The Core of the Early Game
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live forever? Well, the Core can obliged - so long as you don’t mind being a robot.
While the Arm and the Core are similar in many ways, they do have their differences. The Core are certainly the stronger of the two in terms of direct combat. The Core has several special units which, while slow, are extremely powerful. And there is also, of course, the infamous Krogoth. These are not tier one units, however - and the Arm does have an edge in the early game. This Core unit guide covers the first tier of Core units so that Total Annihilation players can figure out how to beat the Arm in the early game.
A super-light recon Kbot, the A.K. is meant mostly for light harassment. It is extremely lightly armored and can be killed quickly by any other unit in the game. Enemies with beam weapons or guided missiles are particularly dangerous since the A.K. can’t outrun them. The A.K. should only be built as part of early game rush operations.
A nasty rocket Kbot, the Storm has long range and can do a lot of damage. They’re often the early game assault Kbot of choice for Core players. However, they are armed with dumb-fire rockets, which can be problematic against fast targets. They also do not fire with an arc, so maps with many obstacles will dramatically decrease the Storm’s effectiveness.
The Thud doesn’t get a lot of love. It isn’t fast, it doesn’t so a lot of damage, and its projectiles are slow and often miss moving targets. However, its projectiles do have an arc, so the Thud can be useful for attacking targets which are guarded by terrain. The Thud is also, for whatever reason, a really great climber. It can often climb steep cliffs which other units can’t.
Many players swear by the Crasher. It doesn’t do a lot of damage, but its rockets are guided and are effective against air units. This makes the Crasher extremely versatile. It also means that the Crasher can be used to harass Storms and Thuds by staying at long ranges - the Storms and Thuds will often miss the Crashers. The Crasher’s missiles fire on a flat trajectory, so like the Storm the Crasher can’t fire over obstacles.
A fast scout tank, the Weasel really has no use besides probing enemy defenses. It is far too weakly armored for combat.
A fast light tank, the Instigator is often used in early game rushes. It is one of the quickest land units in the game and its laser is extremely accurate, although a bit short on range. The Instigator is generally inferior to the ARM Flash tank, which has more firepower, but the Instigator is never the less one of Core’s best early game units.
Classified as a medium tank, the Raider is a bit tougher than the Instigator and a bit slower. It is armed with a surprisingly weak cannon which often misses moving targets. The Raider is good at assaulting positions which are protected from direct-fire weapons, but it is otherwise inferior to the Instigator.
The Slasher is a much-loved unit due to its fast speed and its guided missile launcher. It doesn’t do a lot of damage, but it has the
advantage of range. Many players build Slashers as a counter to enemy light tanks and use them to perform hit-and-run attacks. The Slasher’s guided missile is also great against aircraft.
A mine layer vehicle, the Spoiler is itself just a means to an end. If you want to lay mines, then build a Spoiler. If you don’t want to, then don’t build one.
LevelerThe Leveler is a mostly defensive unit which is meant to counter masses of enemy light tanks and Kbots. It has a powerful cannon which does great damage, has a large area of effect, and decent range. The Leveler itself is slow, however, and not particularly durable. It is good in its chosen role and generally best when firing from a defensive position.
A basic scout plane. Unlike the Weasel or A.K. it is very useful because it is fast enough to penetrate into an enemy base before it is killed, allowing you to see what your opponent is up to. It is absolutely essential to use the Fink to scout an opponent if you don’t have any other options. In the later game one Fink rarely gets far, so it is advisable to build ten or twenty of them and suicide them into the enemy base. Finks are not expensive, and the information you’ll gain about your enemy’s base is worth it.
The basic early-game fighter, the Avenger is often built, but only because players don’t have much choice. It is so massively inferior to higher-tier aircraft that it becomes essentially useless as the game progresses, but if your enemy is harassing you with tier 1 bombers you don’t have a lot of choice but to build Avengers as a counter.
A lightly armored bomber, the Shadow is never the less decent at harassing enemies in the early game. Its bombs are powerful enough to take out a metal extractor or other lightly armored building in a few passes, so a group of four can usually take out a metal extractor in one pass. On larger maps the Shadow is in fact the Core’s best option for mounting an effective early-game offensive. Be warned, however, that the Shadow doesn’t last long against enemy fighters.
An air transport. It can only transport a single unit at a time, so it isn’t good for moving your entire army. It can however be used to insert special squads of units. One common tactic is to build two Valkyries, one radar jamming unit and one construction unit. The radar jammer and construction units are loaded onto the Valkyrie, making them invisible to enemy radar. The two Valkyries can then move to a discrete location and begin building a secret base which can be used to take the enemy off guard.
A sort of patrol boat, the Searcher is extremely inexpensive but lightly armored. It comes equipped with two rather puny lasers and a missile launcher which is effective against air units. While the Searcher becomes overshadowed by other ships quickly, a few Searchers can be valuable in the early game on the smaller naval maps. The larger ships take so long to produce that you can often hit an enemy with five Searchers before they have a single destroyer.
The basic early game destroyer, it to tends to be overshadowed by tier 2 ships when they become available. Even so, the Enforcer has the best range of any tier 1 unit. This can be used to your advantage to bombard enemy islands before they’re ready to counter your ships. The Enforcer is also inexpensive (for a ship) and versatile. It is quick and its torpedo launcher is effective against submarines. Many players who choose not to build submarines use Enforcers as anti-sub escorts for larger ships.
A large transport ship, the Envoy can car 20 units at a time. It is much easier to assault an enemy island with Envoy transports than with Valkyries so long as there is an unguarded area where you can establish a beach-head. Of course, the risks are higher - lose the Envoy and you also lose all the units in it.
The Core’s basic submarine, the Snake is very effective at taking out enemy ships. In terms of cost, Snakes are a better anti-ship until that anything else in tier 1. However, Snakes are not very fast and also can’t strike land targets. This makes their usefulness dependent on the map. Maps which are almost or are entirely aquatic are great for the Snake, but those with large land-masses usually limit the Snake’s usefulness since an enemy can simply switch to aircraft production and not have to worry about your subs.
The scout class of unit for the Core’s hovercraft. It has the same problems as other scout units. However, it is a bit more useful because it can cross both land and water, which means it can be used to sneak in and check out portions of an enemy defense which a normal scout unit couldn’t access. Even so, it is generally better to build an aircraft plant and start cranking out Finks.
Basically a Slasher on a hovercraft platform. It is a pretty well-rounded unit, particularly in the early to mid game. It is versatile and can hit anything, ground or air, with its guided missiles. However, the Slasher’s low overall damage along with its direct-fire nature makes it a very difficult unit to use well in the late game. It can’t fire over the debris or defense structures which are bound to begin piling up and it doesn’t do enough damage to quickly bring down battleships and heavy tanks.
A mobile rocket launcher, the Nixer is interesting because it is more affordable and more tactically useful than the ground-based mobile rocket launchers found in the game. It is possible for a crew of Nixers to sit off-shore and bombard enemy defenses. If the enemy hasn’t invested much into ships or hovercraft they can do this with little chance of retaliation, slowly grinding an enemy base into dust.
A transport hovercraft, the Turtle can be somewhat useful because it can transport units further inland than an Envoy could. Also, the Turtle is somewhat non-description in a group of hovercraft, so the enemy might not figure out what you’re up to until it is too late.
This post is part of the series: Total Annihilation Unit Guide
Total Annihilation is a classic game with hundreds of units. This unit guide examines all of the units in the game so that players getting started with this classic can figure out which of the game’s many units are best.