I have recently been running some ground PVP training sessions with a number of members of my fleet (Starfleet Elite Task Force - Contact me if you want in a great ground fleet). Much has been over vent. Those that do not have it have been getting bits and pieces through chat. But, they could use more detail. So, I decided to put together a quick guide that they and anyone else can use to rapidly absorb some hard earned lessons from a grizzled, bruised and somewhat foul smelling ground veteran.
Many are turned off of ground PVP because they find themselves completely dominated in matches against well organized premade teams. But, I have noticed more and more mixed veteran and let’s call them “trainee” players. As more veterans work to level up alts, they have a chance to see all levels of skill in mixed matches. The more the veterans lend a hand to the community to encourage more skill in our opponents the better everyone’s play becomes. So, to that end I give you Bug’s Basics of Ground PVP. If you know of other good guides please post links below.
In the following post you will find a mix of useful info that you can use to quickly boost your play. Every successful and fun ground PVP match is built on teamwork. The best matches have two teams that know how to work together. Moving as a group and quickly regrouping when split up are the most important and basic skills to learn. When I say “moving as a team”, I mean BOTH advancing and strategically retreating. I’ll give you a few tips on which you should be doing and when. All good teams have a mix of officer types each of which serves a very specific role. To serve that role, you have to know what you should be doing and who you should be doing it to. Both of the above vary considerably by officer type and gear. Finding the best gear for each officer type is a bit of an art. But, I will lay out some basics that are solid packages for PVP use (most of which will make you even more wicked against NPC’s as well). Another basic you will find detailed below is how to most effectively target enemy players. Finding the target you want in all of those drones, turrets and shields can suck. I’ll help you cut through the clutter and kill who you want dead fast. Any military man or woman worth the spit on their boots knows that one of the most important skills a good unit displays is mastery of their battlefield terrain. With the limited number of maps now present in the game, knowing where to make your stand is easy but essential. I will lay out the best kill zones in each of the maps in current use. If you assimilate and apply all of that then you too can advance quick to the ranks of the elite ground killers.
BIG NOTE: Whenever possible playing with a voice link such as Ventrillo will give the critical edge because it allows commands to be given and targets called out quickly without the typing.
Remember: Great ground PVPers are not born. They are made.
The Team or Tanks vs. Tacs
In my experience the best five team mix involved having two engineers, two tactical officers and one science officer. Three engineers and one of each of the other two is pretty effective. There are other mixes that work as well (two engys, two sci running different kits and one tac) but to make them work requires a higher degree of skill and real mastery of division of team labor and skills. So, I will layout the basics with the first mix.
In general, you want two engineers who can serve as tanks, take the bulk of the enemy fire while dropping shields, drones and turrets. Engys are generally your best team lead and tank (although I may be biased). The guy you want to be the first through the door and will likely be the last standing is everything goes terribly wrong. Their shield recharge abilities let them take a ton of damage without falling. Optimally, your best tank (either engy or sci – see below) should lead your team movement, target selection and assaults on the enemy.
Right over their shoulder should be a tactical officer or two. Their goal is to apply heavy and fast damage to the enemy target(s) while the tank keeps them busy. Preferably they are targeting the same enemy as the tank (more on that below). A good team can put two tanks out with one tac a piece working with them. They hit very hard. But also cannot sustain long term damage themselves. Let the tanks do that.
Pulling up the rear is often a science officer whose main job is to heal others. “Pulling up the rear” is sort of optional depending on the sci involved however. Some like Meow (a far better Sci guy than I will ever be) like to tank themselves. The heals they use let them take good damage even with shields at nothing, making them a good distraction (not doing too much damage usually) while other players move for the kill. I can only assume in this case that a second sci as a dedicated healer would be good. Of course throughout all should be moving and firing as a group.
Rule #1 in all pvp – STAY TOGETHER. Teams should move as a single unit. Those who are split off from the group are easy prey and quickly hunted down by good teams for the easy points. When you lose members, you should not make it all on them to get back to the group. You should try to move toward their spawn point or set an altogether new spot to regroup. The best players spent a good deal of time retreating as well as advancing. Stay aware of your team and if you lose a tank or two other players, you need to be getting out of there. A good team will kill one or two then push forward on you hard to kill as many more as possible while the balance is mismatched. So you should be on the run before they can run you down. If several kills happen, you will likely be spread out all over the map. That is the best time to call for regroup in a new spot. ALWAYS BE READY TO FALL BACK.
When advancing, follow a set leader (your best tank) who should be in front taking the agro. In general you should let the tank control the line you keep. Do not get out in front of them. Keep turrets in front of you and they your enemies will target them first in many cases. Tacs and healers should move close behind. Let your engineers set up bunkers and stay with them. This is always your best defensive spot. While some think it boring and it can drag out, people that choose and hold their ground win. Those that are attacking such a spot usually lose. Bunker breaking takes some skill and should never be tried at less than full team strength. I will cover that in more detail below.
