Natural Selection 2

Natural Selection 2

103 ratings
Commander's Bible [UPDATED 6/5/2016]
By Ron Swanson and 1 collaborators
This is an in depth overview of the commander role in both situational awareness for his/her marines/aliens and proper utilization of resources as well as strategy both early and late game including role assignments for specific tasks and proper build orders. I will do my best to be as thorough as possible and will attempt to answer any questions. I would appreciate any feedback or information any vetrans feel would be useful or helpful for a commander to know.

If you are looking for pretty pictures their aren't any........ yet

So you think you have what it takes to command.....
Ok, so you've played a few RTS games in the past and you think you are up for the challenge of commanding a game of Natural Selection 2? Lets see if you have what it takes. Can you make split second strategic desicions while simultaneously being bombarded with new information from an ever changing battlefield? Will you order good men and women to their deaths to further your own desires, or will you command them in such a way as to gain a decisive victory? Only time will tell, but this guide should help increase your knowledge base and allow you to adapt to increasingly innovative strategies. To be a sucessful commander you must remember that your job is not only one of giving orders, but providing your team with information vital to their survival as well as making strategic choices on where to concentrate your teams assets and firepower.

The Asymetrical nature of this game poses unique challenges and encourages a tight knit team based experience. In the role of the commander you are not only leader and intel support, you are the driving force behind the battle. Your desicions shape the evolution of each game and when done properly provides your team and opponents with an amazing gameplay experience. Due to how deep the game truely is I have decided to empart what I have learned from playing Natural Selection 1 and 2 in an attempt to help increase the novice and intermediate commanders skill levels and provide public games with a much more prepared "Comm". Also, Don't forget to scroll that mouse wheel down when you first get in the chair, thank me later.
Boot Camp
OK, so you have just jumped in the command chair or the hive on Natural Selection 2 and you're blasted with a completely new interface from what you are used to. The game has transformed giving you a completely new user interface (UI) which can be quite disorienting, however, when used properly it will provide you with complete situational awareness. This advantage is MASSIVE, I cannot overstate this enough, THE COMMANDER WINS GAMES. If you take two teams of equal talent and give them commanders of differing skill levels the more skilled commander will always win. I know for a fact I am not the best commander in the world, but I am always trying to learn and adapt to circumstances as they happen. Flexibility in play style can leverage what appears to be a minor advantage or disadvantage so that it becomes a game winning overture.

Most people, when they first get in the commander's chair, get hit with this massive interface change and freeze-up or start placing items and objects where they will be minimally effective. Make no mistake, structure placement means life and death for your boots on the ground. A misplaced structure can cost you the resources of the structure plus the time to re-spawn X number of marines and the resources they were carrying. I've been guilty of ordering good men (and women) through a phase gate to their demise in the hope it would repel the enemy assault. Knowing when to quit is just as important, if you see a bunch of enemies attacking a forward location it may be better to regroup elsewhere and push back on foot. You should always have the ability to use "Voice Comms" (have a decent microphone or headset) to quickly relay information, If you have to stop and type things out then the situation has already changed and your typed information is out dated.

On to structures and resource points. I know math hurts the old noodle a bit, but when you lose a resource tower you aren't just losing the cost of the tower, you are losing one resource point multiplied by X (X is equal to however many resource ticks have passed without you controlling a fully operational node) + the cost of the tower. To avoid doing math I will dumb it down, if your team can hold more resource nodes than the opposing force, either by full control (any tower that has operated for roughly one minute has paid for itself and then begins to produce a profit) or denying an enemy's resource tower (maintaining a player presence in the area to deny the building of a tower) will allow your team to gain a resource advantage over the enemy. While this may seem marginal at first, over time this becomes huge. Anyone who has bothered with the the above listed math knows, your resource points will quickly soar above your opposition's.

Proper distribution of the team's assets (both players and structures) will allow for what is known as map control. Within any given map there are key points that must be held or given constant pressure for victory. The sooner you familiarize yourself with a map the quicker you will be able to recognize these areas and distribute team resources accordingly. As you learn more and more about build order, structure placement, maximum ranges, and utilizing existing map emplacements you will become more efficient as a commander. This will allow for more flexibility in your play style, and ultimately an increase of your win-loss ratio. We will delve deeper into what goes where and why in a later chapter.
Hot Keys
Alright, so you are sitting there protected, from all the elements and marine/alien attack, safe in your metal box/squishy womb like structure. Good! This gives you ample time to master the hot keys associated with the many, many different structures required when commanding a team. They are here listed below for your study.

