This page is intended to help you learn how to play Cybran in 1v1s. It is long, so it may be more useful to check specific sections that you are curious about and/or reading the Summary sections only, instead of reading it all at once. A lot of the content in this guide also applies to team games, where you can also mix your units with other factions' tech to create really interesting, hard to beat combinations.
Cybran is the most common faction among the top 100 1v1 ladder players due to it being strong in most situations, particularly inside the first 30 minutes when the vast majority of high level 1v1s are decided. There are very few stages of the game where Cybran is uncounterably strong, but aside from certain amphibious maps you should be very competitive in nearly all situations. As a general rule, you have more options available to you as Cybran, due to having unique units, such as the Jester and the Fire Beetle, and units with special abilities, such as stealth and splitting tactical missiles.
The aggressive, flexible play style is also quite a lot of fun.
While you have LABs that can be used in the opening 90-120 seconds of the game due to their low build time, your main tank (actually another bot technically) is nearly as fast and will win if it runs in to an early lab from your enemy. The top speed of all LABs is 4.0 (remember that your Hunter has the lowest HP), the Mantis is 3.7, the Thaam is 3.5, the Striker is 3.4 and the Aurora is 2.9. The Mantis generally is about even with or slightly better than the Thaam in a straight fight, as it has 2 DPS more and 10 HP less, and is half way between a Striker and a LAB for speed.
This means you should be able to shut down enemy raids if you scout well and delay their expansion more effectively by getting your units in to annoying places quickly, and then staying alive when a superior force arrives to chase them off. You can often get in behind your enemy's early tanks and ACU to cause serious disruption and gain a potentially game-winning advantage.
The slow turret speed of the Mantis does complicate this advantage - it's quite possible to lose to an enemy Mantis that your opponent is not paying attention to if you micro your own Mantis badly in a 1v1. Generally speaking you want to approach or run away from your enemy's tank in a zig zag. You will usually either escape with your superior speed or win the fight. You should avoid charging past the enemy tank or causing very sharp changes of direction. Your turret may fail to track the target and stop firing for a crucial amount of time.
Your air, on the other hand, is not so strong early. The T1 Cybran bomber is arguably the worst in the game (although possibly slightly better than the UEF Scorcher), with the lowest damage and bad accuracy. Early bombers can still win you games with good build orders and a slow counter from the enemy, but if your opponent is dodging their engineers and you are not countering this with good micro, you may find yourself making multiple passes on engineers for no kills. Keep in mind that bad micro can allow stationary or un-dodged engineers survive a pass for a variety of reasons.
You may be tempted to use an early Jester, which can work very well if your opponent has neglected to build air, however it is a major risk given the cost for an early-game economy. It is less of an "all-in" to secure air superiority first with interceptors (which are arguably the worst in the game due to their inability to kill an air scout in one volley) before causing serious damage with a Jester. A Jester rush works best on small (5x5) maps where you have intel on the enemy’s second factory. A land scout after the second engineer on most 5x5 maps, will arrive at the enemy base just in time to see what factory they are building second. If it is a land factory, go ahead with your Jester. If they make an air factory second, build an interceptor and ambush their air with yours. If your Jester is successful, it can be a good time to get Tech 2 land while you are ahead, especially against Aeon.
On amphibious maps, you will have trouble against Aeon and Seraphim. If you expect units to be appearing across a body of water, you need to make early frigates if you can, and fortunately your frigate is the most mass efficient one of the four factions, but you will be behind on land units if you do this due to the high mass investment required for naval units. You may also have some success with early Jesters if you can secure air control. Fortunately for Cybran (and UEF), a number of these maps have been removed from the map pool, meaning being blindsided by this is less likely now.
A lot of games on small maps in particular are decided by the "basics" - better raiding, eco balance, unit micro and knowing when to attack, when to upgrade your ACU/land factory/eco or how to take advantage of it when your opponent does these things. You can't do this stuff worse than your opponent and expect to win often. Cybran is a bit under rated on small land maps due to the low hit points of their units. However Cybran offers you unique ways to win.
Mantis let you raid frequently, particularly on open small maps. After front lines have been established, Mantis are able to get to the front lines quicker, and out of fights that you realise at the start you probably shouldn't be taking. This allows you to "poke" your enemy with little bits of aggression, allowing you to fluster your opponent, or to make him push when he thinks he has you on the run - straight towards your fast-moving reinforcements. You are also able to bail your ACU out of tight spots due to the speed of the Mantis, although you should also bear in mind that your ACU will have a HP disadvantage if it's not a mirror match.
