Guide to Balanced Annihilation - Average players +

Guide to Balanced Annihilation - Average players +

Discuss game development here, from a distinct game project to an accessible third-party mutator, down to the interaction and design of individual units if you like.

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DemO
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Guide to Balanced Annihilation - Average players +

Post by DemO » 28 Jan 2007, 00:05

Alright so theres always tonnes of questions about things in Balanced Annihilation and loads of topics on this forum that get discussed pretty extensively. For some reason tonight I just felt inspired to start making a guide, with some insight into the general concepts and more specific fine details of this mod.

So far I've only just started. I only realised after I started how much there is to do when its in detail. The contents only lists the first "section" - you'll see theres plenty more things to talk about later but I'm gonna try do it a section at a time.

Help from other experienced players could be nice, depending on how good you write, give me a pm in TASClient or something, or reply in this thread if you're willing.

Anyway this is what I've got so far, I'd just like to see what people think. I'm pretty much limited to notepad/wordpad so its all text but If someone wants to they can get me some nice visual references:)

__________________________________________

Contents:

Part 1. The fundamental basics

1.01 - The map
1.02 - Start position
1.03 - Starting build que
1.04 - Resourcing
1.05 - Construction/assist
1.06 - Expansion
1.07 - Defense
1.08 - Raiding
1.09 - Harassing
1.10 - Porcing






Part 1:

1.01 - The map

The first point of focus for any game you play is the map you will be playing on. Getting to know the features of particular maps and the basic approach to playing them is fundamentally important, in order to establish what you as a player are going to do and what the opposing player/team is likely to do. Maps vary largely and thus the approach to playing on particular maps also varies.

There are certain maps which the majority of games are currently played on in Balanced Annihilation, and perhaps other mods aswell. These are the maps I will focus on in this section. The shortlist is as follows:

Altored Divide
Crossing 4 Final
Comet Catcher Remake/Redux
Xantheterra (V3)
Delta Siege X series (Rev, Dry)
Small Supreme Battlefield (V2)
Tropical
Tangerine

These tend to be the most played maps, although there is a huge number of maps out there and many others are played on a frequent basis, however I suggest focusing on these (and any favourites you play often/host often) as maps to consider for this guide. This is not to say only play these maps. Personally I get fed up with playing the same maps over and over, and I strongly encourage people to try less played, worthy maps. Mapmakers such as Forboding Angel, NoiZe and Quanto make a lot of very impressive maps/remakes which are well worth playing, so I'd suggest checking out some of their maps and trying them out for a start.

Now, the maps listed above vary largely although some of them share common features and a common general approach. Maps can be split up into groups with respect to how the games tend to play out on them.

Comm Rushing:

Certain maps inherently favour comm rushing (the act of moving your commander towards the enemy side, using him to expand and establish a front line of defense). The commander is arguably the most powerful unit in the game. His dgun can take out anything it touches and he has a worker time(build power) of 300 (An l1 con vec/kbot has a worker time of 90). This makes him extremely useful for making defenses and other structures quickly at the start of a game.

Maps that favour comm rushing generally:

1. Have an average metal income per mex - not high enough for the comm to stay at lab and make units without stalling.
2. Have strategically important areas with metal resources, usually near the middle which are worth fighting for early in the game
3. Are limited in total metal available on the map
4. Favour fast, aggressive expansion and inherently invite raiding and harrassment of enemy from the start.
5. Are small/medium sized and easy to move comm up half the map in short time (no bigger than 16x16)

It is important to learn how to tell which maps are likely to favour comm rushing by evaluating whether or not the above points apply to them, and especially to know which maps favour comm rushing out of the shortlist above. For reference, the maps in the shortlist where the majority of games have several, if not all players comm rushing are:

Altored Divide
Crossing 4 Final
Comet Catcher Remake/Redux
Delta Siege Series

This does not necessarily mean you have to comm rush on these maps - there are ways around it where you can leave your commander back at start position, although this is risky and much harder to pull off if you don't have a pretty extensive grasp of how to deal with it early game. Importantly, be AWARE that people are likely to comm rush on maps such as these, so you can adopt a strategy that will counter it, and you wont end up with an enemy commander right outside your base having secured all the metal in front of you after the first 5 minutes. Altored divide in particular is a map where it is almost a necessity to expand with your commander early game if you start at one of the entrances.

