Pill box tactics

Questions and comments on tactics and playstyles
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too much loving
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Pill box tactics

Post by too much loving » Sun Nov 18, 2007 5:01 pm

Here is how I try to play pill-box. Please help me correct my tactics:

A team should always have one tank defending the square containing it's team base. Otherwise it is too easy for the opponents to spawn and steal the flag. So if my base is undefended, I'll go and defend. This is especially important right after my team has stolen the enemy flag, because the rest of my team-mates will probably charge the enemy base leaving my base as an easy target for spawners.

If the enemy is not attacking then it is wasteful to defend a base with more than one tank, so if I can see another tank defending, then I typically leave the base and attack as fast as possible. However if the other defending tank is a newbie or otherwise unstrustworthy, then I try to make him attack, so that I can stay back and defend. Sometimes it helps to drive very close to my base. That causes the other defender to give up on me and attack on hos own.

I think that it is better to charge than to camp outside the square that contains the enemy base. You don't lose anything by charging because if it fails then you can just spawn and charge again.

The problem if you camp outside the square with the enemy base, then the enemies will keep spawning close to their living teammates. In other words the enemies will spawn close to the place where they die, so you never empty the square from enemies. I think that the only way to remove the defending enemies is to drive into the square so they start spawning somewhere else.

In general I think that it is impossible to keep all the tanks of a team away from the map for a long period of time. The best you can do is to force them to spawn in one of the two corners that do not contain any bases. If they spawn in such a corner then they will be too far away from the flags to make a difference to the flag game.

I often try to attack the enemy base along the far edge wall. It takes a little extra time to drive all the way to the edge wall, but once I am there it becomes easier to attack. One benefit is that the enemies may not discover me, so sometimes I can get close to the enemy base before I am discovered. Secondly I can shoot some defenders in the back because they point in an other direction. (Or my team-mates can shoot them as they start pointing towards me)

I think that I have to take chances to steal the enemy flag, so if I can see that my teammates have a good chance of killing the defenders, then I may stop shooting and start driving directly towards the base even though some defenders are still alive. This way I can steal the enemy flag so early that the rest of the enemy team has no time to arrive and defend. (Of course I only do this if I am closer to the enemy flag than any of my team-mates).

Some of the great players are able to drive through the center with an enemy flag, but that is very difficult to do for a mediocre player like me. One problem is that if I lose the enemy flag somewhere in the middle of the map, then it typically gets stuck i a major battle for a very long period of time. Meanwhile the enemy team has time to pick up our flag and score a win.

Instead I always try to take a route that takes me past one of the two "buildings". That makes it easy for my team-mates to defend me and easier for them to pick up the flag if I lose it. I try not to change direction too often, because my team-mates needs to be able to predict where I am going so they can clear the way.

Finally I try to move pretty fast when I have the enemy flag. It is often better to take a chance and move fast than it is to take cover and wait for my teammates to help me out.

One exception is that sometimes the square containing my base is full of 3-4 enemies when I arrive. In this situation I have no chance to get through to my base without help. And I if I die in the middle of a crowd of enemies than it is too easy for them to pick up their flag and save it. When this happens, I often try to camp close to the edge wall just outside the square that contains my base. That causes the enemies in the square to turn around and attack me to save their flag, and then my teammates has a chance to shoot them in the back.

Does this make sense? Is there anything else that I should remember? Please comment.

Love

TML

EDIT: If an enemy has stolen my flag, then I try to stop him as fast as possible. Sometimes this requires me to drive away from an enemy that is firing at me. Because I have no time to stop and shoot back. This can be frustrating, but the best way to help my team is to go and save my flag. Sometimes the enemy flag carrier is defended by a group of teammates. When this happens I try to fire at flag carrier rather than the teammates. The problem is that if the flag carrier gets away it doesn't help to kill his teammates, but if I kill the flag carrier then it takes time for the teammates to pick up the our flag.

Sometimes it makes sense to steal the enemy flag even though our own flag has been stolen. Because I still have a chance to outrace the enemy flag carrier, and score a win before the enemy does. But in many cases I am so far behind in the race that I can never win. When this happens it is better to ignore the enemy flag and try to stop the enemy flag carrier. The problem is that if I stand close to the enemy base then I may be the only tank in my team that has a chance to stop the enemy flag carrier.

PS: Thanks Joe (See below)
Last edited by too much loving on Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Joe-Schmoe » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:07 pm

This DOES make sense, it has some very relevant and useful tips.

