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Basics | Rookie Mistakes | Combat | Spell Basics | Invisibility | Team Strategies | FFA Tips | Glossary


1) Scout all players before selecting a target. Picking the right target to attack is perhaps the most important part of winning the game. Picking the right target will always be better than randomly attacking whoever you bump into. Generally look for the stronger players, or those who are gathering the most resources (even look for the other players who actively scout the map). Scouting will also let you know what units to build in order to kill your target. I tend to scout the entire map every few minutes, the player who represents your largest threat will change from time to time. Don't scout once, and then assume nothing changed. If you scout and see something, keep it to yourself. Giving away info on what every player in the game is up to only draws attention to yourself.

2) Look for players who are likely to attack you. This might be because they don't do their own scouting. They might be new to FFAs and they do not understand rule #1. This means once the player sees you, they will focus on you until one of you is dead. Take care of players who target you directly and try to stay away from "agroing" more players. Sometimes you need to weigh one player who is targeting you vs. another player who has 6 gold mines and is kicking butt (rule #1). Sometimes, you should ignore the player attacking you and go for the stronger guy. Guessing how players will attack you will help you decide on what your next move should be.

For instance it might not a good idea to engage player 3, when you know that the player 2 keeps sending an army to your base every 5 minutes.

Engage in battles in the open while creeping, but generally it's not a good idea to engage another player's base unless you can take them out of the game. This is really tied to rule #1. Hero harassing works great in Team and Solo games, but can be bad in FFA's. Hero harassing is unlikely to kill a player, but it will tend to force that player to focus on you. That player will see you as their top threat and will think they need to take care of YOU before moving on to someone else. If you hero harass a player, that pretty much means you and the other player will be fighting for the next 20 minutes while everyone else in the game clears the map of creeps, tech, and expand. If a 3rd player engages your base while you fight your neighbor then its likely you will lose the game. This doesn't mean teaming was involved by any of the players, it's just that you picked an enemy right off and then couldn't handle it when a 3rd player got involved. Sometimes that 3rd player will engage your opponent, sometimes they will engage you. These 3rd player attacks are all semi random (you can still semi predict what will happen by looking at the map position and looking at how aggressively each opponent plays). Scouting is key here, otherwise you leave the outcome of the game to chance based on whether the 3rd player attacks you or someone else. You will win many more games if you can see these attacks coming 10 minutes before they happen.

It's better to wait and see what happens, then make your move. If you are overly aggressive to many players, you will lose most of your games.

If you really want to hero harass, it's a better idea to do a full out rush and eliminate the player. While rushing can also screw you as a 3rd player might be teching, it's generally a better option than just hero harassing. Many players just "guess", that hero harassing will work on the guy next to them, and when they start harassing they find out the player next to them can handle it just fine. The problem is that the player who did the harassing is now that in a bad position as they have "Agrod" a player and didn't gain any benefit from it.

3) Watch your upkeep. In solo, it's a good idea to go to into high upkeep and win due to the number of units. Be very careful in FFA's with high upkeep. While going to 100 units and killing all the other players tends to work on the low end of the FFA ladder, it doesn't work vs. good FFA players. If you stay in high upkeep you will run out of gold. FFA games can last an hour or longer, and you need to plan on having resources for the length of the game. Usually if a player stays in high upkeep and if they lose their army and expansion they will not come back from the game. Spending time at 80 food + multiple expansions will give you more gold, which will give you more options during those times where you get attacked by multiple players at the same time (it happens to us all, so its just a matter of being ready for it). Go to 100 food when you need to, but the second you find yourself just standing around, kill off your own units and drop to 80.

You can stay at 100 food in an FFA game with 3 or more expansions. This can be bad, because any player who scouts will see all these expansions and see you as a threat even though you don't have the gold of 3 expansions. Not only that but it takes 15 food to gather from 3 mines, and the only difference between low and high upkeep is 20 units. So if you have to spend 10 extra units to mine. This leaves with 10 extra food which isn't all that much.

4) Always have a TP scroll handy; buy a few of them. This allows you to react easier. If you get attacked by player 3 while you are attacking player 2 a TP scroll can help you fight both armies. TP scrolls will allow you to port around a large map and defend if you need to.

