A vague assortment of advice, tips and comments aimed at new players. I'm also a pretty new player, but my brain is extremely large, so I'm qualified to write this guide.
Welcome to War Selection, a free-to-play RTS with quite possibly the worst name I've yet seen for a video game. War Selection borrows inspiration from such classics as Age of Empires 2 and Empire Earth, but doesn't play quite like either of them, and has a variety of unique quirks and factors that this guide will attempt to explain to beginner players. We'll begin with general advice regarding the nature of the game and its genre, then move into specific pointers for each of the four technological 'Ages' that the game represents.
Note: This guide is aimed primarily at players who are entirely new to the game. High-level strategies, such as playing any culture besides Western Europe, are not discussed in-depth.
Sometimes, in the course of gameplay, a fellow player may use words that scare and confuse you. Usually, these words are either obscure racial slurs, or common RTS parlance that you may not be familiar with if you spend less than 16 hours a day playing video games. Below are some common words you may encounter and their definitions.
- Booming - The act of rapidly building up your economic base by focusing on creating more workers and increasing your resource collection rate. Players who specialise in this are not, in fact, referred to as 'boomers'.
- Civ - Shorthand for 'civilisation', which the term that describes the culturally non-specific, brightly-coloured collection of units and buildings that you or another player controls.
- Counter - A state in which a unit type performs particularly well against another unit type. Examples include cavalry countering artillery, ranged units countering slow melee units, and playing this game countering your ability to talk to women.
- Eco - Economy, or the rate at which you collect resources and your ability to grow this rate.
- HQ - Your headquarters, the building in which you create new workers and advance to the next age. If this is destroyed, you lose the game. Press the 'Backspace' key when your HQ is selected for a unique surprise.
- Micro - The act of micro-managing units, usually military ones, in order to maximise their efficiency and survivability.
- Rush - A strategy in which the player focuses on building a strong army early in the game, usually at the expense of their eco, in order to quickly destroy opposing players. An ideal strategy for the impatient, the skilful, and children who are playing past their bedtime.
- Teching Up - The act of advancing to the next era. Unless you're curious about how the Native Americans felt when they first encountered European firearms, this should be one of your highest priorities.
- Trash - How some describe my skills at this game. Alternatively, the term used to describe cheap, expendable military units that can be produced en-masse and typically comprise the majority of an average army.
- Turtling - A strategy in which the player focuses on defence above all else, usually constructing an excess of defensive buildings and units, with the eventual goal of building an unbeatably large army by the end of the game. If this strategy sounds enticing to you, you should not be allowed to have children.
- Vill - A worker unit, borrowed from Age of Empires 2 parlance, in which workers are known as villagers.
- ))))) - A typographic expression of laugher used by Russians, in the same way an English speaker may type 'lol'. This isn't specific to RTS games, but you'll see it often enough when you get spear rushed on EU servers that it's worth including.
Tips unique to War Selection
- Compared to other popular games like it, War Selection is a little slower-paced. Units take longer to build than you might expect, upgrades take longer to research, and units move around a bit more sluggishly. This doesn't mean you won't be rushed or that you should be sitting back and doing nothing, but nevertheless, it's a little more relaxed than your Starcrafts or your Ages of Empireses.
- Your spawn location is procedurally-generated, as is the rest of the map. You'll always get nearby berries and usually a decent-sized patch of trees, but everything else is down to the luck of the draw. A good spawn can make your game easier, but it's fortunately rare that you'll get a spawn so awful that it'll ruin your chances of victory.
- A variety of animals populate the map between you and the other players. Deer and cows are harmless and will run away from your units, alligators hang out near swamps and won't attack unless you get close, and tigers and boars will aggressively attack and chase units in a large radius. Keep an eye out for them when you're expanding or scouting, and note that they'll give up and run away if their chosen target can survive long enough to get far away from their spawn location.
- The woolly mammoth is best thought of as an obese, hairy alligator, in that it won't attack unless you get close. Unlike the alligator, however, it has an Olympic-sized health pool, and can easily take down many villagers in the course of an encounter. If one of these manages to aggro on your base before you have a meaningful military, the best strategy is to close the game so that it can't hurt you any more.