The only thing that you didn't mention was when there's a bad guy hiding behind a box, and you and your teammate have to get him by flanking...but I don't know if thats to specific.

Great job!
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Post by Spazzy McGee » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:41 pm

That's a good post; I vote for it to be wikified: http://my.bzflag.org/w/
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Post by too much loving » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:53 pm

I don't have a wiki-account, but I would be happy if somebody added it to the wiki for me. (I hereby release it under GFDL :) )

But perhaps we should wait from some of the great masters to arrive and comment.

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Post by blast » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:58 pm

You don't need a wiki account to post/edit.
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Post by too much loving » Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:05 pm

blast wrote:You don't need a wiki account to post/edit.
Ah, I see. In that case I will add it myself.

But I still think I will wait for some great masters to show up and comment here in the forum. :D

OK, here it is:
http://my.bzflag.org/w/Pillbox_Tactics

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Post by Quantum Tank » Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:36 am

Very nice TML, I might do a bloodbath tactics one (I think its a very tactical map, even with superflags and such).

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Post by Longhair » Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:04 am

Are these tips for a public server, or for a league match with 2-4 players per side? The public games are on a larger map and potentially have a lot more players involved than the smaller match-sized map.

One nice thing about the pillbox map is that the small squares radiating out from the center allow for good covering fire from the flag running tank's teammates. The covering tanks don't even need to kill the enemies. Actually, it's preferable that they don't. If you can keep the opposite team corralled in one or two of the quadrants, it makes it easy for the flag runner to capture. If you shoot an enemy, he can appear anywhere. Obviously, this tactic works best with small teams.

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Post by Bullet Catcher » Mon Nov 19, 2007 7:55 am

On a public pillbox map, camping anywhere is a detriment to your team. Especially if you camp at your own base, you will spend a lot of time doing nothing while your teammates are one tank down fighting the enemy.

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Post by ducatiwannabe » Mon Nov 19, 2007 4:33 pm

Bullet Catcher wrote:On a public pillbox map, camping anywhere is a detriment to your team. Especially if you camp at your own base, you will spend a lot of time doing nothing while your teammates are one tank down fighting the enemy.
I disagree. If too much loving happened to be "camping" at his base, he would be doing three things:

1. Preventing the enemy from a quick takeover of the flag and spawn positions near the red base.

2. (I'm not positive on this one...) Is making it possible for other teammates to spawn near him, making it so red tanks regroup on red's side... which makes an even better defense.

3. Allowing teammates to focus on one thing only: the enemy's flag. If too much loving along with several others are guarding their own, that makes it so the other thirteen tanks or so only have to worry about getting the enemy flag and hurrying back.

But I do see where you're coming from. If you just sit back there while the fight continues to be in the middle, and you just wait... yes, you would be hindering your team. But when I "camp" at a base, if I ever do (which is rarely on pillbox), I try to move up and fire on the middle when there isn't an enemy tank nearby my team's flag. When they spawn and make their way toward my base, I move back to a more defensive position. ;)

I am impressed with how much time and effort you put in to the wiki/post, too much loving. Thank you very much! :) Now if I only had time to read it all...

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Post by too much loving » Mon Nov 19, 2007 5:47 pm

Thank you all for the comments
Longhair wrote:Are these tips for a public server, or for a league match with 2-4 players per side? The public games are on a larger map and potentially have a lot more players involved than the smaller match-sized map.
I have only played public servers with 5-10 players on each team, but it would be nice to have information on smaller games as well on the wiki. Feel free to add. I like your idea of providing cover without trying to kill, but I am not sure exactly how to do it. :)
Quantum Tank wrote:I might do a bloodbath tactics one (I think its a very tactical map, even with superflags and such).
That would be nice to have :)
Bullet Catcher wrote:On a public pillbox map, camping anywhere is a detriment to your team. Especially if you camp at your own base, you will spend a lot of time doing nothing while your teammates are one tank down fighting the enemy.
How many people agree on this? Is it wrong for a single tank to stay back to defend the base? I would like to know, so I can learn. :)

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Post by Bullet Catcher » Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:03 pm

ducatiwannabe wrote:If too much loving happened to be "camping" at his base, he would be doing three things:

1. Preventing the enemy from a quick takeover of the flag and spawn positions near the red base.

2. (I'm not positive on this one...) Is making it possible for other teammates to spawn near him, making it so red tanks regroup on red's side... which makes an even better defense.