"But Lerk Hunter can't I just point and click???" and to that I say "Sure... if you like losing..."
Q = Build Menu
Q = Build Menu
W = Advanced Menu
W = Advanced Menu
E = Assist Menu
E = Assist Menu
Build Menu
Build Menu
A = Command Chair
A = Cyst
S = Extractor
S = Extractor
D = Infantry Portal (IP)
D = Drop new Drifter
F = Armory
F = Hive
Z = Robotics Factory
Z= Threat Indicator
X = Arms Lab
X = Healing Indicator
G = Expanding Indicator
Advanced Menu
Advanced Menu
A = Turret
A = Crag (Healing Station)
S = Observatory (obs)
S = Shift (Adrenaline Refill/ Structure Mover)
D = Phase Gate
D = Shade (Cloaking / Ink)
F = Prototype Lab
F = Whip
Z = Turret Factory
Z = Shell (Defensive Upgrade Structure)
C = Veil (Deception Upgrade Structure)
G = Spur (Movement Upgrade Structure)
Assist Menu
Assist Menu
A = Ammo Pack
A = Healing Wave
S = Med Pack
S = Ink
D = Nano-Shield
D = Select Shift
F = Scan Area
F = Select Nearest Drifter
Z = Power Surge
Z = Nutrient Mist
X = Catalyst Pack
X = Rupture
G = Weapons Menu
G = Bone Wall
V = Contamination
Weapons Menu
Egg Menu
A = Shotgun
Z = Gorge
F = Welder
X = Lerk
S = Grenade Launcher
G = Fade
D = Flame Thrower
V = Onos
Z = Jet Pack
X = Jetpack
V = Machine Gun
G = Back to Assist Menu
Command Station Menu
Alien Hive Menu
A = Nano Shield
A = Eggs
S = Catalyst Pack(cat pack)
S = Biomass Upgrade
D = Power Surge
F = Lifeform Abilities Menu
Z = Evlove to Crag Hive
X = Evolve to Shade Hive
G = Evolve to Shift Hive

Knowing the hot keys will speed in the development of your base and advance your team as a whole. For instance, if I need to drop an infantry portal (IP), I could go about it two ways, the first is using the mouse to navigate the proper menu, click and select the IP then place it. The second is using hot keys by pressing “Q” then “D” which immediately opens the proper menu and selects the IP allowing me to quickly place it wherever my mouse cursor is hovering simply by clicking once. As aliens I would press “E” then “Z” and click to quickly mist a player on the ground evolving.

For marines hot keys function with these structures when selected: arms lab, armory, prototype lab, robotics factory, and observatory. Hot keys are also available for untilizing certain alien structures when selected: Shift, Shade, Crag, and even the Hive itself. Being able to quickly navigate your UI allows for precious seconds to be saved; the faster you can expand and secure map locations the faster your team can gain dominance.

You can also set groups of players or structures to the keys 1-9 by holding control and pressing the corresponding 1-9 key on your keyboard. This is Essential in high skill games to quickly access the needed structure without having to mouse over it, saving you time and possibly a few team mates

Stratigic Importance
So there you are sitting in your nice comfy chair while your team scurries about mindlessly, let's do something about that.

On every map there are strategically important area's known as "tech points" these are chair/hive locations. while they are necessary for victory often times they are being assaulted continuously by the opposing team. I use what I call Buffers to alert the team of impending assault on strategic locations. Buffers are areas I have deemed strategically important and are usually located at the resource nodes surrounding the tech points.

Let's start with the Aliens.
As Aliens a drifter is an amazing tool, It provides an Area of Sight, and this AoS can allow your alien comrades and yourself to see an enemy advance on the mini-map for you in a real time top down view. Drifters also have the added bonus of being able to "cast" several abilities that will create force multipliers for your team. A simple cyst chain into an area can do wondrous things for projecting situational awareness as well not only for yourself but for your team, not to mention it blocks marine's from placing mines and will destroy any already placed. Forcing them to destroy your cysts and alert you and your team to their presence.