- When you tech up, you'll usually be offered a choice as to which specific culture you'd like your civ to emulate. These translate to unique units, visuals and playstyles in later ages, so feel free to experiment over the course of a few games to find out which fits you best. Note, again, that this guide is tailored towards playing as beginner-friendly West Europe, so keep in mind that some of the strategies described for the Iron and Medieval ages may not apply perfectly.
- The distance that your enemies are placed from you can vary significantly between games, so you'll never quite know whether to expect a short, violent game against someone on your doorstep, or a peaceful one in which you're nice and isolated, just like you are in real life. If you suspect you've got a nearby neighbour, start planning to wipe them out sooner rather than later.
Tips for general RTS gameplay
- Try to keep unit counters in mind at all times. Fast-moving cavalry counter archers and siege units, heavily-armoured elite infantry counter weaker infantry and tower fire, archers counter slow-moving infantry, towers counter lightly-armoured trash units, and siege units counter walls and towers, to name a few common counters.
- It's economically impractical to wall off your entire base, so look for natural barriers - forests, resource deposits, cliffs and waterways - and incorporate them into your border, using walls to bridge them. Note, also, that buildings such as towers and houses can also be used to block off strategic passages.
- Always be growing your economy and investing the resources you're making. You ideally shouldn't have a stockpile of more than a thousand of any resource at a given time, especially as most costs in War Selection are deducted over the course of something being built or researched instead of immediately. Resources sitting unused in your bank account are only marginally more useful than resources sitting in the ground waiting to be harvested, so make sure you're spending them.
- Micro your military for the best return on your investment in them. Rush past your enemy's front line to get at his vulnerable archers and artillery, kite his slow melee units with ranged ones, and generally don't expect that you'll win a fight just because you brought more guys and right-clicked on his once. That said, units are generally good at picking new targets once the one you specifically ordered them to attack is dead, so don't obsess over your front line once it's engaged - focus on things like your cavalry and avoiding siege weapon fire.
You've just finished throttling the last Neanderthal, and now it's time to settle down and start human history. The Stone Age is usually a quiet and dull era that's focused entirely around teching out of it so that you can actually start playing the game.
- First, it's time to decide whether or not to invent shoes. Check how far your nearby trees and berry bushes are from your Altar. If your workers spend more than a couple of seconds getting between the Altar and these resources, then immediately begin researching Fur Shoes. Otherwise, create a utopian, barefooted society.
- If cows are present next to your spawn, then you're in supreme luck, as they provide a far more potent source of food than the berry bushes you're guaranteed to have. Use them instead of berries if they're close, but don't go out of your way for them.
- The first worker you create should be tasked with building additional huts, which will raise your population cap. Additional workers should be evenly distributed between gathering berries and chopping wood, until you're gathering enough food to make a profit while constructing workers - from that point, all new workers go to the wood mines.
- Once your fledgling society of berrypickers reaches over 20 workers, it's time to look into inventing God. Take your newest worker and send him out into the wild to find an ideal location to build your Temple. This should ideally be next to an iron deposit, or failing that, either copper or stone. Try not to spend more than a minute searching, especially if you didn't grab those shoes earlier.
- You may choose (but aren't obliged) to build a Warehouse, if you notice that your workers are making exorbitantly long trips between the Altar and their resource nodes. If you decide to build one, try to place it close to a stone or metal deposit so that it'll be useful later in the game.
- Provided you've been booming properly, you should be able to start advancing to the next age as soon as your Temple is completed. Note that your Altar will die of old age and your Temple will become your civilisation's new HQ when you tech up, so hopefully you didn't put it somewhere completely indefensible.
- You should have at least 30 workers by the time you tech up to the Iron Age, but don't try to reach this mark at the expense of time - if you spend more than around 10 minutes in this age, then you're doing something wrong and you'll likely suffer the same fate as the Neanderthals.
- If you build military units in this age without an extremely specific strategy or use for them in mind, you're about as smart as an actual caveman. Unless you know exactly what you're doing, every log and berry you collect needs to be going into either teching up or collecting more logs and berries.