5) Put a few towers at your expansions / main. Building towers tends to be associated with new player who ONLY build towers. This doesn't mean towers are bad, just learn where they can help. In Solo it's better to have map control which means you should spend money on units instead of static base defenses. Towers will do two things for you in FFA games, first they will buy you a some time. Time helps in cases where you have to fight multiple players at once, or when you need to fight a 100 food army when you only have an 80 food army. Second, towers kind of work as a "stay away from here, private property" sign. Most FFA players (at least not the top players), will go find another target after seeing your towers and they will leave your expansion alone. Most players don't want to deal with the hassle of making siege, so they run off and find another player to attack. If players are killing each other instead of you, you will win more games.

Don't rely on towers to win you the game. They just give a few more seconds when you need it. Scouting AND towers work best for buying you time.

6) Build the "right units", learn what units to make for each type of player. If you see a Night elf player going for Chimaeras and Hippogryphs, then build the correct army and kill the Night elf player. Then figure out your next target and what units to make next. Kill your own unneeded units and then create your next "ideal" army. I have round 5 or 6 "army templates". I use a different template based on who I'm fighting. It's better to plan your entire army vs. a single player (who should be your largest threat). With the right army + good micro your 80 food army will kill their 100 food army.

You will might need to deal with a 2nd army which might be made of units which is a counter to your own army. Good scouting and a few towers can buy you some time to allow you to switch to the correct units. This is tied back to rules #1 and #2 and predicting who and when you will be attacked. If you are caught off guard by another player then it's your own fault.

7) It's important to adapt. One of the most useful items in FFA games is the tome of retraining, for some reason very few players ever buy this item. I HIGHLY recommend Orc players, who get a Far Seer to switch from Wolves to Far Sight at level 5 or 7 (level 3 Far Sight is perhaps the best spell in the game for FFAs). Dogs are great for creeping, while level 1 Far Sight isn't so great, so at level 5 you can spend 300 gold to switch your spells around.

I recommend Human players who go Archmage first to switch from Water Elementals to Blizzard around level 5. You can even switch back and forth based on the army you need to fight. Water Elementals are great for creeping and against players who go all air (or Huntresses), but Blizzard is generally a much better spell later in the game when you are dealing with 100 food armies.

Learn the different maps, and adjust your rules of when you should expand based on the map. Large map games differ from small map games. Learn what works better for your play style and thumbs down the 2 maps you have the most problems with. For me, I like to fast expand and I tend to prefer larger maps.

In some games every starting spot has a player, you might want to think about rushing + towering a player next to you. If you can pull it off, you will own more of the map than any other player.

8) ALWAYS scout the two spots next to you at the start of the game before committing to a build order. Its important to know if you have a player right next to you, or even if you have a player on both sides. Middle spot is always bad, but if you at least know you have the middle spot you can adjust (you will need a few more towers at your main, and an expansion on the other side of the map + lots of TP scrolls).

If you only have one player next to you, it's helpful to know if that player has someone else on the other side of him (meaning he got the middle spot), in which case you can pretty much ignore that player and hope the guy on the other side of him takes care of you.

When you scout your neighbors at the start of the game, be careful not to be seen. And if you are seen, run the opposite direction and make it look like that is where you came from. You don't want to give away your position, otherwise the player who saw you might be your typical "solo" player. If the player is a solo player, they will likely hero harass you and you will end up fighting them for 20 minutes while everyone else techs.

9) Creep aggressively, but stay out of sight. Creeps tend to run out pretty quickly in FFAs, so get what you can quickly. Sometimes its better to stay away from the center as there will be 3 or 4 armies all trying to creep jack each other. If you spend time getting the creeps around the edges you should end up with MORE creeps than the other players. Sometimes you just need to watch how each map is creeped by players.

10) If you have a lone unit or hero that's being chased, run the unit to third player's base. For those players who don't scout, they will "see" this base for the first time. You might get lucky and the player will start to target the other base. This is one way you can take advantage of your scouting + the lack of scouting from other players.

11) Always plan on 3 heroes. FFA games go long and it's not uncommon to hit max level. Going 1 or 2 heroes is not a good idea because after an hour long game you might run out of gold, in which case your heroes will represent a large part of your army.

One time at band camp, I tried to see how far I could get without any heroes in FFA. It turned out to be much harder compared to no hero games in solo. In a few of the games, I ended up vs. 3 level 10 heroes where my entire army would die to my opponent's uber heroes. I still went 6 wins and 0 losses before losing my first game.

Heroes are important, but on the flip side just because another player has higher level heroes doesn't mean you're in trouble. If a game goes long, lots of gold can make up for it.

12) Creeping... While the following tip can be applied to any other game type its good to follow as some FFA maps are large and you will tend to do more creeping before you fight.

