HotM:Aggro Of All Sorts

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Aggro, in a broad sense in this and other games means:

  • That a specific enemy unit is aware of one of your units.
  • That that enemy unit desires to attack your unit.

There is substantial nuance on both the "being aware of your unit" and "desiring to attack your unit" points, so this is where the rest of this article comes in.

Awareness Of Units

Positive (Lack Of) Awareness

Both you and enemies are mutually blind of each other a vast majority of the time. Here's what's up with that.

Blending In And Other Methods Of Being In Sight

Many times, a unit of yours will be blending in. This may be because:

  • There are other android or vehicle models that look just like them, and nothing they are doing is abnormal for similar units of that type.
  • They look unusual, but they are wearing a hoodie over their scary features.
  • They look unusual, but humans find them so adorable that they are not concerned by their presence. (Adorable perk)
  • They are keeping to the shadows, and so people don't really see them clearly (Shadowdweller perk)
  • They seem like they're supposed to be there (Authoritative perk)
  • They are a convincing Synthetic human, and thus they just look like some random person.

In all of these cases, these are fairly passive methods of blending in to the environment. Humans and enemies and so forth see this unit, but do not pay it any mind.

How This Applies In Reverse

The streets are crowded with humans and vehicles, and the airspace is also very busy. You will often see enemies (or allies) "materialize" out of nowhere. This is actually just you becoming aware of them, as they no longer blend into the crowd. There's so much going on in this city that your machine perception just filters the bulk of it out. This is rather similar to how the humans perceive most of your units, most of the time; your units are just blending in by nature.

Active Cloaking Or Liquid Metal

There are some options that you can activate on certain units, which make them invisible even if an enemy was looking straight at them a moment before. These include:

  • They are cloaked, and thus literally invisible.
  • They have turned to liquid metal, and have spread themselves thin in the environment -- and thus are effectively invisible.

Neutral Awareness

If a unit has no perks at all, such that it's not blending in for example, then it's something that is a noticeable unit.

If you choose the Defiant stance, then any of your units will reveal themselves in an aggressive manner. Suddenly that adorable Sledge is not so adorable. Suddenly that CombatUnit is noticeably strange compared to all the rest on the streets. Etc.

In other cases, it's because a unit is simply unfamiliar, but it's not outright terrifying to people. So "that specific mech is some sort of new model, but it's just standing there, and new models do happen from time to time. I wonder who manufactures that?"

Negative Awareness

There are some units that draw immediate negative attention from basically everyone. The most common reason is that they are Innately Alarming.

This basically means that anyone who is in range of that unit and has a weapon probably wants to shoot them. If you have explicit allies, obviously this does not apply to them. But it does apply to normally-passive guards firing over the walls in a manner they normally would not do (more on that later).

Final Note On Awareness

Just because an enemy, or potential enemy, is aware of your unit does not mean they want to attack it.

This is frankly true of you as well, after all; you will sometimes see two corporations attacking each other a bit away from yourself, and decide not to get involved.

Awareness is only half of that is needed to say that something has Aggro.


Let's cover this before we get into anger, because it's easier.

Security Clearances

There are five levels of security clearance (Sight, Oversight, Secret, Top Secret, and Interior), and then there's also "no clearance at all."

Your starting units can normally go anywhere that requires Sight (L1) clearance, because regular android traffic already goes to these places. These include locations like farms, oil sites, small military checkpoints, and so on.

Free Movement

Did you know? You can freely move to any location, regardless of security clearance. You need to have a unit in the Combat stance to do so, but that's it.

The Active stance blocks you from going into areas where you don't have clearance specifically for your protection. This prevents mis-clicks, and you wandering into a place where you don't belong and being attacked.

If you already have at least one unit in a specific restricted area, and enemies are aware of that unit, then you can freely move in other units of yours without having to move them to Combat stance.


If a unit goes to a location where it does not have clearance, then they will immediately be targeted by all units who guard that location. Any other units that work for the corporations in some fashion will also target these trespassers more freely.

However, guards from OTHER nearby locations will not start targeting the unit. So if there are two military installations next to each other, and you have a unit step into one of them, it will only be targeted by the units within that base, not also the base next door.

If you go where you don't have clearance, then any passive form of blending in will no longer function. Active cloaking and liquid metal still work fine, of course, since they don't know you are trespassing.

Shadowdweller also continues to work, but only if you stick to the buildings, and only up to a certain clearance it mentions in its tooltip. It's kind of a hybrid between being invisible and blending in.

Avoiding Those Consequences

If a unit has stepped into a restricted area, and you do not wish to draw actual aggro, then you should leave that area. The enemies will immediately stop targeting your unit. It's assumed there was a simple mistake.

