Total Annihilation is a Real Time Strategy computer game produced by Cavedog Entertainment for Windows 95 in 1997. Two expansion packs were later released under the titles Total Annihilation: Battle Tactics and Total Annihilation: The Core Contingency.

TA is a robot-based game. The single humanlike character in the game is the commander (one commander per player, though a player has the option of making decoy commanders); all the other units are one of five types: aircraft, ships, vehicles, kbots (walking-type robots) and hovercraft; the unit lists can be found in each of those nodes. Each type has both construction units and fighting units. The common weaponry are gaussian shots, lasers, rockets, missiles and exploding shots. Each type of unit (except hovercraft) has advanced units as well.

The idea behind the war is that there are two factions, Arm and Core. Core is the older and more heavily armored group, while Arm is the revolutionary light and fast bunch. Core is more heavily armored, therefore it takes longer and more resources to build a Core unit than it does to build the equivalent Arm unit.

In comparison with other well-known RTS games such as Starcraft, Warcraft and Age of Empires, there are three major differences that are worthy of note: the Total Annihilation (TA) resource model is continuous rather than discrete, the terrain is actually three dimensional both in appearance and game play, and the waypoint system is well-formed. The user interface is similar to that of Command and Conquer. The usual unit limit is 200, but with the expansion packs this can be extended to 500.

The resource model is continuous. Both of the necessary resources (metal and energy) are gathered on a per-second basis; instead of needing units to go out, gather resources, then bring them back to a "home" or "base", special buildings are set aside to be gathering resources all the time. Metal extractors or moho metal extractors are set atop metal deposits. Solar collectors, wind generators, tidal generators, geothermal plants and fusion reactors collect energy. Metal makers and moho metal makers transform energy into metal (since, most of the time, metal is the limiting resource). Metal and energy are used up on a per-second basis as well, so at some particular time a gamer might have 2560 metal and 12300 energy in storage and be gaining 45.2 metal and 2530 energy per second, while using 65.1 metal and 2400 energy per second. It is possible to have empty metal or energy storage (rarely both at the same time), at which time anything that is using those resources stops until there is enough to go around again. Therefore it is imperative to be increasing the metal and energy influx for most of the beginning of the game. It is most necessary to keep the energy flow positive because metal extractors and metal makers require energy.

The terrain is three dimensional. Aircraft fly at varying heights (explosions at one height do not affect planes which are at a different height), shots which hit the terrain explode where they hit and shots do not pass through terrain. Shot explosions usually cause area damage (with a high falloff rate).

Waypoints. TA is arguably one of the first games to implement a full-formed waypoint system, though it did not appear in the first release. As of the expansion packs mentioned above, the full waypoint system had two major features: any waypoint could be removed at any point after creation; units start on their waypoint lists immediately. By way of comparison, Age of Empires II units didn't start on their waypoints until the last one was declared, and no waypoint is removable. The same is true of StarCraft: Broodwar, with the exception that they start on their waypoints right away, and some things (like construction) cannot be waypointed.

Waypoints are quite similar to queueing, (waypoints are a command queue for units), but there are no waypoints for construction buildings in TA. The method there is a 'build count', and there is one particularly notable feature in this: the queueing for construction buildings is strictly-ordered, unlimited and unmaintainable; (e.g.) a vehicle plant can have five construction vehicles (CV) and 25 missile vehicles (MV) queued up to be built, but the order is unalterable (without erasing them all and starting over). (I) could tell the building to build one CV, then 5 MV's, then another CV, then 5 more MV's, and the queue is maintained in that order. In StarCraft, the queue limit on buildings is 5, with a strictly-ordered alterable queue; similarly, in Age of Empires II, the queue limit is 15 and is also strictly ordered and alterable (the first AoE was worse in this respect, with a queue limit of 1).

There are only a couple endgame strategies. Nuclear missiles are quite effective, but these can be protected against (with anti-nuclear missiles). A swarm of units might work, but most bases are heavily guarded with stationary artillery. Groups of Krogoths work wonders, but are just as susceptible to heavy artillery as the smaller units. The only other strategy is long range artillery. These buildings are fixed, but can cover most of the map in terms of range. Nuclear missiles and long range artillery take prohibitive amounts of energy and metal in order to work properly as an attack. Krogoths use a lot of energy as well, but their main difficulty is how long it takes to make one. My favorite method of endgame is a combination of advanced planes, Krogoths and nukes. Most nuclear protection can be overloaded if enough nukes are sent at about the same time.

One of the significant disadvantages of Total Annihilation compared to other RTS's is that most games take a long time to play (i.e., 4 hours is a short game when playing with others over a network). The worst problem with this is that it is fairly difficult to work any break time into each game; once you start you have to go until it's finished or the other players may simply quit.