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Video Game: Supreme Commander
Yes, that's two entire fleets duking it out.
Supreme Commander is a real-time strategy video game that has been hailed as the Spiritual Successor to Total Annihilation, which is not surprising as they are both designed by Chris Taylor. Set in The Future, man has used quantum tunnels or portals that are opened from the fabric of space leading to a designated location that can be light-years away. Earth is unified into the Earth Empire and man starts to explore and colonize the stars with the development of this technology. Then it all goes sour.

The first nail in the coffin of this golden age is the symbionts, humans enhanced with cybernetic implants - the chief figure having had their brain merged with an advanced AI computer in a process patented by Dr. Gustav Brackman. Unfortunately, the Earth Empire treats the symbionts more like slaves then real people which is something the symbionts and their father figure Brackman don't particularly like. So Brackman and a group of followers rebel, set up their own country - the Cybran Nation - and start waging a guerrilla war to liberate their fellow symbionts.

The next and probably biggest nail in the coffin of the Earth Empire is the formation of the Aeon Illuminate, that got founded when human colonists on one planet ran into alien intelligent life, the Seraphim. See, the Seraphim had a peaceful and advanced society, complete with a quasi-Buddhist philosophy they called The Way which they shared with the human colonists. Unfortunately, the local Imperial military commander overreacted, and caused the genocide of the Seraphim with a bioweapon. The Seraphim's human cohorts didn't like that too much, formed the Aeon Illuminate and pretty much told the rest of the galaxy to join or die.

Then, the Earth Empire collapses and is reformed into the United Earth Federation. And then you have a thousand year long three sided war being waged by these factions. These are the events leading up to the first game. Then the expansion pack, Forged Alliance, comes out and we find out the Seraphim are actually Not Quite Dead. The colony that was destroyed was only a very small fraction of the entire Seraphim race. Naturally, they are pissed at what happened to their colony and proceed to attack humanity. This causes the Aeon Illuminate to break in two with one faction siding with the Seraphim and the other forming an alliance with the other two human factions to stop the Seraphim in their tracks. In the process, the Seraphim also have the upper hand, since they control QAI, Brackman's Master Computer.

It was followed in 2010 by Supreme Commander 2.

The setting contains examples of:

  • AFGNCAAP: The player character, with the exception of gender (Aeon is clearly female, the other two male). The Cybran character is a unique case, as the end reveals that he's a clone of Brackman.
  • A.I. Breaker: Completely walling in your base (either a perimeter of walls or simply walling in canyons leading to it) will break the AI of enemy ground units - they will simply drive up to the wall, and come to a complete stop. In the singleplayer, the AI enemies will then spam gunships and T1 bombers, which are easily countered by SAM turret spam.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: QAI, after being controlled by the Seraphim
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Czar, an Aeon experimental unit based off the alien ships from Independence Day (core laser included), is one of these, being able to not only carry aircraft but also produce them. The factory feature is shared by all aircraft carriers in the game, including the UEF submersible aircraft carrier experimental, but only the Aeon version is airborne.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted. The Seraphim units have their names in the Seraphim language, and their commanders even taunt you in their language. It even appears to be a well thought-out language - several Seraphim names have reccuring fragments, such as the use of "Ya" for economy facilities. On top of that, even not knowing what they're saying, you can just tell that they're taunting you through tone of voice.
    • The aversion continues even after Brackman is able to devise some Translator Microbes for the player, as you can hear their native language in the background as you listen to their translated words.
  • The All-Seeing A.I.: It's hard to say. This Trope is averted by units with stealth or cloaking but not so much in the fact that the enemy always knows where your base is.
  • Always Accurate Attack: Cybran T3 air superiority missiles will always hit their target.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: Bots, Armored Command Units (ACU), and support commanders (sACU).
  • Artificial Stupidity: Direct-fire units sometimes ignore little things like mountains between them and their target, and will sit plinking away at it forever.
    • On island-based skirmish maps, the AI will usually build huge numbers of low level ground units that do nothing except die in the inevitable naval bombardment. Weird, since the game features a very user-friendly method of setting up complex ferry operations with air transports. But the AI never uses it outside of scripted missions, where the air transports spawn loaded.
