The Spartan, being the class with the hardest-hitting individual units in End of Nations, is a shoe-in for the game's most popular class. That’s not to say it’s the best, but many seem to enjoy its play style. Let’s face it: people like taking big, heavy tanks and blowing up crap (preferably, smaller tanks!). And, well, the Spartan has that in spades. So, let’s stop dallying and get to it: here are some tips for quite literally getting the most bang for your buck as the heavy hitter of End of Nations.
It’s rare for me to call out a specific Commander Ability in a section like this, but Rolling Thunder’s utility is hard to overstate. The often slow Spartan war machine benefits greatly from the movement speed bonus granted by Rolling Thunder: by default, the Guardian infantry moves at a less than stellar 80 speed, which means it numbers amongst the slowest units in the game. Rolling Thunder bumps this up to a respectable 120, the same speed as the Reaper. Likewise, the Titan moves at 110 speed (as of closed beta 4), but Rolling Thunder allows it to move at 165, almost as fast as the Fury. Helios, which move at 120 in their Power to Engines stance, get bumped up to a frighteningly fast 180, temporarily allowing it to outpace the vast majority of ground units.
Fast, heavy tanks are no fun for the enemies of the Liberation Front: it’s hard to kite a Titan tank that’s faster than you are, or escape from the blasts of a Helios that's able to keep up with you. Moreover the Spartan, due to the slow average movement speed of its units, often has to worry about getting out of position (we’ll talk about this shortly). Rolling Thunder can really help overcome temporarily the drawbacks of their lumbering units. If there’s no overwhelming strategic reason to choose something else, Rolling Thunder is virtually never a bad decision.
It’s hard to over-emphasize this: Spartan units are slow. I mean, there are some notable exceptions: the Archimedes moves at a snappy 150 speed, and the Vulcan (and Helios in Power to Engines mode) moves at a respectable 120 but otherwise, many units hover at the 80-100 range, which is at the low end of the speed spectrum in the game. This means that it can be relatively easy for Spartan units to find themselves out of position to support their teammates. In addition, Spartan turrets are largely defensive. Ultimately, it can be frustrating for the Spartan to try to be in the right place to apply all of the force they’re capable of bringing to bear.
Likewise, it can be easy to overextend as a Spartan player. Being on so slow, many Spartan compositions can have trouble escaping from a bad engagement. Therefore, compositions of heavy vehicles will want to play defensively: overly aggressive play could mean having to repurchase your attack force. A defensive game plays more to the Spartan’s strengths in many ways: turrets are better able to synergize with units, and units aren’t forced to attempt to give chase if they’re holding down areas of the map.
Maximizing Your Turrets
The Spartan boasts an array of impressive and daunting turrets: the Helios turret does considerable damage, especially when clustered in a small area. The Shiva turret deals artillery-like damage in a line and never misses its primary target, while boasting one of the longest ranges in the game (especially at Mark 2). The Artillery turret is a relatively cheap, yet potent long range indirect fire platform which is very effective in groups of 2 or more. Even the starting Cannon and Machine Gun turrets do respectable damage and can be hard to clear off of a Victory Point or other map objective.
The main issues with these turrets are their long build times and the limited number the player is able to field: while the Wraith can easily bring 4, 5 or 6 of the same type their offensive turrets along even at low levels, thus making them able to stack a single damage type should they desire, the Spartan can often field fewer than their allotted number of structures due to the comparatively high cost of their more damaging turrets. In the case of the Shiva turret, damage potential more than makes up for quantity, but choosing a good location for turrets can be a chore at times. Bad positioning, especially for the more costly turret options, can mean wasted time and resources, and ultimately lowers the player’s damage potential. Learning the best place to build up defenses can be an art form for the Spartan player. When in doubt, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of the Cannon turret and the Machine Gun turret: they do impressive damage if you bring multiples, and can be rebuilt relatively quickly.
Sexy! This Helios is rocking a Leopard-print skin.
