Fan-made source for classic online RA1 action
You can get the original Red Alert 1 manual from here.
No matter who you are, your RA skill level, or how long you've been playing, this page contains some new bit of RA knowledge you did not previously know.
If you wish to get better at the game, you may first want to read either of the guides below, depending on your current skill level. P.S. This skill page is still incomplete and messy, but it will get better over time.
This guide is aimed at beginners: people who are new to the game, not necessarily people who have been playing for five years and still suck. Another different guide will be targeted to such people aiming to be pros which will be a good continuation for once a new player masters the skills explain herein. I have tried my best to keep this short and in some ways have succeeded, but in others have not. Just quickly stating things to do and general guidelines is good, but sometimes I feel it is as important to state why you should do things and not just what to do and that is where I had difficulty in keeping this guide short.
So, in your first game online you were building up your awesome base, maybe even scouting around in the dark, placed a couple of defensive units around and WHAM. The other player comes RACING at you so fast and with SOOO many tanks that you can't do anything. You feel helpless, and he destroys your base (maybe even ignoring your pitiful defensive force) and picks off all your fleeing units. You swear if you had more time he couldn't do that, and you are determined that you'll get him next time. So you play him again (if you are lucky enough that he didn't die from boredom last game) and just like before you get crushed.
This must be very discouraging, but fear not. There are several VERY important lessons to be learned here. The first is that speed matters. RA is a Real-Time Strategy game. For every second you were building your base and thinking about what to make next, your enemy already knew what to make and did so immediately without thinking. He also knew where he was going to place his buildings, and let's not kid ourselves, he was probably even more consistent about clicking the make tank button the very millisecond the tank came out while you were busy moving your units around and had to stop and go back and click the make tank button. These things all contribute to speed. You have to figure out the best strategy possible and learn it by heart so you can do it as fast as physically possible. Almost always the faster player wins.
The second big lessons to take from this first series of defeats is that RA is all about tanks. You are probably thinking here, "Wait a second, what about all these other cool units like rocket soldiers, medics, yaks, tanyas, submarines, cruisers etc. Isn't this a STRATEGY game?" Well, the answer is that yes this is a strategy game, and there are certain maps where air units and boats come in useful, but more than 99 out of 100 games how many tanks you have and how well you use them will be the deciding factor. Keeping these two principles in mind this guide now moves on to more specific aspects of game play.
Considering our two principles, build order is extremely important since it is the simplest in your control that will make you faster. The best build order varies from map to map, but several general orders can be described based upon how much money is on the map. These build orders are the three that I would say are the most important to learn since they cover the Big Three Maps of RA (Path, hjk6, p4). Website Glossary - Explains abbreviations, technical terms, and shorthand used on this site.
Examples: A Path Beyond, Isle of Fury, Keep off the Grass, Treasure Isle and other standards..
Order - p b o w w a o o o w - (3 o 4 w)
Comments - With this build you can make an ore truck if you want but it is not necessary. Since you are playing low money maps, selling your barracks is good after you have two wars since it gets you a little more money. Selling your CY is also good after you have at least 3 ores.
Examples: hjk6, Guerilla Forest, NSC Niklas, V3
Order - p p b o w (truck) s w w (truck) w a o w w o - (4 wars before 2nd Ore, 2 truck)
Comments - This is the classic hjk6 build but it works very well on lots of other maps. Definitely a build to learn by heart.
Making a service depot to get mcvs can be ok and should be done after making at least a few wars.
Examples: P4, Wide Open
Order - p b a o w (truck) s w w w w w o - (1 truck, 6 wars before 2nd ore if allies, 7 wars before 2nd ore if sovs)
Comments - Since all of the infinite money maps I have ever played require moving or expanding out to place your ore ref, the 2 powers first thing help you to deploy faster. The idea here is to make the number of war factories to produce tanks at max speed ASAP. Making a depot to get MCVs can be ok and can be done at any time.
I recommend that you write the orders down on paper so you can look at them while you play until you have them memorized by heart. Keep in mind that looking at the order and memorizing it in a few seconds is very different from being able to focus on what to build while you are in a game and distracted by many different things. That's why it's good to be able to look down and see the order while you are learning it. Remember that perfect practice makes perfect. Sloppy practice trains you to be sloppy, and build order is the simplest thing that you can control and master to become faster. Remember the first principle. In the interest of keeping this guide as simple as possible, I have kept the comments on the orders minimal as well as refrained from listing variations on the orders. The best RA players ever all used these builds, and all of the other orders are simple variations of these. You can't go wrong using these builds on the listed maps. After you have mastered these orders, you can learn more about these orders as well as learn other orders in the Build Order Section of the site or check out special orders for specific maps in the Maps Section.
On some maps the placement matters almost as much as the order, sometimes more than the order. You must keep in mind several guidelines for building placement. These may seem like common sense, but you wouldn't believe how many players I have seen that don't follow them even though they have played for years.
Place your ore refs as close as physically possible to the money. When gems are in large patches, the best place for an ore ref is TL of the gems. Expand your base to get to the money when it is farther away. A close base is harder to attack than a spread out base.
The first rule is common sense. Shorter trips for your ore trucks means more money which means more tanks. Despite how obvious this may seem, I have seen so many newbies play P4, hjk6, and other maps and place their ore refs one square, two squares, or even farther away from the ore when there was nothing preventing them from placing it right next to the ore. All orders rely on good ore ref placement to get ideal money, and you can't afford to fall behind your enemy in cash. This second rule about placing ores to the TL of the gems may seem arbitrary, but there is actually a very good reason for this. The ore truck mining algorithms for RA make the ore trucks mine toward the TL of the gems. Thus if you place the ore ref to the TL of the gems, your ore trucks will stay closer to the ore ref, rather than wander off like morons. Take notice of ore truck mining patterns as they can come in useful at times when controlling your trucks is necessary. Ore trucks are by far the stupidest unit in RA. Once again the third principle seems obvious, but I still see people who upon seeing a new map can't figure out where to put their buildings. Path is a very good example of a map where this principle is useful. TR on path needs to expand his base to the middle to get to the ore in the middle. Similar things must be done from other spots and on other maps. The final principle is not entirely apparent. Experience shows that having a tighter base is easier to defend. Enemy attacking units get split up when they try to run through the base (sometimes even get blocked completely by walls of buildings) or have difficulty coordinating their firepower on one essential building. Also, engineers and teslas can't be used effectively if your buildings are all spread out. Despite that having a close base is easier to defend, money still comes first and you should expand to get money rather than go broke when given the choice.