On to Marines
As Marines I typically will order one or more marines to stand guard and maintain pressure on an area to force my opposition to rotate one or more of their players into a defensive role. Any time you can put the enemy on the defensive you should. It allows for a minimized compliment of enemy troops in other areas and in many cases will allow resource nodes to remain uncontested for 10's of minutes at a time. If I have been fortunate enough to get 5 res towers up early enough I will throw an armory and an obs at my forward pressure points to allow marines to have better situational awareness while I focus my attentions elsewhere.

If you are in a tight spot and the enemy seems to be everywhere try ordering one or two players to covertly move to a resource location or if you prefer have them move to the enemy upgrade locations and take down one or more thus forcing the enemy to rotate and when leveraged properly it will allow your team to gain the upper hand in an engagement. The best defense is a strong offense, This holds true in all things NS2.

Not all strategic locations have a resource node inside them, often times the most strategic locations are those that are centrally located which allow your team to quickly and effectively project firepower map wide. Holding these locations is extremely difficult as you quickly become exposed to assault from all directions but if your structures are properly placed you can minimize exposure to your teammates on the ground and thus maximize their potency. That being said taking a location without a resource tower is a significant investment of both resources and man power, as such it should be done early but not so early as to waste resources. (typically I will move into a centrally located FOB {forward operating base} once the second tech point has been secured and I have at least 4 resource towers functioning)

On some maps such as Veil with only 4 tech points available these centrally located strategic locations will be fiercely defended and often times will need an organized push to be able to lock-down completely, Any organized push against a proficient team will result in a reprisal somewhere on the map and as such you as the commander will need to allocate resources accordingly. Ordering team-mates to rotate quickly to the hot spots and neutralize the threat before it gets out of hand is the most efficient way of doing this.
Targeting Priorities
Anyone who has played NS2 will tell you an, Onos bearing down on you is a frightful thing. As frightening and powerful as these lumbering beasts are they have an Achilles heel. I know from experience that an Onos rushing into base will alert every marine and they will all want to kill him instantly. Instead have them focus fire on the gorge that is following him prior to open fire on the Onos. At the very least the Onos will be forced to retreat when its buddy that heals him is gone, Best case scenario is the large group of marines (4-5) rip the gorge apart and then the Onos gets chased down and killed due to their healer being dead. Targeting priorities change depending on game length, however the gorge shall always take precedence due to its ability to heal its allies and damage its enemies at the same time (not to mention bile bomb)

The Same can be said about an Exo. Don’t focus your attacks on the Exo's until the welders are gone or your attack will fail [THIS IS FALSE AS OF BUILD 301 EXO SUITS ARE PAPER UNLESS SUPPORTED BY 3 WELDERS. Group up and attack] . Provided you have situational awareness you can apply pressure where needed to either force the Exo to retreat or destroy the Exo completely. The easiest way of achieving this is to send one alien to the enemies main base during a push and have him bile bomb the power. One of three things will happen.
  • 1) Your teammate destroys the power node and the marines are forced to retreat to avoid being completely annihilated due to the loss of armor and weapons upgrades.
  • 2) The enemy commander utilizes his obs and beacons leaving his Exo's in the field extremely vulnerable to attack
  • 3) A Small fire team phases in to destroy your teammate while maintaining forward momentum and your attempt at an ambush is thwarted

What I am trying to get at is that the largest threat to your team is, often times, not the largest object in the room. As a Marine, Gorges should be given top priority simply because one gorge can decimate a base very quickly. As an alien, any marine holding a shotgun, a welder or wearing a jetpack is a prime target due to their ability to deal large amounts of damage or repair structures/players. As a commander your job is to locate these threats during the engagement and order one of two of your teammates to rotate accordingly. As the games grows in popularity and players become more experienced these mid combat rotations will become second nature to them and you will need to announce them less and less.

