Today, I wanted to discuss the Commanders in Command & Conquer Rivals and what differentiates them from each other. Join me after the jump for more.
Commanders are different to units. Every army requires one, and only one can be used. Levelling and promoting Commanders increases both the HP of the Base and Harvesters, along with improving their effects. As such, keeping your Commanders at the highest level you can should always be a priority when deciding which units to spend your gold on.
Since all Commanders are equal with Base and Harvester HP on a level-by-level basis, we can ignore this aspect for this post and instead look more at their abilities.
I haven’t had a chance to really get to grips with Oxanna or Colonel Jackson, as I haven’t unlocked them yet and have only played a handful of games against them. Look out for a future post analysing these two Commanders’ unique abilities.
Well jump right in with the GDI Commanders first, then look at the Brotherhood of Nod ones after.
Lt. Strongarm is a great commander for starting with. Her turret is cheap, requiring only 40 Tiberium to deploy, and versatile.
Once it deploys, it automatically targets a nearby enemy unit and begins shooting. It absolutely shreds infantry and aircraft, and can be a great way to defend your harvesters from enemy laser/missile troops or to assist in clearing enemy infantry from a nuke pad. It’s also a great counter for GDI Zone Troopers, or Nod Cyborgs, Scarabs, and Flame Troopers, all of which can sometimes be tricky to handle, though Flame Troopers do bring the turret down quickly, so make sure they’re distracted.
Arguably though, it’s most powerful use isn’t even the damage it can do, it’s the zone denial. A quick turret deployment can stop an enemy unit occupying a tile – this could mean they can’t 2-1 your units, or (in certain maps) you can actually block an enemy unit’s advance, forcing them the long way around other obstructions – giving you enough time to build more units.
That said, it’s not indestructible. It only lasts for 20 seconds and can be destroyed fairly quickly by the likes of Nod Attack Bikes, or GDI Pitbulls. That’s not to even mention Titans or Rockworms or, indeed, an Obelisk of Light, which will level it in one hit, most of the time.
As a healer, it’s only natural that Dr. Liang’s ability would be a repair drone. At only 60 Tiberium, it quickly deploys a flying drone that heals ALL adjacent allies.
Being a flying unit, the drone is fast moving and can fly over obstructions to get where it needs to be, but still blocks a tile from enemy occupation.
The healing effect is powerful, and can protect units from all but the most insane matchups. A single Rhino can take out two attacking enemy missile/laser squads with health spare, for example, and it makes them more resilient to fast firing counters like a GDI Wolverine or Nod Flame Troopers, that will take a lot longer to chew through their health. It’s not a huge help against big-hitters like Titans or Rockworms though.
Having a Repair Drone parked behind a wall of GDI Sandstorms makes for a horrifying obstacle that’s nearly impossible to shift (unless you’re Gen. Solomon or Jade) and the health drain on the drone itself is relatively slow. Having a four-tile nuke pad with a healing drone surrounded by three APCs is also downright rude.
Be careful though. Being a flying unit makes it super fragile against things like Nod Attack Bikes or even GDI Missile Troops.
The GDI wouldn’t be the GDI without the Ion Cannon, and General Solomon is the commander who brings this terrifying piece of kit to the table.
For a slightly pricy 150 Tiberium, Solomon can fire the GDSS Philadelphia’s main weapon onto the battlefield slamming a single tile for massive damage, and dealing medium damage to ALL adjacent tiles. This takes 3 seconds to charge up, which is short enough that anything directly targeted by it is very likely at least to get hit by the medium damage aspect, but a direct hit will level pretty much any unit in the game.
This isn’t without major downsides. Being 150 Tiberium, you’ll need a strong economy to be able to fire it when you need it, and the blast damages your own forces too.
Whilst this immediately appears a downside, it does have its uses. I’ve watched my opponent nearly destroy one of my Harvesters, but a quick Ion Cannon takes out their attacking units and my Harvester – denying them the 100 Tiberium bonus and allowing me to create a new, full health Harvester.
Of course, the main use for the Ion Cannon will be clearing stubborn enemy units from the map. A well placed strike might clear an entire nuke pad, leaving it ripe for the taking. This is as hilarious to pull off as it is frustrating to face, watching your troops disappear in a puff of smoke just before the nuke launches, just for a single lone infantryman to claim the pad for himself, launch the missile, and win the game.
Like Oxanna, I have thoughts on Col. Jackson, but have not had chance to thoroughly get to grips with him yet. I’ll post my thoughts on these two in a future blog post once I have had a good chance to sit down and unpick their abilities.
Brotherhood of Nod
Arguably one of the best Direct Assault commanders in the game, Seth, like Lt. Strongarm, is a great early-play commander. Whilst his Drill Pod is a little more costly than Strongarm’s turret, and takes a little longer to deploy, it has arguably more utility.
The two obvious uses are to drop a squad of Flame Troopers next to a load of infantry and melt your way through them, or to sneak up behind enemy lines for some direct damage on the enemy base (and if left unchecked, Flame Troopers will burn their way through a nuke’s worth of health in a surprisingly short time).