So now you know what to build to get your units, but how do you effectively use your units?
Q is the unquestionably the most important hotkey in the game. So first a thorough explanation of how to use the Q key is required. So what does this all-important key do? Q has two purposes. The first purpose is to waypoint units. The second and more important use is to make your tanks fire at enemy units and move at the same time, thus dodging enemy fire. The second purpose is somewhat of a glitch of the first and will become apparent in explaining how to use Q.
To waypoint units from Spot 1 to Spot 2 etc:
Select your unit.
Hold down Q and click on Spot 1.
Hold down Q and click on Spot 2.
Repeat Step 3 as necessary.
After doing this your unit will automatically go from spot 1 to spot 2 etc. until told to do something else. This is very useful in scouting maps.
You do not have to keep holding Q the entire time while doing this. You only have to be holding Q down when you click on your waypoint locations. If a unit is already way-pointed and moving and you wish to give him more waypoints you can reselect him and give him more waypoints without interrupting his previous waypoint chain, but once u give him a location to go to without holding Q he will immediately leave his old router and follow the new order.
To make tanks fire and move at the same time:
Select your tanks.
Tell them to attack an enemy target.
While your tanks are firing at the enemy target, hold down Q and click on Spot 1.
Repeat step 3 for Spot 2, Spot 3, etc.
Once your tanks are already firing, you can Q them as much as you want and they will act as though they are being way pointed while continuing to fire. This is extremely useful when fighting your enemy's tanks. When fighting enemy tanks you must practice muse precision by click on each of your opponent's individual tanks. Every time you change targets you must re Q your tanks. Thus Q fighting is very involved and is a skill which must be mastered. Qing can also be used when base rushing. You can attack your enemy's buildings and continue running through his base at the same time.
You should Q whenever possible. Practicing Q is imperative. Even good players need to practice Qing and have spent lots of time practicing in the past. The best way to practice Qing is to get a friend, get a Q map, and have Q battles every day. Have Q battles with many people so you can see how other people Q and figure out what works, what doesn't work, and how to beat different Q styles and mistakes. Highly experienced players can take advantage of superior Q in many different situations, and this is one of the few areas in RA where experience plays a huge part in separating out the elite from the best and the best from the rest. Q is always the first thing to go during time without play and it is very important to keep your Qing at its best. For the purpose of practicing Q, many many many maps have been made in the past. These maps are available for download in the Maps Section (Insert Link). The only way to learn to Q better is to practice. I could try to write down a thorough analysis on all possible Q maneuvers and styles and strategies, but it would all be very meaningless unless you actually practice it and learn it for yourself.
Scouting maps is very simple but very important. The most effective way to scout varies from map to map, but these general guidelines are good on all maps. I will keep this section brief by just listing general scouting tips.
In the interest of keeping this guide brief and to the point I have just listed these tips. The more you play the more scouting patterns you will see. For a more thorough discussion of scouting check out the section on the main page (Insert Link).
Since speed is imperative and hot keys are all about making things more efficient, it is absolutely necessary to have good control over your keyboard. I have listed below the basic hotkeys I think a beginner should know and practice at all times. You should go look over the complete Hot Keys Section (Insert Link) so you are aware of what other hot keys there are and how to use them.
It may seem tedious, but hotkeys are very effective at making you a better player. There are more hot keys to master, and pros use all of their hot keys. These are what I think a beginner needs to learn to use and should need at least a couple of weeks to get used to.
I feel these tips need to be told to beginners but do not feel they fall into appropriate categories above.
Putting the two basic principles in the introduction together, we get the remarkably simple yet profound summary:
This training guide is intended to help players who are so called "average" to become better players, possibly even as good as pros. This is aimed at players who are familiar with the modern post MP, post WW, GS and Kali era of RA history. This guide does not attempt to give information, rather it tries to explain what to practice and how to practice it.
If you are reading this guide then you have surely asked yourself the question, "What separates the elite from the best and the best from the rest?" While giving a good explanation of what separates the elite from the best may be rather difficult, as I see it what separates the best from the rest is very clear. Two things very easily separate out the good players from the "average" players:
One very simple statement sums this up. Whoever makes the most the fastest wins. I will now try to explain clearly exactly what I mean when I say speed and knowledge.
Speed is a physical aspect of the game. Most simply put it is how fast you click and how well you use your hot keys. Clicking speed and mouse control are the biggest factors in determining the best players. Unlike the new games which have options to make large numbers of units in RA you must click each and every tank. How fast and consistently you press the make tank button has a huge impact. The same goes for buildings, however with buildings you also have to scroll through the building list and place. If you have never used your arrow keys to do this before you must start now. Arrow keys scroll through the building list much faster than clicking, in fact you can preemptively scroll through the list with your arrow keys while placing the building. You must be obsessive about placing all of your buildings ASAP and then instantly clicking on the next building. Doing this fast really shows in long games.
Along with the speed required to produce is the speed required to manage your units. This involves hotkeys more than producing but still relies heavily on your mouse speed. You must practice scrolling across the map and sending scouts at top speed. In theory it is possible to send your scouts and guards the instant they come out of the barracks, and in practice this is less difficult than you might imagine. If you cannot send out your scouts and guards as fast as they come out of the barracks then you must continue practicing. If you do not use bookmarks yet you must learn to use them now. Read the bookmarks section on the main page and make sure you understand them and how to use them. Bookmarks make scouting faster because you no longer have to rely on H and then scroll to your barracks to get your infantry. Also you can set bookmarks where you want to place guards and send scouts and this cuts down on time too.
The place where outstanding speed and mouse control shines brightest is in how well you use your tanks. The most distinctive thing about pros is how well they use their tanks. Tank control involves many things. Qing is entirely about mouse control and ability to click accurately. Shifting tanks is about how well you use your hot keys and bookmarks. The best tankers can focus on all aspects of tank fighting at once and still manage to place their buildings with no delay. If you cannot do this yet, which is probably why you are reading this guide, then you need to practice tanking maps like hjk6. If you have not already done so it is imperative that you remap your bookmarks and begin learning how to use them. I can imagine that for people who are not fast typists that learning how to use your bookmarks and more hot keys is hard, but this game is physical and I have seen people who can't even type 30 wpm still play RA decently.
