Unit Management

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How to control your units. (wip)

Using Unit AI[edit]

The easiest way to to use your units is via the attack command. This utilizes the unit AI and is probably most effective when used with raiders and skirmishers.


For skirmishers, this will cause them to try to keep their target at maximum range. This is most effective against units that are slower than the skirmisher, say for example a ronin fighting a thug.


Raiders on fight command will try to stay at maximum range to their target, and engage in dodging behavior by swerving side to side, helping them dodge many slower projectiles. Once they get in range, they will swerve back and forth in front of the target.


Unit AI assaults will cause them to walk up to their target, and sit at max range firing away. Unit ai is not very effective for assaults. It is generally better to just line move them into the enemy, so they can soak up the maximum amount of damage and screen for your lower hp units like skirmishers or raiders.


Unit AI is generally effective for artillery units. They will stay at maximum range and hammer away at their target. There are a few quirks about using artillery however.

  • UNIT AI requires vision of its target. If you don't have vision or radar of a defensive tower, the artillery could walk into its range and die.
  • Radar does not reveal precise location of things, and artillery will miss slightly if you don't get vision of the target at least once. It will shoot at the radar dot and not at where the target actually is. This has the greatest impact on very precise artillery like the impaler or sling.
  • Unit Ai can shoot at units and will not prioritize buildings. What is closest will get shot at first. If there is a unit patrolling in front of a defense turret, the arty will prioritize shooting that unit(as it is closer), but will probably never kill it. You can get around this by manually setting targets for your artillery.


Constructor's (or cons for short) unit AI will cause them to move in the direction their attack command was given, and along the path they will repair things or reclaim. They will also attempt to avoid enemy units. Unit Ai isn't that commonly utilized for cons, because they are not very smart about choosing when to reclaim or repair, and their time is often spent better building things.


A cool feature of Zero-K is that units are all reasonably effective with minimal oversight. However, there is still room to squeeze out extra performance out of your units if you want to. It's also quite fun!

Line move[edit]

Using line move is essential to maximize unit efficiency.

  • It allows you to minimize the damage your units take from attacks with splash damage (most riots have this). Spreading out your units is almost always good.
  • Allows you to form a concave, to maximize the % of your units which can fire constantly at their targets. Units for the most part cannot shoot through each other. Units at the center of a ball are not able to shoot out of it! That wastes much of their damage potential and could cause you to lose fights.
    • By spreading out your units and forming a concave, you are able to overwhelm riots unit early game with raiders.

Retreat micro[edit]

A very common tactic utilized by players, especially in raider micro, is "retreat micro". This type of micro utilizes the feature that units running away tend to hit more than those chasing that unit.

For example, in a scenario in which a glaive is chasing a glaive, the glaive that is running away and being followed will almost always kill the glaive that is following it. This effect is so extreme that you might be able to kill 3-4 glaives with just 1. This is a defensive tactic, as ovbiously you are retreating, but it allows you disengage when you think a fight will not go favorably.

This effect contributes to a defender's advantage and is something to consider before attacking, as even though you may have a stronger army, it may still lose. Note that this effect can sometimes be used offensively. If you get your opponent to misposition their units you could set up a favorable situation which benefits you. For example, if you get a glaive into your opponents base, they can either chase it and suffer from the effects of retreat micro, or they can just watch it kill their base. Obviously they need to chase it, but this gives you an army advantage from taking good fights.

This effect arises from two sources:

  1. Projectiles do not inherit momentum from their shooter. They travel at a set speed not related to the current speed of the unit(this violates the conservation of momentum, but who cares).
  2. Projectiles have a travel speed and are not instant. This means most projectiles from a chasing unit need to be aimed in front of a retreating unit if they want to hit, but this location may be out of range of the chasing unit. Meanwhile the chasing unit may be in-range of the retreating unit.


If you have a bunch of units clumped together or in a line, you can quickly scatter them by selecting them and using line move to quickly draw a zig=zag pattern to spread them apart. This becomes especially useful against units like the phoneix, Thunderbird, or licho, which have powerful AoE attacks. By splitting up your units, you reduce the ammount of damage that you take from each bombing run.

Hold Fire[edit]

Some units like the penetrator or sharpshooter(sniper) have a very long reload cycle. Default behavior of these units is to just fire at the first thing that gets into their range. The first thing they fire on may not be a very worthwhile target, and so this unit's time is wasted, and you also just gave your opponent the information that you have that unit.

  • Put these units on hold fire. (Click the icon with 3 green bullets until its red).
  • Position them so that they are in range of your target.
  • Either use an attack command (f by default) or set target command on the target you want to hit.
  • Watch your target explode!


This tactic involves sending your units in to attack something for a short time, and then withdrawing them. It works best with two types of units:

  • Units with a long reload cycle - Kodachis or Revenant are prime examples. Lets consider Kodachis - this unit is capable of 1-hitting mexes, but has a long reload time and large burst of damage. Commonly, players will use this unit to run into an opponents base, hit a mex, and run out. Due to their high hp they are able survive defensive turret fire for a while, at least long enough to get in and out. By doing this Kodachi users are able to kill things while taking no metal losses themselves.
  • Regenerating units - Glaives, Kodachis -

Note that this tactic can be combined with Hold Fire usage to maximize effectiveness.


Some units like the picket or hacksaw have high burst damage, but then have a long reload cycle. While this contributes to their unique strength, this sort of behavior can be taken advantage of to minimize damage to your important units. You can send in a unit to absorb shots, like a scout dirtbag or assault thug, and then send in units that do high dps but have low hp, like bandits, a raider. The hacksaw is able to 1-shot bombers, and this is bad as they are quite expensive. You can instead send in a swift beforehand to bait out the hacksaw shots, and then send in the bombers. Doing this will allow you to take fights more cost effectively.

Often times in game a situation arises in which the players meet somewhere in the middle of the map with their commanders. Players build defensive turrets in a line to secure their territory. Often defenders will be used. Since this usually happens quite early in the game, nobody has anything except for a bunch of raiders and maybe a few skirmishers or riots, making it quite hard to break through this line. A tactic employed by many is to start building a structure, like an LLT, in range of the enemy defenders. They will fire upon it as it is building, and then you can send in your army to kill the pickets as soon as they have wasted their shots.

Drawing units away[edit]

By default, all units are set to chase enemies when they get close. You can abuse this behavior to kill some of your opponents units for free.

Say you are playing a glaive v glaive match-up. Your opponent has more glaives than you, but is not paying attention.

  • Bring some of your glaives near enemy glaives.(Doesn't need to be in range to fire, but close)
  • Run away, and the enemy glaives will chase them.
  • Once you have separated some enemy glaives from the main pack, you can just turn your glaives around and charge at the enemy glaives, killing them for free.

You can also use similar tactics to lure enemy units into your defenses, such as pickets, to get some free pick-offs.