Purpose/Strengths: Helios/Guardian is a highly defensive combination. While the Helios can be used aggressively, with its incredibly high health and impressive area damage, in this case they are largely relegated to tanking damage for their fellow unit in this company: the Guardian. Guardians do consistent damage from a respectable range, and are ideal for assisting in locking down territory, such as the south lane on Ice Breaker or the central pathways in Resource Hog. Unfortunately, a number of Light vehicles and infantry (such as Reapers and Pathfinders) are able to really put the hurting on Guardians, which is where those Helios come in. Helios and Guardians are able to act as a sword and shield: mutually defending each other and still dealing damage. This can be a hard force for Shadow Revolution forces to unseat, particularly at low levels when your enemies might not have all of the Commander Abilities they might want.
Composition: I’ve found 3 Helios paired with 5 Guardians (around level 5) to be an effective combination. This is enough Helios to give Reaper groups pause, and enough Guardians to still deal effective damage. Dropping down to 2 Helios is possible, however, so don’t count that out. Here’s how this is intended to work: The Guardians set up shop somewhere, the Helios pulling out ahead of them. Set up those Helios turrets to the side or slightly behind the Guardians, depending on how exposed the area you’re setting up: in an open area, giving the Guardians something to fall back into can be helpful.
Behind that, you’ll have your Artillery turrets. These are very useful, punishing enemies who don’t spread their units well or keep them moving, dealing with structures as they’re being built: artillery can generally make a nuisance of itself, especially when there’s a ton of Area damage nearby to deter pushes. Generally, this combo can be frustrating to deal with.
Getting the company shown in the picture will take you till about level 5: researching Helios at level 2, Guardians at level 3, Artillery Turrets at level 4, and Button Up and Helios turrets at level 5 is probably not a bad way to go. Before researching Guardians, Orions or Archimedes could be used in this company composition.
Alternate Companies: While the recommended build for this company includes Button Up, which provides an 8 second force field at the cost of unit mobility (as well as making them unable to attack for the duration) Rolling Thunder or Minerva’s Aid are other abilities that can be slotted instead. Minerva’s Aid will work well with both Guardians and Artillery Turrets, providing temporarily some of the longer ranges in the game. And, obviously, Rolling Thunder can be used to get those slow Guardians out of bad situations. Or, conceivably, get your Helios up to an advancing enemy in plenty of time to distract them from being whittled down by your defenses.
I do not recommend Shiva turrets for this composition, since you’re actually relying pretty specifically on the above-depicted combination, and Shiva turrets are expensive and take a long time to build. I do recommend working in an Athena station, however, once you have a free Research point and the CP to add this without sacrificing your other turrets.
As far as alternate units go, you have a wide range of options: Orions work well with both Helios and Guardians, making Helios/Orion and Guardian/Orion good choices. Helios/Ares works on much the same principle as well, though it leaves you more vulnerable to air units. Even solid companies of nothing but Guardians or nothing but Helios aren’t uncommon. You might want to re-think your turret and Commander Ability choices in that case, however: All Helios compositions would probably want Designate Fire Zone (or Minerva's Aid) and Rolling Thunder, with Cannon and/or Machine Gun turrets which are fairly aggressive, and all-Guardian compositions would probably still want Helios turrets or Missile Turrets, and probably Button Up and Napalm Strike (for area denial and additional damage).
Vulnerabilities: Helios/Guardian is fairly vulnerable to area of effect damage: Aerosol Acid Field, Drone Strike, Orbital Laser Hack... All of these can punish those Guardians for sitting still. This is one reason that Rolling Thunder or Button Up might be taken: to cause the enemy to waste those abilities on fruitless attacks. Also, air units such as Vultures or Ravens can cause the Guardians or Helios problems. While Guardians are able to attack air fairly effectively, they aren’t really cost-effective against SR air units, and a person playing this build might want to consider coordinating with a Patriot ally, or a fellow Spartan who has brought Archimedes along. Also, though Guardians have a ton of Area Resistance (they ignore 75% of the damage of artillery units) they simply cannot last indefinitely under the barrage of Ravager fire, and Helios alone are unlikely to scare off a Shadow Revolution artillery column.
Backup Company Ideas: Given the above weaknesses, it’d be a good idea to have some Archimedes or Titans handy as a backup: in fact, Titans are almost never a bad idea: they trade favorably with most ground units, and are great at killing both Ravagers and SR structures, with some help from Explosive Shot.
