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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance Speedruns

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance is an old RTS game (more specifically, around five years) that's still quite distinctive in terms of strategy - no fixed resources, extremely large maps, strategic zoom, etc. Its system requirements are pretty steep - even a modern midrange graphics card will have some difficulties running smoothly. (While a laptop ran vanilla SupCom just fine, the expansion was unplayable).

After seeing a speedrun of one (and only one) level of Supreme Commander 2, a question remains: Why aren't there any speedruns of other maps? Because they take too long? Probably.

(I later discovered the answer behind the lack of speedruns: The campaign for SupCom Vanilla placed a bunch of unit restrictions in early levels leaving only a few ways to complete each mission, while SupCom 2 has more scripted sequences and fewer ways to get mass / energy faster.) While levels in the sequel are short to the point where many of them are beatable within a half hour or less, typically a single level in FA spans several youtube videos.)

These runs focus less on cheese strats and more towards both efficiency and macro - anyone can build up a large enough force over time and overpower the enemy, but can you accomplish all your goals within an hour?

Enter my first FA Speedrun, which involves completing each map and all secondary objectives as quickly as possible. By quickly, meaning one map in as fast as 48 minutes. (To compare, other normal playthroughs take around two hours to finish.)


  • The retail version of the game (build 3596) was used. Newer versions might break some of the strats used in the videos, especially mission 4.
  • Intro Briefings are skipped.
  • No separate 'parts', meaning each map is done in one take, in one video.
  • All videos here were played at Normal difficulty. Trying any map on hard would involve lots more time than you might expect in order to get a good defense up first.
  • Goal time is under 1 game hour for each op.
  • What and how much the enemy sends at you is based on what you have built (aka dynamic difficulty). If you have ground experimentals, they send T3 bombers (sometimes from off the map) at you to deal with them, so unless you have air superiority... (note: this occurs when the map expands, so you can safely build after.)


Individual Level Notes

Mission 1:

  • Started as UEF (and for the rest of the campaign) given that there's a lot of half-built material here. For each map, I do a general Perceval/Flak Artillery/Gunship/ASF/SACU combo.
  • A huge amount of T1s building mass storage, and shields / air defense per mass extractor (mex). 54 mass might not be much given the huge starting production you have at the beginning (148 mass/s), but at least you can generate more mass with those T1 engineers right off the bat while you're upgrading your stuff to T3, plus you have more mass at your reserve.
  • Sent several SACUs for proxy factory building using Fatboys (produce units at 3x the rate of a normal T3 factory) while existing Percevals are destroying the bases in the next phase. ASFs are used to counter the strategic bombers coming in the next phase.
  • There is a optional objective involving saving a nearby town, you can use gunships to pick off the boats. And then you need to escort the evac trucks to the nearest base. It's easier when Seraphim is revealed but a nuke is launched regardless whether or not the trucks were out. It's entirely possible to destroy the nearby boats completing that objective, the nuke hits taking out half the buildings, and moving the trucks that pop out to the base without any defense whatsoever.

Mission 2:

  • Micromanagement was needeed with reclaiming spare mass with engineers, power generators to give just enough power to upgrade to build T2 power plants, and building mexs / powerplants until capable of reaching T3. Upgrading mex surrounded by mass storage for a total of 27 mass/sec per extractor. Note: mex T3 upgrade costs 1800 mass, but only in the campaign - it will never be this cheap in a real skirmish / multiplayer match.
  • Destroy ally's mex and replace it with your own. This was more or less unnecessary given spare mass deposits, although it's justifiable becuase they're in a more defended position.
  • You can use transports to skip the pass completely and drop forces / SCU to capture, but you need that path clear of enemy air forces.

