100 days of ladder


For 100 (non consecutive) days I have decided to commit to improving ladder skill by playing regularly and reflecting on my games. Inspired by someone doing the same a long time ago, I have decided to post this to hold myself accountable and to share insights from my journey.

I have been stuck at 1600-ish ladder for a long time, and become quite rusty, mainly due to not wanting to put in the time and effort into playing and getting better (and not laddering). My current goal is to get to 1800, but I first have to be able to play at a 1600 level again and improve.

I hope that this journey motivates other players to improve and enjoy FAF as much as I do.

Day 1 (April 26th): Well this went about as well as I expected. Played 2 games and lost both, but will not be discouraged. I made some bad trades, underbuilt build power, had poor radar coverage, and sent my units to the wrong spots. My ACU went into the middle of the map where there was nothing, instead of holding down an expansion, and I let small raiding groups pull large amounts of my tanks out of position.

Right now I am focusing on what units I build and where I send them. I'm including a bit more t1 arty in the mix, as well as a few more land scouts. This increase has to come from somewhere, and means slightly less tanks, but I think this will be worth it. Also building more engineers and making sure they are being useful. A benefit of not having played in a while is that my old habits feel slightly easier to change.

Are you two months out? It's April 27th today.

Good call. I'm stuck around 1300, often I think due to struggling to notice everything going on (at least, I'm bad at stopping drops and at finding ways of doing damage).

Good to see another Ladder player return so thereโ€™s less chance of playing Laissezfairy.

If you want any games left me know! Happy to play.

Gl with that. Also got abit inspired to climb ladder again.

"Good luck and a safe landing commanders!"

Thanks for your support everyone! And yes, I accidentally said February instead of April, will fix that.

Day 2 (April 27th): Less one sided today, with one win and one loss. Admittedly my win was due to my opponent forgetting to build power on a mass-heavy map. My second game was on eye of the storm. I have seen people play but severely underestimated how much power is needed for that map, leading me to lose my air advantage and get sniped.

I have realised something important about myself and it is my obsession with eco-balance. I always strive to be floating in both mass and power, this is in-theory good but sometimes leads me to building the wrong stuff for fear of a stall. There were several times during the past few days where I thought 'I should build gun because I have a lot of power' rather than 'I should build gun because I need gun.' Trying to maintain perfect eco balance is also taking apm away from more important macro stuff. I'll still make sure to stay relatively baloanced, but a bit of e-overflow is alright to have, at least at my level.

This is a really cool journey to chronicle! Might I suggest also adding links to the replays you played in addition to the recaps for our viewing pleasure?

Thanks Archsimkat, that is a good idea, will do from now on.

Day 3 (april 28th): Won a game on firelight due to having better ACU positioning and being more aggressive. Admittedly it was against someone far below me in rating, although he played quite well in the first half.

Until now I have mostly looked at replays I lost, however, I think looking at games I win will also be helpful. In this game I lost a few units unnecessarily, let my opponent get mid reclaim without contesting it, and launched an attack that would have failed if my opponent had built pd. I was also a bit uncoordinated with my bombers, sending them in before I had a good first target

I actually learned that fidelity settings matter, as my low fidelity actually made the terrain harder to read. There were a couple times where I was confused why my Acu was shooting the ground or when I thought units could pass through an area that was actually a cliff. It was quite interesting to watch the replay and see what the map really looked like.

My work on getting better unit mix is starting to pay off, I now always have scouts in the mix, as well as arty when needed. I also make more of an effort to keep them alive, rather than letting them run in first and die.

However, I have to be careful about whether my analysis is actually correct and helping me to win games. It could be that I am just derusting or getting used to my opponents. I need to keep playing and see if what I say holds up against better players.

Here is the replay: 16908559-Evan_.zip. Does this format work well for you guys or is there a better way to share games?

If you would be interested I could give you a short training to give you some pointers, we could then repeat that every say 2 weeks and post the training sessions on the FAF's YT and make it into a mini-series. I think it could motivate and help some people that are considering getting into the competitive side of the game by making sure that they know what to focus on and how to improve quickly.

For replays you can just share the replay ID, don't think there is a need for a zipped file.