Your artillery is a very interesting little unit, thanks to its stun and its firing randomness. It has awful DPS, and when you combine with how frequently a single Medusa will miss a target, your artillery is pretty deficient compared to other factions at its most common job of killing enemy point defence in groups of one or two arty. However, once large armies have been assembled, a decent amount of Medusa in your mix will turn that into an advantage, as large groups of units are weakened and stunned, giving your tanks a quick cleanup job. ACUs will also have more trouble avoiding damage as they find themselves surrounded by stunned tanks on low HP and being unable to dodge all the fire. Medusa can also kill large groups of Aurora in one volley, and have the same speed and higher range then the Aeon tank, which is primarily used for kiting.
Knowing when to get large numbers of Medusa requires a bit of experience, but when there are choke points, such as on Crag Dunes or Winter Duel, and/or large armies on the field, including Tech 2 armies, the value of the Medusa increases greatly.
When you have clear air dominance and a more developed economy, the Jester becomes a fairly low risk, high reward unit. It requires significant attention to counter, as it can easily run away from large groups of mobile AA or a static AA, and any attempt to snipe it with interceptors should trigger a dogfight that gives you an even greater air advantage, while the Jester's HP may allow it to survive anyway. You can use the Jester for all sorts of things - killing engineers and outlying mexes, trimming down T1 armies that haven't got an AA in the mix or cleaning up land raids you have missed without having to divert units from the front line. In larger numbers, it also allows you to snipe an ACU without having to get a Tech 2 factory, something only Cybran can do. Having an assisted air factory with a significant number of Jesters in the mix can also be very effective on open small maps, particularly if you are using mobile AA in your army to help your possibly small number of interceptors in their crucial job of keeping the air-to-ground DPS alive.
There is still room for using the T1 bomber - it is quicker to kill enemy power generators with a group of 3 bombers, which cost 240 mass, than it is to use a Jester, which costs 200. The small mass investment of the bomber also makes it a safer option for pressuring expanding engineers when air control is still not decisively in your favour. In addition, when you notice your enemy doesn't have an air factory and you do, and you need to use this advantage or be overwhelmed by tanks, a good tactic can be to get a bomber or two first to immediately start killing engineers and damaging units before waiting through the longer build time of the Jester to start causing more serious damage, at a higher cost.
Generally, deciding when to get a Tech 2 land factory or an ACU gun/engineering suite and deciding when to start upgrading mexes is governed by the same rules for Cybran as for other factions. Rushing a T2 factory is viable as a single Rhino is quite capable of wiping out a stream of T1 tanks away from the enemy ACU, but remember that the Rhino is the least mass efficient T2 tank on its own, and generally works best in larger armies with significant numbers of Medusa in the mix to stun enemy units, effectively increasing the Rhinos' HP. This transition is easier to manage after gaining an advantage with your early Mantis before upgrading to Tech 2.
On small, open maps against Aeon, rushing Tech 2 land is an important part of countering Auroras for all factions, but Cybran has the Hoplite, which is able to kill an Aurora in one shot and has a significant range and speed advantage. It can be combined with stealth to kite in the early T2 phase against any faction, although micro mistakes are incredibly costly due to the low HP of the Hoplite. The Aeon ACU can be upgraded with the gun range and sensor suite (or double gun if you don’t use stealth) to counter this, so try not to overinvest after you start winning against Auroras with Hoplites unless you will be able to stop these upgrades.
Getting Tech 2 also allows you to (ab)use Cybran Fire Beetles and the static TML launcher. Fire Beetles allow you to snipe ACUs that push your base at the head of an army and don't notice the units in your mix. You can also, as at patch 3640, load 4 Fire Beetles (14,000 damage) in to a T1 transport with a mobile stealth unit, if you load the stealth unit first, or 6 Fire Beetles (21,000 damage) without stealth. Abuse this cheese as you see fit.
The Cybran TML and its missile splitting ability allows you to snipe a TMD with your first missile and then kill the T2 economy it was protecting if you make a stockpile of missiles. This won't work as well if your enemy makes double TMD in front of possible TML targets. The Viper MML (and 80 mass mobile stealth) helps you compensate for the dire Cerberus DPS and low HP shields in a battle of PD creeps. The splitting MML will overwhelm TMD and let through more missiles than other factions when you have massed reasonable numbers of Vipers.
Shield can be upgraded 4 times.
You should note that the Cybran ACU is the only one that can't have both T2 Engineering and 200 DPS, so you have to make a decision about this and try to avoid getting in to too many mid/late game ACU fights. If you notice an attempted double upgrade, remember to punish your enemy by killing their army or their eco, or forcing them to cancel with a push, as you can't match the HP/DPS on your own ACU. The stealth upgrade can be used to allow your gun ACU to be more aggressive when your enemy doesn't have line of sight to the ACU in front of their army army, or to avoid getting kited by an Aeon double-gun ACU. Remember to avoid letting your enemy scout a stealth+gun ACU with air if you can.