- The Bulwark you start with next to your Altar is functionally useless at this juncture. You can keep it and upgrade it into a proper tower later if you're sentimental about it, but more often than not, I delete it to make space for more huts or other buildings later on.
- If you've spawned very close to another cave society and you don't fancy allowing them to exist any longer, then 'bulwark rushing' - the act of swarming your enemy's larval civilisation with workers that are tasked with constructing massed Bulwarks around their Altar - may be worth a shot. This strategy is both extremely rude to your opponent and extremely funny.
Now that you've invented agriculture, the wheel, and metal, things will begin to ramp up. This is the first age in which you can expect to see serious military action, usually in the form of a tumescent mass of spearmen destroying your HQ before you can get to the good stuff.
- The first thing you'll see is a number of boxes on the right of the screen, prompting you to upgrade units and buildings up from their primitive Stone Age forms. The first priority for these upgrades should be your vils, followed by your warehouses, then your non-ware human houses. Anything else should be upgraded as needed, or whenever you have the resources to spare.
- Stone Age villagers cannot build Iron Age structures, or perform Iron Age labour, such as hitting rocks or planting seeds. As such, educating your cavemen is your first priority. The second priority is to move newly-trained Iron Age vils away from gathering berries and chopping wood, and towards harvesting crops from a Farm and mining stone.
- Your first Farm should be constructed as soon as possible. Just like a real farm, its fields take up only a modest amount of room, and its crops can be re-planted and re-harvested on the same soil perpetually, with no loss of yield. A single Farm is all that's needed to secure your food supply for the rest of the game, provided you remember to top up the fields every so often.
- 'Explore the Area', available at your HQ from this age onwards, varies in usefulness based on how many resource nodes are immediately visible to you, how large your country is, and whether or not you expect to get rushed. You'll want to pick it up at some point in this era, but the timing mostly depends on these factors.
- This is the first age in which Warehouses become a vital piece of infrastructure. Place your Warehouses a very slight distance away from stone and metal deposits - ideally, leave just enough space that a worker can mine the resource while standing in that space. It's a boost to efficiency that'll go a long way.
- Your number of houses should ideally reach at least 10 at this stage, which will push you up to the initial population cap of 60. 40 of these slots should be reserved for workers, with the other 20 being left open for military units.
- Once you've got your former berrypickers divided between farming and quarrying appropriately, divert a few of them off to mine metal, and send newly-trained workers to assist them. Metal isn't critically important to your economy just yet, but you'll need it to tech up to the second half of this age.
- As you gain experience in the game, you'll learn to recognise early on whether or not the map that's been generated for you contains a lot of water. If you suspect that it does, now's the time to look into building a Pier or two. It won't be useful except for fishing for now, but it'll come into its own later.
- Regarding fishing, it can occasionally be difficult to justify the additional population cap that fishing boats take up, but for European civs in particular, which collect food much more slowly than their Asian counterparts, fishing can be a great boon. Note, however, that its efficiency will decline as your fishermen exhaust nearby fish deposits and must venture out further.
- When you hit the aforementioned second half of this age, your very first priority should be to purchase the Sickle upgrade from your Farm, and the Metal Chisel upgrade from one of your warehouses. These directly increase your workers' productivity, so every second you don't have them is a loss to your economy.
- If you're not concerned about the possibility of a concerted enemy attack just yet, skip the population cap upgrade you'll be offered at your HQ and rush to medieval tech. If a spear rush is indeed a concern, however, you'd be better off upgrading your population cap right now.
- Keep a very careful eye on your workers once you start teching up, especially if you're just barely skirting 30 or 40 - if you drop below the requisite number of workers for advancing, typically due to a surprise boar incursion or an enemy rush, the advancement will pause and you'll be forced to cancel it in order to create replacement workers. This can be a game killer if you don't notice it, so stay on your toes.
- The humble spearman is your go-to unit of choice in this era, due to his low cost and training time. If you're feeling aggressive or you're expecting an attack, invest in axemen instead, as they deal exceptional damage in an area of effect in front of themselves - perfect for cleaning out those pesky spearman infestations.
