Are you ready to hop on the most extraordinary space odyssey on mobile? Iron Marines is a new iOS and Android real-time strategy and tower defense game from Ironhide, the same company that had given us the Kingdom Rush trilogy. And if you’re wondering what Iron Marines are, these are elite soldiers whose goal is to protect the universe in any number of situations, may it be a meteor storm or fighting off alien creatures on their base. It’s your job to recruit and train these great heroes, lead them into missions and help them overcome “near impossible” odds, and unleash their powers and unique skills. There’s a lot of tactical strategy involved in this game, a wide range of weapons, and a similarly wide range of troops you can employ. And if you’re a fan of pop culture references in your mobile game, Ironhide also promises a good number of Easter eggs in the game — can you spot them all?
This is a game that takes a while to figure out. Tower defense games and RTS titles, after all, require a lot of the “S” in RTS, and that’s strategy. And that’s what we’ll be helping you out with right now — guiding you regardless of your experience level in this Iron Marines strategy guide. We’re here to make sure you won’t be alone when the tutorial stages are over, so read on if there’s anything about the game that isn’t clear to you!
1. The Basics Of The Game
Some of you may be wondering how to move the Marines and have them take part in battle. Fortunately, it’s as easy as A-B-C, as you will first have to select a unit by tapping on it, then drag it to the intended destination. Bear in mind that any units you move will pay no attention to the enemies they may encounter, and will only fight once they reach the destination. Make sure you’re plotting the right path, and keeping your troops safe from any potential enemy attacks while they’re moving.
As for the combat aspect, you don’t need to manually engage your enemies in battle, as the game will take care of that for you. When in battle, you want to have some of your units defending specific areas or choke points, and the game will ensure they remain in their place unless you move them. But there’s also a drawback to this feature, as troops will merely stand their ground and appear blissfully unaware of the damage they’re taking, assuming that enemies can attack them from a greater distance than their maximum range.
2. How To Further Manage Your Marines
If you want to deploy more troops, you’ll need to follow a series of steps, though once again, they’re quite easy to complete. Tap on a base once, and you’ll get to view a list of Marine types you can choose from.Tap a second time and you will be able to choose the version of each Marine. For instance, the Army menu will include Rangers and Snipers, among other options. Tap for a third time, and that will summon the unit.
This all suggests that it should be easy to manage your Marines and get them up to speed at all times. But Iron Marines does have a few catches when it comes to these easy mechanics. For one, you will usually be limited to only a few units at most, as shown on the top left of your screen. The only time you can increase your maximum unit count is when you move a unit within a command point’s range. Look for the Marine hologram with a plus sign next to it, then tap-and-hold on that hologram to deploy the extra unit.
3. Make Small, Conservative Moves At First
For the most part, you’ll be moving your units around, which isn’t too exciting, but take note that you will usually be doing battle once you’ve moved the units to their destination. That means you need to move slowly and carefully, and bear in mind that Iron Marines has a “fog of war” feature, or parts of the map remaining covered up until you walk through them. The fog of war makes it hard for you to predict how many enemies are on the other side, and that’s another reason why this game can be deceptively challenging.
As we mentioned in an earlier tip, neither your units nor your hero can attack while in motion. That makes it highly inadvisable to have them venture into an unknown location all at once. What you want to do instead is to move your units short distances, and make those movements one at a time. Make sure you’ve got a backup unit within range to provide support, then move that unit ahead once your front liners make it to their destination. Keep repeating this process until everyone has made it to the target point.
4. When Can You Move All Your Units At The Same Time?
Then again, there are situations in the game where you can have all your units go to the same destination at the same time, and that would be during those times where you’re heading to a part of the map that’s already been cleared.
You may encounter some moments in Iron Marines where you accidentally move your units a bit too far, as compared to your target. Drag a unit from their current position to the correct one so that way, they don’t move any further. And don’t be shy either to drag your units through obstacles or rough terrain, or even beyond walls; the game will automatically set your path. But make sure to do some micro-management to ensure no one runs into any kind off trouble before arriving at the destination.
