DISCLAIMER: Although I'm already aware that in general, even the most "toxic" players on FAF want everybody to be better at this game and are very helpful in pointing people to the resources they need to improve, I feel it's necessary to point out that my reasons for doing a game analysis are purely for my own education and not as some kind of attempt to flex. My 1v1 rating was -72 when the game started and -45 when it ended. It's been as low as -376. In no universe is there a reason for me to flex, so relax, I know I'm terrible. But I want to get better so I'm using this primarily as a way to work through my own thoughts on what I did right and what I did wrong, and if anyone has any helpful comments I'll be happy to read them.
Map: Festea VII
Less than a week ago I was so frustrated with this map that I made a point of saying so on #aeolus. Nobody cared, of course. I realized that the reason I said that was that I was hoping someone there would tell me I need to study the map then. So I studied the map. What I realized is that I need to get better at reading terrain. This is actually a pretty good map for someone of my skill level, because there are only 3 points of entry by land, which should be easily enough defended.
Opponent: gliffer_slash (0)
I assume that zero rated players are new to FAF but not necessarily new to SupCom. I've been gutted by a number of zero rated players, hence the -376 and the slow crawl out of the basement. I've also played a number of players with lower ratings than me that were better, and >0 rated players who were worse, so I've learned not to sit back and relax, no matter what the rating is. Really, gliffer_slash is not a bad player compared to me and it was not a cakewalk, but he did make some errors that allowed me to win.
Like many new players, I struggle with build order. I especially struggle because I'm trying to incorporate reclaim into my build orders, and that takes a lot of attention/APM that is the most scarce resource in every game I play. Also, in the game previous to this one I was rushed by bombers and realized that I had to find a way to get some interceptors into the air quicker, and as Crag Dunes was the map that this happened on, that was the map I used to work that out. Unfortunately, once the game started and I hit CTRL-SHIFT to take a look at the reclaim situation, I realized that this map doesn't have a ton of concentrated mass lying around, so I kind of abandoned that part of my eco strategy for a bit and just sent my engineers out to build mex's.
The build order I'm using is as follow:
Land Factory with commander, building engie x 1, LAB x 2, then engie x 5
2 pgens with commander
2 mex's with commander
1 pgen with commander
2 mex's with commander
1 pgen with commander
The commander-built pgens were built all next to the land factory.
The first engie that comes out I had build 4 pgens perpendicular to the ones the commander built, and then an air factory such that it received an adjacency bonus from all 8 pgens. Once the commander was done its build order I had it assist the engineer on the remaining pgens and air factory.
The LABs I had run down either side of the map to hunt for engineers. The LAB on the right unsuspectingly encountered my opponent's commander (blap), and the one of the left ended up being reclaimed by the engineer he encountered. I didn't even know that was a thing. Moving on.
As I said, my developments in learning proper build orders thus far have depended on a fair amount of mass reclaim available, and when I realized that this was not a feature of this map, I panicked and just sent the 5 engineers on mex building missions. As a result of this and my attempt to build pgens to prevent power locking upon building an air factory, I did mass lock for a bit. Fortunately, in my confusion I ended up sending the engie that was building those pgens on a mex building mission, which relieved the lock enough that my commander could finish building the 4 mex's at the starting location. Then I took another engineer and continued to build the pgens I needed and the air factory.
On the subject of engineers - I really don't know what an appropriate number of engineers is, and when. When I played vanilla SupCom single-player I would always have a factory spamming T1 engies (most build power / mass cost) on a control number and I would just move the whole mess wherever I needed build power. When I started playing FAF I had to adjust to engie-mod, where it makes more sense to build factories to get build power. As a result I scaled back my production of engies for the sole purpose of early base expansion, but then there are always times when a big cloud of engies might be useful, so that's something I need to investigate further. Anyway, that's the reason I only built 6 engineers out of the gate and put that first factory on army production.
