This article describes the basic strategies for multiplayer games and skirmishes. It focuses on the ways in which Supreme Commander is different from other RTSes, to help experienced gamers with the difficult learning curve when starting non-campaign battles in Supreme Commander.
The moment the level starts, build a land factory, two power generators (adjacent to the factory for the adjacency bonus), and then two mass extractors. That factory should first build a handful of engineers before building intelligence or attack units. Build two more power generators, two more mass extractors, and build your second land factory. This one should make a handful of scouts and then build a bunch of T1 combat units on infinte repeat. If there's a hydrocarbon spot, build on it now and build an air factory adjacent to it. If you're an aggressive player, move your ACU to the front line to push for more territory.
All those engineers should be building T1 mass extractors or power generators. You should also send some of them on patrol routes near rocks or trees to reclaim them. This will keep you from running out of mass early on. Use the T1 combat units to defend your engineers and harass the enemy.
Remember, this isn't your old RTS. One or two land factories aren't going to cut it. The more income you have, the more factories you should build. By the time you're done expanding you should have 5-10, depending on the size of the map. You can use your extra engineers to assist factories to make them build more quickly but it isn't usually cost effective at T1.
The build rate of a T1 land factory is 20 and the build rate of a T1 engineer is 5; therefor it takes four T1 engineers to equal the build rate of a single T1 factory. The mass cost of four T1 engineers is 208 mass (52 x 4)while the cost of a T1 land factory is 240 and has a lot more health than the engineers. Looking at this same situation in terms of time (assuming an economy that has enough mass and energy) yields a similar conclusion. It takes at least 52 seconds (13 x 4) for a T1 land factory to produce four T1 engineers while it takes 60 seconds for one T1 engineer to build a land factory. So if you want to increase your T1 unit production speed, it is about the same cost to build another land factory as it is to assist an existing land factory with four engineers but the factory has more HP. However, when dealing with T2 and T3 factories, it is generally better to assist the factory with engineers rather than to build a new factory and upgrade it.
Never, ever run out of energy. Before you build something more demanding (i.e., your first Tech 2 factory upgrade or tech 3 combat units) grow your economy. If you see big red flashing negative numbers, your economy will grow more slowly, and you'll probably lose the fight.
While expanding your opponent is doing the same. Scout your enemy regularly so you can counter his attacks before they occur. Scout his main base to see what he is building. Build more scout units than you think you need, and mix them in with your battle groups—most units are more effective if they are supported by radar or vision.
If you have a single amount of spare mass or energy that can be put into building something useful, even if it's just an engineer or power generator...Use it! Your enemy is probably reading, and making use of this article, so you cannot afford to make a mistake or sit back and relax.
Whenever you have excess mass, upgrade a Tech 1 mass extractor to Tech 2. If you manage this properly, you'll be shocked by the size of your mass income in a short time. Get a factory to Tech 2 and produce a handful of tech 2 engineers. They can start producing tech 2 power generators, point defenses and anti-air.
Remember all those T1 factories you have? Don't let those go to waste! Remember that T2 factories should be assisted by engineers to increase build rate rather than upgrading other factories. So when it comes time to tech up because T1 units don't cut it anymore, use engineers (or your commander) to reclaim the obsolete T1 factories and use that recovered mass to invest in the T2 factory, units and buildings, or just upgrade them as well! Remember adding Engineers to your factories to help the output will use more resources. It is better to build a lot of power and mass resource points to help your engineers to the factories and make sure there is space in your resources to put more buildings into your base!!!
Be sure to observe when your opponent techs up or does not tech up. Remember that the game is won not by just units, but by analyzing your opponent and countering his strategy. If your enemy is sending one attack after another after another of just tech 1 units, you should probably do the same...hundreds of tech 1 units are better for facing this than a few tech 2 units, especially considering the cost. On the other hand, if your opponent is not attacking (or is rarely attacking), but is rather staying still, you should probably stop building tech 1 immediately and being teching up as fast as you can. (Expert players have been known to do both at once, in various combinations.)
Every little bit helpsEdit
Don't forget that Tech 1 units have significance in gameplay, and not just at the beginning of the game. But they are not the major determining factor in winning the game. In summary, the two biggest mistakes some players make are building too few tech 1 units, or building too many tech 1 units. The former is more common, because some players, especially beginners, feel that tech 1 units are insignificant and a waste of time, and the players like to upgrade quickly. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to tech 1 units, meant to stress the importance of having a reasonable amount (not obsessive amount or scarce amount) of tech 1 units:
1. Almost every expert player rushes...tech 1 units are great for taking out important structures and expanding early, or for defending against such rushes.
2. Some units that players like to use a lot have a low rate of fire, and high damage. In these cases, several tech 1 units can save you more money and cost you fewer destroyed units than using tech 2 units. A good example is using tech 1 units against UEF Mongoose Gatling Bots. The Gatling Bots can completely wreck tech 2 units, but they are almost completely helpless against the equivalent in tech 1 units.
