So, you wanna give NOTA a try, huh?
This is intended to be an introductory guide to those with an OTA-like background who are willing to give NOTA a try. Please keep in mind that the N in NOTA means "Not" and it's not just a saying. NOTA doesn't play much like OTA or any OTA-like mod so some of the strategies/tactics you're used to will not work here. I'll do my best to explain clearly and briefly how things are different in NOTA so that adapting to this new way of waging war doesn't end up with you becoming a casualty.- Totbuae
What the... ? Where's the commander?
In normal NOTA game mode you don't start with a commander, you start with a command building1. The command building, being a building, is not mobile but it has a long build radius and its build list is roughly equivalent to that of a T1 const KBOT/vehicle/VTOL from OTA plus a few waterborne structures. Lastly, the command building is moderately armed against both ground and air units which means your early base is adequately protected against small raids (five or less early PeeWees/Flashes aren't going to accomplish much but ten or twenty might if you don't have any other defenses).
1 There's a game mode under the mod options tab in the TASClient lobby which allows you to start with the command building and the commander. Other than that, you can get a commander by building a warp gate from the T3 base expansion tower (more on those later) and warping him in. This latter one is different from the one you can opt to start with, it has a more extensive build list (it can even build Timmy/Bertha).
Ok, ok, so no commander... What next, then?
Three mexes and a solar are a good start. NOTA econ is similar to OTA econ; you've got your solars, mexes1, windgens2, metal makers, geos, floating mexes, floating metal makers, tidals, e-storage and m-storage. Metal extraction and energy production levels are also similar to OTA (a solar will produce 20e, a geo will produce 250e, metal makers use 60e to produce 0.6m and so forth). One notable difference from Absolute Annihilation descendants is that there aren't any advanced solars in NOTA, instead you have access to the standard fusion reactor from the start. NOTA fusions are cheaper and quicker to build but they also produce less energy (only 350e but don't worry, you get better fusions at T2).
1 NOTA mexes are a little bit more resistant to damage than OTA mexes.
2 NOTA windgens don't chain explode as badly as in AA descendants.
Fair enough but econ never won any battles.
Or so you say. :P
Ha, ha, very funny. What I meant is, should I go KBOTs or vehicles first?
That question has much deeper ramifications in NOTA than in most other mods. The reason behind this is that KBOTs and vehicles are much more different than in OTA or any AA descendants. Like in most other mods, KBOTs can climb steeper hills than vehicles and vehicles are in general faster and tougher than KBOTs. Unlike most other mods, though, the differences don't stop there.
KBOTs will give you the most bang for the buck if we define bang to mean firepower. NOTA KBOTs are smaller size-wise than OTA KBOTs which means you can concentrate a lot of firepower in a small area (four PeeWees occupy about as much space as one Stumpy). KBOTs in general also have excellent self repair (a badly damaged Hammer, for example, can get back to top shape if it stays away from combat for about forty seconds). The combination of easily affordable firepower and good self repair makes KBOTs very useful for holding ground. Finally, KBOTs can afford to move around more in combat compared to vehicles (you'll see why on the paragraph about vehicles).
Why on Earth would you want to use vehicles, then? Simple reason, NOTA KBOTs are V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W1. Forget about running past defenses with PeeWees and blowing up stuff or using them to catch up to those Flashes that got past your front line, it ain't gonna happen. KBOTs' slow speed makes them vulnerable to static defenses which outrange them (there are KBOTs which can safely take out statics from range). Also, slow speed combined with small size makes KBOTs doubly vulnerable to large area of effect weapons such as artillery (what Levelers2 do to KBOTs can only be described as obscene) and close air support VTOLs. Their last drawback is that KBOTs don't have any means to attack high altitude VTOLs (I'll explain later, in the paragraph about aircraft) or ships. Special infantry transports which can lift twenty Rocko/Hammer sized KBOTs at once were introduced to help mitigate their lack of mobility on large maps.
As stated before, vehicles are on average faster and tougher than KBOTs. Tanks in particular will take reduced damage from the front compared to the rear and sides. Because of this, tanks are better used to charge up to defensive lines (of either statics or mobile units) but not past them (which would expose their weaker rear armor). The vehicle plant also grants access to mobile flak vehicles (flak is the only ground anti-air defense that can shoot at high altitude VTOLs), mobile artillery (T1 arty is mean in NOTA, it outranges statics by a fair amount and has good splash damage) and mobile anti-ship guns (just wait 'till I talk about ships, ok). All in all, vehicles have better assault options than KBOTs and should be used when you're ready to go knocking on your opponent's door.
1 There are fast assault KBOTs (Zipper for Arm and the Core counterpart, the Sprinteurs) which move at about Flash speed.
2 Levelers aren't artillery, they're self propelled field guns but they do outrange most KBOTs.
And just what are "high altitude VTOLs"?
Glad you asked. Air power is one of the aspects which most evidently sets NOTA apart from OTA or any AA descendants (another one being navy). As expected, the VTOLs' greatest asset is their mobility, they're fast and unaffected by terrain. NOTA VTOLs can be classified in two categories: high and low altitude.