Now that I feel speed is sufficiently explained, I will elaborate on what knowledge separates the pros from the average players. Truth be told, RA is very simple. There just really isn't that much to learn about the game. This website may contain pages and pages of information, but beyond the specific details of build orders from map to map there just isn't that much special knowledge. So the knowledge that separates pros is experience. Pros have played many games with many opponents on many different maps. They have been in lots of varied situations many times from defending a rush on path to fighting Qing on nxnw to infantry wars on KOTG to crate wars on shallow to cying on hjk6 just to name a few. Pros play a lot and for long periods of time. They can last through many games and long series of games. And one of the last things that separates pros is that they have been in competition all the time and they have performed well. Pros do not play games to just mess around. They play to dominate every game and get displeased if they play badly. You don't think pros were told information or read it on a website like this and instantly remembered it. No, they learned it from experience and they committed it to heart through experience.
I would now like to compare how well pros know build orders and how they think about them with how average players think about them. Ask me what my hjk6 order is. I'll tell you it is p p b o w s w w w a o w w o a 2 truck. I'll type it in 2 seconds. Then you'll watch me play and see me execute it EXACTLY as I said. You'll even watch me play more games of hjk6 and I will use the exact same build order and the same placement. Ask an average player what his build order is. He'll think about it for a little bit, then qualify his order with some statement such as "basically like this" then he'll type it out and put comments in there. He'll get the first p b o right then he'll stop and think after each building. He may miss out on where to throw in powers or silos, and may finish it with don't forget to throw in a silo or truck somewhere. Then watch him play. See how closely he actually executes his order. He may forget that he needed the power at one point, forget his ore truck, or randomly place a building stupidly. He may decide he needs a second silo or barracks that he didn't think to put in the order he gave you. Then watch him play again. His deploy, his placement, his order almost certainly will be different. And if he is playing a pro take notice of how far behind the pro he is in time. If he is doing alright he may be only 4-5 seconds and 1-2 tanks behind, but does he get as far as 10 seconds or even 3-5 tanks behind? Believe it or not I have played lots of people that I am more than 10 seconds faster by the 4th war who consider themselves "average."
I would say that the average player doesn't really know his build. In order to take your game to a higher level you must know exactly what to build, when to build it, and know to build it when it is time to build it. This can only come through practice. The other thing you must do is learn the builds for every map, and learn them at this same high level. Lastly you must know the right order. This is no small point since many of the average players I have watched used very bad orders. I strongly recommend every order I have listed on this site and you should master them regardless of whether or not you intend to use them long term.
Now I feel I have put a good start at explaining the difference between pros and average players. The next thing to examine is how you can improve these aspects of your play.
Getting fast at RA is hard, but it is not impossible. Being able to focus on all aspects of the game from scouting and placing buildings to Qing, shifting, and cying at once is difficult and requires practice. While it is hard, I think it is entirely doable through systematic practice.
The first and most important thing to do in order to improve is to play games. I'm not talking about let's have a fun 4v4 and sit around and make v2s and shit on wide open all night game, or a I feel like doing a p4s 2v2 game and I think I'm in the mood to cy immediately this game. I'm talking about serious 1v1 games with a good opponent, preferably with a pro or at least an opponent who is better than you which should help motivate you to work harder. So now that you have found a training partner you can play 20 games a day with, what should you be playing?
You should have a goal of learning every map. This is your goal because every new map you learn will give you new ideas about scouting patterns, attack patterns, money management, and build orders. I think that mastering hjk6 and path first is the best approach. Hjk6 and path are both highly involved maps and learning how to play them like the best players ever will be a constant challenge. I recommend you thoroughly read my hjk6 and path pages and attempt to learn the builds listed exactly as they are shown in the pictures and map files for download. Practice executing the build orders absolutely as fast as possible. Make sure you do all of the scouting. The same applies to path. Path is much more complicated than hjk6 and it will force you to learn new skills. So will all standards.
In addition to path and hjk6 you should play plenty of Q master max speed and slow speed. Focusing on Qing, shifting, and pure clicking speed is very helpful. If you can't match your opponent in clicking speed and shifting speed then you just aren't working hard enough. I often wonder why "average players" hate playing Q master max speed. I find it is relaxing and good practice. If you lose easily on it and can't keep up your speed then you simply suck at pressing the make tank button and if newfound focus and more practice doesn't help you with it then you might as well just give up.
For the sake of practice I do not recommend playing p4 or any infinite money maps. Infinite money maps are much easier to play and while they do need to be learned they are of relatively little importance in competitive RA.
The main thing that pros are clearly better at than average players is using their tanks. Average players seem view cys as essential. Average players and especially newbies consistently cy on any map. While knowing how to effectively use your cys is important it is far more important for you to master use of your tanks, Q, and shifting. This will bring you through almost every 1v1 you ever play. Rarely do 1v1s require cying. But more important using tanks well requires far more speed and focus than cying. Of course cying well requires tremendous amounts of focus, for average players it seems to them like cying is more effective. You have to break out of this trend and force yourself to master use of tanks. The main reason I think that average players make cys all the time is that they simply aren't good enough at using their tanks. They are so ineffective with their tanks that they just don't bother. You must break out of this and learn to tank. You must learn to tank and Q as well as how to stack. Stacking may seem to have a negative connotation but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it and it is even easier and more effective than Qing in many situations.
I don't know how to sufficiently emphasize the importance of hotkeys so I will just say:
Most players know to use H and groups. Some use shift, not all use shift. You absolutely must bring yourself beyond this inefficient keyboard use and use the other hot keys. This is a physical thing and it will take time, but there is no way around it. Two hot keys are particularly important that you learn to use. The first is the arrow keys. Arrow keys are infinitely faster than clicking through the building list. They also affect your unit list and not just the building list so keep this in mind as you practice using them. I constantly scroll through the building list at all points in the game. I use my arrow keys to scroll through the building list while I am placing buildings in order to see the next building clearly and be able to instantly click on it rather than place, scroll, then click. If you want to be able to make tanks and infantry at the same time you need to use your arrow keys too. There is no other way to go through the unit list fast enough as allies or soviets.
