This isn?t meant to be a groundbreaking master-level thesis on anything ? for players of even a little experience, most of this will fall into the ?Well, DUH!? category. But, just in case new beta testers want some ideas or there is someone out there who maybe hasn?t looked at tactics yet, I thought I?d throw together some thoughts from an almost-mid-level-experienced guy???:)??(Note: I?m a guy who is still learning myself, so feel free to chime in, you experienced folks!)
1) Don?t be an early casualty!?
Look around at the beginning of the battle. Especially in early tiers, it?s very common to see mid-air collisions thin out a team before the fight really even starts. Fly defensively!
2) Avoid channelization
Channelization means focusing all your attention on one thing ? and it?s bad! There is a tendency to focus on your target, for example ? and not notice little things, like the ground zooming up at you as you fail to pull out of a dive. Always try to maintain your situational awareness, even as you try to keep the bad guy in your sights ? this will let you notice more enemies inbound, or friends who need help, or any other important tactical consideration. Keep the larger picture in mind as you engage (or are engaged) ? your radar and the close-up view of your enemy are great tools for this; glance at them often as you fly. If you?re engaging a bad guy and suddenly you notice tracers all around you ? that may be an indication someone is trying to get your attention; it?s not always in your interest to break off and address the new threat, but at least consider, as sometimes it is the right thing to do. Don?t be afraid to change targets or break off to adjust to the tactical situation as it develops.
3) Keep the learning curve steep
When you do die (and you will, often!) take a couple of seconds to think about why. OK, the short answer may be you were outnumbered three to one, but how did you get there? If it was because you were in a group and your allies got shot down, well, ok ? but if it was because you dove headfirst by yourself into a pack of enemy planes, well???Even in the first situation ? could you have done something to save your allies by breaking off your target and going to aid a teammate? Always think about what happened, and what you may have done differently to improve. Sometimes you?ll die and it?s not your fault ? but I find after every fight there?s almost always something I could have done better tactically or strategically that would have improved my chances. (On that note, especially early, staying in a fight as a spectator after you die and watching teammates can give you insight to new tactics and tricks!)
4) Call for help/answer calls when able
On SOS?s ? use them when you need them, and answer them when you can. It?s frustrating, but I?ve been in a heavy, engaged three on one, maneuvering to buy 45 seconds of life or so and desperately sending SOS?s while right next door four good guys are engaging a single bad guy?.??I?m not saying you need to fly half way across the map to save a teammate who?s on the wrong end of a 4-on-1; but if you can help, it?s in your interest to do so ? you?ll be engaging an already engaged enemy, so you?ll have the opportunity for a quick kill or two, and most importantly, you?re keeping a teammate alive (and, heck, you never know ? it may be you who needs help next time!) Note: if you haven?t already, get to know the hotkeys for team communication. F7 in my setup (default I believe) sends an SOS and a ?clear my tail? message. It will also send a short ping of your location on the radar, letting your teammates know where they should go to help ? but it is a very short ping, so you may have to be persistent in asking! (Also a good reason for keeping your situational awareness up, so you can notice a friend in need)
5) Look at your enemy
Recognize your target. If you?re in an average fighter, and you see your selected target is a heavy, accepting a head on pass may not be the best tactic. Similarly, you?re in a higher tier and the enemy is a lower tier ? ok, you?ve got them outgunned, but recognize turning with them may be a bad move; odds are they?re slower and more maneuverable, and will whittle you down in a turning fight. . (I actually love this, getting tier IV kills with my tier II biplane because the bad guy keeps turning trying to get me, and I keep turning inside of him holding him in my sights. It does take a while, though!) If you?re in a under-tiered light fighter, maybe that upper-tier heavy with the big tail gun isn?t a good choice for an opponent to engage. Bottom line ? get to know your strengths, and try to recognize enemy strengths. Engage where you have an advantage, and try to avoid putting yourself in a spot where you don?t have an advantage. Remember ? if you ever find yourself in a fair fight, then your tactics need work!
6) Ground Attack no-escort strategies
OK, ground attack guys ? let?s face it. I like my GA birds too, and we would love to have a dedicated fighter escort ? but the truth of the matter is, having a fighter do nothing but shadow skywhales is a waste of the asset. Let me suggest some alternate strategies instead of asking for someone to escort you:
A) Go where the pack is ? that is, try to engage ground targets in the vicinity of where your friendlies are, if able. This gives someone a chance to answer a distress call from you, should you be engaged. Yes, it also means you may be engaged by the enemy ? but if so, at least there may be someone nearby to help!
B) Consider buddy-escort; that is, pair up with another heavy. Two of you can make short work of an area?s ground targets, and with two, you can clear each other?s tails, and give yourself a chance for some air kills. Note this doesn?t require coordination ? just if you happen to see another heavy on your team, consider going where he goes and staying together.
C) OK, yes ? it?s fun and effective to sneak into the enemy base. I?ve done it, and it?s a blast ? take a low route hugging terrain, or skyhook over the top, or skirt around the edge all by yourself and sneak in the back door. When it works, it?s a thing of beauty! But???when it doesn?t work, know what you?re in for. If noticed, you?ll most likely be alone and far from help ? which is not a good thing for a heavy. Against a single attacker, you may have a shot ? offer a head on pass. Against more than one, well, it?s probably the end of your game. I?m not saying don?t do this ? heck, it works great sometimes ? just be aware that it is a calculated risk, and don?t be mad if the gamble fails and you find yourself on the wrong end of a 3 on 1 in a non-maneuverable airplane?
7) Ground Attack ? don?t fear the furball!
As a ground attack, don?t pass up the opportunity to dogfight. Yes, I know ? you?re generally far less maneuverable, and can?t keep an enemy in your sights for very long ? but, with the forward firepower most GA?s carry, you don?t HAVE to have them in your sights for very long to do serious damage, or even grab a quick kill. Look for opportunities ? a head on pass, or an enemy who isn?t paying attention to you ? and it?ll pay dividends both for your team and your kill count. Remember, you can always go back to killing ground targets after the enemy planes are smoking holes in the ground ? the ground target?s aren?t going anywhere.
8) Channelization also kills GA birds
OK, you?re ground attack, going after ground targets. You?re lined up perfectly for your run, 4200 feet out, and (because you read #1 above and are keeping your situational awareness up!) you notice a bad guy appear on the radar, coming for you?
?Most folks I?ve seen here will flash back to Star Wars ? remember the guy in the trench, who kept repeating ?stay on target?? They?ll focus on the ground target, trying to complete the run. Well???remember what?happened?to that guy in the trench? Yeah, blown to smithereens?.??Look, if you stay on your ground target, the best case is you?ll complete your pass but be badly damaged by the approaching fighter. Worst case, he kills you before you even get your target (a distinct possibility against higher tiered fighters?). I suggest, instead, turning to engage in a head on pass. As a ground attack, odds are your guns are far stronger than most of the fighters you face, and you have more hit points ? head on passes very much favor you! If you catch the other guy napping, it?s a good opportunity to get a quick air kill ? and after he?s gone, the ground target will still be there????
OK, as I said, very basic thoughts from a very basic player ? but hopefully someone new may benefit, and the old-timers will chime in with more nuggets of wisdom!