5. Basic Tips For Positioning
When choosing a backup unit for your front liners, snipers are usually the best choice, as they can hang back quite a bit and still be within range. Normally, you’ll want to have some tanky units in the frontline, not necessarily capable of dealing out tons of damage, but hardy enough to soak up damage from the enemy. You can also have your hero upfront and soaking up damage, as heroes invariably have much higher health than regular units. Furthermore, it’s easy to recall your hero once things get a bit too hairy for comfort.
As a bonus tip, you need to be careful when individually moving units, as we showed you earlier. Moving around will inevitably change positioning, and that applies even if you’ve selected everyone you want to move; instead of maintaining your positioning, you’ll be bunched up as a group, with some or most of Snipers, for instance, probably in the front lines.
6. All About The Heroes
We’ve mentioned Heroes a few times in some of the tips we’ve already covered. And if you’re the type of gamer who wants things to be as uncomplicated as possible when it comes to character choices, you’ll be glad to know that Ironhide has kept things simple by only including three Heroes for you to choose from at the start of the game. There will be a fourth available once you make it to level 5, and the rest can be purchased with real money in the in-app store.
Each of the Heroes have their own special skills, but they have one thing in common, which is their ability to respawn once they get killed. You’re probably familiar with how this works, if you’ve played MMO games with similar features. All you need to do is to wait until the cool down meter is finished, then you can send your Hero back to battle, ready to bolster your forces and wreak havoc on the enemy.
7. How To Use Turrets And Limited-Use Weapons
Go to the bottom right of your screen and you will see a number of other weapons that you may find useful at some point in the game. The turret icon is the circular one, and you can activate turrets, or Dropguns, anywhere on the game map that’s visible. They automatically fire at any enemies within their range, and disappear after a specific period of time, or after they’ve been destroyed.
The three other slots in this area correspond to limited use weapons, which can be purchased with the credits you earn. You can earn credits by completing in-game achievements, completing levels, or watching ad videos — there are multiple ways to earn them, and once you’ve got enough, you can click on the rocket icon and choose which weapons you want to have activated for a limited amount of time. Tap on the corresponding icon, then tap on the part of the map you want to fire at if you want to use these special weapons. It’s all that easy, as you can simply sit back and let the weapons do the dirty work for you.
8. A Deeper Look At The Dropgun
The Dropgun, which is Iron Marines’ answer to the turret, becomes available once you reach level 2, and can be best described as a deployable turret that is available in unlimited quantities, with no need for any currency or any facility to build. You do have a cool down timer to deal with, however, and you can find that on the left side of the screen — make sure you’re run the timer out before deploying a Dropgun. And make sure you’re regularly deploying the Dropgun! It sort of works like an additional unit that can be activated immediately, and can damage any units it lands on. And when we say any units, we also mean groups of units; the Dropgun can be used as a good crowd control tool, once you tap on its icon, and designate the area where you want it to land (in this case, a group of enemies).
You should also remember that the Dropgun does count as a unit — that means you can deploy it to any Etherium vein or Commannd Point, so that it could claim that choke point or Etherium pipeline for you. This normally won’t be completed before it gets destroyed or before it expires, but you can, at the very least, buy yourself some time, as this could prevent enemies from building their own Refinery, or to speed up your progress in the game. And since the Dropgun is a unit, it could also serve as a means to remove the fog of war faster. The Dropgun, as you can see, has a myriad of purposes, all of which could be helpful to your cause.
9. Keep On Grinding
Iron Marines allows you to replay stages in the event you need to earn more credits, as well as techpoints and Hero EXP. Don’t worry if you’re already done with that stage — you can go back as often as you want, especially if you’ve got a Hero you aren’t using too often, or if you’re trying to obtain enough resources for certain areas of research.
10. What Do Techpoints Do?
Techpoints are used to unlock new skills on the Research Tree, and as you may have probably guessed, research is one of the more important mechanics in the game. Research allows you to unlock new active and passive upgrades for your units, buildings, and towers, and these passive upgrades, once again, are more important than the active ones; they’re not only permanent, but also help you complete missions at a faster pace than normal. As we had mentioned above, you’re free to grin for techpoints any time you wish, and that could mean unlocking all of the possible skills. Still, it’s best that you look at the skill tree so you could plan in advance and ensure that your upgrades are consistent with your preferred style of play.