On to structures, These may seem trivial to some but those who are veterans know any resources you can deny an enemy are resources in your favor. So your marines are pressing forward and they encounter an uncapped resource node covered in cysts, their first instinct is to clear the cysts, this instinct is incorrect (provided no aliens have seen them). What they should do would be to stop and hold the area until the enemy commander drops the resource tower then destroy the tower and the resource tower followed by cysts thus denying the enemy any resources from said tower and also removing the cost from the aliens current res supply. The same can be done as aliens in the manner of allow the marines to begin construction of the resource tower before swarming, Thus killing the marine/s who was/were building, denying any resources from coming out of the node and destroying a structure at the same time.

As a marine it may seem counter intuitive to send someone on a suicide missions but often times it will succeed and cost the enemy a great deal of resources in the process. Sending a single marine to go "upgrade hunting" (to covertly enter the enemies base and destroy one or multiple alien upgrade structures before they can react) causes both demoralization of the enemy and weakens them by removing one tier of upgrade as well as up to 15 resource points in damages per upgrade killed. As for Aliens a Power Node may look tasty but other structures should be examined more closely. An Armory for instance may not seem like a likely target but if it has been advanced that is 30 resources and roughly 2 minutes of research time and will effectively stop production of any weapons beyond shotguns. An observatory is also a delicious treat for any skulk and at 10 resources should be considered a priority target due to its un-armored nature, a command chair may seem like a daunting task for one skulk but if two or three of them munch on it you can watch the chair melt away costing the marines 15 resource points and clearing a tech point for an alien hive. Any alien structures should be destroyed as quickly as possible. The priority should be; gorge tunnel, shade, shift, crag, resource towers then eggs and cysts unless you are in an Exo in which case just walk over the eggs while killing structures.
Initial Startup Tactics (Marines)
Both aliens and marines are given 60 resources to start with. These resources are precious and must not be squandered. The key to victory is map control; a major part of map control is capturing and holding resource towers. While that room with two resource nodes is a tempting target, for inexperienced commanders it often proves difficult or even catastrophic to hold early on. A much safer path would be to wrap around the flanks of the map and capture as many resource nodes as possible. I will take five outskirt resource nodes over two centrally located nodes any day. This is partly because their ease of access imparts minimal risk to my fire teams as well as forcing the enemy to respond quickly or risk a potential resource deficit. Once the enemy is engaged elsewhere, and pressure is applied constantly, the central nodes are immediately much easier to capture and hold or at the very least deny.

As marines there are several research paths to take early on and they all end up in the same place, victory. I'll list them, then go over the pros and cons of each strategy.

  • The First and most common is to get phase gates as quickly as possible
  • The Second is to quick get an arms lab and begin armor one research
  • The Third is to secure a tech point, quickly build a command chair and one IP, then recycle the chair
  • The Fourth and least common is to rush an advanced armory and give access to the prototype lab as soon as possible
  • The Fifth is to continually pressure the aliens at a forward location with three to five marines and a forward armory while the remainder of the team wraps around the map and captures as many resources as possible while simultaneously denying any alien nodes and/or expansion

Each of these strategies have their own advantages and weaknesses.

The fast phase method allows for forward fire bases to be quickly reinforced via a phase gate The most obvious downside to this is it will take you a while longer to get upgrade for your marines to utilize and until the phase gate is established it is a massive investment early on in the game, 60 resources with the obs placement the research and the two phase gates.

The second is an armor rush and is a very effective early game strategy as it will allow your marines in the field greater survivability thus increasing their ability to hold a location. Once armor one has been researched you can focus on upgrading weapons to level three. I know, I know I said armor rush. In truth that is what it is, rushing armor one increases the amount of bites a skulk needs to kill your marines from two up to three to five, depending on the bite quality, thus increasing their survivability early game against lower life forms. The weapons upgrades will allow you to stop the 10 minute Onos and the eight minute Fade with little trouble, as well as tear Lerks out of the sky. The downside of this is the exact opposite of the fast phase; you will have extremely limited mobility early on so any over extension can cost your team a quick loss. Good team discipline is needed for this strategy to be effective.

The third is surprisingly effective as it negates the need for early phase tech and will refund a portion of the chairs cost directly to your resource pool allowing you to continue expansion or research new upgrades to supplement your marines. The glaringly obvious problem to this strategy is that with only a single IP in each tech point your marines roll the dice every time they re-spawn and sometimes they will spawn in the wrong place. On top of that, you will need to rebuild that chair at some point.