The other set of hot keys that must be mastered is bookmarks. If you haven't already, you need to go read the section of the main page which explains how to remap your bookmarks. I strongly recommend the W R setup if you have never used bookmarks before. You need to spend time practicing using your bookmarks on Q master max speed. The ability to add tanks to an attack group is very important. You need to master all three shifting sequences listed on the main page. There is no reason that anyone should not be able to at least park their tanks south on Q master, maintain production speed, and keep shifting across the map. This is a very simple task and it must be learned along with shifting and Qing.
So how do you improve your knowledge? You can improve your knowledge by reading the rest of this website. That will help. However doing the above described practice will help far more. Forcing yourself to truly learn the builds, committing them to your memory and to your understanding will teach you a lot.
Therefore if you are a serious RA player I strongly recommend making at least 1 thorough read through of all sections. If you know what information you are looking for next, use the following links:
People can usually be split into two groups: tankers and builders. Tankers usually play with allies as they can push faster tanks out faster than soviets, but with allies you have to be aggressive and prepare for a short game, because if soviets get their time to build teslas it gets hopeless for allies. Soviets usually take defensive stance when playing against alliance because they know that the late game is their. Soviets are way more popular with their lategame use, but allies aren't that bad in lategame either if the player is experienced enough or the map contains water for ships.
Tankers simply focus on getting multiple war factories out so that the build speed of their tanks was greatly increased. The game will then come down to a battle decided by who had the best combination of unit production and control. With Q you should always keep your tanks moving (meaning shots fired would miss), while focus firing on the opponents stationary ones. The trick came in switching targets after you knew enough shots had been fired to kill the tank so that with one barrage or fire you could kill 3/4 tanks instead of just 1. When you're familiar with how fast the game ran, you will know just how hard that is to achieve while keeping your building rate high, and bringing the newly made tanks over to reinforce your army. The pace of the game is even faster than starcraft so don't underestimate how tough it is even with just the 1 unit type. These tank battles will sometimes go on for some 15-20 minutes of nonstop sustained micro which is a complete adrenaline rush let me tell you, although you can be totally drained afterwards.
That leaves the builders. Builders will rush to get mcv's out, as for every construction yard you own, your building speed will increase. By good building placement and the use of a couple of tanks + rocketmen or riflemen, they will create a chokepoint and then place a tesla coil or two just far enough back that they would be out of range of the attacker. Now the tanker would have to rush as soon as they reached about 5 tanks as the longer the game goes on, the more they will fall behind. Some of the best players in the game took the builder approach and their bases were just painfully hard to break into. And within a few short minutes they can begin to push forward purely with their base structures. Using power stations to quickly cover ground and then slapping down a line of tesla coils (which are by now building in under half a second). By this point your average tanker is completely buggered and a gg would be called for.
The longest and most hard fought battles usually come when 2 builders played each other though. Instead of tanks they would build the v2 mobile rocket launchers. Using their extra range to take down the tesla coils from afar (although a pretty big bug with the game was is that units/building had their longest range straight upwards, so whoever got lower on the map has an advantage). Later on it's typical to get a group of migs to help take out the opposition's coils, but then they would place a whole load of missile sites and render them useless, so the advantage gained by building them was short-lived.
Attack strategies basically vary between attacking tanks and attacking buildings. The most basic thing which every RA player should be comfortable with is attacking the opponent's base (rushing/jewing/whatever you want to call it, no there is nothing wrong with it. After that, it is important to know how to Q tanks as well as shift using bookmarks. Shifting well is an absolutely essential skill and is more important than Qing in tank fights.
Attack is usually the best defense, but when the enemy your enemy is close to rushing your base, you have to keep blocking enemy tanks from reaching the base. This can be hard if the map is widely open and naturally easier on maps where is only one entrace. With a good use of Q and G hotkeys (press G and then hold down Q and move troops), you can defend your base easier as your tanks would shoot and move at the same time (with the effect of guard mode and waypoint mode) and when they're at it, you can focus repairing your buildings with engineers. Defending the base with bare teslas and infantry is harder, but possible if they have good placement.
Scouting involves 2 things, sending out scouts to uncover new territory, and placing guards to stop your opponent's scouts. My general advice is that it is more important to stop your opponent from seeing your base than to attempt to see your opponent's base. The element of surprise when you are on the attack is worth a LOT. Therefore, whenever learning a new map, determine where the best places to put scouts are. Always look and ask yourself “What is the maximum distance I can effectively put guards from my base without my opponent getting past them?” Also, when placing guards, remember that efficiency is key. On standards infantry are expensive. It may not seem like a big deal, but 8 riflemen are the price of a tank, and which would you rather have on path when your opponent comes rushing for your cy, 8 extra bridge guards or 1 more tank? On customs this isn't particularly a HUGE deal, however minimizing infantry count can help to make the difference between whether-or-not you don't go broke at all, or whether you run out for a few seconds. So secondly, scouting out the map. As a general guideline for scouting a map, send one unit to each corner of the map and Q them along the edges. Then send out some specific scouts to uncover whatever parts of the map you feel are important to see. It is very important to scout as much of the map as you can. Five seconds can be the difference between sucessfully defending your base from a rush or losing your cy and all your power wihout killing even ¼ of your enemy's tanks.
The ability to produce units fast is extremely important in RA, and whoever can produce the most, the fastest will almost always win. Thus, on some maps with large amounts of money, the game can get to the point where you're producing tanks at max speed, and the game still not progressing anywhere. In such cases, making extra cys is a useful tactic to produce turrets and tesla coils to help fight the enemy. Since turrets and tesla coils are the only buildings it is important to produce fast, the maximum number of cys you need/should make on any map is 4 as allies and 10 as soviets, the number of cys which allow for maximum turret/tesla production rates. When making mcvs, do not forget that you are falling behind in tank count. In the time it takes to make an mcv the opponent can get as many as 6-10 tanks more than you have (if they are producing at maximum speed). Thus if you are at risk of being attacked by a large tank force, making 3 or 4 mcvs in a row could be a terrible idea and lead to your sudden death (or other dreadful consequences such as the pushing back of your forces to be crowded into your base) if the opponent should seize the moment. Therefore, as a general guideline, you should never make more than 2 or 3 mcvs at a time. In order to remind myself whether I plan to make a tank or mcv next I general scroll along the list so I can see the unit/building I plan to make next.