Here's the unit composition I've been using and my reasons for it:
First off, I've been reading https://forum.faforever.com/topic/766/ladder-1v1-beginner-intermediate-and-advanced-topics-by-arma473 like it's a bible, and one of the things it says is a tank to artie ratio of 5:1 is ideal. I have read other resources that suggest having a scout bike in the mix, MAA in the mix, and an engie in the mix. I'm sure there are better unit compositions for different situations but I've reached the conclusion that for someone of my skill level, as varied a unit composition as possible is probably the safest bet. So,
- Tank (tanks provide hit-points, and thus survivability, and a DPS soak, so you need lots)
- Scout Bike (provides short range intel and extends weapons range)
- Mobile Anti-air (nobody's winning wars with T1 MAA, but they do soften up bombers so that they do less damage before an intie can deal with them)
- Artillery (it took me a while to realize that despite the >2x DPS of an artie vs a tank and somewhat similar HP, artillery is only useful against stationary targets, and without a bunch of tanks to stop an opposing force from moving forward, arties are useless, so only 1 for every 5 tanks)
- LAB (almost same DPS as a tank, but far less HP... my rationale here is that I want some speed on the field for quick, short range raids on mex's)
- Engie (for building mex's as territory is gained, for building point defense/static AA to hold a position, for building radars, for building forward factories)
Now, I also realize that this unit composition might be ideal for the first run, and then it might be a good idea going forward to reduce the concentration of certain units, for example, you probably don't need 20 scout bikes mixed in with a blob of 100 tanks. At this point in my "career", I don't have the attention/APM to be that exacting with such things, and at any rate, scout bikes are the cheapest things you can build besides walls, so really, I think I'm getting a good mass cost on attention/APM.
Out of the first air factory:
- Air Scout
Bomber first because they're slow, and by the time it's near its target and likely to need intelligence, the scout is probably already built (it's cheap) and ahead of the bomber. Second bomber because either a) the first bomber got killed but the target has been softened, or b) the first bomber isn't dead because the opponent hasn't got their AA out yet, and I should jump on the opportunity to do some damage.
At that point it's a decision on how to continue with that air factory. If he's also sending bombers my way then I need to start making inties. To be honest, I don't even know if he was making bombers, but I got fucked so hard in my last game that I just started making inties.
- 3 Inties
- 1 Air Scout
Now, the reason for the star-shaped patrol is because it's another good price to pay for attention/APM. It's not something a 2k player is ever going to do, and I realize that air combat is something I will have to get better at going forward. But also, the opponents I'm facing at this point don't really require better air play, so it's fine for now. Also, it does give me a couple advantages in return for what I lose by not micro'ing it a bit more - the 5 point star shape gives good coverage, both on the interior and exterior of my territory. Also, it didn't happen in this game but I do often select all my inties with a hotkey and give them specific targets, and the advatage of having them all flying around in a cloud is that on average, every intie is just as close to anywhere else on the map than every other intie, as opposed to guessing on a good place to stage them where they'll be in a good place to react but also safe.
EDIT: So as I'm typing this, I'm watching the replay, and I realized that I fucked up. I didn't build the second group of pgens so that they would be adjacent to the air factory, i built them on the land factory. Like I said, I panicked a bit.
Next, with that first land factory producing units to defend the east point of entry, I proceeded to build factories to cover the west and south points of entry. Same unit composition. Then I built 3 more factories to assist the factories building units for the 3 points of entry. At that point I started power stalling, so I started building pgens with my commander and reclaiming trees with idle engineers. Once my power situation was dealt with, I built another 2 air factories to spam out bombers. An argument could be made that I should have built more land factories (mass was overflowing), but in previous games I had abandoned the bomber campaign as soon as my opponent had static AA on the field, and I wanted to see if I could overcome it, and also my opponent was not making any sort of push via land so I figured I had some time. Ultimately, my opponent built a lot of static AA and bombers proved ineffective at clearing a path to hit his hydro. At that point, I had started building land factories to build attacking armies for the middle and eastern passages, which caused a power stall, then a mass stall, so I put my intie spam and one bomber factory on pause.
Once the first units of my middle passage attack force reached their rally point at his northern entry point, he attacked with an army that had some T2 tanks and began to push through the passage. At that point I should have thought about starting to upgrade to T2 myself but I was in the throughs of a mass stall, and despite not having the intelligence to make such a determination (no radars built the whole game... derp), I figured I had the T1 spam to deal with it if he got as far as my southern entry point. Fortunately I was right, even if it required the assistance of the army defending my western entry point. Also, again without intelligence to justify it, I figured that he had committed a good percentage of his forces to this push, and despite the fact that I might have been leaving myself open to a counter-attack that I couldn't defend, I pushed down the east passage with the army that was defending my eastern entry point. Once the battle in the middle passage had concluded, I realized he was pushing up the western passage, so I desperately attempted to run half of the army in the middle passage to help cover the vulnerable force I had at the western entry point. Fortunately I managed to contain his advance.
My attack on his eastern point of entry was successful enough, in that I had won a battle of attrition and was able to start softening up his structures, but I didn't have the units to push any further from the east. I can't talk enough about how disappointed I am in my lack of intel, so I won't bother. Regardless, I had the FEELING that I had him on his heels, so I pushed forward with whatever I had, which in this case was a limited force at his northern entry point. Again, I was fortunate that I had guessed correctly and that he had committed to defending my eastern attack. I managed to take out some T2 mex's and a land factory. Also, by that point his AA was less of a factor and I was able to make use of some bombers I had lying in wait.
