A carrier is a unit which can refuel, repair, and move air units. They are usually equipped with heavy anti air and production capabilities.
Carrier units have three purposes:
- The first is a mobile air base or station. With the ability to move, carriers can strike at any point on the map, and do so repeatably, free from any one base. This purpose is primarily for Guerrilla Tactics, the classic Hit and Run.
- The second is flexibility. Carriers often come equipped with defenses, which are invaluable in a battle situation. The Atlantis and Czar are both experimental carriers, and have heavy armaments including anti air. This helps massively when defending friendly units from enemy aircraft fire.
- The third and final reason is absorbing damage. Anti-Air units generally cannot hit Land or Sea units, and if they can, they cannot do nearly as much damage to it. This shield is useful for circumventing anti-air defenses, or simply running the Gauntlet on a mission where no one leaves alive.
Carriers in Supreme Commander are mostly useful as durable anti-air, or for their experimental weaponry. However due to the game mechanics of fuel and ammunition, they are somewhat less powerful compared to their historical predecessor. While Carriers do have a niche strategy, and in most cases, a Carrier is helpful, but not completely necessary. A Carrier is often more useful on the larger maps were bases are spread farther apart and a mobile base that can refuel and repair on the go is invaluable.
For a list of all carriers, see the carriers category.
Historical information Edit
Aircraft carriers originated from naval warships, most notably as early as the advent of the Flyer I aircraft back in the 1910s. This carried on during World War One where many fighter planes were launched, via catapult, either on a turret or as a seperate structure altogether. It wasn't until 1918 that the first modern flat-top carrier was invented, whose sole purpose was to launch and recover specialised naval aircraft.
Later on, carriers became significantly involved in war, as air power became the utmost importance in theatres of war. Compared to their counterparts; cruisers, destroyers an submarines, Carriers had more strategic value due to the range and firepower of the aircraft they carry. Which proved to be the main motive during sea campaigns, especially during the infamous Pacific theatre where the Imperial Japanese Navy and the American Navy fought bravely to sink each of their carriers.
Flat-top carriers continue to this day as a highly mobile means to launch airstrikes on distant lands, however their operation costs and construction can inflict political and military consequences on those who use them.
In Supreme Commander, Aircraft are very different: Aircraft do not need to immediately refuel or even reload, unlike real life. All Aircraft can make it back to base, albeit more slowly, with no fuel. This allows players to go on much longer bombing runs, and partially eliminates the need for carrier supplies. The timescales are vastly changed: a real aircraft can take months to build and hours on a mission many miles away; in game, it can be seconds to build and only a few minutes to traverse the 10km or so of the map.
When using Aircraft in large numbers (Triple Digits, this is Supreme Commander), a suicide run is much more profitable. In terms of strategic value, one Tier 3 Air Factory is worth anywhere from 5 to 20 Bombers, making a successful bombing run on one profitable, even if all the bombers die. When you have large numbers of bombers, you are much more likely to pass the Shield Threshold- essentially the amount of damage required to pop all the shields in a base. If one were to do the numbers, it doesn't take many T3 Strategic Bombers to destroy one T3 Air Factory.
Carriers were floating cities, equipped to support a large fighting and support staff, make repairs, and in some cases, assemble aircraft. They were not fortresses, but no Battleship could get within range without being spotted long before, and bombed down to the briny deeps.
Comparison to other gamesEdit
The construction of a carrier does not include any aircraft and unlike temporary staging facilities, requires orders to dock and unload, leading to extensive micromanagement (unlike simplifications other games such as Red Alert or Starcraft where fighters are produced and launched much more easily, if not automatically), that would also be taken over by a command structure in real life.
- Ordering a carrier to assist-move with damaged friendly units nearby will cause it to load and repair the units. This can be done to any kind of unit, including experimentals, land units, other carriers carrying carriers, and buildings. Attempting to unload a building from the carrier will crash the game.