Beginner's Guide to Forged Alliance
First of all, welcome to FAF! We are happy to have you!
The idea behind this guide is to show new players the ultimate basics, and a little more advanced stuff as we progress, so that you can dive into a game right away and have some basic knowledge. If you are looking for some more advanced stuff please consult: Learning SupCom
In this chapter we'll cover the basics of economy and some build orders to get you started.
List of words
Let's start gaining knowledge! There are a bunch of words you'll need to know because you'll see them fairly often, which are the following:
- mex(es) = mass extractor(s)
- pgen = power generator
- bo = build order
- eco = economy (mass + power income and storage)
- macro = related to the base, economy and production (opposite of micro)
- micro = the usage of units (for example dodging artillery)
- mapcontrol = how much on the map you control, doesn't necessarily have to be mass points (for example holding the area between two expansions of the opponent)
- buildpower = how fast a unit can build, repair, capture, and reclaim
This is a very small part of the Glossary. Visit that for a longer list.
Economy - The basics
Okay, so now you've learned some fancy words it's time to introduce you to the first aspect of the game, the ECONOMY!
The economy consists out of two resources:
Can be obtained via mass extractors, which can only be built on Mass Points. There's another way to get mass income, via mass fabricators. But these will get covered later in the guide.
Also known as Power, this resource can be obtained via power generators, which can be built everywhere! This resource is not limited, so you can get as much as you like.
You can also build hydrocarbon power plants to gain more power income. These can only be built on certain places though, and on some maps you can't build them at all. They give the same income as 5 power generators, but only cost 2.5 power generators, making them very cost-efficient. Note that the ACU cannot start construction of a hydro.
There are two things you want to prevent from happening to your economy: stalling and overflowing mass/power. Prepare for a wall of text, because these two are very important!
Stalling mass/power means that your storage is empty and you're draining your economy. In almost all situations this is considered to be a bad thing, why?
- While stalling one resource, you cannot efficiently use the other one.
- You'll slow down everything, from building anti air turrets while under fire from gunships, to finishing the last 5% of your experimental while the enemy is at your front lines.
- When draining power all your shields go down, all your stealth fields and radars get disabled, and you cannot produce air efficiently anymore.
How to deal with accidental economy stalls: Its very easy to stall your economy by accident, which puts you at a disadvantage. Luckily there are a few tricks to limit this disadvantage:
- Stalling power is horrible, we all know that. However, pausing air for a while isn't, especially when you already have air control. And in the meantime you can build some power generators quite fast. When you've enough power income again you can continue producing air!
- Stalling mass can be bad, depending on your total income and how much you use of it. For example stalling -10 mass at minute 1 would be really bad. However, stalling 10 mass at minute 40 ingame with a total mass income of +500 isn't bad at all. Knowing this the following trick will only work early in the game: if you have reclaim available, reclaim it. If you don't have reclaim available, make it! For example destroying one of your land factories (by selecting it and pressing CTRL+K). You don't want to destroy a T2 or T3 factory tho, in that case it's better to pause it for a while. Reclaim will get covered a lil bit further, patience!
Overflowing mass/power means that you reached the maximum capacity of your storage, thus leading to wasting the incoming resources. In a teamgame this isn't bad in some situations, because the wasted resources are given to your allies. On the famous map called Seton's Clutch for example both front players rush the middle reclaim (What is reclaim? Will get covered soon, keep reading!) and overflow mass to their allies to give them a nice eco boost, leading to advantage. So when is it bad to overflow mass/power?
- In the first 20 minutes of a game you shouldn't come anywhere near overflowing mass, be it a teamgame or a 1vs1. Against an equally-skilled opponent you'll have less units on the field, leading to loss of mapcontrol. If you do however manage to reach the max capacity (from reclaim for example), try to use the mass asap.
- A common mistake by beginners is overbuilding power. This counts mostly for 1vs1 games where early tanks are important. Keep in mind a pgen is equal to +- 1,5 tanks. Make sure to put this in perspective, when you've +10K power income at minute 30 ingame and you only use 9k of it, it doesn't matter.
Building storages can prevent you from overflowing, but this isn't always the best option. More advanced info about storages will be covered further in this guide.
How to deal with overflow: There are a few tricks you can use to efficiently deal with overflow, the best ones are:
- When you're overflowing mass and have enough power, upgrade a mass extractor to T2. On small maps this shouldn't happen around/before minute 10 tho! In that case you better spam more land factories
- When you're overflowing power you can always build more air factories. Air requires way more power than land/navy. So if you have air and harass the opponent with it, he'll have to get more air aswell, and more power.