In terms of land forces, again with a complete lack of intel that I'm embarrassed to fess up to, I decided to let my armies collect at their rally points at his north and east entrance points, while at the same time pushing forward in the west. In truth, I didn't do a very good job on the west side of the map: I was fortunate that he valued the west side of the map as poorly as I did. I could have easily won the battle on the west side, if I had built units as I did in the middle and east, but because of my own miscalculation/laziness/lack of attention, my push on the west side was limited to a purely diversionary tactic. It worked, although not perfectly. My waypoint was too far forward, which caused me to lose units unnecessarily. In a rare moment when I had the attention to pay towards this maneuver, I pulled the waypoint back to allow my units to collect into some semblance of a formidable force.
As insignificant as it might be in the whole scheme of things, I think I might be the most proud of this particular action. I have, for so long, depended on the automation of things in this game. There's a reason why my 1v1 rating was -375, and is currently -45. I don't think I'll ever get to 2k+, but I think I'm allowed to take a certain amount of limited pride, as a sub-zero rated player, in the realization that I'm not HITLER... I have to give my troops reasonable orders... I'm ultimately responsible for their well-being... It might just be a game, but the health of my units = the health of my strategy/tactics...
At any rate, my western push was more successful than I had hoped, considering my limited resources. Again, my lack of intel prevented me from knowing things that are clear in the replay, and I endeavor to take no credit from "hunches". I need to do a better job of radar and scouting. But I would be lying if I said that I didn't think that this push was a worthy endeavor, on a hunch, and luckily I was right: my opponent did move his commander west to try and minimize damage.
At this point, in an attempt to avoid a full analysis of my opponent's skill and strategy, which I am clearly not qualified to provide, I will point out that I have learned a lot by reading what the high-level players of this game have suggested I read.
There's a lot here, but if I can give any advice from one noob to another... you don't need Tech2, and you certainly don't need Tech3... at some point, we all will need to figure out how to upgrade to higher tech levels to compete, but if you're playing ME, it means you're terrible, and if you're terrible, it means you haven't figured out Tech1...
The secret to Tech1 = spam... spam land factories... they're actually pretty cheap, and you can pause them if you get mass locked... and from them, spam T1 units... just spam tanks if you don't know what else to do... I'm not smart/fast enough to realize that you don't have a good mixture of mobile AA... and I'm too stupid to attack your army with bombers anyway... I'm usually more focused on taking out your power, which can easily be solved with, what, 2 static AA?
The point is, my opponent's solution in this game, even though Tech2 didn't help him, was to upgrade to Tech3... That's when I knew I had him...
Tech2 is a great compliment to a GREAT Tech1 army... Tech2 gatling bots add DPS and range that will blap a T1 army into non-existence... T2 tanks are the most efficient source of hit points, by mass cost, of any unit... T2 Missile WILL get rid of pesky T1 point defense... but a purely T2 army is useless, because it's almost impossible to manufacture T2 units as fast T1 spam... I haven't done the calculations on the build time on a T2 tank vs a T1 tank, regardless of resource cost, but I suspect it's not good...
and T3 is much the same... ya, T3 bots are great, but if they're the sole target of a simple T1 army consisting of 20 or so tanks, they're dead...
And so that's what happened... my opponent made a last ditch effort to produce T3 bots... they overkilled a few T1 tanks and then I skullfucked his commander... one could argue that I had already won the game minutes ago, but he probably could have prolonged it by spamming T1 at that point, and he certainly could have made it very difficult, if not impossible, by sticking with T1 when he went to T2 in the first place...
Things I Did Right:
There aren't many. I think sticking with Tech1 is the only thing I did right.
Things I Did Wrong:
There are many. Too many to bother. The main things I don't like are all related to eco:
- I didn't build mex's as I acquired territory in the middle
- I didn't bother with transports to get engies to mass points that weren't pathable
- I didn't upgrade T1 mex's to T2 because i was either mass locked or attention locked
All in all, I think this is one of the best games I've played, but I'm also concerned for the future. I know that with every increase in rating comes more difficult opponents. I don't know if I have the real-world lifestyle that allows me to keep improving. I know that I thoroughly love this game and have the time to consider the meta, but I don't know if I have the time to do the in-game work to apply the meta properly.
But I love the fact that my favorite game has a META. This is such a hard game. Yesterday I wanted to quit forever because I got gutted by a bomber rush. I love that I wanted to quit yesterday and now I'm here writing a novel on my game with a legit zero-rated noob.
I'm having so much fun. Consider that when you make decisions for the future of FAF.