Chapter 3 - Finer Points & Strategy

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3.1 Dogfighting

     Dogfighting is not the point of the game or even a primary objective.

     It is a means to an end for two reasons: a) you must have kills to carry armies and take planets, and b) you often need to stop enemy ships from doing things, such as taking your planets or bombing your space, or killing your team's carrier (or you!) when you are trying to take a planet. Killing them is one good way, although there are others.

     The following is from the Netrek archives by John Kirk Hammond a.k.a. Lance.


     Here is the manual I mentioned.  I posted it 'cause many people said I should.

     I only use a CA, so if you play another ship take any advice with a grain of salt (actually, take it all with a grain of salt.).

     There are, as I see it, 3 major things about successfully dogfighting.  The most important, by far, is intensive use of tractors.  The second is to change speed constantly.  The third is to det incoming torps.

     Remapping the keyboard in the .xtrekrc file is important.  For those interested, here's mine: keymap: dTeyadllrrqe D I think some of that was redundant, but it works, so I don't care! :)

  1. Tractoring/pressoring
  2. Changing speeds
  3. Detting
  4. Shields
  5. Torps
  6. Phasers
  7. Cloaking
  8. Plasma
  9. Knowledge is half the battle :)

I.  Tractoring/pressoring

  1. Tractors are most useful for holding an opponent in place so that your torps can catch up to him.  By tractoring an opponent, one a) slows the opponent's turning speed down for a short time and b) pulls him in the direction of your torps.
    THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT.  I can not tell you how many people have come rushing onto the screen that I have tractored, using their speed, and pulled them right onto a string of torps.
  2. Tractors are also useful for pulling wounded enemies (and full-strength scouts) into your phaser range so that you can finish them off.  However, see III. Detting for more on that.
  3. My favorite method of killing any enemy is to pull up next to him, speed up to warp 8 or 9, and on the pass launch a volley of torps and at the same time tractor him.  Fire the torps almost perpendicular to your ship, because at warp 8, they will move outward AND forward, hence slamming into the opponents ship.  I will also det his torps if they look like they might hurt me.  Sometimes, if the torps might not hit him, I pressor him, and sometimes, just sometimes, his rapid turning pushes him BACK into the string of torps.
  4. In the opposing situation, if an enemy tries this on me, I turn in his direction and pressor off of him at the same time, which (most of the time) propels me out of his incoming swath of torps.  Pressors are most useful for maneuvering into and out of positions for battle. I don't use them extensively in battle but perhaps to keep a phaser-thirsty ship out of range so that I can torp him, or, in cases where there is a good BB playing, pressors are a key to survival.
    [JE: T/P can also be very useful to help you dodge torps.  The most obvious way is to just turn away from your opponent and pressor off him to give you more room to dodge.  If you have a teammate or an enemy off to one side that you can t/p off of to move you sideways out of the torps, that is even better.  If you're using a teammate as a t/p post, though, make sure you're not moving him into torps at the same time!]

II.  Changing speeds

  1. It is important to change speeds constantly.  Many opponents tend to dodge torps I send at them.  However, when involved in a dogfight, and torps are flying in a perfect line at your ship, slam your hand down around the 7-8-9 area, and watch as your CA accelerates past the torps (I dogfight at 4).  A while back, I fought with West 11 or 12 times on an abandoned server.  Against that kind of skill, I change speeds maybe, once very 3 or 4 seconds, just to throw him off as to where I am going.  That match ended in a tie or close to it.  Those 'lil matches took over a minute usually.  Learn to be patient.  The next entry, B, illustrates that.  [JE: a style enormously helpful to conserving fuel while dogfighting is to fight at a base speed of warp 2, tractoring, pressoring, and accelerating as needed when torps are fired.  This is most effective in a CA/BB/AS.  Thanks to Erik Lauer for pointing this out.]
  2. The other day, I angered an opposing BB so much that he roared onto the screen firing a plasma and a blob of torps.  I calmly turned perpendicular to his plasma and accelerated.  That got me out of the torps' way and out of the possible turning radius of the plasma.  The BB then turned tail and slowly moved away from me, firing torps all the way.  By moving back and forth and calmly accelerating out of his torps I followed him all the         way up to a fuel planet, never raising my shields or firing a shot.  He started orbiting the fuel planet, and I sped up to 8 or 9 and roared by him, firing a volley of torps, tractoring him off the planet, detting, and phasering.  Needless to say, he died and I lost my shields.  But I was patient.
  3. Also, remember to pressor oggers that appear behind you, as this will keep them from blowing up on you (I tend to tractor them, fire torps at them, and then pressor them, thus ensuring their death and preserving most of mine).  However, you must be going away from the ogger at at least warp 7 for this to work, because pressors only really neutralize the ogger's tractor.
  4. When you are attempting to catch up to a target, and he is fleeing at similar speed, you can do 2 things: 1) If there are enemies in the area who could help him, you must get him quickly, so det torps sent in your direction.  2) If you and he are alone, if he fires a line at you, slam the 1-5 warp area and turn a little to the side.  This usually lets you dodge most of them, but he gets those few extra seconds to flee a little more.  However, if he has no help in the area, you might still have a chance of catching him.