Hey, thanks Tagada, I would actually really appreciate that and it means a lot to me to take the time and effort to help. My equipment and monitor is fairly old, so the session would likely have to be recorded on your end (this may be better anyways so viewers can see what you are talking about). I'll reach out to you in discord and we can figure this out.

@evan_ said in 100 days of ladder:

Here is the replay: 16908559-Evan_.zip. Does this format work well for you guys or is there a better way to share games?

Sharing the replay id is sufficient. People can use that to search in the vault:


And a list of the replay ids so far:

@Evan_ you can find the replay ids yourself here:


  • red: go to replays tab, local replays tab
  • blue: select a replay
  • green: click the copy replay URL button

And good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

How many games a day would you like to play?

Sorry for my English. I use translator

It started out as 2 or so, but I will likely go down to one or so (on most days) due to internet bandwidth caps.

day 4 (April 29th): Ok so today was a learning experience on 20km maps. Lost both due to prioritizing the wrong things and falling behind in production.

In the first game (replay #16918378) I had bad rally points, didn't expand quickly enough, and I didn't account for what my power would look like after I got my hydro (in this map a hydro exists somewhat near the spawn). This made me overbuild power at the start, falling behind in mass and production. In the end I wound up dying to a large t2 land army.

In the second game on Sera Glaciers (replay #16918573) I made way too much power before the air factory which delayed the first transport. I also sent engis out which should have been building the first air factory. My transport was seriously delayed because of this, and I essentially gave up much of the map for free. Tried to win back an advantage with a risky t3 air rush which did not work out.

I took some time after to get a handle on the builds and be better prepared for next time. I took a look at what my opponents did and why it was a better build/strategy.

Day 5 (April 30th): Another two games, another two defeats. Another two learning opportunities.

My first game (replay #16923479) started out really well, taking down multiple engies with Labs, however I lost an incredible amount of stuff to bombers. I kept thinking I had everything under control with a bit of aa, however it was never in the right spot and in enough quantity. To make things worse, I had built power far outside of my base as that was where I had engies at the time, so I couldn't protect it. I should have made an air factory a lot earlier.

My second game took place on fields of ISIS (replay #16923681). Not used to maps like these and it shows. Better that I learn now than have to later I guess. Bombers were an issue again here. I got air up to deal with them, however it delayed my expansion and I lost interceptors to him, and never regained air control. This came from building my second air and third land at the same time, in different places, which delayed both, which came from me not wanting one of the engis to spend the travel time to move to the other.

Both ACU's went to one of the reclaim fields. I made a serious mistake here which is to reclaim everything immediately, much faster than I could spend it. I knowingly did this, and I think this comes from me instinctually expecting a fight for early mid reclaim. However my opponent was at the other field, ingrained from games on other maps. I should have instead have waited until I had spent the mass. I made further mistakes in the game getting my ACU caught by an opposing guncom and lost a lot of units and territory to save it, which eventually snowballed into defeat (I also accidentally upgraded 2 mexes to T3).

My main takeaway here is that I'm trying to rush things out of urgency instead of doing them correctly. Building stuff right next to where one of my engis is, rather than where it should be, was a serious problem in both games. Reclaiming before I could use it was also an example. This habit is going to be tough to kick but I am aware of it now. I also need to get more practice with maps like Isis and Regor, where the ACU's go to different spots and do not directly fight each other.

Overall this was a pretty constructive day. I like that I can still learn interesting things about the game and how I play.

Evan, forgive me if I should not give detailed feedback here on your replays, but wanted to give you some insight on your first game on the 30th on the map gen:

First and foremost, I think the biggest thing I noticed was that your opponent (Cascade) kept his ACU in base longer, utilizing the build power to get factories up and running. Your raids were good, but they did not do enough damage to cause him to stall on mass nor energy, allowing him to get more units up. At the 2:50 mark of the game:

Evan ACU sent to expand while Cascade's is still in base

As stated, your raids were good and took out a good amount of his engineers, but if you zoom out and do a reclaim view (ctrl+shift default, if you did not know) you can see there is 4k+ reclaim on the map in large concentrations. His lone, surviving engineer provided enough income to keep operations smooth. With this, he has 2 land factories + air up while you are working on your 3rd land factory:

alt text

On that note, you did not send an engineer to the corner where there is - what appears to be - 5+ factories (~200 each) worth of reclaim or 25+ tanks .

