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Game Breaker / Command & Conquer

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The Balance in Command & Conquer, especially in the early installments, tended to be a little off. It's gotten better later on, but Game Breakers still pop up.

  • Early Command & Conquer games were infamous for having tank spamming being virtually uncounterable strategy except by an opposing tank spam, giving them game ending status. In fact, it wasn't until RA3 that this strategy was finally wrestled under control, by making anti-tank infantry much more viable.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn:
    • The first game had GDI grenadiers. Capable of superior AoE damage against infantry than minigunners and decent damage against structures and vehicles, the grenadier could also be built both early and cheap, allowing a GDI player to just spam them to victory. Though the minigunners were cheaper, the grenadier could hit all of them with a single grenade, allowing him to wipe out many times his own number. Fortunately, they were toned down in Command & Conquer: Red Alert, where the Soviet version did slightly reduced damage and, to prevent spamming them, exploded upon death, which could set off groups of grenadiers like firecrackers.
      • Despite being toned down, the Soviet grenadiers had an exploit that allowed a quick player to hit targets anywhere on the map.
    • The AI would not try to destroy sand bags that blocked its movement. (It would shoot through walls and fences that blocked line of fire, destroying them in the process, but sand bags didn't block LoF, so they would never be destroyed unless they were close enough to another target to be hit by stray shots). This meant that if you could build a sand bag wall round you base, far enough out from any target, then the enemy would be unable to get in. Then you could extend the wall into the enemy base, and wall off all their unit factories. Or build Advanced Guard Towers / Obelisks of Light inside their base. Or build a barracks in their base (particularly effective if you simultaneously build an Engineer, timed to complete just after the barracks completes, for instant All Your Base Are Belong to Us).
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    • Nod has the Recon Bikes as their overpowered unit du jour. Very cheap at 500 in-game credits, the fastest ground unit in the game, can attack both aircraft and ground units, and is devastating in large numbers. At least six Recon Bikes can destroy a Mammoth Tank quickly, while only losing one. The only issues are that harvesters and tanks can crush them, their armor is relatively weak and they're not fantastic against infantry, but all of those are moot when everything else is destroyed on the spot.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert:
    • The Allies may seem like Low-Tier Letdown faction due to mainly relying on expensive subterfuge and cheap units. However, their tank spamming capabilities are the best in the game in terms of cost and agility. Their Light and Medium Tanks can out-maneuver the Soviet Heavy Tanks and are more effective at firing on the move using the queued movement feature. In the hands of a pro, Allied Tanks can dodge more incoming tank fire and potentially dish out more damage thanks to the Heavy Tanks' slower top speed.
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    • In naval combat, the Allies boast the Cruiser, a battleship with devastating guns that have incredible long range. Backed up by Destroyers and Gunboats to deter submarines, hardly anything can survive a Cruiser volley.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun:
    • Before the Firestorm expansion pack the game had the bugged Nod Artillery unit, which could always hit its target even if the shell itself didn't hit anything, and the range and damage is insane. While GDI Orca Bombers are arguably their counter as they are helpless against air units and NOD's mobile anti-air units are somewhat weak, they are also higher on the tech tree and much more expensive per unit.
    • The GDI disc throwers have a combination of good damage against everything (unlike the Nod rocket infantry, which had a crippling weakness against infantry), low production cost, quick production time, and a Good Bad Bug that allowed them to throw discs across the freaking map basically meant building an army of disc throwers was a perfectly viable strategy for most levels.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2:
    • Each of the Allied nations had a Game-Breaker unique unit/ability in some form, sans Germany, with their dubious Tank Destroyers.
      • The British subfaction has Snipers, who could insta-kill any infantry unit in the game at a distance. Placing them into an IFV negates their slow movement speed weakness.
      • The Americans can deploy paratroopers free of charge via the Air Force Command. These provide more GIs than the amount provided by an Airfield. Speaking of which, capturing an Airfield provides a separate paratrooper ability cooldown, making it possible to double deploy paratroopers given the opportunity.
      • The French Grand Cannon can be considered this from a turtle-strategy standpoint, as it has massive range compared to other defensive structures.
      • The South Koreans go for a more Boring, but Practical approach with the Black Eagle jet replacing the Harrier. It's a straight upgrade with more firepower at no extra cost.
    • The Prism Tank, which can outrange enemy defenses whose attack can't be intercepted (contrast with the Soviet V3 Launcher, whose rockets can be destroyed by anti-air). Fielded in large numbers and these things can destroy infantry and armor battalions just as easily.
