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Tiberian Dawn Strategy Guide
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This is intended to help the new user get a quick rundown of the game, Tiberian Dawn (TD). It presumes you have a basic familiarity with the units described.
You want to have at least 2 refineries (or 2 harvesters) early in the game in order to be competitive. If you have more money, you can beat your opponent by overwhelming them with units. Generally, at any point in the game, there is a trade-off between expanding your economy, building more units or increasing your tech level.
2. Faction Summaries
Brotherhood of Nod
Nod adopts hit-and-run tactics, opting for units that are fast, inexpensive or long range. The Recon Bike and Stealth Tank are the classic examples of this. The Light Tank and Flame tanks are also relatively fast for tanks, and can outrun GDI's Medium Tank and MLRS (rocket artillery). The Light Tank's maneuverability can allow it to maneuver and shoot and avoid shots a bit better than the slower Medium. The Flame Tank's armor and speed allow it to charge enemy artillery and quickly dispatch them. Nod's Mobile Artillery is quite powerful and cheap, but also very slow and dangerous--when it is killed, it has a 75% chance of exploding and doing serious damage to nearby units; if you have many artillery units bunched together, it can cause a catastrophic chain reaction of explosions! Spread them out for best results. Artillery also have a minimum range of 2 and can be killed by units who get very close.
Nod's end-game unit is the Chem Warrior, which is as effective vs. infantry as the Flamethrower, but it also effective against armor. It can also walk through tiberium quickly and without taking damage. The flamethrower is significantly more cost- effective than chem warriors against light vehicles and buildings, even though the chems do more damage; the chems have the further advantage of longer range than the flamers. Chem troopers can be deposited into a tiberium field by a Chinook transport helicopter and wait for enemy harvesters to show up.
Nod's end-game support power is the Nuclear Strike. It can destroy any building with a direct hit, except for another Temple of Nod. The nuke can also take out nearby buildings and can be quite devastating to a base whose buildings are built closely together. To protect yourself against nukes, build your base with distance between structures; note that this strategy has the trade-off of making your spread-out base a bit harder to defend. Nukes can be used tactically against units, but the nuclear blast takes a while to arrive at its target, and by then units are likely to have moved away.
Nod's Apache helicopter has a powerful machine gun which quickly tears enemy infantry to shreds. It is also quite effective against vehicles and can be used to attack enemy artillery. Its damage against heavy armor is far more modest however and it is not quick at destroying tanks. Used in small packs they are highly effective at harassment and can raid undefended bases quite easily. To defend against air units, Nod has a mobile SAM launcher which is quite powerful and cost-effective against air units (but cannot target ground units).
Global Defense Initative (GDI)
GDI's main style is to win with expensive, heavy armor which travel at slow speeds, and with overwhelming firepower. All of GDI's vehicles have relatively high hitpoints for what they are, with the exception of the Orca aircraft which is quite fragile. GDI's end-game Mammoth Tank is the definition of GDI's style, with its heavy armor, slow speed and firepower combination of dual cannons and missiles. The MLRS rocket artillery is also relatively slow (but still mobile) and does powerful damage to vehicles and tanks. In combination, these two units can be difficult to beat. One advantage of the MLRS is that it is faster than Nod's artillery and shoots its missiles faster and more accurately; this at the expense of costing twice as much. This advantage gives it an edge in the battlefield where it can "shoot and scoot" before Nod artillery can counter-attack effectively. It remains vulnerable to rushes from recon bikes, tanks, flame tanks or even nod buggies, so keep your MLRS closely guarded. Your MLRS units also have a minimum range of 3, so they cannot fire at enemies who get too close, making a rapid close-in a choice strategy to kill them, even with weaker units. Getting to point-blank range with an MLRS can also attract fire from nearby MLRS which can kill it.
Despite GDI's straightforward focus on raw power, it still has a few units which allow it to use more flexible tactics which rely on speed. GDI can use the mobility of the Armored Personnel Carrier to transport infantry quickly across the battlefield, especially early-game. GDI's infantry is generally weaker than Nod's, but this mobility advantage can allow GDI to mount impressive attacks. Deploying an APC full of rocket soldiers can give enemy tanks a nasty surprise on the battlefield. Infantry can also be deployed near an enemy's base, allowing quick destruction of an enemy's base by rocket soldiers or grenadiers (latter requires tech up to Communications Center). The APC is GDI's anti-air unit, with an AA gun on its turret. The APC can also be used to rush enemy artillery due to its speed and heavy armor, and its gun which is good against light vehicles.
The end-game Commando unit can be quite powerful vs. enemy infantry. It can't hurt vehicles, but it can quickly demolish buildings by planting explosive charges, causing havoc if released in an enemy base by an APC or Chinook transport helicopter. If you deposit a few commandos amongst your vehicles, they can keep enemy units at bay with their powerful sniper rifle. But at $1000 each, they do not come cheap, and have to kill several many enemy units to be worth the investment.
GDI's superweapon is the Ion Cannon, which is unlocked by building an advanced communication center. The ion cannon can instantly destroy a small concentration of troops, or destroy most buildings. It can be used to destroy the enemy's refineries or communications center, but not their vehicle production facilities or top-tier tech buildings.
GDI's Orca aircraft is specialized against vehicles and buildings, and are nearly useless against infantry. While their damage can be impressive, they only have 90 hit-points, far less than the Nod Apache's 125 HP, and should be used for hit-and-run attacks before retreating to safety instead of staying on the battlefield longer than necessary to destroy their target. The Orca differs from GDI's normal style in that they are fast and have light armor, but they are very useful if used wisely. They can be very useful at destroying enemy artillery, flame tanks or tanks that threaten to break through your lines and attack your vulnerable units in the rear. A small group can also be effective at harvester harass or destroying undefended turrets. They are quite vulnerable to anti-air fire from Nod's mobile SAM launcher (which is only half the price of an Orca), GDI's APC, rocket soldiers and recon bikes. End-game units like the Stealth Tank and Mammoth will quickly destroy an Orca with their rockets, and should only be attacked by Orcas if they are distracted while engaging another unit.
Airstrikes are a powerful support power that both factions get, and is unlocked from building the Communications Center and which come available on a 3-minute cycle. They can very effectively destroy large concentrations of infantry, and can destroy some buildings like Guard Towers or Turrets. They can be used to destroy a large incoming force that is threatening your base or to help you attack an enemy base by blowing a hole in their line of turrets/GTs.