Danger! This Caution skin is one of my favorites.
Purpose/Strengths: Damage. This build is all about doing stupid amounts of damage to anyone unfortunate or crazy enough to be caught near you. Titans are one of the powerhouses of End of Nations (when used intelligently) and pairing them with Shivas can be a dangerous combination.
Composition: Shivas don’t have a ton of hit points, but they do a ton of damage. In End of Nations parlance, they are sometimes referred to as “RPS-neutral” indicating that they are capable of taking on all targets, regardless of what bonus damage they may or may not get against enemy units. However they are kind of, well, squishy, making it important to have a heavy unit around to present a tempting target while your Shivas can pick off enemies from the shadows.
I’ve found that a roughly 50/50 split of these two units is optimal, though if you want to be daring you could switch out a Shiva for a Titan or vice-versa. As far as turrets go, the Shiva turret makes a good defensive option, and pairing it with Machine Gun Turrets can really boost the number of annoying targets in between your front line (Titans) and your glass cannons (Shivas and Shiva turrets). The abilities Designate Fire Zone and Minerva’s Aid synergize well with your offensive force: Designate Fire Zone (often shortened DFZ) causes units within its radius to take 35% additional damage, not something that the Shadow Rev player wants when faced with the already ghastly output from the Shiva. And Minerva’s Aid’s range boost can greatly enhance the Shiva’s role as an area of effect damage dealer (I did mention that Shiva attacks hurt all units along their line of fire, right?)
When building this company, I’d recommend Shivas at level 2, Designate Fire Zone thereafter, and then a choice of Commander Abilities (Minerva’s Aid, Rolling Thunder) or Shiva turret at level 3.
Alternate Companies: Shivas pair well with Orions: slowing an enemy with the Orion's Crippling Shot and then subjecting it to Shiva fire is painfully effective. Also, Shivas can do fairly well when run in a mono-company (that is, taking no other units aside from Shivas) has incredible damage potential.
Vulnerabilities: Obviously, Shiva/Titan is vulnerable to air units, though to be honest Ravens don’t seem to show up terribly often, and Vultures take a very long time to kill Heavy units. Ravagers can pose some threat, though Titans will often make short work of them. Vipers or Reapers, especially when managed well, or in conjunction with Commander Abilities (like Orbital Laser Hack) can really cause this build problems. And, in the unlikely event that you run across Predator tanks, they could make short work of your Shivas. Oh yeah, Stalkers can be hard to deal with, though Shiva’s raw damage output can turn this around if the Stalker player targets the Titans first.
Backup Company Ideas: the short answer is: anti-heavy and stealth are bad for the Titan/Shiva composition. Therefore, Archimedes and/or Orions make logical backup choices. For dealing with Ravagers, you could use your company’s Titan tanks, or have a backup mono-company of Titans on hand. Titan/Vulcan or Vulcan/Helios also makes a good answer to infantry or light vehicle threats.
Honorable Mention: Colossus/Orion
Orion/Colossus is built around a simple combination: Slow your enemies with the Orion, pelt them with the Colossus. The Colossus' Tank Bombardment is a nasty area of effect damage ability that's nonetheless kind of hard to land on those speedy Shadow Revolution Units. Throw in the Orion's Crippling Shot, though, and your foes will be raging at you. This is a versatile build that's nonetheless vulnerable to Reapers and Ravagers. Despite my brevity on this section, this is a solid build and well worth trying. Consider Rolling Thunder and Designate Fire Zone for Commander Abilities.
The Spartan has a lot of heavy tanks: The Titan, Colossus, Helios and Shiva are perhaps the flagship Spartan crew. These vehicles are slow, and reliant on area damage or high resistance scores to last when surrounded by a sea of light Shadow Revolution vehicles. Ultimately, playing defensively will get the Spartan player better of mileage out of their units and abilities, though Rolling Thunder can help the player act aggressively as well. It’s important when playing the Spartan to learn when it’s a bad time to move out, and when it might be a bad move to stay and fight. Timing, knowledge, and the ability to manage and protect your forces are key to victory for the Spartan.
See you on the battlefield! If you see some sexy, leapord print Helios... It's probably not me.