1v1 Ladder Guide for New Players and Intermediate/Advanced Topics
Welcome to FAF. We are glad you are here.
I’m glad that you have decided to play 1v1 ladder games. That is the purest and most intimate way to play Forged Alliance. It is the best way to develop well-rounded skills for Forged Alliance.
But it is not easy, and at first it can be overwhelming, even if you have played many team games. Or, perhaps you have played many ladder games, and you just keep losing.
The fun stuff in FAF is marching your armies around, but you need an economy to build an army. You need an economy to build a T4 experimental doom weapon. You need to build up your economy, and not die, to get to the part of the match where you get to decide “should I go for T2 navy, and build up an awesome fleet, or should I go for T2 air first to raid him with gunships?” I want to help you to get there, so you can have fun.
I split this guide into 5 parts, which are set out in separate forum posts below. They are linked here:
Part 1: a strong start is for players who still don’t know how or why they should push out of their base.
Part 2: moving out gives a little more advice about how to get out of your base. These are intended for people having trouble getting past 250 rating points on the 1v1 ladder, but they’re worth a quick read even if your rating is better.
Part 3: big maps and master turtles deals with specific matchups that may frustrate low-rated players.
Part 4: intermediate ladder concepts is advice aimed at more advanced ladder warriors. If your rating is somewhere in the 250-500 point range, you should get a lot of value out of these.
Part 5: lessons from Zock is a summary of advice from one of the top players of all time, that he gave in personalized 1-on-1 lessons, which he uploaded to YouTube. That is intended for advanced ladder warriors. Even players at and above 1,000 rating points will probably find something of interest in what Zock teaches.
Please read before commenting:
Any corrections where the guide is wrong are appreciated. I welcome any discussion in this thread in more depth about any of these issues and any other advice that you think would be valuable.
I appreciate the perspective of higher-rated players (obviously they know what they are doing) and I also appreciate the perspective of lower-rated players (because this guide is for you, and you know what it is like to try to learn this stuff). Please keep discussion civil and don’t drag out arguments. Don’t try to get the last word. Accept that people are going to disagree about things. Make your point, make your post count by stating your opinion as clear as you can, and then stop posting, let other people say their opinion. We don’t need 20 posts in this thread of back-and-forth between two people who disagree about one thing.
I tried to include only the advice that I think you would find most useful. Part 4 in particular is a list of the things that I wish someone had told me when I hit about 400 rating points. “Okay arma, you’re a big boy now, you are ready to hear this.” Instead, I had to learn it the hard way. No, I don’t mean playing ladder matches. I was not smart enough to learn this stuff for myself just by playing the game. I learned it from watching YouTube videos and Twitch streams, and chatting directly with better players.
I am grateful to everyone who has responded to my questions, given me advice during games, shared advice and wisdom in Twitch chat, and especially everyone who streams and casts games (their own, and replays). Thanks also go to @Biass and @FtXCommando for providing a little very valuable feedback regarding this guide.
@MazorNoob said in Why would you have left FAF?:
How about we make use of the achievement system and make a bunch of low-effort scenarios to beat?
How about we make use of the achievement system and make a bunch of low-effort scenarios to beat?
Yes, and have the client keep track of user progression. Treat each simple scenario as a lesson, so when one is finished the client can suggest the next one. The client itself would encourage low-rated players to play these scenarios.
Some of them would have limited tech. So you might have a scenario where the only possible thing you can do to survive/win is to spam land factories and T1 tanks (because the other units/buildings are disabled). In this way, players would learn how to do a simple build order and how to spam T1.
So some scenarios would be about teaching people to build/use a single unit. The campaign already does that, but not as well as it could. For one thing, campaign missions tend to be too long. And they encourage turtle-style gameplay. A scenario that encouraged a faster start (encouraging a fast build order so they can deal with immediate threats) and then taught players to use a particular unit and only lasted 8 minutes would be better than a 30-minute campaign mission turtlefest.
Or just have a premade base to skip past the turtle phase. Mix it up between teaching build orders and skipping them entirely. Just giving people premade bases with adjacency bonuses in place will give them the idea to make bases like that for themselves. If noobs have a hard time even imagining making 12 land factories with mex adjacency and only 15 pgens (most noobs would get 50+ pgens before their 12th land factory....), then drop them into a lesson where they start with that and they will start to think that it's normal.
You could have a scenario where there are no mexes close to home, so the player would have to take reclaim to get started, fight there way to more reclaim, before they could fight their way to some mexes, and then have a normal game against an easy AI from there. So the player could learn how to use light artillery to break some civilian PD, with limited mass so they have to build the correct unit types. Maybe in that scenario they don't even get an ACU (no generated mass/power + you can't bulldoze through the PD with your ACU).
There would also be scenarios where the only goal is to grow your economy to a certain size. There might not even be enemies at all in these scenarios. That would help to teach players about how to grow their economy efficiently. And they would always have a few examples of replay files they could watch to see how other people did it. So a lot of the lessons would essentially be puzzles: "you can do this 8-minute puzzle to learn the game better."
Every scenario would be intended to teach a small amount of information in a memorable way. Some would be more open ("beat this AI, however you want to do it") and others would be much more rigid ("overwhelm 3 triads by making a lot of lobos and then the scenario ends immediately").
How about a scenario where there are no mexes, no ACUs, you start with 4 land facs, 20 tanks, 5 engineers, and 1 scout plane, the AI has like 70 tanks, and you have to scout out the map and pick off AI forces with "defeat in detail" in order to get enough reclaim to make new tanks to win. It would teach scouting, looking for mass-efficient fights, and taking reclaim. For some lessons, you completely remove eco management so they can focus on units. Other missions, completely remove combat stuff so they focus on eco. Instead of always throwing players into a situation where they can win by improving eco OR by being smarter with units (which doesn't specifically teach anything, it does push them to get better, but not in the same way as specifically teaching 1 skill/idea)
The idea would be, if a player completes all of the lessons, they should have enough skills to play at the low end of 1v1 ladder without feeling bad or to participate in low-end team games without feeling completely lost.
Rather than going for voice acting or lots of text in the scenario itself to explain things, the explanations should be kept brief and outside of the scenario, to make them easier to prepare. People who can't beat a scenario would watch replay files to learn how to do it. That way, there is no language barrier for anyone. The "mission briefing" in the client for each scenario (before you click on it to open it) could be a simple picture showing a good base layout along with arrows showing the order to make the buildings.
Having the lessons would be a way for people to get a sense of accomplishment, and an easy way to blow off steam if they're annoyed about losing. If they take some of that negative energy, and put it into completing lessons for 30 minutes, they would hopefully feel better about coming back to the competitive part of the game and trying again.
The worst thing is when people take that energy and spend it on playing pointless games against AI, which only teaches the players to turtle and not to learn new ways to play. "1 human + 3 AI vs 4 AI" is not a way to learn anything. Puzzles could provide more satisfaction, with not a lot more stress.
Of course we would also plant the message that once you finish all the lessons, you SIMPLY MUST try the ladder. Like: how can you complete all these lessons and NOT get on the ladder? You gotta show off your skills! We need you out there!
On a map with mass that can be reclaimed, like stones, you need to have factories that send out engineers to grab the mass. You can use a patrol order, which you don’t need to worry about, or you can do an attack move order, which gives the engineers extra reclaim range. If you use attack-move, you then press shift so you can see the attack move order and drag the factory attack move order to another place. If you keep moving the order around, the engineers that have been produced will then keep moving and reclaiming, but this takes your APM. When you have reclaimed about half of the stuff that can be reclaimed, stop making more engineers for reclaiming. At that point, let your existing engies finish reclaiming the things.
One advantage to have so many engineers reclaiming things is that you have build power around the map, that you can use to quickly build things like T1 anti-air turrets. If you are using gunships to raid, you want to kill engineers first before they can build up T1 anti-air.
THE TRANSITION TO T2
As soon as your tech 2 factory finishes, you want to try to get as much out of it by pushing out as many units as possible. The first few Tech 2 units (1-5) matter a lot, and are a lot more valuable than later Tech 2 units (like the 10th). So you want to assist your factory and crank out T2 units as soon as it gets online.
