Templates, what are they, what do they do, and what do I do with them?
Templates are in-depth posts on forums or websites, detailing the way to create a very specific setup for a character or class. Also referred to as "Cookie cutter characters". I have mixed feelings about these setups. First, if you are new to PvP/PK or experimenting, templates are ideal. You have a pre-researched setup that is known to work, and work well. You can use them straight from the forums and expect to do reasonably well. The downside? Everyone will know what you are capable of, and how to counter anything you may do. I personally avoid templates for this reason alone. I *DO* read every one I see, however. Think of it as researching the enemy. Time for a real-game scenario.
First, let me lay out the framework, so you know how this game works.
There was an old RTS game called "Warzone 2100", made by Pumpkin Studios. It was definitely waay ahead of its time. I still consider it a better RTS than many of the ones that recently came out. Why? Most RTS games, you have ten to twenty units you can build, and that's it. In Warzone 2100, if you wanted something resembling a tank, you had to research the parts first. First the tank treads, then the heavy tank body, then a heavy cannon. Then you could build a basic tank after putting the parts together in the vehicle editor, then saving it with a name. But that's the BASIC tank, mind you. If you wanted to make it more effective, then you could research better ammunition, better targeting system, better armor, bigger engine, ect. The research tree is massive. Expect to spend two or three HOURS if you plan on researching the entire tree.
There's other things you can do in this game that you can in no other. First, artillery. Say you build a radar station to keep an eye on an approach path to your base. If you build stationary artillery near that radar dish, it'll automatically slave to that radar and fire on anything hostile that the radar dish detects. But what to do if cash is tight? Slap that same artillery piece you researched onto a vehicle chassis and crank a few out. Drive them over to a radar station. Select all the artillery pieces, then click on the radar dish. They'll link to it and fire on anything it detects like a stationary artillery unit. The difference is, if you suddenly need that firepower elsewhere, you can de-link them, drive them over to the new location, and use them as-is with thier limited detection range, or slave them to a different dish. But maybe you need more accurate and mobile artillery? Back to the vehicle editor! Set up a new vehicle, and slap a radar dish on it. Crank one out, and drive it over to your artillery tanks. Slave the artillery tanks to the radar tank as if it were a tower. Now, only the radar tank is selectable, but notice that the artillery tanks follow it! They'll fire on anything that the radar tank points its dish at, including enemy base structures. Very neat.
Second, you can get a "commander" turret. Placed on tanks only. What these do is allow you to set that tank as the deliver point for your factories. So if your commander tank's force has taken a few casualties, you can have its designated factory crank out some replacements. When done, they'll happily drive right over to the commander tank and stay with it. All linked vehicles fire on whatever the commander tank designates.
Third, each vehicle gains rank depending on how many kills it gets. That's why its a good idea to repair used vehicles, instead of just letting them die and filling thier shoes with replacements. Also, if you later upgrade your tanks and want to get the vets in the new ones, simply recycle the old tanks prior to manufacturing the new ones. The experienced vets will pull rank to get the primo gear.
Anyway, time to explain the scenerio to explain templates. The two major online match types were "Tier 1" and "Tier 3", referred as such for a setting in the make-a-game panel that dictates how much tech you start with. Tier 1 nets you next to nothing, tier 3 has all the good high level techs, but at a basic level. To explain, it's like having firearms researched, but you have a flintlock, not a cannon. The common strategy for T3 matches was to research the heaviest bodies, heaviest cannons, and throw it all on treads to have the highest armor and health values. It was common to see ten to twenty of those deadly behemoths attack at once. Sometimes more, if it were a long match. Superheavy tanks, superheavy guns, that's the "template". That's what everyone did in those games because that was understood as "what works".
Well, one day I got tired of the same-old, same-old. Instead I used the same light body you got from the start of the game, but researched armor to the max. I used a needle gun (light cannon T3 version) instead of a Gauss. And I put it on a hovercraft chassis (high speed, low armor, low health). Result? A much cheaper vehicle that took ten seconds to manufacture instead of five minutes. I could crank out a hundred of them in the time it took someone to get ten to twenty heavy tanks. And the best part was, they could take ONE hit from a heavy tank and not die. Simple to deal with that, I simply set thier orders to retreat to my repair station upon medium damage. I then set all 100 over to the enemy base and ignored them. I then ignored them while I did some minor base repairs. I was expecting to see all 100 at my repair station, minus casualties. I recall seeing a little profanity on my screen, but was busy putting up a little more stationary defense while that was going on. Five minutes later, I notice only fifteen hovertanks at my repair facility, already tuned up. Did I lose that many tanks? Nope. Eighty were still at where the enemy base was. My hundred light tanks had not only taken out the entire enemy heavy tank force, it had also levelled the base, all without any intervention from me. It worked so well I didn't build a heavy tank ever again. I called it my "Swarm strategy" and went on to win many, many matches with it.
In closing, though Pumpkin Studios is now a thing of the past, Warzone 2100 is still with us, thanks to the amazing folks at http://wz2100.net/. Yes, you can download the entire, rebuilt game. Thanks to the WZ 2100 Resurrection Project! Go there and get it, RTS lovers. And remember, templates are great for beginners, and even better for the vets who don't use them. Know your enemy.