The Illuminate Threat
If the Cybran is the jack of all trades, and the UEF is the specailist, the Illuminate is the weird kid everyone else doesn’t understand. They have no navy, their tanks are hovercraft, and they have some interesting abilities like Teleport which give them great tactical flexibility.
In spite of their wealth of interesting tactical options, most players of Supreme Commander 2 agree they are a bit underpowered compared to the other two sides in the game. Even so, the Illuminate have a few interesting and effective strategies. They are discussed here.
The Air Blob
Many people overlook the Illuminate air force. Their fighter-bomber is comparable to the Cybran Gemini and their gunship seems a carbon-copy of the Renegade, so many assume it would be better to just go Cybran if air power is their goal.
However, the Illuminate air force has a secret weapon - flares. Although located at the end of a research tree, obtaining flares isn’t too difficult because the research leading up to them is very useful. Once flares have been obatained they can be used to make the Illuminate air force very powerful. Flares give Illuminate aircraft a passive defense again enemy anti-air which reduces the chance anti-air fire will hit. This makes the Illuminate air force shocking difficult to destroy.
The only variable to this strategy is which air units you’d like to build, as flares will apply to both gunships and fighter/bombers. Going gunships will result in a hoard of flying tanks which seem impossible to destroy but will leave you defenseless against enemy aircraft. Going with fighter/bombers is a much more balance approach, but it can be difficult to harm an enemy who has built a large number of shields.
Space Temple Rush
A common strategy on larger maps or maps where direct land confrontation isn’t possible or likely early in the game, the Space Temple Rush is simply an attempt to research and build a Space Temple as fast as possible and use it to transport units into an enemy base. It involves building several research facilities early in the game, sacrificing early defenses for a later strike force. A player rushing a Space Temple should not be entirely defenseless, however, as you’ll need a force to go through the portal the Space Temple creates once it is built.
The Space Temple strategy tend to be very effective against turtles and against those who have gone heavily into air. Ideally you’ll want to have a strong ground force of 50 or 60 tanks ready to go once the Space Temple is up and then use it to move them directly into the enemy base. Turtles often have defenses aim at repelling an outside invader, not one in their base, and those with air units simply can’t destroy you force before it levels their base.
As the Illuminate, you have no navy. Instead, your normal land forces are hovercraft capable of moving across water as well as land. They are, to be frank, woefully inadequate against a real naval unit, but what they lack in naval firepower they can make up for in surprise.
On maps like Setons, the only 4v4 map in the game, there are many openings for a Illuminate play to take advantage of. Once the Illuminate play has created a solid force of 40 tanks or so they can be marched across the ocean and directly into an unsuspecting enemy base. Players almost never build defenses facing the ocean unless they expect to be assaulted by actual naval units. Your force of tanks can sneak up on them and slip into their base before they have a chance to do anything about it.
The main problem with this strategy is simply enemy naval units. Running into a force of Salems half-way across the ocean can be devastating, so it is best to do some scouting. If the enemy has a strong naval presence, reconsider the strategy. If they don’t, take advantage of their weakness.
This post is part of the series: Supreme Commander 2 Illuminate Guide
Want to know more about Illuminate units, experimental units, or strategy? This guide covers everything you need to know to place the Illuminate race in Supreme Commander 2 well.