Tech 2 transition: the goal is, once you are tech 2, put 100% of your unit production into tech 2. But for Cybran, you also want medusa, Zock says “count” as tech 2. (Zock doesn’t say this, but it is okay to produce land scouts.) You don’t want to keep making mantis, unless you are using them for raids (like the way you might use LABs at the start of a match.) You don’t want to get overrun. If you completely stop your unit production in order to switch to tech 2 support factories, you will be very vulnerable. There could be a full minute where you have zero unit production. So you may want to upgrade 1-2 at a time before upgrading the next ones to Tech 2 factories. Even so, if you have lots of Tech 1 units, and you don’t want to play super aggressive, you could upgrade all Tech 1 at once. The goal is to upgrade to Tech 2 as fast as possible. If it is safe (because you have enough units) you would upgrade every single factory to Tech 2 at the same time. It is convenient to upgrade them 2-3 at a time, instead of all at once, because you can judge how much strain it puts on your economy.
Similarly, with Tech 3, once you get a Tech 3 factory, stop making Tech 2 junk. (It is fine to keep using MMLs, flak, and deceivers once you get to Tech 3, but stop making Tech 2 tanks.)
Would you ever increase your T1 production at the same time as you upgrade an HQ to T2? Only if you need to spend your mass super-badly. There can also be a situation where you start upgrading to T2 and you realize it was a mistake because you need more T1 units. You are vulnerable while you upgrade to T2 so you should try to make the upgrade happen as quickly as possible (lots of engineer assistance on the HQ). You should go to Tech 2 when you decide to go to Tech 2, not because of a habit or a simplistic rule.
Once both sides have T2 tanks, you don’t want to have mantis in the front of your army. The mantis won’t kill the enemy’s units, and they will just get in the way of your own T2 tanks. If you keep making mantis for your frontline force you are just wasting mass. You could pause the T1 factories (the ones making mantis) and use the mass to eco.
When you have T1 and T2, don’t move your whole army together. Move your rhinos up front as a concentrated fighting force. Keep the mantis behind, in case there is an all-in engagement. If he overruns your rhinos you can bring the mantis in as well. Until then, keep them out of the way.
When you transition to T2, you stop making T1. That is true regardless of your economic situation. It doesn’t matter if you are ahead or behind in economy. Just stop making the T1 tanks once you can make T2 tanks.
You want to make the transition complete as soon as possible, which means no more mantis. You can have a factory making mantis if you want to use them as raiding units, because they are fast. Zock’s example is to send out 3 mantis on a raiding mission to attack outlying T1 mexes. The point is to stop making mantis for use in combat once you can make rhinos.
Zock would avoid ecoing heavily AND upgrading to T2 at the same time. Do one, then the other. You can eco first, or you can go to T2 first. But if you try to do both at the same time, you will end up ecoing more slowly and it will take longer to finish your T2 factory.
Transition to Tech 2: you have to decide whether you can win with Tech 1. If not, then move to Tech 2 instead of building more T1 factories. If you can just make a few more T1 factories and spam units to defeat your opponent, then you can do that. But if both players make more and more T1 units, it stops being feasible to win with T1. So you should stop making T1 factories, and move to T2.
Some people go to Tech 2 very early. It is still a good idea to go tech 2 to match them, even if they are going very early. If you see your opponent going tech 2, you will usually have more tech 1 units than your opponent. You can try to use your tech 1 units to do damage. Especially if it is an early switch to tech 2, you might have a significant tank advantage. But you should not produce any more additional tech 1 units. By the time your new tech 1 units arrived at the front line, he would have tech 2 at the front line. You punish him with your existing tech 1 units, stop making tech 1 units, and transition to tech 2 as fast as you can. If you can’t punish your opponent for going tech 2, then it wasn’t a mistake for them to go tech 2.
At some point, think about: do you actually want more T1 factories, do you want more T1 units? Ask yourself this question. If the answer is “no,” then you go tech 2.
Here you can see the problem with having too many T1 tanks: they can’t all shoot at once and they will block each other. The tank blob is too big to be fully effective. If those were a mass-equivalent number of t2 tanks they could all be shooting.
The rule for Tech 2 factories is: the first unit out should be a T2 engineer. If you’re getting attacked and you have an immediate need for T2 combat units so you don’t just die, get the combat units. Otherwise, get a T2 engineer first, or two. Queue up 1-2 T2 engineers and then 30 T2 tanks. At some point, you should notice your Tech 2 engineer, you will want to give it an order (make a TMD, make a T2 pgen, etc.) and that should remind you to pay attention to your T2 factory to update the build queue. Tech 2 power is one of the best things about going to T2. Even if your first unit is not a T2 engie, you should queue them because you always want a T2 engineer eventually.
There is no rule to always make your Tech 2 headquarters after the 5th factory. There are a number of factors. It depends on the play style, the map, and the situation. If there is too much pressure on you (you need more t1 units so your commander doesn’t die) then don’t start upgrading a headquarters to tech 2. Ask yourself if having 10 more T1 units would make a difference for you. Can you actually win something with more tech 1, like taking away an expansion from your opponent? If not, then make Tech 2. A very simple rule, how to not lose against Tech 2: if your opponent is Tech 2, as soon as you see that, you also go Tech 2. If you don’t scout it too late, your Tech 2 will be in time against his Tech 2. You can also go Tech 2 before your opponent if you feel safe doing it. One good rule for new players is just to wait for your opponent to go Tech 2 before you do. Then you don’t have to worry while you are playing about when to go Tech 2. You can focus on other things.
THE TRANSITION TO T3
When you get a T3 factory up, you want to stop making T2 tanks/bots because T2 direct fire units are very inefficient against T3. (Note: this video is from early 2016, before the “T3 rebalance” happened, but it is probably still valid advice.) Just stop your T2 factories completely. T3 factories have much more build power than T2, so you don’t need very many of them to spend the same amount of mass.
You can still make flak, MMLs, deceivers, mobile shields, and T2 engineers. If the flak or MMLs are going to be part of your unit composition, make them out of the T3 factories. You don’t need to have a T2 factory cranking out flak next to a T3 factory making Percivals. (Zock does not specifically say this, but I think if you just want a couple units, like you want a T2 engineer for some special purpose, or you want to make a couple flaks for your base, it is perfectly fine to use your T2 factories to build that. There is no absolute rule that you are forbidden to use your T2 factories for any purpose. But according to Zock, your war production should only come out of T3 factories.)
In contrast to the transition to Tech 2, where you may have a need to keep making T1 units, once you get to the T3 stage, you can immediately completely stop making T2 tanks/bots. By the time you transition to T3, you should have enough engies to assist your T3 factory.
Zock describes using transports to move his first bricks from the T3 factory. He says a weaker player would just have them walk out of the factory. (By using transports, Zock gets his first bricks into the fight much faster. This goes back to what Zock was saying about your first five T2 units coming out of the T2 factory being more important than the next five. The same thing applies to the first five T3 units to come out of your T3 factory. They are more important so if you can transport them to get them into the fight faster that is an important benefit.)
Corsairs are nice, you can use them even if you don’t have air control. If your opponent has unshielded power generators, you can send them in (on a suicide mission) to snipe the power, and that can win you the game. But if you don’t have air control, you should only use them to snipe power. You shouldn’t just make lots of corsairs when you lack air control.
On 10x10 maps, you don’t want to make too many air factories too early. Five air factories early is too many. But a second air factory early is not terrible. If you’re going tech 2 air, you want a second air factory. (Zock doesn’t say why, but I think the point is so you can keep making interceptors so you don’t lose air control, because then you won’t be able to use your fancy Tech 2 air toys. Or perhaps he means you should have a T2 support factory so you can make more T2 air units, faster. I don’t know.) If you want more transports, it can be good to build them from a second air factory. But (at least for 20x20 maps) your first transport should come out of your first air factory. With Tech 2 air, you don’t want to make gunships on an infinite queue. You want to queue up about 15 only. Because after you start doing damage with them, your opponent will make a lot of flak.
