From the Hardcore Side
There are people who play Quake, and then there are people
who live and breathe it. In "From the Hardcore Side",
a new semi-regular feature at PQ, Pappy-R brings all his hardcore
gaming experience to you and talks about what's going on in
the hardcore scene today.
Teamplay Strategies, Part II
I promised, we're going to be taking teamplay strategies and
ripping into them so clans new and old can get something out
of the following installments of the Hardcore Side. This week
I've asked Dave "Charger" Wilson to play with us here. Charger
is one of the most intense team strategy builders I've met
in the Quake community, and I've known him for a few years
to boot. In the four different clans we have been in together,
he's taken and been handed the role of team strategist due
to his need to break levels and teams into their component
parts, and put them back together in a way that makes level
control a thing of beauty. You would have heard of Charger
sooner since he's written strats pages for each quake, and
in volumes, but every team that uses them considers them secrets
and they keep them close to the team. Due to what he has to
share, this segment is going to be cut into multiple postings.
Now let's get into it.
Note: If you're very new to the following teamplay
topic, you may want to read last
week's Hardcore Side first to get more familiar with some
ideas and topics. It's short, so no worries.
Pappy-R: I know almost to the day how long you have
been designing strats for quake games, but I think we should
let everybody know just how "into" it you are. How long have
you been doing it?
Charger: Well, I started playing Quake in my first
year of university in 1996. Pretty much right off the bat
I've had a love for teamplay and spent countless hours learning
every aspect of the maps, from spawn points and camping spots
to game flow and control. Basically if it was on the map or
could be done in the map I tried to make it my business to
know about it.
Pappy-R: This may seem like an obvious question,
but to make a point for some readers that have mailed me asking
the importance of certain aspects, how important is knowing
the level inside and out? And about how long does it take
(time spent per level) to get to know a map that intimately?
Charger: I'd have to say that knowing the map is one
of the most important factors in teamplay. Teamplay (really
advanced teamplay) is all about knowing more then your opponent.
Knowing the spawns and the most used routes to certain locations
can mean a world of difference. Things like knowing how long
it takes to get from one area of the map to another and where
ammo is located and of course weapons are important to your
team. Map knowledge (knowing every aspect of the maps) really
needs to be taken into consideration when designing strategies.
For example, Q3DM6 (Camping Grounds) is one of the maps used
for 4 on 4 teamplay in online tourneys. A clan should know
that there are only 10 spawns on that map and 5 of those 10
are located on the bottom level, with only 1 spawn on the
top level. Information like this can really change the way
you view/play a map. Learning a map is an on going process,
every time I think I know everything there is to know I find
something new. But, to get good knowledge of weapon, health,
ammo and spawn locations really can be done rather quickly.
It's a matter of starting a process: find all the bullets
on the level and continue until finished with ammo, then note
all the weapon locations, health and spawns. Health and spawns
should really be looked into carefully, often health and spawns
can play an important role in a teamgame. Be sure to know
the location of any and all armor, weather it be shards or
Red Armor (RA).
Pappy-R Ok, Lets play a little game. This is where
I give you an imaginary task and you get to write for an hour
and a half while I go and play some Q3A. I'll give you 3 guys
who move well, shoot with reasonable accuracy, and are more
than willing to learn. Start with the basics of teamplay and
build a team that could compete online in ladders with some
Charger This is going to take awhile. ;]
1. Never assume you know it all.
of the biggest weaknesses of clans is their ability to over
estimate their abilities and knowledge. Players and clans
are constantly trying to improve on their play and strategies.
Thus, this is really an on going learning experience and veteran
clans could stand to listen to a little recap.
2. Learn the maps in and out.
talked a little bit about this already, but knowing more then
your opponent in any given sport will give you a competitive
advantage. I'd suggest they concenrate their efforts on maps
that are widely played in teamplay tournaments, those being
the TMP versions of Q3DM6, Q3DM7, Q3DM12 & Q3DM14 (at least
that has been my experience). Before you can even think of
making a plan you really need to know all the aspects of the
map; how can you make a fully informed plan if you don't know
all the information? You can't. ;] and that will lead to easily
exploitable strategies. There are a number of things you need
to be looking for. Spawns - How many spawns are on the map?
How are they distributed through out the map? Is there a particular
spot that has more spawns then any other area of the map?
How best can you control and take advantage of this information?
To provide a little insight to that last question, if your
team has quad and a particular area of the map has a high
number of spawns relative to the rest of the map, odds are
they will be able to get more spawn frags in that area. Also
remember that a newly spawned player is the second easiest
thing to frag. Why second? Well because they spawn with 125
health and machinegun ammo. The easiest being that same spawn
that hasn't been touched for 25 seconds and has not managed
to pick up a weapon or armor, thus only 100 health and less
machine gun ammo.
Ammo, health, armor, weapons and power-ups - know the location
and amounts of these on any given map. It will help you to
know if you need to watch your ammo and share health. Armor
is often seen as key in team games, the idea being that the
team with more armor will live longer in battles (unless vastly
out-skilled). For power-ups, the clan should know that the
opening spawn of some power-ups is random between roughly
30 seconds to 60 seconds. They must know the timing of the
power-ups; for example, Q3DM7 - mega respawn is 35 seconds,
Quad respawn is 2 mins. You should be especially aware of
power-ups on maps as they often can turn the tide in a team
Identify key items and areas. This is the most important part
of your map knowledge quest. Identifying the key items and
areas on the map is the starting point of a strategy. Obviously
if an area of the map holds a few of the different controllable
items such as talked about above, it may just be a key location
and provide a strategic advantage to maintain control over
that area. Thus you will need a little bit of experience to
know what items are in most demand in levels, but often they
are power-ups, armor and powerful weapons such as the Rocket
Launcher (RL) and Railgun (RAIL). Also know that due to respawn
times it may not be an advantage to hold an area that just
has a power-up and not much else. In those situations it may
be better to time the power-up.
Determine the map "norms". By this I mean that often there
are certain things that always happen or happen 90% of the
time. Things like, how do enemies react? Is there a pattern?
Often a team will fall into a single attack plan, especially
when they are not in control of the map. If you can identify
what your enemy does early in the game you can adapt to it
and turn it against them. This can really only be done by
watching demos and playing games it comes with experience.
Next: communication and specific strategies