As stated in my previous post, the goal with this format is to give short answers to the most asked gameplay-questions. Please leave some feedback, e.g. if explanations are rather confusing or if we still miss important questions to answer. I'm pretty sure we missed some of them.
Also if you think specific other guides or videos should be linked, feel free to suggest it as well.
~This was made in a collab with Cheeseberry. Thanks to FTX and Bully for helping out as well!
- Disclaimer -
This guide is mostly directed towards <1200 ranked players.
For the high ranked players: Feel free to comment if you disagree with a take and it'll be discussed.
- General Advice -
“What to play in order to improve fast?”
Choose what you enjoy, and improvement will follow naturally. For beginners, campaigns are a fun way to familiarize yourself with units, although custom campaign missions are tailored for higher-rated players. Afterward, 1v1s are the best method to learn the basics, either against real players or using AI mods such as M27, representing approximately a 700-rated player on 10x10 maps. Stick to 5x5 and smaller 10x10 maps until you’ve mastered the basics to avoid feeling overwhelmed on larger maps. If you have questions or want replay analysis, visit #training-section on the FAF-Discord.
“When and how to build firebases?”
Steer clear of constructing a massive firebase; It’s a mass-drainer. Following the strategy discussed in “How to beat turtles”, being behind in eco is crucial. The exact number of T2 PDs depend a lot on the army of your opponent, but generally speaking 3-5 should suffice to secure most chokepoints or expansions. TMDs are a must-have to prevent your mexes and important buildings (HQ, PGs, …) from getting sniped by a TML. If you have mass to spare, consider investing in a shield. Avoid stationary flak unless your ACU is at risk of getting sniped or if you’ve lost air control. Stationary artillery is something to be cautious about; It often pays off in the T3 stage, but engaging in artillery battles is best avoided unless your opponent’s firebase directly threatens essential parts of your economy such as your core base. Conversely, if your T2 artillery can reach their core base or a critical expansion, dropping one or two might be a smart move.
“What army compositions should I use?”
When focusing on land units, stick to essential ones like tanks, and avoid complicating your unit queues. Don't overbuild T1 arties early on as they won’t hit anything moving when armies are still small. Add units to the queue or manage them through separate land factories when the need arises. For instance, only queue Mobile Missile Launchers (MMLs) the moment you observe your opponent aiming to go for T2 Point Defense. Always include a couple of Mobile Anti-Air (MAA) units and mobile shields in your land forces.
For air units, prioritize spamming the highest tech tier air fighter available to you. Once you secure air control, consider transitioning to bombers or gunships exclusively, making sure to keep air control at the entire time.
Talking about naval forces, your key assets include frigates, destroyers, and battleships. Reserve cruisers for the AA or TML support. It's crucial to note that in naval warfare, higher tech doesn't necessarily equate to overall superiority. Therefore, a continuous mix of all tech tiers is essential for a well-rounded naval strategy.
"When should I go for the T2 upgrade instead of gun?”
For Cybran, the choice is straightforward: Stick with gun. If you're playing a different faction, the decision depends on your goals. If you already have T2 engineers, upgrading your ACU to T2 might be a resource waste, as you can transport engineers to the frontline. However, if you don't plan on building a T2 factory and aim to secure a vital expansion, going for the T2 upgrade could be beneficial.
The gun serves multiple purposes beyond supporting a land push; it functions as a mobile point defense. On smaller maps, positioning your gun ACU at a critical expansion allows it to defend against incoming pushes, reducing the need for large investments in point defenses. This strategy proves effective against high HP units like Ilshavohs or early T3 units.
“How to deal with PD creep?”
PD creep is when your opponent starts lining up T2 Point Defenses (PDs) one after the other, making its way to you. It's a bit of a turtle move—slow and expensive, which also makes it kinda weak. The smart move here is not to freak out. PDs can’t move. As with firebases you can simply go around the PDs, use air or drop your opponent. All mass spent on PD os mass they didnt spend on tanks afterall. Really though, the main move is to stall the PD creep. Throw in a few Mobile Missile Launchers (MMLs) or T3 mobile artillery to slow down their expansion. Very slowly ceding unimportant pieces of land is one of the best things you can do. Do not take a big fight in pd range if you can at all avoid it. While delaying it, you have enough time to eco up quite a bit while the costly PDs of your opponent don’t cause any damage. Once you have the economy and tech, you can roll in with T3 units or experimentals to mop it all up.
“When to invest into navy?”
On smaller maps where frigates can access many mexes, prioritize pumping out frigates early on instead of upgrading mexes to T2. Navy tends to snowball more than land due to the substantial reclaim after naval battles, so trade efficiently and secure the reclaim asap. On 20x20 maps, delay navy slightly as a rushed frigate or two won’t inflict much damage or hinder your opponent’s water access significantly, but it will set you back economically. If you find yourself navylocked,use torp bombers. Ensure to eliminate any cruisers first and defend your bombers with interceptors.
