Starting off the Game
In this game, there are two amazing factions battling for control in space. There is the mighty navy of the Covenant who use powerful attacks, strong shields to fend off attacks. You have the massive navy of the UNSC. Both factions have their strengths and weaknesses for space and ground battles.
In the test version, you do not have any starter ships and must build them from the start. In the original version of the map, you begin with a small number of ships over every planet.
All Navy ships can only target air units the smallest being a prowler for UNSC and a Corvette for covenant. All ships in the test version must enter and exit orbit, it takes 5 seconds to exit the atmosphere.
The Covenant has powerful ships, they have do great damage with high health and shields.
The Covenant has many powerful ships under their command, the best ship to use are Heavy Cruisers. These ships start at 4200 minerals (test version) or 3800 in the original version. This ship has both high damage and can tank for your carriers (CAS) or Supercarriers (CSO).
Suggested starter build:
- 8 Heavy cruisers - Before engaging enemy navy.
If you micro well, you won't lose a lot of your capital class ships and Heavy Cruisers. You should try to build 5 carriers and 1 supercarrier. Make more Heavy Cruisers till you have a full page, then start massing CSO super-carriers.
As long as you micro throughout the game, your navy shouldn't take too many large hits by moving damaged ships back. Carriers (and supercarriers in the test version) must manually send out interceptors. This is not on auto-cast like in the regular version of Starcraft 2.
The covenant has few, but powerful abilities for their navy. The first and most seen ability is the glassing beam. This is a devastating ability, however, it is very expensive. The larger capital class ships have larger glassing beams, radius, and damage than smaller ships such as cruiser, battlecruisers, and Heavy Cruisers. The second and newest covenant ability to the test version is slipspace which in the test version has a time in which it can't move or attack once casted and cast time is 5 seconds. All covenant naval ships have this ability and can teleport anywhere on the map. The CSO supercarrier also has the ability to build corvettes instead of seraphs making them much better than the regular seraph release ability and can also have almost double the number of interceptors in its hangars compared to the regular carrier (Only in the Test version). The regular Covenant carrier (CAS) has the ability to drop a scarab tank onto the battlefield for a mere 2800 minerals. These scarabs also have a timed life of 1 minute and refund after this time as long as it's still alive. These are perfect for quick guerilla warfare tactics against outer UNSC planets and taking economy points.
The second navy is UNSC. UNSC is all about massing your ships and having a lot of tanky units for your main capital class DPS ships such as heavy and super heavy cruisers. The main UNSC strategy is massing frigates. To begin with, you should have about 5 pages of frigates alone in both versions. After this, get about 5-6 support cruisers and then only super heavy cruisers with a few heavy cruisers as support damage for the beginning as super heavy cruisers are expensive. The UNSC navy relies on sheer mass and high damage capital ships to defeat the covenant ships who have shielding and high health. When you are UNSC, you should always focus first on frigates and getting close to 5 pages worth, then on support cruisers and getting 2-3 heavy cruisers, and then 16 destroyers and after that, only build superheavy cruisers and replace whatever you lost from battles.
UNSC has a wide variety of abilities starting with frigates, cruisers and heavy cruisers ability of drop pods where you can drop troops from orbit instead of having to enter the atmosphere (only in the test version). The universal UNSC navy ability is the jet booster which allows navy ships to move faster and chase down fleeing ships. The heavy and super heavy cruisers both can create nuclear warheads (Shiva nukes) which do 3k damage to a single target and fire almost instantly. These nukes cost about 400 minerals each but are being changed by the developer frequently. In the original game, support cruisers and heavy cruisers could drop odsts straight out of the ships without having to load them out first for a cost of 450 minerals for 8 odsts. Support cruisers have an ability to target multiple ships and drop both shield armor and armor on enemy ships. The only attack navy has against the ground is the mac canon which does 500 damage splash and has a 450 mineral cost and can be shot by every ship except carriers and frigates. The final ability is port side guns in the test version which do 50 damage at a weapon speed of 2 and may attack light air units such as phantoms and interceptors launched from carriers.
- Cost: 300 minerals
A light naval ship which is the bulk of the UNSC Navy. These ships are cheap and are best when they are built in mass quantity. A popular strategy with frigates is to build 4-5 pages of frigates first and then build the damage dealing ships that make up the backbone of the UNSC Navy. These ships are perfect ships to tank due to the Covenant Navies ships dealing high damage at a slow attack speed. Overall, this type of ship is necessary to have a successful chance against your enemy. Frigates can be troop transports and can use orbital drop pods of ODST assault forces from the planets orbit.
- Cost: 700 minerals
These ships are similar to the frigate type ships, however, these do more damage and are also double the price. You should wait to build these till after your frigate army is complete, but these can also take the place of frigates in some ways and can be built against a high damage and health covenant player such as one that is massing CSO supercarriers. These ships do over double the damage of a frigate and are a dangerous weapon when covered by a mass of frigates. These ships are more support damage than the main damage that you should have in your fleet. This ship type is the only ship that cannot carry troops.
Cruisers - Cruisers are the least effective ship in the UNSC Navy. They do low damage, they have low health and are double the price of a destroyer. A common use for this ship is to back up your tanking forces (frigates and destroyers) while still providing a steady cover for your larger ships. You can use these to cover your retreat if you see you are losing the battle. As soon as your frigates are almost done, try and retreat your capital class ships while using these as a sacrifice so your larger ships can either run away or have time to use slipspace.
