Communication and Teamwork in Planetary Annihilation

Communication and Teamwork in Planetary Annihilation

Who am I?

I’m (P)Jonasmod. I’ve played Planetary Annihilation since mid-beta and my favourite game mode is 2v2, shared armies. I’ve participated in a couple of tournaments, am a senior member of the Promethean Clan and have played in Clan Wars season one.

I’ve gained some respect from being able to beat players far better than me together with my teammate, (P)Killander.

The key to victory is communication. I will share how we communicate and what kind of information you should share with your partner during a game.

Pre-game planning

A game like Planetary Annihilation is all about decision making. For a new player this can be overwhelming, but after playing for a while you learn where to focus your attention.

In the 2v2 pre-game you must apply the same strategic thinking as you would before a 1v1, but on a larger scale and including your partner. You should decide:

  1. Where to build your bases
  2. What unit type(s) is most suitable for the early game
  3. What unit type(s) is most suitable for the mid-game
  4. Is orbital rush a viable strategy on this system

Where to build your bases is often easy to determine, build them close to the biggest metal clusters so you can expand rapidly. You will usually want to spread out as much as possible to deny your opponent any free metal.

Never forget that there are two of you.

Aggression is key in competitive Planetary Annihilation; you want to choke your opponent before he has a chance to strike. Choose your first two or three factories so that you can raid the enemy’s early expansions. Remember to build scouts to find out how your opponent plans to play the game. Tell your partner what you’ve found and counter it!

Never forget that there are two of you. You don’t have to go for the same strategy, it can be wiser to go for two different strategies and help each other out. Regardless of which strategies you choose, discuss them with your partner. You should know what your partner plans to do and with what unit type they plan to do it.

Last, consider if it will give you more value to have one player rushing for orbital and grabbing planets instead of building armies.

Mid-game strategy

After the first few minutes of struggling to kill your opponent’s early fabbers and gain control over strategic locations, it’s time to consider your situation. You have built a handful of factories each and probably already know what will be troublesome for the coming ten minutes. Tell your partner! What are you trying to do and how are you trying to do it? If you can spare some units, help your partner, do a surprise backstab versus his opponent!

Aggression is key in competitive Planetary Annihilation

At this stage of the game – probably six to ten minutes in – it’s time to consider T2. Which T2 unit will help you the most? Remember not to build two T2 factories simultaneously, it’s better to get the first one out quickly so you can start going for T2 economy as early as possible. You can also easily send your partner one of your T2 fabbers via a Teleporter.

The alternative is to go for orbital instead. I say “instead” because you shouldn’t build it simultaneously with your first T2 factory. You need to weigh up the pros and cons of orbital first vs T2 first in each game. What can you gain from going orbital? Other planets, of course! You sometimes also have a nice opportunity to use the Anchor. Be careful not to invest too much metal into orbital though, you need it to keep producing ground units or you’ll lose your first base (or the entire planet).

Remember to put up a deep-space radar so you can detect if your opponent has gone for orbital. You don’t want a surprise SXX over your base, do you?

Ending the game

If you get to this stage of the game there are a huge range of different circumstances you might find yourself in. You might have lost a base, you might have won two planets. No matter what, it’s time to think and TALK about how to end the game. How do you want to kill them? What’s the most cost-efficient method? Your options include, but are not limited to:

  1. Build a Teleporter close to their base and prepare an invasion force.
  2. Build nukes, preferably combined with something else.
  3. Build Unit Cannons, but you need a fair few for it to be a game-ender.
  4. Build Halleys, just make sure you have enough build power to get them up quickly.
  5. Build Catalysts. Again, make sure you can build them quickly.
  6. Build a massive orbital force including SXX and attempt to snipe their commanders.

When you have agreed on your strategy (one or multiple), turn off or redirect factories and fabricators that don’t contribute to your game-ender! Don’t turn off too much however, or you’ll be undefended if you fail. Remember that your opponents will be having the same conversation.

Scout first, then act! It is essential to have intel at this point so that you know the best way to kill them and what you need to defend against.

What is important information?

Planetary Annihilation Communication and TeamworkThroughout the game both of you must know what the other one is doing. The hard part is to find out just how much information you need to share. What does your partner want to know?

During the early and mid-game, your partner wants to know what your goal is, the main unit type you are using to achieve it and whether you predict you will succeed or fail. As soon as you have succeeded, set a new goal, tell your partner and go execute your new plan. As soon as you realize you will not be able to achieve your goal, tell your partner, they might be able to help you, or might want to change their strategy and goal based on your progression. Is their goal more important than yours? Then defend your position with point defence and send them some of your units to help!

If you discover anything that needs a counter action, your partner wants to know! Key information is knowing what type of units your opponents are relying on so you can build units that counter them. Your partner also immediately wants to know if you scout an enemy T2, or orbital factory. If they have started their first T2 factory, then you probably should too if you cannot take it down with your T1 forces.

The fact that they have a deep-space radar is also important as it takes the surprise away from an orbital attack.


Planetary Annihilation Communication and Teamwork

One of the greatest causes of inefficient warfare is multiple people giving orders to the same units. All of a sudden you have no idea where that tank force went and your base is under attack. A good rule of thumb is to only control the units you produce and to produce all the units you need. Whenever you move away from that, say it! Your partner will thank you. Try to not steal units from your partner, they need them too.

It can be a reasonable strategy to go for different kinds of units, e.g., one of you go tanks and the other one air. Keep in mind what natural tasks follows picking a certain unit type. The one going for air will be responsible for both anti-air, continuous scouting and raiding lone metal extractors. The one going for tanks will have to do the main push towards a base.

What if you die? Well, there are two of you so the game is not over yet. When you realize that you are going to die, tell your partner. They might be able to avert your opponent’s attention by counter-attacking. If you die and your entire base follows, keep playing! If you have something left, start building from that. Remember to go slowly, don’t crash the economy! If your entire base gets obliterated, ask your teammate what you can do. Maybe you can micro an attack, maybe take over the orbital game and try to eco up. No matter what, make sure you both know what you are doing so that you don’t interfere with each other. This is what team play is all about.

Final notes

In the end, communication is merely a tool to help you use your skills. To be truly good in team games you must understand how the game works. To fully understand how the game works you must play the entire game yourself. I recommend practicing 1v1s, even if you don’t like it, because it gives you a unique understanding of the game balance, economy and a sense of what is important. Queue up for ladder games, participate in community tournaments, watch high-level 1v1 streams. The better you know the game, the more you will benefit from good communication.


Thanks to my fellow Prometheans (and Quitch) who helped editing this article:

  • (P)Killander
  • (P)Lapsedpacifist
  • (P)CDRKF
  • (P)Headcrab
Published: 16th March, 2015

About the author

Senior member of the Promethean Clan and part of the Swedish Duo.


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