If you play a number of games against Aeon players of your own level on small maps, particularly open ones, you will have experienced some painful defeats. Like all factions, Cybran T1 will have problems with Auroras once they reach a critical mass and are used to kite your tanks, or your ACU, which can lead to some very annoying deaths. You do have the advantage of a huge speed advantage over the Aurora in the early game, so you may be able to get a decisive advantage by forcing your enemy to respond to raids and splitting their tanks, which gives you more favourable engagements.
If your enemy is able to stay in the game or get ahead during this phase, Medusa become even more important than usual in giving you a fighting chance at the T1 level. This is only really a temporary measure. You need to win air and kill the Auroras with Jesters or, more usually, T1 bombers, which can kill multiple Auroras in one pass. This is particularly devastating if you use multiple bombers with spread attack (shift-click multiple targets and hit shift+G by default).
You should also try and get Tech 2 before your enemy either starts to get dominance with Auroras or their own Tech 2. If you are comfortable kiting with Hoplites, ideally with mobile stealth in the mix, you should be able to destroy Aurora armies taking little or no losses. Rhinos will also cut straight through an Aurora army. However, once your enemy has Obsidians, particularly combined with mobile shields, they are very tough for your Rhinos and Medusa to beat in a straight fight and will take a long time to die to kiting Hoplites. Obsidians are big mass investments so are vulnerable to overcharge if you can manage it, but can quickly kill even an upgraded Cybran ACU, especially if supported by double gun or range+omni Aeon ACU. If a critical mass of Obsidians, shields and upgraded ACU is reached, you are in serious trouble and need to snipe T2 power (which will shut off Aeon shields and give you an opening), the HQ factory or the ACU itself to win.
For more information, see the Aeon 1v1 Guide.
The theme of aggressive Mantis use in the early game and on small maps continues, and becomes most important, on 10x10 maps. The likelihood of getting early LABs to unguarded engineers that Mantis cannot reach is even lower on larger maps, and if the map is open then having units in more places, denying more expansions, is easier with Cybran. Remember to use your Mantis to defend enemy raids, it should be harder for enemy units to get in behind your forces and start killing expansions and expanding engineers. The period of raiding on a medium sized map will generally continue for longer, particularly if you get on top and use a Cybran style to get ahead.
Larger maps may also delay the point at which large armies will start to face off, and therefore the time you should start making more artillery. This point often coincides with the point at which you get Tech 2 land, when your Tech 1 land production should switch to largely or wholly Medusa in any case.
The slow travel time of the Jester becomes more of a factor – it is easier to detect it before it gets to crucial engineers and mexes, and you may have to choose between having air units out of position to defend it, or having it picked off before it has paid for itself. It still provides you with the opportunity to have a gunship, and indeed possibly an air snipe, without upgrading your air factory and still has a place on medium sized maps to raid and exploit an air advantage.
A number of high-mass or particularly defensive maps will more often require some of the advice found in the Large Maps section.
While wins against opponents of your own level are quite achievable by focusing on a large Mantis spam to control the map and overwhelm your enemy, you will have to win many games at Tech 2, particularly if your enemy rushes it and/or the map is less open or high-mass. The Rhino sits somewhere between the speedy, cheap Pillar and the serious DPS and HP of the Obsidian and Ilshavoh, which also has a slight range advantage. You need a critical mass of Rhinos and Medusas (ideally built in approximately even numbers) to be able to trade evenly or better at Tech 2. If you are unable to gain an advantage at the T1 stage to transition to this point, you may want to try using some of the other units to get ahead – although simple good unit movement with your first Rhinos and scouting can work in most cases.
One option is the Wagner, which has the speed of the Mantis and slightly more DPS than the Rhino, at the cost of not quite enough HP to be as efficient as the Rhino in a straight fight. This unit allows you to kill enemy T1 tanks, expanding engineers and outlying mexes quickly, and the fact that it can hide under water allows you to avoid defenders even more effectively than with Mantis. You may be able to build an early handful of Wagners and kill engineers and T1 mexes in the enemy base itself and you are likely to cause your enemy to divert units from the front line, which can give you a strategic or psychological advantage. Watch the Rhinos or Wagners quick tip for additional advice on when to build which of the two tanks.
The Hoplite, as outlined above, can kite very effectively if you pay constant attention. The low muzzle velocity, DPS and hit points mean that this requires lots of attention and no mistakes to work. It is generally easier to use these units early in the Tech 2 phase to counter Auroras or to raid and distract while you build up your main Rhino and Medusa force.