High altitude VTOLs fly too high to be attacked by most ground anti-air defenses1. T1 strategic bombers (Thunder/Shadow), T2 strategic bombers (Phoenix/Hurricane), T2 stealth bombers (Black Lilly, Core only), T2 high-speed spy planes (Archangel, Arm only), T2 radar planes (Eagle/Vulture) and T3 flying fortresses (Centurion, yes, you guessed it, Core only) are all high altitude. Against these high flying menaces your best bet are fighters/interceptors and ground flak to a lesser extent. The remaining VTOLs are low altitude and can be attacked by all ground anti-air units.
While on the subject of VTOLs, the ones in NOTA have fuel which is used up when they move or launch ordnance. Due to this, VTOLs cannot remain on station indefinitely and will have to return to base to rearm/refuel. Air repair pads are available from the start and each T1 aircraft plant has one integrated air repair pad to help get you started.
On a more tactical/strategic note, NOTA VTOLs are evil. Ground attack aircraft are the bane of all ground units (even anti-air) and can reduce a whole contingent of tanks to scrap metal in mere seconds. Strategic bombers will give you no-end grief as they take out your factories with near impunity. If your opponent goes air you have to at least get some fighters up unless you have the resources to invest heavily on ground anti-air (don't forget to get some flak as well).
Now, before you start complaining, ground anti-air is not useless. It's more of a deterrent, i.e., without it your other ground forces can be pounded by air with impunity, with it you at least make your opponent lose some aircraft for every airstrike. Ground anti-air also helps your fighters maintain air superiority over the territory you control.
It's not, however, all fun and games in the VTOL camp. The VOTLs' extra dose of pwnage is balanced by the fact that you don't get construction aircrafts until T2. Yes, you read that right, there's no construction aircraft in the T1 aircraft plant build list. The aircraft plant, however, does grant access to air transports which have an added value in NOTA because they can move transportable turrets around.
1 A missile tower (Defender/Pulverizer) built on top of a tall enough hill will be able to shoot at high altitude VTOLs if the surrounding terrain is low.
For starters, the 3D models are different. They look a lot shipier and less like the glorified armed yachts from OTA. Ships are also armed to the teeth (the "lowly" destroyer has 7 weapons: two plasma cannons, two flak cannons, two torpedo launchers and an anti-air missile). Furthermore, ship mounted plasma cannons are artillery cannons, the have very good range and area of effect. There's also only one shipyard (there's no advanced shipyard) which builds all ships, from the destroyer to the battleship.
Unlike OTA and other mods, ships rule the seas. While you can hold destroyers and maybe cruisers at bay for a little while through the cunning use hovers, torpedo bombers and anti-ship guns, it's just a matter of time before the bigger ships show up and wreck all your stuff. Considering this, it's imperative that you get ships of your own if the map has any significant amount of water. If you decide to forgo ships in such a type of map then it's vital that you find and destroy the opponent's shipyard as soon as possible.
By the way, anti-ship guns (also called coastal defense guns) are a special type of medium range plasma cannon that do extra damage to ships. There are two versions: a static one and a mobile one built by the T1 vehicle plant. These guns are a little bit inaccurate and must achieve direct hits to do any damage (they have a very small area of effect) so they're not very well suited to attack anything smaller than ships.
You mentioned something else I wanted to ask about, what was it?... Right, "transportable turrets"?
Also unique to NOTA (for the time being) are transportable turrets. Air transports can move these around and so can hover transports (you can also FPS a unit and push them around, but that only works for minor adjustments). They're a convenient way to provide support for your mobile units when the front lines start to shift. You can also try to sneak some into undefended enemy territory to cause some havoc.
There are four types of transportables. Two are common to both Arm and Core: transportable light laser turrets and transportable flak turrets. The other one is exclusive to Arm forces, it's a transportable rocket launcher; the Box-o-Death (tm) spews ballistic rockets non-stop with good range. The last one is the Core only transportable sabot tower, the Splinter, which fires anti-tank darts.
Ah, I see. Why would I need those, though? Couldn't I just build regular turrets instead?
Base expansion is another aspect where NOTA greatly differs from OTA and any OTA-like mods. Construction KBOTs/vehicles/VTOLs only have a very basic build list. They cannot build factories or advanced defenses, they can only build some basic economy buildings (solars, geos, windgens, mexes, metal makers), some basic defenses (transportable LLTs, anti-air machineguns/chainguns, dragon's teeth1 and land mines2) and radar. Construction hovercraft can also build some sea-based versions of those basic structures.
In order to expand, mobile constructors can also build base expansion towers (Level 1 Base constructors) which are unarmed versions of the command building with a little shorter build range and a little less build power but with the same build list. These are a little pricey and deciding when and where to build one is a very important strategic decision. The added step of building base expansion towers is the reason why NOTA is called "Mobility Focused Warfare" (your mobile units will see a lot more action than in other mods because your static defenses are unlikely to be in the front lines).
1 DTs are smaller in NOTA, they're meant to serve as obstacles for mobile units not as protection for defenses.
2 There aren't any dedicated minelayer units in NOTA, mobile construction units double as minelayers.
Wait, if mobile constructors cannot build factories then how do I tech up?