The economy bars & reclaim
As you can see I build a monkeylord with not a single mass extractor! What you just witnessed is the power of reclaim, also the reason for the huge turnarounds in Gyle's casts. Alright, let's analyze the video in detail, I'll write step by step what happens: 0:08 - I start the production of the monkeylord with 9 T3 engineers, who have alot of buildpower (see list of words). You can see I stall 324 mass soon, causing a massive slow down for the production of the monkeylord. 0:20 - I start reclaiming the CZAR wreck. This experimental wreck contains enough mass to complete the monkeylord. Although you see I stall -24 mass, the production speeds up because in perspective -24 is nothing when your total income is +302. 0:40 - I stop reclaiming for a few seconds to show the power of reclaim again. I also increase the gamespeed after this to show the next thing faster. 1:07 - A rather common mistake: I finished the monkeylord but I'm still reclaiming the CZAR, leading to a gigantic mass overflow wasting alot of mass. This is one of the reasons why you need storage, but that gets covered later in this guide.
Knowing this you can guess what happens when you let your experimental die in the hands of your enemy. Also a good lesson to not learn the hard way: retreat your experimental in time, so that you can destroy it once it's back in your base and build another one from the wreck! If you can kill the enemy ACU however, go for it.
By now you should understand the eco bars (including the total income and outgoings, not only the calculated income). But what do the numbers mean? It's really easy, for example: If you have +10 mass income you get 10 mass every second.
Note: more info about reclaim will be covered further in the guide, but for now just remember that if you've reclaim available you should try to reclaim (and use it) asap, not only wreckages are reclaimable. Also rocks and trees, trees only give energy though, so they aren't that important.
Build orders - The two legends
A build order is what you're going to do with your ACU and the first engineer(s) at the start. It gives you a nice start and is different for every map, however, you don't need one for every map. There are two build orders which can be applied on almost every map.
A build order where the ACU builds two land factories.
The ACU builds:
- Land factory
- 2 Pgens
- 2 Mexes
- 3 Pgens
- Land factory
The first engineer builds:
- 2 mexes
A build order where the ACU builds a land factory, followed by an air factory. This is very common in higher level of play, because it lets you build bombers for attacking the enemy, interceptors for killing enemy bomber and, most importantly, scouts for finding out what your opponent is up to.
The ACU builds:
- Land factory
- 2 Pgens
- 2 Mexes
- 4 Pgens
- Air factory
The first engineer builds:
- 2 mexes
Second Air (Hydro version)
A build order where the ACU builds a land factory, followed by an air factory. Since hydro's are very cost-efficient you should use the hydro version if possible.
The ACU builds:
- Land factory
- 2 Pgens
- 4 Mexes
- Assists first engineer
The first engineer builds:
- Air factory attached to hydro (for the Adjacency Bonus)
In this chapter we'll see what you can build with the stuff we've seen in the previous chapter ("Introduction").
General information There are a few things you cannot bind to one subject, like tech and upgrades for example. The game exists out of 4 techs: Tech 1 (T1), Tech 2 (T2), Tech 3 (T3), and the Experimental Tech (Exp or T4). Besides that you also have upgrades for the ACU, mexes, and some other stuff like adjacency bonus'. I'll always start from the bottom (T1) and work my way up, although you might not see any T3 in here, because these will get covered later in the guide when you understand the basics.
The ACU is the Queen on the chessboard. It's very important, can do alot of stuff, but also very easy to lose if not paid attention to.
Strength There's alot of stuff to say about the ACU, so let's start with the basics: strength. People often put the ACU equal to 20 tanks in a 1vs1 game, thus it can be used as a very aggressive unit. However, you don't want to risk the ACU too much, so let's see how much it can take:
A Cybran ACU fighting 15 Seraphim tanks
You can see the ACU didn't have alot of health left, something you definitely want to avoid from happening! But you can also see the ACU took out 15 tanks, which is alot. If the ACU had some backup, maybe 5 tanks for example, it wouldn't have been in trouble at all. You can also notice the ACU was under attack by all 15 tanks the whole time, we'll see what we can do to avoid this in "2.5 Intel".
As good as everything that can kill gets veterancy after a certain amount of kills. How many? Depends on the unit. The ACU for example needs 20 points to get his first veterancy. A T1 tank is equal to one point. The higher the tech goes, the more points you get for killing it. However, when you got your first veterancy, you'll need more points for the next one. And you can only get a maximum of five veterancies. Why? Each time a unit gets veterancy its health will not only increase, but it'll also get a certain amount of its health back. The ACU for example extends its health capacity by around 1K (depending on the faction) and gets 10% health by the first veterancy, for free!
Coming soon: a video showing a nicely timed veterancy for the ACU and more explanation.
Now that you know what veterancy is, you should realise you can use your ACU aggressively. And if you do this, there's one thing you should never forget: always build power storage! Because when you have more than 5K power (you start with 4K), your ACU can use his overcharge. So what is overcharge exactly? A powerfull cannon shot which does great damage, instantly killing groups of T1 units (if they are close together). But that's not where it ends, it can even one shot T3 units, and do insane amounts of damage vs Experimentals! And ofcourse, killing multiple units at once will get you your veterancy faster. Here's a video showing its power:
Video coming soon
Upgrades Alright. A little bit earlier we saw the strength of the ACU and as you can imagine it isn't that great later in the game. That's where upgrades come into play, let's sum them all up with a nice video:
More to come soon
Here we'll talk about pure macro. When to get what.