Mixing mobile AA into your tank forces: it’s not bad. For tech 1, Zock normally doesn’t do it unless he is losing air. The problem of course is that you will have fewer tanks. (Every mobile AA could have been a tank.) Having mobile AA with your tank forces can help to reduce risk of taking damage from air and reduce the amount of attention you need to pay to the game. It’s easier to let your mobile AA kill t1 bombers than to constantly move interceptors around the map to deal with them. For tech 2: Zock will mix flak in. If he has air control, he will make 1 flak for every 10 t2 tanks. If he does not have air control, he will make 1 flak for every 5 t2 tanks.
When you are ahead, you want to get air control. When you are ahead, air snipes are the main cause of death. Taking air control is not only good by itself, but it is an extra layer of security. And, air is the fastest way to win the game, if you decide to end it. When you decide you want to kill your opponent, you make some gunships, fighter/bombers, or strat bombers.
BEING AGGRESSIVE AND BEING DEFENSIVE
One way to get ahead is to be aggressive, which is to make attacks in order to try to hurt your enemy. The other way is to be more defensive and put more economy into eco. If your opponent is putting 5% of their economy into eco, you put 10% in to eco and just have 5% fewer units. You can still defend well with 5% fewer units.
Aggression can be more risky. If aggression fails, you can leave behind reclaim. If you make a mistake with aggression you can give the game over to your opponent. But if you hang back and eco, that style of play is more forgiving of mistakes. Being defensive and out-ecoing your opponent can be a more boring way to play potentially. It is a matter of preference. Being aggressive, or out-ecoing your opponent, are both legitimate ways to play the game.
Also, you can shift back and forth between the two strategies. It can be good to move back and forth between both strategies (aggression vs. ecoing) rather than investing all of your resources into a single strategy. It’s better to have a mix than to do just one thing. (Zock does not specifically say this, but I think it’s obvious: if you only do one thing, you will be more predictable.)
Timing: if you are building more units from the start of the game, or if your opponent pauses or slows unit production for some reason, you may have a unit advantage (meaning: more units on the field than your opponent). Presumably, whatever he is spending his mass on instead will benefit him eventually. So if you wait too long, your unit advantage will disappear.
The example shown in the video is: Zock paused his factories in order to upgrade his land factory HQ to T3, so for a brief time, his opponent had unit advantage. His opponent (the student) attacked at the right time, taking advantage of the opportunity. If the student had held back, soon Zock would start making Bricks, and then the student would no longer have a unit advantage. During this brief time, there was a window of opportunity to attack Zock with more effectiveness.
You want to take advantage of the opportunity created by having unit advantage. You want to convert your unit advantage into other advantages—for example, by raiding your opponent’s mexes. Another way to use your unit advantage is to pause unit production and focus on ecoing, because you can effectively defend yourself with the units that you already have. You don’t want to miss these opportunities.
If you choose aggression instead of ecoing, you do need to attack your opponent. But then you need to scout, or maintain radar coverage, so you are not surprised when you attack. It is not necessarily a mistake to choose aggression over economy.
If you don’t eco, you need to go all-in. If you build up a fighting force (including: getting the gun upgrade for your commander) then you need to attack your opponent. If you just wait for your opponent to out-eco you, that is wrong.
Send all of your units to one place? Only if you are going all-in. Even if it’s 90% in one place and 10% in other places, that is better than 100% in one place. It’s not really a question of ratio or percentages. You want to have enough units to hold your stuff. That is going to depend on where your opponent’s units are. When you are ahead, you want to distribute your units widely to prevent your opponent from taking anything, rather than collecting them in just one place to prepare for a push.
Some players have a problem of lacking aggression. They make an effort to be more aggressive. If they then get into a situation where they are ahead of their opponent, there might be no use for aggression in that situation. But they have it in their head that they need to be aggressive. If you are trying to be more aggressive in the way you play, there are still times when you should back off from that.
You should not feel like every single game you must be aggressive. Before every act of aggression, you should ask yourself if you think it’s a good idea. You only have a limited amount of attention while you are playing, but this is a good use of your brain power during the game. Questioning yourself is a very good way to improve while you play. Some other players launch attacks mindlessly. Zock does not like that. (Note from the author: Zock’s way is not the only way to play. I gathered these notes to share his ideas but you should also consider other ways of playing. Perhaps you try out mindless aggression some time and see how it works for you.)
When map control is fairly even, you can tell who is ahead by counting who has more T2 mass extractors. If you can maintain as much map control as your opponent, and get more T2 mass extractors than your opponent, you should be winning.
When you are ahead, you can use your units just to keep control of the area. You don’t have to attack your opponent. You can just park them in a good place to surround your opponent, so he can’t slip units out past them. You shouldn’t go in for the kill early. You just build up your units and slowly move them closer and closer to your opponent’s base. You put a rope around your opponent’s neck and you slowly tighten it.
Different people react differently to being under pressure. Even if you are good in theory, if you perform poorly under pressure, that is something you need to work on. You want to pressure your opponent. Players often underestimate the amount of pressure that their opponent is under. When you put your opponent under pressure it won’t feel like pressure to you. From your perspective, it feels easy, so it is common to overlook that from your opponent’s position, it feels terrible.
You can’t always stop the enemy from taking something. If you try to stop the wrong thing, you over-commit and you can lose a significant battle. The example in this lesson is that the two ACUs are on opposite sides of the map. The student does not have enough units to stop the enemy ACU from taking an expansion. The correct perspective is to accept that you can’t stop the enemy ACU from taking it. You should still use units to harass and raid the enemy. You can use a few tanks to deny him from getting the expansion with engineers. If he has to send his ACU in order to get the expansion, you are getting a benefit from that: you are denying his ACU from being somewhere else and you are slowing him down. Just by slowing down your opponent from getting the 4-mex expansion, you get an economic lead, which you can invest into extra tanks or t2 mexes.
SCOUTING AND RADAR
You scout before you attack, then you decide whether you should attack or not.
If you send units forward, but you see that it would be a bad attack, you retreat them. It’s not so bad to make a mistake. The important thing is to fix the mistake by retreating. Don’t try to avoid making mistakes. Just focus on fixing them. Trying to avoid mistakes in the first place is stressful. You will develop better as a player by fixing your mistakes as they happen. It is the same for economic mistakes.
Create a habit of scouting. Have air scouts in your queue. Have a hotkey for scouts. It’s really hard to watch all of your scouts.
Sending scout planes is very important but it is also important for the player to look at what the scout plane sees. If you don’t look, you lose the benefit of having the scout plane.
Air scouts are good if you are planning an attack (to look at what is there to decide whether you want to attack) but radar is better if you are being defensive with your units. That way you can see the enemy army coming.
You can attack your opponent without radar/scouting. If you expect your opponent to play well, he will do certain things, which makes him predictable. You can proactively send units based on what you expect your opponent to do. Against bad opponents, it is very hard to predict their actions because they make a lot of mistakes. It is easier to scout them, find their mistakes, and punish them for it. For example, a good player would use his units. But a bad player might have an idle army. So if you don’t see enemy units on the field, you can’t assume that a bad opponent didn’t make them.
If you don’t know what to do: look at what advantages you have, do what you need to do to make sure you keep them, and look at what advantages your opponent has, and do something to take away those advantages. That is a safe way to try to win. Zock recommends to always try to end the game in a safe way. If you try to end it fast, more often than not, you screw up and you will lose. Don’t try to kill your opponent. Take everything away from him.
When you have the same or more units than your opponent, the question is where on the map you should be aggressive. Scout your opponent, see where their units are, where their ACU is, to decide where to attack.
The FAF administration is planning to remove the ability of players to "ping" their teammates after their ACU dies:
@snagglefox said in Questions about performance:
Pinging after dying is disabled because of a potential exploit. For more information, read this PR: https://github.com/FAForever/fa/issues/2259
Pinging after dying is disabled because of a potential exploit. For more information, read this PR: https://github.com/FAForever/fa/issues/2259
The "exploit" in question is:
Observers can use the "setarmyview" command to go from obs to an army view and then write messages and set map markers
that should not be possible since observers can see the entire map and thus can give vital information that might not be available otherwise
Observers can use the "setarmyview" command to go from obs to an army view and then write messages and set map markers
that should not be possible since observers can see the entire map and thus can give vital information that might not be available otherwise
These OBSERVERS are people who were allowed by the host to observe the match. To be an observer, you need permission from the host (who can turn observers on/off)
These observers can ALREADY cheat. The easiest way to cheat would be for observers to be on voice chat with one of the players. Cheating that way is basically undetectable. Even having a referee in the same room as the player wouldn't pick up this cheating if the player was wearing headphones. It's basically impossible to stop.