The command building and the base expansion towers build two types of constructors which allow you to tech up: Level 2 Constructors and Advanced Constructors. Level 2 Constructors come in four varieties: Kbot, Tank, Air and Def. Starting with NOTA version 1.50, base expansion towers can morph into any of the four Level 2 Constructors.
The first three Level 2 Constructors (Kbot, Tank and Air) allow you to build the corresponding advanced factory (Adv KBOT Lab, Adv Vehicle Plant and Adv Aircraft Plant). The defense one gives access to advanced defensive structures: pop-up plasma cannons (Ambusher/Toaster), BLODs (Annihilator/Doomsday Machine), EMP missile launchers (Stunner, Arm only), radar jamming missile launchers (Scramjam, Core only), nukes (Retaliator/Silencer), LRPCs (Big Bertha/Intimidator), RFLRPCs (Vulcan/Buzzsaw) and long range nuclear cannons (Tabitha/Influence).
All Level 2 Constructors also allow you to upgrade your economy by providing access to Heavy Fusion Reactors, Moho Metal Makers and Moho Engineers (Moho Engineers are really big construction KBOTs which are responsible for building Moho Mines). To round up the package, all Level 2 Constructors also have access to a small selection of T1 defensive1, utility2 and economy3 structures.
The Advanced Constructors build EVERYTHING all of the four Level 2 Constructors can plus NOTA's T3 structures. At T3 the Core gets the warp gate (warps in the commander4), the Krogoth gantry (I wonder what this might do? :P), the Anti-gravity hangar (builds flying fortresses) and the Pinocchio (I won't ruin the surprise, just build one and see what it does). Not to be outdone, the Arm also gets the warp gate (there's a little surprise waiting for you here, also) plus the Pod Factory (builds Montros Pods which are the Arm's answer to the Kroggies) and the orbital laser (C&C GDI's Ion Cannon, anyone?).
1 LLTs, HLTs, MRPCs, coastal defense guns, missile towers, flak cannons and anti-nukes
2 Radar towers and air repair pads
3 T1 fusion reactors
4 You can only have one active commander at a time (if you lose it, you can warp in another one).
This really is nothing like OTA.
I told you so, right from the start.
Yeah, I guess you did. Anything else I should know?
Just a few things, actually. First and foremost is that you CANNOT assist factories in NOTA1. However, there's little need for that since NOTA factories build faster than their OTA counterparts. In fact, NOTA factories are so efficient that there's an option to slow them down to 75%, 50% and 25% of their maximum output (you'll see a button which displays "100%" on the left panel when you select a factory, repeatedly clicking it will cycle through the four possible values) so that they don't choke your early economy.
Also gone from NOTA are starburst rockets. These weapon systems are very limited because they cannot hit moving targets; this has been corrected in NOTA by replacing them with ballistic missiles which can more effectively engage mobile units. NOTA anti-air is dedicated anti-air, i.e., anti-air weapons (missiles, flak) cannot fire at ground targets.
Another thing you'll notice is that in NOTA weapon ranges are a little bit longer than in OTA (for example, the EMG of an OTA PeeWee has a range of ~180, the EMG of a NOTA PeeWee has a range of 255). On a related note, there aren't any advanced radar towers in NOTA because a NOTA basic radar tower has a radar coverage much larger than a OTA advanced radar tower. NOTA radars can also detect cloaked units that get too close.
Finally, static anti-nukes are T1 in NOTA and they have a rather large umbrella of protection (so now you don't have any excuse for getting nuked unprepared).
1 Look at it this way, in most other mods your factory isn't really "ready" until you have around six construction units guarding and assisting it; NOTA completely eliminates this second step (and if you really, really, really need to spam then you can always build more factories).
I assume then that buildings are comparatively stronger than in OTA? How much stronger?
"Buildings" is quite a general term. I already mentioned that NOTA factories build units faster so in that sense they're "stronger". Also remember that NOTA radars cover a much wider area compared to OTA radars so, again, they're "stronger". I'm assuming this question is directed more towards static defenses than anything else.
You need to keep in mind that NOTA emphasizes the use of mobile units ("mobility focused warfare", remember?) so static defenses should be considered support units. You should rely primarily on mobile units and only turn to static defenses in specific situations where they will clearly be more effective than mobile units (this almost always boils down to terrain related situations where mobility is impaired, e.g., bottlenecks, cliffs and so on).
The CORE can be a little more liberal with the use of static defenses due to the Necros, if a static defense is destroyed the Necros can bring it back online as long as the wreckage remains. Just be sure that the position where the wreckage is located doesn't become overrun by the enemy.
Is that all?
Yep, for now at least. Remember that this is just an introductory guide meant to explain the differences between NOTA and OTA/AA descendants. I didn't go and wasn't planning to go into any in-depth tactics, strategies or unit analysis for NOTA (maybe later, in another document). There's another guide made by 123v and HeavyLancer which does offer some pointers about how to play NOTA effectively; it's a good read and you might consider going over that one as well.
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