Tactics & Movement

The pilot AIs are pretty sharp: you can rely on them to do the right thing most of the time, regardless of circumstances. Each of your units will pick the targets they are best suited to handle. Anti-Fighter ships will take on enemy Fighters; Bombers will attack Frigates and Capitals, Interceptors will prioritise enemy Fighters over other craft, and so on. Provided you have a nice mix of units that aren't severely outnumbered, you should be able to hold the line. All you need to do is make sure they don't wind up chasing any stragglers back to their home base or go blundering into a cloud of fresh reinforcements. Apart from the usual suicidal tendencies of lone units rushing an entire army (common to all RTS games) or finding one or two units struggling to defend a Carrier against an all-conquering horde, nearby ships will respond if attacked, and competently engage enemies most of the time.

You still have to be alert and on your toes, though. While a lot of fiddly micromanagement has been removed, there's still plenty of scope for managing your units directly by hand - or screwing things up completely. Tactics in Homeworld2 are general standing orders of what to do in different situations: when it all boils down to actual fighting, ships dogfight and engage enemies the same way regardless of what Tactics you set. If you're fairly hands on with your forces you shouldn't have too much trouble leaving everyone on the default settings (i.e. Defensive, or F3), and just being your usual alert self.

Know your TACTICS
There are three basic modes of unit conduct.
The game manual calls this "Neutral". Its not. Passive mode is "Hold Fire, No Matter What." Passive units simply won't return fire when shot at; they sit tight and get destroyed. When executing a Move command, they will not respond to any enemy attacks at all.

They will, however, still attack targets when given an Attack command. For want of a better word, your shipping is better "behaved" in Passive mode. They only attack what they're told to do and never stray, unless their prey makes a run for it with a good head start. Its good for preserving a ship you're hijacking or cherry picking specific targets. But in most combat situations its probably unwise: any fresh enemy reinforcements will simply cut your ships to ribbons without fear of retribution, unless you're on hand to micromanage your forces.

Passive is great for hiding shipping under a Distortion Probe or a cloak, clearing out enemy escorts so you can hijack a Capital ship, and especially good if you want to lay an ambush without anyone blowing your ambush's cover attacking something.
Defensive is the default tactical setting for all units, and generally, works fine most of the time. Defensive units won't fire until fired upon first, but the moment they or any comrades nearby come under attack, they take the initiative and engage any attackers.

Any Attack orders given under Defensive mode continue to snowball once the original targets have been destroyed. This is because all units on all sides tend to keep reacting to each other. Once the actual shooting starts, there's often little difference between Defensive and Aggressive tactics. The upshot of this is you usually only have to give one Attack command and then your ships will quite cheerfully carry on without you. I've watched large Strike-Forces wipe out an entire enemy from a single click: they first took out their selected targets, then ploughed their way through the reinforcements that flew in midway through the fight; followed the fleeing enemies back through the field of defending Platforms and on into the enemy worker lines, demolished the Shipyards and all the resourcing and finally, for an encore, what was left of the surviving attackers were circling the Mothership on its last few pixels of health. But you can also find even the mightiest of Strike-Forces can over-extend themselves and get ripped to shreds by a process of attrition: there are times when you need to regroup and reinforce your forces so you can continue without running out of steam.

The only downside to Defensive can be the delayed reaction time responding to an attack: often your opponent can extract a fair few kills before your ships make their first move. Again, being alert and actively ordering your units to attack first can make a difference. Organizing your ships into Strike-Forces also guarantees that the entire Force will respond as one at the same time, not as scattered individuals.

The other interesting / useful thing is that Defensive units won't attack unarmed shipping until you've ordered a shooting spree. This means that you'll probably find your forces sitting right under an enemy Probe without doing anything about it... Defensive also doesn't apply to the Capital Warships, either: Destroyers and Battlecruisers will attack everything within range unless set to Passive.

Aggressive units actively attack anything hostile that strays into range, regardless of what it is or the circumstances. This is a good setting for any production ships. Setting your Motherships, Carriers, Platforms and Mobile Refineries to Aggressive ensures that they actually open up on hostile units before waiting to get blasted to space dust first. Aggressive lets your ships jump down the throats of the opposition even before they've thought of attacking.