IF an observer cheated using this method, by placing map markers for one team only, that would show up in the replay file. Cheating this way would leave a PERMANENT RECORD, easily verifiable, that the admins could use to instantly permanently ban the cheater. This permanent record would be part of every player's local replay file, including the team that was victimized by the cheating. Anyone who watched the replay could see that cheating happened and exactly what the cheating was and who did it.
The "problem" that they are trying to solve is not a problem in the first place: observers can already cheat in a way that is undetectable, so why do we need to ban a method of cheating that would leave evidence?
Now let's talk about the COST of imposing this fix: taking away the ability of "dead" players to participate in the match by giving helpful pings to their teammates. Why would you want to take that away from people? It's one of the ways that people cooperate and communicate. People who otherwise can't participate in the match are about to contribute something. It's hard enough to play when you are outnumbered by the other team. Being able to receive pings from your teammates can make a huge difference. It's something all of the players (with living or dead ACUs) want. If those players leave, they aren't even allowed to queue for ladder or TMM until the match ends. We gain nothing from tying their hands. It just makes the game worse.
The "problem" is not a problem at all. It's an interesting technical glitch that has no real-world consequences. It is an exploit that is useless to cheaters because it leaves complete evidence. The fix, on the other hand, is a HUGE PROBLEM. This fix is already part of the "FAF Develop" branch. I'm writing this to bring attention to this "fix" so we can prevent it from ever getting into the game.
UI stands for "User Interface." "SIM" stands for "Simulation." A UI mod affects only your computer. It affects how you interact with the game. A SIM mod can make changes to the game for other players. A UI mod can change how information is displayed to you (for example, it can change the scoreboard) and it can turn things on and off for you, like it could turn your radars off to save power. A SIM mod can make much more serious changes. A SIM mod can do anything a UI mod can do, and it can do a lot more. For example, a SIM mod could change the amount of HP that a tank has. Or it could make the tank into a flying unit and give it nuclear missiles. A SIM mod could change how the scoreboard looks to every player.
A SIM mod makes the game unrated, so if people choose to play with you, it doesn't really "matter" whether the game is fair. If you think it's unfair, just don't play with that person, and you won't lose any rating if you do.
When you play a custom game, every player gets their own UI mods, but the SIM mods are supposed to be identical so that the game stays synchronized. That is because when you run the game for multiple players, each player's computer is keeping track of the entire state of the game. It would break the game if, on your computer, a tank had 300 hp, and on your teammate's computer, the tank only had 250hp. Errors like that are called "desyncs" because the game stops being synchronized.
It is true that if one player has different UI mods than another player, it could give them some advantage. Every player has the ability to choose the UI mods they want to use.
UI mods don't give a huge advantage. I know because I've played quite a few games with no UI mods, because I turned them all off and forgot to turn them back on, I didn't play that much worse than normal. Don't worry too much if someone has "better" UI mods than you. It's a good idea to try out some popular UI mods and decide if you want to use them but you shouldn't worry that people are getting a big advantage over you. Some people have put together collections of their favorite UI mods. For example:
Not all maps support the ability to remove mass points. Basically, only "adaptive" maps will support that, and you can tell whether a map is "adaptive" by whether the name of the map starts with the word "adaptive." If the map you are playing has "adaptive" in its name, it probably has features like that. When you are in the lobby you can change spawns by right-clicking on them (cycle between "closed" and "closed-spawn mex") and you can change other map-specific options in the lobby's options menu.
Rather than having factories idle, Zock will queue up a single engie and then pause his factory. That way, there is no icon appearing on the right side of his screen showing an idle factory. You ought to pay attention to the icons on the far right side of the screen for idle engineers and idle factories.
Use the upgrade key (“m”) so you can more quickly upgrade mexes without clicking as much. Zock changed this hotkey to “caps lock” so he could press it more easily.
There is a hotkey, “select nearest idle mass extractor, lowest tech” – it picks the mex closest to mouse cursor. This might be the mex that you want to upgrade next. So if you click that hotkey, and then click the upgrade button, you can very quickly start a mex upgrading with less time spent clicking.
ON MAKING A PLAN
“In the first minutes, while your factory is building, or maybe even in lobby already, try to make at least a very rough game plan, so you are not completely lost, and you don’t play out of complete instinct, because that will lead to many mistakes like this . . . . Try to think of a very rough plan what to do . . . Because once you start playing, once you start moving around and something, you don’t really have time to think any more, so you just act out of basic instinct and basic gut feeling what to do. I would say it is much more ordered if you have a basic idea. So you make like a few focus points what you want to do. So one focus point, I want to get this transport, and I want to get this second engie factory, and then I want to just want to expand and protect those units. But that will be my game plan. Just get early factories, expand here with engies, protect that with units and spam, relatively much tech 1, because it’s a very open map try to raid a bit, and then get my transport relatively early to go here. So it doesn’t need to be a very complicated, the plan doesn’t need to cover too much. But something, so you are not lost.”
“It doesn’t really matter how good the plan is. It is really important to have something to hold on to and something. You can always change the plan as well. I think it is really useful to at least have one. So you don’t end up in the situations that you, think about, you have lots of things to do, you need to protect raids, you have idle engies, idle factories, and so on, and on top of that you have the feeling in your mind like ‘holy shit, what should I do, I have no idea.’ . . . Even if your plan is not the best thing you can do, it is better than being completely lost because that will just stress you and lead to doing a lot of mistakes everywhere. And it is still better to have something to fall back to, in case you don’t really know what you want to do.”
Don’t focus 100% of your attention on just one battle. Zoom out and give orders to other groups of units even while a very important battle is happening. Even if the battle is very important, you can zoom out, give orders to other units, and then bring your view back to the battle.
Losing takes away your attention. Losing makes you busy because you are losing things everywhere. Winning is much less stressful than losing.
You should keep an eye out for unbuilt mass extractors while you are zoomed out. An unbuilt mex glows, in order to draw your attention to it. That is a design decision that was made in order to help players to save APM. The reason to look for these is so that when they get raided, you are reminded to rebuild them. But also, if you just forgot to build it in the first place, you should take the opportunity to notice it and build it. You should be in the habit of looking for that while you are zoomed out. You should have an automatic habit to look for open mexes and rebuild them immediately when they get raided.
If you get into the habit of “every time I get to Tech 2, I make two T2 pgens” that is bad. On the other hand, if you try to only build as many as you need, and overestimate your power needs, and you end up building two T2 pgens and it wasn’t really necessary, that is less bad. In the first case, you are committed to playing the game in a thoughtless, sloppy way and you will not improve over time. In the second case, you are trying to improve and over time you will get better at deciding how many pgens you actually need. Being good at SupCom is not just about making the right decisions, it is about having a process to constantly improve. From the outside it looks the same (both people built two T2 pgens) but it’s actually very different.
When you play, if you realize you made a mistake, next time you change something. It doesn’t even matter if the change that you make, makes things worse. The point is to try something different to see if you can’t improve. That is how you fine tune a build order over time. It doesn’t really matter what you do. The point is to change one thing every time. Don’t get into the habit into repeating your mistakes every time. It’s about not forgetting to improve your process. So if you force yourself to always find 1 thing to change, after every game, you are less likely to forget to attempt to improve.
Staying on Tech 1 is really good to learn the game. You can learn so many basics while spamming tech 1. When to move up in tech level is a difficult decision and it can lose you games. But if you stay at Tech 1 for a long time, you can learn the basics of the game: eco balance and unit management, the basic things you need to play the game.
In this lesson, we focused most on 20x20 maps. But that’s not what I would normally prioritize in teaching a player. Try your best on 20x20 maps, but to learn the game your focus should be on improving how you play 5x5 and 10x10 maps.
When Zock is teaching people, he teaches strategies that work against the best players. He doesn’t want to teach things that only work against low-level players who make basic mistakes. He could teach people who to exploit those mistakes, but in the long term, they won’t learn how to fight against better opponents.