- Your economy, at this juncture, should be able to support constant unit production between at least three or four Barracks buildings, plus potentially many more as you train up more workers. Units take a very long time to create in War Selection compared to similar games, so you're going to need this many Barrackses(?) at the bare minimum to build a meaningful army within a reasonable timeframe.
- The primary benefit of archers is that they don't cost materials to create, which makes them handy if you're low on those. Besides that, they're pretty underwhelming.
- If you actually intend to fight in this era rather than booming, don't forget to invest in the appropriate upgrades for your units of choice at the Forge and in one of your Barracks.
- This is the first age in which towers become useful. Walls, however, won't come in handy until the medieval era, in which they get a buff to their armour significant enough to prevent a mob of infantry from beating them down.Until then, towers are the only defensive building you should be making.
Scholars disagree on the precise beginning of the historical medieval era, but for you, it begins once the boys over at your HQ work out how to build things out of stone instead of wood. The third (and arguably best) era of War Selection offers little difference in terms of your economic management, but a huge step up in the complexity and significance of your military.
- As before, your first priority with upgrades should be your villagers. It's starting to get expensive, so if you don't have enough food to train up your entire proletariat, upgrade your farmers first, followed by the Farm that they're centered around.
- Now that you can build bigger, better houses, your population cap will become an issue. Hit the upgrade for it at your HQ if you haven't already, then upgrade your houses to make use of your additional space. You should have enough population space set aside for at least 30 military units, preferably more, with the rest of the beds going to additional workers.
- There's more worker productivity upgrades available at your Warehouses, so make sure you grab them quickly. You wouldn't want your hardworking vils to miss out on cutting-edge advancements such as the pickaxe.
- Era advancements are beginning to get very expensive, so a robust economy is a must at this point. You should have an absolute bare minimum of 50 workers by the time you're a few minutes into the medieval age, and not least because this is the minimum amount you'll need to tech up later.
- It's around this point that your starting stone and metal deposits will be close to being exhausted. Check up on them every now and then, and once their remaining total dips below around 2000, send a couple of the workers mining it off to build a new Warehouse at another deposit. You don't want to end up in a situation where you don't have any more materials coming in while you're trying to build this new Warehouse, so stay on top of this.
- It's in this era that you need to start making informed decisions about exactly how long you'd like to remain medieval for. Teching up is still a priority, as always, but if there's a nearby enemy putting pressure on you, your resources may need to go into defences or military units first. Remember, if he kills you, you're not going to get to tech up anyway.
- Don't forget to build at least a couple of Workshops. They're a surprise tool that will help you later.
- As with his dear old spearman dad, the pikeman is your rank-and-file space filler in your West European medieval army. He's best used when paired with well-armoured Landsknechte, plus a modest amount of bowmen in case you get kited.
- I didn't mention cavalry in the Iron Age, because they were bad back then and weren't worth mentioning. They're still very expensive and take a long time to train in this era, but they're robust enough to consider building now, if you're into that kind of thing. I wouldn't put too much stock in them.
- The same goes for naval units, which weren't even worth looking into previously, but now become useful. Construct Bombardier Ships to smash enemy bases from far out at sea, plus a few Galleys if you suspect that they want to do the same thing to you.
- Barracks buildings work a little different in this era. Each Barracks begins life as a Fort, which can only train up basic units. By turning it first into a proper Barracks and then a Royal Barracks, it can train elite melee infantry. The game goes for turning it into a Shooting Range for archers, or a Stable for cavalry.
- In the Late Medieval era, building armour begins to surpass the damage that basic infantry units can deal, which means that they can't even attack a Late Medieval HQ. This makes an army of pure pikemen good for defence and military superiority, but ultimately incapable of winning the game for you. Keep this in mind if you're going on the offensive.
- With the invention of the castle comes the invention of siege units. By now, you should have an idea of who's near you and what their base is like. If it's heavily fortified, you're going to need siege engines. Wait until Late Medieval before you start building these, then go for a modest number of cannons. Don't bother with them unless you actually intend to attack someone else's buildings, since they're awful against anything with legs.