    • Pathing can be very bad on maps that aren't completely flat.
      • Units will actually get stuck if you just issue a move command without planning out a proper route.
    • Despite the fact that Hover units are IMMUNE to torpedo attack, torpedo-equipped units will still fire at them.
      • The hover mechanic is independent of the amphibious atribute which is what the AI checks to see if it can be attacked by torpedos.
    • Units do not attack walls (unless it's an engineer set to attack-move or patrol), allowing the player to set up labyrinth-like killing fields with walls, with a 1-block wide entrance that forces enemy ground units to enter one at a time, all while being fired upon by point defense turrets. The UEF are particularly good for setting up killing fields, courtesy of their T3 Ravager turret.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Every player that is present is limited to having a maximum of 500 units (which can be changed to as low as 250, to as high as 1000). Structures also count as units. Justified to prevent the game engine from being too overtaxed and causing problems like lag or crashing.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Galactic Colossus, Ythotha, Monkeylord and Megalith. The huge siege bots and ACU's are two to three stories tall and these things make them look puny. The cheap infantry bots you expend in their dozens are taller than trees.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Commander Units live and breath this trope. How many Real Life military commanders ride around in a mech that can lay waste to an entire country and at the same time construct an entire army, navy, and air force within a few hours all by themselves?
    • That said, in direct combat they'll have trouble with tier-3 units and expermentals will kill them.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The "game ender" experimental units, usually oversized superweapons which take ENORMOUS amounts of resources to build and have paper-thin armor. In the time it takes you to build them, conventional weapons could have wiped out your enemy twice over. And if you do build them, expect your (human) enemy to come down on you hard in desperation.
  • Base on Wheels: The Fatboy combines the functions of a superheavy tank, a top-tier land unit factory, a shield generator, an artillery battery, an anti-air gun, and an air staging station. And it can go underwater and launch torpedoes.
  • Behind the Black: "Operational Area Expanded." Suddenly, the map is twice as big and there's a new base for you to destroy.
  • Benevolent Architecture: You can get resource production bonuses by building storage units next to mass extractors, mass fabricators, and energy generators.
    • The only downside to close-knit construction is this: The more buildings you have close together, the more painful it becomes when an artillery bombardment or a well placed nuke comes in and sends all of your hours of base building down the drain.
  • BFG: Numerous examples, of which the most impressive are probably the beam weapons on the experimental bots (nonchalantly sweep beam across line of enemy units, whole line dies), the super-long-range artillery cannons (capable of slaughtering advancing armies to a bot well before they are in sight of your base), and of course the nukes - game-enders capable of turning entire bases into clouds of scrap.
    • Worth special mention is the Seraphim experimental nuke launcher, whose nukes destroy about a quarter of a medium map, including experimentals with the most ludicrous amount of health, and to top it all off, takes two anti-nuke missiles to destroy while building nukes about five times faster than anti-nuke missiles can be made.
    • The UEF Mavor was previously the biggest and remains the biggest gun in the expansion. It's a nuclear artillery piece.
  • Bigger Is Better: Leaves a larger explosion too.
  • Black and White Morality: The expansion casts all three of the human factions as heroic defenders of the human race against genocidal Scary Dogmatic Aliens and their cultist lackeys.
  • Brain in a Jar: Dr. Gustav Brackman.
  • Brick Joke: The Aeon T1 Anti-air unit is called the Thistle. The Seraphim T1 Anti-air unit is called the Ia-istle. Hmm...
  • Church Militant: The Aeon Illuminate.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Unless there's a specific time frame for one of your objectives in the campaign (say, the reactor of a facility is in meltdown and needs to be fixed, or you need to secure a spot before the enemy destroys it), you can take however long you like going about it. However, if the game feels you're procrastinating, command will call you up every few minutes to remind you of what you should be doing.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Everything will spark, smoke, and catch fire but that's about it.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Goes a long way to describing the look of the Aeon Illuminate.
  • Cyber Punk: The Cybrans' hat.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Cybrans. Well, they're no more or less good than anyone else in this game, but this trope applies since their units are painted red and black and are the most menacing-looking overall.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Experimental Units getting swarmed by hordes of lower-tier units.