It’s not bad to copy what you see in other replays. But don’t just copy it blindly. When you watch replays, if you see a strategy, think about whether it seems good or not. (Author’s note: I do see lower-rated players “copying” behavior without understanding it. For example, putting mass storages around T1 mexes. Or putting T1 pgens around all of their T1 mexes. If you don’t understand the reason behind the strategy/tactic that you are copying, you can end up with a “cargo cult” mentality.)
Create good habits. For example, when you first get T2 power, make a T2 radar.
If you understand the theory about how to use units (where to send them, when to retreat) then as you play, you will get better and better at unit movement. As you get better at the game and develop good habits, you will spend less time managing things like economy, you will have more time to spend on unit movement. (I think Zock’s point is that you don’t need to practice unit movement to become a better player. You need to practice everything else, but this part will just come naturally.)
SPECIFIC MAP ADVICE
Regarding Twin Rivers: this is an eco-heavy map, since it is so easy to defend the expansions, because the mexes are close together. You can’t really get an advantage by having map control because the expansions are so easy to defend. Once you feel safe, you should either start ecoing, or go all-in.
Zock talks about where you should send your transport for rapid expansion on the map Tabula Rasa. You don’t need to drop close enough to your base that your engineer can just walk there in a short time. You want to drop the expansions that are far from your base. If your opponent drops engineers on your side, the important thing is to win the fight so that you end up securing your side. You will be delayed in getting all the mexes because you have to fight your opponent, but if you win the fight, you will get extra reclaim to make up for it.
It is a mistake to wait too long to make a transport on Flooded Tabula Rasa. The student made too many interceptors before making the transport. You don’t want your first transport to be too late. You want to build the power generators for it and assist it as soon as possible. Even if you don’t build factories on your opponent’s side to fight for it, if you just drop some engies and build 6 mexes, you might get to hold them for 2 minutes because it takes time for your opponent to get there. That’s still worth something.
On a naval map, making radars and sonars: in Roanoke Abyss, sonar is much less necessary because subs are not much of a factor. You use frigates to raid the islands and sonars would die really easily because it is such an open map. On Flooded Tabula Rasa, sonars are much more important. It is important to keep them alive, though. If they are going to die, then they’re not going to provide value to you so don’t make them.
Regor VI Highlands: on that particular map, it is a big advantage to control the middle, because you can threaten to attack two places, the main base as well as the expansions on the other side of the pond (the 3-mex and 4-mex expansions clockwise from the enemy’s main base). The enemy has to try to defend both. You can build up tanks in one place and they need to have defenses in two places.
On Niflheim: if you can hold the two corners (bottom left and top right) you will basically win the game, because that (plus your base) represents about 80% of the map control (in terms of the number of mexes).
It would be nice to have a "baby ladder" where one player is always UEF, the other player is always Cybran, and you don't get to choose your faction or anything else. Let's say there's only about 3-5 maps for the baby ladder and they don't change month to month, just the most absolute classic maps with no weird amounts of reclaim or navy/water other than maybe a pond to hide in.
All T2 and T3 tech (including HQs, T2 mex, ACU upgrades that correspond roughly to T2) is disabled. If the game lasts more than 20 minutes, call it a draw.
It would force players to make an effort to spam T1 and learn what is possible at the T1 stage. There would be less incentive to turtle. Later when they get into the real ladder they can do whatever they want. But the baby ladder would force a certain mindset of spam/expand/make t1 work for you.
Cybran has a disadvantage because ACU has less HP? UEF nano gun ACU beats Cybran gun+stealth ACU? don't care. At that level, faction advantage/disadvantage is going to be a lot less important than everything else. And fairness isn't really the goal, it's to push them to learn a certain style with less complexity. And cybran has jesters. Even if Cybran has a winrate of only 35%, that wouldn't be a bad thing. Players could feel extra good about winning with Cybran and it's not exactly a tragedy if a bad player manages to win a game because they have an extra 2k hp on their ACU. Bad players want to win sometimes too.
When a player starts crushing it too hard on baby ladder, or when they get a good enough rating on the real ladder, stop letting them queue for baby ladder.
EDIT: I made a mod, called "Stone Age." It's in the vault. It limits you to T1 tech, no mass storages, and it limits the ACU upgrades you can get. With the mod on, the only way you can really spend your mass is to spam factories and spam units from the factories. The idea is that you can learn all of the fundamentals of the game (economic balance, aggression, raiding, defense, scouting, radar, reclaim, etc.) without any of the complexity added by T2 tech, and without the temptation to spend your mass on T2 mass extractors. It forces you to spend the mass immediately on making more factories. So it is a tool to encourage people to learn how to spam and to learn game fundamentals. I am especially interested in hearing from new players if playing some games with this mod helps you to learn.
It’s generally bad to use “attack” orders when you are sending a large force to attack the enemy. The first ones will stop moving as soon as they get into range and then the units behind them will be blocked. Your normal order for sending tanks in to fight is a move order.
Before you launch an attack with a large number of units, it makes sense to gather your tanks into a formation, using “formation move” (if you hold the left mouse button down for a full second when you give a move order).
Zock discusses unit micro. The student was retreating tanks away from a superior force. Zock agrees that the opponent took advantage of an opportunity to attack with a superior force, but Zock says that his student actually did well to retreat. By retreating from the superior force, the student was able to preserve tanks.
Rally points: Zock likes to rally his tanks to one central location and move them out from there. If you have less attention, you could make 3 different rally points to send your tanks out in 3 different directions.
Raids have much more impact when they are simultaneous. If you lose 4 mexes in one spot, and then later you lose 4 mexes in another spot, that is much, much easier to recover from, than if you lose the 8 mexes at the same time. If you get far behind in economy, you may need to use an aggressive all-in strategy (a snipe, or an all-out attack).
Zock discusses sending units from base to clean up raiding units. He suggests giving those units a sequence of orders: first, a move order to get near the raid, and the second (holding shift to queue up another order) an attack-move order, so your units will chase after the raiders if necessary but not run past them. If you send units to clean up a raid, you don’t need to wait for the raiders to die before you send another engineer. You can send the engineer so that it arrives by the time you expect the raiders to be dead.
On raiding: send a few units (like 3-6) on a raid. And send a few more on another raid in another area. Sure, your opponent might catch them and kill them. But that’s okay, take the risk, you can afford to lose a few units.
On raiding: you need to make a guess if your opponent has units in the area. If there are units, you only want to send a small number of units, maybe 2, 3, or 4, to put some pressure on your opponent and to try to sneak by to kill a mex. If you send in too many units, and they are caught by a larger force, that can be very damaging to you early in the game.
You want to kill what your opponent has least of (power, mass, or build capacity). Usually, the best thing to kill is power, because most of the opponent’s power will be in their base. If you can kill 80% of their power, it is very punishing. If you only kill 30% of their power, it is not very punishing. If you kill mass extractors in your opponent’s base, it is not as effective, because after the battle, lots of reclaim will be left in your opponent’s base. They can use the reclaim to produce units and to rebuild their mass extractors.
If you have the gun upgrade, you want your ACU to be in a position where you it can be fighting enemy units. If you just use it to hold an important position that is not being attacked by your enemy, you aren’t getting as much value out of the gun ACU as if it was shooting enemy units.
On a small map, an early radar can help you to keep track of your opponent’s ACU. Seeing where the enemy ACU goes is extremely important so having an early radar is very valuable.
Aggression with ACUs and defending against it: Zock explains why in this situation he does not build a point defense in his own base (he believes he can handle the enemy ACU without it). Also, Zock has radar so he knows that his opponent is still walking towards his base. On the other hand, Zock’s opponent does not have radar, so he does not know that Zock’s ACU is walking back to Zock’s base (which will let him trap and kill his opponent’s ACU). If you are going to walk in to your opponent’s base, you should have all of your units with your ACU.
In this case, Zock pulled his units back behind his base, leaving his base undefended for the enemy ACU. He did this to buy time for his ACU and other units to get back, so he could build up a large enough number of units near his enemy’s ACU, in order to get the kill. If he had used units to defend his base, the ACU would have just killed them.
The lack of radar led to a bad engagement. And the lack of radar near the ACU allowed the opponent to kill the ACU.
