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Tip of the Week #5: Commander Orlok

By Perfi - 17th April 2010 - 15:28 PM

Commander Orlok the Eternal is the "good guy" of Hierarchy heroes. As seen in the campaign, he is the one who cares about his soldiers and questions the point of bringing destruction to thousands of words. He has also been compared to a "communist" fighting Kamal's imperialistic regime. However, we aren't going to talk about his morals today. What we are going to talk about is bringing destruction to his enemies without questioning the point of it.

Orlok is the main offensive hero of Hierarchy, unlocked by Assault-2. He costs 2000 and takes up 10 population points. The investment is generally worth it. His mobile battle platform serves as a powerful, although slow combat unit, gifted with 1200 health and able to crush even light vehicles (such as Figments, Variants and grounded Saucers). Since it is treated as a vehicle, Radiation healing doesn't work - however, Repair Saucers fill that role quite well. He can be seen in three modes: Assault, Endure and Siege.

The Assault mode allows Orlok to use his Plasma Cannon. Dealing 30 damage per shot and three shots per burst, it is a good weapon for scaring foes away and dealing with weaker units. It is also upgradeable with the general Hierarchy weaponry updates. Quantum-3 increases the damage slightly, while Mutagen-1 allows his shots to irradiate targets. Speaking of Mutagen-1, it also allows Orlok to leave a massive cloud of radiation on death, however, you should generally avoid that. Either way, don't count on the Plasma Cannon to do much, as you have much better tools of conventional warfare at your disposal. Orlok really shines in his other modes, so it would be much wiser to use them most of the time instead. There is one special use of the Plasma Cannon that is quite unique, though: You can use it to snipe Matter Engines, which is especially important during the early game when you lack good long-range weaponry.

If you use Orlok to fight something very close, he will switch to his Crusher Beam weapon instead. This device turns enemies (or resources, as it is targetable on either) into ammunition - namely artillery shells. As you might already have guessed, these are fired through Siege Mode. Orlok can keep up to five artillery shells at a time. Once ordered to fire, he will launch them at the selected area dealing 90 area of effect damage per shot. It is possible to move Orlok while he fires the weapon, however, remember that you need to manually reload after every volley. That's usually accomplished by ordering Orlok to "attack" a resource pile, from which he will consume 100 resources for each shell.

In Siege mode, Orlok serves mainly as artillery. Unlike the so-called Radiator "Artillery", the Eternal's weapon actually has good range - it can be fired from any point on the map to any other point on the map, as long as that point isn't under fog of war. This means you should use Orlok with a spotter - a couple of Detection Drones can repeatedly use Pulse Scans on the enemy, while a Visual Optimizer Science Walker is unarguably the best choice, giving you complete sight over the whole map. With permanent visibility, you can keep the enemy under a constant rain of artillery shells, forcing him to concentrate his efforts on repairs or on killing Orlok.

Such range comes at a price, though, as the siege weapon's accuracy decreases with distance. You will often find yourself trying to find Orlok a safe place, close to both the enemy, your forces and resources. It can be difficult to find such a place, but if you do, he will be a major pain for the opponent.

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If you want to use the artillery with maximum effectiveness, you should pick the proper targets. For the classic "bombard them until they bleed out", clumps of buildings are often the best target, as the damage will spread due to the distance-induced inaccuracy. Against Novus, try to concentrate on Flow Generators and Science Centers, but groups of Recycling Centers are also a good idea. Hierarchy lacks buildings to bombard effectively, however, you can always use Orlok against groups of Reaper Drones. Siege mode is also very good against Glyphs, taking them down almost instantly and hitting them easily regardless of their distance. This allows the Science Walker + Orlok combo to negate any walker production in late-game Hierarchy mirrors. It is however weaker against the Masari, as their Dark Matter Armor can regenerate between shots, limiting the damage dealt. That doesn't mean it's useless, though - try to find groups of Architects or buildings placed near Matter Engines, as these go down quickly and can be a huge blow to the opponent if lost.

You aren't restricted to using Siege mode on buildings, though - bombing units is also very viable. Due to the huge area of effect, the artillery works wonders against massed infantry (especially against Ohms, against which Orlok is definitely the best Hierarchy hero) and other weaker targets, such as medium tank units (Phase, Antimatter). One interesting thing to note is that Siege also damages air units. If you don't miss, the artillery can be a great counter to air spam - regardless of whether it's Saucers, Dervishes, Inquisitors or Skylords. If your enemy is really concentrating on air, use the artillery from small distances and with Nufai's Tendrils assistance to make sure you hit. Lastly, Siege mode can also soften up Hierarchy walkers quite nicely, making Orlok an useful asset in Hierarchy mirrors.

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In Endure mode, Orlok sheds his Plasma Cannon in exchange for heavy armor plates and a health boost. The fact that he now has way more armor than health means he both takes less damage and heals faster, especially with assistance from Repair Saucers. Endure mode can also be used well on the offense. Aside from crushing units, he also keeps the Crusher Beam. In Endure mode, it can be used simply by ordering Orlok to attack an enemy unit (not buildings or walkers), regardless of his current ammunition count.

You might be wondering "Why would I waste time using Crusher Beam when I don't even need ammunition?". The answer to that lies in the Crusher Beam's specifics. The fearful weapon deals 150 damage per second, ignoring armor types. In Endure mode, your Orlok also has a ton more health which regenerates faster. Both of these facts are enough for Orlok to beat a Dark Peacebringer in a straight fight. Now, you might be wondering "Why should I do anything else than using Crusher Beam with Orlok?". The answer is: because of the Beam's low range, it's possible to just escape it and simply kite Orlok until he switches back to Assault mode.

IPB ImageThis epic struggle will unfortunately end as soon as either moves.

However, nothing stops you from using Endure Mode to heal Orlok with Saucers while turning an enemy Peacebringer into ammunition, then switching through Assault into Siege, firing a few shells on the enemy's Skylords, then switching back into Assault and assisting your multiple walkers in breaking through the enemy's wall of Guardians from behind Kamal's Forcefield as the walkers snipe Matter Engines in a symphony of chaos. Although Orlok the Eternal is a very powerful and universal hero, he is best used with support, as support or both. Keep him alive, and he will return the favor.

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