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Beginners guide Tiberian Dawn

By cwedvin - 23rd November 2020 - 20:58 PM

C&C Remastered Tiberian Dawn - Multiplayer 101.

This guide is intended to outline some of the pitfalls players new to the online tiberian dawn ladder scene tend to make, and helps distinguish what separates players on the lower end of the current ladder with the higher end. Iíll also be sure to point out some easy things you can do to greatly improve your gameplay that will also transfer into your single player campaign games!

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The Fundamentals

ďIíve never really played an RTS online before, what should I start focusing on?Ē

There are a few basic fundamentals that are important to be aware of when starting out on the ladder.

Modern Controls. In the remastered collection you have the option of modifying your basic overlay controls, those more familiar with modern RTS games may wish to change the default controls from legacy to modern.

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Building Hotkeys. Rather than rely on the mouse to click a building and place it on the map it is a lot more efficient to use the individual building hotkeys so you only have to spend time placing your completed structures. I personally am fine with the default hotkeys but others prefer to customize these, you should experiment and find what feels most comfortable for you.

Faction Specific Hotkeys
There are different building hotkeys depending on your faction e.g. you can set a hotkey of 'a' for a PowerPlant for GDI, and a hotkey of 'b' for a PowerPlant for Nod.

Unit Control Groups. If you're not already familiar with this, you can use (by default) the command CTRL+numberkeys to define unit control groups. If you select a group of units, set them to control group e.g. CTRL+1, this will allow you to use the key '1' to select all those units in future. This is super useful for managing different groups of your units at various points in a game. You can also double press the unit hotkey e.g. press '1' twice, and this will immedaitely move your camera.

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Map Hotkeys. Similar to unit control groups you can use map hotkeys to bookmark sections of the map to allow fast map traversal. By default you can use CTRL+F keys to set a map location bookmark, and then use the f key to quickly move to that part of the map. This is useful if you have sections of the map you find yourself manually scrolling to multiple times in a game.

Rebind Mapkeys
Some players find that having to take their hands of the home row of keys slows them down, especially when trying to hit the F1-F5 keys. Don't be afraid to rebind these controls, personally I use the additional buttons on my mouse for map bookmark hotkeys

Stages of the Game. You should check out a fantastic post on reddit by community member crexis available here which covers some fundamentals around the various stages of a game and different strategies you can focus on adopting.

Faction Choice

ďIím having a hard time deciding what faction to play, what should I choose?Ē

When you first approach the Tiberian Dawn ladder you have a choice of 3 factions, GDI, Nod or random. As a starting player your best bet is to play as Nod. Generally speaking Nod have a much more versatile selection of units at their disposal, are able to quickly produce units with their Airstrip compared to GDI's slower War Factory, have better anti-air options and also have arguably overpowered Apaches at their disposal which prove invaluable in matchups against GDI.

For the masochists among you who wish to go head first into the ladder as GDI I commend you. This is generally a much more difficult faction to play due to the slow speed of vehicles, heavy reliance on grenadiers and overall weaker unit variety and poor viable anti-air solutions. Be prepared for a rough (but still worthwhile and hella fun) ride!

As a nice summary here are some of the pros and cons of each faction

🦅 Global Defense Initiative 🦅

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  • Medium tanks are super powerful
  • Grenadiers are heralded as being overpowered infantry
  • Orcas can be very effective (particularly in GDI mirror matchups)
  • Lack of unit variety, even with access to MLRS & Mammoth tanks with later tech, GDI are still way behind Nodís variety of units
  • Lack of ranged units, Nodís artillery and SSMís can both outrange GDIís AGTís (advanced guard towers) making them almost redundant in the late game. This also provides a headache for GDI players attacking into obelisks/turrets often needing to rely on orcaís to snipe them
  • Lack of anti-air solutions, for the early game GDI players have to rely either on orcas or rocketmen for anti air, with rocketmen but way too expensive to be financially viable in most games. In the mid-late game GDI can potentially tech to AGTís which are expensive requiring a comm centre, and even more expensive if they want to go with mammoths (requiring a service depot) or MLRS (requiring an adv comm centre).
🦂 Brotherhood of Nod 🦂

