How to be a better OpenRA player

atlimit8 edited this page Jul 27, 2017 · 7 revisions

Original author: blaknite


Joining a session of OpenRA for the first time can be intimidating. Not only are you having to learn all of the mechanics, but you're having to do it at lightning speed while someone's knocking at your door with an RPG. For your first few matches you'll be at a distinct disadvantage but there's a few key points you can learn up front that will make the experience much more fun.

Hopefully what you learn here will improve your game and make competing with us much more fun. Oh, and if you're an experienced player and have other tips, leave them in the comments below!

The Very Beginning

How the first few minutes play out can make or break your game. If you get it wrong, even by a few seconds or credits, you've opened yourself up to a rush attack. To get you on on the right track:

  • Don't waste time moving your MCV around finding the best spot. Resources are always within reach of your starting location, a pre-game glance at the map and clever placement of your first power-plant usually reveals them. If it does, you know where to place your refinery.
  • Economy is important throughout the whole game and getting a leg up early will set you on a path to victory. Ore fields with mine shafts regenerate ore, you should concentrate on those first. Building a second refinery and then selling it off is a good way to get a second harvester built early and save some cash.
  • Don't rush straight into building units until your economy can support it. Build just enough that you can hold off any early game harassment.
  • If you haven't set starting points manually you can figure out where you are on the map by scrolling until you hit the edge. If you made sure to study the map this can help you find ore and natural defenses early on.
  • Watch your power; if you run short you'll reduce your build speed until you have enough. You are able to toggle power-down on buildings that go dark when they have no power.
  • Do some scouting. Surprise attacks suck.

Your First Expansion

The game is always won by the player with the strongest army; to get a strong army you need a strong economy. Base expansion is critical step in winning any game of OpenRA. Here's some tips on base expansion:

  • You'll need a war factory and a service depot to build a new MCV.
  • Expand your base to the closest ore fields, send a few units to guard the MCV and keep an eye on it (to prevent sneak attacks).
  • Have a pre-built refinery and base defense structure in your queues ready to pop down as soon as you deploy the MCV.
  • Don't leave your money makers vulnerable.
  • Forward bases are an excellent place for distributing power generation. Don't let one attack cripple your defenses.

Base Building

Here's some general tips for base building:

  • Place ore refineries as close to ore as possible. The less distance harvesters have to travel the more credits you'll make.
  • Distribute your power around all of your bases
  • Don't put all of your silos in one place. Losing all of your bank at once sucks.
  • If you rely on high tech, build a second tech center.
  • Put a scattering of defenses at the rear of your base to cover sneak attacks.
  • Use natural defenses to your advantage when building base defenses.


Every unit in OpenRA has its counters and that's something you can only learn effectively through experience. What follows is a list of general tips to help you manage your units effectively during combat:

  • Move your units with attack-move (a+click) if you want that they destroy anything in their way.
  • Force attack is your friend. You can do a lot of damage by forcing artillery and V2 rockets to attack ground (ctrl+click) near where you suspect an enemy to be forming an army or approaching from.
  • Learn the hot-keys for power-toggle, sell and repair. Using the repair option on a vehicle will make it return to the nearest repair depot to repair.
  • Falling planes will do damage to anything they crash into (If you can't rescue your plane anymore, try to crash it into an infantry blob if one is there).

When defending your base there are few things you can do to keep your enemy at bay:

  • Group your defensive structures together near natural barriers.
  • Place your anti-aircraft guns on the outskirts of your base to keep aircraft from getting close.
  • Keep a scattering of units to your rear just in case.
  • Ranged attack vehicles like V2 rockets and artillery make for excellent base defenses.

If you're on the attack here's a few tips to help you cripple your enemy:

  • Harass any unprotected harvesters you come across. You'll reduce your enemy's ore intake and force them to pay for a new harvester.
  • Use units with long-range attacks to pick off base defenses from afar.
  • Take out the power first. Many base defenses require power to operate. You'll also decrease your opponent's build speed.
  • Next take out any construction buildings that may be creating pesky units or defenses.

Other Tips

Like all games, OpenRA has it's quirks; here's a few to look out for:

  • Your harvesters are dumb. Keep an eye on them to make sure they are doing their job.
  • Every time you issue an order your units will recalculate their pathfinding. Issue an order and leave them to do it.
  • The requirements of every unit are shown in their build tooltips.
  • Have a look in the options and study/reassign any hotkeys you find useful.
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