Tech maps:

The last 3 maps in the shortlist - Tangerine, Tropical and SSB are widely regarded as porc friendly maps. These maps offer a different approach to playing, and whilst rushing and dedicating a large percentage of resources to attacking can definately work, its important to be aware that at least half of players are likely to be porcing on these maps. I'm using porcing in a sense that it does not necessarily mean not expanding from starting position - rather that players will expand to take other metal spots but are less likely to invest much in fighting over territory and more likely to invest in static defenses more than attacking units, aswell as to invest a large percentage of their economy into economising further, usually making tech 2 as soon as possible.

As a player you should be aware that this is both an option for you to capitalise on and for the opposing team. Keep track of the game time, and expect to see Tech 2 labs as early as 12 minutes from average porcing players, and slightly later from those that have invested rather more in attacking/defense. If you are making no progress with an expansive, tech 1 based rush/harrassing strategy by around 15 minutes then you are likely getting to the stage where the porcing players will take the advantage in metal/energy income and probably are near to or finished a Tech 2 lab. Consider teching up yourself if you dont think you can push through with Tech 1, and secure your territory more strongly - be particularly aware that the enemy may have tech 2 air already.

It's quite possible for an experienced player to economise extremely fast on maps such as these. On Tangerine and Tropical I personally have managed over +150 metal income and around 5-8k energy income by the 20 minute mark from porcing, whereby economy dominance offers a pretty large choice of options so far as unit spam and structures go - easily a nuke can be ready by 20 minutes, tech 2 units of any kind can be spammed without stalling - many favour air dominance to clear up the game. I havn't lost a game on either map by porcing or by a tech 1 push, so both are quite viable - just be aware that teching fast is a more common and generally safe option on these maps and tech 1 push is definately more risky because you almost have to succeed by 15-20 mins or the Tech porcers will take a substantial advantage over you.

Some maps allow a couple of players to porc whilst the others expand and fight it out with tech 1 for longer. Altored divide is a prime example: In a 5v5 game with average players often 2 will attempt to porc whilst the 3 players that start in front of the entrances will attempt to expand out to the middle. The outcome of such games really varies - sometimes porcing can be largely successful and the porcing players will survive long enough to shift the balance of the game, where other times one team will have all 5 players push forward and break through against the outnumbered enemy team before their porcers can build up enough to do anything.

Frankly, it varies from map to map and game to game, but importantly, be aware of what's likely to happen on a particular map and what actually does happen. It's obvious where players on the enemy team are porcing because you won't see many T1 units from them and perhaps wont see them attempt to take metal near the middle of the map at all. Be aware of these sorts of things so that you can make expectations on what the enemy is doing, then take measures of your own to stop them from succeeding.

1.02 - Start Position:

Start position has more importance than a lot of people give it. It largely ties in with what you want to do on a particular map, be it comm rush, economise and tech or take the front for your team. For example, a player starting near the bridge on SSB would be expected to expand up the bridge and hold off while other players on the team take the sea and/or economise and tech. The two starts behind the cliffs on Altored Divide on either end of the map are more suitable for porcing, though certainly not always for porcing, whereas if you start in front of the entrances you are generally expected to expand outwards of the entrance and fight it out for the middle areas on the map.

More specifically, your start position is important to get the quickest and most appropriate start for whatever you intend. If you want to comm rush very fast, then it's smarter to start near the front of the start area, and near a metal spot or two, not at the metal spots right in the bottom corner, because obviously your commander will have to walk further to get up the map. Furthermore, it applies to whatever start que you intend to use. If you want to make 2 mex then a lab, and comm rush afterwards, you start somewhere ideal for that - near the front of the start box, with 2 metal spots close by, and space for a lab. If however you wanted to start with an economising, porcish start que, you may wish to make 4 mex's before your lab, thus you would start where you can make 4 mex with the least distance between each, without having to walk your comm to the first one you make.

