Strategy games are only as fun as their unit selections make them and it’s crucial to give players a varied tool set. The evolution of RTS over the years has created countless ridiculous tanks, weird machines and devastating weapons. Every game offers many unique units to distinguish itself from others, and some are bound to become favourites. I’ve decided to put together a list of units I’ve had the most fun using in strategy games and they are my personal pick to be on this list. The only criteria for it is that they come from the strategy games I’ve played, and I do not restrict the entries to one unit per game either. Unfortunately, these units have to be available in multiplayer of their games as well or otherwise the list would be too huge, so I can’t include the awesome Sajuuk ship from Homeworld 2 or the Hyperion Battlecruiser from StarCraft 2. The rest on this list are powerful weapons of destruction that are my favourite picks among the RTS Units. Comment which ones you like.
The Hand of Ruk – Grey Goo
Each of Grey Goo’s factions have unique super units capable of devastating large armies, however nothing is capable of such versatility as Beta faction’s Hand of Ruk. This unit is a low-flying platform with a massive ranged cannon that destroys everything in its path, and can even function as a mobile factory. The versatility comes from 6 unit placements, where smaller tanks can hop to provide additional firepower, and naturally, types of units slotted affect the platform’s operation. Fill it up with regular tanks, and the Hand of Ruk gains close-range capabilities, artillery will provide additional ranged support, and so on. It is also the only one of epic units to have anti-air defences, which often comes in handy. The Hand of Ruk works best with diverse unit setups, but regardless, this epic unit packs in large amounts of firepower. Oh how much I like watching a giant cannon obliterate everything in the area it hits.
Higaaran Battlecruiser – Homeworld 2
I grew up watching sci-fi space movies, and my favourite moments always included massive space battles. There’s something epic about watching an armada emerge from hyperspace, laser beams and torpedoes firing to obliterate everything in their path. Playing Homeworld Remastered reminded me a lot about the sci-fi movies I used to watch, and nothing demonstrates power like a Higaaran Battlecruiser. I’d build about 6 of those and install hyperspace modules, and then the enemy can very much surrender right then. These massive ships can only be built in Shipyards, making them late game units, but the trade-off is completely worth it. With their two powerful ion cannons, Higaaran Battlecruisers severely weaken any enemy that is in their line of fire, reducing even the largest units to complete rubble. In numbers, these can completely obliterate an enemy within minutes, and even swarms of bombers take a while to bring one of them down, making the Battlecruiser my favourite ship within Homeworld. The only field they lack in is epic space music as I send 6 of them into hyperspace.
Savager Dreadnought – Ashes of the Singularity
All dreadnoughts in Ashes of the Singularity are epic in their own way, but nothing comes close to the hulking mass of Substrate’s Savager Dreadnought. Its sleek lines still manage to create a very aggressive look, and it can almost look like a living organism. Just look at it. However, its main feature is the ginormous beam cannon that sits right at the front. The beam annihilates everything in its path, ranging from small unit armies to other dreadnoughts, and its slow fire rate does little to hurt the sheer amount of power it gets. You’d want to have it protected by a smaller army when engaging against massive groups, but the Savager’s weapon plows through units. And although PHC’s anti-heavy dreadnought looks just as badass, Substrate’s Savager takes a spot as my favourite because of its better offensive capabilities.
Dark Archon – StarCraft: Brood War
If you thought this list would just be about epic war machines, you’re quite mistaken, and I have a sneaky surprise slotted right here. The Dark Archon in StarCraft: Brood War is formed through merging two dark templars and cannot physically attack on its own. Wait, what? Instead, its psychic abilities make the unit really powerful. Feedback instantly kills enemy units, Maelstrom temporarily disables any biological units in the area, but the real show stealer is the Mind Control ability. In essence, with the Dark Archon you can easily play as all three races if successfully capturing an enemy worker, and each will have their own supply limit. The effect is not temporary either and allows to fully control any enemy unit for the length of its life. So while a Dark Archon presents little threat on its own, its abilities can create a lot of chaos.
Protoss Mothership – StarCraft 2
The Protoss Mothership is one of the most sophisticated units in StarCraft 2, and often has the potential to break the game. It is a massive resource requirement, but when it comes to the battlefield, all bets are off. It doesn’t cause mass damage on its own even though its still powerful, but its main selling point is its abilities. The Mothership is one of my favourites simply because if you see one, you know you’re screwed. Its likely because there is always a massive army coming right behind it, hidden from sight under the Mothership’s cloaking ability. I’d always bring many Void Rays or Carriers with this ship, and watch the enemy get completely obliterated. In contrast, if things aren’t going too well, you could always recall your army to the nearest base.