“When should I retreat my ACU?”
In general, your ACU is great during the T1 and T2 phase but can face significant challenges during the T3 phase, particularly against high-damage units like Percies and Bricks, or those with extensive range, such as sniperbots. In 1v1 scenarios the T3 stage is delayed, so you can deploy your ACU for a more extended period compared to team games, provided it's upgraded appropriately to deal with stronger T3 armies. Once you have the resources, prioritize getting a shield and/or nano upgrade before encountering the first T3 units.
Temporarily retreat your ACU if you lose air control and lack sufficient anti-air defenses to survive a potential snipe. The decision to keep your ACU on the frontlines depends largely on the size of your army. If your army is larger, you can use your ACU to safely press the advantage. If it's smaller, you need to be more careful, as ACUs are slow and can therefore be overrun and sniped. Keep in mind that your ACU can succumb easily to just a few bricks, Percies, or sniperbots. Note that losing a game by being too aggressive with your ACU is better for learning its limits than losing due to underusing it.
“What’s the difference between an attack move from a factory?”
An attack move given to a factory results in engies produced by that factory to have three times the normal reclaim range. It’s a bug turned feature. (Just imagine the engies come with a one-time pre-charged reclaim module when leaving a factory).
Factory attack move becomes handy for efficiently grabbing reclaim spread out over larger areas, like forests, or even to get reclaim high up on plateaus.
Being bug turned feature, it has two unintuitive side effects: Once the engis lose the initial order, you can’t get it back (the one-time charge dried up). Also, you can give only one attack order from a factory for the reclaim range increase to work. If you give two or more, it just doesn’t work.
“When to go for subs?”
Invest in subs if the map features numerous underwater mexes. Subs are inefficient on large maps or those with minimal water-based mexes since they’re countered hard by torpedo launchers, non-UEF destroyers and torpedo bombers.
“When and how to use TML?”
Utilizing the Tactical Missile Launcher (TML) can be approached in various ways. On smaller team maps with a focus on economy, like Canis, a cheesy move can be to rush a TML, quickly eliminating T2 mexes in your opponent’s base before they can establish Tactical Missile Defense (TMD). However, the TML generally shines on maps with scattered mexes. Priced at 250 mass per missile, it's advisable to prioritize crucial buildings such as HQs, T2 PGs, and T2/T3 mexes. While TMLs are impactful, relying on them too much isn't recommended as they do nothing if your opponent is prepared, so use it when they’re not. Bombing existing TMDs is also a viable tactic.
Additionally, keep an eye on your ACU, as a single TML inflicts 6k damage to it.
“How to use stealth?”
Stealth is available in the form of the stationary stealth buildings for all factions, as well as the Cybran T2 deceiver and the Cybran ACU upgrade.
Starting with the stationary stealth field generator, it's a niche unit primarily used in your main base if you want to hide something from radar, like a nuke or an experimental unit. They don't really help in firebases as a good player will counter it with cheap air scouts. (see also “when and how to build a firebase?”).
The deceiver, a mobile stealth field for Cybran, are not like mobile shields - you don’t want to make that many of them. Throw in one or two into your army to hide it from radar. Additionally you can load one into a transport and all the units as well together with the transport will disappear from the radar.
The stealth upgrade for the Cybran ACU is highly cost effective as it is also a health upgrade. Since the Cybran ACU usually wants to upgrade gun, getting stealth soon after is typically a good idea too.
“How does Overcharge work?
Overcharge (OC) is an ability of your ACU. To activate it, click on your ACU, hit the ‘Overcharge’-Button on the bottom left and select a unit to overcharge it. Alternatively, right-clicking on the icon itself enables automatic OC. This causes your ACU to overcharge its current target whenever the ability is off cooldown (every 5 seconds), and is the recommended way to use OC for beginners.
To use it, you need a minimum of 7500 energy, i.e. at least one energy storage. An OC shot uses energy to deal damage with a 6:1 energy:damage ratio. It will always drain exactly as much energy as necessary to kill the target, capped at a maximum of 90% of your current energy in storage.
For balance reasons, OC damage against units is capped at 15k dmg (90k energy), 400 dmg against ACUs and 800 dmg against buildings.
This means to repeatedly OC in a fight you need a significant amount of additional energy production. Hundreds of energy per second in the T1/T2 stage, thousands in the T3 stage. This is in addition to the 1/2/5/10 energy storages you want to have when overcharging T1/T2/T3/T4 units.
“How to react to an early bomber?”
