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Author Topic: Galactic Starfighter: Advanced Pilot's Tips & Tricks  (Read 482 times)

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Offline Iaera

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Introduction

Before I go any further, let me clarify what I mean by 'advanced.' While I target 'rookie' material to those who have never done more than 10-20 matches of GSF, and 'intermediate' material to those who've passed that mark and have gotten a little more comfortable with the basics, this 'advanced' guide isn't necessarily aimed at any particular grade of pilot, other than being a bit more sophisticated than rookie or intermediate material. As such, to get the most out of these tips and tricks, you should be familiar and comfortable with the basics of GSF play. Herein are relatively advanced techniques and concepts which tend to separate the middling pilots from the good ones.

As with most of my guides, it is primarily written with Scouts and Strike Fighters in mind, as Bombers and Gunships have more laid-back, less intensive, less demanding playstyles. Still, some of the concepts herein can be adapted to Bomber and Gunship play.

Managing Missile Locks

Matches vary - some are lousy with Gunships sniping you, others are infested with Bomber nests, and still others involve lots of Scouts zooming in and blasting you to death. And some have lots of Strike Fighters: beep beep beep beep beep beep. Sometimes you just have a match where you're bouncing from lock to lock, and are in serious danger of eating a proton torpedo in between evasive cooldowns.

Although I want to slap myself for how lame the following is, I've tried to boil down a few intuitive techniques into codified, named manoeuvres for the sake of articulating them through text. A good pilot is likely using a mix or even all of the following when hounded by locks.

Evasive Cooldown - It should go without saying that your engine ability (3) is a go-to for dealing with missile locks. However, it's a good habit to treat this as a last resort - to be used only when missile impact is imminent. Good pilots are cool under pressure, and don't panic-evade at the first hint of a lock - they wait until the missile is actually fired, and if they're feeling particularly dangerous, may wait even longer if they know the missile has a slow travel time.

Evasive Manoeuvres - Outside the realm of mechanical cooldowns, you can (and should!) evade missiles manually. Not once it's fired - at that point, you're pretty much out of options and need to use your Evasive Cooldown. Prior to that, however, your opponent has to actually hold the lock on you, and you're free to make that as easy or as hard on them as you like! The most straightforward way to make this part hard for your opponent is to vary your velocity - if you've taken a physics class, you know that's both speed and direction! Alternate a second or two of boosting with braking, which can wildly throw off an enemy's aim. Rapid changes of direction while boosting have a similar effect - the faster you're moving, the more dramatic the impact of a directional change will be from your opponent's point of view.

Of course, this is demanding on your engine power, which is one of the reasons why Scouts are much harder to hit with missiles than Strike Fighters are - with a rookie pilot, both are functionally just as easy to hit, but an expert pilot can push the Scout's evasive capabilities much harder than a Strike Fighter's.

Terrain Hugging - Just like in the movies! You know those films where Commander Action Hero flies some crazy low-to-the-ground stunt that causes the baddies pursuing him to explode against, like, a barn door built into the side of a canyon or something while he flies through unscathed? You can do this too! Ok, so most of your opposition won't crash trying to follow you, but it sure as hell will throw off their missile locks (and laser fire too)! Hug close to Kuat mesas, duck around asteroids, or fly loops through the bowels of the spacedock structures. This is a very potent defensive manoeuvre in general, and will wreak havoc with your opponents' ability to keep line-of-sight on you.

Offensive Juke - Missile locks are finicky, and easily broken if the target makes an unexpected move. In what I call the Offensive Juke, you and an opponent are both lining up on each other and blazing away. Chances are good you both have missiles, and are both trying to lock each other while shooting. Who's going to get that missile off first? If you're not certain that it's going to be you, then try boosting forward past your opponent instead of remaining in the head-to-head shootout. Of course, in flying past him you won't be able to shoot him either, but you'll have seized the initiative in your dogfight, since you have a headstart at boosting to your desired position and turning around to shoot him again - chances are he'll be a second or two behind!

Distortion Field - Finally, there is another mechanical option available - a maxed-out Distortion Field component can be specced to block attempted missile locks for a few seconds. This is more of a ship-build theorycrafting thing, but it's a popular option that is included here for the sake of completeness (and is another factor in Scouts being harder to lock than Strike Fighters).

Gunship Hunting

Gunships are a frequent annoyance in a GSF match no matter what kind of ship you fly. There you are, minding your own business, when all of a sudden you get annihilated by a massive damage spike out of nowhere. Congratulations, you're within 14k of an enemy Gunship! Gunships are a particular menace for rookie pilots who have not yet learned avoidance tactics to mitigate exposure to Gunship shots, so one of the best things you can do for your team is prowl around on anti-Gunship duty and keep them shut down. Even if you're not killing them much, just the act of hounding them and keeping pressure on them is invaluable for your teammates.