    • Yuri, the faction added in the RA2 expansion, was a game breaker faction. Its mind control tech was an instant game breaker in and of itself, making any notion of cost-effectiveness totally null, especially as he could recycle these units for cash. Their resource gathering mechanic allowed them to expand lightning-fast and claim new ore fields that the enemy could never touch, and their Floating Discs could shut down whole bases with ease in a game where flying units and the defenses against them were both seriously underpowered, and even steal from the enemy directly. Yet, even with all these advantages, Yuri was no worse in direct combat than his foes, with good tanks, rock solid defenses and excellent basic infantry. A few examples:
      • Initiates are far and away the best basic infantry unit out of the three main factions, and they become killing machines when garrisoned.
      • The Virus is basically Yuri's own Sniper that can spread toxic clouds for more damage.
      • Magnetrons are great anti-building siege units, and become downright ridiculous against any enemy vehicle with good micromanagement. Whether it be destroying instantly them by dropping them into impassable terrain, rendering them immobile and helpless, or two birds in one stone by dropping them into a critical structure like a Construction Yard. Their only supposed weakness is infantry, but even then, they could just use their own wheels to squish them flat.
      • Yuri Prime is able to do an infinite combo of capturing enemy structures and selling them for cash, and you get two of them when trained with a Cloning Vat.
      • Playing against a halfway decent Yuri player on a water-based map is a death sentence, since the basic tier Boomer submarine combines the best of the Soviet Attack Submarine and Dreadnaught, while being cheaper than the $2000 Dreadnaught and it doesn't even need a Tech Centre to build!
      • By far the most broken element of Yuri's army is the Slave Miner. Already holding the edge over the Allied and Soviet harvesters by itself and having no real means of destroying them easily, when combined with the Genetic Mutator it becomes the single most broken thing in the entire game. It uses slaves to gather ore, and if these slaves are killed they will be replaced automatically for free. The Genetic Mutator, once built, costs no money to use either and works on slaves. This means that in the late game when other factions are struggling to control the last few patches of ore on the map, Yuri can get an injection of thousands of credits every few minutes by turning his slaves into Brutes and then sending them to a Grinder.
      • The big weakness of Yuri's private army is that it lacks any infantry or naval-based anti-air units, with the Gatling Tank as their only mobile anti-air unit. But this is mostly a moot point since air units are relatively out of focus in the game, with air defenses being relegated to deterring Harrier attacks and the Soviets' rocket-based artillery units, with the occasional helicopter or Kirov attack.
    • The Demolition Truck + Iron Curtain combo. The Demolition Truck is a suicide unit carrying a mini-nuke that explodes if the unit is killed or if the unit is commanded to attack something. Iron Curtain is a minor superweapon that makes the targeted nine units invincible and immune to mind-control for a short time. At least the original Red Alert had the courtesy of causing iron curtain to wear off very quickly from demo trucks... Lampshaded in Yuri's Revenge in the Soviet campaign where one mission requires you to either use this tactic or spam a metric fuckton of V3 Launchers to crack the enemy base. Taken up to eleven when provided the Allied IFV, which if combined with a Crazy Ivan, resulted in a Demolition Truck with faster speed.
    • The humble Chronosphere is mainly used to teleport a cluster of vehicles to any given location instantly, but it can be so much more. One direct way of causing misery is to teleport enemy vehicles into water, or ships onto land, resulting in an Instant Kill. Gathering a cluster of heavy-hitting vehicles (or suicide units) and teleporting them to a key target is a reliable way of destroying said target.
    • Only available to Iraq, the Desolator single-handedly takes the Soviet faction from underpowered to just under Yuri. While they have a decent attack that instantly kills infantry and deals decent damage to vehicles, its real power comes from its deploy ability, poisoning a large area around it and dealing damage to all units in the area not immune to radiation (Robots, Miners, but not their slaves, other Desolators, and air units), liquifying infantry nearly instantly, and dealing decent damage over time to all other foes (except the aforementioned ones immune to radiation). Furthermore, they can stack, increasing the damage dealt in their overlapping areas of effect. This makes them without a doubt, the best area denial unit in the game. Not to mention, they only cost $600 and require a radar tower and Barracks to build. This makes them basically overkill against the Dumb AI as a few of them can blockade a base as shown in one of Yuri's Revenge campaign maps.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars:
    • The Mammoth Tank is a beast. Easily the toughest unit in the game, with upgradeable weapons that let it kill infantry in a single hit, more firepower than any other armored unit in the game, and respectable anti-air capability to boot. Massed together, they're able to go toe-to-toe with equivalent numbers of Nod Avatars and win, and outlast Scrin Planetary Assault Carriers. Nothing short of a direct hit with a superweapon can really stop the billowing clouds of dust that herald a Mammoth rush. Later patches Nerfed the Mammoth, but its early-game counterpart, the Predator, which had the same weapon upgrade, proved effective against all but air units.
