Anir’s Guide on Free for All (FFA) – Games A short explanation on why I wrote this guide:
I have played/watched many FFA games in Zero-k and couldn't help but notice that a large number of players don't seem to be able to replicate the success they have in 1v1's or team games. In this guide I would like to share my knowledge of Free for All's and try to help players get a better understanding of the complexities of an FFA game. My goal by writing this guide is to increase the level of knowledge and Understanding of FFA's so that FFA games can be more competitive in the future.Table of contents
2. What should be the goal for all the participants in an FFA?
3. Understanding the situation, you are in.
___a. The starting situation
___b. Knowledge is power
___c. Those who have an ace up their sleeve have a clear advantage.
4. Diplomacy, the spoiled part of each FFA.
5. Fight only if it increases your chances of overall victory.
6. Never underestimate your enemy.
7. Comebacks and what you should know about them.1. Foreword
In this guide, I will only cover games in which no teams are competing. I will eventually expand the guide, but I have not yet planned to do so.
I tried to keep this guide as short as possible, without leaving out anything very important. This text does not include any exact strategies or recipes on how to win an FFA games? In contrast, however, I go into detail about what thought processes you should have during a FFA round. Therefore, this guide can provide useful information to both new players and seasoned veterans. I hope it helps everyone who likes to play FFA games.I might continue working on this guide, so don’t hold back with feedback/ideas. ;)2. What should be the goal for all the participants in an FFA?
I feel that it is important to mention this because I often think that many players forget this while playing. There is only one single goal for each player to archive and that is to win. There is no second or third place. There are no infinite alliances. So, when you participate in an FFA, you play it to win. Otherwise you are just destroying the whole philosophy of an FFA game. Moreover, it is very little fun to compete against players who do not follow this principle.3. Understanding the situation, you are in.a. The initial situation
At the beginning of every FFA player you should have a look at 3 things: The number of players, the name of the players and on which map you are playing? These 3 factors should at least to some extend determine your initial strategy.
Let’s have a look at the simplest point: The names of the players.
Are there players you know? How are they rated? Do some of the players know you? Do you know if two of the players do not like each other? Are these players likely to target one of them specifically? All of these questions can give you hints on their behavior during the game. Imagine the advantage you receive if you can figure out what most of the players will probably do.
The second factor: The map.
The map can determine the starting strategy very hard? Does every player have one clear starting opponent? Is there a super important reclaim field or a strong supermex? Are the starting positions easy to defend or can an early cloaked army slip past the defenses and do the trick? Annalise the map and play accordingly
The last, most difficult and most important of these three points: The number of players.
Many people play FFA in a similar fashion, regardless if they play with 2 or 15 other players. However, this involves a major risk: You can ruin the balance of the game.
I will explain the balance of the game by a simple mathematical example: 3 players. Each get a score, according to their units, metal and energy production and so on. Player 1 has 500 points, Player 2 has 300 points and Player 3 has 400 Points. In this moment nobody can win the game because the strongest player, player 1, is not capable of taking player 2 and player 3 out. Trying to finish either one would weaken him to much to win against the other player. However if Player 3 looses 201 points, then the balance of the game is broken. Player 1 has now more points then Player 2 and Player 3 combined. He will win the game if he uses the opportunity.
I know this is simplified, but it reflects the FFA situation very well.
What does this mean for the game?
In a 1v1v1 situation, fighting with another player is bringing the third player closer to the win, because you are usually both losing points during that time. I am not saying you can’t or shouldn’t fight anybody. Sometimes it is necessary. But keep an eye on the third player too. Know when you need to stop.
In a 1v1v1v1 situation this problem isn’t as big. Because even if you and another player are having an all-out war. There are still 2 players balancing each other out. Meaning, as long as those two are keeping a close eye on the fight, and everything that is happening around. None of the can try to profit from the situation because it would open him/her up to the remaining player.
Games with 5 or more players are just a multiplication of smaller rounds, and follow the same principles.b. Knowledge is power
Only if you know what your opponents are planning can you prepare for it. Therefor it is a pure gamble whether an action that is not based on knowledge will ever pay off. Therefor you should use any possible tools to scout your opponents in very regular time intervals.
Some of the most common units/structures to acquire some information: Radar; Advanced Radar; Owl; Swift; Flea; Widow; Scythes; Gremlins;
You might ask yourself what a good time interval would be. Consider this: On most FFA maps, in the endgame the players reach 100, sometimes even 150 metal per second income. With 100 metal per second, it takes 6 minutes to rush a Disco Rave Party. Now is any of the remaining players able to counter a superweapon in this instance? If the answer to this question is no, how long would they need to prepare? How long do they need to scout themselves? How long will it take yourself to convince them? If you can answer all those questions, you can calculate the optional scouting frequency.
