Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Star Wars: Empire At War - Rebel Ground Units

Star Wars: Empire at War - Rebellion Ground Units
This is a hint / guide for Star Wars: Empire at War. The index of all our guides for Empire at War is here.

The basic concept of any military unit, whether in Empire at War or in real life, is to project firepower. Each type of unit enables some other more vulnerable unit to project more firepower further. For example, infantry protect armor from being swarmed, so that armor can advance and protect artillery so they can deploy, so that buildings and infrastructure can be maintained to build star bases and ships.

Even so, I like to run ground battles with no unit losses (unless they are "free" units that are from, for example, captured facilities), so you won't see tips like "use your Speeder to find turrets and call down a bombing run" as you are likely to lose that Speeder.
That said, you can sometimes lose just part of a unit and still have a whole unit after the battle. Other times, the post-battle summary will not show that you have lost any units, but if you lost most of them (e.g., two out of three SPMA-Ts), you will find that the unit is actually destroyed. Bacta Healing Stations and Vehicle Repair Stations will not resurrect any wholly destroyed individuals of a squad.

An interesting advantage the Rebellion has is Raid Fleets. You cannot bring a Y-Wing with you, so you won't have Bombing Runs. But you can bypass an enemy fleet in orbit, and you destroy the space station if you capture the planet.
If you already control orbital space, you can still raid the planet if you start from another planet; and then draw on Bombing Runs or reinforcements with whatever you have in orbit. The advantage of this is you can land three units immediately instead of just one and having to call down reinforcements.

Rebel Soldier
Your basic infantry, and in general, they all work the same way:
  • You need them to capture contest Reinforcement Points and Building Pads, and to capture and hold Abandoned buildings.
  • When a unit comes under ranged weapons fire, the health bar shows the health of the current individual in the unit. When that bar is depleted, one individual dies. Weapons fire that does not have an area effect will kill one individual at a time. This is one of the reasons that infantry make such good cannon fodder: They actually take a tedious amount of time to kill without artillery.
  • There are fewer individuals in a Rebellion infantry unit, but they are slightly more hardy. It makes no difference when they are being trampled or run over, however.
  • Infantry are vulnerable to being walked over or run over (which hover-vehicles cannot do) and any individuals caught by this generally instantly die. Even units that walk into vehicles that could crush them will be considered crushed. From the very early game, the Imperials have tracked vehicles and walkers, and Rebellion infantry are vulnerable throughout the game.
  • They cannot run and shoot at the same time. If they are charged, they may break and run to avoid being trampled. Generally they have more maneuverability than vehicles (which have to take time to turn) but can be rendered temporarily harmless this way if you to stop them from firing for a while (e.g., to retreat another injured unit).
  • Because they must basically be killed by attrition, and can toggle their Take Cover ability to further improve their survivability, they are good for tying up enemy units if you are willing to accept losses due to attrition. Rebel soldiers are slightly more durable for this, as individuals have more health than individual stormtroopers (but squads have less individuals, and therefore put out less firepower).
  • All infantry controlled by the AI tend to race for the round dugouts ringed by sandbags. While in their radius, units heal continuously. This is a great way to have them sit still to be walked over by your AT-ST.

PLEX Missile Trooper (uses the PLX-1 Portable Missile Launcher)
  • The AI tends to split up a squad into the two groups of three, but I find they are best used in very large gangs where their concentrated and fairly rapid fire can quickly destroy lightly armored vehicles shortly after they are sighted and definitely before they can use their special abilities. Try to put them in a large enough swarm that you can drop a vehicle with a single volley. These larger groups do need to be protected against Scout Trooper thermal grenade drops (listen for grenade countdown beeps) and being crushed by TIE Maulers and AT-ST Walkers.
  • The Missiles can be fired through the shield provided by an enemy's active Shield Generator. This means you do not have to enter a base to provide supporting fire.
  • The Missiles have a small area effect, which makes them somewhat useful against Infantry -- but only at very close range because they are ridiculously inaccurate against infantry, sometimes flying very wide and very far.
  • The Missiles travel quite quickly and have a guidance system that lets them make tight turns -- They are therefore very good at quickly bringing down a Scout Trooper making a suicide run to drop a thermal detonator.
  • The Missiles fly NOE (nap-of-the-earth), and can go over hills, but the distance up and down counts toward the maximum range.
  • Although like all Infantry they are weak against Anti-Infantry Turrets, each individual in the squad is surprisingly hardy against Anti-Vehicle Turrets, and a gang of PLEX Missile Troopers can quickly take down an Anti-Vehicle Turret. They can do the same to an Anti-Infantry Turret, but you are liable to lose several units because those Turrets will choose Infantry over Vehicles even if a Vehicle is closer.

T2-B Repulsor Tank
  • These are "repulsors" because of the repulsorlift mechanism that lets them hover. They can go over water, which gives the Rebellion a mild early terrain advantage.
  • Their shields regenerate quickly enough that you are practically invincible against single squads of basic infantry. You can therefore safely send a few against the various native dwellings and set them to first target the dwelling while ignoring fire from the natives. Eventually they will destroy the dwelling and then the natives (which respawn while the dwelling remains).
  • Although somewhat fragile, they are still valuable throughout the Republic campaign as fast spotters and to help hold ground. If the enemy can be taken down with heavier firepower, they make great mobile shields by sitting in front to soak damage (for MPTLs, for example). Because their shields regenerate, they don't have to be run back to a Vehicle Repair Station very often. Also, their shields are very strong against Scout Trooper thermal grenades.
  • They go down very quickly from a Barrage from an AT-ST Walker or a Saber Tank with boosted firepower; a blast from a self-destructing TIE Mauler will take down a shield instantly, and two TIE Maulers can clear whole squads of T2-B Repulsors that are too close together.
  • A half squad of three individual PLEX Troopers (e.g., Pirate Missile Troops) can kill one T2-B in a single volley because the shields offer no protection. This makes them very fragile against pirates and in the early Rebellion campaign, land combat against pirates can result in a lot of losses. To increase survivability, take Tatooine as soon as possible for the galactic Combat Armor Level 1 upgrade. You will then only lose about half as much health.