    • One Russian journalist summed it best: "Five elite Mammoth Tanks destroy everything. Ten elite Mammoth Tanks destroy completely everything."
    • The expansion introduces Mechapedes, fast-moving units that can be equipped with a variety of weapon modules. With enough micromanagement, just a few can wipe out an enemy force without exposing their weak points to serious damage.
    • The Black Hand gains the Purifier Warmech, which was suppose to be a primitive version of the Avatar. In theory it's a costlier Avatar with a built-in flame thrower in lieu of the upgrading ability. While it resolves the Avatar's initial problem of not being able to deal with infantry, it also made the Purifier completely immune to its hard counter: commandos. On top of that, the Black Hand has the Purifying Flame upgrade, which allowed all their flame-based weapons to deal extra damage to vehicles (normally fire damage deal almost negligible damage). Because the flame thrower is programmed to fire without the unit needing to target, a group of 6 Purifiers can literally walk right through the opponent's base, torching anything short of flying aircrafts without so much as raising their arm-mounted lasers.
    • The Black Hand also has stupidly powerful infantry. Spam Confessors and Rocket Launchers in 1:4 ratio, rush Black Disciples (which grants an extra flamethrower-unit to each infantry squad) and the aforementioned Purifying Flames and send your army to the enemy base. The Confessors will stomp pretty much any other infantry (especially if you add in Charged Particle Beams, which also makes them viable against vehicles and buildings!) and the Disciples and Rockets (buffed by Confessors' aura) will make short work of everything else. The enemy needs to spend the entire start of the game spamming anti-infantry buildings and units to have any hope of surviving the initial rush, and even then the cheap cost and short training time of the units allows you to keep up constant pressure on the enemy so they don't have resources to counterattack before you already have even more powerful units like the Purifiers.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3:
    • Air units are overall incredibly powerful in the game, but the Allied Cryocopter goes beyond that. Cryocopters are Tier 2 units that don't deal damage, but they are fairly resilient and their freezing ability turns literally anything into a One-Hit-Point Wonder. This allows Cryocopters to be devastating in an uncountable amount of situations - most damning of all, freezing Refineries or Harvesters so that Vindicators (usual partners-in-crime for Cryocopters due to their speed) can snipe them and deal a very heavy blow to the opponent's economy, or freezing power generators so that (even when not sniped by another unit) the enemy is left without enough power; all of this is accentuated by the fact the Cryocopter is also tough enough to engage with an equal amount of dedicated Anti-Air enemies and freeze them all before being shot down, especially with Advanced Aeronautics. And if freezing is not your cup of salt, then there's the S.H.R.I.N.K. beam which, as the acronym suggests, shrinks the target, boosting their movement speed but significantly cutting down their power and resilience for the effect's duration, and when used on vehicles, it makes them crushable by any other vehicle in the game (even Assault Destroyers, Apocalypse Tanks, King Onis, or MCVs) - and the combination of duration and cooldown means a Cryocopter can keep a target permanently shrunk if needed. Between freezing and shrinking, Cryocopters virtually counter every single land and sea unit. Shrinking can also be used to move an MCV or Prospector faster to where you want to deploy them, and for the latter there's an exploit that deploying a shrunken Prospector gives building radius even when it has not finished deploying, allowing you to instantly build a whole new base right in front of the opponent's if used correctly.
    • Yuriko Omega from the Empire of the Rising Sun can destroy buildings in seconds, can attack both land and air units (the latter of which results in an Instant Kill), and has a special attack that kills all infantry within a certain radius around her. In a one-on-one battle, Yuriko pretty much wins by default due to her target of focus being incapacitated when attacked.
    • In the Empire of the Rising Sun campaign, the Purposely Overpowered Shogun Executioner for two missions. A Humongous Mecha with an auto attack that kills more or less everything in one hit, and a special attack that kills everything within on screen. It can also be healed by Tesla weapons, something the enemy tends to send against you in droves. Lampshaded by the Soviet Commander accused you of cheating and let the Game-Breaker unit win the mission for you, instead of any real strategy.
    • Red Alert 3: Uprising is just packed to the gills with gamebreaking units, suspiciously almost all of them Allied units.
      • The Pacifier FAV, the hardest hitting artillery unit in the game. Unlike the highly vulnerable Glass Cannon artillery units in the base game it's actually very durable and carries miniguns that deal heavy damage against infantry. It has to stop moving to use its main cannon but it has greater range than other artillery units. To top it all off, it's amphibious and is actually available at a at tech level 2, unlike the other artillery units which are level 3. It can't fire its main gun on water and or at enemies who get too close, but just being amphibious and available so early means it can easily catch an opponent before they have any reliable counter.
