Hudson's Nectaris is one of the greatest military strategy games ever made. It combines simplicity with complexity in ways other games have rarely equalled. There are only twenty three units, but combined with new and refined strategic elements the game allows for surprisingly deep gameplay.
This game was first released on the PC Engine where it sold over two hundred thousand units, and has seen ports to the Playstation, GameBoy, X68000, PC-8801, Japanese cellular phones
, and Windows '95. The original game was so complete only two sequels have been released. Hudson released Neo Nectaris for the PC Engine SuperCD, featuring a handful of new units and a tweaked interface, and a German company released Nectaris for MS-DOS in 1995, which features many new units and two new planets to fight on. A remake was in development by the same German company. Called Nectaris 2000, it was never completed. The Windows '95 game, which runs fine on Win98 and XP, was released as freeware by Hudson. You can download it right here
This guide, while in no way as deeply detailed as the one found on Base Nectaris
, is an introduction to some of the tools an aspiring moon commander needs to know.
The Zone of Control is spaces on the map your unit controls indirectly. While two units cannot occupy the same space, every unit has an effect on adjacent hexes. Your ZOC is a vital part of your tactical arsenal. Enemy units cannot move more than one hex in your ZOC during their turn. If an enemy unit enters your ZOC, it cannot leave in the same turn.
If it starts the turn in your ZOC it can only move normally if the first step takes it out of the ZOC. Or, put another way, if your unit enters a ZOC hex that's the last space it reaches in that turn. You can use the ZOC to block large expanses of territory with few units.
You can see here that two units effectively prevent an attacker from moving past them until next turn, giving
them time to surround (and kill!) the attacker. Combined with impassable terrain the ZOC makes a very effective barrier.
In this image you can see how clever positioning combined with natural obstacles prevent an enemy from passing the two red tanks even though the road is clear.
Any unit can impose its ZOC on an enemy, even if it cannot attack it directly. For example an air-to-air unit can utilize its ZOC against a ground unit.
The Support Effect gives an offense boost for any friendly units ajacent to the enemy being attacked. This helps weaker units hold a line against stronger, single enemies. Any friendly unit adjacent to the enemy being attacked will give 50% of its offense power to the attacker.
Here you can see all the valid hexes for friendly
units to provide the blue attacker with a Support Effect.
In this image the poor little infantry unit won't last long against the
green tank, but with a 50% support bonus from both friendly tanks he's got the offensive power of a full tank unit in addition to his own power. He's not long for this world but he'll be taking some bad guys with him!
This is a fantastic defensive layout. The mountains will funnel all enemy units down the road one at a time. Any enemy unit that comes close enough to attack will be decimated by a triple onslaught of fully supported units. Park an artilery or indirect-attack unit behind the front lines and your enemy won't stand a chance.
The Surround Effect is the single most powerful tool in your box of strategies. The concept is simple: any unit that is completely engulfed by an enemy's Zone of Control will have its defense cut in half
The extreme power of this maneuver is tempered by the difficulty of achieving a suitable formation. It's an all or nothing move - there's no defense hit to the enemy if he's mostly surrounded.
It doesn't matter what kind of unit you surround
the enemy with, even units that cannot attack the target can surround it. Air and infantry units make great surrounders: air units because of their extensive movement range, and infantry because they're cheap.
This poor green tank is in for a world of hurt. The two red tanks
have surrounded him and his defense is halved. He can't run far because he's in the red ZOC, and each turn will allow him to move only one hex. This makes it very easy for the red tanks to surround him again. Unless the green tank receives backup, and fast, he's toast.
Nectaris units accrue experience for just about everything, to a maximum of nine points, indicated by stars. Units can receive one, two or four stars per turn depending on the event. Experience boosts a unit's attack power by a significant amount. A weaker but fully experienced enemy is a force to be reckoned with.
One Star Events:
Surviving an attack
Damaging an enemy
Two Star Events:
Surviving a battle unscathed
Destroying the last enemy in a unit
Four Star Events:
Capturing a factory
There are two kinds of transport units in Nectaris, the flying Pelican and the Mule. These units have better than average mobility, and should be used to rapidly shuttle slower units to a better strategic position. Transport units are the only way to move immobile artillery units from the factories.
A transport unit can load and move, or move and unload, in one turn. It cannot load, move and unload in the same turn. It can only unload onto 0% or 5% territory, regardless of the cargo's ability to traverse more difficult terrain.
Both can carry a single unit. Neither one has significant armour or weapons, and if they're destroyed any cargo inside will also be destroyed. This means bad news for your precious cargo if a transport unit is half wiped out - you'll lose half your cargo too!