Spec Right - While of course any ship can hurt a Gunship, it pays to have a ship in your lineup that is well-suited to this purpose. My personal favourite is the Tier 1 Scout (NovaDive/Blackbolt) loaded with Laser Cannons, Rockets, and Distortion Field, but other ships can be built to this purpose as well. You want a large amount of direct-fire damage to quickly burn down the Gunship before he realises you're on top of him, so Rockets are ideal, though missiles can be made to work too. The Distortion Field is critical, since Gunships are painfully predictable creatures: Once they notice you coming in, they will turn to face you and try to kill you with their railgun in 9 out of 10 cases. Popping Distortion at this time doesn't guarantee their railgun shot will miss, but it makes a hit very unlikely.

Use Cover - More or less common sense, but once you've detected a Gunship and plan to approach it, you want to cover as much of the intervening distance as possible while out of direct line-of-sight. He can't shoot you through an asteroid! Approached this way, many Gunships panic and abandon their position... which is still a victory, because you've disrupted their little snipe-fest and forced them to fly around defensively while you pursue them.

Hit and Run - Hunting Gunships can be tricky business in some matches and particularly vexing when several of them hunker down together near a Bomber nest. Know that such a cluster is very much a hard target for even expert pilots, so think twice before zooming in to attack. Still, it's dirty work that has to be done, and if you're feeling up to it then be prepared to hit and run. If you linger in such a kill-zone, you will die very very quickly! Minimise your exposure to other Gunships and the Bomber mines/drones as much as you can, zip in quickly, do some damage, and zip back out. If you sit there blazing away you're just going to get killed!

Satellite Capture

Satellites have a capture zone in their immediate vicinity and obey very simple capture rules: The presence of a team's ships flip a satellite to that team's control, with more ships capturing more rapidly, and a 'neutral zone' in between full capture states that can be swung back and forth, like tug-of-war. If a ship - even just a single one - from both teams is present, all capture progress is halted indefinitely. A good defensive pilot can hold up a capture for a long time just by remaining in the capture area. The Terrain Hugging principle is crucial to this, and I'll explain a few pitfalls that average pilots tend to fall for.

Don't Set Up a Tent - One of the most common tactics I see used on a satellite is for a ship - particularly a Bomber - to fly under the satellite, into one of the little corners, and then park there, stationary. And it's easy to see why this tactic is used: it fools a lot of other average pilots, who struggle to get at the entrenched Bomber underneath the satellite. Don't do this - it makes you delicious food for expert pilots to farm. Why? Well...

Three Dimensions - While there is a horizontal "plane" which most of the action takes place on, the fact is that there's actually quite a lot of room above and below that plane to manoeuvre. And this is exactly what you take advantage of for an attack on an entrenched satellite. Whether your opponent is camped above or below the satellite, you need only fly straight up or down a considerable distance, and then re-orient yourself to attack your opponent head-on - though from their perspective, you'll be coming in from directly overhead or directly underneath! Many pilots don't even realise their error until it's far too late, and it's quite common to treat yourself to an all-you-can-eat turkey shoot, especially if you have proton torpedoes to lock onto the Bombers who frequently employ this camping tactic. This can also sometimes be used to hunt Gunships.

Terrain Hugging - Rather than sit like a rock underneath the satellite, expert pilots stay constantly in motion within a satellite's cap zone. By weaving up and down, over and under, and looping through the 'fins' of the satellite while orbiting it in a non-predictable pattern, you can not only juke most of the locks and laser fire coming your way, but you also mitigate the danger from someone using the Three Dimensions counter-tactic (which is still often the most effective tactic in this situation, however, so you should still consider anyone lining up for it a serious threat).

Bombers - Of course, the king of satellite control is still the Bomber. With their mines and drone support and general tankiness, they can be very hard to dislodge from a satellite - and very lethal to any Scouts attempting to do so. If you're in a Scout, don't try to tangle with a skilled Bomber defending a satellite unless you know what you're doing - those mines will chew you up fast. If you're looking to control a satellite yourself, then a Bomber is often the best choice as long as you keep in mind the above tactics.

Conclusion

Of course, there's plenty of other nuances to GSF and this doesn't even begin to cover every subtle little technique and trick you can employ. Experience and a good head for 3D spatial awareness go a long way, and no guide can substitute for practice. Many of the techniques covered here take a little finesse to get the hang of, so if at first you're not getting results, keep experimenting until you find that sweet spot that makes it work!
« Last Edit: 11/09/17, 09:36:44 PM by Iaera »
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Iaera Farworlder - Jedi Master, lightsaber instructor, Jedi Custodum
Sibyl-ko Tanaji - ex-punk, fighter pilot, Argent Squadron
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