The ACU should not have been close to the front at all. In this case, the ACU was securing 2 mexes in the front, which just were not important enough to justify the risk.
If it was justified for the ACU to be up there, all of the combat units should have been with the ACU. In this case, more than half of the army was on the other side of the mountain range that runs down the middle of Twin Rivers.
“Don’t upgrade at the front line. If you upgrade, do it in a safe position. A safe position is where your units can help.”
If you want to be aggressive with something important, like an army or your ACU, then scout before attacking.
If your opponent’s ACU starts attacking your ACU, and you don’t know what units might be behind his ACU, you should assume that your opponent knows the situation better than you. So you should retreat and kite, rather than standing your ground or aggressively moving in.
Usually you don’t want to send your ACU alone anywhere. You want to send it with some units.
It is dangerous for your ACU to be all alone, especially when the enemy ACU is nearby. If the ACU comes around with a few units, your commander might just be dead. (Author’s note: this was 8 minutes in to the game. Zock said something different earlier in the lesson, earlier he said it was fine to send the tanks in one direction and the ACU in a different direction. I think the point is, early in the match it’s okay to send the ACU by itself, but as the match moves forward, like 5-6 minutes in, you need to have units with it.)
Once you are ahead, you can relax. You can slow down. You can be very careful about your attacks. Even if you do nothing, your advantage will increase. You don’t need to take risks. Relaxing doesn’t mean “do nothing.” It means don’t stress yourself. But don’t get sniped. It means playing in a way that is calculated and calm. You need to realize that you are ahead. You need to be correct about that (you don’t want to misinterpret the situation, and relax too much, when you’re not ahead). Once you decide you are ahead, put your ACU somewhere safe. Send it back to your base. Put it under a shield. Make some PD and some anti-air. You avoid many, many losses when you put your ACU somewhere safe. You can keep your units defensively to protect your stuff. As time goes on, as you make more units, you will accumulate so many units until you are ready to smash your opponent. When you are behind, it can be a mistake for your units to be so defensive.
Usually, it is better to send an engineer with your ACU. If you are using the ACU aggressively, you can build an engineer behind them. If you are building things, having an engineer with your ACU basically doubles the speed at which you can build. Technically, the engineer has only 50% of the build capacity of the ACU, but there is also travel time. The ACU can stand still building the big things while the engineer does more traveling such as moving between mexes. And you can have the engineer building in a safer area while the ACU confronts enemies.
Once you realize that you are so far behind you can’t win, it is smart to go for a snipe. If you go for a snipe, focus everything into it. Commit to it completely. For an air snipe, pause your land factories. You can even think about recycling a few of them if you need mass. If you recycle them, they show up on the radar as dead, which is the same as if they upgrade to T2 support factories. So if you reclaim a few, your opponent might think a big land push is incoming, and prepare for the land attack, when really you are preparing a corsair snipe.
If you don’t already have a T2 air headquarters, it is good to build a new air factory for a snipe so your opponent can’t see on the radar that you have upgraded an air factory. (You don’t want them to know that you even have T2 air.) Then keep building inties from your original air factory. You don’t build the inties to protect the corsairs. You build the inties to shoot down scout planes so your opponent doesn’t see that you are preparing a snipe. In fact, Zock assists both the T1 and T2 factories with his engineers. Meanwhile your land units should play defensively because you want to delay your opponent while you are setting up the snipe.
On large maps, it is easier to go for a snipe. Because the cost for a snipe always stays the same. You always need like 10 corsairs, whatever, as many corsairs as you can get. On maps with a small number of mexes, it can be hard to put that together. But on maps with a lot of mexes, it is much easier to get the mass you need to prepare a snipe. Use your factories to make engineers in order to support your snipe attempt.
If you are able to, stop making new tech 1 units. But keep using your tech 1 units to pressure him. You don’t want to be too defensive. You also don’t want to suicide your units. You don’t want your opponent to get suspicious that you are planning a snipe.
Killing the enemy ACU: if the enemy ACU is by itself, you can gather up about 30 tanks, and send them over to get the kill. However, when you go after an enemy commander, you want to make sure that the attack will succeed. If you attempt a big attack, but the enemy commander survives, even if he only has low hp, he can get all the reclaim from the battle. Suddenly you are down 30 units and your opponent has a lot of reclaim. That is one way for you to throw the game. If you want to win games, play it safe. If you want to learn how to be a better player, experiment with going after the enemy commander. See if it works. You will get a better sense of whether or not an attack can be successful.
ON PLAYING LARGE MAPS (20x20)
20x20 maps are “a whole new dimension” compared to 5x5 or 10x10 maps. You need more of everything. You need to learn how to handle having so much more mass available.
20x20 maps with so many mexes, there is so much to do, more than on other maps. You won’t have enough time to do everything that you need to do which is frustrating. While you are lower rated, focus on getting good at 5x5 and 10x10 maps. You should still try to do your best when you are on ladder and you get a 20x20 map, but in terms of developing your skills and refining your build orders, you should focus on 5x5 and 10x10 maps until you are a better player.
On most big maps, you wait until your expansion is complete to start ecoing. Until your expansion is complete, you use your eco to make more units. With more units you can delay your opponent’s expansion. In this case, it would be air units. Instead of getting a tech 2 mass extractor, you could be getting air control. You can try to find and kill your opponent’s transport. You can rush a transport yourself.
The biggest early air game advantage you can get is if you can find his transport and “target lock it” (A target lock is when you give an attack order to some interceptors, who keep the attack order even after you lose track of the transport on your radar). One interceptor is not really enough to kill a transport
When your opponent drops the same expansion as you, you need to fight for it. You need to focus on that fight, which means to put all of your mass into it. You need to make a number of factories to crank out units in order to defeat your opponent. Having a T2 mex upgrading, and having a naval factory cranking out units, is going to take up a significant part of your economy, slowing down your ability to fight your opponent. You want to build up a bunch of factories on your side so you can win on your side, and you also want to then get a transport onto your opponent’s side. (Or if you dropped your opponent’s side first, then after you do that, drop your own side.) If your opponent drops your side, you should return the favor by dropping their side. You can definitely use bombers to attack their expansion, that can be an effective weapon. And bombers give you radar coverage.
Zock’s student is ecoing too early. He is upgrading mexes while he is still trying to expand. The cost of upgrading the mexes is slowing down the student’s ability to expand, which is very bad. (Losing your expansions costs you more than you would benefit from getting T2 mexes.)
Factory placement: you don’t have to walk with your ACU halfway to your opponent’s drop to start building factories. You can build them on the other side of the island and let your units walk. It doesn’t really matter that much if your units have to walk farther because units move faster than your ACU anyway.
Balancing your power and your mass on 20x20 maps is harder than on 5x5 or 10x10 maps. There is so much mass, that the amount of power you have to build is so different from 5x5 or 10x10 maps. On smaller maps, you probably want to have only one factory cranking out engineers. On 20x20 maps, you may want 2 factories producing nothing but engineers.
It is okay to upgrade mexes to T2 on a big map as a panic way to spend mass because you would want to eventually upgrade them anyway. It is better to spend your mass on upgrades rather than not spending it at all. Once the expansion phase is basically complete (all of the free mass extractors are taken, even if you don’t have half of them) you should start ecoing.
On big maps, you should go Tech 2 quite early. There is so much mass that you want to a lot of power. It is better to get the more efficient T2 pgens than spamming so many T1 pgens.
To spend your mass for a 20x20 map, you want a lot of engineers, and you want them assisting your navy factory. Usually you don’t want to assist air factories. You could just make more air factories. But you don’t want to pause your air factories, on big maps you want to build up plenty of interceptors. Unlike on smaller maps, you want to have 100 interceptors, because in relation to everything else, it does not cost much to build so many.
On 20x20 maps, you need more everything, because you have more mass you can spend. You need more build power especially (in order to spend the mass), and don’t forget to eco.
Zock doesn’t really enjoy playing 20x20 maps because you have to do so much at the same time. You have to build things, balance your economy, raiding, rebuilding after raids, (and air, navy, drops, teching, scouting, etc.). There is so much to do that you don’t have time to play the game.