A final word on stealth – as outlined above it is a serious force multiplier for Hoplites and can be used to allow your drops and snipes to avoid detection and enjoy more success. It is sometimes problematically fast when used in conjunction with slow moving Rhinos and Medusas, or Bricks at the T3 stage, but it has a psychological effect on your enemy if they know it’s there, as they have to scout more often and pay more attention to their scouting. This can lead to less successful management of other units. It can also, sometimes, cause game-changing mistakes as your enemy pushes at a small force or an empty space on radar, only to find a large army where they didn’t expect it, or to be too late to stop your tanks rolling in to their base. Deceivers can also hide your T2 PD and Vipers from radar in a tower creep, giving you an advantage in a PD war.
Using T1 bombers in the early phase of the game and winning air control as standard for all factions is an important part of Cybran play. You may look to use the Jester, as outlined above, to exploit an air advantage, although the slow travel time can be an issue.
Tech 2 air is more likely to become part of your play on medium sized maps than on smaller maps. General solid T2 airplay is important, such as using gunships to kill units and expansions that are undefended by T2 flak when you have an air advantage, using 2 fighterbombers to snipe T2 power, 1 fighterbomber to snipe TMD, or sniping an exposed ACU with a larger group of fighterbombers and/or gunships.
The main consideration you have with Cybran units at this stage is that Corsairs and Renegades have splash damage. For Renegades this can be incredibly useful and makes the gunships especially strong against T1 land units and, in the case of Corsairs and their forward-firing missiles, T2 flak. This means that if you’ve rushed T2 Air and conceded a land advantage, you will may have a slightly easier time recovering or minimising damage. Corsair splash damage and range also makes snipes on ACUs harder to dodge and, with some expert micro, allow you to avoid flying over air defences by doubling your units back after they fire, but before they’ve flown over the target.
In even matches, and particularly on less open maps and/or maps with high resources, Tech 3 Land will be required to win games. The Brick and Loyalist are both strong units for different tasks – the Loyalist is incredibly quick and can wipe out T1 and T2 armies or outlying mexes very quickly if you have T3 faster than your opponent. Try and use a handful of Loyalists to immediately exploit your tech advantage when you know you have one. Once front line T3 units start to appear in numbers, the Loyalist can still be used to get around armies and raid, but should generally stop being your unit of choice. They can also suicide in the middle of enemy armies, where their death explosion will stun enemy units.
The Brick is more likely to be the mainstay of your Cybran-style play at the full-T3 stage. They are vulnerable to a well-microed Harbinger in a 1v1 and, like everything else, will struggle against the Percival. However their high rate of fire means low overkill when fighting against large numbers of enemy units and will overwhelm Harbingers assuming something like an equal mass investment after you start getting a few Bricks together. It’s a little known fact that the much-maligned Othuum is actually the most mass efficient T3 unit in the game, but it has only 60% of the Brick’s range on its main guns, so avoid getting in to range of Sera T3 and you should be able to win decisive engagements, particularly earlier in the T3 stage before your enemy has had the chance to assemble a large number T3 tanks and mobile shields.
The slow speed of the Brick means that you may need to transport your first units to the front lines, particularly if you are being heavily raided by Ilshavoh, Loyalists, Titans or especially Harbingers, which Aeon players will often rush for when they can and will kill your Loyalists. To absolutely maximise an early tech advantage, or just to cause general disruption, you can also consider using a mobile stealth and a T2 transport to drop a Brick in to your enemy’s T2 eco (but away from their ACU), perhaps in addition to the early raiding using Loyalists.
Generally T3 Air and Experimentals are much rarer as a genuine level of contest on medium sized maps. They are seen in matchups that are particularly even and/or high eco. This is generally a game-breaking rush for one player or the other, as the first person to T3 Air or T4 is able to gain a decisive advantage fairly quickly when the travel time for these units is limited to a medium sized map. Alternatively, the attempt to rush T4 or T3 Air may lose you the game if you are overrun while you invest your resources, as will wasting the units while your opponent exploits other advantages. Generally speaking these strategies are a way to break a game you are already ahead in when done correctly. Occasionally an even T3 Air or T4 phase of the game will occur on medium sized maps, but this is more common in bigger games and is discussed below.
Cybran has a big advantage in a T4 rush, as it has a high DPS, stealthy, cheap, fast-moving experimental in the Monkeylord. On high mass maps it’s quite possible to have a Monkeylord completed by the 20 minute mark. If you are able to get an ACU Resource Allocation System (RAS) upgrade or T3 power generator, you can convert a full T2 or early T3 eco into a Monkeylord in a few minutes, particularly if you pause all other construction and temporarily don’t have any mexes upgrading.
