Total Annihilation is a great RTS (Real-Time Strategy) game. I have been playing it every Thursday for several years now, with the same set of friends. There are too many things to say about it, so I am just going to put everything in a glossary.
Air Limits – All TA games had gotten to a point where the objective was just to hold off your opponents for long enough to build an insane economy, then attack the enemy with near-infinite and rapidly replenishable air units (usually advanced fighters) – until the enemy “aired out” (killed via air). We got tired of this same thing happening over and over, and began to institute limits on the number of air units that can be constructed (air limits).
Arm – one of the two ‘factions’ in TA. Arm units feature the fast, cheap, destructive, and durable Flash tank as their low-level vehicle unit, and the Maverick as an example of a high-end robot (“K-Bot”) unit.
Big Bertha – A large, extremely expensive, slow-firing long-range gun. Requires lots of energy to fire. Usually used offensively – place into position so that it looks over an enemy base, and with enough Energy and careful management, destruction will ensue.
Bombers – (Basic and Advanced) – expensive and destructive air unit. If you don’t have good enough air defenses, a group of bombers will be able to destroy anything of yours – a common favorite is a Commander.
Breach (breachers, breaching) – A ‘hole’ in enemy defenses. Most often, you will have to punch a hole in the enemy defenses using ‘breaching’ units (breachers) to destroy enemy defenses and open up holes in dragon’s teeth defensive lines. See “Crunchy Outside” vs. Defense-in-depth.
C&C (other resource theory) – “Command and Control.” TA has two resources – metal and energy. We semi-jokingly also refer to ‘the other resources’, one of which is “C&C”. As the game progresses, one cannot individually manage units one-by-one any longer – there are too many and too much is going on all at the same time. Some interesting ideas – like using Air Transports to manually move small, destructive units behind enemy lines – become unusable in practice because of the high “C&C” cost inherent (you must manage each unit, one by one, into the transport, and then manage them off the transport as well. Doing so without going insane is very difficult. Without losing half or more of your units on the transport is very unlikely). Good base defenses are less flexible than simply building units, but good base defenses manage themselves – thus ‘generating’ C&C.
Commander – A unit that can build, generates metal and energy, provides storage for both, and can be extremely destructive in combat. Has the “D-Gun” which will destroy any unit it hits, cutting a swath of destruction. The D-Gun is very expensive to fire, however, and its range is relatively short. The commander dies in a massive explosion, which can often destroy most of the enemy units killing him. Still, it’s often very wise to target an enemy commander. Early on, this can be devestating. Later on during the game, the commander’s share of your economy and offensive/defensive power declines, and his loss is more bearable. Usually will cause a Morale hit on your enemy though.
Core – One of the two ‘factions’ in TA. As a low level vehicle, uses the Slasher, a dangerously long-range and relatively maneouverable rocket unit. As a high-end vehicle, can use the Goliath Very Heavy tank. An advanced K-Bot unit they use is the Morty. They have a specific anti-Flash defensive gun called the Immolator.
Crunchy Outside – A defensive base system whereby you ring your base with a dragon’s-tooth wall, and put guns right behind it. However, on the inside of your base, you may have few defenses. This means that once the outside of your base is ‘breached’, enemies can pour in and destroy everything in your base. That being said, it also means your defensive guns are pointed at the enemy, and in a position to shoot at them. No guns are ‘wasted’ on the inside of the base.
Defenders – Arm defensive rocket unit. Vital for anti-air defense, and extremely useful for ground defense as well. Not a lot of ‘punch’, but great range. The ‘Core’ version of this is not called a Defender but we still call them Defenders anyways.
Defense-in-Depth – A defensive strategy which may mean there is a ring of outer defenses, but also, inside those are even more defenses. The disadvantage is that some guns you build (the inner ones) will not ever have a chance to fire on the enemy if all goes well. The advantage is that if all _doesn’t_ go well, if the enemy breaches your defenses, your inner guns will start firing on them.
Dragon’s Teeth – a defensive emplacement that is basically a ‘rock’. It can absorb a ton of enemy fire before it is obliterated. Placing guns behind dragon’s teeth causes multiplicative increases in their defensive power.
Energy – One of the two resources in TA. Energy is considered ‘cheaper’ – because energy deficiencies can be remedied by building more energy generation equipment (Solar panels, wind generators, etc).
Fighters – Anti-air units. When in the hands of someone sufficiently skilled enough, they can knock out just about any one unit by ‘swooping’ the fighters close enough just to fire one shot, then pulling the fighters right back out again. Modern bases dictate large amounts of air defense, all throughout, to avoid just this eventuality.
Flakker – advanced anti-air gun. Can decimate large numbers of fighters in a few shots. Takes a beating. Expensive. Not ‘big’ enough range to defeat a sufficiently large bomber horde on its own, though.
Flash – cheap, rugged, powerful, fast, maneuverable Arm vehicle unit. Often used very early-game for a ‘flash rush’ – sending a large number of flashes to your enemy before he is ready. Can be devestating. Poor performance against fixed emplacements, dragon’s-toothed defensive guns. Fine against un-toothed stuff though.