3. When used properly, tech 1 units can set amazing traps or surprise an enemy with unexpected maneuvers. They are generally faster than tech 2 units, and are usually not the first units targeted when mixed in with tech 2 units. To make a long story short, some amazing "pull-offs" include using tech 1 units for hit-and-run missions (surprising or scaring the enemy), keeping a single tech 1 unit here and there to fool the enemy into wasting time trying to destroy the unit that they think could be dangerous, and moving tech 1 units out of the way so that while the enemy is focused on your tech 2 units, you're taking out vulnerable structures
1. Tech 1 units are toast against units with a high rate of fire
2. While tech 1 units are cheaper than tech 2/tech 3 units, they still draw from your economy, and may be the one factor that's causing you to accumulate insufficient resources to continue constructing a base
3. If your army of tech 1 units is slaughtered, you are giving a huge amount of free mass to your opponent if he has the opportunity
4. Tech 1 units have no chance against several defenses...in fact, they are giving your opponent the veterancy he needs to win.
5. The whole time you are building tech 1 units, your opponent may be teching up.
By the way, this section only applies to land units. With very few exceptions (for instance, you will probably find that tech 1 interceptors are better cost-wise for fighting a tech 2 fighter/bomber or gunship.), there is almost no benefit to tech 1 air and sea units once you have sufficient resources to upgrade--you should tech up on air and sea as soon as you can maintain your economy with it.
Protect your ACUEdit
Once your factories are starting to produce tech 2 or tech 3 units, the risk to your commander is rapidly rising, so keep him somewhere safe. Do not leave him standing still for minutes at a time--that's inviting a bomber run. Build Tactical Missile Defenses liberally. They're cheap and will save your ACU's life. Build higher-tech anti-air, and build more of it than you think you need. On maps with water your ACU is usually much safer underwater.
Alternatively, if you do not feel like protecting your ACU, and if it's an annihilation game, you can always teleport your commander into the enemy base and Ctrl-K it into smithereens.
Remember, there's only one frag that counts, the ACU. If you don't have a coherent kill strategy, you're not going to win. It's certainly possible to win through military domination by overwhelming your opponent's base with land units, but that's only one strategy. A group of carefully managed and escorted Tech 3 bombers (especially Aeon Shockers) can often get a clean kill. Building a group of Tactical Missile Launchers within range of the enemy ACU can also get a surprise kill. On water maps you'll probably need submarines, aircraft, or amphibious units to get a kill.
However, even if you kill the ACU, annihilation maps make it possible to let a person survive via just a single engineer or factory left alone. And killing the ACU isn't always beneficial. Remember, it's a nuclear warhead inside an extremely powerful shell. If it gets in your base, teleportation or walking, your own defenses will be your demise.
"To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy" - Sun Tzu
Watch replays of your matches and figure out why you lost. In your next match, try to anticipate your opponent's actions and win the battles before they begin. Download and watch replays of games by high-rated players. Read the strategy articles in this wiki and on other SupCom sites.
Bigger is always betterEdit
Part of the strategy of the game is having as many units as possible--you can almost never have too much of anything. However, if there are certain things you absolutely MUST have plenty of, they are the following:
- Engineers (Unlike most RTS games, you can have engineers working with buildings or with each other to speed up production)
- Defensive Turrets - Point Defense, Anti-Air, and Torpedo
- Intelligence Structures
- Power Generators
- Mass Fabricators (More useful in Supreme Commander, than in Forged Alliance. In Forged Alliance these have been reduced.)
- Mass Storage Units (These will keep you from running out of mass too quickly, and building mass storage around your mass extractors will help increase your mass income)
Be advised though, while you never can have enough of the above units, they are not free. Every time you are building one, you are not building something else. However, having plenty of these is a major determining factor in whether you will achieve victory or not.
Nothing to FearEdit
As they say, you have 'nothing to fear but fear itself.' As intense and exciting as the game will often become, SupCom is still just a game. Remember the main differences between human and AI players; whilst the AI will never get bored, tired or frustrated, modern-day AI is still extremely stupid compared with a human's ability to reason and implore about the chances, or in a nutshell, a human's ability to think. But even so, a human opponent is not perfect. While they can devise strategies, reason with logic, and form game-winning alliances (if the skirmish has more than three people and allows you to do so), humans will never become as quick, precise, or unemotional as a computer. Taunting a computer or trying to give it strategies will get you nowhere, but doing so to a human might just prove a big enough difference to win or lose. Taunting and spamming are surprisingly efficient diversions, allowing you to cut into their defenses whilst they are trying to come up with a good counter to your amazing uber spam, or simply busy telling you to stop typing 'brb' into the chat box. As well, humans will inevitably panic when faced with innumerable odds. Radar jamming is an extremely powerful tool when attempting to scare your opponent into submission, as long as they don't have the intel to render it obsolete.
As a player against a human, the best ability you can have is the ability to think on the ball and keep a calm head. There will always be that time where a player will stand up and curse a blue streak as they thought a game-winning tactic ends up in failure, but you can use that to your advantage. Frustrating your opponent with seemingly unpredictable and fast attacks will soon have him raging and red-faced. That is the most likely time they will stumble in their fight against you and allow gaps in their strategy as they swear at the computer screen. As well (this may seem a little nerdy), if you memorize the abilities, pros, and cons of each and every unit in the game, you are giving yourself elbow room to maneuver when the other player gains the advantage. In a game, if the opponent does a particular tactic three times over again, he is either about to change strategy or (hopefully) settling into routine. If the latter occurs, that is the signal to quickly mass the perfect counterattack against his defenses.
That said, don't get too cocky, commander. The best players all started out as beginners, and becoming overconfident against an opponent perfectly capable of killing you as you are of him is an error that may cost you the fight.