    • The Aeon T3 Rapid Fire Artillery Installation. Those 36 bomblets that the shells break into aren't very impressive in damage, but anything on the receiving end of those bomblets will eventually succumb.
  • Death Ray: The Cybran Heavy Microwave Laser, most notably mounted on the Monkeylord. It has the highest DPS of any weapon in the game, capable of melting an ACU in seconds. The best part about the laser is that it can be mounted on the Cybran ACU, which also happens to be capable of complete visual and (non-omni) radar invisibility with an upgrade, allowing it to simply walk into an enemy base and start slaughtering.
  • Easy Logistics: Units typically don't require fuel or ammunition (save aircraft, which typically have enough fuel that it never comes into play and can regenerate fuel by landing even if you don't bother building air staging), there are no supply lines from resources to factories, and all aircraft are VTOLs which can land on any solid ground. The ACU itself is an extreme example, since it can build and operate an entire military without additional resources of any kind.
    • Planes will not automatically land and recharge if you've given them any order (such as patrolling or attacking) unless there's a staging facility nearby. Similarly, a large number of structures (and units) either require power to operate at all or have additional features that require power to run. As such, a logistical strike against your enemy's power economy will result in shields dropping, some base defense going offline, no radar, stealth and cloaked units popping up for the enemy, and units that suddenly lack their warming layer of personal shielding.
  • Enemy Civil War: The Aeon. Expect to find yourself smack-dab in the middle by campaign 3.
  • Enemy Mine: The plot of Forged Alliance. Some characters are less than happy about this.
  • Escort Mission: The fourth UEF mission ends with an escort sequence, with the character you are supposed to protect being in an unarmoured truck while the enemy have very long range weapons at their disposal.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Rhianna Burke, whom even the other faction leaders come to admire in the expansion.
  • Everything Fades: Averted in the same way as Total Annihilation, although there was one considerable step back in that destroyed ships don't leave reclaimable sunken wrecks any more. Considering that ships cost much more mass per unit than land or air units, this was a pretty big omission.
  • Expansion Pack: Forged Alliance, a stand-alone expansion, in fact.
  • Eye Beams: The Aeon Galactic Colossus fires a death ray from its eye-shaped head.
  • The Faceless: None of the player characters have faces, apparently. The Cybran and Aeon characters are wearing helmets when they're seen, and the UEF character is only mentioned while he's entering his ACU. You learn that the Cybran character is Brackman's clone, though, so one can reasonably guess at his appearance from that.
    • Averted in the sequel, with the player characters actually having backstories.
  • Faction Calculus:
  • Fashions Never Change: Dr. Brackman's holographic form is shown wearing what looks like a 20th Century suit-and-tie... even though he first showed up in the 27th Century.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: The Seraphim love this trope.
  • Forever War: The conflict between the three factions, barring occasional changes like the Earth Empire being replaced with the UEF, have been fighting for over a thousand years by the time the game takes place. You show up, however, at the potential end of that war.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The Monkeylord.
  • Flying Saucer: The Czar, an Aeon flying aircraft carrier with a giant ground torching laser.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: While every faction uses laser weaponry in some way or another, the Cybran are the most prominent.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Applied to most single-target units, but not applied to anything that does Splash Damage, so it's pretty easy to accidentally lose your base if you don't set your mobile artillery to passive mode.
  • Game Mod: Some really excellent ones, but the most notable is probably 'Phantom' which is a free-for-all mode where 1-3 players are randomly and secretly designated 'Phantoms' and given a considerable resource bonus. The non-Phantoms (Innocents) have to identify the Phantoms and kill them for the Innocents "team" to win, while each Phantom as an individual has to be the last man standing. A really good Phantom player can misdirect the innocents into killing of each other and the other Phantoms before turning on the survivors and finishing them with his superior production.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Subverted with experimental units, which are generally as powerful as described if they are successfully built, but played straight with the supposedly advanced Seraphim (due to game balancing involved when making them a playable side).