At around 6-7 minutes in your ACU and his have exchanged fire to the point where his has ~3k hp and yours has ~4.6k hp: ALWAYS bully a Cybran ACU, especially as Sera/UEF where you have a big hp advantage. I personally would have sent my army to that side to put pressure on him and possibly end the game there and then.

In addition, you never got any air presence as he kept 1 t1 bomber attacking your air fact, destroying the unit in production. A bit after he sends 2 more bombers and they get dozens of passes without any interruption: keep at least 1 t1 maa back in your base without moving it to prevent this as it certainly was a huge factor in costing the game:

alt text

Around 10 mins (not much game after this) you can see that after a major fight Cascade "won the reclaim field" and was able to simply overwhelm you:

alt text


So, main lesson for this game in my opinion:


It does not matter if the map is 5x5, 10x10, 15x15, 20x20, etc; the player(s) whom get more reclaim tend to WIN the games. Going forward, especially on map gen, zoom out while teleporting in, and hold ctrl+shift so you can pre-plan how you will go about playing the map.

Hope this helps and adds to your success! If you want me to remove this post let me know.

Morax is a bully ๐Ÿ˜›

"Good luck and a safe landing commanders!"

Thanks for the advice @Morax I really appreciate it (and the pictures help me see as well). I didn't even realise how much reclaim there was until you pointed it out, and as you said the maa placement was pretty bad.

Day 6 (May 2nd): I think I'm starting to get better although today's game (Replay 16945374) did not end well. It was a mapgen game on an interesting water map, so it gave me some experience with an area I need more of. After the game, I reviewed the replay and then ran into Swkoll, who watched the replay and mentioned things I had missed completely. I'll try and compare what our different thoughts were to illustrate the difference in mindset.

Things were going well at first, I had secured the naval reclaim due to having more mass in frigates, but I lost (suicided) air and my comm was killed by torps. I need to strike a balance between using my acu to reclaim and keeping it safe. I'm getting better at spamming less factories than I really need but I still overbuilt on frigates and torps. I've often had trouble recognizing when I have more than enough navy to win, usually it is the opposite, so in this game I wound up with more than I needed before I realised. This game will help me figure out when I have made too much of something even if it isn't causing me to stall.

I also was late on getting some of the reclaim and let my opponent take some from my side. I also really underestimated how much power T2 and T3 air would use. I think mass stalling for a while blinded me to having not enough energy. As soon as I was finally able to use the mass I didn't have the energy.

Swkoll mainly highlighted bad trades with navy, idle units/ACU, missed reclaim, and spending mass andpower on stuff I didn't need (extra factories, T3 before I could spend it, too many mex at the same time, etc). Another thing Swkoll mentioned was adding in T1 bombers into my air queue. This would give me bombers before I need them, which would be helpful on larger maps in saving apm and attention, especially against Zthuees. He gave a lot of good advice, too much to give more than a brief summary of. He also predicted how the game would go as it went. A big difference is that Swkoll doesn't see my biases or rationalising so he stays completely objective, and is also much more experienced. Going forward I will try to view my games as an outsider, while also figuring out why I do the things I do. As an example, I think I realised why I miss so much reclaim in certain games. Aside from ignoring many of the smaller rocks, I also am used to all the mass being gone after the first few minutes, so I stop looking for it and trying to go for it except where there are fights.

There's a new map pool out, and with it new adventures! Also noticed a lot of people like Femboy, Techhousenoob, Grimplex and Harzer making useful ladder content. I'm still planning to train with Tagada as well. so the next few weeks will be quite eventful.

Day 7 (May 3rd): I played some more ladder today and looked at all the content people have been putting out. Tagada's post on advanced build-orders in particular has been interesting, although I need to focus on the fundamentals first.

Unfortunately I did not win today's game. You may have noticed that my win-loss rate has not been very good since I started. I accepted when I started this that it would take a while to show results. But I will get to 1800, even if I have to get to 800 first.