However, presuming that enemies are targeting your unit, they will shoot you on the way out, via Attacks of Opportunity. Do not retaliate! If you take the shots and just leave, that's the end of it. They're satisfied. If you fire back, things will escalate dramatically.

We'll come back to alarms and guards later.


Before we get into alarms, lets talk about anger.

Marked Defective

First of all, this is not anger. But when you're mainly fighting corporate forces, you'll feel like it is. If you're doing a lot of things with religions, cults, gangs, or syndicates, this doesn't apply too much.

Marked Defective is a badge that your units get when they attack a figure of authority. So if you attack a SecForce officer, or a member of the military, your unit will be flagged as defective. If you shoot a member of a gang, or some random member of the public, or a religious figure, then in almost all cases you will not be marked defective from that. There are rare exceptions, but that would typically be if a cult leader was also a high-ranking corporate officer, or something of that sort.

If a unit has been marked as defective, then it no longer passively blends in at all. It can still cloak, but a hoodie or armor can't hide its identity anymore. This causes two things.

First of all, going back up to the Awareness section, this causes the unit to be the equivalent of Neutral Awareness -- unless the unit was Innately Alarming or similar, and had been hiding that; in those cases, it is now the equivalent of Negative Awareness.

Secondly, any authority figures are highly motivated to shoot this unit, and will also hunt it across the map. This does not apply to enemies that are from non-corporate sources. Since most of your enemies in chapter one are corporate, this distinction won't be super clear until later.

Paying Off Your Fines

Violence is fine in this city, so long as it's either sanctioned, or you pay a fine. If you go to a licensing agency, you can pay a pittance (compared to what you passively steal) to wipe the slate clean. The perks of being rich. This is the equivalent fee of several middle class yearly incomes, all at once, but it's nothing to you.

What this does NOT do is reset the identity of that android. So anyone who had anger at that unit will still have anger at them. You can pay off the authorities, but the other people who know that android will still remember it.

Wiping Your Identity

If your unit wants to spend two turns ambushing another android and taking its registration, then this is a complete identity wipe. This clears anger from cohorts, specifically because they no longer realize it's the same unit. This also clears the Marked Defective status for the same reason. You've done a full identity theft, at the cost of one neutral android's life and two turns of your unit being busy.

You can also simply scrap your androids, since they are part of your own consciousness, and thus it's not ending even an artificial life. This costs you resources to replace them, and potentially time if you don't already have another android ready. But it works just as well.

Angered Cohorts

Cohorts are basically cross-sections of one or more factions. Each unit that is on the map is tied to a specific cohort. When you attack one of those units, then your attacker unit will be remembered by that cohort as a whole. This is not cleared until your unit wipes its identity or dies. Paying off fines is not enough to solve this.

If your unit is blending in otherwise, and perhaps not even marked defective, then most enemies will ignore it, of course. However, enemies from angered cohorts will recognize its city feed id, even through obscuring clothing, and will want to attack it.


Guards of military bases, mining installations, and other similar POIs are different from other units. They will not take aggressive action against units outside of the place they are guarding unless one of three things is true:

  • If your unit is Innately Alarming or otherwise drawing negative attention.
  • If your unit trespasses into their specific area.
  • If the alarm is active for the area they are guarding.

If the alarm is not active, these units will not leave the area they are guarding. They may fire out across the fenceline, but they won't move to follow.

Activating The Alarm

If you attack a guard inside a restricted area, AND damage it, then the alarm will become activated for some number of turns, usually about 5. Every turn you attack a guard, the alarm is extended.

If you fire at a mech, and don't even damage it, this does not activate the alarm. Rebels do this sort of thing all the time, and the authorities find it to be more intimidating to not respond, as it doesn't even scratch the paint. Being unworthy of notice is a scarier message in this case.

If there are non-guards inside the base, even from the same cohort, you can attack them at will without causing the base to alarm! So feel free to freely fire across the fenceline at corporate aggressors doing the same to you. Just... don't also attack the guards.

Deactivating The Alarm

If you have caused the alarm to go off in a base near your own buildings, this can be very bad indeed. You're likely to have mechs and other units rampaging through your buildings. If you can't destroy all of the guards in a timely fashion, then your best bet is to stop trying at all. Play dead. Whatever they do, don't fire back. Within 3-5 turns, their stance will change back to a non-alarmed state, and they will then move back to their base.

The longer you interact with them, the more they will keep fighting you. If you're equipped to destroy the enemies (for example if it's a lot of soldiers, but no mechs), then just destroy them and there's no problem. If it's enemies you can't handle at the moment, then you have to consider if it's worth even picking off the smaller units that you can take -- each turn you spend doing that extends the amount of time the mechs will run amok in your base by a turn.