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The Rock Raider "Cadet" is the single working unit in the LEGO Rock Raiders video games. If possible, they will obey every order given to them.
Unlike other "Real-Time-Strategy" games, Rock Raiders possess artificial intelligence, which means they do not wait on every command from the player to do work, and will often work by their own whims, without instruction. They have a list of priorities that can be set in the Priorities Menu, which ranks tasks from highest directive to least importance. This intelligence allows the player to sit and let the Rock Raiders go to work without having to give them constant instruction. However, the original priorities are badly ordered, rating optional Ore collection above collecting Energy Crystals.
As time passes, Rock Raiders get hungry, and the hungrier they are, the slower and less efficiently they work. This is particularly evident in their time between "breathers," when they drop what they are carrying, pant, pick it up again and continue. The player can manually feed them, or build a powered Support Station that provides food for them. Manually feeding restores hunger to maximum within one sandwich, however one sandwich at the Support Station only fills one quarter of their Hunger.
If their Hunger levels drop too low, as soon as they reach their task destination they will immediately turn around for the Support Station. The exception is if they are picking up objects, whereby the Rock Raider will pick up the object then head to the Support Station. This can cause extreme delays if one Rock Raider is carrying the last vital barrier to an important building. The maximum level of food a Rock Raider can stomach is equal to their Shield. If their maximum shield points somehow exceeds one hundred, the original maximum, their maximum food will also increase despite still being displayed as 100%.
Rock Raiders are also frightened by various Enemies, even Small Spiders, which can inhibit their work. Also, when Rock Raiders are split from the main group and are separated by Walls, Water, or Lava, they become distressed, and do not perform as well, sometimes not obeying certain commands, and ignoring the Priorities list. As soon as that Rock Raider is returned to the main group, or the main group is relocated to that Rock Raider, he will go back to normal.
Rock Raiders can perform a multitude of tasks, ranging from constructing buildings to operating vehicles to utilizing Mining Tools for all the essential operations. Like vehicles and buildings, Rock Raider cadets enter the map by teleporting down from the LMS Explorer. When you select them, you are given a menu with these actions to choose from. The player can also select a square for them to walk to, and/or perform another action. They typically move at 1.1 squares/sec; however, they move at half this speed when walking over Rubble and double this speed when walking over Power Path.
Players can directly feed them, tell them to go collect a tool, pick up or drop some items (Dynamite and Electric Fences cannot be directly dropped by this command), enter or exit a vehicle, drill a [[Wall], shovel some Rubble, drop a Sonic Blaster, upgrade themselves, train themselves, or teleport back up to the LMS Explorer.
Indirectly, by issuing global commands which one Rock Raider will be uncontrollably assigned to do, Rock Raiders can reinforce a wall, repair a building, dynamite a wall, drop an Electric Fence or Dynamite on the spot (achieved by forcing them to do another command such as Action Stations or teleporting back to the LMS explorer).
Upgrading Rock Raiders
Rock Raiders can upgrade themselves at the Tool Store to carry more tools. This becomes more necessary later in the game, when Rock Raiders need to be carrying a multitude of Mining Tools and Weapons at a time. Upgrading them also gives the player the ability to name them. A Rock Raider can be upgraded 4 times. To upgrade, they stand by the Tool Store and perform jumping jacks for a specific amount of time. It takes 30 seconds to upgrade to the second level, 45 seconds for the third level, and 60 seconds for the fourth level. Rock Raiders that have been upgraded or trained will be present in every following level, so once you upgrade and name your team, you can keep it for the rest of the game. (However, there is a possible glitch that occasionally swaps old cadets out with new recruits if the player teleports down lots of Rock Raiders).
Training Rock Raiders
Main article: Training Rock Raiders
Rock Raiders can also train themselves at various buildings, so they can learn how to perform more specialized tasks. This takes much less time than upgrading. Every Rock Raider is capable of learning any of the available skills and professions.
Defending Rock Raider HQ
See also: Defending Rock Raider HQ
One of the most important tasks after mining is Defending Rock Raider HQ against various Threats, using various Weapons and defensive systems, such as using Action Stations, Electric Fences, Reinforced Walls, Power Paths, and other preventative measures. Rock Raiders can be equipped with weapons, but will only use them if Action Stations has been activated (with the exception of the Sonic Blaster, which is dropped manually). However, their targeting sensors are inaccurate and they will frequently fire at monsters out of their effective range. They also lack any monster prioritization, and may run to shoot at sleeping monsters when Rock Raider HQ itself is under threat. They are not cruel beings and will let Slimy Slugs retreat when the slug shows no more sign of wanting to ravage Rock Raider HQ.