MPTL-2a (Mobile Proton Torpedo Launcher)
  • In the Rebellion campaign, you must steal this technology from the Imperials by stealing the Heavy Factory technology.
  • Probably the most overpowered unit, and the one you need to get first. Although the AI sends the Spotter Droids as advance scouts, they come with a radar Ping power, similar to the TIE Scout Sonar Ping in space. This means when you land on a planet, you generally only have to hold ground, wait for bombing runs, then ping to reveal the target location and thereby target a bombing run. Pirate-controlled planets do not have Shield technology, and rarely build Anti-Aircraft Turrets, and are therefore very easily taken out.
  • Against the AI, these are very useful because AI units do not change their behavior when barraged: Static units will just continue to stand there. Use C-3PO or Rebel Infiltrators to keep long-range targets in view as the Spotter Droid Ping power lasts only a couple of seconds -- generally good for just one volley from the MPTL-2a.
  • Because of the minimum range, you will probably want to have these hang back very far for safety. Enemy artillery can be somewhat neutralized by charging them because they un-deploy and flee until they are out of minimum range.
  • There is some guidance to the torpedoes, and they will veer slightly to track a moving target. The best way to get out of their way is to run toward the MPTL-2a as the torpedoes don't double back.
  • PLEX Troopers also use proton torpedoes, and their torpedoes ignore shields (personal shields on vehicles as well as area shields from a Shield Generator). MPTL-2a torpedoes are affected by shields. But when they strike a shield, they explode, and the blast from that explosion will affect targets not far behind the area shield from a Shield Generator. Although the visible blast is small, there is actually a wider splash that can easily take out a unit of infantry that isn't squarely hit by the torpedo.

T4-B Heavy Tank
  • In the Rebellion campaign, you must steal this technology from the Imperials by stealing the Heavy Factory technology and this tank technology later at Tech Level 3.
  • The main problem with this unit is that the turret needs to turn in order to fire anything, and the turret turns very slowly. When you park it, make sure it is turned the correct way, or it will take about 1-2 seconds to turn its turret and track the target. It is essentially only good at hitting only targets that aren't moving sideways (so you don't need to turn the turret).
  • It also has no shields, so while it can soak hits, it needs to be frequently pulled back to a Vehicle Repair Station. T2-B Repulsor Tanks have shields and, properly managed, can have longer field use before having to go back to a Vehicle Repair Station.

Rebel Infiltrator
  • In the Rebellion campaign, you must steal this technology from the Imperials at Tech Level 3.
  • These appear in the late game, and are specialized units. They have very line of sight and and range with their sniping rifles -- long enough to take out Turrets safely, so you can either use them as spotters for Mobile Proton Torpedo Launchers or more mobile and less vulnerable anti-turret units.
  • The rate of fire with the sniping rifles is slow, but each shot can take out one unit of infantry or one Speeder Bike. If reflected back (e.g., by Darth Vader), a Rebel Infiltrator is instantly killed.
  • Their thermal detonators ignore shields. Two thermal detonators is approximately equal to one Bombing Run and should be able to take out a native housing structure or Light Factory. Be careful of the slight delay after the detonators are thrown, during which the Rebel Infiltrator cannot move.
  • They can outrun a lot of units -- they can definitely outrun infantry -- so you can literally do hit and run until you win. This is important if you have to take out an AT-AT, as you can run to the side or behind it (it has to turn to get target inside its arc of fire, cannot move backwards, and has a minimum range to its weapons fire), and get in close safely to plant thermal detonators. Two thermal detonators will likely blow off half an AT-AT's health, making it flee -- whereupon if you can you should move in all the vehicles to finish it off.
  • TIE Maulers are slightly faster, but if you keep running, they will catch up just enough that IF both of you were stopped, your Rebel Infiltrators would be in the blast radius of their self-destruct. They will then typically choose to activate their self-destruct. Keep running.
  • Against more agile vehicles, their Thermal Detonators are tricky to use as you are taking too many hits just to get close. A Saber Tank using its special ability to increase fire power can kill a Rebel Infiltrator with one shot, so they are best left for artillery. An AT-ST Walker typically stands still when using its Barrage ability even if targets have left the area, so you can possibly sidestep the Barrage area to plant thermal detonators and then run for it.

T-47 Airspeeder
  • Although meant as a counter against AT-ATs, the T-47 Airspeeder makes an excellent scout as it is virtually indestructible unless they encounter Anti-Air defenses. Don't count on it being helpful offensively, however, as it circles around far too much to lay down any useful fire.

Field Commander
On the ground, Field Commanders are like infantry and can capture Reinforcement Points, Building Pads, and abandoned buildings. They just need to be present on the ground in order to impart bonuses (wider visual range, 25% more health).
You will probably want to park them somewhere safe and toggle the Take Cover ability that all infantry have. However, their Elite Guard has a strong attack that can drop enemy infantry individuals as quickly as Rebel Infiltrators.

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