If you can creep enough to get your first hero to level 5, remove that hero from creeping. Either send him back to your base (make sure to pass the TP scroll to another hero if you do so) or keep him away from the creeps you kill with your other 2 heroes. Otherwise the level 5 hero will reduce the Xp you gain. If a tome of Xp or tome of power drops, use it on your level 5 hero. This way you can get to level 6 from just creep. So you might want keep the level 5 hero around just in case one of these items drop. This means the hero needs to stand a ways away from the creep battle to remove the Hero Xp loss. The problem with having the hero stand around is it is likely other players will bump into you. They will be out creeping as well. If you decide to leave your hero standing alone, keep and eye on him and micro him when other players show up. Having the hero standing outside of the creep battle will give you more Xp for your other 2 heroes and help you spot other players before they can creep jack you.

13) FFA players who build 0 towers at their expansions can be taken advantage of. Players who don't build any base defenses will generally stock up on TP scrolls as a way to compensate.

The idea is to do split force attacks (this works great in Arrange Team games but there you are splitting players not player forces). Most players will NEVER split their force as it's not something many players have ever practiced with.

So with your normal scouting lets say you find 2 unguarded expansions owned by the same player (or even one expansion + the player's main base). Make sure the two targets are not close together and send a few units to the first target to kill peons (don't send your heroes, your heroes will get xp regardless of where they are at as long as no hero is within range of what is being killed).

The key here is to attack both targets at the same time (or timed in a way to trick the player to porting to one base while moving your entire army to the second target to do some damage). If the player ports to the first base, run your one or two units away and engage the other base. If he has 2 TP scrolls and ports again, run your original units back to the first target, and move the other units away. You can play ping pong with the player all day.

If the other player teleports and your units escaped unharmed that player just lost 350 gold, in addition to the few peons you killed.

In most cases you will destroy one base when using this tactic. The nice thing about this tactic is it works even when the other player has a better army + heroes and is mobile (many TP scrolls). It works great against gold hogs who don't want to bother with base defenses. You can punish them for tying to cut corners =)

Also once again, only do this if you plan on killing the player in the short term or if the player is already targeting you (the type of attacks you do vs. players should be based on how much you can piss of the player before it starts to hurt you). This tactic will tend to "agro" new players.

If a player builds 2 or 3 towers per expansion, it makes split attacks more difficult. You will need to commit a larger army to each target. If you send a larger army, you risk losing that army.

You can also do something similar when attacked. For instance you can send in a single Grunt / Abomination / Knight to an unguarded expansion when a player attacks. The one Knight will not make much difference in your battle. The rest of your army + towers will hold him off (well you need to make that call if you need the unit or not).

The attacking player will lose an expansion if he decides to stay and fight you. By fighting and losing an expansion he increases his chances of losing against other players.

14) If you can stock pile gold, do so. Some players can manage to stay in low upkeep with 3 expansions. Sitting at 50 food is very risky because it will limit what you can do vs. multiple opponents at the same time. Mine gold as much as you can. If the other players are ignoring you, then take advantage of the time but keep scouting so you can jump to a 100 army when the time is right.

If you stockpile gold, buy up good items for each hero. Some maps have market places with uber items (uber but costly). Some of these items can seriously affect the outcome of a battle. If you buy up these items, you can help compensate for having a smaller army without actually affecting your upkeep level.

If a game looks like it's in "stalemate" mode then gather as much as you can before the map is dry (no gold). Don't try to hold a gold mine that is at a high risk of being attacked by everyone else, otherwise you will end up losing more gold. Only go for mines that will be "worth it". If the map runs out of gold, kill off all your peons and get a 100 army.

15) If you're Human, Orc or Undead get a shredder on any map that has one. Night elf players really shouldn't because in long games, on some maps, lumber tends to run out, and this gives a nice advantage to night elf players. Using a shredder can limit Night Elf players, if you do get a shredder, make sure to keep some trees next to your main base around. Alternatively, the Shredder still outproduces the lumber income of the wisps, and frees them up for gold expansions. If trees become thin, you only need a few trees (one for each wisp), and you can still send the shredder off elsewhere (an expansion or whatnot). Of course there are times when this is not true, but that's been my personal experience (I'm sure you're a much better player than I am though). Oh, and not only do "Shredders ... allow you to use your existing lumber peons for new expansions (for Human and Orc)," but they also let you add the lumber ghouls to your Undead attack force (more useful if you are pruchasing the Shredder early in the game).

