Commander (Total Annihilation)

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The Commander is a unit in the fictional world of the Total Annihilation series of games by Chris Taylor. This unit is of specific importance to the game, arguably the most important unit, and is available to both the Arm and the Core factions, although there are minor differences between the respective factions' Commanders.

Classification and Role[edit]

The Commander, although unique, is classified as a K-Bot (Kinetic Bio-organic technology), meaning it is a walking unit. Of all units, the commander resembles a human most closely. In single player campaign missions the Commander is classified as a hero unit, meaning its survival is a mission objective. If in any mission the Commander is lost, the mission is failed.

The role of the Commander is varied, although it is usually used to begin large scale invasions, as it has the ability to construct an entire army relatively fast.

Construction of a Commander[edit]

The method in which Commanders are constructed is never revealed, although using certain software, it is possible to alter the game so that any factory can construct the Commander. It is never revealed how many Commanders are in existence in the Total Annihilation universe, and only one ever appears for use by the player in any one mission.


The Commander for both sides is a fast unit, as K-Bots go, capable of outrunning most other K-Bots. The Arm Commander is slightly faster than the Core Commander. Commanders are equipped with a short range radar and sonar device, and are amphibious, although very slow and unequipped for combat underwater.


The Commander is equipped with an inbuilt matter/antimatter energy plant. This energy plant is capable of generating 25 energy per tick. The Commander is also equipped with an unknown device, which generates 1 unit of metal per tick. This allows the Commander to (slowly) rebuild structures even if all other units and structures have been destroyed.

The Commander has the ability to store vast amounts of energy and metal. In single player campaign missions the Commander stores 1,000 of each. In other game modes it is possible to increase this to 10,000 if desired.


The Commander is equipped with the single most powerful nanolathe in the game. Provided the resources are available, the Commander can construct any buildable unit at a faster rate than any other unit in the game, it can also reclaim and repair at faster rates, and can be used amphibiously. The Commander's nanolathe also has the ability to capture other units, giving a player access to the opposing faction's technology. Any captured unit will automatically be set to hold fire.

The Commander is capable of constructing only level 1 structures, although it can be used to aid construction of higher level units.


The Commander, being the most important unit of the game, is able to withstand considerable punishment (even having the ability to survive a nuclear explosion if not struck by the missile directly). The Commander is also the only (official) unit in the game to feature the ability to repair itself, consuming 4 energy per tick during repairs.


The Commander's default weapon, that used by the AI of the player, is a small laser placed on the left arm that has the Commander's nanolathe embedded in it. This laser does moderate damage to K-Bots, but is usually ineffective against heavier units such as level 2 tanks or fortifications. This weapon requires no energy to fire, an anomaly considering its resemblance to that of the LLT/Light Laser Tower's weapon, which requires 20 energy per tick to fire. The laser is capable of hitting aircraft if the aircraft is motionless or in the middle of a turn, but this requires the Commander to be positioned almost perfectly, as the laser has a short range.

Due to the lack of power provided by the laser, the Commander is also equipped with the most powerful weapon in the game, speaking strictly of its damage coefficient. The Commander's Disintegrator gun (D-gun) is mounted on the Commander's right arm and is capable of instantly destroying any unit it makes direct contact with. When the D-gun fires it creates a line of explosions that travels in the direction it was fired. Each explosion is equally powerful, meaning multiple units can be destroyed if they are in a straight path. The D-gun requires 400 energy per shot and has a very short reload time, making rapid fire clearing of an area possible. The D-gun can also destroy wreckage instantly (except the large buildings on urban maps, which require three shots) and can also fire through any terrain related obstacle such as a spire on the world of Barathrum, although leaving them intact.

The computer AI will use the D-gun if approached by a single enemy unit. If approached by many, it will resort to the laser. The player's AI will never use the D-gun without explicit instruction.

Cloaking Device[edit]

The Commander is one of the few units to feature a cloaking device. The Commanders cloaking device has the smallest detection range in the game. To run the cloaking device while motionless requires 200 energy per tick, while moving it becomes 1,000 per tick.

Decoy Commander[edit]

A download of a Decoy Commander is available. This Decoy Commander, though it doesn't have all the same functions as an ordinary commander, is useful for deceiving enemies as its appearance is identical to the Commander. It cannot build any buildings but can reclaim and assist in building factories, units, etc. It only has a light laser for weaponry compared to the D-gun and light laser of the real Commander. The Decoy Commander is also amphibious, but doesn't have the ability to cloak.


  • One of the more well known tactics is to use the Commander to aid in construction of important units due to its high construction speed. To aid with factories, the Commander (and other construction units) can be set to guard the factory.
  • The Commander can be used to destroy large groups of enemy units by firing the D-gun rapidly.
  • The Commander can be hidden behind a terrain feature that would interfere with traditional weapons, such as a spire, and fire the D-gun directly through the terrain to destroy enemy units without taking damage.
  • While the Commander is underwater, it has no weapons, making it easy prey for submarines, destroyers, cruisers or torpedo bombers.
  • If so desired, a multiplayer/skirmish game can be set to end upon the destruction of the Commander, making ploys such as stealing the enemy Commander with an air transport and then destroying the transport feasible, although not appreciated by most players.
  • The explosion generated by the death of a Commander will destroy anything on the screen, including enemy Commanders. This means that if a Commander meets another Commander and fires the D-gun, both will be destroyed. This can be used by some players who send their Commander to the enemy base to use the resulting explosion to cripple the enemy.
  • The Commander has no anti-air leaving it vulnerable to aircraft with weapons capable of attacking land targets if left unguarded.
  • Commanders are immune to the paralyzer weapon of the Arm Spider tanks.
  • Before Battle Tactics most campaign missions began with the Commander and a small force of light units for defense. These light units were used to defend the Commander until a base could be established. The Commander is nearly always the first unit available. In Battle Tactics some missions moved away from the need for a Commander.

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