    • Possibly justified for the Seraphim. The humans have been in a war with constantly-advancing weapons for a thousand years between times they are encountered while the Seraphim were living peacefully, so the gap simply closed in the intervening time. That said, individual Seraphim units are generally more powerful than any of the human equivalents, but cost more.
    • Played straight with the opening cutscene of Forged Alliance. An ACU, especially a UEF ACU, doesn't have NEARLY that much firepower in direct combat with T2 units, while Clarke's T3 Titan bots should have done better against those T2 Seraphim Ilshavohs, even with their superior numbers.
  • Gatling Good: The UEF Ravager point defense turret is basically a building-sized gatling gun with enormous range and firepower. They also have T2 Gatling bots. The Cybran Scathis experimental has a rotary artillery cannon - six T3 artillery cannons which fire like this. One barrel shoots, then spins off to the side while another gun is brought into line, and fired, which gives the Scathis an incredibly high rate of fire.
  • Glass Cannon: Just about every artillery unit, several experimental units including the UEF Mavor, the Cybran Scathis and the Aeon Czar, as well as regular units such as the Sprite Striker, Usha-Ah, and Aurora.
  • Gray and Grey Morality / Black and Gray Morality / Morality Kitchen Sink: There is no clear good or bad faction in Supreme Commander. The four factions are made up of good and bad people with different beliefs and ideals, and they all think they're right.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: General Clarke in the expansion opening and Princess Rhianna in the expansion ending.
  • Humongous Mecha: Chris Taylor likes this one. About half the ground units fall into this category, though they aren't really humongous (relatively speaking). The really large, and most iconic ones are the Cybran Nation's Monkeylord spider-bot walker and the Aeon Illuminate's Galactic Colossus sacred assault bot.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: The UEF. Their Tier 2 and 3 generators are fusion plants, and their commander mech can be fitted with a backpack missile silo, which can hold one nuke and one counter-missile. They also have a T-4 superheavy artillery that shoots nuke bullets.
  • Instant-Win Condition: The default game mode is assassination - the player who loses their ACU is out. The end of the Forged Alliance campaign is a fairly straightforward example of this trope.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Said by Dostya, Doctor Brackman's Number Two, before the final mission of the Cybran campaign. The reason is that the Cybran Nation's strategy for ending the war is to temporarily shut down the Quantum Gate network, rendering all Faster-Than-Light Travel impossible during that time, and simultaneously broadcast the "Liberation Matrix" that will free every enslaved Symbiont in the galaxy, bringing them over to the Cybran cause. The idea is that this will cause a massive uprising on UEF planets, prevent the Aeon from hunting Cybrans by trapping them in their own systems, and give the Cybrans time to prepare for a new war against the Aeon once the Quantum Gates are rebuilt and the UEF is destroyed.
  • Kill All Humans:
    • The Aeon commander Avatar Marxon believes that all non-Aeon humans are irredeemable abominations that must be cleansed for humanity to reach utopia.
    • The Seraphim believe that all humans, including the ones that side with them, must be cleansed. Seraphim commanders even go so far as to permanently cut themselves off from The Way, since otherwise they would be incapable of violence. That probably means they have to kill themselves too once they're done killing everyone else.
    • The fact that they can no longer Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence is seen as price enough. They just keep fighting until they die and don't even get into paradise for their trouble, so it's seen as a Heroic Sacrifice by the rest of the Seraphim.
  • Kill Sat: One of the UEF's experimental weapon systems, the Novax Satelite, fires a beam that can fry anything below it and cannot be attacked by anything except Strategic Missile Defenses. It's not meant for mass destruction, though, and it's mainly used for taking out important targets, namely (S)ACUs .
  • Knight Templar: Avatar Marxon.
  • Last Stand: The expansion is about the united factions' last stand against extinction.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Fletcher, whose entire battle strategy (and seemingly entire build tree) consists of nothing but Fatboys being sent into the enemy base. And you have to protect this Jerk Ass.
    • You do however get to kick his ass on the last mission in the expansion campaign. There is much rejoicing.