As easy as it sounds, the primary goal is to not overreact. A T1 bomber is primarily targeting your engis and then your power generators (PGs). To counter it, you immediately have to queue up two mobile AntiAir (MAA) followed by a land scout to keep track of the bomber. Once done, go back to queuing engis. Don’t build a stationary AA as it can't protect your expanding engis. Spread your MAA to cover your engis so that you kill the bomber asap.
Once the bomber died, resume your normal gameplay. Both you (having lost engis) and your opponent (with a costly first bomber) will be behind compared to a normal game, so don’t assume you are significantly behind just because you lost a couple of engis.
If you want, you can also go for a counterplay of making 2-3 labs for raiding. Since your opponent made an air factory, he can’t build tanks to protect his own expanding engis, meaning you can raid them with impunity.
At higher ranks you will want to actively dodge bombs with your engis, engaging in a micro battle with your opponent. Don’t do this if you haven’t practiced it. You’ll just waste your apm achieving nothing. Much more important is to focus on moving your MAA and engis to useful positions, not idling any of them, and making sure your factory queues are correct.
- 1v1 -
|| This section aims for 5x5km and smaller 10x10km maps ||
“When should I move my ACU?”
Use your ACU to construct structures until you spent your mass reserves, typically resulting in the creation of around 3 factories before leaving the base.
“When should I start upgrading mexes to T2?"
As a rule of thumb until you get comfortable guessing when to upgrade a mex to T2, secure 50% of the map with T1 spam and only then think about upgrading mexes to T2.
This is because you need to invest 900 mass to upgrade a Mex to T2, which gives you +4 mass. If you kill one of your opponent's T1 Mexes and rebuild it, they incur a -2 mass loss while you get +2 maintaining the same 4 mass difference for a much cheaper price.
If you stay at T1, you should have either as many or more units than your opponent. Trade efficiently and use the income from battles to either build more units or upgrade Mexe.
“How many land factories should I build?”
Stay on T1 spam to control at least 50% of the map, just like before. If you plan to go for full land spam, a rule of thumb is to have 1 land factory per 2 mexes. When you've got a big reclaim field, expect a quick mass boost.
“How many engis should I build?”
On 5x5 maps, your first factory should have 1 engi and 1 tank after starter engis. On other maps, more engis are better than less meaning you infinitely build them. It's okay to have a bit too many engis rather than not enough.
Exceptions being high reclaim maps such as Desert Arena where you want more engis to reclaim and spend that mass.
“How to beat turtlers?”
Turtlers will rush T2 for point defense and will invest heavily into defensive structures, sacrificing map control. Keep that map control, use extra mexes and reclaim to out-eco them until you've got enough to finish the game with the safest option being an experimental or two, lower tech attacks can easily result in mass donations. Be patient even though it might be annoying; higher ratings see fewer turtlers since it's not a great strategy once you know how to counter it.
“How to use air control?”
After winning air during the t1 stage, you can just build a couple of bombers. The main goal is to kill expanding engis, bomb t1 mexes, thinning out the opposing army and potentially sniping his PGs. Most importantly you will want to stay clear of any AA. As long as the bomber lives it can continue to do damage.
With T2 air the options expand. Go for T2 bombers if you want to kill specific structures such as T2 PGs in his main base, but generally speaking gunships are more flexible and easier to use. Send around 1-2 of them, killing mexes and expansions. Or you can gather multiple gunships and use them as a tool to wipe out entire land armies. Make sure to be cautious of T2 flak as they deal AoE damage, melting your gunships in seconds. Here too the most important thing is to stay clear of any AA. Just kill everything unprotected, and move on to a new target as soon as AA enters the picture.
T2 air can also be used for ACU snipes or other very high risk high reward plays. Doing so is usually ill advised unless it's your only way left at a hail mary attempt to win the game.
“How to get back air control?”
In contrast to team games, the focal point of air is not just T3. Both T1 and T2 air are crucial for raiding eco and thinning out the opposing armies. If you lose air control, make sure to immediately queue more mobile AA. If you have access to T2 land, a couple of mobile flak and shields are enough to prevent any air from farming your land army so you can continue to push. If your opponent has T2 air, make sure to get a single stationary T2 flak and a single T2 shield to protect the important structures in your base.
- Teamgames -
“If my teammates kicks the bucket, leaving me with multiple bases, what’s the game plan?”
Play defensively until you have stabilized. Limited actions per minute (APM) mean a higher risk of making bad trades in battles. Use your newfound mass quickly and follow a single plan instead of two, meaning to zoom out and think about what you want to go for. Understanding your teammate's strategy on the fly when you suddenly inherit a base is tough, so focus on teching up; If needed, throw in some point defenses (PDs), and increase your engi or factory count to keep that mass flow in check.