A guide about how to start a game and what your opening moves would typically be. The specifics could change according to the map and game mode played, but the moves below are generally a good start to any game.
Location selection phase
In this phase you are shown a green box around a part of the map. You can click somewhere in here to choose in which area your Commander will appear. Once all players choose a location (or time runs out), a 3 second countdown will start. After that, all commanders will be deployed simultaneously.
Picking a good spot
Some maps won't give you much of a choice, but on those that do there are a few general guidelines:
- Pick a location closest to the center of map.
- This allows you to control the map better.
- The spot you pick should have a mex cluster of 3 or 4 mexes.
- If you start somewhere without a mex cluster you are slowing yourself down.
Picking a defensible spot is not very important - your opponent has the same options available as you and isn't going to be able to abuse this. Good radar coverage and some units will sort out anything.
Your first buildings
Before the game starts, you are allowed to queue up to 30 buildings (using shift) that your commander will start to work on when it appears. Most people open with the following:
- A starting factory, placed somewhere close to the starting mex cluster.
- This is to ensure the Commander has to move around as little as possible for this initial phase - time spent moving is time not spent building.
- All surrounding mexes.
- 3 Solar Collectors or 5-6 Wind/Tidal Generators.
- This should give you enough energy to match the metal you will get from the mexes you just took and the next few mexes you will take as you start to expand.
- A Radar Tower, preferably in an elevated location.
- Helps to protect against early raids.
- 1 or 2 light defensive towers, usually an LLT or MT.
- The commander, in a location close to all the buildings.
After the game has started - initial moves
Your first units
The first thing your Commander should have done is teleported in a factory - the first factory placed is free of charge. It is now sitting idle.
- Queue up a scout unit. This would be something light - a Flea, Dart, Glaive, Dirtbag, etc.
- Set its rally point to somewhere near where you think your opponents' base will be.
- The point of doing this is to see if your opponent is up to something cheesy.
- The main thing you want to do is check what factory your opponent has, and so what you expect to encounter.
- Build a constructor.
- Queue up 4-5 raiders and another constructor.
Starting to expand
Send your first constructor to a nearby group of mexes and start building them. Use your raiders to either protect this constructor or send them over to your opponents' base to keep them from being too greedy with their expansion.
On a large map, your Commander is probably best used by staying in base and building lots of energy structures; Caretakers when necessary. This is because the Commander is much slower than any constructor and on large maps it is easy to get a decent ball of raiders quickly. These can overwhelm and destroy an unescorted Commander easily, a blow so severe that you might as well resign there and then.
On small maps, it is generally best to march your Commander towards your opponent's base, taking mexes and building light defences along the way. On smaller maps, the Commander's combat strength is relevant for much longer than on other maps, and you can leverage this to gain map control.
What happens after this is beyond the scope of this guide. Read about typical game progression here.