Hello and welcome to our little community that is Forged Alliance Forever! This guide is intended to give you, the brand new player, what you need to begin your FAF career as a competitive player, both for the global and ladder scene. These are key principles you need, that are not only critical for you to learn but are imbued in every player in the community, even in the high-level pros.
As a new player, it is not expected that you will understand many of the game's core mechanics and basic principles to play when you enter the competitive scene, which is why tutorials and other guides will be necessary for you to learn your way through the learning curve that FAF is known for.
It is important to know that this is not a “training” page, as it is common for trainers to be asked for help from the new player, and as such this guide was inspired to give essential tips and advice that are vital for entering the competitive scene. The reason for this is often due to the difficulty for trainers to provide help for players who may not understand the game, to begin with, and most of what a trainer may have to offer will be lost on those who are not ready to apply and practice with what they are given. It is encouraged for new players to play lots of games and to earn some skill and rating before they may have a proper training session; however, do not be afraid to ask questions! There is a lot to learn about the game, and trainers can help with pointing out helpful bits necessary to begin your career.
Note that if you are a new player and don't intend to be “competitive” or “serious” about playing, this guide may not be helpful to you. Learning to improve and earn skills will take time and practice, and if you do not want this, some of the information here may not apply to you. Do read on if you are curious and want to learn how to get good!
1. Playing: As trivial and mundane as this might be, it is a surprisingly tedious thing to reiterate to new players, and a deciding factor if players will stay in the community! Often new players may become overwhelmed from their first few games, as often skill gaps and game meta will discourage them from putting in more effort than they should. It is frustrating not only for the new player but for everyone else, as trainers who have put time and effort into training those who give up after a few games are only considered a waste of potential. Here are a couple of extra points to remember for this particular habit:
Play Ladder or Ranked Team games: While it is encouraged overall to play, and you are welcome to play any mode, there is not much use to playing in the sandbox or non-competitive game modes to get good, as they will not teach good behaviours and strategies for the ranked situations. Playing against an AI is similar, and while you can learn the game's mechanics and get some practice this way, it is a far worse teacher than getting your hands dirty in a real game, as the AI is static, slow, and predictable, vs a real player who will use any opportunities available to crush you. A personal bit of advice on this subject is that “You learn faster on fire”, meaning you are far less willing to repeat failed mistakes and more attentive toward learning effective strategies if you are put in a game in which the stakes are high.
Get Used to Losing: Everyone has been there, everyone knows about finding out the hard way about how bad you are, and how dumb some of the strategies might appear. They might seem impossible to overcome, and way beyond your grade, but many active players can tell you how many thousands of games they have lost to earn their ranking, and how their first hundred games were miserable as the new guy. However, you will notice that these veterans push through despite these, and accept that in playing in a competitive game with all kinds of room for error, the feeling of winning despite all odds can be incredible and exhilarating, which is all part of the reason they love playing FAF.
Practice Makes Perfect: not an original concept, but it is true with skill. You will watch all kinds of tutorials and read up on everything conceivable to prepare yourself for the games ahead, and while they do work wonders, nothing prepares you as well as your intuition against the unforeseeable. Every game can lead to all kinds of outcomes, and without much practice, not only will you not be prepared mentally for the potential threats that come with every single action, but you will not have the muscle memory to execute everything you may want to do. This all comes with time and practice, as things will start to feel natural, like paying attention to your economy and adjusting, as well as handling your armies and thinking ahead about your every move to win the game.