Most good players cannot be brought down by a single attacker fast enough to prevent them from seeking cover. Speed and synching up your targeting is essential to beating a tough squad. One thing that helps is to pick a top target and a secondary to target if they fall in advance of an exchange of fire. While you will be shooting on and off at the main as they pop out, staying on them most of the time will wear them down, drop them and give you the chance to push into their controlled area. Having a second target in mind allows you to capitalize on the first kill with a quick second. After than you have a clear numerical edge (until they regroup) so it is usually good enough to take whatever kills are easiest at that point.
To aid in targeting you can set a key to target each player of the enemy squad. To bind a key, you have to know who you are fighting. To know who is on the other squad, you click the little button that pops up when you scroll over the red team blue team stats in the right side of the screen. Watch your spelling of the names. Misspell and you have no target. I use the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 keys as my targeting keys but your choices can vary as long as you replace “1” in the command below with the name of the key you want to use. So, to bind a target key type the following into the chat window:
/bind 1 target player name
For example to kill me you want this:
/bind 1 target bug
Note: If you can set the first one or two binds before combat begins, that will give you and edge. But, be careful some rush right in on ya. I usually set the first one right off then set the next couple as combat allows time.
Using the Map to Your Advantage or Bunkers for Beginners
As noted above a critical skill is selecting the ground where you want to fight. It should advantage you and disadvantage your opponents. The bunker is the team’s rock. It should be well placed. Some basic rules I follow are, set up the bunker far enough into a room or down a hall that in order to hit you the opposing team must get well away from a corner where they can duck in and hide. Do not set up at the doorway. Draw them into you. Make them cross your established line of death. But be disciplined and stay behind it yourself. On occasion a tank or tac can chase down a wounded enemy right into their group. But, that should be rare and only if you are sure you can take them down fast and get back to your lines. In general, I like bunker spots that give a height advantage and a narrow path of approach. In maps where a couple of different patch converge, it can be good to control the cross point. OK, from generalities to some specifics…
Deserted Facility – Basically, I like the far north end and far south end for bunkers. The large room in the north has a good bunker spot in the platform farthest from the doors. It is good as it has height and restricted ramps that much be crossed to get there. It also controls both of the two doors into the room. An attacker is forced to cross the room exposed and rush you or retreat under fire. Usually rushers bite it. The large room at the south end is a great bunker spot. It is long, so you can set a bunker back in a way and they have to get exposed in the halls approaching it or run right through the door into your next. The center platform is good as it gives you coverage of both doors. But, I usually go with one side or the other, keeping an eye on the map and moving when the enemy approaches. The large room on the second level is not a bad spot either. But the front and back entrances leave you wide open to flanking. So, I avoid it.
Ghost Ship – The best bunker spots here are the two large rooms. I prefer the one on the lower level as it is a bit more restricted and offers the enemy fewer places to hide. I like to set up well inside the room. But sometimes will take the door if I think I can get them stopped on the ramp coming down. The room with all of the boxes is a bad spot to set up with a large team. Too cramped and too many breaks in line of sight, neutralizes turrets for one thing. But, is a good spot to ambush from if you are outnumbered or fighting with small teams. It is a great place to lose folks that are chasing you if you are fast. Another spot that can be good is your own spawn point as it eliminates the need to regroup. You just pop back up. However, if the enemy has bunkered at your spawn point, may want to stay down until they clear it or you will be toast.
Assimilated cruiser – The best bunker on this map IMO is at the center of the high platform on the side of the engine room. It has restricted access and a long run to get up to you. I have probably killed more people here than at any other spot on any map. The bridge is not a bad spot either. Don’t really like the central transporter room since the halls leading to it are “S” curves and offer lots of cover. Same rules about the your spawn point also apply to this map.
Shanty Town – This map has a lot of spots that can be strong bunkers. My favorite is the alley in the center. That way you can control a terminal so runners on your team can bring and download the virus and it prevents the enemy from getting to the easier terminal to attack. Cover shields can be used to seal the doors at the end. Many fights here revolve around the second level bridge over that alley. It is usually a push and pull across the bridge as control moves back and forth. But, starting bunkered in the low depressions at each end is good. If advantage is gained, push up middle or far end of the bridge. Then you can push forward into the enemy low spot to work them over as they come up from the spawn point. If advantage is yours, you can set up shop overlooking the spawn and try to get them as they pop up. The morality of such spawn camping is a bit suspect IMO. But, it happens quite often. War isn’t always fair.