Key points:

1. Always start near a single metal spot at least (whereby you can build your first mex without actually moving your comm)
2. If you want to comm rush, start as far forward as you can whilst still being near to at least 1 metal spot
3. If you want to porc, start near bunches of 3 or 4 metal spots where there is as little distance between each as possible, so as to build mex's as quick as possible.
4. If you start at the front, you are generally expected to take care of expanding forward and fighting it out with whoever started at the front on the opposing team.

After playing several games on a particular map you may find that there is a particular start location that you prefer. If you play best from this location it's probably smart to start there where possible. Different start locations will change the optimal build que for what you want to do, so don't necessarily start the same way at any place on a map.

1.03 - Starting build que:

The starting build que's vary from player to player and can vary extensively over different maps. It is particularly important to find specific and variable starting build ques that work well for you for various different maps, start positions and strategies. These que's are quite important early game and increasingly important as the level of skill between opposing teams and players rises. At a high level, every second counts, and thus build ques can contribute largely to ones success in a particular game, as often the first few minutes can change the balance of the game in favour of one player over another, and often result in that player winning the game.

The thought processes behind build ques appear to pass many players by, either because they arn't fussed, dont consider it important or simply havn't realised how big the implications are, which is why I feel this area needs some attention, and in some detail.

Specific build ques:

This is the first stage in attaining a start which is effective and relatively well assured of success. What I mean by a specific build que is hopefully pretty self explanitory, but just in case, here's what I mean: A specific build que is one in which the player designs a starting build order which he finds to be effective and efficient for what he wants to do in a particular game. Most experienced players have a range of specific ques which vary over different maps and whichever general strategy they wish to commit to (i.e. rush/porc/maximise metal). These ques are optimised over time with experience.

There are some key thought processes behind making a good build que which should be learned in order to maximise the quality and success of the que:

1. Firstly, what do I intend to do, short run/long run in the game?
2. Are there weaknesses in this que? (i.e. am I seceptible to rush?)
3. How can I change my que to account for these assumptions?
4. Can I make expectations about what the other player/players will do?
5. How do I maximise efficiency of my build que?
6. Can my build que be adapted to work better for my main requirements?

The following example highlights how some of these questions apply to a real scenario:

Example:

(1) Lets say you are playing a map where comm rushing is common, so you want to comm rush quicker than the next guy and get further up the map to secure extra metal. Theres some considerations to be made over what build que to start with in order to do this: You want to make sure that you get your comm on his way up the map pretty sharpish, so generally the approach would be to make a lab quite early, perhaps after 2 metal extractors. There will be little time to assist the lab after building it before you have to send your comm on his way, so consider which units are of most importance and whether or not you wish to assist the build of any particular unit.

(2) Consider also that if most players comm rush, your opponent will likely also make a lab early. This means you may be seceptible to being rushed - you send your comm on his way up the map and some jeffy's or fleas are likely to come into your base from any side soon after.

(3) This leaves you with some options: Include an LLT in your build que to hopefully guard most of your starting base from incoming attack OR guard from incoming attacks with units (thus make some scout vehicles of your own as your first few units, and place them where you can see incoming raids and respond to them)

(2) You also have to consider that you will be stretched somewhat by making the comm rush with a rush start que - your metal will be less than someone who made lab after 3 mex instead of 2 and if you all out rush perhaps you dont stop to make an LLT anywhere on the way to where you're going. This makes you somewhat seceptible to being flanked and/or rushed by light units (aks/peewees/flash tank/instigator) so (3) queing some of these units yourself is a smart move at the start - queing 4 cons in a row after your first 3 jeffies makes you completely open to attack - your cons can be raided whilst building things with nothing to guard them, and your base can be raided by light units if you only have jeffy's/weasels to defend.