3. Allowing teammates to focus on one thing only: the enemy's flag. If too much loving along with several others are guarding their own, that makes it so the other thirteen tanks or so only have to worry about getting the enemy flag and hurrying back.
Perhaps our differences are simply in playing style. I tend to to be recklessly aggressive (catching many bullets as a consequence), and view defense as something that is only done in reaction to my team flag being in danger. The rest of the time I try to focus on getting to the enemy team flag and carrying it back to my team's base.

This is not a perfect strategy. With lots of players (7+ per team) it can be easy to fail to notice that the enemy is moving my team's flag, and there have been plenty of times when my first clue was the CTF. However, even on a busy server team flags may sit at their bases unmolested for several minutes at a time. I think this is because players (myself included) often get caught up in the firefight.

Sometimes it takes the whole team to get to the enemy flag. In this case, subsequent cover for the flag carrier goes hand-in-hand with defense and all that is necessary is to keep your team flag within your base quadrant. It will then be easy enough to recover after the enemy's flag is captured.

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Post by ducatiwannabe » Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:05 pm

Perhaps our differences are simply in playing style. I tend to to be recklessly aggressive (catching many bullets as a consequence), and view defense as something that is only done in reaction to my team flag being in danger. The rest of the time I try to focus on getting to the enemy team flag and carrying it back to my team's base.
Yes, I actually tend to play with the style you do as well - however, if everyone was recklessly aggressive, there would be no defense whatsoever. That's why there needs to be a few tanks with better patience than the two of us to guard the flag. Or else, a tank like us needs to decide that somebody has to stay back. Not everybody can be the quarterback in football and have a winning team. 8) So, yes, we need players that go on the offensive like you very much so. But if there were no defensive line, the quarterback would be sacked.

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Post by jinx » Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:51 am

Comments:

It would be useful for players to watch how the spawn algorithm works. I've noticed certain results at specific times - but if anyone wants to contradict me here - please chime in.

In other words, if the red team caps green, and they have a certain number of red tanks in all three quadrants except the green team base quadrant, and if all the red tanks STAY in those three quadrants (equally spread out in the quadrants), the green tanks will continue to spawn in their base quadrant.
IF any quadrant loses red tanks (they move into the green base quadrant) then green tanks start spawning in that empty quadrant.
When a flag is stolen, enemy tanks start spawning near the other base in preparation to get their flag back.

I'd have to say my playing style is flag-aggressive. I tend to try to get to the enemy base/flag, and communicate that to the team once I have it. I don't go along an edge - I zoom out on radar and check which side has more of my teammates (or less enemy) and check if the enemy has our flag and is already traveling toward their base with it.

If so, decision time: confront them in order to gain more of my team there to fight for our flag, or race them back to my base and hope some of my teammates can delay the enemy a bit.

As far as staying back to defend the base, IMHO I think it's a waste - if there is enemy there, then defend. If not, get to the fight.
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Post by Saturos » Thu Nov 22, 2007 6:23 pm

Pillbox has tactics?!

scnr..

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Post by ducatiwannabe » Thu Nov 22, 2007 7:46 pm

Pillbox has tactics?!

scnr..
Yup, and in some ways, it's harder than the GU League. So no sarcasm here, please. 8)

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Post by Bullet Catcher » Sat Nov 24, 2007 2:18 am

ducatiwannabe wrote:if everyone was recklessly aggressive, there would be no defense whatsoever. That's why there needs to be a few tanks with better patience than the two of us to guard the flag.
I am quick to play defensively if needed. Whenever I happen to spawn in my team's quadrant I will try to help clear the enemy if they are threatening the flag, or if our flag has strayed too far from its base I will attempt to move it homeward whenever I am near. When appropriate, I will even drop the enemy flag to pick up my team flag when it is in great danger. Defense should be a priority when it is needed, but if it is not needed then I would prefer my teammates participate in the offense.

Perhaps the biggest reason I think camping on the pillbox map is so pointless is that on average I can stay alive for only about 30 seconds at a time. Regardless of where I am now I will be spawning somewhere else quite soon, so I see little value in a strategy that depends on having a teammate at a specific location. I see little evidence that enough players understand the spawn algorithm to effectively manipulate it.

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Post by october rust » Sat Nov 24, 2007 10:49 pm

LH has a point there, by the way the blocks are posted and the ausence of ricos very often blocking is the best option, and the moves to turn around this may determinate a match result. as any other fixed map, pillbox also has its good and bad spots, being the good mostly the center blocks that divides each sector, and bad is usually open field. some players have their own favourites, tho usually learning to use the center blocks and syncronizing your moves and shooting approach/timing with the right level of exposure seems to be the way to improve on pub/match pillbox for most players.

cheeers

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