  • Magikarp Power: ACUs start out (relatively) weak, having trouble dealing with some T2 units and most T3 units. However, all of them (and the smaller SACUs) can be upgraded to have more firepower, abilities, and health. The Cybran ACU can become completely invisible to radar and visual (or get a personal teleporter), can carry the Heavy Microwave Laser - the single most damaging direct-fire weapon in the game, capable of killing other ACUs with almost no warning - and build T3 buildings in seconds. The Seraphim ACU likewise is almost at the same danger-level as experimental units when it is fully upgraded. The UEF's ACU is no slouch either - being able to upgrade to be able to launch tactical and later strategic missiles.
  • Master Computer: QAI, complete with Creepy Monotone and Turned Against Their Masters.
  • Meaningful Name: Colonel Arnold, a UEF commander, converts to the Aeon Illuminate. Now where exactly did the inspiration for this character come from?
  • Mecha-Mooks: All the units except the commanders.
  • Military Mashup Machine: Again, Chris Taylor seems to like this one. This is the concept behind most experimental units, which are built to fill several niches at once. The ultimate example is the UEF Fatboy: an amphibious land battleship with an area-covering shield that is capable of constructing its own support force.
  • Mobile Factory: The Fatboy.
    • The Megalith to an extent, though its build options are limited. All aircraft carriers are also mobile aircraft factories.
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Ranks somewhere in the middle.
  • More Dakka: Experimental Units can have up to ten weapons firing at once.
  • Nanomachines: Building macroscopic objects in minutes, no less.
  • Nerf: GPG apparently believe nerfing the Broadsword heavy gunship is roughly as important as breathing.
    • GPG removed the Titan's missile launcher a few builds before release, and forgot to change the description, this also nerfed the Loyalist as its missile redirect was the counter to the Titan.
    • In the expansion, all tactical missiles lost their homing capability, making them only effective against buildings and slow moving units unless used in a Macross Missile Massacre. This also nerfed the Loyalist by making the missile redirect pointless unless standing still, which will get them killed so many other ways
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Although the Cybrans aren't based on any one ethnicity or nationality, Russians seem to have been a considerable influence (if Dr. Brackman and his subordinates are any indication).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Practically the entire first game.
    • All three endings. They all seem to be canon-ish, too, except for how all three commanders got off the planet.
  • Nintendo Hard: Forged Alliance essentially boils down to you setting up your base from scratch and defeating the enemy. This would be easier said than done, if it weren't for the massive bases made by the enemies themselves. For example, the second mission requires you to set up near a Seraphim-sided Aeon and defeat that guy's base. However, after defeating said base, an expansion base nearby will start attacking in droves of T1 and T2 units consistently. After that is finished, the core base will be revealed, and will have several Experimental units on the ground. Even with a proper setup, this mission can take very long.
  • Non-Entity General: See AFGNCAAP above.
    • In the case of the Cybrans, Dr. Brackman calls all Cybrans "my children" and always refers to you as "my boy". The credits reveal he means that last part literally: you are his clone.
  • No Recycling: Averted like in Total Annihilation. You can reclaim the wreckage of destroyed units and buildings (and even functioning ones) for a quick mass bonus.
  • Not Playing Fair With Resources: The AIX cheats with resources, though the game does tell you it cheats. The players and non-AIX AI players can invoke this by building the Aeon Paragon experimental resource production building, which basically produces infinite energy and mass, allowing the player to crap out dozens of experimental units in mere minutes.
  • Number of the Beast: The Cybran T3 strategic missile submarine, the Plan B, consumes 666 energy per tick when building its nuclear missiles.
  • Obvious Beta: Supreme Commander was heavily promoted as a DirectX 10 showcase, with unit creation and mapmaking tools both promised. In the end, the game featured none of these things out of the box, with promises of a major patch — as time went on, it became clear this too wouldn't happen. The game also included faction balance issues that had been identified in the Beta, dodgy pathfinding, poor optimisation and a raft of bugs.
    • Some of these issues have been fixed by further patching and the Forged Alliance expansion, and even more have been fixed since by the modding community.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Forged Alliance addressed issues with artillery hitting aircraft by making aircraft tougher than tanks. This meant that a tank column could have serious problems destroying a single parked plane.
  • One World Order: In the backstory, the nations of the world were unified into the Earth Empire. And the UEF continue that tradition.
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: The UEF follow this aesthetic.