- Walls and towers come into their own as a potent defensive option in this era, before falling off in usefulness in the next one. If you've been playing defensively and building these in excess, now's when you'll be at your safest - ease off on military expansion and focus on booming. Otherwise, you'll need a strong army to make up for their absence, so focus on that if you're lacking in static defence.
- Once you hit Late Medieval, you can opt to turn any tower into a defenceless Balloon that gives you a massive vision radius around itself. These are best placed near your border with opposing empires, so that you can potentially get sight on their base and see what exactly they're up to. Build them sparingly, as they cost a significant amount of food.
- Unlike previously, only very few of the units you build in this era can be upgraded in the following Industrial era. If you have a large army and you're considering teching up, it's best to find a use for them before they become totally obsolete.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Massive armies, massive economies and massive battles are all hallmarks of this final late-game age, and you're unlikely to survive if you're not pumping out units, resources and buildings as rapidly as you can.
- Nothing fundamental has changed about the way your economy functions. As before, upgrade vills first, focus on food producers so that the others can upgrade faster, and try to reach (then increase) your current population cap.
- At this point, you've got so many workers mining deposits that they're getting exhausted very quickly. Always know where the next stone deposit you're going to use is, and try to prepare a Warehouse (now legally known as a Depot) next to it ahead of time. Don't get caught with your pants down, as a major economic failure in this era can easily spell death.
- You likely have large amounts of certain resources stockpiled now, so ensure that these resources are being spent - typically, in this era, that means spamming military units, military production buildings, or towers. Try to ensure that you're investing everything you're gathering instead of hoarding it.
- There's really no upper limit on the amount of workers you should have by now, but keep in mind that the powerful military units you can create in this era can take up large chunks of your population cap. Leave plenty of room.
- If you're really, truly an unbearable person, consider building a Wonder at your HQ once you've reached the final tech level. This will win you the game if it can survive for 25 minutes, but will certainly incur the wrath of every remaining player on the map.
- Your basic cannon-fodder unit for this era is the aptly-named Soldier, who deals good ranged damage for a modest price. If you're short on materials, the Ranger is a reasonable substitute that only costs food to create.
- Almost all of the units available to you are now ranged units, thanks to the all-powerful rifle, and most of them don't have a minimum range, meaning they can fire on things that are directly next to them if needed. This makes kiting and getting around enemy armies with faster units much more difficult.
- Prioritise researching the Trench Mortar at your Arsenal, which used to be your Forge. This unit is essentially an infantry-sized artillery piece that can absolutely decimate both armies and bases when massed in large numbers.
- Conversely, if your opponent has read the above bullet-point and has spammed out Trench Mortars, the otherwise-useless Cavalryman serves as an effective counter - unless he's escorting them with Soldiers or Machine Guns, in which case you're better off just having more Trench Mortars than him.
- The Dreadnought, your only high-tier naval option for this era, is quite terrible for its price as of the current balance patch. In the unlikely event that there's still a naval war raging, hold on to any Bombardier Ships you may still have left over, and exhaust them before building Dreadnoughts.
- Tanks are end-game military units that pack a significant punch beneath thick armour, without sacrificing too much speed. If you know the game is going to drag on in this era, build plenty of Factories and prep your economy to keep them fed as they churn tanks out.
- Your Balloons, if you have them, can now be upgraded into Aerostats, which do the same thing as before, but better. If you can get sight on an enemy base with one, they can allow your artillery units to fire on it at their maximum range - that is, outside of the range of the enemy's towers. This, needless to say, is the ideal state of affairs for a siege.
- If you haven't seen the armies of your remaining enemies yet, then you should be very concerned - they're either boring turtles who are putting the finishing touches on a truly apocalyptic army, idiots who are still trying to invent gunpowder, or irredeemable subhumans who are going for a Wonder victory. In all three cases, you should be mobilising your own army to seek out and destroy them before they get any stronger.
To round out, this guide provides mostly everything you need to know to win the occasional public FFA game, but doesn't cover high-level strategies or specific build orders. For those, you're advised to check out the game's official Discord server, where the sweatiest, most dedicated players reside and compare ranked scores. Alternatively, play the game on your own and experiment with the advice given here in order to tailor your own playstyle.