This mode is useful, but it does have some serious drawbacks. Aggressive forces are easily distracted from their main mission, and watching a giant Strike-Force about face and chase down a Probe when it needs to hightail it to your stricken Mothership is a common occurance. Your over-enthusiastic forces will also split up as they pursue stragglers fleeing in different directions. Things can quickly spiral out of control as even Strike-Forces are divided - and then conquered.ZIt becomes very difficult to muster forces on a hostile border if everything is set to Aggressive: crazed loners constantly running away to their own destruction stuffs up reinforcing and can easily cost you the game.

Setting a Squadron's Tactics changes the formation it adopts. For example, setting half a dozen Interceptor Squadrons to Defensive results in six little Delta formations of Interceptors. To be frank, Squadrons simply don't have enough members for formations to be worthwhile and Squadron formations are simply there to show they Tactical settings. For groups of Frigates and Capital ships there's no simple Formation commands at all. What you have now is the concept of the Strike-Force - a "meta group" of different individuals that functions as part of a single battle group.

Homeworld2 has reverted to some time honoured "traditional" RTS commands. Old StarCraft players will recognise these orders straight away!

Press M or right click on empty space or a non-hostile object. Your forces will move directly to that point, and - take note! - only move to that point. No one will break formation or deviate from their course to engage any hostile units. This is an important point: any ship with nose mounted weapons, like Strikecraft or the Laser Corvettes, won't do anything to defend themselves - even if set to Aggresive. Units with missiles or turrets on the other hand, will fire back without once changing course. Gunships and Missile Corvettes do this beautifully, and make great escorts. Even Destroyers, who like to unleash those ninety degree broadsides, will fire their weapons and missiles without once turning sideways or stopping.

Move, then, is a great way to move bigger ships without them getting sidetracked: Frigates, Capitals and Motherships will proceed to their destination, taking potshots along the way. You can execute some pretty spectacular strafing runs with a wall of Destroyers, and inflict a lot of damage without any of your precious units deciding to drive right into the thick of things and park themselves under the guns of the enemy.

But just Moving Strikecraft or the Vaygar Corvettes can be disastrous. They simply won't return fire if attacked in transit. You're probably better off keeping your Strikecraft in a seperate Force, and ordering them to Guard your Frigates and Capitals. They'll follow the Moving Capitals, but then engage any attacks properly.


Press A or right click on hostile units. Hold down the Alt key to box select enemy units to get the same result. Very simple here: your guys, regardless of their Tactical setting, will scoot off and attack the target(s) selected. Box selecting is extremely useful for picking particular targets.

If the target disappears from view, either because it dies before they reach it or it successfully disappears inside a dust cloud, your attackers will declare victory and STOP dead in transit. This applies to those static turrets too!

Attack Move
Press Ctrl+A and click on empty space: your forces will Move to their intended destination, but will break off and attack anything hostile that strays into range along the way, based on their Tactical settings. Once they've dealt with the threat, they proceed to their destination as before. The only problem with this command is that your entire force will take a detour to chase down any lone Scout, Resource Collector or Probe along the way. It's not a bad little command for entering unknown territory, especially if you think there's a good chance of running into hostile forces coming the other way.

Waypoints are always useful for plotting out courses that need to avoid trouble spots. Waypoints are a dot-to-dot version of the Move command. Press W and then click out a series of waypoints, and press W again to stop waypointing an establish the last mouseclick as the last waypoint.

Probes and Platforms can't use Waypoints.

Patrol Unlike Homeworld: Cataclysm, there is no patrol command for Homeworld2.
Press G and click on the units you want to Guard. Your guarding force will fly up to the target and stay with it, challenging anything that attacks their host. You can guard multiple selections by holding down G and box selecting a group of ships to Guard. The guarding force will pick a single unit to fly with, but they will protect the entire selection. I'm not entirely certain how this would be any different from just making a Strike-Force instead.

Press J (for Jump) on any capital ship equipped with a Hyperspace Module, to leapfrog it across the map. Be aware that a Hyperspace jump costs you RU's, and the distance travelled and the number of ships included in the jump can seriously push the price up. Select the ships you want to jump and press J. The ship(s) with the Hyperspace Modules will show their purple operating radius: any selected Frigates or Capital ships inside these rings without Hyperspace Modules will also be included in the Jump. Strikecraft are ignored, unless you've stashed them away inside one of the Jumping ships' docking bays.

Jumps have the added perk of sorting all your ships into default holding formation; so a tangled jumble of ships will appear out of hypersapce in neat orderly rows.

Any Guarding Strikecraft or parts of a Strike-Force that missed the jump will try to catch up with the Jumped ships on snail drive.

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Last modified Tue, Nov 23 2004 by Lindsay Fleay.