Build Orders are fundamental to any type of RTS game. Supreme Commander may require less intense build order strategy, but the strategy still applies.
What is a Build Order? Edit
A build order is simply the time, way or position where you place your buildings, and the order you do so. The units that you build also connect to this, but may not be strictly defined to a build order. Let's say we're playing Starcraft, famous for its competitive play. A normal Protoss tech build order goes along these lines (the number represents the population level); 9: Pylon, 10: Gateway, 12: Gas Assimilator, 14: Cybernetics Core.
Let's break it down, this formatting may be hard to understand because it's in Starcraft but basically, at 9 population you place a Pylon, at 10 Population you place a Gateway and so on.. that's it! Of course they get more advanced as you improve but you get the drift, and Supreme Commander is even simpler because we don't have to time our buildings by our population! This may seem just basic and stupid to good players but it's surprising how many new guys don't even learn a build order. To find the best build orders for any game, read/post on forums on that game, read about websites on that game, or the best way, watch replays of top players!
Build Orders in Supreme Commander Edit
Note: The instructions here are based in the Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance expansion. Some may apply in the vanilla version, but no guarantees.
A build order start off in FA is easy. With your ACU, lay a mass extractor, 2 power generators and then a land factory all three in a row, then another mass extractor.
Land Factory, 2 Power Generators, 2 Mass Extractors. Simple, huh? Yes, there are variations (very few, most involve a crazy risky rush with an air factory), but this is the most used, and is said that it is the best.
You'll want your factory building engineers first, 2 - 3 depending on the map, then maybe a recon group with a scout or some light bots/tanks and a scout to accompany your out going units. It's up to you, play to your strengths.
Supreme Commander Example Build Order Edit
In most maps, the first thing to build is a land factory, with two power generators adjacent to it. Then build 4 mass extractors (on the 4 mass locations closest to your starting location), and then put more power generators around your land factory, not building the 2 on the parts of the factory where the units exit. While your commander is doing that have your factory pump out about 20 engineers. It might seem a little drastic but it will help later. After your engineers are out have all engineers assist your commander to T2. You may run a little low on power but you won't be down for long. After that's done save up around 1000 mass and begin upgrading two mass extractors to T2, having one assisted by your ACU and engineers, then ring the 4 sides of the extractors with mass storage.
Repeat the process with all four Mass extractors, and ring them with storage. Then put down a radar installation and surround the radar tower with some T2 power generators once you have reached T2.
If done correctly, this should only take about 6 to 8 minutes.
This example, however, does not include any defenses and if it takes you 6 to 8 minutes, the enemy will likely be sending scouts or attack units your way. Your ACU will be able to defend you from a few units, but if the enemy sends a medium sized group or a few air units, you will be in trouble. Try building a couple point defenses and air defenses, 3 to 4 minutes in at the latest.
Experiment with different build orders and find one that fits your play style!