  • Path of Inspiration: The Way.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: The Aeon Illuminate has strategic bombers which drop 'quark bombs'.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Princess, if you would like to prove to that UEF commander that you want to save those civilians, you should point to the fact that your champion is right now defending them from all attacks, instead of trying to use your soothing voice to try to convince him you mean no harm.
    • He was quite obviously insane, as he started shelling those civilians just because you were protecting them.
  • Purposely Overpowered: The "Game-ender" units are designed to do exactly what their name says, by being incredibly powerful. The UEF Mavor can hit anything on the map with extremely accurate shots that penetrate shields. The Aeon Paragon gives them infinite resources to pump out hundreds of experimentals. The Cybran Scathis has less range and power than the UEF Mavor, but fires six times faster and is mobile. The Seraphim experimental strategic missile launcher can puke at nuclear bombs at a phenomenal rate - enough that the enemy needs eight strategic missile defenses to counter one Seraphim experimental launcher. The game-ender units are great for ending stalemates, though their long build time and costs balance them out on most maps. The game does allow hosts to disable game-ending units, useful for large water maps where they can be easily defended from destruction.
  • The Quisling: Evaluator Kael breaks away from the Aeon and forms her own faction called the Order of the Illuminate and allies withe Seraphim. She hopes to help the Seraphim in wiping out the Coalition in hopes to become the leader of the remains of humanity. But they already plan on killing her when their reinforcements arrive.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: So the biggest gun in the game, the pride of the UEF arsenal, is the Mavor, a gigantic artillery piece that can lob shells just over 81 km - the length of the biggest maps. Sounds impressive and futuristic, right? The Germans topped this in 1918.
    • Made even better by the gun in question, mistakenly called Big Bertha by the French, receiving a Shout-Out in the previous game.
    • The Mavor, however, is the most precise artillery piece in the game, and barely misses its targets. Granted, after 1000 years of war they should be able to do better, but it's still quite a feat compared to the T3 artillery which usually hit everything around your target instead of the target itself.
  • Real-Time Strategy: One of the better strategy video games out there.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Dr. Gustav Brackman may be little more than a Brain in a Jar by the time the game takes place. But he also happens to be the oldest human character in the entire game, having been instrumental in founding the Cybran Nation in the first place.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Justified, like in Total Annihilation, by the use of nano-particles to construct units and buildings, which work like laser-powered 3D printers.
  • Robot War: All of the four factions' units, with the exception of the titular Commanders, are AI-controlled war machines.
    • And the occasional Support Commander you can call in once you build a Quantum Gate.
  • Saintly Church: The Way, depending on who the preacher is. Reaches Religion of Evil levels in some hands, and the two sides fight civil wars in both games.
  • Self Fulfilling Prophecy: The Aeon were founded when the first follower of The Way saw a vision of a future where star systems were stripped and destroyed with incalculable loss of life. As a direct consequence, a thousand years of total war followed, ending with the development of a planet-killing weapon.
  • Rule of Cool: All of the units embody this trope.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Averted. Nukes are devastating, and there's a reason why Strategic Missile Defenses exist in this game.
    • Averted further by the Seraphim
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Seraphim, and then you have the Aeon Illuminate, scary dogmatic humans.
  • Sequel Hook: The endings in both games.
  • Serial Escalation: Maps in this game can become much larger than the largest maps in other RTS'es. For example, you could be playing in the Forged Alliance campaign and realize the map is a small fraction before the AI says "Operation Area Expanded", and realize there's still hidden areas. On average, the game says that line twice.
  • Spider Tank: The Cybran Monkeylord and Megalith. The latter can even lay eggs as a bizarre unit construction method.
    • They even have land-capable Spider destroyers called the Salem-class, and they fight on land equally as good as on water, although moving slower.
  • Spiritual Successor: Chris Taylor, the brains behind Total Annihilation wanted to make a sequel but didn't own the rights on TA. Supreme Commander was the result.
  • Straight for the Commander: Played straight. The default victory condition in multiplayer is assassination, where to win one must kill the enemy Armored Command Unit. This is no small feat considering that the Commander usually has a full-out army and/or base protecting him, not to mention the fact that he's one of the most powerful units in the game. Some players might try to send a group of high-damage units on a suicide run to snipe the enemy commander, or if one player is too reckless with using his commander as a combat unit then they could find a surprise waiting for them.
