The term tin can refers to a player that is controlled automatically by an artificial intelligence (AI) system, or more generally to any units not controlled by a human player (such as Logging Robots, Locust Robots, and Underdog Soldiers). Tin cans can appear as players in bounties, tutorials, and unranked back parlor matches. Robot waves in Forest Guardians and Underdog Soldiers in any ITP scenario are also controlled by AI, and thus function, in many ways, similarly to tin cans.
Tin cans act differently than human players in several regards. Their behavior is also perfectly reproducible under the same conditions, due to the static nature of the AI. Units belonging to a tin can will always move at the beginning of a tick or not at all, which lends human players a certain advantage, in that they can delay their own orders by a fraction of a tick to see how the tin can acts, and then make their own moves accordingly. Human players also always have priority over tin cans in movement order, meaning that if a human player sets an advance order for a unit, that unit will always execute its order before tin can-controlled units possessing the same number of ticks execute theirs (however, if the orders do not interact or conflict with each other, there is no time delay between them). Another effect of this, though, is that tin cans have the ability to instantly react to other players’ executed advance orders, which sometimes allows them to act in ways human players could not. Tin cans are also unable to use cards. These characteristics are true for all other AI-controlled units, as well.
In general, tin cans’ strategy in matches and tutorials is very objective-oriented, and focuses less on disabling enemy teams or collecting bonuses. However, tin cans’ teams are selected randomly for matches, and thus the particular tactics they employ do vary to some degree (for instance, tin can units with long range may be more likely to attack than those without). In bounties, tin cans sometimes have altogether different strategies which are more specific to the mission. The reproducible and consistent nature of tin cans’ actions, though, means that a certain series of moves by a human player under a certain circumstance could have the same outcome, such as a bounty completion or a human win, every time. This fact is the basis for many bounty strategy guides.
In matches and tutorials, tin cans’ portraits feature one of three poses of Steambots, two of which are considered “male” and one “female”. Names are randomly assigned, but correlate to the male or female aspect of the tin can’s portrait. Tin cans’ names also include one of the following prefixes:
- Tin Can
All tin cans outside of bounties, and some in bounties too, are shown as belonging to the “Bucket Heads Gang”.