it's been about 4 months since i've been active on here, i've gotten busy with work/life and i'm not sure how often ill be on (not quitting by any means, still find too much enjoyment from playing every now and then), but over the almost 20 years i've been on here, i've always wanted a place to deposit my knowledge and experience that I've accumulated.
I started ts in 1998 after a friend of mine (known by the log back then Xeoning) showed me this game that he'd been playing, and I got addicted. I was 8 at the time, and remember seeing people like exile4eva, busta1uk, Bluewar88, ragnal2ok, and admiring how quickly they could kill me lol. I played the game for about two weeks before my computer broke, and then I returned to ts another two years later, but I was playing mods since they were much easier and i was winning more than i was on westwood maps. After getting my ass kicked on the mods back then like Grays 3v3 by westwood players hundreds of times, i decided to venture over to official maps and see how i could become as good as them around 2002. i remember people like Xeoning, mill0, Phatmouse (Ray), and Aphrodlte all showing me some of the basics, but it wasn't until dencavda (otherwise known as Avan) took me under his wing and really gave me a new mind frame and approach to ts that i started to improve quickly and see results. After years of playing tournaments and clan matches in his clan from like 2004-2006, I eventually was able to compete with the better players after working on different aspects of my gameplay, learning the most difficult of them (midfighting) by practicing vs Megaf0rce, w0dkabul, dachschaf, and even mammy2k1. TS was considered dead by the time I rose to the top tier, even though there was still probably 5x the player base then compared to now. But I continued to play on and off to this day, still gradually tweaking my gameplay, as I've always wanted to continue getting better and better.
Teaching people has been enjoyable to me over the years, and my main goal was to always foster the competition of this community and raise the skill ceiling. I've always been willing to pass on my knowledge to nice people that were hungry to learn, and have taught countless people between 2007-now, whether by personally telling them what/what not to do, letting them spectate my games, or having some of my matches recorded for youtube, and I hope to continue this in to the future by making this small guide. There's far too much for me to type in one sitting, so I think I'll gradually add on as time allows. This will be a highly useful tool for both newer players trying to figure out the basics and for older players desiring to improve in different areas.
My apologies on how crappy it's formatted, for the grammatical errors, and any redundancy as I haven't proofread anything or made any edits, but I wanted to just get the information out.
I'll start off with some tips for the brand new players:
First thing's first, if you don't know the tech tree and unit functions/ what they're strong/weak against, you should figure that out before going any further. You can figure those out for the most part by yourself by playing vs a computer or just force firing on your own units in a game to see what is effective. (Force firing is making your units attack anywhere you select, you can do this by holding down the CTRL key while your units are selected and clicking where you want them to attack.) Just know that cyborgs, nod buggies, laser fences, and gates are all more or less useless. They either aren't worth the time/money spent making them or don't have any practical use for online competitive play.
Tiberian Sun gameplay can be broken down to 5 main components that one must focus on in order to improve-
1. Build Speed-
The speed at which you can produce structures/units. If you are building faster than your opponent, you'll have more than them at any given time or be further along the tech tree. Milliseconds regularly mean the difference between winning and losing games. You can work on your build speed by paying attention to the structure/unit tab on the side of the screen during the game and placing structures as fast and accurately as possible, then IMMEDIATELY beginning production on your next structure, and continuing this process. Make sure you're always producing something and never just sitting idly. If you are on low power or have less than $100, you will build slower than usual, so always maintain adequate power from powerplants and have consistent cash flow to prevent yourself from building slowly.
Revealing the shroud on the map as early as possible (especially your opponent's base) so that you can see what they have, and everywhere on the map that they can hide units to attack you with. The earlier you scout the entire map, the earlier you have knowledge of where all of your opponent's units are and can't be surprised. Scout the map by sending light infantry to each corner, followed by other light infantry to scout in between those that you sent to the corners until you have all of the map revealed. If you select an infantry (this works for any unit) and hold down Q, then click several spots on the ground, your unit will travel to each of those spots you select in the order that you clicked them; it's like using a waypoint but it's much more convenient and doesn't leave waypoint markers everywhere. You can improve your awareness by checking your opponent's base and the map between placing/beginning production on your own structures, as to not slow down your build speed. Being aware of the map at all times will keep you alive!