Geneva – (Short for ‘Geneva Convention’) – Commanders (the one unit you start with in a game) explode HUGE when they finally die. A loss of ones commander in the middle of one’s base usually means that ones base defenses are ruined, as well as any production facilities or anything else. However, we realized very early on that if you walk your commander into someone else’s base, you can destroy just about everything they have with D-Gun shots, and even if your commander then dies, it will take out the entire opponent’s base. With preparation, your own base might even recover. This would become a very boring game – one team would just have their weakest player walk his commander into the opposing team’s strongest player’s base – knocking him possibly out of the game. The Geneva Convention states that we will not knowingly walk commanders into enemy bases. Commanders might wander towards someone else’s base – but then one will hear shouts of ‘Geneva! GENEVA!’ from the opposition – meaning “don’t go that way”. If commanders meet in the field, there’s nothing wrong with them D-Gunning each other into destruction, however.
Hammer – Arm artillery K-Bot. Very good anti-base unit. Durable. Not too pricey. Slow-moving, poor against other units. A smallish squad of hammers can knock out moderate base defenses relatively quickly, and for cheap, if no units are sent against them.
“HLT” (Sentinel) – Defensive laser gun emplacement – uses energy, but very effective base defense against ground units. Behind Dragon’s Teeth, they’re extremely destructive and very hard to take out. Kill counts of 20 or 30 enemy units are frequent with these, but numbers as high as 60 or even higher have been achieved.
Krogoth – Almost a joke unit, the Krogoth is built from a specialized factory that builds nothing other than Krogoths – the Krogoth Gantry. Inordinately expensive, but armed to the teeth and extremely well defended. They rarely make it into the game, and when they do, the winner has almost always already been determined.
Maverick – Arm Advanced K-Bot. Expensive, massively destructive unit. At last test, a Commander can be killed by 8 Maverick shots. The Maverick also fires very rapidly, around 2 shots per second or so. I (personally) believe the unit is actually unbalanced, due to how much damage it can dish out, versus its cost.
Merl – Arm Advanced vehicle. Can destroy base defenses from very far off. Nearly useless against other units. Expensive. When Merls roll up to your base – and they don’t have to roll up to it, they can stay nearly a screen away from it – destruction will start raining down on you unless you have units to counter them with. Some defenses, at least, of yours will be going down for sure.
Metal – the ‘more expensive’ of the two resources in TA, metal can only be gotten from metal extractors, which can only be built on metal spots – or from extremely inefficient “metal makers” which require massive amounts of energy to generate tiny amounts of metal. (There are also ‘metal boards’ which are pure metal, and will allow metal extractors to be placed anywhere). Metal also exists in debris left by destroyed units and defenses, and can be ‘reclaimed’ by construction units. Because of this, it’s very dangerous to send a large force into someone else’s base unless you ‘break in’ to the base. If your units are killed outside or very close to his base, your opponent will slurp up all the metal you’ve left and grow all the stronger.
Million-Slasher March A standard maneouver by ‘Beast’ and some of his proteges, it means grabbing a large collection of slashers and slowly, but surely, destroying the enemy, all the while growing stronger and stronger. The slashers almost never fully commit to any attack, but will knock down base defenses, guns, and opposing units. Meanwhile, Beast will be building more and more and more slashers and adding them to his army. Impossible to defend against in the long run, all you can usually do is hold out, while your opponents do other things to his production, base, teammates, etc.
Morale (other resource theory) – Morale of the real person who is playing TA is a real concern in TA. A user who’s “moraled out” can be near useless, even though he has sufficient troops and production. Certain attacks are designed to target enemy morale – having minimal actual impact on troops or production, but oriented towards making them angry or annoyed. Some players habitually “break” earlier than others, some not at all. Some players with poor morale can bring their entire team down.
Morty – Core advanced K-Bot – indirect fire (artillery) units. Slow moving, but can walk up steep slopes. A slow crawl of these units can be devestating to fixed defenses. Can even be damaging to units that walk into the area that damage is being rained down into.
Ramp – Production curve. Building up the ability to build more units and more production, faster. In TA, the player starts off with one unit, the Commander. Most often, the first several build orders will be for additional resource generation facilities. ‘Ramping’ means building more and more resource generation facilities (and factories) – and not necessarily building troops. Some very good players can ramp while also building and even using lots of units.
Rush – An early attack. Often done with Arm Flashes. Usually the player will deliberately order the construction of more units, earlier, and less production (thus damaging their mid-game ‘ramp’) in order to knock out or badly hobble or damage another player.
Splash – certain types of fire from certain units affect an area. One of the tricks seasoned players use is to fire a long-range weapon at a point on the ground at its farthest range, and allow the splash damage to affect something that is beyond the weapon’s real range. This is slow, but can be very effective.
Slasher – Core basic vehicle unit. Similar to the Arm “Samson”, the Slasher is a far superior balance of firepower, speed, range, and durability. Strictly speaking, the unit is designed for anti-air combat, but we have found that in large enough numbers, Slashers can take out units without being heavily injured, and can even ‘breach’ bases if left alone for long enough. The Samson, as a contrast, is rarely used in this vein, because it is less durable and has less punch.
Time (other resource theory) The other ‘invisible resource’ in TA is time. Two identical attacks at 20 minutes of elapsed game time versus 30 minutes can be a success or failure because of the difference of those 10 minutes. In that time the enemy may have been able to close off a gap in his defenses, shore up his production, or churn out a large number of units.
Unit-Limit – The default settings for a game of TA specify 250 units, maximum. There are special controls that can be used to raise that level, but we don’t play with them. Eventually, (definitely at the end-game portion), the player will run into the unit limit. At this point, the fastest regeneration of units, and the firepower of each unit become the controlling factor. Reaching unit limit almost always means that the player will attack, immediately – his production is being wasted, because he can generate no units.