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  • Variety of units, with access to buggies to counter infantry, bikes to counter tanks, light tanks to fend off mass buggies, artillery for countering infantry clusters and also for offensive assaults on structures, SSMís for long range sniping of opponents static defences or infantry, and also access to MLRS
  • Obelisks are super effective as a static defence solution against GDI who can't outrange it without using Orcas
  • Apaches are super powerful. They are effective as anti infantry against GDI players, but also rip through structures, you can snipe a Construction Yard with 4 of these bad boys versus GDI needing 6/7 orcas.
  • Unit composition is important, you need to keep in mind the rock paper scissors model when going against other nod opponents - buggies > bikes > tanks > buggies. Also when it comes to GDI opponents buggies are highly ineffective against med tanks, you need to be careful to include bikes in your early arsenal to take out med tanks
  • Arguably a higher level of micro is required when playing Nod, this pertains more specifically to facing off bikes against medium tanks, where the Nod player needs to move their bikes around the med tanks dodging their projectiles to avoid damage. Without doing this you risk being overpowered by GDI players. In Nod mirror matchups there's going to be a lot of buggies/bikes against buggies/bikes, you need to be able to match/beat your opponents micro to win these battles.
  • Cost of Flamers. Nod have to pay 200 for a single flame infantry unit whereas GDI only need to pay 160 for a Grenadier. Both units have pros and cons but with the current balance setup Nod are at a disadvantage with having to pay more for Flamers.

Build Orders

ďGreat, Iíve decided Iím playing X faction, now what am I supposed to build to keep up with my opponents on the ladder?Ē

At its very core RTS games all come down to economics. Youíre primarily playing a balancing act between your income versus your outcome, you want to optimise getting as many units or at least the right composition of units at the right time to attack your opponent, while not being bottlenecked along the way, feeling stuck, unable to produce anything while your opponent attacks into you.

There are two basic concepts that you want to focus on throughout your game.
  1. Your economy i.e. getting up enough refineries to stay in the green
  2. Your production i.e. what units your focusing on building, and how many of each production building you might want
There are different build orders and optimizations you can make depending on each specific ladder map, but essentially a generic Ďstandardí build order tends to be something like:
    IPB Image- Deploy MCV
    IPB Image - Build 1x PowerPlant
    IPB Image / IPB Image - Build 1x Barracks/Hand of Nod
    IPB Image - Build 2x Refinery
    IPB Image - Build 1x PowerPlant
    IPB Image / IPB Image - Build War Factory / Airstrip
    IPB Image- Build a third Refinery
After building their first refinery players vary their builds, youíll often hear phrases like 2/3/4 ref, this indicates the player is opting to pump out that number of refineries before building their next production building - which would often be a War Factory/Airstrip. Important note for beginners is that often players will also squeeze in a power plant at some stage here as without a second power plant theyíll run into low power.

Avoid Low Power
Whatever you choose for your build order, you want to ensure you avoid going into low power. Once you hit low power, you donít only lose your map (if you have a communications center) but your unit production speed is crippled which will hurt you in the long term. The same goes for buildings - you can test this yourself, if you hover over a building in game you can see the build speed, if you then go to low power youíll see the build speed will take longer.

There are a lot of different build orders on the current ladder but for beginners it's best to focus on getting the fundamentals right. Stick to one build order like the one suggested above while you're getting used to your opponents strategies.

Common Mistakes

ďIím coming from primarily campaign play but my strategies donít seem to work for multiplayer, what am I doing wrong?Ē

Iíve spent some time casting ongoing matches between players at all ranks of the leaderboard (which you can check over on my twitch channel here) and when viewing new players matches a few common mistakes jump out - keep an eye out if you find yourself doing these things and aim to adjust to improve your gameplay.

Turtling. Some players new to the online scene like to focus on getting 1 ref, comm centre, then surrounding their base with advanced guard towers/obelisks. The problem with this strategy is while you're holding up in your base, your opponent is expanding over 75/80% of the map taking all the economy meaning they can send endless wave after wave into your base. You will lose the long-game as a result of this. Be sure to not lock yourself in.