So once you have produced extra cys you need to have a general idea of what to do with your new found fast structure producing capabilities. With turrets and especially with tesla coils it is very important to keep in mind south advantage. Teslas and turrets both fire a full square higher than they do below, thus in general the most important part of a map to control is the bottom middle area. If you can it is very important to establish a foot hold at the bottom middle of the map so that your opponent can't push you off. With time you will slowly back them off or control more of the map and thus win. One general thing that I did not learn until relatively recently was that it is possible to shift turrets/teslas together and tell them to fire at once. This can be very useful.
When to CY? This is a very important question, and the correct answer is, “when you need to.” This answer may sound rather general, vague, and of practically no meaning (hence is it definitely correct!), but it is the answer I like to give and is meaningful if you understand why I say this. So let me explain the times when you need to cy. The first obvious time to cy is when your opponent has cyed an it appears that you will be unable to kill them without making cys. So if you are in a tank battle and find your opponent is making tesla coils and zapping you off, it may possibly be time to consider cying. The next obvious time to cy is when the game has come to a stand still and it appears that making the cys will give you an advantage over your opponent. Notice that I say, when the game has come to a stand still. If you are winning without the cys there is no reason to make them, and likewise if you are losing, quite likely making cys will just result in your becoming more drastically out tanked and thus aid in your elimination.
It's not a good idea to sell your barracks on maps with large amounts of money. This is because you lose the opportunity to later on produce rocket soldiers which can be very useful in fighting. In allies vs allies long games, producing rockets when your opponent cannot will help to give you a large advantage.
Once the game gets to a more advanced stage and killing the entire enemy base becomes very difficult, the most important thing strategically to focus on is controlling who has the most money. On p4 this is not an issue since the money on the map is infinite which makes p4 rather stupid. Ideally 2 players equally good should just draw on p4 and that to me seems dumb. However, on other maps such as hjk6 or v3, controlling the money is extremely important. Generally speaking, once your opponent has a huge base with tons of units, if their money doesn't run out, no matter how good they are, as long as they keep up their production it can be VERY difficult (if not seemingly impossible) to kill them (part of why I feel that p4 is gay). So what you have to do to defeat the enemy is control the money. On maps such as v3 this involves rationing your cash flow with silos and not wasting money unecessarily. On hjk6 this involves trying to control more of the map than the opponent can and thus be able to mine more of the middle and more of the other holes. On other maps the same idea holds.
Air - As a general guideline rockets are the best form of air defense. They are difficult to kill with the air units and are the most effective at destroying planes, however they have one major draw back in that their range is relatively short. Sam Sites have good range but aren't particularly effective in killing planes fast, however on a map such as p4 you can quickly produce a ton of sam sites to effectively serve as air defense, and AA guns are very good air defensive structures but they take up lots of power. When choosing to produce planes/helicopters you have to keep in mind one thing: that you do not stop producing tanks/v2s. One trick to being able to produce as many helicopters as you can as fast as possible is to sell all your war factories, make the helipads, then make more war factories again. Obviously this leaves you paralyzed for a short time, but if you can afford it, this can be an effective tactic. If you wish to make migs while producing tanks at the same time, your kinda out of luck, but if you are making v2s, you can make an airfield once you have a radar dome, but before you have a tech center, and the migs and v2s will be on the same screen in the unit production list. Likewise, if you like making mammoths, you can make a tech center, then make the migs after the tech center. When using air, it is important to consider the numbers in the section below that tell how many migs it takes to kill certain buildings so that you can efficiently use your planes. Generally cys and ore refs make good targets for air strikes, and constantly striking with air can be an effective way to devastate your opponent's production capabilities.
V2s - V2s are only good to make at one time in the game, and that is when the game has stalemated. If neither side is capable of advancing to kill the other side, making v2s to defend your position and to slowly push back the enemy lines is good to do. In general it is almost never appropriate to make v2s on any map without infinite money, however they can be useful on infinite money maps such as p4 or wide open.
Mammoth tanks can be nice to make, but they are not really worthwhile to produce unless you can produce them at max speed, which requires tremendous money. You shouldn't ever really make mammoths on maps without infinite money, but they can be ok on p4 or wide open.
Don't go wasting your tanks/v2s on enemy teslas/turrets. This may sound obvious since I'm saying “don't go wasting”, but this is very relevant because it is VERY EASY to go unecessarily attacking a strong position defended by many coils and ending up with your tanks getting zapped and dying quickly. If you can get your opponent to go damage his tanks while fighting your turrets/rockets or to lose them by getting zapped away by your tesla coils, you can then attack a relatively undefended base. Tesla coils may be effective as defensive structures, but they alone are not nearly enough to protect a base from a large onslaught of tanks. Don't forget that it only takes 2 tanks to kill an undefended tesla coil, and while the power of tesla coils goes up more than linerly in groups, so does the power of tanks. If you roughly estimate the power of lone tesla coils as that of the value of 2 tanks, I'm sure you too would much rather be in possesion of the tanks than teslas.
Chronoing/Defending - When your opponent chronos, the best way to defend is to systematically kill his buildings by going in a line and always killing the next one in the line. Once you get your opponent out of base, leave a few tanks in the back to kill in case he should chrono again. Some people on p4 like to build and cover all the area in the back to defend the chrono, but this is kinda overkill when you could be trying to advance in the front. When chronoing, if you go producing tanyas, beware that you may be at a tank count disadvantage when all is done, especially if you spend a lot of time mucking around in the enemy's base.
Allies should generally build 2 tech centers and 2 chronos as well as an abomb to prepare to strike at the enemy's tech center. It is important to gap your tech structures as well as other buidlings that might be aerial/chrono targets.
Bookmarks by default are f9-f12. This is very far away from Q and thus makes them impractical to use. Therefore in order to make use of them, you must remap your hot keys. The keys closest to Q which have no use are W, D, R, and Z. If you are planning on being really fanatic you can use all 4, but you can get along fine with just 2. Many pros just use W and D. The reason bookmarks are so important is for tank fighting. If you were fighting a battle all the way across the map at your opponent's base, you would be unable to win just because there is so much distance between your base and your opponent's. But if you put a bookmark at your war factories and a bookmark where you're fighting, this becomes really easy and you can instantly shift tanks by means of quickly pressing a sequence like "W + E + D + shift 1 + ctrl 1" and you're back in the tank fight. To me this comes so naturally that I don't even think about it. Bookmarks can also be used effectively in scouting. Setting one bookmark at the barracks you can send infantry out to all parts of the map and quickly return to send out the next unit.