Offense & Defense
You won't kill the enemy with nothing to attack. But what exactly is the best unit to attack with? Or defend?
Counters This is the part where it gets really interesting. A player can have double the eco of his opponent and still lose, why? Because the different kinds of units play a big role in the game! Let's make a list of what you can counter with what to get started:
- Tech 1
- Point Defense = Artillery (Point Defense gets outranged by artillery!)
- Bombers/Jesters = Mobile Anti-Air (Mobile Anti-Air will hold off your opponent's bombers, but you should get air fast aswell)
- Aurora = Bombers (Bombers can one-hit the T1 aeon tanks)
- Fobo's = Frigates (This counts for maps where the seraphim artillery can go over the water)
- Tech 2
- Gunships = T2 Mobile Anti-Air (Don't cover the whole map with T2 Anti-Air, make it mobile!)
- Mobile Missile Launchers = Mobile Missile Launchers (Building TMD against MML's is in most situations useless. Either attack or build the same unit)
- TML = TMD (Don't wait till the TML is finished... Protect your T2 mexes asap against TML, especially in teamgames!)
- Tech 3
- Artillery = Artillery (These are even worse than MML, shields won't stop them. Counter with the same unit!)
Probably the most important aspect of the game. Not only you watching the enemy, but also preventing him from watching you!
Most of the time when a newby asks advice about his replay in the replay analysis thread he gets told to scout more often. However I think it isn't very helpfull to say it like that. So how should you scout?
- Small maps
On small maps you usually go second land rather than second air. Meaning you cannot build a scout plane to fly over the whole map. A good way to scout on small maps is by building some early land scouts and placing them on positions where it shouldn't be attacked, while they provide useful intel. LAB's can also be used to scout. While they not provide radar coverage you can send them to small chokepoints where raids could pass. If the LAB gets killed, you know there's a raid coming your way.
- Big maps
On 10x10 and 20x20 maps it's often normal to go second air. There is something you should decide when going second air: do I build a bomber or a scout with an interceptor first? Looking at your own and your enemies faction can help you deciding this choice. For example if you're UEF and your opponent is Seraphim you can almost be certain he'll build a bomber. So what you can do is build a scout to get intel and the position of the bomber, followed by an interceptor to finish the bomber off.
Now you've some basic knowledge about scouting, let's try to prevent it.
There are both static and mobile units that provide a stealth field. The most advanced stealth unit is probably the Cybran Deceiver. A mobile T2 unit that can hide your army from the enemy. There are also static T2 Stealth Field generators. The disadvantage of these is that once they get scouted, the enemy knows that area is hidden from his radars. While with deceivers on the other hand, he doesn't know which area is hidden, since they are mobile.
There are also a few units whom can clock themselves, hiding them from view! These can be very usefull. However, if they aren't in a stealth field and the enemy has radar coverage over it, they will appear as a grey square making them visible. There are a few mean things you can do with cloak. The Seraphim T1 scout for example is very usefull for preventing the enemy building his mexes. How? You cloak the scout and then place it on a mex spot, the enemy engineer won't build the mex and the enemy uses valueable time (especially on smaller maps). If you're the one getting prevented from building a mex, you can simple order an attack move over the mass spot to reclaim the cloaked scout.
Now you understand quite alot about units and economy, maybe it's time to choose a faction! There is a much more in depth version of this here. Alternatively you can play random to learn all of them at once!
UEF - Unity! A strong faction, known for their excellent defenses.
- T1 Striker can dodge incoming fire, excellent in the early game.
- T2 Pillar is a very cheap unit compared to other T2, making them great early in the T2 game to overwhelm the enemy.
- T1 Bombers don't have a good precision, making them less efficient to kill the opponent's expanding engineers at the early game.
Cybran - Freedom! A faction that's more difficult to play, but has many tools which make it interesting.
- T1 Mantis is the fastest t1 tank, and can even assist with building projects!
- T2 Mobile stealth field is a very cheap and effective unit! Just try it!
- T1 Bombers have a bad precision, making them inefficient vs units, and can sometimes fail to kill enemy expanding engineers.
- No Mobile Shields
Seraphim - Destruction! This faction has very strong units, and some good defenses, especially shields, but there are less of them.
- T1 artillery is effective, and can cross water!
- T2 Illshavoh is very strong, it should be treated as a t2.5 unit.
- They have a distinct lack of units - such as no LABs
Aeon - Clarity! One of the harder factions to play due to some quirks with their tanks, but very rewarding when used correctly.
- T1 Aurora outranges all other t1 tanks, can dodge incoming fire, and even hover!
- T2 Obsidian is a strong unit, effective vs other T2, but slow and low ranged, and not as good vs T1.
- T1 Aurora has very low hp, is quite slow, and requires constant attention.
- T2 Obsidian is slow and low ranged, and not as good vs T1 as other T2 tanks.