2. Watching Replays: A great feature included in FAF can be found in the “Replays” tab, and just as it sounds, you can watch games that you or other players have been in once they are over. The importance of watching your replays cannot be understated, you need these to see your own mistakes and understand why the game happened the way it did. Players often go back and review these to find out how they can change their behaviour in a match, as well as understand how they should be playing on certain maps, as build orders and play styles will often change drastically depending on which ones they are. This is, of course, important for both team games and 1v1s, as different concepts will apply, but they can all be obtained from watching replays of not only your games but of other ones as well. Here are a couple of extra points to remember for this particular habit:
Break Down EVERYTHING: It is not only your play style that you need to watch, but everything about what your opponent was doing in the game that needs attention as well. From the build order to economy and expansions, to management of units from start to finish, you should dissect anything you can to understand what happened that either lead to your victory or defeat. This is especially handy for when you receive training, as you can pinpoint and learn what trainers will be addressing you and how it impacts the game. Note that it is better to analyze replays that you lose because while you can learn from a good win how to make it more efficient, you have much more to gain from understanding how your opponent exploited your weaknesses, as you should be learning how to counter his strategies so that you can avoid losses in the future. This lends just as much help in learning your opponent's weaknesses, and how you can take advantage of his mistakes and openings for your success.
Watch Higher Level Replays: As a new player, you are likely going to be playing against those in similar elo to you, which is healthy for where you are at, but not something you want to stay in. Learning to exploit these low-tier players may let you defeat them effectively, but you will need to obtain the fundamental skills needed to start competing against competent players, which on average begins at the 800-1k rankings. You can watch the top high-level pro replays as you wish, but you are not likely to understand and figure out what it is that they are doing that puts them where they are, just that they are the pinnacle of effective plays and strategies. You will want to start watching 1k level replays, as they will be able to demonstrate a beginner's level application of proper build orders and play styles, as you look toward higher skill levels, you will see more developed and advanced behaviours that will come to you as you work your way up from the basics.
3. Communicating: A surprising habit sure, but it is consistent and clear that coordinating and engaging with other players tends to not only help you improve as a player but make the game far more enjoyable as well! From personal experience, making friends has done wonders in opening the community and making many experiences easier, since this not only allows you to play with people you like but could in turn allow you to help each other out. This does not elusively apply to team games, as being familiar and chatting with opponents on the ladder can do a lot of good in healthy competition. The advantages of this let you: fill up games fast, host your games and play together, join clans, have others analyze replays and share their thoughts on your games, etc. Here are a couple of extra points to remember for this particular habit:
Teamwork: A strong strategy in team games is quite simply being communicative with your team, as pinging and chatting with your fellow combatants allows you to pull off plans that would have been difficult on your own. It is not uncommon to have players pooling resources together to rush nukes or experimentals when a game-changing tactic needs to happen, as well as moving armies together to defeat your opponents. In turn, this also allows you to prevent your teammates from suffering horrible losses because of a previously unseen threat, and avoid situations that would put the entire team at a disadvantage. Never underestimate the power of teamwork!
Ask Questions: As said before, there is no harm in asking questions, as there are a lot of things that even some higher-level players are not familiar with, especially in a game that offers a wide variety of strategies and tactics. You do not need to ask trainers either, as there are regular players who can give you feedback on whatever it is you need to clarify. You will need this if you want to get familiar with the various personalities and individuals in the community, as they can help you in other ways, such as if you have technical issues or have advice on say computer setups, etc., there is no need to be shy!
Make Friends!: As silly as it sounds, friends do make a world of a difference, as it lends itself to the previous point of getting good answers to your questions, as well as lending you support from different sources. Having all kinds of people to talk to allows you to familiarize yourself with the different groups of the community, and opportunities that they can offer to you. Higher-level players can offer you all kinds of help and support that a trainer might, which is much easier if they are familiar and friendly with you. Coupled with this, voice chat is a superb way to talk with and enjoy the good company of some fellow players, which is typically offered through FAF Discord.
Before we wrap things up with this guide, here are a couple of notes to keep in mind with these habits:
So this was the three essential habits for any new player to learn! Many other guides will further support you in learning the mechanics as well as the general build orders needed to compete in the higher-ranked games, and it is encouraged for you to check them out! With this information at your disposal, go out there and play as you will, and we look forward to seeing your progress on the battlefield.
Written by: WiseOldDog