Unit classes

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Combat units in ZK generally fall into one of several classes. Understanding these roles and knowing how best to use and combine them for maximum effect is the cornerstone of a victorious battle in Zero-K.

Icons under titles indicate the role mapicon of that class. For further details, consult the Icon Guide.


The raider emphasizes speed. They personify blitzkrieg tactics—sheer firepower and the speed needed to get it into the enemy's heartland. Raiders generally have a high DPS for their cost, but they also have poor armor and range. The primary uses for raiders are harassment attacks to interfere with an enemy's economy, brute-forcing a particularly weak point in the enemy's lines, and taking out inaccurate units such as artillery which cannot hit them. They also come in handy for scouting, although a dedicated scout is better for the task.

Pro tip: The Unit AI can automatically micro your raiders to jink enemy shots if you give them an Attack Move order.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Early game rush
  • Armed reconnaissance
  • Flanking skirmisher/artillery/support units
  • Rushing through breaches in defense
  • Fast response vs. other raiders
  • LLTs
  • Antiswarm/riot units
  • Area bombers

Common examples: Glaive, Bandit, Scorcher, Pyro, Kodachi, Duck

cloakraid.png shieldraid.png vehraid.png jumpraid.png tankraid.png amphraid.png


Assault units rely on their high armor to tank damage. A useful mainline unit, the assault class is favored for its staying power and ease of use. They usually have fairly slow turrets and projectiles, making them better against slow, large, or static enemies than fast moving raiders or gunships. As its name suggests, the assault class excels at attacking enemy strong points.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Frontal assault
  • Screening allied units
  • Pushing in the field
  • General confrontations
  • Raiders(when unsupported)
  • Skirmishers
  • Bombers
  • Gunships
  • Crawling bombs

Common examples: Knight, Thug, Ravager, Hermit, Minotaur

cloakassault.png shieldassault.png vehassault.png spiderassault.png tankassault.png


Skirmishers emphasize range. They support your forces by picking off enemies at a distance, before they can do damage. Skirms have light armor, and rely on their speed and range (as well as the protection of nearby friendlies) for defense. The strength of the skirmisher lies in its ability to shoot without fear of retaliation—always maximize this advantage by using the technique known as kiting (moving away as shorter-ranged enemies attempt to close the distance).

Pro tip: Giving an Attack Move order to your skirmishers will have the Unit AI kite enemies automatically as needed.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Countering assaults
  • Harassing enemy forward positions
  • Countering Riots
  • Picking off short-ranged turrets
  • Raiders
  • Crawling bombs (depends on skirm type)
  • Gunships, area bombers
  • Defenses that can outrange skirms
  • Defend on high ground

Common examples: Ronin, Rogue, Recluse, Moderator, Scalpel, Buoy

cloakskirm.png shieldskirm.png spiderskirm.png jumpskirm.png hoverskirm.png amphfloater.png


Riot units emphasize damage. They excel at crowd control, slaying huge amounts of lighter units such as raiders. Units of this class will either have a high rate of fire or a large AoE, sometimes both. On the flip side, riot units are slow and short-ranged, and are poorly suited for assaulting defenses (which get in a lot of free shots as the slow riot unit attempts to get close enough to fire) or fighting skirmisher groups (which will simply kite them).

Due to their high-velocity projectiles, some riot units can also pose a significant threat to attacking gunships.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Countering raider swarms
  • Protecting ranged units
  • Secondary AA (against gunships)
  • Skirmishers
  • Static defense
  • Outmaneuvering/bypassing them
  • Assaults(sometimes)

Common examples: Reaver, Redback, Ripper, Mace, Ogre

cloakriot.png spiderriot.png vehriot.png hoverriot.png tankriot.png


Artillery units are generally used to pick off enemy structures from a safe distance. Easily outranging static defenses, artillery can destroy them with impunity. Mobile units can usually dodge the fire of most (but not all) artillery, and artillery units tend to be completely helpless when attacked directly.