The early game on such high mass maps, especially where they are so spread out, is about using transports to speed up your expansion. You want to drop everywhere.
On such big maps, you don’t need to be so efficient with your resources, and you don’t need to be so flexible, because you build everything. It is more about speed (to produce as much as possible as quickly as possible).
Regarding Stella Maris, but this can apply to any map with islands: if your opponent drops your island, you need many factories making units so you can win the fight. But if your opponent does not drop you, you don’t want to overspend on making units. If your opponent does not drop you, having only one factory making tanks is good.
If you make a factory at your expansion, you can make engineers on a patrol order so they can reclaim trees and mass for you.
It can be worth dropping engineers on your opponent’s side of the map just to steal a large piece of reclaim.
On large maps, when most of the mexes have been taken, whatever mexes are still open, you should use transports to grab them.
The rule of thumb is, when your expansion phase is done, you start ecoing. You want to assist mexes while they upgrade. It is not as good to upgrade multiple mexes at the same time if you are stalling. But if you have too much mass, you need to spend it faster, so you can upgrade multiple mexes at once.
On the big maps, your initial focus is on air. As long as expansion is not done yet, air is very important. But once expansion is done, you should get T2 support factories in your expansions and make flak. On this island map (Stella Maris) have T2 support factories on each expansion, make a flak and a few T2 tanks. Tech 1 and Tech 2 air is good while the expansion phase is not over, and T2 air is strong where there is not flak. T1 air is strongest for attacking units where your opponent does not have T1 factories. T2 air is strongest for attacking units where your opponent does not have T2 factories. While the focus early is on air, your focus should shift to navy. On this map, you can do so much damage with navy. With naval control, you can do massive damage, but even without total naval control, you can still use a strong navy to do massive damage to your opponent’s economy. When the focus goes from air to navy, your new engineers should be assisting the navy factory.
In most 20x20 water maps, you want to focus on air early and not invest in navy too early. On most navy maps, the payoff time for naval units is so long. However, in Flooded Tabula Rasa, there are many water mexes so you can get more economic benefit from having an early navy if you use it to protect engineers building the water mexes. On all naval maps, you don’t want to be too late to the water, because you will be “pushed out” of the water. (It is much, much harder to get your first naval factories up if your opponent already has frigates nearby. You very much want to get your naval factories up before enemy navy units arrive.)
Naval composition: don’t make only subs. You want at least a few frigates. They give you radar. Depending on the maps, you can use them to pick off a few mexes. And if you get enough frigates you can go to your opponent’s naval yard and destroy it. You want frigates even during the Tech 2 phase for navy.
“You need a Tech 3 sonar.”
You should see navy mostly the same as you see land. The normal rules apply: fight with a superior force, retreat from a superior force, kite your opponent. Sonar is great. Tech 3 sonar is great.
Zock’s student is getting a lot of mass from mexes in the water, so Zock says it was not a mistake to get such an early navy. (Obviously, you can’t do this on a water map that does not have any mexes in the water.)
When to start navy: on Stella Maris, starting navy too early is a mistake because there aren’t water mexes. You don’t get much economic benefit from early navy. If you start too early, it takes away resources that you should be using for expansion. However, if you see your opponent start making navy, you also should start.
If more people hosted "nice players only" lobbies that would suggest there is more demand for good behavior. I think there is a lot of willingness to tolerate toxicity and trying to force everyone to be nice would also have serious downsides.
For example, "Gentleman Seton's" has specific rules about being polite, not ctrl-k your base, that sort of thing. The vast majority of Seton's games are not "Gentleman" games.
If someone hosts a "Be Polite 500+" lobby, I'm guessing there would be 90% less toxicity in that game.
I always advocate people to host the games that they want to play. It doesn't matter if you have 2 games or 2000.
Part 1: a strong start (250 rating and less)
. . . . Mistake: not having a build order.
A “build order” is a plan for what you are going to build at the start of a match.
“You can think of generic build orders as a ticket to enter competitive gameplay. If you don’t know any build orders, it does not matter how good of a strategist you are. You will probably die within the first minutes, or at least handicap yourself so much from the very start that you will die a slow painful death, over the course of the game.”
That is from the introduction to Heaven’s build order tutorial, which you should watch.
The first part of the standard build order for your ACU is:
You make them, with your ACU, in that order. The reason this build order is so good is that you get a factory up quickly, so you can start making engineers; then you get enough energy that you won’t just run out of energy, and you get some mass income as well. It gets the mexes as quickly as possible without running out of energy.
But the build order is more than this: also you need to make more pgens and more factories. Your first factory should make mostly engineers so you have plenty of engineers to do all of the things. As long as more engineers keep coming out of your factory, hopefully when you see the engineers just standing there, that should help to remind you to give them orders.
This build order is far superior to making mexes and pgens before your first factory. For some reason, a lot of noobs like to do this. A factory can make engineers. Multiple engineers can build more mexes and pgens, much faster, than your ACU alone could hope to do. You want to grow quickly and you can’t do that without engineers.
Zock (one of the greatest Forged Alliance players of all time) teaches that in this game, the more economy you have, the faster you can grow. More economy means you can afford to build more pgens, which actually cost a lot of mass and energy. More economy means you can afford to upgrade more mass extractors, more quickly. More economy means you can afford to make more tanks, to secure more area, so you can build more mass extractors. There is a snowball effect to being bigger than your opponent. That is why it is so important that you don’t fall behind in the first few minutes of a match. The best way to do this, as a new player, is to steal a working build order (either a generic one, or a build order specific to the map) and follow that for the first 2-3 minutes+.
. . . . Mistake: not having a plan
A build order is a kind of plan. And when you are following a plan, you are under less stress. In Forged Alliance, you always have many options. The more choices you have to consider, the more stress you are under. If you are following a plan, you are taking choice away from yourself, which is actually a good thing.
According to Zock, it is always better to have a plan than to have no plan.
A plan can be as simple as: “I’m going to follow a generic build order, make 5 land factories in my base, and stream units out to the left in order to grab the expansion in the top-left corner of the map. My ACU is going to go south, and I’m going to send some units with it. The ACU is going to try to grab 3 mexes in the south and make a point defense there. Then I will make an air factory, send air scouts around the map to see what the situation is, and start upgrading my mexes back home, one at a time, to T2.” If you have that basic idea in your head, you will be able to make decisions and give orders much more quickly, which will give you the time you need to more effectively manage things.
It is said that “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Sometimes that is true, sometimes not. But even if your plan is not working perfectly, it is giving you a framework to evaluate your situation and to more quickly decide what to do next (including: whether to change your plan).
Here is Zock’s explanation for why you need to have a plan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwwVVS5aGeA&list=PLJclJGPtIxW1Znl4idf8EEdHMnTzDJ810&t=51m46s
. . . . Mistake: staying in your base
New players often stay in their base. I don’t just mean the ACU stays in the starting location (which is not necessarily a bad idea, especially for lower-rated players who aren’t very good at keeping their ACU out of danger). I mean that no units at all leave the base until the core mexes are T2 and there’s a T2 factory. That is a terrible way to play.
If you stay in your base, while your opponent expands (sends engineers out to build mexes outside of their base), you will immediately fall behind in economy, and it will be basically impossible to recover from this early deficit.
A T1 mex gives 2 mass per second. If you upgrade it to T2, that will give you 6 mass per second. So by upgrading one of your mexes from T1 to T2, you get an extra 4 mass per second.
But it costs 900 mass to upgrade a mex. For 900 mass, you could build a land factory, 4 engineers, and 10 T1 mexes.
If your opponent expands and builds 10 T1 mexes outside of their base, while you stay home and upgrade one mex to T2, your opponent is going to have a gigantic advantage over you (you get +4 mass per second, and he gets +20). And, remember: in FAF, an economic advantage can snowball, because it costs mass and energy to build more pgens, and it costs mass and energy to upgrade mexes.
Whatever strategy you want to carry out in FAF, you need mass and energy to make it happen. If you allow yourself to fall far behind in mass income, you are making it impossible to battle your opponent, because they will always outnumber you. It is not so much fun to make executive-style decisions (“do I get T2 land and make Pillars, or do I just make 50 T1 tanks?”) when your economy is half as big as your opponent’s. Because even if you make smart decisions at that point, you can still be crushed.
