Scouts (SC)

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                               PLAYING SC


Newsgroups: alt.games.xtrek
From: hde+@CS.CMU.EDU (Herbert Enderton)
Subject: playing scouts
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 91 02:04:16 GMT

This is supposed to be along the lines of the excellent guides to BB and CA play that Tom and Andrew posted, but I haven't formatted the sections in the same way.  Some of this stuff more properly belongs in chapters on bombing and on taking planets when you only have one kill.

Scouts fly warp 12, and accelerate and turn extremely well, so they can be very hard to catch and kill.  A good scout pilot can stay out of tractor and phaser range of the big ships and dodge all the torpedos thrown his direction.  This makes them ideal for bombing lightly- populated planets that are deep in enemy space.  A scout bomber need not feel obliged to engage or even shoot at enemy ships; his job is to race to the undefended planets that need to be bombed before any enemy can get there.  If the planet has 24 or more armies, the scout will usually die from planetary fire while bombing it; that's okay, bomb anyway.  Be sure to raise your shields just as you enter orbit, and to raise them again as soon as you finish bombing, to minimize damage from the planet.  If a defender comes to kill you while you're bombing a planet, you can sometimes keep bombing if you cloak (to avoid being tractored) and prepare to zoom away the moment he shoots torpedos that will hit.  Often the defender is a ship with kills and maybe carrying armies, who is distressed that you're bombing the armies he wants to pick up.  In this case a good option, if you have enough fuel, is to cloak, pretend to continue bombing, dodge, uncloak and kill him.  If he's moving at high speed towards the planet in his effort to save its armies, he becomes an easy target.  On average a scout bombs 1.6 armies per second (just like the other non-assault ships), so it's usually not worth trying to bomb a defended planet when you know you'll be instantly killed.  It's better just to stay alive in enemy space, in position to quickly strike at any of several planets.

Bombing isn't the only thing a scout can do.  All ships are pretty similar in their abilities; don't be afraid to do something just because you'd rather have a different ship to do it with.  A scout's speed makes it good for defending planets.  If there's an enemy assault ship threatening to take a planet, the scout is often the only ship that can get there in time.  Then the problem is killing the assault ship.  Scout torpedos go warp 16 and do 25 points of damage each. Scout phasers do 75 points at close range.  An assault ship can barely live by detting your entire tankful of torpedos, unless you get in close and use phasers too.  To kill a large uncloaked ship, one idea is to stay at a safe distance and spray torpedos, and the other idea is to zoom in to close range and hope for mutual destruction.  Firing from a distance usually drains the scout's small fuel tank too soon.  I like to get a few hits in from a distance and then close in.  One on one, a scout is unlikely to win an honest dogfight against any of the other ships, but it is fast enough and slippery enough that it can get behind enemy lines and attack ships as they retreat.  Many players will charge headlong at scouts, especially scouts that are threatening to bomb, so you can get a kill from someone like that easily enough.  I'll usually either run away from an enemy or charge right into him.

With a kill, you can start dropping armies two at a time on enemy planets.  If the planet starts at five armies you have a 20% chance of bombing it to two, and can then destroy it with your two armies.  If it has more than five, your chances drop to 12%, but you still have a 40% chance of reducing it to three or fewer, in which case you can often take it with two trips.  Planets that the enemy just took often have only one army.  If your team is ahead, bomb everything you can, and drop armies as often as you can.  (If your team is behind, you only want to drop armies when you can actually take a planet.)  When you reduce a planet to zero or one armies, they will start worrying about it.  If there's a ship guarding a planet, you have some chance of taking it anyway by cloaking and dodging, but it's sometimes smarter to start whittling away on a different planet.  Don't try to take agricultural planets in multiple trips; an agricultural planet with less than four armies will gain at least one army every 40 seconds.

Some things that you seldom need to think about when playing a scout: detonating other's torps, aborting your own torps, tractoring, pressoring, and to some extent phasering.  They're all useful in various situations, but not as essential as they are to other ship classes.  The exception is when dogfighting another scout; these can be treated just like cruiser-cruiser battle except at closer range and much higher speed.  You never need to think about getting a second kill, or finding more than two armies.  Your ship is expendable, although you don't want to give away kills.

The only three speeds I use are 4, 8, and 12, but maybe that's just me. Warp 8 is good when you're completely out of fuel.  Two scouts working together can have a lot of fun.

        -- Red Shirt


Rereading my old guide to playing scouts, I see that there's some good advice I left out.  So here's some more stuff to add to that file.  -- Red Shirt

The scout's main advantage is that it can go warp 12.  Use it!  If you're going warp 12 and see that you're going to run into some torps, you have two options:  decelerate to let the torps pass in front of you, or detonate them so they won't hurt so much.  Note that decelerating doesn't help if you're going straight in the direction the torps are coming from.  So if you're charging up to a nearly-stationary enemy, aim your ship at a point off to the side of him.