The fourth has the advantage of allowing early game grenade launchers and flame throwers as well as being able to drop a prototype lab within four minutes of game start (provided you hold onto some nodes). The problem with this strategy is that your marines will need to forgo upgrades AND mobility for increased early game firepower, at least until jet-packs are researched. I personally never use this strategy, although it is viable, I find the risk too great for the reward of a prototype lab three to four minutes sooner.

The fifth, and my personal favorite, forces the enemy into a defensive stance off the bat and forces them to allocate resources to protecting their main base. With an armory placed in your main base and at a forward location you are able to double up on the upgrades and get shotguns and welders at the same time or upgrade one to an advanced armory in relative safety due to the pressure being applied away from your base. As an added bonus a forward armory provides a resupply point and a healing station for your marines who are applying pressure, saving you prescious resources in the form of ammo and med drops. Proper team distribution is required for this to work properly as you will need one to three players out capturing nodes and securing the map while your pressure team holds at all costs. Its effectiveness will increase dramatically if you place an IP one tech point over from the aliens thus allowing quick reinforcement without the need for a phase gate. This allows you to control your opponents in such a way that if they decide to pressure elsewhere you can annihilate their upgrades, eggs and hive, securing the early game win. The biggest downfall of this strategy comes if the enemy rotates around to your main base during the early game, in this event you must eject from the chair to defend the main base or beacon costing you resources and most likely your forward position as well as any resources spent. Additionally, if the Aliens main base rush is organized enough it can quickly turn the tables and cost you the game or force a relocation.

*Resource costs may not be accurate due to updates*
Initial Startup Tactics (Aliens)
Both aliens and marines are given 60 resources to start with. These resources are precious and must not be squandered. The key to victory is map control; a major part of map control is capturing and holding resource towers. While that room with two resource nodes is a tempting target, for inexperienced commanders it often proves difficult or even catastrophic to hold early on. A much safer path would be to wrap around the flanks of the map and capture as many resource nodes as possible. I will take five outskirt resource nodes over two centrally located nodes any day. This is partly because their ease of access imparts minimal risk to my fire teams as well as forcing the enemy to respond quickly or risk a potential resource deficit. Once the enemy is engaged elsewhere, and pressure is applied constantly, the central nodes are immediately much easier to capture and hold.

As Aliens there are several way to progress initially, all of which are a viable way to victory, I shall list them then go over the pros and cons of each stratagem.

  • First is the most obvious and widely used which is the Shift rush
  • Second is a tactic that is gaining popularity and that is the Shell rush
  • Third is the Shade rush
  • Fourth is the immediate second hive (Extremely High Risk)
  • Fifth is the resource hoarding method
  • Sixth is the base rush
  • Seventh is the rare but extremely effective gorge rush

The first plan of action is typically a safe bet for the novice. Selecting Shift hive gives spurs as the primary upgrade giving your aliens the ability to traverse the map at a much faster rate or completely silent. It is, however, quite resource intensive; Shift is the second most expensive path costing 15 resource per spur, and you need to drop two spurs immidiately and save the rest of your resources for Resource Towers and a Shift to allow you to echo Structures around the map. All these expenses can quickly drain your remaining resources if used improperly.

The second strategy is to rush the shell upgrades, it increases your team's armor and produces a higher per alien tactical value in combat. This can be very effective as early on the marine's firepower will be extremely limited. The major downside of this is that your fielded aliens will be more durable but still very slow and you will be unable to echo resources around the map until a second hive comes online. This greatly limits your ability to expand due to the one resource cost of placing cysts outside your main hive and the vulnerability of drifters .

The third strategy allows you minimal cost early on, but poses the largest risk to your expansion. I recommended that you place shades at key locations as you expand for two reasons: it will hide your cyst chain and resource nodes and produce easy ambush locations for your aliens. The major drawback to this strategy is that unless your team is able to quickly secure three hive locations it will be extremely difficult to be combat effective late game due to the lack of either a movement or defensive upgrade. This will often result in a loss down the stretch, especially in large population games. Also any semi-competent marine commander confronted with this tactic will wind up scanning the map ahead of his marines or providing them with observatories at pressure points to negate the advantage of cloaking.

