In Red Alert 1, single player strategy for production missions consists primarily of first building a base that is invincible to enemy attacks and then building an auxiliary force that you can send out on the offensive to destroy the enemy.
Because there is time and because the AI approaches you much differently than a human opponent, single player games are largely about economy. Hence, building structural base defenses, e.g. Tesla coils, gun turrets, flame towers etc, that can be repaired is a lot cheaper than building vehicles which cannot always be repaired in time (and eventually get destroyed and have to be replaced). The same goes for building a repair bay. You'll want to repair as many vehicles as you can instead of just fighting to the death with them. Anything and everything to save money is the most effective strategy in the single player mode.
Also, unlike multiplayer mode, a well structured base is very efficient at warding off enemy attacks, largely because the AI is limited by the sequences written into the single player missions which in turn makes the enemy more predictable.
Hence, your first order of business at the beginning of a single player production mission is to take several rifle infantry and send them out in a fanlike pattern to recon the immediate area around where you intend on building your base. This will not only tell you where the ore patches are but will also tell you what the most likely attack routes are. Then build defensive structures to deal with those attack routes. Well placed Tesla coils, flame towers, gun turrets and pillboxes can be very effective at warding off enemy attacks with minimal effort.
An excellent Allied defense is to build gun turrets and then place pillboxes (or camo pillboxes) directly in front of the gun turrets. This provides an all round anti-vehicle/antipersonnel defense. You can beef it up by placing an artillery unit behind the gun turrets. Another excellent Allied defense is to group together 4 rocket soldiers and a medic and then encamp them behind some concrete walls to make for a good anti-aircraft/antitank defense.
OTHER ALLIED STRATEGIES:
- Build two medics so that they can heal each other as well as other infantry. 2 medics and 10 rifle infantry makes a powerful squad that is almost invincible to other infantry attacks.
- Put a couple or three rangers in with your group of tanks to take care of those pesky enemy infantry resistant to tank cannon fire.
- Don't underestimate the power of gap generators to hide your base and/or to hide units out in the field.
An excellent Soviet defense is to build a Tesla coil, then build concrete walls in front of it and then build a V2 Rocket and place that behind the walls next to the Tesla coil. This packs a big punch and the whole thing can be made even better by having an engineer standing next to the Tesla coil ready to instantly repair it when it gets badly damaged. Buildings and units cost half as much as their initial cost to repair so it is actually cheaper to use an engineer to repair a badly damaged Tesla coil than it is to use the Repair button in the sidebar.
OTHER SOVIET STRATEGIES:
- Because of their exceptionally long range, V2 rockets are excellent for attacking enemy defensive structures while staying out of range. Put them together in groups of two or three to pack a huge wallop. Also, they're much more accurate when their line of fire is either directly horizontal or directly vertical (directly north/south or east/west) with regards to the map.
- Always build at least one airfield even if you don't plan on building an airforce because having an airfield means having access to the spy plane as well as paratroopers, the latter of which essentially means free troops.
General Offensive Strategy
When going on the offensive, your single player strategy will vary according to the particular mission you're playing and the mission's objectives. Generally speaking, always do plenty of scouting in order to find the enemy base's weak spot. Most —if not all— of the enemy bases have a weak spot somewhere (usually around the side or in the back). If you find yourself getting repeatedly clobbered when lauching frontal attacks, scout around the sides and the back of the base, find the weak spot and then exploit it.
Sometimes the base's weak spot will be a certain kind of an attack, e.g., a naval or an air attack. In this situation, taking down the enemy base can become a complex multifaceted rock-paper-scissors kind of deal where you must, for example, find a weak spot in order to launch a land based attack that eliminates enemy air defenses to eventually allow you to launch an air strike on other base defenses which then further permit you to launch a massive land-based attack to finish off the base.
Much of the fun in Red Alert is to discover the most efficient, economical and often sophisticated method of taking down the enemy base (and hence why this game has replay value up the ying-yang).
As far as field tactics, I highly recommend that you learn all the advanced game controls (check the game manual) and especially learn how to make teams. I've taught a lot of guys how to play Red Alert and I always see a reluctance to learning how to make teams. The tendency is to just band box all troops and vehicles into one big motley crew and then send them out en masse to whatever threat there is to the base or, even worse, out on an offensive. This kind of brute force tactic doesn't work nearly as well as coordinated attack plans using specific units for specific tasks. Making teams is especially necessary when it comes to non-production missions where it's absolutely essential to keep casualties to a minimum.