The alternate artillery icon is used when a factory has 2 artillery pieces that need separate icons. The heavier artillery will use the vertical icon.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Killing defenses
  • Causing attrition at range
  • Most other ground and air units

Common examples: Sling, Badger, Impaler, Firewalker, Emissary, Tremor

cloakarty.png veharty.png vehheavyarty.png jumparty.png tankarty.png tankheavyarty.png


Scout units emphasize speed. They have extreme speed and good visual range, and their dirt-cheap cost makes them expendable—just as well considering that they have no armor to speak of whatsoever. Scouts tend to be only very lightly armed, but they can still kill undefended economy structures and support units if the enemy isn't careful. Scouts are very similar to raiders in their role.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Checking enemy unit composition
  • Finding cloakers
  • Killing undefended expansion
  • Raiders
  • Riots
  • Light defense

Common examples: Flea, Dart, Puppy

spiderscout.png vehscout.png jumpscout.png


Anti-air units exist for one purpose—defend your army from aircraft. Their high firepower and range allows them to destroy enemy aircraft before they can damage your forces, but they are of course useless against any other target.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Countering aircraft
  • Ground combat units

Common examples: Gremlin, Vandal, Crasher, Toad, Tarantula, Ettin, Flail, Angler

cloakaa.png shieldaa.png vehaa.png jumpaa.png spideraa.png tankaa.png hoveraa.png amphaa.png


Support units provide long ranged fire support but for some reason or another do not fit into the skirmisher role. They generally have low DPS. The actual roles of these units are too diverse to fit in a little table. There are three units that are labeled as support: Fencer, Lance and Felon. The Fencer is very accurate but must stop to fire, so it is easily beaten by assaults. The Lance has massive long-range burst damage so it is effective against high cost units. The Felon discharges its shield as energy bolts and works best when linked to other shields.

vehsupport.png hoverarty.png shieldfelon.png


Produces structures to improve your economy, provide your base with defense, and to expand. Constructors can provide an edge in battle by repairing damaged units, and reclaiming metal-filled wrecks to recover up to 40% of a unit's original value. Constructors can also assist other builders with construction. Maps may also have metal-filled features such as rocks available to reclaim that can boost your economy.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Building economy and defenses
  • Reclaiming and denying reclaim
  • Repair support for armies
  • Building forward bases
  • Raiders when undefended
  • Small groups of scouts

Common examples: Conjurer, Convict, Mason

cloakcon.png shieldcon.png vehcon.png

Mobile Bombs

Mobile bombs move up to enemy units and explode causing massive damage. They do well against inaccurate units in clumps. Raiders can beat mobile bombs because while the raider will die, the bomb often costs more than the raider. Mobile bombs are particularly effective when combined with a cloaker.

Pro tip: The Unit AI can automatically micro your bombs to jink enemy shots if you give them an Attack Move order.

Note: The star icon is also used for some special abilities.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Countering Skirmishers
  • Countering Assaults
  • Countering clusters of units
  • Raiders
  • Scouts
  • Accurate units
  • Pickets

Common examples: Imp, Snitch, Skuttle

cloakbomb.png shieldbomb.png jumpbomb.png


Shields provide a defensive bubble that blocks enemy projectiles. Shields are good at blocking (limited) burst damage or low DPS sustained attacks. They will fall to focus from artillery.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Protecting advancing units
  • Protection against bombers
  • Protection against Big Berthas
  • Some breathing room against artillery
  • Raiders (get inside the shield)
  • High DPS/Burst damage units
  • Focus fire from artillery
  • EMP/Disarm



Cloakers hide your units from the enemy, see Cloak for more details. Cloaked units will decloak if collided with or if they fire, this makes cheap expendable units ideal for finding cloakers. Cloaked units also decloak if they are damaged which makes units with large AOE very effective at finding them. The Firewalker is particularly effective as the fire persists preventing units from recloaking. If you think you know where an enemy cloaker is Pro tip to force fire your artillery at that location.

Use for: Counter with:
  • Sneaking into bases
  • Closing the range against defenses for low range units
  • Hiding economy (only works until it's scouted)
  • Hiding defenses(only works until they fire)
  • Raiders
  • Scouts
  • AOE artillery (e.g.: Firewalker or Tremor)


These classes are generalized; specific units will often have different properties that cause their behavior to deviate significantly from the general archetype! That said, it is generally a good idea to have a pack of units of EACH major class on the battlefield. Typically, at least skirmishers and riot should be present. A small pack of raiders (about 10) can come in handy to rush through openings in enemy lines or shock an enemy skirmisher/artillery group. Since they are the cheapest units it will typically be quite effective, because your enemy might not expect you to get through really fast.