To change bookmark keys F9-F12 to W, D, R, Z for example, change:
There are three effective sifting methods as listed below:
Sequence: W, select, D, shift+1, ctrl+1
This method of shifting is useful when you have ore trucks and other units running about your base that you don't want to send to the battle. Such maps where this might happen include Path, hjk6, and many others. W here is the war factories bookmark and D is the battlefield bookmark. Select here means to select the new tanks to send to group. Using this sequence you can quickly group your tanks go back and forth between the battle and your base.
Sequence: W, E, D, shift+1, ctrl+1
This method of shifting is EXTREMELY useful on maps such as p4, Q master, and other similar maps where no units will get in the way of your tanks. This is called E shifting because it uses the select all key, E, in order to quickly shift tanks. As above, W is the go to war factories bookmark, and D is the battlefield bookmark
Sequence: W, E/select, D, Send, shift+1, ctrl+1
This method of shifting is useful for large tank battles where you have all your tanks parked together. The idea here is that you can send all of your tanks at once to a location and park them there. Next in order to send tanks to this group, you don't want to be constantly retelling all of your tanks to move to the battle site. Therefore to get around this, what you do is you return to base, select the new tanks, then return to the battle field, send the new tanks to battle field, and while they are still selected group them all together. Notice that this can be done uing the E key or by just selecting with the mouse, whichever is most practical depending on the map and other situational factors.
It is important to know proper build orders for all maps and be able to see, remember, and execute new build orders/placements the next game with ease (or at least execute it correctly within a few tries). Learning build orders to lots of maps makes it easier to pick out a correct order for new maps when they come up. Upon coming across a new map, you should automatically determine the proper build order/placement. You should also be aware of variations in build orders/placements and determine which one you personally like best and practice using that one consistently. Consistency in your build order will lead to being better able to do other parts of the game.
RA is all about tanks. The objective behind any good build order then is to allow for the creation of the most tanks possible in the least amount of time. On standard maps, the money is rather scarce and 2 wars is more than enough on all standard maps. On standards since there isn't a lot of money and cying is of almost no use, on all stande 2 or 3 ore refs is a good strategy. Selling your cy gives you're an immediate 2000 credits plus prevents you from spending future credits on unecessary buildlings. On custom maps with large amounts of money however, such as hjk6, p4, v3, gf, etc. you can get maximum tank production speed with relative ease. Also due to the large amounts of money, once maximum tank production speed is achieved, making defensive stuctures to attack is a worthwhile objective, therefore selling your cy is a very dumb strategy. Always it is of more importance to produce tanks than make teslas/turrets, therefore you shouldn't ever really start making mcvs until you have maximum tank production speed. This is evidenced by the fact that in all of my build orders, depot isn't listed, or if it is, it goes after achieving max war speed.
On standards since the money is scarce, large amounts of units are a rare occurrence, and defending against smaller attacks is much easier than defending large attacks. Also, since money is spread out, the general idea of a good build order placement is to spread out your base to where the money is. Therefore on standards, when trying to determine where to put what you build, keep in mind where the gems are. Always try to get ore refs near gems. On Custom maps, a different problem arrises. Defending your base against large amounts of tanks is fairly difficult (if not entirely impossible to save all of your base from a 15 tank rush). Also, money on custom maps tends to be placed in large quantities near your base, therefore expansion is not of great importance. Thus, in order to defend your base more easily, it is best to make a nice compact base with everything close together. This makes it more difficult for tanks to get your cy and squish engies which are slow at running over to far away buildings.
I do not condone cheating of any kind. If you do it against the computer in a Skirmish or mission game then the only person you are cheating is yourself. If you cheat in a multiplayer game against another human then you will probably become one of the most hated.
RA does not have any built in cheat codes, however that does not mean it is impossible to cheat. It is possible (not only possible, but extremely easy) to modify map files with codes that give advantages to certain countries or modify units in special ways (this can also make fun different types of maps). To do this, open up your RA directory and locate the map file you wish to modify. At the bottom of the map file is a digest section. Delete the digest section, then insert whatever code you want to modify the map file and save. Doing this you can affect everything from how often tornados spawn, crate regeneration rates, make light tanks invisible, let ore refs fire high powered cruiser amo as well as many things that opponent's might not notice such as a 10% increase in the amount of armor of French tanks or other things.
If your opponent does this, it is extremely easy to realize this by just opening up your redalert directory and examining the contents of your map files for abnormal cheats since when you play the map file is sent to your computer. It is a good idea to ocassionally go through your map files and make sure you don't have any cheat map files that you might not be noticing and are playing sometimes anyway. For a list of codes that you can insert in the map file, copy modified code out of the rules.ini file in the download section and edit it as you see fit.
Now, what I would consider serious cheating is modifying your RA files so that you have an advantage that wont be sent through the map files. I personally am incapable of doing this and have met very few people who have told me they are capable of it. My understanding is that this requires some amount of real programming knowledge.
Countries have their own specialities which are:
France and England were supposed to have more firepower and defense, but the bug in the 3.03 patch inverted their bonuses, so don't want to use them!
Units in RA have the ability to fire 1 square higher from the South than from the north. This is particularly important to know for tesla coil battles. Tesla battles are all about who controls south. This also applies to riflemen. If you pay attention to riflemen, you will notice that you can fit 5 riflmen into 1 map square. Depending on the relative positions of the 2 riflemen attacking each other, the south rifleman may be able to kill the north one without being fired upon. This is particularly useful in maps where guards are placed scarcely (such as standards).
In general it is not possible to determine before the game what spot you will start as. It is possible to create map files where the starting spots are predetermined by color. In order to make such maps see the tool in the download section. On regular maps though, despite that you can't choose your spot, you can still make sure that no matter how many watchers you have, you and your opponent will start cross map in 1v1 spots. The color bar from left to right is yellow, blue, red, green, orange, grey, turqoise, brown. The player with the left most color is player 1. The color with the 2nd left most color is player 2, etc. If you wish to play a 1v1 with watchers, all you have to do is make sure that the two people playing are the left-most players on the color bar and all will be well. In 2v2s etc, players1 and 2 will always be cross map, which is another easy way to quickly figure out who is in what spot fast (not that it's that relevant) or to randomly assign partners if you want 2 people to automatically be on different teams. So if you want to watch a game, brown is a good color to be! The second watcher can be turoqise, third watcher grey, etc.