Support Cruisers - These ships are always necessary for any UNSC Navy. These ships have the ability to lower enemy armor and shield armor. This increases the odds of surviving against the covenant navy. These ships are best hidden in your army and kept alive so they can be used to their full potential.
Heavy Cruisers - These are the cheaper, and faster heavy ships that UNSC has compared to its superheavy cruiser. They have 3 attacks, 2 of which are meant for light units. The main weapon for use against enemy naval ships are the archer missile pods which are able to be used while the ship is moving for perfect raids and kiting enemy ships into traps. The Heavy Cruiser is a powerful ship on its own, however, it can be increased in value by buying Smart AI at the command center. This upgrade is 1000 minerals and increases the speed, weapon speed, armor, and weapon range significantly. This makes the ship better at kiting enemy ships from greater distances away and still come out unscathed.
Carrier - The UNSC Carrier costs more than it is worth. It is a low damage dealing ship that requires a protection force at all times and moves slowly with a slow turn radius. The positives of this ship are their light fighters called longswords that they send out. These light ships respawn inside the carrier for no cost and cannot be attacked by naval units. They are especially effective against massive fleets. They can lure small parts of the fleet if they navy player isn't paying attention and slowly eat away at the fleet. They are also perfect in any naval situation as Covenant navy has no anti-light attacks on any of its ships. You must manually send out the longswords from the carrier as there is no auto-cast.
Superheavy Cruiser - This is the super unit of the UNSC Navy. It is the ultimate ship that costs the most but can take on even the strongest Covenant ships. This ship has an addition of having a Shiva nuke ability which does a massive 3k damage for the cost of 450 minerals. The normal attack of this ship can be upgraded to do over 1500, the strongest normal attack in the game. You should always be buying these for the large damage output that they can do. They are the major damage dealers in the UNSC Navy and can wipe out massive amounts of light Covenant ships with ease. The larger ships take more shots, however, the Shiva nuke is perfect against larger ships. You should try to focus on major ships such as CAS and CSO carrier and supercarriers with the nukes.
Different Strategies Created by Others
ONI is at its most vulnerable while it's in space. Most covenant navy class ships will destroy prowlers (ONI's main troop transport) in one shot. The prowler is a fast and agile ship which is great for poking at capital ships or for slipping units onto a planet. The prowler can use Shiva nukes to do devastating damage to Capital class covenant ships especially as they are attempting to glass. Each nuke does 3k and costs 450 minerals. A single prowler also costs 450 minerals. It can use a speed boost to swiftly escape covenant ships or it can use slipspace in order to cover massive distances instantly. Slipspace has a 5-second timer in which the unit cannot move. Usually, a player will send one prowler to a planet's orbit first in order to see if the enemy is camping, and then they will send the rest of their forces through. Once you are above a planet, you have two options, you may land in a corner and bunker down by building a few barracks or you can land in the middle and try and fight your way through the Covenant defenses. A newer option has been created where prowlers can send units down by drop pods without even entering the planets orbit. This minimizes the risks towards losing your ships as well as your Spartans inside them. The most useful prowler ability by far is its ability to cloak. This will allow it to slip past enemy ships without risking and losses or having to rely on the navy to come help you. Currently, prowlers are ONI's safest way to transport units as well as a dangerous enemy against glassing carriers or supercarriers.
ONI's prowler has the ability to both cloak and drop units from orbit, slipping past blockades and invading unsuspecting covenant planets. The prowler nuke ability is dangerous against any covenant ship and paired with UNSC navy, can be a large help in any naval battles. ONI's slipspace also allows them to easily get behind enemy lines and invade even the most protected worlds without even being touched. These abilities together create a large part of the war machine known as ONI and are just as dangerous as a Spartan 2 on the ground.
The elites are a dangerous faction that can build up quickly and use its powerful DDS carriers to slip in behind enemy lines and build up a base without a probe. The DDS carrier has the ability to create a cloaking pylon, a plasma battery, a shade turret and a gateway all without a probe. These ships can be a devastating force if left unchecked and if one does manage to slip onto a planet while you are away, you will be sorry you didn't check the corners. Next up comes the phantoms. These small and weak troop transports might seem as if they are useless, however, they are cheap and in mass, can do some real damage to both navy and a planet as navy cannot attack them except for their side guns which only do 50 damage every 2 seconds. These small troop transports are perfect for small flanking missions on harvest right at the beginning of the game when the UNSC players are least expecting an attack. Elites can also build light corvettes which might not seem like a powerful warship, but they can blockade planets quite easily if you place 4 above in orbit and watch as ONI or army attempts to come anywhere near. These ships are cheap costing only 600 minerals and move fast as well as having slipspace. The DDS carrier is a hefty 5k, however, it has no attack other than its seraph release and is an easy target for the UNSC navy or lurking prowlers. The phantom is a cheap 90 minerals, however, it can be targeted by both gauss turrets and missile turrets so it is quite vulnerable to both. Overall, elites are a dangerous force to be left unchecked and are perfect for constant raids on UNSC outer planets such as Chi and Arcadia.
These are the most effective naval combat strategies around currently and sometimes they change, however majority of the time they remain the same. Some people change their playing style for different strategies and those are for more experienced players who can recover if they lost. These are the easiest and best combination of ships for both sides. If you have any new ideas or balance suggestions, join the discord and feel free post in the chat.