3. Unit Control/Reaction Time-
How quickly and accurately you control your units is a deciding factor in most games. If you misclick frequently during engagements or when trying to defend your base, you will lose more units/structures than necessary, and more often than not cost you the game. Practicing your hand-eye coordination with your mouse and adjusting your mouse sensitivity/scroll speed will help you in this area. I used to practice this by playing games by myself or vs a computer and trying to focus on placing component towers/selling them in specific areas as quickly as possible, and figuring out my timing when lifting a carryall/moving a subterannean apc. Keep training your clicking to be faster and faster and more accurate with every game, eventually it will become second nature.
4. Money Management-
This one is the killer for most people, because they can't seem to figure out how to keep a steady income throughout the game without overproducing. This one is much more complex than the others because it takes more patience and experience to figure out the ins and outs of controlling your cash.
A. You always want to be building something, with your priority on making structures over units. Making/selling buildings is an integral part in setting up your early economy, while making units (aside from harvesters) isn't, so most of your focus should always be on keeping your structure production happening, NEVER STOP MAKING BUILDINGS!!! If you have to, put units on hold or cancel them; if you practice enough, you'll be able to time it to where you can put units on hold just in time to finish buildings without having to cancel them. [An example of this would be you seeing that a refinery you're making that you know you'll end up selling for cash & an extra harvester, is halfway done and you have $1100 currently, but you're also building infantry. Knowing that you'll need $1000 to finish your refinery soon, you immediately pause/cancel your infantry production before your funds reach $1000 so that you can finish that refinery without needing to wait for another harvester to come unload money, delaying your build speed.)
B. You always want your harvesters harvesting the closest tiberium to your refineries as possible. That reduces the wait time between your harvs traveling back and forth between the tiberium and your refineries. The faster your harvs can go back and forth, the faster you obtain cash. Placing your refineries as close to the tiberium as possible will reduce the distance as well. Another tip here is every time you see your harvesters about to leave a refinery, manually select them and click on the nearest pixel of tiberium. It's a bit tidious, but it becomes second nature and you only really need to focus on this AFTER you've done more important things, like placing your buildings/began production on other buildings and checking your opponent's base/the map for threats.
C. My rule of thumb for production is to have one refinery with a harvester unloading in it for every type of thing i'm producing. Let's say I want to only build structures, I only need one refinery with a harvester dumping in it to maintain production without my spending exceeding my income. If i want to make structures AND infantry, I need to have two refineries with harvesters unloading tiberium in them at the same time. If I want to make structures, infantry, mech units, and planes at the same time, I need 4 refineries with harvesters unloading in them at the same time. This gets more difficult to manage as the tiberium depletes and gets further and further away, which is why expanding to the next tiberium patch is so important to do.
D. Because the tiberium depletes as you harvest it, you need to expand your base by building to the next tiberium patch using smaller buildings like silos or powerplants. The earlier you expand, the quicker you can maintain your cash flow once your main tiberium patch starts to run low.
This subject is more complicated than the others, if you have any questions or want any further explanation or advice, feel free to message me or leave a comment.
5. Strategic/Tactical Knowledge-
Having a plan for how you'll approach the game before it starts and as it unfolds. This element takes the most time to learn because of all of the different unit combinations and tactics used in various situations.
A few things to consider are:
A. Is the map you're playing on a short, medium, or long distance map? Each requires a different approach; for instance, on a short range map, you need to focus on making 3-5 refineries and lots of infantry because the ability for your opponent to rush you with infantry and ground units is much more practical. While on a long range map, because it will take a long time for ground units to reach you, you can safely focus on upgrading your tech with fewer refineries and a priority on air/underground attacks more quickly.
B. Does the map have a lot of starting tiberium or little tiberium. You need to know this so you can decide whether it's better to invest in an early attack or to expand earlier.
C. What is your preferred style of play? Do you like rushing with disruptors, do you like using banshees, do you like longer games with more units? Everyone has a preference, but some styles don't work as well as others on certain maps, and you should work on your weaknesses to be able to play against any style and you should be able to incorporate aspects of other styles in to your own gameplay to improve it. Don't be stubborn, you need to be able to play in any situation vs anybody, that's how the best players are made!
D. Knowing what strategies counter others, what units counter others, etc. This is learned through actually playing the game yourself and watching better players.
There are many more things under the Strategic/Tactical Knowledge Umbrella, but for a faster way to learn, you can watch better players to see what they do in different scenarios. There's several videos on the Tiberian Sun Adventures channel on Youtube with higher leveled players like me, Ray, Cambria, Movieno0b, etc that can be referenced.
If you need any clarification or further explanation, want more specific advice, or have any questions, feel free to message me. I'm always happy to help!