Cybran strategic bombers, along with the ASF, can be stealthed. This allows you to snipe ACUs, HQs, T2 mexes (bear in mind you will need two Cybran bombers per T2 mex though) and power generators with little or no warning if you can stop your enemy scouting, or they are sluggish to respond.
Very little can be done against a massed army of Percivals. They can simply kill Bricks in one volley once there are 6 of them, a Monkeylord-worth of Percivals can kill the Monkeylord in two shots, and they have the same range and speed as the Brick. When you find yourself against a UEF opponent who is transitioning to T3 you need to delay the moment that they can assemble a Percival army. This could include using Loyalists to raid, Brick drops and/or pushing with your T2 if you can to force them to split their early Percies. You an also seriously disrupt their eco by sniping power when they are upgrading to, or starting T3, or even sniping the HQ on an upgrade can give you a critical advantage. You may also be able to wear down Percival armies as they assemble with T3 mobile artillery (make sure you kill your enemy's T3 arty if they make any). This can also help to apply mental pressure as your enemy's units will constantly be taking damage, and they may start giving you winnable engagements either due to Percivals being on lower health or simply from a bad decision. Using some of these ideas to get an advantage during the T3 transition is important against all factions, but it’s especially important to try against UEF.
If you’ve given yourself an advantage, you may well be able to win the game with Bricks. Otherwise, if you have managed to get early T3 engineering either out of the factory or on your ACU, you can also potentially build a T3 power generator (or get the RAS upgrade) and rush a Monkeylord to take advantage of any disruption you’ve caused at this stage of the game.
If you fail to stop a Percival army assembling, you may need to consider sniping the ACU or making a serious raid on their eco. The use of Rambo SCUs, combined with highly active micro (and possibly stealth) will allow you to kite and slowly kill large groups of Percivals. However if you stop the kiting and sideways movement of the SCUs, they will not last long. It may be worth trying to skip any meaningful T3 land production for a Quantum Gate, however this may not be possible if the UEF player has rushed for T3 in the first place. This is a high risk, high attention counter, and any fights against Percies need to start well away from critical structures. Another concern is that if the UEF player responds with their own Rambo SCUs, there is very little you can do to stop them.
The million dollar, 3000-rating question is when to get each of your options, if at all. There’s no getting away from the fact that it depends on your map, and what the situation in each specific game is. This is a tough question in general – you can try to outspend your opponent on mass extractors, outspam them at T1, push everywhere with T2, make surgical strikes throughout and especially when you have recently upgraded to Tech 2 or 3, or rush a Monkeylord. In the end playing experience, watching replays, talking to better players and trying to coach yourself to think better is important no matter the faction.
As a Cybran player, certain things should have a bit of an influence on your thinking. Upgrading mexes means that you are investing in 5 or so minutes’ time - a T2 mex takes 3 minutes 45 seconds to repay the mass cost, which you may otherwise have turned in to units, possibly securing more T1 mass points and getting the extra mass more cheaply. It's worth bearing in mind that a T2 upgrade is worth 18 Mantis or 3 Rhinos in mass. Making the decision means a slowing or ending of your Mantis aggression, or a delay in getting a critical mass of T2. When the critical mass comes, it will be much stronger for your eco play as reinforcements will arrive more quickly.
Your T1 aggression should also slow, or come to an end, when you upgrade your land factory. Remember that this, plus the sight of a T2 HQ, will allow your enemy to get their own T2 if they have not been decisively beaten. Against Aeon and particularly Seraphim, this means the arrival of units that will completely dominate your units in small numbers. Playing as Cybran gives you plenty of ways to handle this transition well, but you need to remember them so you don’t fall behind. On the other hand, rushing T2 land or air also gives you the opportunity to snipe enemy eco before they have made TMD in sufficient numbers to counter Cybran TML.
You also need to be aware of factions that will rush Tech 3, particularly on high eco and/or less open maps. Many good Aeon players will look to get Harbingers as early as possible as they are fast and will reliably beat anything with good micro until larger T3 armies are massed. You need to try and survive this period, or delay it happening, until your Brick army is ready. As discussed in the Percivals section, you may also have to contend with a T3 rush from UEF players. You should be ready to rush T3 yourself on these maps, both as a counter and to use your Loyalists and Bricks offensively. As outlined above, it’s also important to delay T3 rushes.
One option for delaying T3 rushes is to get your T2 air earlier than you might otherwise have done as a Cybran player. Cybran T2 air can defend better against T1 land than other factions’ T2 Air, and the Corsair is the best sniping fighterbomber. Often, this is used to end the game with an ACU snipe, but you should consider T2 power or HQ sniping, which can seriously delay T3 land and secure an air advantage for you and can be done with little resource investment. Getting T2 air when behind in land units is still quite a risky move.
