If you've every watched or participated in a sporting event or competition then you'll know that there must be a winner and a loser (well duh..). However, often during the course of the game one team will be down and then they will go on a run, or what is labelled as a "comeback." One of my close friends, who is a literal sports almanac, vehemently disagrees with this assessment; stating that it isn't a comeback until the team actually comes back to take the lead or win the game. The expression he uses (if you haven't guessed already) is "Don't call it a comeback". I think it applies wonderfully to my attempt to re-learn Red Alert 2 and anyone else thinking about making an attempted comeback. So, that's the basis for the rest of the article: how to make a successful comeback.
Okay, before I tell you how to do comeback successfully, I'll fill you in on my own playing history. I started waaaay back when the original Red Alert was released and played all the subsequent sequels (Aftermath, Counterstrike, etc). However, I never really played anything other than comp stomps due to the fact that I had a crappy internet connection. The situation was more of the same when Red Alert 2 came out, except that I was able to use a faster connection and play on-line every once in a while in networking class (my senior year of High School (2000-2001)). It was also during that time that I stumbled across version two or three of this site.
My current XWIS Ranking..
When I moved to college I was blessed with 24/7 access to a T1 connection and played a ridiculous amount of Red Alert 2 and then later Yuri's Revenge. Playing over a hundred games a month took its toll (not before coming a pretty good player - especially in naval warfare) and slowly interest waned as it did with that of many of the other staff. And so, slowly but surely, I stopped playing all together, less for the occasional game online every couple of months.
It seemed as if the game had run its course and I was to wash my hands of it, had it not been for the re-emergence of this site with 'Version 8' (what you're looking at now). So, having not played regularly for a year plus I am now attempting to regain my former glory. Having played some fifty plus games in January and the early part of February, I've painfully learned some lessons that will hopefully make your comeback attempt much more smooth!
Now that you've found your CD case and wiped the dust off of it, you might be tempted to "jump in" to the realm of on-line play. STOP! Resist the temptation. Before you actually play, you need to re-learn the maps. It might seem silly, but trust me, you'll thank me later. I can't tell you how many times during my first few games I was completely oblivious to things that I knew existed, but had forgotten about. At my peak, I was able to identity what map I was on within a few seconds (if not immediately) and thus be able to adjust strategies (high resources, low resources, tech buildings, terrain, etc) accordingly. There are two ways to do this (and I recommend doing both). The first method is to go through the list of maps as allies versus an easy computer opponent, quickly build up to a spy satellite and then study the maps for significant features. The second method is to read our map tactics. They are loaded with great tips about how to perfect your strategy on those selected maps. We've got a ton of them and they cover all of the popular maps.
Okay, now that you've re-familiarized yourself with the most common maps, you're now ready for the world of on-line play... Wrong again. Next stop is our Ultimate Strategy Guide. Again you might think it's silly, recapping everything, but it will help you remember little details about units that you might not have thought about before. If you remember just one thing, then it was worth it.
"Erik, I've learned the maps, read the Ultimate Strategy Guide, can I please play online?" you cry. Almost, all you need to do now is download the XWIS Client and play on their servers; they run well and are cheat free. I will never play on WOL again - XWIS is simply just that much better.
Now that you've done all the above you are ready to play on-line, and when I say play on-line, I mean it! Play as many games as possible, because that's the only way you are going to become competent again - as they say, practice makes perfect. Personally, I like to use the "quick match" feature - preventing me being kicked out of twelve different rooms because players fail to understand that a fast connection and firewall result in your ping appearing at 1000. Once you've played a bunch of games it might be beneficial to skim back over the map tactics and Ultimate Strategy Guide incase you were confused about a strategy that you saw or were confused about.
Once you've done all this, you'll be well on your way to becoming what you used to be. Now for some additional tips that will help you keep your sanity. Firstly, don't worry about rankings; I'll admit it is kind of cool to have a high ranking, but put your pride on the shelf and just play. I don't care how many times I play (or lose) to someone, yeah it gets frustrating, but that's the only way you'll knock the rust off; through sheer practice. Secondly, expect to make silly mistakes and suffer setbacks. I know that sometimes for every breakthrough I make I take two steps back after that game. It will happen, so don't worry when it does. And finally, remember to have some fun and kick some ass. You'll soon realize why you played this game so much in the first place!