The Flame Troopers have all the usual weaknesses, things like GDI Wolverines or Talons, or Nod Buggies or Venoms. They can’t touch aircraft and die swiftly to anti-infantry fire. They’re also vulnerable whilst the Drill deploys – notably against heavy hitters like Zone Troopers or Titans – and any damage the drill takes during deployment will reflect on the Troopers within.
Whilst it’s not perfect, I’ve had a lot of success using a quick Drill Pod to block an enemy unit’s advance, much the same way as with Lt. Strongarm’s turret, but it’s also an absolute lifesaver to inject some much needed infantry – whether to burn something, or even just sneak onto a nuke pad that’s across the map.
Don’t underestimate the power that a distraction caused by a unit of Flame Troopers appearing next to the enemy base can cause either. It’s a new situation that you force your opponent to respond to, either taking units out of the fight, or forcing them to build something (and entering the build cooldown cycle) they didn’t anticipate having to build. You split their resources and get into their head – I guarantee that after the first Flame Trooper squad burns their base, they ALWAYS hold a second unit back waiting for the second Drill Pod. Whether it ever comes back up by their base or if you just leave them constantly fearful of that side of the map, the mind games can really throw an opponent and that alone should not be miscounted.
Our main man Kane returns in CnC Rivals with one of the Brotherhood of Nod’s most recognisable constructs, the Obelisk of Light.
At 150 Tiberium, like Gen. Solomon’s Ion Cannon, Kane requires a strong economy if you’re wanting to be able to drop an Obelisk of Light as soon as you need it, but ultimately these are not reactionary deployments like Lt. Strongarm’s turret – to get the most out of an Obelisk, you need to plan ahead.
The Obelisks themselves are quite resilient to all but the most damaging of anti-structure assault (meaning keep GDI Disruptors well away from them) and have a long range (2 tiles away) with which to periodically blast enemy units that wander too close. They’re not overly effective against infantry, but woe betide any vehicle that wanders into range.
Obelisks definitely need defending as they take a while to fire, and their health depletes gradually over time (untouched, they last 60 seconds) but you can only deploy them on your side of the battlefield anyway, so this shouldn’t be too hard a task.
What Obelisks excel at is zone denial. An Obelisk next to a well defended nuke pad will keep that pad against almost anything your opponent can throw at it for as long as the Obelisk is alive, and dropping one near your harvesters is a great way to get an enemy to back off from rushing them.
As with other structures, they block movement, and this can be used to your advantage too (I’ve dropped one in front of Nod Flame Tanks on their way to melt my base, for example, buying precious few seconds to build a Rockworm or Attack Bike squad to counter), but they’re best used as a way of deterring enemy troops from entering an area in the first place.
Dr. Liang’s sister is an interesting commander in that she’s the only one that has inbuilt synergy with certain units, namely Chemical Warriors.
Her missile is fairly inexpensive at only 90 Tiberium, but don’t expect Ion Cannon level impact here, it deals medium damage to one tile only, though this can still be a great way to take out an enemy Harvester, a stubborn unit that just won’t quite die, or obliterating an enemy unit on a distant nuke pad.
However, the real beauty comes in pairing Jade with the already terrifying Chemical Warriors. Not only do these guys absolutely wreck almost anything soft that you put in front of them, they leave toxic Tiberium gas clouds behind that hurt ground units to move through. That’s already pretty nasty, but if Jade fires her Catalyst Missile into Tiberium gas, at Chemical Warriors, or Tiberium Fields, these ignite and the damage is phenomenal, hitting anything on adjacent tiles. Should the adjacent tile also be ignitable, it blasts dealing massive damage to the tile and medium to every adjacent tile.
Essentially, the Catalyst Missile is a cheaper Ion Cannon that requires a little bit of setup to get working to full effect. I’d argue that the missile alone is rarely worth the 90 Tiberium cost as it’s damage, whilst a little more than half of the Ion Cannon’s and at just over half the price, only hits the one tile. Notable exceptions are finishing off a unit, or quickly clearing stragglers off a distant nuke pad to flip the missile to your benefit. These may be well worth the 90 Tiberium cost.
If you can line the Catalyst Missile up with Tiberium gas, however, you have an absolutely monstrous Ion Cannon that can wipe half the field clean for less than 60% of the cost.
Check out the video below at 1:15, 1:39, and 1:54.
Like Col. Jackson, I have thoughts on Oxanna, but have not had chance to thoroughly get to grips with her yet. I’ll post my thoughts on these two in a future blog post once I have had a good chance to sit down and unpick their abilities.
How do you utilise the commanders? Are there any particular ones you prefer to use? Did I miss any tricks or tactics with your favourite? Let me know!
If you enjoy my writing, please consider leaving a tip in my Digital Tip Jar. This helps support the site, keeps it ad free
and helps me buy more in-game crates and is greatly appreciated!