things are going well, (e.g. having 6 resource nodes, and preventing aliens from getting more than one node) your team stands a good chance of getting jetpacks, heavy armor, or establishing a strong forward siege base on their hive.
Keep the aliens to one hive. Killing the alien's second hive before it goes up should be of the utmost importance. Kill their nodes and build your own nodes. But under no circumstances should you let them have a second hive without a major fight. At the 5 minute mark you should be prepared to send marines with guns and welders towards their second hive if you are doing a phase/siege strategy. If you are doing a heavy rush or jetpack rush, you should have everything you've got working towards keeping the aliens to one hive. Remember to give out weapons in pairs, and always drop one welder per gun you drop.
Standard Arms Lab Tech Path
- Level 1 Armor
- Level 1 Weapons
- Level 2 Weapons
- Level 2 Armor
- Level 3 Weapons
- Level 3 Armor
- Catalysts (usually gotten just to humiliate the other team)
The preceding should be your standard tech path when you are deciding upon which upgrades you want to get at the arms lab. Upgrade the armory no later than 4 minutes. Heavy machine guns own everything, and higher level armor is required for jetpackers and heavy armor trains.
Know when it's useless to medpack marines. Don't drop a marine a med if he has a LMG and fighting a fade. Don't medpack one marine versus a rush of aliens. Be prepared to med spam groups of marines with guns (aside from the LMG) versus fades or rushes. Groups of marines will usually eliminate rushes if they have decent aim and are being supplemented with medpacks.
If the pressure team is successfully holding off the aliens on the hive side of the map, then send one marine to the opposite side of the map to capture nodes. If you have nodes already just have that one marine patrol them and make sure no rambo skulks are attacking them. Be prepared to have marines hold key positions or have spawning marines ready to go back out into the field to save nodes, cap, or continue the pressure.
- Infantry Portal
- Drop closest resource node
- THEN: Listen for the hive and inform your team of the alien's main hive.
- Welder (optional, but useful for maps like ns_hera's Cargo vent shaft)
- Arms Lab
Late Game Build Order:
After getting the arms lab, you have several choices available. You can either build an observatory, second IP, or upgrade your armory. Generally, if you're getting hit hard by base rushes I would suggest getting an observatory first so you can beacon back your team in case of a major base hit. You should get a 2nd IP if your team is having a tough time staying alive and if spawn queues get cumbersome. You should also keep in mind the progress of the alien's second hive - if it's about to be placed or on the way already, you should have an advanced armory already being upgraded. It's absolutely essential that you have heavy weapons when taking down a second hive. I can guarantee that when that 2nd hive is going up, the Aliens will be fully loaded with at least two fades and maybe one lerk. Most importantly, when you
re attacking the 2nd hive, you should mix up your weapon loadouts for your men. HMGs are superb lifeform killers, and shotguns should primarily be used at that point to take down hives and structures. Level 3 shotguns deal a whopping 240 damage on each full blast to a structure, approximately 32 shells are required (4 full clips) to take down hives.
1. Spider Bases
Spider bases have several advantages - the buildings are all spread out, diminishing any concentrated bile bomb attack. Also, as you can see, the buildings that skulks will normally chew on a base rush first (observatory, infantry portal) are far enough away from the command chair so that the commander can pop out and put a few pistol slugs into an attacking skulk before it has a chance to retaliate against the ejected commander. Also the spread out design will allow any spawning marines to easily dispatch a skulk that is biting on a structure aside from the infantry portal, i.e. there exists a better field of vision for the defenders. However, in spider base designs, the purpose of mines is diminished - the base is so spread out, any smart skulk will easily evade mines placed on the buildings. In a cluster base, skulks that have to engage a defender will almost always hit a mine in a fit of panic.
Another issue of importance is the way you get into the command chair - the direction in which you hop into the chair dictates the direction you are pointing when you hop out of it. So, ideally, you'd want to hop in the chair so you're looking at buildings that are vulnerable to attack when you hop out.
2. Cluster Bases
I used to like the cluster base the best, because it seemed the easiest to defend. It has narrow straits and makes mines more effective. However, it makes respawning marines more vulnerable to a 2 skulk base rush. Skulks won't have to travel as far to bite the base defenders from the buildings that they are attacking. The base is also more susceptible to bile bomb attacks (but at that point, if there is a gorge in your base bile bombing you, the game is probably over). Mines are more effective since the base is more claustrophobic - there is less space for the skulks to maneuver and one is bound to hit one in a bid to try to take down one of your defenders. Toe to toe, however, the spider base is usually the best design to use.
Keep in mind that on some maps like ns_nancy you have no other choice than to build a cluster base ' but a good idea always is to try and mix elements of both designs into your final plan. For example, in that cramped cockpit of a start on nancy, a good idea is to keep the infantry portal as far away from your command chair as possible, that way you can set up a crossfire if there is a skulk in the base and a marine is about to respawn - you can both jump out at the same time and dispatch the attacker more easily.
Take note, that if more than 2 skulks are in your base or even a Fade - you should jump out of the chair at your own discretion. At that point, it's usually a better bet to have your marines in the field run back to your base to help you out or have an observatory built somewhere else than the main base and do a 'ninja distress beacon.'
Another skill that is important to have as a commander is the skill to be able to react to the orders and needs of your men quickly and efficiently. You must be able to drop resource towers and medpacks before your men even request one. That is essential. Your men should not even have to ask for them - you should be on the case at every second. You need to be fast and quick to the needs of your team. Here are some tips to help you improve that reaction time:
Use the rectangular selection tool often
It is a good idea to always keep the team you are watching to be all selected at the same time, so you know which soldier needs a medpack and when.
Play some RTS games
A good way to practice your reaction times as a commander is to try and improve your skills at games like Starcraft or Warcraft III. Starcraft's interface is essentially the same as Natural Selection's commander interface. Knowing the ins and outs of a game like Starcraft will help you improve your reaction times in Natural Selection by helping you figure out what to drop and when.
Experience is key
It's hard to just tell you how to improve your reaction times. The best way is simply to just practice. Try out www.missionred.com and play the top game on the right in the list - the game helps you improve your reaction time and accuracy - valuable for dropping fast and furious medpacks on your men.
To improve your commanderskill i advise you to use oma`s commanderhud, with it you have a bigger screen! Download it in the customization section or here.
- Date: 17/07/2006
- Source: oma.miumau.net
- Written by: Macpersil