III.  Detting.

     Here is the Netrek concept that will get me in trouble with other good dogfighters.  Most never det in battle.  I, however, live on detting.  I will cover detting on the "accepted scale" from A to C.

  1. Det when tractoring scouts in and phaser them to death.  Scouts fire dinky 25 pt torps that do 6 pts of damage when you det them.  If you can tractor them and you are moving at sufficient speed, you can crunch a scout in a CA.  As long as you det.  This goes for any wounded ship, too.  If a CA is wounded and is sitting stopped, rush at an angle, fire torps and tractor him in.  However, you MUST remember to det torps.  If you don't 10 to 1 you will mutual with him.
  2. Det torps for wounded ships, planet takers, and SB's.  If you want to be a good escort, stay AHEAD of the planet taker and det any torps headed for the planet.  However, REMEMBER to fire at incoming oggers, and if you must, mutual with any too close to the planet.
  3. Det enemy torps to wound other enemies.  This I use only in special situations.  When a cloaker (planet taker) flies over enemy torps, det them.  You will take damage, but so will he. Any planet taker that slows down 'cause of wounds is usually dead in any clueful game.  Planet taking counts on the taker to make it to the planet as fast as possible before oggers overwhelm the escorts.
  4. OK, I also det a lot in combat.  When I am dodging, I will often det to open a "hole" in a stream of torps, or det the first few torps in a string so that I can zoom by.  Remember, detting ideally only inflicts 25% of the damage on your ship, so detting 4 or 5 torps really is nothing in a CA.  I also tend to det whenever I make a pass at an enemy.  Granted, at one inch away those torps might not hit me, but I don't take the chance.  50-130 pts norm on a dogfight, I guess.  At one inch, one pass is usually enough :).  Some good players can use my detting against me, but not always.
  5. You know those situations where you and an opponent suddenly zoom on the screen at the same time and right at each other?  Usually, you will ram each other with a blob of torps. However, the best way to survive is to slam your hand down on the speed of 1-4, turn rapidly to one side, fire torps, pressor, and DET constantly.  About 50% of the time this will allow me to destroy the incoming ship, but I in turn usually take almost 80-90% damage.  However, I survive.  [JE: maxwarping at an enemy is never a good idea, and if  you do find yourself in that situation, keep in mind that it may be better to mutual than to go to 90% damage and spend a lot of time repairing--if you mutual, you immediately get a new ship.]
  6. If you are in a situation where both you and your opponent are both wounded and he is taking pot shots at your ship, go into repair mode.  When he fires a torp, and you can't dodge it, det it.  Repair mode will usually repair enough shields for a 10 pt det.  This way you conserve your fuel.  Once you get enough fuel, start moving and unleash a full string of torps at the enemy.
  7. If you are in a situation when you have enough fuel to kill a crippled ship but he is right on top of you and his explosion will kill you, pressor him away before phasering him and killing him (assuming he has no fuel).

IV.  Shields

         Never keep your shields up all the time.  Your hull doesn't repair and your fuel regenerates slower.  Get in the habit of putting shields up ONLY when you are doing the following:

  1. Approaching an enemy planet for bombing or planet taking.
  2. Within about 3/4 the phaser distance of a CA or -->BB <--.
  3. If torps are going to hit you.
  4. If a cloaker is coming to ogg you and he is within phaser distance on the galactic.
  5. If friends fire a lot of torps over you and an enemy is in the vicinity to det them on you.
  6. It's fun to let a SC to get within phaser range: let him lock you a few times and he (sometimes) get cocky.  Once he turns around to engage you, tractor him in and kill him.