I think one reason lower-rated players don’t try to expand is that they are afraid their expanding engineers will die. If you watch 1v1 games from higher-rated players, they lose engineers all the time. Engineers are not that expensive, and you should have a lot of them. You can and should try to protect your engineers. But the biggest mistake is to not even try to grab mexes.
And: since you know how frustrating it is to lose engineers: don’t forget to harass your opponent by killing his engineers. Sending out units for harassment is a very important part of getting out of your base.
. . . . Mistake: not making (enough) units
Part of the sluggish, passive mindset (that you are going to stay in your little castle, behind point defense, while you build up to Tech 3 or Tech 4) is that you don’t need units.
When you get over the turtle mindset, it is obvious that you are going to need many, many units (called “spam” because you are making so many of them) to do all of the things that you want to do around the map.
The best advice I ever got, was in my 8th ladder match, when @RLO told me, “wheres you spam” (meaning: why are you not making T1 spam?). I improved significantly after getting that piece of advice and taking it to heart.
. . . . Mistake: not making enough factories
Because turtle players don’t need many units, they only build 1-2 factories. If you watch games from high-level players, or even just players at the 400-500 rating points range, you will see a lot more factories.
How many factories to make? The short version is: one T1 factory for every 2 T1 mex you can hold.
If you start on a small map where you have 4 mexes in your base and 6 more nearby, then you’re going to need at least 5 land factories.
On a lot of maps, you might have 16 mexes or more that you can take and hold. So it is normal to build 8+ land factories, depending on the map. It takes time to get 8 factories up, but it also takes time to grab all of the mexes that you will need to run them.
Factories take a long time to build, so it is best to have more than 1 engineer at a time making a single factory. When you are just starting out, for small maps make all of the land factories in your base. Don’t try spreading them around a small map. Don’t just leave your ACU standing there. If your ACU is not going to leave your base, it should be building factories or pgens for you.
. . . . Mistake: idle factories
Another common mistake for new players is that they make factories they need, but then the factories are idle (not producing anything). If you make factories, but they don’t produce units, you are just wasting mass. There is an icon on the right side of the screen for idle factories. It can be smart to pay attention to that. But also, when you are zoomed out to take a look at the battlefield, one of the things to think about is “why are my factories doing, are they making the right things? Are they making anything?”
It is good to give your factory orders while they are still under construction. If you wait until they are fully built to give them orders, there will be some idle time.
Take advantage of the ability to make an “infinite build queue.” The “build queue” is the list of things that the factory is going to make. When it is not set to infinite, the factory will make those units, and then stop. When it is set to infinite, every time it makes a unit, it puts (at the back of the queue) an instruction to make the same unit. So it will make everything in the list, and then repeat, infinitely. If your factories are making an infinite number of units, you do not have to worry that they will ever be idle.
An extra factory can “assist” a lead factory. If you select a factory and tell it to “assist” another factory, the extra factory will make whatever units are in the lead factory’s queue and send them to the waypoint belonging to the lead factory.
This does not mean that you always want all of your factories producing things. If you are stalling mass or energy, you might have to make hard choices about what to make. But your goal in the early game should be to get up a number of T1 factories churning out “T1 spam” so that you have units that you can use to attack, defend, raid, scout, etc. You use these forces to spread out and grab more mexes so you can afford to build more pgens and more factories.
Set rally points for your factories. The default rally point is to dump all the units in front of the factory. It is much better to set a rally point a moderate distance away from your base, like a safe choke point or cluster of mexes that you want to hold, so that units will begin traveling as soon as they leave the factory.
. . . . Mistake: overbuilding point defense and putting it in the wrong places
Point defense and anti-air turrets can be extremely effective in certain situations. The highest-rated 1v1 ladder players will make defenses in basically every game—but not at the very start, and only when and where they are needed.
A point defense can only help you to hold one small spot. If it is an important spot, and you know it will be attacked soon, then it can be worth making the point defense.
The real problem with making too much point defense is that it shows you have the turtle mentality: your plan is to stay back and hide behind turrets, instead of creating swarms of robot armies to march across the countryside and burn down your opponent’s stuff.
. . . . Mistake: getting T2 too early or redundant T2
Part of the turtle mentality is the belief that “T1 sucks” so you should get T2 as quickly as possible. If you go straight to T2, without using T1 units to expand, you will not get ahead of your opponent. Their economy will be so much stronger than yours, that when they transition to T2, they will be able to get far ahead of you.
Just having T2 tech gives you some advantages over an opponent who does not have T2 (especially: TML and TMD). But it does not make you invincible. To actually make cool T2 stuff, you need mass and energy. The best way to get that economy is with aggressive expansion using T1 spam or T1 transports.
Another mistake I see is that the player will upgrade their ACU to T2 and also upgrade a factory to T2. Or they will upgrade a land factory and also an air factory to T2 at the same time. Doing it this way basically makes it twice as expensive to get to the next tech level.
I recommend that low-rated players never get the T2 upgrade on their ACU. You will just be tempted to build stuff around your ACU that you don’t really need.
If the problem is that a font was not installed correctly, can he just install that font, reboot the computer, and then it would work?
Can someone just send him a zip file with the font that he can drop into the windows/fonts directory and that would fix it?
Explanation of the term hamburger button:
Open the FAF client.
At the top-left, there is the "hamburger" button (three horizontal lines, called a "hamburger" because the three lines are like 2 buns and a patty)
click on hamburger menu
go down to "settings." Which would probably be called something else. But you can tell which one it is because it's the second-to-last option. It's the one just above "exit"
then you have to click on the option for "language" and you will have a list of 15 languages. Pick the one you want.
@kalethequick search for "BAR RTS"
"It will take a Specter 35 seconds to deal as much damage as a Mercy"
but against multiple t1/t2 units, the splash does a lot more. so it only takes about 12 seconds for each specter attacking globs of t1 units (or structures built close enough to get hit by splash), if it's hitting 3 at a time, not 35 seconds
And there's a lot less overkill. You don't have to be stingy with the targeting.
You know what would go good with those new T1 PDs is a new kind of tank, much cheaper than a t1 tank, slightly worse stats, but the players can't give it orders. They always just swarm at the enemy base until they die. And when they die, they leave no mass behind.
Just ban @broker please, he's a low-effort troll.
You're a troll. Hopefully no one is gullible enough to spend 10 minutes preparing a response to this trash.
Mods please lock this thread asap . . .
If you could give a 1-word command that made all selected units retreat in an orderly fashion, maybe keeping heavy tanks in front of units like arty instead of having a traffic jam . . . that probably would be too powerful of a tool. Too much like the computer is playing the game for you.
Too much like "balance my economy"
And if "retreat" just sent them backwards in a sloppy way, how is that more useful than just right clicking the ground to make them go back.
"Target priority point defense." Or "Target only engineers"
Those sound like useful voice commands. Hunting through the grid-menu to click on stuff is kind of annoying. It might legitimately be easier with voice commands. Something like "select all navy", "target priority destroyers" would be an appropriate thing for voice commands.
Advanced Target Priorities 1.1 - allows you to choose what your units are shooting at. The applications are endless. But in particular: you can set your navy to prioritize destroyers so they will shoot destros instead of frigates. (Or cruisers, or engineers, if you want to pick off engineers around a navy factory)
You can set your ACU to target units, so you won't waste shots on the enemy ACU. Of course you can also prioritize the enemy ACU if you want. Depending on the situation. Or you can tell ACU to prioritize engineers if you want to pick off a few.
You can set mobile arty to prioritize factories while your tanks prioritize enemy units, so you can do max damage to the enemy
When you are telemazoring, and trying to teleport away, you can use target priorities to decide what your ACU is shooting at. Normally when you are teleporting you can't change targets because you can't give new orders to your ACU without canceling the teleport. So you can switch between targeting power and PD or whatever.
There are just a huge number of possibilities with that mod.
Selection Cost UI - this is mostly useful when analyzing replays. When you select units, it shows how much the selected units cost. This makes it easy to compare things like "how much total mass did I invest into my army, and how much total mass did my opponent have at the same time?" or "how much mass did I throw away when I lost this army group?"