It takes a while to kick bad habits and this game (replay 16949513) was a good example. The map (Zeuthea valley) has a lot of resources to grab and many different lanes. I think I misread how open the map was at first (having a lot of terrain barriers does not mean less aggressive). I wasn't as suicidal with units but lost a lot of engineers to labs and wasted my bombers/air. I also did not attack on my opponents side of the map as much as I should have, often focusing entirely on defense while my opponent got large parts of the map for free.

Fortunately I think the game shows some slight signs of improvement. I had enough buildpower in the base and didn't suffer any serious stalls. I also made more of an attempt to rebuild mexes I had lost. For a while I was even slightly ahead on the ratio of units killed, although my opponent was always ahead in score. I had Morax's advice to try harder to get the reclaim as well, although I often without realising found myself taking my reclaiming engis and using them for something else like a drop.

This leads into the next point. I've uncovered yet another issue of mine that has gone unnoticed until now: Move overriding. I will give a move order to a unit and then give another order to override it. An example of this is when I put an attack order on a lab that had slipped through, only to change it into a move order for some reason, which caused the lab to escape and continue to cause trouble. I would also retreat units when I shouldn't, select way more units than I need to in order to deal with a runby, and so on, wasting time and resulting in worse outcomes than if I had left the order. A big part of this is me trying to play faster when I think I'm not keeping up. On maps like this, it often feels as if you are perpetually behind, as even if you get everything important on your side of the map it can look as if you only control a small portion of it. I need to strike a balance between always thinking I am losing and thinking that I need to keep playing as hard as I can to win.

This concludes the first 7 days of the journey. If I try to focus on correcting everything at once I'll probably collapse, so for now I'm just working on better trades, getting reclaim, better unit mix, wasting less resources, and reading the map better. The new pool is a good chance to do this. I want to prepare for it but I also want to go in blind for some of the maps and then compare how I think it plays vs how it actually plays.

If you see me in FAF and are within around 250 points of me, feel free to ask me to ladder.

Day 8 (May 5th): Finally some success again, admittedly against someone lower rated than me. I played two games today. Both were technically victories although the first one was because my opponent ctrl-k'ed really early due to getting his ACU stuck.

In the second game (Replay 16963727) it was a much tougher fight. The map was twin rivers. We both raided each other with labs, delaying eachother's start. Until recently I forgot Mantis now have the square icon so I was a bit alarmed at first. We also bombed each other, with my scorcher probably being the only reason I didn't lose by taking out 4 pgens and 2 engis. Most of the battles took place on my side of the map afterwards. This time I was able to stay much more calm and deal with the raids, as well as rebuild after.

I think my build order could use some work. I didn't queue up much with my ACU at the start, which meant I had to spend more apm and time with it later. I also sent my ACU to what I think is the wrong spot, and had to spend time pulling it back. I will watch some better players and see what they do on this map.

Another issue I had was trying to launch attacks that wouldn't work. I have been trying to be a lot more aggressive and take the initiative but I launched multiple incursions that just wasted units. Strikers are never really going to be able to raid against Mantis unless there are a lot more, I'm not blaming my difficulties on faction choice, but it is something I need to keep in mind. If I had just been a bit less hotheaded I would have seen that I had a noticeable lead in eco and that all the wrecks were on my side of the map. My opponent delayed his expansion and mex upgrades to get more attacking units. Having not scuted I assumed he had the eco that I had but with a unit lead, and so I tried to make risky attacks that didn't pay off. This led to my opponent destroying much more of my tanks than I did his, keeping him in the game.

Getting reclaim was once again an issue for me as I constantly found myself losing my own engis. Forget the natural reclaim, I couldn't even get the wrecks most of the time. I had engineers, but many were in the wrong spot, and I issued orders to assist a nearby factory rather than having them take the time to wander over and reclaim. I atleast managed to get one island and contest the other, although it was very late for both of us.

In the end my opponent suicided his Gun ACU into My Gun ACU and units. I'm not sure what would have happened if he had not, as I was just beginning to stabilize at T2 and get the reclaim, but my opponent still had a large lead in land and air units and had almost caught up on eco, as well as having more map control.

How have you guys been finding these reports? Does anyone relate to the issues I am trying to fix with my playstyle? Anyone feel inspired to try and get better with me?