Teching requires lumber. If you will need to deal with multiple armies, you will need upgrades for almost every unit. This level of teching requires tons of lumber. Shredders will help here and even allow you to use your existing lumber peons for new expansions (for Human and Orc).

Passivity is a game killer. While you don't want to anger too many players at once, if you aren't fighting, then you aren't gaining experience. Someone will come with 3 high level heroes and kick your butt. It's important to make sure that you are always fighting. Creep until level 5, and then fight fight fight. It's not dangerous to fight. Its one of the most important things you can do. While you shouldn't bite off more than you can chew, constant fighting helps in the long run. Tend to stay in a fight (instead of porting) even if you might lose everything, as long as the battle is about even. While you lose all your units and perhaps even a hero or two (the other player will too). You can quickly get your army back but with the benefit of 1 or 2 extra levels per hero. While this doesn't help much vs. the player you're fighting (as they might end up 2 levels higher himself), the battles will help you later on vs. other players. You need to balance between angering the player to earning Xp for your heroes. If you don't think you can handle 2 players at once, it might be worth it to be passive.

  • It's possible to win EVERY ffa game you play if you really want to. You need to be flexible and be prepared for anything that's thrown at you to win all games. Some lessons can only come from playing hundreds of FFA games.
  • Many players don't understand that when they're blindly attacking multiple players, those players tend to attack back. When they do attack back, the player accuses every one of teaming and cheating.
  • Players don't understand how in most cases it's THEIR choices which caused the problem in the first place. You can't make a decision and then complain about the outcome of your decision. Sometimes a player will attack you no matter what you do, but even in that case, some choices are better than others. Sometimes you might have 3 players all attacking you for no real reason, and you can still win those games if you know what to do.
  • Most FFA games are 4 players, so if you have a player on both sides of you then it pretty much says the other side of the map is clear. This leaves just one player you need to find. It kind of depends on the map but regardless you will need to expand (or even rebuild your base from scratch if you get hit by both players).
  • While getting the middle spot makes things harder, you can still deal with it and come out ahead. Sometimes I will let my main base get overrun. That way the 2 players next to me start fighting each other as I'm not longer a risk and I'm out of sight.
  • The part of FFAs I love is how you can come back from nothing and still win the game. That just doesn't happen in Solo. Too many FFA players quit after losing one battle.
  • You need large maps to make some of these things work, large FFA maps really punish players who don't scout.
Scouting
There are times when you might observe two players engaged in combat. Although this is in no way unusual, you can use it to your advantage. Assuming neither player ports before the battle progresses, you can assume one player will be taking some damage from the other. After both players are whittled down, or even after one retreats, you can come in with your army and finish off the wounded units. The drawback to waiting too long though is that you risk the opponents' heroes gaining a lot of experience from the kills. Be sure not to wait too long for such opportunities.

Coming Back
FFA games are unique in that you can be put in a position of great disadvantage or near defeat and still come out victorious later. If an opponent doesn't finish you off, it gives you time to rebuild. Since that player probably doesn't perceive you as a threat anymore, he is less likely to notice you, or even if he does, less likely to take action. Sometimes many of your buildings will remain intact. Sometimes your entire main base will be destroyed, but you will still have an expansion. Whether or not to rebuild at your main base is a decision you'll have to make based on how frequently other players' units go by that area, how often players show up at your base, how much remains of your base, and how many resources are left there. You may find that you are better off rebuilding elsewhere. Players who don't scout won't even know to look for you at a new location. When doing this however, be careful not to leave behind anything valuable. That is, if you have a blacksmith or a Chimera roost sitting on your "old base," once you have the resources you'll probably want to rebuild them as you never know when a player will drop by and finish off your buildings. Also, when searching for a location to rebuild, player starting locations offer more space to build than expansion areas (they may also be more frequently scouted however). The key when rebuilding is not to let the other players know that you've become strong again until you're ready to do some damage. Otherwise you're just showing them a mild threat that can be easily eliminated.

Dropped Players
Every so often you will encounter a game where one of the players leaves the game withing the first few minutes of the game. When this happens, you should try to locate these players' bases. Their starting locations represent almost completely untapped goldmines with no creeps guarding them. If you hide your town hall well, scouting players may only see the dropped player's building and continue by. Players who drop from the game, especially ones who drop for no good reason are a resource to be fought for! Their units are just standing around waiting to be killed for experience (like creeps you'll only get experience from them up to level 5 however). If you are playing Orc, you can have your units with pillage slowly tear down the abandoned buildings for resources too.




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