There are a number of medium sized maps that suit Cybran, not due to their openness but due to the large bodies of water. Cybran navy at the Tech 1 and Tech 2 level is arguably the strongest in the game due to Cybran's typical flexibility and use of stealth, and in most 1v1s Tech 1 and Tech 2 navy is enough to secure victory.
Should you have survived the early game phase reasonably intact against Auroras and Zthuees, you will suddenly have a massive advantage against an opponent that has over invested in floating land units. Remember when sending your frigates off to plow through streams of Zthuee that you should queue up a zigzag movement to avoid artillery shells. Aurora will simply die horribly to frigates, which you should have invested more in if you appear to be having trouble with T1 amphibious units in the early game.
Cybran frigates are the most mass efficient in the game, with excellent anti-air as well. You can use this to gain a considerable naval advantage – make sure to build and use your submarines as you need – only as a counter for other submarines. If you are losing on subs and winning on frigates, this means you can probably raid your enemy’s naval production.
Regardless of whether or not you secure an advantage with your frigates, you will probably need Tech 2 on naval maps, as these units can confirm that you win navy and also start destroying eco much more effectively. The Salem destroyer is a useful all round destroyer, with strong anti-air and anti-torpedo defence, with the one blind spot of being unable to fire directly backwards, which means you can lose them to bad micro. Try not to directly retreat them from danger when you have to move backwards, and avoid sending them in ahead of a frigate so they do not get surrounded or easily targeted.
Your main advantage with in a T2 naval duel as a Cybran player is stealth. If you are able to get a Mermaid stealth boat or a T3 sonar (which requires T2 power to run, but will give you sonar coverage of the entire map) with your destroyers and frigates and deny air spotters, you will have a huge advantage. You can deny these spotters with your own interceptors or a cruiser, but if the enemy is persistent they should be able to get sporadic intel on your navy. When they are unable to do this, you will have near immunity from damage, as most naval fights at least start out of vision radius. Don’t charge in, especially with your destroyers, and kite when you can (remembering the blind spot for Salems) to exploit this to the full.
The stealthy Barracuda sub can also win you games, particularly against Seraphim at balance patch 3640, as they are very efficient against Sera destroyers, who are the only Seraphim T2 anti-sub unit. Barracudas are particularly strong if you can kite with them and stay out of vision radius – all factions lack a naval omni unit other than the ACU itself. If you go for this option remember to focus heavily on your sub spam – any surface units will die quickly to focus fire from the destroyers. Surface units include engineers and naval yards, so if you are losing navy to Seraphim the transition, you may not want to use Subs to win at T2. You can also use Barracudas against a UEF player that neglects to build Cooper torpedo boats, but it is not difficult to fix this mistake so be cautious about overinvesting in this case. Both UEF and Seraphim can be beaten by a normal surface Cybran navy at T2.
Seraphim has submersible Destroyer
When you’ve won navy, you face a little bit of a deficit compared to other factions with your cruiser, which has great surface and anti-air DPS on paper, but lacks the tactical missiles that allow other factions to strike far inland regardless of terrain. This is somewhat countered by the ability of the Salem to walk inland, along with a high firing arc and rate of fire that lets you position it to bombard inland while staying in the water. If you do take your destroyers for a walk, make sure they are supported as they are painfully slow and die when units get behind them.
On larger naval maps, or extended games with big ecos, T3 Navy rears its head. This is a painful time to play against the UEF, with their T2-destroying battlecruiser and their best-in-class battleship, along with shield ships and the odd Cooper to keep your subs at bay. Simply put, a UEF player of your own level will almost certainly win unless you snipe their eco or ACU once they have T3 navy. You also may struggle with Seraphim T3 subs if you have invested heavily in surface ships. Barracudas with their stealth and Salems’ torp defence give you some chance to win, if you don’t get kited with the destroyers and scouted with the Barracudas.
Your advantages include having a 9,000 mass battleship, compared to 10,000 mass for other factions, and a stealthy nuke sub, allowing for awful surprises for those enemies that neglect to build an SMD, or build one in a position that only intercepts missiles from your main base. Stealth also remains a useful force multiplier in battles between surface fleets.
The Cybran ACU is usually the least useful in the mid game. However the combination of the torpedo upgrade, stealth and ideally the engineering suite upgrade(s) for HP makes for a comparatively cheap, hard to hit anti-naval unit. Having this build power available in a typically-lucrative naval wreck field is also a serious advantage. Keep the ACU out of visual range of enemy units and it will force a response, either of staying away from your units and/or production of more anti-submarine units, which may give your surface ships an advantage. The cost of T2, stealth and torpedos is slightly more than a destroyer, while being much more dangerous.