The fourth strategy is to immediately chain cysts to one resource node outside your main base build the tower then place the second hive, have three Gorges assist in building the resource tower first then the hive. The largest problem with this strategy is it will leave you starved for resources (3-5 for the cyst chain to the node outside base, 13 resources for a shift or 8 resources for a drifter || DO NOT PLACE BOTH A DRIFTER AND A SHIFT PICK ONE || and 8 for the Resource tower PLUS 40 for the hive). The Second problem is that if the marine team finds your early hive your strategy is revealed and the hive will most likely die. Until you are able to capture more nodes it leaves you in an extremely vulnerable position early game due to the lack of unit upgrades and resource income which makes for a difficult push but it can be preferable if you are forced into a bad hive location on the start of a round.

The fifth strategy, and my favorite, is the resource hoarder. This one is very basic. Cyst to four resource nodes outside of your main hive and capture them, the easy way to do this is to cyst to the first two resource points then place the resource towers and repeat on the opposite side. Doing this will allow for a quick capture of 5 resource nodes and allow you to continuous resource income of 5 or greater. Allowing for you to assess the situation and upgrade accordingly. The biggest risk is if the marines push out farther than you anticipated, it is very easy to lose nodes without a tower (I.E. Marines start cutting your cyst chain or are waiting for you to drop the node) and the initial upgrades will be forced to remain on the back burner until your nodes are operational.

The sixth strategy is an all-out assault on the enemy base. Everyone rushes in a large group and devours the infantry portal as soon as they enter the enemy base, this stops any reinforcements from spawning in and forces the enemy to retreat to avoid a complete loss. This has the added bonus of allowing you to expand unchecked until the marines have either, been eliminated, or at the very least repelled your aliens from their spawn. The downside to this is if the marines are able to annihilate your team, quickly your team will be egg-locked and the marines will be free to expand while your team waits on re-spawns.

The seventh, and funniest on this list by far, is the Gorge rush. Everyone on your team goes Gorge and clogs the entrances to your base before belly sliding towards the enemy base. While walking to the marine base all gorges need to be healing each other and while the gorge or gorges in the very front of the pack are spitting at marines until they are within healspray range. Upon reaching marine spawn all gorges should immidiately place two hydras and get them built ASAP. Nine hydras can effectively shred a marine at the beginning of the game. The downside to this is that Gorges costs 8 resources and hydras cost three each, removing 17 resources from each player's initial pool. Albeit extremely effective at stalling the marine advance, and resulting in a win more often than not, it is quite difficult to organize and execute.

*Resource costs may not be accurate due to updates*
Situational Awareness
As the commander your primary role may seem to be only to place structures and upgrade them accordingly, this is not entirely true. Your primary role as a commander is to provide your team with situational awareness map wide. You see things they often cannot such as a skulk hiding on the ceiling or a marine hiding in a corner. Assisting in their quick elimination can mean the difference between victory and defeat, If you cannot notify your team of threats via voice comms your usefulness as a commander is extremely limited so a microphone is extremely important. Being able to watch the map and alert your teammates of incoming threats to either themselves or the structures you have placed on the ground is paramount.

In the chair/hive you have a unique perspective from the rest of your team. your map is always open and never obstructs your view. If you are able to provide your team with enemy locations / strengths / possible ambush locations you will dramatically increase their survivability and effective firepower. This map awareness is gained many ways, through direct vision of your units, through the use of drifters/observatories and, more often than not, through your structures actually being attacked. Telling your team something is being attacked often isn't enough, you will need to assign players to specific duties (i.e. a resource tower comes under attack, rather than just stating the fact that it is under attack, specifically order two players to rotate into a defensive posture and have them remove the threat) If you see an enemy hiding in a corner of a room alert your nearby team-mates to rotate.