In general anything less than a blue item is an Achilles’ heel in PVP. May work fine against those NPC’s. Real life is tougher buddy. Get the best gear you can. Run the dailies at VA if up there. Buy what you can’t get in easy drops. Blue is adequate in many cases. Purple is essential to survive in the Big Leagues. I prefer to use my engineers. So I know that gear really well. Will give some hints for the other two classes. But follow on posts by more experienced tacs and scis would be much appreciated.
Kits – I almost always use the Bunker Fabrication (Fabrication Specialist at higher levels). The most effective engys have lots of deployable toys to wreak havoc on the battlefield. The keys to using these items are to get to your spot a second earlier than the enemy and drop them early and often. I usually deploy a support drone then round a corner into an enemy group firing an AOE effect weapon that will throw off their group (more in weapons) and immediately drop a cover shield (basic skill for engys commander and up). Gives you tank like ability to tank damage and switches their target lock from you to the shield making them have to retarget while your support is coming right behind you and hitting them. Then I squat down right behind it and drop the phaser and mortar turrets in quick succession. The beauty of this is that turrets deploy right through the shield and begin attacking while you and your team have cover. Last I make sure to deploy a med generator out of the likely line of sight so enemies do not blow it up and it keeps healing. I will then dart in and out targeting enemies and firing. If you have seeker drones, this is the time to pick a target and launch one of those bad boys on them. If you do keep on them as the drone starts attacking and you are now in a two on one, even more if your team is also targeting them. Every chance you get, redeploy the turrets and drones you have placed. Keep moving with the battle and dropping as you move. This is FAR MORE critical than a steady gun fire rate. Your kit skills are everything. That in a nutshell is the Bunker Fab Kit and how to use it.
An alternative is the Breach Engineer kit. It is pretty similar to the above except that it used the force field dome to keep enemies bouncing off and out. Good if you are facing folks that really like hand to hand combat and if you have a dedicated sci healer. I rarely use this to block doors off as I want to lure them in the door to get blasted. Decent escape trick although most players are learning to roll right through the door anyway.
I never use the others. But some like the enemy neutralization kit. When I see that I love it. Cuz they are gonna be dead. Weapons malfunction does nothing to stop me from dropping the deployables. If you run away a ton this one is useful. The chroniton mines and dome will slow folks that are chasing you down. Other than that, I do not find it that useful.
Armor - I have had great success with the polyalloy armor. It takes maximum damage while your damage boost comes from your turrets and drones. In general I prefer this armor to have a [cap] [reg] combo which gives me a slightly larger amount of damage I can take and added regeneration. Good tank traits.
Shields – Pretty much same as above. Select shields with cap and regen capabilities to increase survivability
Weapons – I use both an expose weapon and an exploit weapon. Most heavily I rely on either a Full Auto Assault or the Blast Assault. Both get good expose rates and do high damage. The new Breen freeze gun is a mixed bag. Good exposes on the bolt setting. But the more powerful blast locks you in place too long for PVP. Gets you killed more often than not. If used in ambush though, it gets fantastic expose rates. I keep both a sniper rifle and the new prototype as exploit options. Sniper shot is great in combination with an expose from the assaults. The new gun is a good alternative as well. Although it is much better in the hands of a tac (see below).
Weapon energy type varies as you move through the ranks and is less of an issue IMO. Go with what feels good I say. I frequently use the polaron for my assault weapon because it has a chance to make the target’s weapon malfunction. This is a big plus spread across several enemy team members in an AoE attack. Valuable seconds you can use to set up a turret or launch a pesky drone. My exploits usually are anti-proton for the bigger damage. Knock backs, slows and holds are also very useful.
Kits – Most I know run with the Fire Team kit. It has a number of stacking damage buffs for the shooter and damage debuff for targets. When combined these skills multiply each other’s effect making the tac your most lethal officer. In addition they have suppressing fire that can slow you and prevent you from getting back to much needed cover. Both the operative kits and the kit with rally cry and overwatch (squad leader I think) are also popular. Which of these will be most effective depends greatly on your skill point distribution. Check that before you decide what is your strong suit.
Armor – Tacs seem to prefer the armor types that give you a damage boost. Recoil Compensating armor gives you a +40 crit damage that can give you that mean one shot kill if you get the critical hit while buffed up. I think it is the most popular choice. Second to that is the Integrated Targeting armor which has a +5 critical chance. Both of these provide less damage protection. But, you should not stay exposed long. Get in, kill, get out.
Shields – Not really sure here. Help me out Tacs.
Weapons – Most of the tacs I know prefer a weapons combo that has two hard hitting exploit weapons. Many like the two sniper rifle combo. One anti-proton and one tetryon is a good mix. But, Karakatacus says that two of the same time makes for faster recharge when switching between them. Used in quick succession, these can kill shields then kill hit points in very quick order. The new prototype proton gun in the hands of a fully buffed up tac is probably the most devastating weapon in the game at the moment. I have seen good tacs kill four of five team members around me with a single well buffed shot. Almost got me too. Nut the tank factor keot me in long enough to be quickly overrun by the five on attack. So I think the trend these days is a single sniper and the new prototype rifle.