The risk is obvious – mistakes or simply a lost battle mean an immediate end to the game. The ACU is much slower than ships and subs, so being over-run and killed by destroyers is a real threat as T2 navy becomes more common. The ACU will also take longer to get in to a useful position on the front lines.
Air play is very important on naval maps. Frigates are everywhere, which makes scouting and how you manage your interceptors much more difficult, and important, for all factions than on land maps. Bombers and Jesters are useless once frigates emerge, other than for killing engineers or raiding over land. The exception to this is against an Aeon opponent that neglects T1 Shard anti-air boats and both cruisers and hover flak at T2, as their frigates and destroyers have no AA. The main way your T1 Air can win naval fights is denying enemy scouts when you are using stealth, or scouting an enemy Cybran player's stealth navy.
T2 air is more useful against navy, as torpedo bombers and Corsairs can actually mass efficiently snipe cruisers, particularly in smaller numbers. The missiles of the Corsair allow it to apply more damage than other fighterbombers, particularly when sniping ships protected by some anti-air. They are less mass efficient than torpedo bombers, but more flexible as they can also hit hovering units, targets on land and deal splash damage, which can be valuable when killing engineers assisting a factory.
Most large map 1v1s are an incredible drain on your multitasking. They often play like a number of simultaneous 10x10 maps. As a result they often have a similar play time as the more high-eco defensive medium-sized maps. The commonly played 1v1 20km maps all involve at least some element of naval play, as only Crossfire Canal has more land than water of the current common 20km 1v1 maps. T3 Air becomes much more common, and important - you probably won't win a 20x20 game if you lose a big ASF fight. There is generally less of an investment in land - drops and T2 amphibious raiding are more common than a full T3 land army. The general strengths and play style of Cybran remain - you want to decide the game earlier rather than later with your aggressive, flexible T2 options. This aggression must be effective against good players, or the reclaim from the fights will simply feed the late game eco and tech that you will have more difficulty killing. You have a clear T3 naval disadvantage to the UEF. You have a possible air disadvantage due to your lack of an Advanced Resource Allocation System (ARAS) upgrade on your ACU, which slows the necessary increase in mid/late game ASF production compared to Seraphim and particularly Aeon, who are likely to have secured air superiority already during any T2 phase with their Swift Winds.
On large maps building early Mantis for raiding becomes much less useful. Jesters also lack the speed to reliably get in to position and cause enough damage to justify the cost to your early eco. All factions have a fairly standard heavy air opening build usually to allow for transporting engineers to expansions and to deny or delay expansions for the enemy. Your main focus as a Cybran player is to prepare for how your enemy will attack you and how you can attack them, which will be likely be highly map dependent.
As outlined above, your frigates are the most mass efficient in naval warfare and have the best frigate AA. While the eco to get Tech 2 navy should be available pretty quickly on a 20x20 map, a lot of high level Cybran play on large naval maps actually involves building huge numbers of frigates and denying costal mass points to the enemy, making transport use more dangerous and potentially overrunning an unsuspecting enemy’s naval production for a fast win.
Your timing for Tech 2 navy is more important in bigger maps in general – remember that Cybran is somewhat disadvantaged in the late game against Aeon and Seraphim, due to a lack of ARAS, and UEF, due to a lack of amazing T3 navy. As far as naval timing goes, this means you have to time your upgrade to ensure your Salems and Mermaids can arrive when they can apply the most pressure. This is fairly situational and requires experience to get right. In short, you are looking to get Tech 2 when you won’t miss the extra frigates too much – the T2 upgrade and first destroyer is about the same price as 14.5 frigates. Given frigates can’t kill submarines or inland enemy structures, the point at which you want that destroyer can be hard to judge.
It’s not advisable to use the ACU torp upgrade on large maps. Your ACU is simply too slow to have an effect on large maps and it is much more likely to result in you being sniped than any meaningful naval wins. You will also probably also have greater need of the RAS upgrade eventually.
There’s only one problem with Cybran hover units – they don’t exist. This is a serious problem if you are losing to a superior navy, or a navy combined with T2 hover tanks, and means you have almost no option to get “back in the water” if your naval factories are destroyed and you cannot rebuild them somewhere else.
There is, however, an upside to this. It’s much harder for Cybran Wagners to be killed before they appear on an enemy’s island. Wagners will comfortably destroy hover tanks once they are above the surface, and can abuse any lack of anti-sub defences to make their escape when outmatched. This can provide you a way of making sure your aggression is effective, and doesn’t create reclaim fields for the enemy.