Terran Battlecruiser – StarCraft 2
If you want warfare done effectively, you a) build your warships to walk on ground Supreme Commander style or b) make a big space ship that can freely enter the atmosphere without falling to forces of gravity. The terrans in StarCraft 2 have done the latter, creating a cruiser that can be effective both in air and space. This unit takes a lot of resources and time to make, rendering it useless for timed attacks, however if you have the time to advance this far, as I’ve seen in many 3v3 games in Heart of the Swarm, there are few units capable of stopping mass battlecruiser. These ships also have thick armour, making each perfect against numerous infantry, and its Yamato Cannon deals high damage to large units. Battlecruisers are my favourite to use since StarCraft: Brood War and their effectiveness helps in any battlefield.
Zerg Ultralisk – StarCraft 2
This picture pretty much says everything about Zerg’s Ultralisk. Its a massive bio mass that can still somehow walk, or should I rather say, charge into the battlefield. The massive armour shell allows it to withstand a lot of damage, especially if fully upgraded. On the offensive, just look at those claws, although I wish these units played just as epic as they look in the game’s cinematic cutscenes. Still, mass Ultralisk tends to work pretty well in multiplayer, and I’d often get completely screwed if I chose to go with a ground army. I normally wouldn’t use them myself because I suck at multiplayer, but when I do, Ultralisks create a lot of fun moments as their scythes cut through defending units.
Monkey Lord Experimental Bot – Supreme Commander
Futuristic spider bots are always cool, just ask anyone, but nothing delivers a message better than a massive hulk towering way above the ground armies. Meet the Monkey Lord – a giant spider tank used by the Cybran faction and if I saw one of those in real life, I’d probably die from terror on the spot. Forget the Megalith spider bot – it’s tiny in comparison to this ginormous tank. The Monkey Lord moves slowly around the battlefield on its massive six legs, but its presence is instantly noticeable once that huge laser beam comes online. I simply enjoyed watching it evaporate anything in its path. Even if building the tank takes an enormous factory and lots of resources, the Monkey Lord is completely worth it and makes it one of my favourites because of its massive size and sweet design. Giant spider bots are just really fun.
Devastator Tank – Dune 2000
Among the cubic units of Dune 2000, the Devastator Tank is the most powerful, especially built in mass numbers. Apart from the main cannons with a lot of damage, the tank can be set to self-destruct, damaging anything in its path. Its great for tanks with low health, but not so much when you click the function by accident, or an Ordos Deviator puts control of it in enemy hands. I really cringed the few times I accidentally blew up one of my Devastators, only to watch six other tanks evaporate along with it. Stupid accidents aside, it is one of the most entertaining units to watch, even though they are slow and the noise from its cannons is bound to drive you crazy.
NIAB Tank – Emperor: Battle for Dune
The NIAB Tank is a really weird entity, both in its looks and the abilities it possesses. As one of the sub-factions in Emperor: Battle for Dune, the Niab are mysterious species and also really powerful. While it takes a massive temple to produce these units, the NIAB tank possess teleportation, making them extremely useful for hit-and-run attacks, and of course, collecting crates around the map. The tank disappointingly has low durability, but is capable of causing a lot of damage through lightning beams which face in all directions. To add to it, the tank just looks super weird with a living organism sitting inside the green frame. Among the many intriguing units of sub-factions in Emperor: Battle for Dune, the NIAB tank has yet to be topped.
Air Defence Platform – Emperor: Battle for Dune
Emperor: Battle for Dune introduced flying units to the series, and one of the best is the Air Defence Platform in possession of the house Harkonnen. It’s a slow unit, but the platform is capable of attacking both ground and air units, which makes it really effective when placed in a smart spot. I always liked messing around with the enemy by taking out all the carry-alls for Harvesters, and it dramatically impacts the opponent’s economy. The only downside is that the platform is quite weak and doesn’t take long to get destroyed. But hey, if the enemy lacks anti-air defences, you could win the entire game just by building these.
Avatar Warmech – Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
Now what list of epic RTS units would be complete without at least one giant war mech, and Nod’s Avatar Warmech in C&C 3 gets the spot. This large mech takes on smaller armies, capable of not only obliterating small units by the numbers with its laser cannon, but also crushing infantry and light tanks beneath its feet. As standard, it only comes with a single Obelisk laser cannon, however can be further upgraded to include a variety of weapons, which makes it very usable. Interestingly, the process happens by using its free arm to destroy another Nod unit, after which the Avatar gains a new weapon or ability. Moreover, it looks seriously cool and inflicts a lot of damage, which makes it one of the best units to use in the game.