Kits – There are only two Sci kits I see in common use. The first is the medic kit. Much prized is the purple kit that has the nanite health monitor. A really good healer is very hard to kill with a good kit. Even more importantly this kit keeps the whole team standing. It is much more for defensive applications. Some like the Geophysicist kit. IMO, CHC’s Three is the best in the game with this kit IMO. The key to this kit is that it is full of holds that keep you from fleeing and breaking line of sight. An extra second or two is all it takes to let the others drop you. So this kit is good in offensive situations. A team with two scis can use one of each to good effect.
Armor – Not really sure here. Scis please help me out. On balance this is probably not very important if on a healer. Much more an issue for the other kit. Correct me if you know better.
Shields – Ditto the armor comment.
Weapons – Science officers are great for getting exposes that other team members can exploit. So some like a two expose weapon mix. The Breen freeze gun and another is a fun mix as long as you do not hit that slow charge shot in the heat of battle. The new prototype gun is also quite good in the hands of a sci. Generally, large damage is not a sci goal. But, a low damage gun that has good exposes is just fine.
1) WEAPONS: Too many to list them all here but they all fall into 2 categories, either "expose" or "exploit". hat is "expose" and "exploit"? read on I will talk about this in the next section. In general Rifles are long range, assault has mid range and pistols have short range. right click on a weapon and select info to get detailed information about it, also in the info you will see in yellow either "expose" or "exploit" to the side of the secondary attack letting you know which kind of attack it is. I will leave it to you to decide what weapons you want to use since there are so many to choose from.
2) ARMOR: Pretty basic, armor will reduce incoming dmg to your health (not shields) by a % amount but like all resists in this game it has a diminishing return. This means that for instance if you had armor with 25% resist you may only see your character resist go up about 13%. The biggest part of armor are the different mods on them if they are green/blue/purple. Again not going to list all the armor or the mods here, use your head and get something that works to your play style.
3) SHIELDS: Have a set amount of damage they will absorb before failing and then allowing all incoming damage to hit your health directly. A small amount of damage will go through your shields while they are up.
You must be out of combat and taking no damage for 3 seconds before your shields will begin to recharge.
Again mods from the quality level of the shields are what can make or break your play stayle so find what works for you.
4)KITS: Each class has its own array of kits and each kit is directed at a certain role in a group be it support healing, support utility, damage, crowd control etc. I won't list them all here as the kit is what makes your class and you need to get to know it and there are specific forum threads for this.
"Expose" and Exploit":
O.K. first "expose" doesn't mean going into combat naked and "exploit" doesn't mean cheating
Remember what I said about weapons either being expose or exploit ( also you have expose powers from kits and racial traits ), well here is where that comes into play. An expose attack will put an orange target on an opposing player's body ( has a % chance to work ). This has both an audible notification as well as the visual to let you know someone is "exposed" and now you want to use an "exploit" attack to finish them fast. When you use an "exploit" attack on someone that is "exposed" it will do massive damage and often will kill them in 1 shot. Having trouble targeting someone that is "exposed" to get that "exploit" shot off? Hit the "G" key by default to target the nearest "exposed" object/player.
Sprint / Crouch / Roll:
1) Sprint ( shift by default ) will not only make you run faster but it also gives you a dodge and avoidance % bonus.
2) Crouch ( "C" by default ) not only gives a dodge and avoidance % bonus but also gives a damage buff
3) Roll ( double tap direction by default ) also gives a dodge and avoidance % bonus.
What is dodge and what is avoidance? You know the right questions to ask
1) DODGE: Reduces incoming damage by a % amount
2)) AVOIDANCE: Has a % chance to completely make an attack miss you.
Crouch gives the lowest dodge/avoidance bonus but it lasts as long as you are crouched and you get the damage buff. Sprint has a higher dodge/avoid chance than crouch and lasts so long as you are sprinting. Roll has the highest dodge/avoid chance but only is in effect during the roll.
COVER: Quite simply, you aren't rambo so don't stand out in the open for too long. Take a shot or 2 then duck behind a wall or other object to break line of sight ( LOS ). This will allow your shields to regen so you aren't letting the enemy attack your health directly.
FLANKING: Attacking someone from the side or behind greatly increases the damage you deal to them so use it whenever ya can and don't forget to use cover!
TEAMWORK: Stick together, don't go wandering off thinking you are going to flank the other team alone and be a hero. Know what other professions can do and what their kits do, this will allow you to be a better team player.
Well time for me to go put some of this info to practical use, may expand on this more on another day. If any upcoming ground pvp'er wants to chat pm me here or in game @couladin.