Planetary Annihilation has a lot of useful keyboard shortcuts and mods that add even more or replace default functionality. If you only use the mouse to control the game you are surely missing out.
Did you know most top players use the keyboard constantly? If you want to be more efficient in your play style, read on! This guide might be just what you need to join the top ranked players in their struggle to be the best.
First up are the global Planetary Annihilation hotkeys. These are keys that work with the un-modded (vanilla) hotkey system and the popular hotbuild2 mod.
Planetary Annihilation has spherical maps so it is a bit different than most RTS games. This has a big impact on how you navigate the battlefield.
You can always hold down your middle mouse button and drag to move around the planet. However, if you are a FPS player you have probably used the familiar WASD keys to move around in the game world.
If you want to configure the game to use WASD keys to spin and move around the planet you just can do that. Just replace the default arrow keys in Settings > Keyboard > Camera > Direction.
Managing battlefields on a single sphere is hard, but Planetary Annihilation matches can sometimes span over multiple planets. The user interface provides camera anchors to make navigating the battlefield easier. At any time, you can save the current camera position so that you can quickly jump back later.
Press the Set Camera Anchor hotkey to save a view location.
Camera > Capture Anchor > Capture Anchor 1 – 9 (shift+1, shift+9)
Press the Recall Camera Anchor hotkey to go back.
Camera > Recall Anchor > Recall Anchor 1 – 9 (alt+1, alt+9)
This makes it easier to switch between your base and other views. And if you have the game on Steam setting 10 anchors and recalling them grants you an achievement (yay)!
If you ever want to find all idle fabbers or select all air units the Selection Keys got you covered. These keys can determine a big difference in a game. So get used to them especially Select Idle Fabbers!
I recommend setting/memorizing the following keys:
Units > Units Selection > Select Commander (alt+c) *Center screen on your commander! Essential when you hear the Commander is under attack sound!
Units > Units Selection > Select Idle Fabbers (f) *Find all those pesky fabbers that are idling and assign them new task immediately! An Idle fabber is a bad fabber!
Units > Units Selection > Select All Idle Factories (shift+f1) *Idle Factories are bad, be warned though this will select all of them even if you can’t see them.
Units > Units Selection > Select All Idle Factories On Screen (shift+f2) *Find all Idle Factories on your current screen!
Units > Units Selection > Select all Combat Units on Screen (shift+f5) *Excellent to separate a mixed combat fabber force
Creating selectable groups of units is also possible, similar as the Camera Anchor View System.
You can assign groups using Keyboard > Units > Unit Capture Groups > Capture Group 1, 9 (ctrl+1, ctrl+9)
And recall them using Keyboard > Unit Recall Groups > Recall Group 1,9 (1,9)
Tired of clicking the loop queue button on factories? Set-up a hotkey to toggle it on/off.
Keyboard > Build > Build Orders > Toggle Build Orders (l)
You can set-up keys for unit actions like move, attack, patrol and alt-fire (Ubercannon). Someone that uses keys versus a mouse user definitely has the advantage in Comm Boxing fights.
Some of the keys I recommend setting up are the following:
Units > Unit Commands > Move (m)
Units > Unit Commands > Attack (a)
Units > Unit Commands > Alt Fire [Uber Cannon] (d) * Essential for close combat commander fights
Units > Unit Commands > Stop (s) *Super handy to clear queues from Factories in 1 press
Units > Unit Orders > Toggle Energy Orders (k) *If you press this while a fabber or factory is selected it will pause production of that unit/building. Handy for fixing eco issues in a pinch.
Last but not least:
Units > Unit Commands > Self Destruct Unit (del) *Essential for blowing up your commander in case you are going to lose
If you play team games I fully recommend the Ping Command be on a hotkey so you can notify your teammates where you are in trouble!
General > Communication > Ping (g)
Also if you are not using a voice chat tool to communicate with your teammates (which you should ’cause it’s awesome) you should at least know you can chat with them. Communication is the key to victory in team games!
General > Communication > Team Chat (shift+enter)
Be sure to check out the other keys under Keyboard > General some of them you might find interesting.
Planetary Annihilation has a lot of of other keys related to Free Camera Movement and Debugging. I won’t go into detail here but they are pretty self explanatory, so if you are interested in that stuff just check them out.
Planetary Annihilation Default Buildkeys Implementation
Planetary Annihilation has a good general two button buildkeys system. The first button selects the group the second button executes the action (build unit, select building blueprint).
You can find the configuration for this system in Settings > Keyboard > Build
How it works
First you press the button to select the group.
It will then open the buildbar group you selected and you can press a key again to select a building or a unit.
Setting it up
Build Bar Groups in Settings relate to the groups selection.
Build Bar Items in Settings relate to the buttons in the Build Bar group. The Build Bar has three rows of five columns which you will find in the settings above. If the Build Bar has only 2 rows (basic fabricators, factories and commander) it starts counting from 6 – 15 (QWERT,ASDFG).
So in the default settings it looks like this:
If you have a QWERTY keyboard you will see that all these keys are on the top left corner of the keyboard placing them all at your left-hand’s fingertips.
Alternative Buildkeys Implementation : Hotbuild2
Hotbuild2 is quite different from the vanilla shortcut system. It has also a more visual settings system.
In Hotbuild2 you can assign multiple buildings to 1 key. For example:
- F = Basic Bot Factory, Basic Air Factory, Basic Vehicle Factory
- press F once and you can place a Bot Factory
- press F again and you can place a Air Factory
- press F again and you can place a Vehicle Factory
- press F again and it will loop around and you can place a Bot Factory again.
First time setup
If you decide to set it up from scratch you will have to unbind the Vanilla Hotkeys keys in Settings > Keyboard > Build, just make sure no keys are assigned under Build Bar Groups and Build Items.
It’s better to start from a Community Default of your choosing. These will unbind the vanilla hotkeys automatically. Just pick one that suits your keyboard layout and play style (WASD or ARROWS). Or you can import settings from someone in the community if they have shared their Hotbuild2 settings. Just click import select the file and it should set it all up.
Modifying the Keys
Just click a key on the keyboard and then drag units/buildings from the right to left to include it in the sequence. See the video above for a demonstration.
For more info and discussion on hotbuild2 please use the forum thread.