(4) Once you reach the front and set up a few LLT's with your comm, the enemy has probably realised what you're up to, having also comm rushed, perhaps slightly later. A common approach to countering the comm/LLT rush is for the slower rushing player to make a HLT to outrange the LLT's you just made, (3) so when you design your build que, keep this in mind, and where possible, either que a con that will be ready to assist your commander at the front and make a HLT of your own before the opponent does, or que some light units to harass the enemy, thus prohibiting him from making a HLT for a short while - time enough for you to get enough metal income and a con or two to the front and build your own in time.

(5) Furthermore, you're going to need enough metal and energy to build LLTs with your comm when he arrives at where you've sent him, and perhaps a mex or two and radar along the way. In case of average players I would suggest that you make at least 4 solars by the time you reach the front, not neccesarily all with your comm (you could use a construction vehicle/kbot). This should give you enough energy to make llts without stalling badly, and have enough energy for them to actually fire when enemy units come in range.

(5) If you feel you're able to handle more marginal control over economy then you can optimise it for best efficiency. An example of this would be making 2 mex, 1 solar, 1 lab, 1 solar (then assisting your lab for a short time for whatever units that you require early, perhaps a con or some scout vehicles, or if you were kbots, some peewees/aks) then ordering your comm to make another solar just before energy stalls, effectively working on the margin of your economy for a quicker start. An average player would perhaps make 2 mex, then 3 solar, then a lab, which works much easier in terms of required attention on commander ande economy but results in having a lab 2 solars build time (and some walking perhaps) later than the first que.

Hopefully that example gives you some insight into the thought processes behind making a good starting build que, and the general depth of questions and implications it can have. As you begin to play at a higher level you realise these small things and begin to question everything about the way you play and what you do in order to achieve better results. That example is obviously of some of the thought processes behind a rush build que but other build ques will vary extensively.

Another important aspect about making your build que is focusing on the maximisation of metal reserves for whatever purpose your que entails. ALWAYS try and make whatever mex's you intend to use BEFORE other structures, particularly a lab, because it will give you that extra metal income per second for the entire time you build those structures. e.g. If you make 4 solar then 3 mex instead of making 3 mex then 4 solars, you effectively lose out on around 4.5 metal/second whist building all 4 solars - which takes a lot of seconds and thus you end up a hefty chunk of metal less than what you could have. (Where 4.5 comes from 1.5 x 3 and 1.5 is an average figure for metal per mex on regular maps)

Finally, get to learn the costs of structures in Balanced Annihilation more specifically and you will be able to make ques where you barely stall if at all and maximise the effectiveness of your ques by not wasting resources and time on things you shouldnt need. Pay attention to small details, like that making an LLT next to your base in your start que will set you back 81/84 metal (arm and core respectively), energy costs aswell as vital seconds in build time where your commander could be running further up the map instead of leaving late, where perhaps you could defend with units instead. Build ques can also be based on risk versus reward - some players (including myself) often play with a high risk high reward build que, where we leave ourselves on the margin early on, laying more emphasis on successful micro and assumptions of the enemy, effectively stretching our expansion where increasingly unit micro is relied on to defend mex's and base as opposed to static defenses that require no micro but at a cost of time and resources. I suggest only take your build que as far as you are capable of effectively managing it to the point that it has relatively assured payoff.
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Lippy
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Joined: 16 Jul 2006, 00:24

Post by Lippy » 28 Jan 2007, 00:42

Don't listen to him! He suxors! :lol:

On a less important topic... I think this should go into the wiki (if it hasn't already)
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Neddie
Community Lead
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Post by Neddie » 28 Jan 2007, 00:44

It will when I get to it.
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manored
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Joined: 15 Nov 2006, 00:37

Post by manored » 28 Jan 2007, 04:04

Im making one guide that gives a brief but usefull description of all BA units... It will take some time but once finished and corrected (bad grammar :P ) you can stick it to your guide... :P
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smoth
Posts: 22298
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Post by smoth » 28 Jan 2007, 04:33

Demo, players do not read anything, I wish people would read but that is why we have the acronym "RTFM" because no one does :(.
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AF
AI Developer
Posts: 20669
Joined: 14 Sep 2004, 11:32

Post by AF » 28 Jan 2007, 04:35

Players arent willing to look at a guide if its a block fo text.