V.   Torps

  1. Though I covered most of this in tractor, PRACTICE, PRACTICE,          PRACTICE.  Some people here at Duke who program 'borgs say my torps are almost perfect anyway.  I have been accused many times of having a 'blessed borg.'  It is because I practiced lots last year (this year I don't play very much anymore).  PRACTICE AIMING THOSE TORPS.  Learn to lead your opponent.
  2. Don't det your own torps when you are first learning.  This is the lazy man's way of getting another shot.  When you are first learning, and you die cause your first shot missed, you will soon learn to start aiming better.  If, however, you keep detting your torps, you will waste all your fuel in no time and gain little experience from the situation.

VI.  Phasers

  1. I use phasers when I make a pass at an enemy.  Usually it is the difference that kills him.  It is difficult to remember to tractor, torp 8 times, shields up, det, phaser, and move... but the extra 40 pt phaser sometimes is all you can get on the guy.
  2. I don't suggest attempting to whittle down an enemy with phasers.  The only person I've ever known to do this effectively against me was Val, and he's gone...  [JE: you'd be surprised how quickly a man who uses both phasers and torps well can take down someone who only torps.  Learn where your 20 point phaser range is, and phaser any time he is within that range.  If you are doing less than 20 points you are probably wasting fuel.]

VII.  Cloaking

  1. Don't cloak (remember, this is a dogfighter's manual).
  2. Cloaking is only for dodging 'outgoing oggers' (those coming to ogg you before you reach your target) or to pass over some interference dogfighters who are between you and your target.
  3. Cloaking is for mainly planet takers and oggers.  That is NOT my forte.

VIII.  Plasma

  1. Never use plasma.
  2. However, plasma is useful when there is a solitary planet taker orbiting a planet and you are racing to it.  A plasma and a blob of 8 torps will usually do the trick.
  3. S M A C K !

IX.  "Knowledge is half the battle." :)

  1. KNOW YOUR ENEMY.  Know what kinds of ships the bitmaps are.  Learn what kind of shields and hull and torps and phasers each ship has.  Learn to add up quickly in your head, "Well, 3 torps and a decent phaser.  120 for the torps, 40 for the phaser.  That CA is hurting and won't be able to flee from me for a bit..."
  2. Keep track of your shields and your fuel.  Make sure you haveenough fuel to get out of there, 'cause you might get 2 kills, but an ogger will rip you to shreds when you have an empty tank.
  3. Learn to cripple an enemy.  When you are rushing to say ogg a SB hanging around the enemy home planet or especially to take the home planet, NEVER kill oggers coming to engage the blob of escorts and planet takers you are moving with.  If you do so, you a) waste your own fuel and shields and momentum, and b) enable the enemy to reappear right next to your target with full everything.  Bad move.  Either cloak before you get to outgoing oggers, or hit them with 4 torps to cripple them <-- This is possible.
          John Kirk Hammond


3.2 Escorting

     Escorting a planet taker: a single carrier (of armies) can get killedquite easily, especially if the opposing team considers that he must bekilled at all costs to save a planet. So unless the planet in question istotally open, takers need escort to protect them from enemy ships whilethey beam down armies, which is a slow process. You will therefore sometimes see requests for escort (in the team message window.) If you are in the vicinity and free, help that player make it to their chosen destination. To do this, it is best to slightly arrive ahead of the carrier, and clear out enemy ships. The idea is to protect the taker, hence if you kill and damage the ships in the vicinity it makes it easier for the taker to take. Often, however you will not be able to kill all the ships nearby. In this case, when your carrier arrives, you must protect him from enemy fire. The taker is very vulnerable while dropping armies as his shields will be down. Position yourself between the taker and the enemy if at all possible, and distract the enemy ships by engaging them. You can also detonate enemy torps that would hit your carrier, by pressing the 'd' key.  (The torpedoes in question must be quite close to your for this to work.  Experiment to get a feel for the maximum range--the farther away they are, the less damage they do.) The point of the exercise: keep the carrier alive long enough to take the planet, at all costs.  (Obviously don't escort if you are carrying yourself, if you can help it. Beam down your armies to a safe location first.)  Do NOT fire torpedoes over the planet where enemies can det them -- your teammate will also take damage!