It also helps greatly to have a ground commander assisting in giving orders to the team to rotate into position and execute the attack. This is a resource that is commonly overlooked and without it a team is truly crippled as the ground commander can assist the commander in the chair/hive with information he might not be privy to such as missing upgrades or locations that are clear to expand into. They can also assist in letting you know what would be the ideal upgrade path/structure placement to take next.
Structure Placement
I know this seems simple and in truth it is, provided you know what the structures actually do. A common mistake I see all too often is a poorly placed observatory. A novice commander will often place it in the middle of his base not thinking about the radius of the passive scan. What seems like a small oversight can cost a team precious resources and time. An observatory should always be placed where it can do the most good, hidden in a corner of a doorway for example to provide marines with greater awareness of incoming threats and allowing them to react accordingly. I will use Docking as my example. In terminal often times i see the observatory placed in the middle of the floor or on the northern wall by the comm chair near the planters. this observatory should be rotated to just inside the doorway to east wing in the right hand corner to allow for maximum scanning range on both doorways and situational awareness for the majority of the hallway to east wing.

Another issue I have noticed is turrets being placed in poor locations, While yes it is true that a single turret doesn’t do a lot of damage on its own, three of them can decimate a skulk quickly and provide an effective defensive screen to a room. In order to capitalize on this it is ideal to place the turret factory behind a wall or other structure where the turrets can be placed in its sphere of influence while leaving the turret battery relatively hidden and secure. One other thing that needs to be noted is you can effectively place six turrets in one area if you pay attention to where the power nodes influence for a given room ends. For instance in docking again it is possible to have three turrets in terminal as well as an additional three in each of the northern doorways to central access and east wing providing an extremely effective screen against alien incursions into your base. One other thing that I have yet to see anyone actually do, but I believe would be extremely effective, would be to place the turret factory around a corner from the turrets and then place an armory to block access to the turret factory.

As Aliens I often have a difficult time deciding where to place my upgrades to make sure they remain secure and minimize their exposure to fire, Novice commanders will often place all 6 upgrade structures in one hive, This is the single biggest mistake that can be done. While yes it does provide a central location for ease of defense if that hive gets assaulted and destroyed you just lost a lot of resources and a lot of time while you rebuild the upgrades. An effective method is to split the upgrade between the hive locations or to find a place to hide them from view and make the "upgrade hunters" really search for them. One of my favorite methods is to find a place on the map that gets minimal traffic and hide them in a such a way as to minimize their chance of detection by the enemy team.

NEVER EVER PLACE UNARMORED STRUCTURES IN THE OPEN!! Always give them some cover from either a wall or another structure in the room. These locations will become more obvious with experience and soon will become second nature to those who enjoy the RTS element of NS2.
"Commander I need Ammo"
Alright so you are on your way to a succesful commanders experience, sitting pretty with 5 resource nodes under your control. All of a sudden one of your marines calls for med packs (or a nutrient mist on the Aliens). Rather than searcing the entire map looking for them often times you can just press the space bar and quickly zip to the person who made the request. If you know your hot keys (seriously learn the hot keys) you can quickly deploy ammo, meds, nano-shield, weapons or a nutrient mist right where its needed most at just the perfect time. There is nothing quite as satisfying as watching one marine take out half the enemy team because you supported him properly.

Don't go crazy with it however because each item you drop, Be it a med pack, ammo pack, nano-shield, weapon, scan, enzyme or a nutrient mist, costs precious resources.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, This almost always the case in NS2. The key to victory is to maintain an adaptive strategy and not get locked into a defensive stance. Don't be afraid to experiment and try new strategies, often times it will take several different approaches to win and if you cannot counter your enemies quickly enough you are doomed to lose. The easiest way to win is to maintain offensive pressure while having a small handful of players (1-3) roaming the map eliminating stragglers, destroying enemy res towers and defending your structures. With that said the overall skill of your team really comes into play once you get settled in. If there are rookies roaming around do your best to assist them in what to do and politely offer suggestions on how better to avoid getting insta-gibbed by the enemy team. Always (almost always because there are some people that are just stupid good at this game) encourage your team to move in small groups of 2-3 and ambush where ever possible to increase their survivability.

While the game is a constant tug of war the goal is quite simple, to win. As the commander you not only have to command your team and your resources, you have to command the enemy team and their resources as well. Forcing them to rotate to your will and not the other way around, allowing the opposition to move into certain areas so you can deny others is key. Once you have a stronger position take them back, never be afraid to sacrifice a few for the good of the many, they re-spawn anyways. This isn't just a game, this is Natural Selection!
Do's and Don't's for those who failed to read the entire thing.