Mission 3:

  • Though more expensive, Two Atlantises are better in the long run and produces stuff faster than finding 12 engineers to assist an air factory. Only thing you need to worry about is mass producing T3 gunships.
  • Worked with production of four battleships as fast as possible, as well as an assortment of destroyers and cruisers (which counter air and sub attacks). Four's sufficient to destroy the first base and punch through heavy shielding to destroy the engineers that construct experimental bombers, with spy planes acting as spotters to where to (manually) aim the cannons.
  • Other strat guides suggest gunships or ground units, so why use ships? One, ground (submersible) units are too slow and no real protection from naval units. Two, experimental bombers explode when either it or the engineer building them is lost, that's to be expected, but keep in mind this also damages air units and in previous runs it had no problem destroying my 80ish T3 Gunships that were stacked and aiming that one engineer (and I still had several more to go).
  • 50 T3 gunships alone is enough to take on both commanders, the bottom one will eventually go under water to protect itself when damaged, but you can destroy it force it to teleport if you're fast enough.

Mission 4:

  • The first push should occur when you have several SACUs with the resource upgrade, and enough Percevals / anti-air to plow through the first and second phases without delay.
  • Bring the ACU and several SACUs with you along with the rest of the units to the ledge where you destroyed the Quantum Jammer - you can establish several layers of shields there with the SACU's resource generation and hold off light attacks as the Seraphim are too dumb to send their massive forces to locations other than your starting location.
  • According the game script, you're supposed to stay within your starting location, apparently you aren't required to do this, you just need to survive the timer.

Mission 5:

  • This is the only mission where there are no starting debris for extra mass.
  • Needed just enough power in order to capture buildings (and a turret to hold off engineers) while the Commander proceeds with the rescue and captures the nearby plant and places mass storage to store any excess mass accumulated while walking to capture / build new mexs to avoid unnecessary wait times. (The starting base is at this point expendable). It gives you more initial mass and power boosts as well as access to T3 immediately five minutes in the game.
  • SAM sites first, then engineering facilities once the coast is clear. They're faster than T3 engineers, but if there's ASF's, they'll destroy them (and can break any shields that happen to get in their way quite easily). This eventually leads to a T3 gunship per 15-20 seconds. (To put it in perspective, it takes 2m 30s to build one unassisted)
  • Don't establish mexs at the west firebase - nice mass boost, but it's too difficult to defend against gunships.
  • You can use 25 gunships to destroy Hex5's base and ACU, provided you get them on the far right edge of the map and move south. You also need spy planes to see through the cloak field.
  • Upcoming ASFs are used to defend Brackman as he makes his way north. Don't take a straight line there - head to the east and then north.
  • I was lucky that (1) Soul Rippers didn't intercept him, and that (2) Fletcher survived the attack (due to Hex5's early defeat he is typically not well enough prepared to fend off attcks, let alone two experimentals)

Mission 6 (updated):

  • Built a quantum gateway in order to produce SACUs for the battle ahead.
  • To build experimentals quickly, you simply need to supply the power, and one SACU collects from experimentals debris, while building experimentals of your own. You still need the anti-air.
  • Need two Czars to eliminate both Arnold / Victoria and advance to the next stage. If both are defeated at the same time only one cutscene plays.
  • GC's built after Quantum Rift is seen, otherwise three Strategic bombers appear for each GC (whether alive or partially built), which is painful without huge amounts of anti-air.
  • You'll need five GC's to destroy the quantum gate, and more if you're going to take out the ACU to complete the secondary objective. The backup was necessary since one of the GC's consistently missed the ACU.
  • It is also possible to mass Czars (the enemy doesn't send enough ASF's to be considered a major threat) and send them towards the gate, ending up with a completion time of around 27 minutes.


Anonymous said...

This was the best and only speed run for forged alliance, thank you for doing this, no matter what strategy i try to come up with to get it done faster or at least in an hour i just cant seem to do it, because i feel like i need a great defense just to beat the missions if not i am doomed when the map expands.

James Benson said...

Just stumbled on this. My aim: to beat your times for every map without looking at your replay. I'll try and do a mission a week as I'm in a busy patch. If I fail then I'll also post.

James Benson said...

Yeah so I managed 37:50. I did allow myself to pause and ran the game on a slower default speed though.