Single Production Buildings. Those coming from the campaign may not be aware of this but when you build multiple production buildings i.e. 2x Airfields, 2x War Factories, 2x Barracks etc. you greatly increase the speed at which you produce units. This effect also stacks, so if you have 6x Barracks you will be building grenadiers at a way faster rate than if you were only on 1. I often see new players sitting on about 10k unable to spend their money fast enough because theyíre bottle necked on a single Airfield. Donít fall into this trap. As mentioned above the ideal ratio you want to 2/3 refineries to 1 tank production facility. When it comes to GDI you can usually get at least 2 barracks in, or more depending on the map and your style of play.

Bad unit trades for construction yard snipes. New Nod players are notorious for doing this. They like to come up with 5 or 6 buggies/bikes to try to snipe your construction yard. The better players will be looking out for this and have grenadiers or similar scattered around their base to counter attack this. New players will at this point still try to attack into the CY essentially sacrificing their 6 units and not getting the snipe off. Donít be afraid to pull back your units if you see the opponent is defending carefully. Also take into consideration that sniping the CY in the mid to late game may not be as valuable as you think, if theyíve stopped using it you donít want them to realize that and sell it. Similarly if you are trying to snipe your opponents CY, be cautious that you can take it out, if you let them get the sell off theyíll be up 2,500 and if youíre not prepared pain may be coming your way in a counterattack.

Not adjusting to your opponents unit composition. This is something that comes with experience, but a classic example is a nod player massing buggies to counter a GDI army made primarily of medium tanks. Failing to identify your opponents army composition and building bikes or similar to counter it can cost you the game. Try to be flexible with your army composition, itís good to have a specific build order in mind at the start of the game, but don't be reluctant to adjust according to your opponents build. It is something that comes with experience and practice.

Not Scouting. This is one of the most valuable pieces of information you can get early on in a match, send out some Minigunners early on to get map vision, and if you can try secure vision of your opponents base so you can keep an eye on what theyíre building, and their army composition. This helps you late on in terms of deciding when to attack, when to defend and what sort of army to build in reaction to their own force. Similarly anti-scouting and protecting your own base from being exposed is equally important - this is especially crucial if your up against opponents who are sniping your structures with Apaches or similar tactics.

Refinery Placement. When placing your refineries be sure to place them as close to the nearby Tiberium fields as possible. Don't be afraid to have strange looking bases sprawled all across the map to better reach Tiberium. A good rule of thumb is to only play one refinery per field unless it has more than one blossom tree.

Silo Crawling
Want to get your Refineries a couple of tiles closer to your Tiberium but its just out of reach? You can use silos to improve your base crawling. They're cheap, effective and take up 4 tiles instead of having to waste time placing single tile sandbags. You can also sell them to get half your money back after you've placed your Refinery!

Feeling Stuck / Community Support

ďIím doing what I think are all the right things and not sure where Iím going wrong, what should I do? Where can I turn for support?Ē

So there are two things to point out here.

1. Game Replays

If you are uncertain how you are losing games, take some time to look back through your past replays and ask yourself some of these questions:
  • Did I manage my economy successfully? This might include questions like was I sitting on large sums of cash without producing units? Did I have any bottlenecks, not enough refs getting tib and stuck waiting for money? Did my opponent have more refs than me / did they have better ref placement (closer to the tib etc.)
  • Did my opponent attack me early and I had no defense? Why did I not have defense, can I adjust my build to have more units out earlier as a result. Should I have attacked first? Could I have attacked his units on their way to my base to weaken them? Could I have switched up my army composition in reaction to seeing something unusual?
    How was my power management? Was I low power for any periods of the game, did I notice, how long did it take me to rectify it? (you can generally tell if a player is low power if all their buildings take 1 tick of damage)
2. Player Advice

Donít hesitate to reach out to those who beat you in game and ask for advice and suggestions for where you went wrong. The C&C Tiberian Dawn community are very active in the ĎC&C Tournament Centralí Discord which is open for any new players to join regardless of skill level. You can join here. A lot of the top 20 players are open to jumping in custom games with new players and offer advice to those who feel stuck. There are also many people who stream games on Twitch which you can check out under the Command & Conquer category.

I wish you all the best in your online games - donít hesitate to reach out if you need any support!

We hope that you have enjoyed and benefited from this guide. If you would like to contribute your own tips or guides for Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert Remastered, do reach out to Danku Good luck out there Commanders!

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- Danku.