  • I know math hurts the old noodle a bit, but when you lose a resource tower you aren't just losing the cost of the tower, you are losing one resource point multiplied by X (X is equal to however many resource ticks have passed without you controlling a fully operational node) + the cost of the tower.

    "But Lerk Hunter, can't I just point and click???"
    "Sure...... if you like losing..."

  • PLAN AHEAD Any organized push against a proficient team will result in a reprisal somewhere on the map and as such you as the commander will need to allocate resources accordingly. Ordering team-mates to rotate quickly to the hot spots and neutralize the threat before it gets out of hand is the most efficient way of doing this.

  • As Aliens utilize your drifers as much as possible. Move them into common aproaches to your hive locations and leaving the marine bases to give your team maximum intel with minimal risk. Use their enzyme to turn a situation around for your aliens .

  • An Observatory should always be placed where the passive scan can do the most good, hidden in a corner of a doorway for example. providing marines with greater awareness of incoming threats and allowing them to react accordingly.

  • Targeting priorities change depending on game length however the gorge shall always take precedence due to its ability to heal its allies and damage its enemies at the same time (not to mention bile bomb) Or the Marine with the shotgun and the welder.

  • As either aliens or marines you are given a finite amount of resources to start with(50). these resources are precious and must not be squandered needlessly.


  • You not only have to command your team and resources, you must also command the enemy team and their resources

  • A Commander is only as good as the team on the ground.

There are several other great points that are not listed here but the main idea is to adapt quickly and maintain an offensive stance in order to win. Also you should familiarize yourself with the common terminology used in NS2 to allow you to quickly and efficiently inform your team of what is going on and what the plan is. I hope you enjoyed my Guide and thank you for taking the time to read it. Please feel free to leave a comment below and upvote it so it stay's near the top of the guides.
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Handschuh Apr 18 @ 2:10am 
Never do PhaseGates first now. Might work on wooza, but in general with the debuffed medpacks - the armor upgrades are more important.
ground mist Oct 31, 2017 @ 1:30pm 
Dont do phase gates first
Ron Swanson  [author] Oct 12, 2016 @ 4:02pm 
well I am very happy so many people found this guide helpful! if you guys would like similar guides on other games i would be happy to accomodate
Carter1215 Jul 24, 2016 @ 7:43pm 
This was a very helpfull guide, I always never used my drifters for anything other than building and never thought of using them for intel purposes! Something I will now be doing in the future!
ElTobStar Jan 5, 2016 @ 8:25am 
Nice Guide! Thank you! Being an old NS1 player helped al lot to find my way back into the game (stopped playing years ago...around 2004 or something) but also for just playing outside the chair your guide helps a lot for getting into the stuff much more again. It helps to understand whats happening in the chair and thats important to help me supporting the com better.
✪novicock Dec 8, 2015 @ 1:16am 
Nice guide! I know the basics of it (being a NS1 playa as yourself) just truly not confident enough to take the chair these days, any slight lack of performance and you get booted from the chair and get trashtalked for the rest of the game, so I steer clear generally.. The hotkeys seem to be the way forward to be an efficient commander, speed is keyyy!!
Ron Swanson  [author] Jul 26, 2013 @ 3:58pm 
The entire game revolves around fluid combat. If you cannot maintain forward momentum while stalling out the enemy team's advance you will lose.... almost every time. That being said forward momentum in this game is not just that of push push push. Sometimes the best thing to do is to fall back and refocus elsewehre to keep the enemy off balance. Use your best judgement on what to do, where to do it. Always ask yourself these three questions. Will a push into this area be a net gain? how will WE secure that position quickly and at minimal cost? where will we go once that area is secured? Always be willing to adapt to the situation at hand. Always keep your marines informed of the plan.
Nevinex Jul 11, 2013 @ 10:42pm 
Your strategies and tactics are great! I'm going to remember these next time I'm one with the hive.
Nixz Jul 1, 2013 @ 9:05am 
It's really a shame that the big mayority of the players dont care much about the commander and go to obtain random kills/deaths.
rXp Jun 24, 2013 @ 1:21pm 
Yes but it is enough information to know how to start and watching other good commanders helps you for the rest ;)