There are two popular philosophies on scout bombing.  One is that you should be willing to die for the chance of eliminating one army.  The other is that you should stay alive in enemy space, running away from enemies, in the hopes that you will either waste their time or get a chance to bomb undefended armies.  I lean towards the latter philosophy.  The worst thing you can do as a scout bomber is to give away an easy kill to someone who doesn't already have one, right next to a planet where they can pick up armies.

Setting your galactic map to show resources is a must.  As a bomber you need to notice when and where the armies pop instantly, and race to get there ahead of any enemy.  All the planets in the galaxy have their chance to pop every 40 seconds.  Often two or more of their planets will pop at the same time, so info each one to see which has more armies.  With more than one planet to attack, you can have some fun by feinting this way and that.

Even if your nominal role is as a deep bomber, when you die there are many useful things you can do on your way back into enemy space.  You can intercept enemy bombers, counter-og (i.e. smash into an enemy who's ogging one of your teammates), help clear a planet, help kill an enemy planet-taker, or serve a decoy by cloaking and pretending to be a planet-taker.  All the while you can still be moving quickly towards the enemy planets.

The scout is good for ogging because it can catch up with any other ship. The usual result is that you hurt but don't kill the target, so you want another scout to finish him off.  If you're working together with somebody to kill a particular carrier, be sure that you stay on opposite sides of the target, and never overlap.  Your job will be to keep him from running one way, and it's up to your partner to keep him from running the other way.  Often when scout-ogging you end up out of fuel, but still alive near the target (e.g. if he cloaks).  In this case get on top of the target, and hope to use your explosion to kill him.  If his teammates are so kind as to fire torpedos at you, these will hurt him too, especially if you can detonate themon top of him.

The scout is a good choice for planet-taking when the main obstacle is one or two fearsome oggers.  In a scout you can go around them, while in any other ship you'd need good escort.

When you're in enemy space you don't want to be fighting enemies, because you'll run out of fuel and get crippled.  When an enemy is chasing you, use torpedos not to kill him but just to force him to slow down.


From: "Joseph E. Beck" <jb8n+@andrew.cmu.edu>
Newsgroups: rec.games.netrek
Subject: Re: Any SC users out there?
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 1993 01:23:57 -0400

This is "kind of" lengthy, and to a large extent is my trying to get some feedback on my SC bombing strategies.  But I think they're pretty good.

(Abbreviated version is at the end)

Client selection:

Use a client with arfmoo bitmaps (they're the ones with dotted circles for planets with no armies, and solid circles for planets with armies).  It makes identifying when armies was picked up *much* easier.  Arfmoo bitmaps are in the Berkeley client, and Rick's moo (I prefer Rick's moo, but either will do nicely).

(If you need details on how to get these, send mail)

Getting into position:

Find out where the friendly fuel is.  Touch the 3rd space planets that border the enemy, and if any of them are fuel, note that fact.  Warp 12ing into enemy space drains a fair amount of fuel.

To find out where to sit, look at where the enemy AGRIs are.  Find a position the puts you closest to their AGRIs (you may want to ignore front line planets in this calculation).  Do not select a point to close to their home planet, since you don't want ships entering the game anywhere near you.  Also, being behind the area where their ships come in helps, since most people maxwarp off to the front.  Given these constraints (AGRI location, not near their home planet and preferably behind it) find a good place to sit.

Getting chased:

If they're in a CA, run away at warp 9.  They can either chase you and burn their engines and all of their fuel, or give up.  If they give up return to their space immediately.  Most people are not persistent enough to keep chasing.  A CA has to have a couple thousand fuel to kill a SC, so if it chases you for too long it can't kill you even if you get close enough.  Try to judge when this time has passed, and turn around and blow past (not too close, obviously). 

If they are in a DD, I usually stay in their backfield and fly around at warp 8.  The DD doesn't have the tractor strength to pose a serious danger to the SC, if you have a lot of fuel (more than 3000) and feel threatened, shoot a torp spread at him (2 to 4) to keep him away.   If you have less fuel, move away, if the DD wants to chase at warp 9 or 10 accelerate and match its speed.

If they are chasing in a SC, and are better than you, you have little choice than to move away.  You then have 2 options:

  • You're willing to scum a kill and planet scum, so you run away and runner scum the anti bomber.  Start taking planets.  This  is very difficult if they're much better than you.
  • You want to bomb, move away and try to cripple them (5 or 6 SC torps do the trick) and then go back to bombing since they cannot chase.  If they do not chase sit on the edge of their space and try to work back into position.

Both of these strategies work on DD's also, if you have to run from them)

If they are in a SC and aren't as good as you, you can follow a strategy similar to the one for dealing with DD's.

In general, if you really want to bomb, you don't want to kill the anti bomber unless your goal is immediate (he is sitting on the planet with armies, and can't bomb it unless he dies). 

