Unusual tactic in 1v1 ladder games

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Hey!

First time posting on these new forums. 🙂

So, yesterday I just got into playing FAF again after a long-ish break; I eventually broke my anxiety and jumped into ladder. Lost my first de-rusting game, won my second, and then upon my third I faced a guy named derek_bobjack, some roughly 900 ladder rated player. My game against him was on Open Palms, and I ended it after just over 7 minutes as he ctrl-K'd as I had 80% map control and came knocking on his front door with mobile artillery and Mantis. The game played very odd prior to that though, because I faced essentially no combat units at all. Just an endless stream of engineers attempting to expand (out of which I caught the majority of them with lone mantis/mole squads).

I felt intrigued and went looking at the local replay to see it from his point of view. Apparently, he went all out of trying to expand while basically walling his main base in. At his expansions he often prioristised building T1 PD and T1 static AA, going as far as often neglecting both factories and sometimes delaying mexes. Then he goes for an extended turtle, upgrading his ACU to T2 and T3 as soon as possible, neglecting expansion almost entirely unless successful in the early stages and prioritises upgrading his mexes to T3 ASAP, all while filling his base with static defences of all tiers and kinds. The endgame plan then deviates a little bit from game to game, but it generall invovles SACUs heavily point defence/klink hammer creeping, Novax satelites or plain rambo SACU/percivals steamrolling.

Okay, sure. Sometimes you might feel like trying some silly strategy in a game. But, I went through the FAF Replays vault on a number of his games and found that he does this exact thing on almost every single round he plays. Except when an "incompatible" map comes up, in which he ctrl-K's within the first 20 seconds. Sure, okay, some people just aren't that good at the game I guess, right? Well, here it what irks me. A disturbing amount of time it does work for him. 5x5 km maps being dragged out way longer, up towards an hour+.

Now I am hardly a "good" player. I watch a lot of casts and POV games on YouTube though and have a fair bit of an idea how the game is, ahem, supposed to be played. And thus I feel fairly confident to say that:

  1. This is not exactly normal 1v1 ladder gameplay.

  2. This flies in the face of what good gameplay should look like. Hard turtling should not beat map control.

  3. While being aware that this is not high ranking ladder; why does this work as consistently as it seems to do for him? What would a consistent way of beating such a strategy be, if you really are not up for playing an hour of artillery war, if you were to end up in a situation where he manages to secure his main base against more straight forward attacks?

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I think 1k ladder is about as high as you can get with good turtling. To win as a turtle it requires you to be fed a lot by your opponent. And around 1k ladder people stop attacking every t2 pd they see. (it is like a lamp to the lowerrated mosquitos). Don't feed the tutles! the turtles must starve!

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@harzer99 said in Unusual tactic in 1v1 ladder games:

I think 1k ladder is about as high as you can get with good turtling. To win as a turtle it requires you to be fed a lot by your opponent. And around 1k ladder people stop attacking every t2 pd they see. (it is like a lamp to the lowerrated mosquitos). Don't feed the tutles! the turtles must starve!

I would like to challenge this notion, but smurfs are forbidden :C

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@harzer99 Yes, that is a common mistake I've observed in many of the replays I watched. People either attacking pointlessly (no pun intended..) into PDs and feeding mass; OR simply leaving their factories on infinite build, but only piling up hordes of T1/T2 units instead of spending their mass on more useful things.

Perhaps a lot of it comes down to scouting too, no need to keep guarding armies of units around if your enemy is not going to attack you any time soon. But then I feel like it becomes a rush to who can tech up fastest, and an escalating T1 PD -> T1 mobile arty -> T2 PD -> MML ->T2 static arty spam -> ????

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I ran into "hard turtles" a few times at 650, following a similar plan though less well executed. I think this is a natural development of personal strategy. After losing every single time (to snipes or running out of time and needing to leave myself), I learned not to feed any amount of T1/T2/T3/Exp units into it and just build T3 static arty while guarding against snipes. Both times I did that, they quit before the first shot landed.

It surprises me how long a turtle can hang on with just 4 mexes. You end up spending 10+ minutes doing nothing but eco with the whole map to build a reliable winner like T3 arty. You also need some units to build a tight containment perimeter.

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So everything is astro crater if you want to turtle hard enough)

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I'm ashamed to say that I lost a game to him after surrounding a pointless little firebase with mantises and getting too careless with my commander.

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Yeah, map control kinda sucks in his case, cause he have 4-8 t3 heavily protected mexes and everybody else spent mass on units, there is no 'effective' t2 arty, so shields + pd2/pd3 become kinda op. And everybody else have map control but 1/2 of his eco and could not penetrate his base. The only way to win is too out-eco him with more t3 mexes in long run 😃
Basically, t2 stage does not have an answer to firebases.

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If you have more mexes/map control, you don’t push into the 8k mass invested into a firebase to then feed reclaim and make the firebase a mass investment with positive returns. You sit and react to what the opponent will do while you inevitably scale up 2-3 times as fast with 2-3 times as high of a potential max eco. If he doesn’t do anything to stop you, he will lose.

It’s why these guys are the gatekeepers of this rating. Every 400 rated dude that learned to just make tanks and send them into the enemy needs to learn that they actually need to think about what their tank attack is gaining/losing from the attack.

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@FtXCommando said in Unusual tactic in 1v1 ladder games:

It’s why these guys are the gatekeepers of this rating. Every 400 rated dude that learned to just make tanks and send them into the enemy needs to learn that they actually need to think about what their tank attack is gaining/losing from the attack.

Must admit this is completely true, I hit a wall in ladder until I figured that out. Completely different from Starcraft 2, my previous go-to RTS.