3.3 Ogging

     This is the art of killing a carrier, or potential carrier, by a suicide run. The basic idea is to cloak before you get on his tactical, run up to him until you're about half an inch away, then tractor-phaser-torp-torp-torp until he dies.  Ogging is a simple tactic and any dummy can do it. On the other hand, ogging well is an art, involving exactly when to uncloak, how fast to go, etc.  Two good oggers working together should be able to kill the target every time. (Obviously this does not apply if the target is an SB.)  When ogging with someone else, it is important that you do not both come from the same direction.  If you do, your target can turn and shoot at both of you at once.  When I do it, I watch what direction my teammate is coming in and decide which direction the target must run in to reach his teammates, and attack him from that direction.
     Ogging a starbase: Enemy starbases can be very inconvenient. Killing one requires a coordinated effort. Typically wave after wave of ships gang up on the starbase and do suicide runs into it, firing everything they have and then hopefully exploding right over it.  However, it's harder than it sounds.  Keys to a good ogg are:

  • all oggers uncloak at once.  If you do not, the base can pick you off easily one at a time.  Thus, if you know you're going to have a head start on the other oggers using a heavy ship (BB/AS) is a good idea. Conversely, don't take one if it will make your team wait for you.
  • oggers come from different directions, for much the same reason that ogging a normal ship from the same direction is inefficient.
  • the ogg does not take place with a lot of the base's teammatesdefending.  One defender ~ two oggers, so minimize the defenders.  It's not enough to call an ogg when the base is alone, you also have to watch the galactic to make sure that the enemy is not heading towards the base, otherwise by the time your ogg gets there he could have several defenders.
  • don't maxwarp directly at the base once you are on his tactical!  It is trivial for a good base to tell you are heading in a straight line and pick you off with torps or phasers!  If you head in at about warp 7 (in a CA)  you will be able to dodge torps much more easily.  It can also be a good idea to fly at a point an inch or so to the side of the base until you get close to him, to throw him off more.
  • having an uncloaked CA/BB/AS lobbing torps (plinking) at the basewhile the others are ogging can help a lot against a relatively undefended base.  With more defenders, it becomes much less effective.  CRITICAL to this is that you should NOT plink from the side of the base that the oggers are coming in from.  If you do, he can pressor off you to move away from the oggers (and towards his team) much faster!  Get behind the base, and force him into your oggers!  If, when you do this, the base tractors you, you have two options.  You can reverse direction, tractor him, fire, and  try to do as much damage as you can, finishing by exploding on him.  Or, you can slam on the maxwarp while firing torps at him.  The latter is more  effective before an ogg, because the base will be forced to use more wtemp phasering you and likely wtemp completely during the ogg.  The former option is only recommended if you are low on fuel or if you're you're really close to the base when he starts firing.
  • if the base has ships docked on it and does not pressor them off, fire at them.  Each docked ship that you blow up does an additional 100 points of damage to the base as well as preventing them from firing at the other oggers.

3.4 Defending A Planet

    Sometimes you will notice several ships, some of them cloaked, heading towards a planet of yours. If you have time, check the player list. If players with kills are coming in, they can be carrying armies and so may be trying to  take a planet. Be especially wary of cloakers, the classic planet taking tactic. At this point you need to destroy the enemy ship(s) at all costs. Go especially for cloakers and anyone trying to orbit the planet. Call for help! Kill the carrier! Exploding on him works, but remember that a ship dropping armies is very vulnerable. His shields are down and he is following a precise little circle. A cloaked orbiting ship is easy to hit, so kill it! Also, if he is foolish enough not to cloak -- or out of fuel! -- tractor him out of orbit so he cannot drop.

     Sometimes it is useful to just orbit a planet to protect it. This not only acts as a deterrent, but while you are orbiting you will have so little else to do that you can watch for incoming takers and warn your time in time. When takers approach (watch the galactic!)  stop orbiting the planet, and start flying. You cannot dodge while orbiting and so you will be easy to kill if you do not start moving. Plus you have some acceleration time, and you need to be fully up to speed by the time you engage.

     If you are the only one in the area in and you must defend a planet, your job it to delay the enemy long enough until help arrives (you did call for help when you saw that enemy formation approaching on the galactic map, didn't you?)  Critical to this is GETTING BETWEEN THE ENEMY AND THE PLANET. Then they have to go through you, not you through them, and you have room to retreat/buttorp.  If you can do this, you have a very good chance of at least delaying the take until help arrives. Failing that, you basically have to ogg the carrier, if you can figure out which ship it is. It will obviously be someone with kills. Also, some people will be known carriers. You can tell when someone beams up armies, if the armies icon suddenly disappears from the planet they are orbiting (from one of their planets, obviously; if it disappears from one of your planets you just got bombed!) Often you will see messages of the form "6++ @ CAP" or just "6++". This means that player number six just picked up armies at Cappella. If you see someone pickup, don't hesitate to tell your team with a similar message. (Hint: use macros for this! See section 5.2.) Lock onto the enemy carrier, maxwarp, cloak, get inside the enemy formation,  uncloak just before reaching him, tractor him (this helps hold him and pull him into your torpedoes) and fire everything you have, exploding in a burst of glory right over him, and killing him. If there is just a single unescorted taker going for a planet you can ogg him as described above, but you might try coming in uncloaked.  Sometimes this will scare him enough to make him turn around, as he doesn't want to get killed while carrying. This doesn't work on anyone who can kill you easily, obviously.