It is important to know the maximum number of wars/cys for making certain structures. Here are the ones that I think are particularly important to know:
Maximum ammount of construction yards for given structure:
These are really the only structures it is important to be able to build fast, therefore these are the minimum numbers of cys you need to have as allies/sovs respectively on a given map once you have to cy. Just because these are the minimums, it is not necessarily bad to have extra CYs.
Maximum ammount of war factories for given tanks:
Maximum ammount of barracks/kennels for given infantry:
Migs Required to Kill Buildings
Here is a manual for the hotkeys as well as some tips on how to use them. Good use of hotkeys will make you both; a faster and a more effective player. Basically hotkeys are the key to the speed and the speed is the key to victory. If you've been playing for a while you already have a certain routine and playing style and adjusting to the use of these keys will slow your game in the beginning, but don't worry, you'll notice progress as you get used to them.
A - Form or break an alliance, click your team-mate's unit or building and press 'a'.
S - Stop or fix trucks - Stop is useful in many situations. In a stacking tank fight I use stop often. S also will send your ore trucks to the nearest piece of money. If your ore truck just dumped it's load and is going out to the gem fields again, press S and it will automatically go to the nearest gem. Beware, S will stop your ore truck if it already has a full load. Lastly, S can be used to make a glitch (explained in the Glitches-section).
F - Formation - Units must be grouped to use formation. Formation will keep your units in order relative to each other. Just select the group and press F. Formation is relatively useless except for a game glitch (explained in the glitch section).
G - Guard Mode - Do not use to guard: Your units will automatically go out and attack enemy units. I say do not use this because in the case of riflemen, your units will automatically move 1 square towards the enemy unit before firing. With riflemen this is a big deal and your "guard" will just be committing suicide. Guard mode can be used in tank fights (explained in Basic Skills-section).
H - Home - Centers on Construction Yard (or primary CY) or MCV at the start of the game, very useful.
Q - Waypoint - The most important hot key - Select a unit then hold down Q and click on waypoint 1. Hold down Q and click on waypoint 2. Repeat as necessary and the unit will go from one waypoint to the next in order until given a non waypoint order. Q can be used to make tanks shoot and move at the same time effectively dodging enemy fire. To Q your tanks tell them to attack an enemy unit or structure. While your tanks are firing at the unit you can give them waypoints to follow which they will continue to follow while firing at the target. Usually in Q fights I give minimal waypoints. See Basic Skills-section about Qing for further details.
E - Select All - Selects all units on the screen. Has many uses especially in shifting units, where harvesters don't get in the way.
T - Toggle Repair - This is very useful in, as whenever you have time to repair structures. Every extra second can count for something.
X - Scatter - Particularly useful with infantry. Helps prevent grenaders from getting blown up by the enemy or riflemen from getting squished by tanks.
N - Next Unit (from top to bottom and left to right)
B - Previous unit (from bottom to top, right to left)
U - Change Radar screen
Y - Sell Mode
Home - centers screen on selected units - Can be useful at times but the key is too far away from Q.
arrow up/down - scroll through buildings/unit list - Absolutely necessary to be fast. This is far faster than clicking through the list and is an easy way to get major increases in your speed.
ctrl + click - force fire - Bridge blasting or destroying trees are the main uses, although you can also shoot the ground.
alt + click - force move - Useful to squish infantry. Somewhat useful in running through enemy tanks when rushing.
Shift - Select multiple units - Hold shift while clicking on multiple units to select them all together, or press shift + # to select the current unit + group #. You still have to press ctrl + # to add the unit to the group.
ctrl + # - make group - Groups are very useful when controlling your units. I have group 1 for my tanks and group 2 for infantry.
alt + # - go to group - Very useful at times, especially when you haven't set a bookmark to your units location yet.
F9-F12 - Bookmarks - Go to an important part of the map and press ctrl + f9-f12, whenever you press f9-f12 again, it will take you to that part of the map immediately. See Bookmarks-section for the extremely important comments about bookmarks.
ctrl + alt + click - Escort - I've never used this.
If you want to get best out of your hotkeys it's highly recommended that you move all your hotkeys (atleast bookmarks) close to Q-key, so you can reach your keys easier and faster. How to remap your hot keys: Open your redalert directory and locate the redalert.ini file. In the redalert.ini file you will find the hotkeys. You can change the hotkey by changing the ASCII-number. Use the list below to know which number is which.
Default hotkeys in redalert.ini:
To remap a key:
Learning a map consists of 3 things and I have them listed in order of how important I think they are:
There are several general build orders to be the most important ones to know. Map specific orders/placements can vary greatly but these orders below should give anyone who uses them a good general idea of how to play any map reasonably well.
This is extremely important. On standard maps it involves gem picking. On customs it involves more general truck management skills. This very much related to build order and should be so second nature that it doesn't affect the rest of the game. Here are the particulars for money management: If put in the middle of a giant gem patch, an ore truck will begin mining towards the TL of a gem patch in a straight diagonal line (same thing in ore/gem mix such as on standards). Thus the ideal placement of an ore refinery is to the top left of the gems. ALWAYS whenever possible, put your ore ref to the top left of the gems. This will greatly ease your money difficulties. The picture below shows what ore trucks do if placed at different locations in the gem patch. Clearly the placement to TL is best.
Standards and gem picking - Gems are worth a full 50% more than ore and taking the extra effort on standards to direct your trucks to each and every little gem in the middle of an ore patch is worth a LOT of money. You should always pick gems whenever possible on appropriate maps. Also, do not forget that trucks mine diagonally towards TL, therefore if you are on a map like treasure isle where the gems are sometimes placed in diagonal lines, set your ore truck to the BR of the gem line and let it mine up on it's own. Sometimes trucks will mine in other interesting patterns that can be useful to recognize and are easily discovered with a little trial and error in sending out the trucks. Ore trucks don't always mine in the smartest of patterns even when your ore ref is to TL of gems. For example, if you have an extremely large gem patch, the ore truck will begin mining diagonally across the TL edge of the gem patch. It is often much more efficient to control your trucks and send them into the gems and let them mine back towards the ore ref, as in the picture below:
Sometimes, you will have 3 trucks mining with only one ore ref at once. Trucks aren't very smart and have great difficulty with the kindergarden lessons of sharing and taking turns. Thus if you can control your trucks and cycle them so that they take turns coming back to the ore ref, they will not waste time mucking about around the ore ref. Sending the trucks out systematically so that they return back to the ore ref at different times can greatly enhance your cash flow.