    • When the victory condition isn't assassination, this trope may become inverted as one player suicides his commander into the enemy army/base so the unit's nuclear reactor meltdown takes out as much stuff as possible.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: A few of the campaign missions conclude as a failure if you kill the enemy commander by flanking them instead of punching through their units in an open attack (the very first expansion mission is like this: Exploiting a hole in the enemy commander's defenses to assassinate him is a loss if you bypass his experimentals). Made worse in that advisor characters will encourage you to use that kind of tactic at other times.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Samantha Clarke in the opening cutscene of Forged Alliance. She refuses to recall, despite it only taking a few seconds for her ally Dostya to do so, to try and buy more time for the evac ship to get away. Even after the ship is shot down, she can only stare at the enemy ACU as it levels its gun at her and destroys her with one shot.
    • Might not have been deliberate; that system has been shown to malfunction before. Leopard11 gets screwed by it breaking on him in the original's UEF Mission 1, letting the player kill him.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Seraphim.
  • Super-Persistent Missile: Invoked when a unit equipped with AA Missiles fires on a false radar signature and, to hilarious effect, by torpedo-equipped units trying to attack hover units to no avail. On the other hand, Cybran ASF missiles will always hit their target.
  • Tank Goodness: Yup. They range from tiny T1 tanks to Experimental Base on Wheels like the Fatboy.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The "ALX" AI in Instant Action are explicitly said to cheat in their info tooltips. In the 5th mission of Forged Alliance, the AI will begin to build units off of the available map and send them towards the player's starting position when it thinks the player isn't looking, or simply teleport them near the default position.
  • The Federation: The Cybran Nation is the only faction whose long-term goal is not to completely conquer the other two factions, but that doesn't mean they don't do some pretty nasty stuff.
    • This actually is in keeping with the standard disunity that characterizes The Federation in most settings. The core of the Cybrans are the least malicious of the groups in the setting, but because they stress individual freedom far more than the other two sides (they are separated into individual "nodes" that operate semi-autonomously and occasionally come into conflict with one another) they have trouble exercising any real control over their more radical elements, which eventually comes back to bite them in the Expansion Pack in the form of the traitorous Seven Hand Node. Understandable, considering that they are not so much a "nation" like the others as a loose coalition of people who the others seek to enslave (in the case of the UEF) or outright exterminate (the Aeon and the Seraphim) with little in common in terms of ideals.
    • The UEF, despite its name is an aversion, being considerably closer to The Empire and not that much on diplomacy or democratic process. On the other hand, it's shown that it tries to present itself as this to its citizens.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The Cybran Campaign. Dr. Brackman, creator of the Symbionts, calls all Symbionts "his children" and refers to the player as "my son". The debriefing at the end of the campaign reveals that he's being literal about the son thing - you are his clone.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Averted to the point of lampshading. Not only can you play the map from the main trailer (it's Seton's Clutch), the wreckage from the battle in the trailer is present.
    • Though it still lies, featuring UEF bots firing homing missiles from a launcher that was removed in the final game, an Atlantis with the similarly canned retracting SAM launchers, and a Monkeylord dealing crush damage to friendly units.
  • Turn Coat: Colonel Arnold, QAI, Evaluator Kael, Celene, Hex5, Brigadier Fletcher... In a Forever War you can't trust your own comrades
  • Useless Useful Stealth: Stealth isn't useless at first, but once the enemy builds Omni-Sensors that see through both stealth (can't be spotted on radar) and cloaking (can't be spotted visually), it really loses a lot of its appeal. The Omni stealth-detecting range is significantly shorter than its standard radar, but it's enough to keep you from getting inside a base easily.
    • More to the point, whereas many games have stealth units, Supreme Commander utilities stealth field generators, allowing you to sneak an engineer or two behind enemy lines and build your own stealth base.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The Aeon and Seraphim's justification for waging their respective campaigns.