Instead they want qquick and easy to digest examples.

Look at 1v0ry kings XTA guide. Its Picture oriented, quick and concise, easy to remember.
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BDCoolio
Posts: 40
Joined: 08 Jan 2007, 03:55

Post by BDCoolio » 28 Jan 2007, 07:11

Hey, I love to read if it's relevant material. So, I just wanted to give you this...

:-)
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Zoombie
Posts: 6149
Joined: 15 Mar 2005, 07:08

Post by Zoombie » 28 Jan 2007, 07:23

Ivory King's guide shalt be the benchmark for all other guids. It's only topped by the Gundam Unit Guid. That guid made so many things clear to me, and it was mostly because of the pictures.
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KDR_11k
Game Developer
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Joined: 25 Jun 2006, 08:44

Post by KDR_11k » 28 Jan 2007, 09:32

I think your block of text there needs to be replaced with a picture saying "run ur boy!!"
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smoth
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Joined: 13 Jan 2005, 00:46

Post by smoth » 28 Jan 2007, 09:33

KDR_11k wrote:I think your block of text there needs to be replaced with a picture saying "run ur boy!!"
Listen to this man!
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Ishach
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Post by Ishach » 28 Jan 2007, 10:45

Steven wrote like 20 pages for his Goat Maxinms of really excellent ideas and the thread got spammed with jokes and his post on the smuggoat site got less comments that something I made while drunk on a tuesday morning
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tombom
Posts: 1933
Joined: 18 Dec 2005, 20:21

Post by tombom » 28 Jan 2007, 10:47

Who cares if some people won't read a block of text, it's their loss.
Isaach wrote:Steven wrote like 20 pages for his Goat Maxinms of really excellent ideas and the thread got spammed with jokes and his post on the smuggoat site got less comments that something I made while drunk on a tuesday morning
http://smuggoat.net/?page_id=35

It's really good maybe you should read it
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Lolsquad_Steven
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Post by Lolsquad_Steven » 28 Jan 2007, 11:03

One day i'll replace the useless maxims with ones that makes sense.
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Ishach
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Post by Ishach » 28 Jan 2007, 11:09

Lolsquad_Steven wrote:One day i'll replace the useless maxims with ones that makes sense.
no, dont
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Lolsquad_Steven
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Post by Lolsquad_Steven » 28 Jan 2007, 11:11

Ishach wrote:
Lolsquad_Steven wrote:One day i'll replace the useless maxims with ones that makes sense.
no, dont
k
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chlue
Posts: 101
Joined: 28 Dec 2005, 20:48

Post by chlue » 28 Jan 2007, 11:28

Players arent willing to look at a guide if its a block fo text.
No thats not true. I fear most players will think so, but believe me, there are some people around, who read something like that and get more out of it, than locking at some picture gallery.
So I have to say thanks for this insight in the more advanced game-mechanics.

*going back reading*
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Deathblane
Posts: 505
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Post by Deathblane » 28 Jan 2007, 12:12

Well I've read it, and the goatly maxims (though that was some time ago).
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1v0ry_k1ng
Posts: 4656
Joined: 10 Mar 2006, 10:24

Post by 1v0ry_k1ng » 28 Jan 2007, 12:21

Image
Noobs wont read somthing thats a forumlative and intellectual paper on gaming skill. likewise, pros wont benefit from a colourful picture book. I think the goat maxims were the most useful points Ive ever read for spring stratergy, but I cant imagine a noob whos just graduated from speedmetal reading more than one line.
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rattle
Damned Developer
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Post by rattle » 28 Jan 2007, 12:58

No offense but proper
a) grammar
b) spelling
c punctuation (grammar)
d) write out numbers
make out a good read too you know.

Too much text for my taste...
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BvDorp
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Post by BvDorp » 28 Jan 2007, 14:41

meh wants teh pictures :evil:
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