The battle for air control should be fairly even, except for Aeon opponents that invest anything approaching equal resources in to their T2 Swift Winds as you invest in your interceptors. Where Cybran players should try and get ahead is with the use of T2 mobile stealth and drops. Larger maps allow for you to avoid the visual range of units to set up proxy bases, stealthed TML or drop T2 or T3 land units close to crucial, unguarded structures. All factions can try this tactic, but Cybran stealth makes drops much more dangerous. While non-Cybran factions will have to avoid radar coverage, use of mobile stealth means Cybran players only need to worry about not flying over enemy units and being seen while they do it. You should use this to your advantage when playing Cybran on a large map, particularly with areas of land that are likely to be unguarded.
Use of Tech 2 air units such as fighterbombers and gunships is also useful, as it allows you to spread damage-dealing units across the map quickly to anywhere. Against Aeon, you have to be mindful that the Swift Wind is faster and much more mass efficient than interceptors in a dogfight. You should either look to disrupt their air production, probably by destroying T2 Air HQs or power, or increase your own to completely outnumber the enemy Swift Winds. Losing air to Aeon is always a problem, but particularly on larger maps, as they will be able to leverage an air advantage far more, including at T3 with their ARAS.
As outlined above, Cybran is at a disadvantage at this stage of the game to Aeon and Seraphim due to the ARAS upgrade available on their ACUs. This provides an to increase energy production to fund increased T3 Air production that is more efficient than T3 power that Cybran and UEF have to build earlier. It is also usually much harder to scout and to kill an upgraded ACU than a T3 powergrid in the late game.
The major Cybran advantage at T3 is all T3 air has stealth, except the gunship which has jamming. This allows for a variety of tactics used to gain the advantage in dogfights, or to snipe power or ACUs more effectively with the strategic bomber, as outlined above. Remember that a Cybran strat will need two passes to destroy a T2 mex, and probably an extra bomber or two to make it to the ACU to snipe it successfully, which should be easier in stealth mode.
As discussed above, the Monkeylord is a cheap, stealthy, high DPS experimental that can be made quite early if eco is poured in to it. This tactic is actually less viable on large maps, as your economy is spread out and requires you to concentrate your resources less so you can defend it. Land experimentals also take some time to cross the map and become effective.
The Megalith also suffers from this travel time issue. On particularly high mass naval 20km maps, it can become useful as it is faster under water and is a highly effective submerged unit. When you get a Megalith in range of an enemy army, it is possible to back the unit up with move orders immediately behind the Megalith. This allows the Megalith to kite and destroy any direct fire experimental, and possibly multiple units, such as enemy Monkeylords. The Megalith can also produce T3 land units incredibly quickly, or if one of its “eggs” are placed on a wreck, reclaim at a massive 1,800 mass per second until the wreck is drained before it starts building the unit. When you have won an experimental fight, this is a great trick to quickly get the mass and produce more back in your base.
The most useful experimental in a large 1v1 is the Soul Ripper, as its splash damage can wipe out armies quickly and it is mobile enough to get across the map quickly and apply damage in the late game. It’s best used when you have won air, or will win air as a result of forcing the enemy to focus their ASF on your Soul Ripper while you clean up the fighters. This may mean you have to transport engineers forward to reclaim your sacrificed unit and build another back in your base, but this shouldn’t be an issue with air control. It can also be rushed on a high eco map that allows you to kill an enemy before they are able to counter it.
Cybran is somewhat limited in game enders on large map 1v1s compared to other factions. The UEF Mavor, Aeon Salvation and Seraphim Yolona Oss can reach across the map to destroy bases, and the Aeon Paragon can allow for mass production of whatever will end the game fastest. Cybran’s experimental game ender is the Scathis, which is comparatively cheap but has a limited range. This means it has to be constructed or moved to an appropriate range to the enemy’s main base to wipe it out, which is not particularly easy on a 20km map. That said, if it is kept alive it will wipe out whatever is in range very quickly.
The other short cut to victory is the ACU “Telemaser” upgrade – the Teleporter, Microwave Laser and, usually, the T3 engineering suite for HP. Against an unprepared opponent this can completely change the game if used to wipe out T3 power and production facilities or critical structures such as strategic missile defence. It can also quickly dispatch an ACU.
This tactic is generally a last ditch attempt to win a game that is being lost, as if things go wrong with the snipe attempt the ACU will die and your game is over anyway. It is also something of an “all-in” move given the total cost of 22,000 mass and a little over 2 million energy, with another 100,000 energy required to teleport each time. It also means destroying, or not building, the RAS upgrade.