- Headspace: Commanding is about people, not unitsx
The most obvious mistake people make when commanding NS2 matches is equating an RTS interface with a traditional RTS playstyle. A traditional RTS calls for an absolutely authoritarian command method: Your units go and do where and what your clicks tell them. When the interface is unresponsive, or pathing fails, a player perceives this as a failure of units to obey orders. Frustration ensues.
Lose this mindset immediately. This is not a traditional RTS, and that playstyle will result in endless losses. Instead of an authoritarian command method, you must adopt a leadership command method. Your units are real humans. Treat them as humans. Think of waypoints as goals and guides, not absolute orders. Movement of players is fluid, not rigid. Your directions and orders must first and foremost come through communication, which leads to:
- Communication: Your soldiers need a leader, not a GPSx
When commanding, take some of the energy you would normally put into mouse-clicks and redirect it into your voice. You need a microphone, and you must use it. Say hello to your team. Get to know their personalities. Who is gung ho? Who is timid? Who is a great fade? Who is a lone wolf? Who likes building structures behind the lines? These are crucial questions, and you will only answer them by talking.
The more personable you are, the more effort you make, the more people will switch their own microphones on or get into the text chat. Be fun, be understanding, be humble, be confident. Recognise and be open about your limits. Recognise the skills of others.
- 2IC: Who has your back?x
Every Lieutenant needs a dependable Sergeant at their right hand. You need someone on the ground, with eyes on the fight. As you become a more experienced commander, you will recognise that there is a 2nd-In-Command down there on the battlefield, they just might not know it yet.
In the game above, Slicedbeadman filled this role. He was a very good player, with a good attitude. Very outspoken, with strong opinions, and with killing skills to back up the big talk. This is the kind of player you want to immediately communicate with. Seek their advice, give them regular orders, and act on their suggestions.
Many players recoil at this. Why would I take advice and orders from a big shot? I am the commander! These same players wonder why they often get frustrated with their team, and lose.
Your 2IC completes you. They are there when your mind wanders and you forget Carapace. They fill in the blanks during frantic fights, as they can see the situation on the ground better than you can. Your communication with them gives them authority other players will respect, and encourages them to respect you. You cannot micromanage the entire battle. The best commanders will recruit helpers during the game, and these helpers will do wonders for your chances of victory.
- Inspire:Lead them into the fire, and get them out the other side.x
This fourth and final point ties the other three together: It is by far the most import. In Starcraft, your marine will enter the alien base, scout a spine crawler, and die without question.
In Natural Selection 2, that marine is human, and they do not want to die. You need to make them know that they are part of a plan, that their fight is the team's fight, that their waypoints have purpose and their death meaning.
Form an overall strategy in your head. Communicate it. In the game above, my opening strategy was 'Hunt Extractors, destory them.' Simplistic, but a goal that your team will rise to. Later, it was 'Secure Tram Departures.' Later still, it was 'Fight for Terminal.' These little strategies all add together as you feel your way to a master plan to win the game.
Once you have a strategy, talk to your team about the progress. Any time someone executes it successfully, for example pressuring a harvester, encourage them. Reward them with heaped praise. If someone is Fading well, tell them. If someone is Gorging like a boss, praise them profusely. Most importantly, if someone is having trouble, pick them up off the ground. If someone has a 0-10 record, do not admonish them, inspire them. Coach them as much as time allows. Take a moment to watch them fight, and give them tips. Encourage the rest of the team to back them up.
Do all these things, and you will be well on the way to commanding well. Of course, because it is about people, NS2 commanding will never have a definitive manual. That is why I love it. That is why you might get more out of this game than you ever thought possible.