Avoiding being chased:

If you're on someone's tactical and you're uncloaked, expect to be chased.  So, obviously you want to avoid this.  Even good players tend to pay SC bombers little regard if they're far enough away.  So when you pick your position (see above) try to make sure that you're not
sitting where they're coming in.  Also, when bombing core planets you should *always* go in cloaked.  Ok, always is too strong of a word, but until you get pretty good, I'd strongly advise this.  The reason is that having an enemy pop in right next to you when you're bombing really sucks, and if you're uncloaked he'll tractor you off the planet.
So I advise staying cloaked while you're bombing on someone's tactical, unless you don't mind being chased. 

Where to bomb:

Bombing the front line is really harsh on SC bombers, there is a lot of firepower flying around, and is not a good place for fragile ships to try to bomb.  If at all possible, try to talk the CA players at the front into bombing the front line for you, this lets you concentrate on core and the side planets. 

When to bomb:

Ok, so you're in position, now do you go for the armies that just popped?  Look at your fuel, if it's too low, try to find the friendly fuel planet (see above), or sit at warp 0 and wait.  Going for planets behind the home planet uncloaked isn't too bad, but going for ones in front of it doesn't usually work.

If the enemy SB is "running" towards a pop and you think you can get the armies but will die:  go for it.  A lot of people think the opposite way, but what is the SB going to do with the kill?  I'm more likely to make a lemming run against an SB than against a ryche CA (hell, or even an Exodus CA :-). 

Trading kill for armies:

There are 2 schools of thought here, some people will bomb very passively, giving away few kills, but backing away from armies that are uncontested.  Others give away a lot of kills to get the armies.  The "right" answer hasn't been decided yet, and this is an open question. 

Planet approach:

If you're going for a contested planet, don't go straight in.  Anyone clueful enough to stop your approach will probably slaughter you. Instead decel to warp 4, and dodge.  Neat trick:

        .   .   .     .   .    .         <--------- (torp spread)

Hit det, and det the single torp.  The opponent will probably start phasering and torping very rapidly at that location.  Immediately go for the planet (accelerate to get their rapidly) and go for the bomb. Or, after he's shot 8 torps at the planet go in and bomb (not many players will det the torps quickly enough, if they det at all).  Oh, and keep your shields up during the approach; that way if you get phaser locked you still have a chance.

Bombing the planet:

Ok, you're getting close to the enemy planet (cloaked hopefully) and a CA is rushing over to scum the kill.  At this point, if you back out you'll probably give a kill away anyway, so bomb.  Go to the planet and begin bombing ASAP, if the CA fires a torp stream:

        -wait until it is at max det range (LEARN max det range, it is
         your friend),
        -raise shields
        -begin bombing again immediately

This buys you a few extra seconds.  It's important to learn when to raise shields to suck torps while bombing. 

Basic tips:

Fly around with shields down, this saves fuel (important, since youhave a small fuel tank) and allows you to regenerate damage to your hull (also important since a few bombs can drastically lower your top speed). 

Keep your eyes clued on the galactic, and keep a good eye on your personal message board, and glance at the team board occasionally (not that often, it is low priority).  I know some people think you should keep your eyes glued on the team board, but you can only keep so much stuff well attended, *someone* on the team should be watching the enemies well.  Basically, you can have intricate knowledge about what your opponents are doing, or know exactly what your team is doing, but not both (anyone who claims you can have intricate knowledge of both has lower standards of intricate knowledge).

Basically, unless your team is cracking their core, looking at the team message board isn't terribly useful.  If someone distresses, you're not in a good ship to crash a planet, nor should you leave your position to do so (except in very rare circumstances).  Since most team board traffic has to do with this, it is of low priority.  If you see a planet name, see if you are near it, and if so help out. 

        -Nice ways to be friendly to your SC bombers are to call
         out any planet name in CAPS, so it can easily be detected.
        -And if you're expecting help from the SC bomber, send them
         a personal message.

Some of the advantages of knowing what the enemy is doing is that you get to write a lot of messages to the team board.   If an enemy picks up, tell your team immediately.  It's polite if you tell them where the opponent is picking up from eg. "a++ @tau". 

Ok, here's the quick reference version:

1.  Quickly learn opponent quality
        Figure out which people will tractor-phaser slaughter, and
        which ones rely on torps

2.  Find a good place to hang out
        balance AGRI location with staying away from where opponents

3.  Keep your eyes glued on the galactic, paying pretty good attention
    to your personal message area, and an occasional glance at the
    team board.

4.  When bombing, if you're going to get hit, raise shields and det
    the torps while they're at max det range.

5.  Run from CA's, play with DD's.  SC's require extra work.

6.  Periodically, visit a friendly 3rd race fuel planet if one exists

7.  Use a client with arfmoo bitmaps

8.  Cloak while bombing core planets (or approaching core planets)

I'm really interested from feedback from good SC bombers about this post.  What do you do differently?

        Lamb, Leg Of