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@Wainan I think this can easily happen if you don't recognise what is going on quickly enough and instead just continue producing land armies that ends up obsolete before they can get used. Or worse, feed the obsolete units into static defences.

It became rather fascinating watching his 1v1 replays against others; because what he does shouldn't work, yet it does work a lot of the time against many different players in that rating range.

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@Valki I think a nuke would win sooner actually or a simple experimental.

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@techmind_ MML are early answer to PD walls but T2 arty have no natural counters...

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@techmind_ said in Unusual tactic in 1v1 ladder games:

Yeah, map control kinda sucks in his case, cause he have 4-8 t3 heavily protected mexes and everybody else spent mass on units, there is no 'effective' t2 arty, so shields + pd2/pd3 become kinda op. And everybody else have map control but 1/2 of his eco and could not penetrate his base. The only way to win is too out-eco him with more t3 mexes in long run 😃
Basically, t2 stage does not have an answer to firebases.

This is untrue, mml are a decent answer to firebases since the enemy has to invest roughly similar amount of mass in tmd (that don't move, and don't defend against anything other than missiles).

Besides, it is unnecessary to try to break firebases in general. They are investing in defense -- what beats defense? -- greed does! So if you see t2 pd just make like 2 mml to force a response from the opponent and then get a t2 mex. Once you reach t3 it will be trivial to kill firebases anyway with t3 mobile arty.

It all comes down to very basic RTS principles, they are building defensive units. What are defensive units good against? Aggressive units. What are defensive units weak against? Greed (eco/tech). When enemy is turtling literally the worst possible thing you can do is attack them.

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@Mylaur said in Unusual tactic in 1v1 ladder games:

@Valki I think a nuke would win sooner actually or a simple experimental.

If the experimental fails then he gets a lot of mass.
A nuke can be stopped by anti-nuke.

I thought... correct me if I am wrong, T3 arty will damage the shields enough that they will not regenerate. His base being so small, it is likely to damage all or most shields at once, so the risk of all options is lowest.

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@SteelTalon I forget the name of the map, but it's the white 5k one where you start on a raised bit with three starting mexes and a there's a hydro lower down behind a mountain.

He'd made only T1 mobile arty and had walled in his starting position, and he'd made a firebase on the south edge surrounding a single mex.

I was convinced I could steamroll it with mantises but turned out I was wrong.

I reckon if I'd just started making T2 MMLs I would have had no problem, but reading this thread makes me doubt that a bit.

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@Wainan It is a fascination of mine to watch games and how different people react to his strategy so I have seen a number of different approaches.

I've seen people try MML spam, but by the time they realise that they are facing a determined turtle, he is usually up to T2 build power already and can build T2 static arty which renders MMLs a complete waste of resources as it loses hard to artillery+shield.


I faced him once more since starting the thread, on Vulcan's Reach. Due to my clumsiness, I allowed him to get established in the upper right corner of the map, but otherwise I took complete map control essentially unchallenged and instead of trying to invest any serious effort into breaking down his front door, I kept him occupied with some small T1 land armies as "bait" for his radar (he rarely ever scouts anything at all, least of which your main base), as well as some "annoying" with UEF Sparkies while I spent all my mass on upgrading to T2 mex, ringing them and starting T3 mex upgrades; while investing the rest into power, engineers and a T3 air factory to just put an end to the grindy game with 11-12 Ambassadors to his ACU. This takes time however, and is not really what I'd call an entertaining way to play the game.

He played as he does every single game. Starting out with expanding, totally unprotected engineers out of his first factory, and if they reach their intended expansions, he builds a single T1 PD and T1 AA before factory making it extremely open for a swift denial if you just pay attention with your early raiding units. If you fail to take it down early, he will build Lobos (practically never tanks) for scout-less harassment and defence, until he can fill that base with T2 PD, and T2 artillery if you try to kill the base. His end game is practically always shield SACUs point defence creeping across the map and a Novax followed by a Duke. My strat snipe came shortly after he plowed all his resources into the Novax.

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If you consistently beat people like that, they will recognize you, and they can start to ctrl-k long before you get to that point. Once they realize that you are going to take your time, and crush them, and that they can't possibly win, they should ctrl-k. After a while, you will get them to ctrl-k 5-10 minutes into a match. You can also just ask people to leave. If you have total map control and more T3 mexes than the turtle, you can just type into chat "I have more T3 mexes than you. You should give up so we can play the next game." Try communicating with people. Be polite and don't try to bully people into quitting games where they still have a chance of winning.

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@SteelTalon I've watched a few of his replays and I think I'm starting to develop a similar obsession. I just watched an Open Palms that went for 1hr 40 before Derek conceded because he was tired. It was so strange to watch.

He's really very good at what he does. To start with I thought that it was almost a script he was running, there's such a planned and consistent approach to it. But he deals with threats quickly and efficiently, and in ways that suggests he's never read any theory of how to play FA, he just understands it incredibly well on his own terms. He's got this laser focus towards things that can hit hard from far away and he's very, very good at using them. At one point on the 1:40 Open Palms he deals with some mobile T3 arty shelling his shields by making a factory and spamming Lobos out of it. And it worked perfectly!

Have you got replays where he loses? I'd love to see a properly high-level player against him just to see if he can force them into his playstyle, but any replay of him losing would be interesting.

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@Wainan said in Unusual tactic in 1v1 ladder games:

Have you got replays where he loses? I'd love to see a properly high-level player against him just to see if he can force them into his playstyle, but any replay of him losing would be interesting.

I just watched a few replays and wow this guy is an absolute legend! Somehow I never realised quite how crazy 800 games are.

I'd give him maybe 10 minutes on palms, but could be less