      • The Cryo Legionnaire, a very durable that acts as the Allied answer to the Soviet Tesla Trooper. Like the Tesla Trooper it can't be crushed except by heavy vehicles. As the name implies it freezes units, but unlike the above mentioned Cryo Copter which only freezes one unit at a time, the Cryo Legionnaire freezes up ALL units within a rather large radius in front of it and these frozen units can be broken into a bunch of pieces by the weakest units in the game. Despite their durability the Cryo Legionnaires are surprisingly mobile, especially with their jumpjets and they can cross water.
      • The Future Tank is the most powerful tank in the game. It has as much health as an Apocalypse Tank, while packing greater damage and some extra range. Costing fifty percent more than the Apocalypse Tanks normally make it Awesomebut Impractical, but its attacks causes a massive AOE that doesn't damage friendly units. How dangerous this attack is is demonstrated here where three Future Tanks defeat five Apocalypse Tanks while only taking one loss. While they can't target air units, their AOE still damages them, so ordering them focus attack makes them surprisingly good at defeating air units. This video sees four Future Tanks shoot down a group of Twinblades, a unit that is supposed to counter ground units without any cover against air units. To top it all off, the Future Tank's Riot Beam ability instantly destroy any units hit by it, along with most buildings.
      • But absolute king is the Harbinger Gunship. A powerful bomber that acts as the Allied equivalent to the Soviet Kirov, being a bomber that doesn't need to reload. It's slower than the Allies' other aircraft, but much faster than the Kirov and unlike bombers in the base game it has very good range. A group of four or five can destroy almost any target in a single volley. While its main gun is inaccurate its ability lets it switch to a chaingun that makes short work of infantry and even has a good punch against light vehicles, mean the Harbinger is a bomber that can easily counter the ground units that are meant to stop it. Being an aircraft means the Allies' Advanced aeronautics top secret protocol can enhance its durability, giving it the most hit points of any unit in the game next to the Shogun Executioner, on top of its innate Regenerating Health. It's the Allies most expensive unit, but worth every penny.
    • The only non-Allied unit that comes closer to gamebreaking is the Japanese Giga Fortress (can attack surface and air when floating, outranges and almost oneshots Anti-Air defenses while flying), but even that is hardly as powerful as the Allied units. Suffice it to say there's a reason why Uprising doesn't include any sort of multiplayer.
    • The Soviet game-breaker however, is much more subtle, and yet arguably the most broken, the Mortar Cycle. It's an artillery unit... that's faster than just about anything you send to chase it. And all you need to start pumping them out is a Barracks and a War Factory, letting Soviet players completely control the early game and likely just win without ever having to tech out of tier 1.
  • In Command & Conquer: Generals, each faction has one. Hilariously enough, Zero Hour actually gives you the option of picking a subfaction that upgrades these tactics:
    • The Chinese Overlord tank which is the obligatory Mammoth Expy whose counters are supposed to be aircraft and rocket-wielding infantry, both of which are negated by sticking a gattling gun on top of it which also lets it detect stealth, It gets turned up to eleven with the tank general's Emperor Overlord, who comes with the self healing propaganda tower by standard issue and can build a gattling cannon as well. The main issue balancing them is very slow speed and average attack range and the expense of the minigun (the former can be remedied with a nuclear engine upgrade).
    • The nuclear general provides its Jet Fighter Migs with nuclear rockets. When upgraded, these can squash any targets flat, with firepower to rival that of the Aurora Bomber (see below).
    • The GLA terrorist on a bike, Terrorists can OHKO a tank, their weakness is supposed to be that they're not much faster than regular infantry. Putting them on a bike lets them jump cliffs, go faster and generally make your life a pain. It gets turned up to eleven by the Bomb general, who can build them with the terrorist on top by standard, make them cheaper, and more powerful.
    • The US Aurora Bomber, which is literally invincible until it drops its bomb, the bomber can literally be used in groups to completely eliminate anti air before blowing the entire base to kingdom come. Gets turned up to eleven with the Superweapon general's Alpha Aurora, which is 20% cheaper and comes with a more powerful fuel air bomb, and given a Boring, but Practical upgrade with the Air Force General's laser defense protocols, which shoot down anti-air missiles.
    • A very unassuming game-breaker is the US Humvee, thanks to its ability to transport five infantry units that can fire from inside. Take the Red Alert 2 Battle Fortress, exchange toughness for speed to get away before retaliation, and you get a surprisingly effective Glass Cannon. The most popular choices for infantry loadouts are Missile Defenders to make the Humvee a fast anti-armor, anti-air vehicle, and Pathfinders, who retain their One-Hit Kill anti-infantry guns with none of the unit's downsides.