Please understand that the superweapon is just an example. If one paladin is enough to take you out for sure. Then you need to scout adapted to that threat. And so on.c. Those who have an ace up their sleeve have a clear advantage.
Of course, if knowledge is power, then you should do everything you can to keep the other players from acquiring any information about your situation.
Good tools to accomplish this: Some long range Anti-Air to prevent owl and swift scouting; A dense line of defenses; A flea screen line to detect potential intruders; Cloakers! They can’t scout what they can’t see.; Cloaked units.
Ask yourself why the most used strider in FFA is Scorpion. (Ok maybe Funnel is build more?) It is cloaked, that’s it. This factor is important enough for players to get 4, 5, sometimes even 10 of them. This should highlight the importance of this factor.4. Diplomacy, the spoiled part of each FFA.
Under point 3.a. I explained the importance of the balance of the game. The players who are aware of it will be communicating a lot with other players when they play. Because only then can they guarantee that they can uphold it.
This is why players call out other players for taking a lot of territory, or assembling a big army at their border. They want to let other players know whats going on. So, they hopefully start acting against the player which tries to gain an advantage over the others. However, you should be careful to not trust every information that is shared. People often call out things that are not actually true. Sometimes they hope that you will completely invest yourself on killing that single person, while they build up.
Therefore, if you receive information that is important, try to verify it.
Also sometimes other players are giving away important information without even noticing it. A simple example: The games started 3 minutes ago. And Player 2 writes: “Hi player 3.” It are only 2 words. But it gives you the following information: Most likely these two players are probably neighbors. (People very rarely scout not neighbor players in FFA) So far, one is not rushing the other one. Player 2 now knows which factory Player 3 started with. Player 3 has at least little knowledge about Player 2’s progress. 2 words….
But diplomacy doesn't just happen in chat. The actions of each player will influence the other players opinion about each other. Would you trust an alliance proposal by someone that just tried to sneak an army into your base?
Maybe it is possible for you to even get two other players to fight each other? Imagine if you have three players. Player 1 controls the north, Player 2 controls the mid and Player 3 controls the south. Now player 2 is a very inexperienced player, and will retaliate hard against anyone that attacks him. So, when player 1 manages to slip some units to player 3 and kill a bunch of stuff. In the meantime, now player 2 closes that “hole” in his defenses. Now to get back at back Player 3 needs to go threw Player 2. (Assuming he only has units, no nuke/superweapon)5. Fight only if it increases your chances of overall victory.
Does this fight get me any closer to victory? You should ask yourself this question before each battle.
Fighting for a single mex can be worth it. Going all out for it however is probably not the right choice. When there are two mexes can’t you ask the other player to each take one, to avoid weakening each other? Is the other player inexperienced and will potentially suicide his whole army into you because you killed a few solars? Think about it.6. Never underestimate your enemy.
Zero-K has a high rate of unpredictability: cloaked units, nukes, silo, alliances, rushes.
You won’t always be able to predict/counter them all. But you should try to prepare for them. A fight can turn very quickly if your detri suddenly blows up because two ultimatums did their job. How unfortunate that it was also far into enemy territory and you also lost the rest of your army in the explosion. Now the guy you tried to kill is resurrecting your detriment and his army is standing between you and the wreckage… Maybe a screen of fleas could have stopped this from happening.
What I want to say with this is: Do not get sloppy.7. Comebacks and what you should know about them.
First of all: Comebacks are only possible because players don’t care to kill other players for good. Therefore, if you don’t want to get killed by a guy who had a single constructor at some point. Don’t be too lazy to send a few units to finish the job.
Second: Comebacks can only work if the remaining player highly ignore the map. No matter what you plan to do, if you can not claim any mexes again a comeback won’t work. That is why, it is only really necessary to try it, if you have or will get the opportunity to hold some mexes.
Thrid: A comeback requires an option to suddenly become much stronger then the remaining players. This can be a superweapon wreckage or similar. Or players that have an all out war, which will weaken them as much that you can become stronger then both the “normal way.”
Fourth: Comebacks are to some extend a relic of a former version of Zero-K. Back when constructors and caretakers were still giving income. They became far less common after this change. I think this should be mentioned.