  • Units Not to Scale: Mostly averted. An infantry bot is realistically smaller then a main battle tank, and downright puny when placed next to higher-tier units or Experimentals. Plus, the maps can be as large as 81 virtual kilometers, making even the most massive units seem tiny.
    • It should be noted that said 'infantry bots' are actually about 12 meters tall.
    • Though aircraft carriers, as ever, play this trope straight, even though they're big enough to qualify as actual warships, they're still nowhere near large enough to contain the dozens of aircraft they carry.
    • Super-units with the "Massive" trait will crush small units that get too close, instantly destroying them. In this case the Friendly Fireproof trope is in force - the tiniest of friendly units are unharmed by the passage of such a unit, while larger-but-still-relatively-small enemy units suffer heavy damage or are destroyed instantly. (This protection doesn't apply once the super unit starts firing, however.)
  • Verbal Tic: Doctor Brackman's "Oh yes..."
  • Wave Motion Gun: Most Experimental units and T3/Experimental Artillery are armed with huge guns designed to annihilate anything that gets in their way. The Cybran Heavy Microwave Laser takes the cake, however - it has the single highest DPS of any weapon in the game, is hitscan, and it can be carried by their ACU
  • We Have Reserves: With the right amount of Mass and Energy (in other words, basically anything you can grab), there's no limit to the amount of times you can replace your forces. They aren't even living things, either, just robots, making them that much more expendable.
    • Lampshaded in the slogan of this trailer: "In every battle, only one casualty matters."
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: Black Sun, which can be used to spread devastation, a powerful computer virus, or peace and love throughout the galaxy. Its builders were aiming for the devastation. The latter two options only used the quantum access part of the weapon, probably with some slight modifications.
  • Weapon of Peace: Various Aeon weapons, and the Cybran Liberator.
  • You Are Number Six: Cybran character names sometimes include numbers, such as Hex5.
  • You Nuke 'Em: When you reach Tier 3, you can build Strategic Missiles to nuke your enemies to oblivion.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Uses the same flow system of resources as Total Annihilation did, only with mass replacing metal.
    • Although both resources are infinite, running out of them is the only annoying problem you'll encounter when usage outstrips production and you run out of one resource during construction. Additional extractors, fabricators, generators, and storage units will only delay this problem, not prevent it altogether.
    • The Aeon Experimental Resource Generator Paragon completely eliminates this problem by automatically adjusting its energy and mass output to exceed current usage. The big catch? If it's not protected by shields and it gets destroyed, everything around it will be consumed in a nuclear explosion. Well, that and the fact that if you could afford the epic time and resources to build it you probably didn't need it.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Which faction holds the Sanity Ball and is surrounded by omnicidal maniacs is decided only by your choice of said faction. If you play for the UEF, the Cybrans are psychopathic terrorists plotting to destroy what semblance of order and stability the Federation provides. If you play for the Cybrans, the UEF consists entirely of General Rippers out to slaughter and enslave everyone who doesn't fit with their racist vision of humanity. An Aeon Player sees the worst of both and their own. In addition, almost all non-player Aeon commanders are Omnicidal Maniacs even in the Aeon campaign (where this leads to civil war).
  • Zerg Rush: Given how easy it is to build a dozen Tech 1 land factories and have them all pump out T1 mobile artillery or tanks, expect to see a lot of this. On the popular Seton's Clutch multiplayer map, the front position players usually have to zerg or die. The viability of this tactic is actually a holdover from Total Annihilation, where it was absurdly easy to swamp an uninitiated player (or default 'Hard' AI) with T1 anything. A common workaround is for all players to agree on a self-imposed 'no-rush' timer.
    • An especially good tactic for Aeon players on maps with a lot of water. Their basic T1 tanks are amphibious.
    • The game rules actually discourage mindlessly Zerg rushing with Tech 1 units. Individual units gain "Veterancy Bonuses" once they score enough kills, which increases their max HP and regeneration speed, which is very bad when said unit is an Experimental.
    • On the other hand, a single Cybran T2 turret can hold off an entire tank rush single-handedly, if you can get it up fast enough.
    • A few well-built firebases can destroy a zerg rush unless the attacker has overwhelming artillery, tactical missile, or bomber support.

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