3.5 Start-of-game bombing

     When you first enter T-mode (tournament mode) there will be many armies on all planets. At this point you must bomb them away. The best ship for this is an assault as it bombs the fastest. It can also cloak cheaply and regenerates fuel quickly. Fly to an enemy planet, putting up your shields just before arriving, cloak if there's anyone near, and hit 'b' to start bombing. Watch your warning window. When it says "bombing is ineffective" and the armies symbol disappears  from the planet, turn your shields on, lock onto the next planet with armies, and maxwarp to it.  You can stay cloaked almost indefinitely while bombing; ASs even regenerate fuel at warp 0.  However, detting incoming torps uses 100 fuel per det, so watch that or you will uncloak from detting.  At the same time, when you are in your home space, kill enemy bombers to protect your own armies.

3.6 Scout Bombing

        This is part of a guide for scout bombers written by Dean Yasuda.


(We are ROM, they are FED).

Q1: What is passive bombing?
A1: Passive bombing (also called positional-bombing) is a bombing strategy in which the bomber focuses on being in a position to bomb enemy armies that will pop in the future.  The bomber dynamically maintains a position deep in enemy territory that gives him bombing
ownership of as many planets as possible.

Q2:  When should I p-bomb?
A2: Whenever the enemy has more than five planets if nobody else is bombing.  In general, one bomber is all you want in a pickup game because there are so few "clues" on the team that the others really need to be escorting, taking, ogging, etc.

Q3: Where is the best spot for a p-bomber?
A3: A lone p-bomber should try to live just below and right of ALP (center) in order to control the six right and central planets.  A secondary bomber should lurk below and right of (VEG), pressuring the core while keeping an escape route into third space.  When the bomber has at least 3/4 fuel, he should lurk at a minimum of warp 5, in order to win races to planets.

Q4: What is the best path to enemy territory?
A4: Arcing through shallow third and fourth space is the best path to Fed space.  A bomber should avoid the front line if the enemy presence there is strong.  The wall-route is sometimes safe, but an attentive enemy CA can sometimes expel or kill the scout.  Maxwarp out of your core, slow to warp 9 while passing the front, and arc narrowly around the enemy position.  It is reasonable to let an enemy CA chase you into toward third space; he is losing his position faster than you are losing yours.  Once you enter enemy territory, find a safe, effective place to regenerate E-temp and fuel, and then optimize your position.  If another bomber is in the primary position, he will either shift to the secondary position or play an aggressive or ogging role.

Q5:  What if they chase me?
A5:  Run towards third space.  Remember, as long as they're chasing you they can't do anything else for their team.  If they're really inept (say they chase you mindlessly in a CA) you can still get some bombing done while avoiding him.  Don't let him kill you unless in dying you bomb his last armies.  The main reason he is chasing is probably that he wants a kill.

Q6: When and how should a scout ogg?
A6: Ogg when bombing duties are covered and it is apparent that your ogging help is needed.  Never assume you can kill a good carrier; assume that you can help a cruiser finish the job.  Prep an oggee by light pelting, follow just out of range until help arrives, or fake a
bomb.  A scout can aid cruiser oggs by synchronization, following-up, netting, pre-pelting, or tailing the enemy to prevent him from reaching safety in time.

Q7:  Tandem scout oggs are fun.  Are there drawbacks to this?
A7: Yes, if it leaves the team without a bomber.  It takes almost a minute for a scout to establish bombing position.  During this time, about three armies will pop, and an enemy take can occur.  If bombers ogg foolishly, they may wind up playing catchup (ogging or arriving too late to bomb safely) rather than destroying armies as they appear.  Poor scout discipline is almost a given in any game, and the results can be disastrous.  Cruiser-scout oggs drive the taker away from the front, even if they fail.  The price for a failed, double-scout ogg is often greater, and even a successful ogg may be a losing proposition.

3.7 Taking Planets

In order to save room, Grey Elf´s Guide to Taking Planets was moved to a seperate page.