Supreme Commander

Publisher: THQ
Developer: Gas Powered Games

37th Century warfare at its best!  Supreme Commander is a real-time strategy game where the player commands an Armored Command Unit (ACU), which can create a robot army and a standing base in a matter of minutes.  The ACU is like the King in chess.  The game is over once the ACU is dead.  This style of gameplay opens up many new strategies and tactics to the RTS genre.

The world of Supreme Commander encompasses the human race, which is divided into three factions: the United Earth Federation, the Cybran Nation, and the Aeon Illuminate.  The UEF are strong and firm, trying desperately to reclaim the worlds they once owned in order unify the human race under the Earth banner.  Their forces  consist of frontal assault units loaded with plasma cannon weaponry.  The Cybran are humans with integrated AI, giving them superior logical abilities.  They were enslaved by the UEF, and are fighting to free themselves from tyrannical rule.  Their forces consist of slightly weaker units equipped with lasers and stealth capabilities.  The Aeon Illuminate are humans who have come in contact with an alien race known as the Seraphim, who introduce them to something called "The Way."  Seeing "The Way" as the path to transcendence, the Aeon Illuminate see themselves as prophets who will spread their teachings to the rest of humanity.  Aeon forces consist of sea-friendly units loaded with quantum cannons and hovering capabilities.  The story of Supreme Commander is interesting, though not particularly relevant to online multiplayer.

Supreme Commander multiplayer takes on its own shape and form.  Make no mistake, Supreme Commander is a game with an extremely steep learning curve; it takes lots of experience in order to become familiar with all the game's units and features.  The best way to improve your skills is to play online against others.  The multiplayer experience can be divided into two distinct categories: ranked games and custom games.  A ranked game is counted in the player's overall record, while a custom game is not.  Of course, custom games are geared more for casual players, even though it can be fun and educational for both them and competitive players alike.  Custom games feature mods, no rush timers, and other customizable options.  However, whether you're a casual or competitive player, playing ranked games is the best way to improve your skills.

For ranked game ratings, Supreme Commander uses an ELO rating system, which is the same system used in professional chess.  When a players play their first ranked game, the system puts the player in the middle of the ranked ladder (~1600 rating and ~6000 rank).  So if your first game is a loss, don't be discouraged.  The system does a good job of pairing you with an opponent of the same skill level as soon as you find your spot on the ranked ladder.  After that, its up to you to play and improve.

Don't forget to watch your replays!  Replays are key to personal development and improvement.  The best replays are the games that you lose since now you have the opportunity to see what your opponent did and figure out why you lost.  Two questions I always ask myself when I watch replays are: what was one thing I did well, and what was one thing I could have improved on.  The answers to these two questions are usually enough for me to figure out why I lost.  Using this knowledge, I can avoid making the same mistakes again.

Over time, you will gain invaluable experience about what weapons of war are at your disposal, what strategies are sound, and how to react to certain situations.  Although guides do help, this knowledge does not come from a guide.  You have to go out and play and experience those situations yourself.  Personally, I play consistently on the 1v1 ranked ladder in order to keep my skills sharp.  I play to win, but I accept every loss as an opportunity to become better.