11. There’s No Need For Currency When Upgrading Your Hero
Upgrading your Hero in Iron Marines, fortunately, is easier than upgrading your troops. There’s no currency required to make them better, as your Heroes simply earn more experience by fighting more battles. You can then turn those experience points in to upgrades, and if you want to see what’s in it for any given Hero, you can tap on their Hero profile — there, you will see the upgrades you can perform, as well as the bonus effects that become available come level 5 to 10.
12. What Is Etherwatt And How Do Refineries Work?
Etherwatt is another currency you can encounter in Iron Marines, and you can receive more of this currency through the Refineries. The game automatically mines for these resources, provided you have at least one Refinery active, and that likewise means you can earn more Etherwatt if you have more Refineries, with each new location allowing you to increase your Etherwatt storage by 50.
For another useful tidbit about Refineries, you should remember that your first Refinery will always serve as your Command Base if you’re starting a level with a Refinery already built. You should guard this “base” with your life, because once it’s gone, that’s an automatic mission failure, regardless of how many other Refineries you’ve got on the map. Just look out for the blue flag to designate the Command Base, and listen for the alarm signal, which rings out any time the base is attacked.
13. How To Unlock All The Units And Mix Them Up
This one should be quick and simple, but to elaborate a little on this tip, you can unlock all of the available units as you complete more levels and planets. Once you reach the second planet, you should have all of the available units and icons, so be patient — just keep hammering away and grinding, and you should have access to all the units once you’ve played the game long enough.
Although you won’t have too many units available at the start, it’s best to have a good mix of different units to improve your chances of defeating the enemy in battle. Building on what we had suggested several tips ago, Snipers are best positioned at the back, allowing them to fire away from far away while a Hero or Walker serves among the tanks up front. Having high-HP characters in front helps take some of the attention away from the squishier, higher-powered characters.
14. Launching Better Attacks Against Your Enemies
You want to get a leg up on the bad guys whenever you’re in combat. And that would, for starters, mean being aware of the enemy unit’s range — tap on an enemy unit and you’ll see a dotted circle around them, letting you know their range of attack. If an enemy finds their way to this circle, they will be instantly targeted.
You can also train a unit on a specific target by tapping on an enemy — look for the orange brackets around each enemy unit4, as that will signify they have been made into primary targets. This “focus fire” strategy is useful if you’re thinking of having multiple units gang up on a particularly strong enemy, or an enemy that might breach your defenses.
15. Remember This Before Launching An Active Hero Ability
Before you opt to use an active Hero ability, you have to be absolutely sure you are in within striking range. Tapping abilities will immediately allow them to go off, or perhaps trigger a countdown. This ability will be used even if the Hero is not anywhere near an enemy, so keep the above tip in mind so that none of your Heroes’ active abilities get wasted in battle.
16. Take Advantage Of The Flamewalker
Although the Flamewalker isn’t the most popular weapon out there, it’s also a weapon you may consider at some points in the game. Granted, you won’t be needing it particularly early in the game, but once you reach level 7 and 8 in Sagan-1, you’ll be thankful you have this weapon in your disposal. In fact, this is such a powerful and underrated weapon that you can take it with you any time you’re dealing with a tougher level. Just make sure you’ve got some support in the form of Snipers; the Flamewalker is strong, but not strong enough to be a force on a standalone basis.
17. Disbanding Units
When time is of the essence and you need to get one unit from one point of the map to another as quickly as possible, you have the option to disband them by tapping on the dollar sign icon, then sending them out again once everything is clear once again, or you’ve found a Refinery closer to where you want to send them. Remember that disbanding units costs you some Etherwatts, but you can always get them back by disbanding via the Power Converter skill. This to applies to your Hero, whom you can recall by tapping on the arrow icon next to their portrait. Heroes can be sent back into action at any discovered location, but they won’t be able to regenerate health. That’s an obvious drawback, but it makes for a good evasive maneuver you can use when trying to run away from some tough enemies. Your Hero may still take damage, but it shouldn’t be as bad is normally should be when he’s employing the old stick-and-move strategy.
18. Complete The Spec Ops Levels
You’ve got your normal levels to worry about, but there are also Spec Ops that occasionally become available. These levels are different from the usual stages in the sen se that they offer a variety of win conditions, most of them on the rather challenging side. But with harder levels comes bigger rewards, meaning you should spend some time playing the Spec Ops in order to give yourself more chances to earn something substantial.