One last small trick that can help your money is to place silos next to your ore ref as in the picture below. Having two silos in the top corners of the ore refinery will help the trucks to not wander quite as badly when they are all trying to share the ore ref at the same time. This can have a significant positive effect on your cash flow. One silo alone will not affect the trucks, but having two will help them.
Every RA player must master the art of Qing. It is extremely useful for rushing, defending, and tank fighting as well as scouting. As a newbie, the best way to practice Q is to get someone and do some 5v5, 10v10, 20v20 -tanks etc. On the first day, a newbie should be able to beat a pro at least once usually, or at least come close (depending on how much the pro is focusing). Practicing Q-master map is good to do as well. As mentioned in hotkeys-section Q is the most important hotkey. To use it: select an unit then hold down Q and click on waypoint 1. Hold down Q and click on waypoint 2. Repeat as necessary and the unit will go from one waypoint to the next in order until given a non waypoint order. Q can be used to make tanks shoot and move at the same time effectively dodging enemy fire. To Q your tanks tell them to attack an enemy unit or structure. While your tanks are firing at the unit you can give them waypoints to follow which they will continue to follow while firing at the target. Usually in Q fights I give minimal waypoints.
Every game has bugs of some kinds. Perhaps surprisingly, Red Alert has loads of minor bugs, despite being one of the most popular computer games of all time. Most of the glitches are by now considered more as game feature than a bug. However, I would like to point out that I do not recommend of using glitches of any kind unless it's ok with the community. I refer to some glitches as tricks as they are generally accepted by the community, although all tricks are not necessarily glitches.
Whenever you deploy a new war factory, contruction yard, or any unit producing building that builds faster with more buildings, if you pause making your unit/structure, it will resume at the new rate. The same applies if you run low on power. If you run lower on power, your structures/units will continue building at speed with enough power, however if you start building something on lower power then get power back, pausing and resuming will make it go faster again too.
When you have built a Soviet tech centre you can sell it and still keep all the extras it brings (such as Mammoth tanks). However, if all your weapons factories get destroyed then you will need to build a new tech centre before you can build Mammoth tanks. This trick also works for Allies but they lose the GPS. You can do a similar thing with the Service Depot.
Splash damage means that any units within a short radius of the attack point will take a peripheral amount of damage. If I have 3 rows of 3 tanks and I shoot in the middle, then all tanks take damage.
If you build a truck at first war instead of waiting later then you will get ahead by 1/4-1/2 a tank and have more money.
Select more then one defence structure (Tesla, Turret etc.) by holding down SHIFT. If you have more then one selected and one of them is out of range of the target then none of them will fire, but if you select a unit with your defence structures then the ones within range of the target will fire. Remember, you must let go of SHIFT to fire.
Whenever you start building a structure or unit the money for it comes from any stored ore before draining your cash resources. However, if you cancel the building you will be refunded the cost so far in cash no matter what was used to pay for it.
To find out if mines are near your base, build a structure. When it is finished don't deploy it. Slowly sweep the WHITE outline of the structure around your base. If one of the squares in the outline turns red, you have found a mine. (Don't wander to far away from your base or the whole outline will tern red). Although mines are seldomly used.
When you debloy a building that will cause you to drop to low power, you can build a new building fast enough so the next building builds still with the normal power speed.
When you're playing a team game and your opponent tries to capture your building with engineers, you can simply propose alliance with him and his engineers will repair the building instead. This doesn't work in 1v1.
If you are allies and your team partner is soviet, you can break the alliance and capture his Construction Yard and then make the alliance again. this way you can build with both factions and for example chrono your base to opponen'ts base and start making teslas there. This works other way around aswell
First, select a tank that is lethally damaged. Then, place it on the service depot. Then, when you hear the word 'repairing' immediately get it out and put it back in again. It will repair almost instantly and free of charge, but you have to get it out again when it's repaired or you start paying for it.
Grenadiers and Rocket soldiers can throw(fire) all the way across the map. First build a bunch of grenadiers or rocket soldiers. Force fire on the terrain just in front of your grenadiers. When their little arms are up in the air, just about to throw the grenade, fire somewhere else farther than their range. These grenadiers can be as deadly as cruisers once you perfected the moves. This takes practice.
Cruisers and other naval units can move at the same speed as a transport if grouped together and then placed in formation (press 'F' while grouped). The Minelayer/APC etc. and ground vehicles/infantry also can be grouped together with a faster unit and placed in formation. Other units also work, but engineers can't be speeded up and harvesters are hard to get speeded up.
If you wish to make stronger tesla coils, you can put units inside the coil that will prevent the coil from dying. Select your unit, rifleman, rocket dude, or even tank, and tell them to move to a certain square. Then time the deployment of your tesla coil so that it deploys just as the unit is moving onto that square. The coil will then be invincible as long as the unit remains there. The easiest way to get around this trick is to force fire on the base of the coil to kill the unit contained within. This trick can work with some other structures too.
Stop can also be used to hide engies behind or on top of buildings. Force fire on your own building then send the engie in. At the last second press S and if you timed it right, the engie stop behind or on top of the building and thus be unsquishable.
When you have builded in your opponents base and you are about to place a building on there lets say a Tesla coil. You hold the tesla coil on a white outline, but don't debloy it nor move mouse, if you move the mouse, the outline becomes red and you can't debloy it after. When your opponent has destroyed all near buildings around the white outline, your tesla coil can still be debloyed, even when your buildings have no reach to it.
Credits: ehy, JCFarmer, milo234, Nullvoid and RA-Archive.
Most of the credits go to milo234 as he created the most comprehensive RA knowledge article 'RA according to milo234', which has been merged into this page. If you feel like something is missing and you want to contribute in making of this guide, head out to chat. Every bit of knowledge is very welcome.
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