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Steve LoBasso

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My Descent Page

Descent Controls

Building a Descent Control Center

Descent Tactics


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Descent Tactics

My Descent Page

Descent Controls

Building a Descent Control Center

Descent Tactics

The Descent tactics I will discuss...

Always Keep Moving
Probably the single most useful tactic in the game. Don't stop. It's harder to hit a moving target. This is also a good way to encounter more battles and get more experience.
Counter Method
Use weapons with smaller lead (Vulcan, Gauss).
Anticipate moves.

Move Fluently in All Directions
It is critical to be able to move in all six directions and point fluently. Rolling is less critical but can be helpful due to some non-symmetrical aspects of movement speeds. You need to be able to point your ship and move in three directions simultaneously. These skills are necessary to attack and avoid simultaneously. This also allows you to move faster. When these movements become natural, you will find that more effort can be placed on attack scenarios rather than panicking. Always try to avoid "nosing" (pointing your nose in a direction and moving straight forward or backward), this is predictable and slow and makes you an easy target. Multi-player games are almost required to master this technique, single player games build many bad habits.
Counter Method
Use weapons with smaller lead (Vulcan, Gauss).
Anticipate moves.

Be Unpredictable
This sounds obvious but its not. The worst bad habit of single player games is that predictable moves are beneficial and definitely not punished. Don't always move in the direction that your nose is pointing. Avoid the obvious. Don't always fly on the floor. Don't always hide in the same place. Don't always use the same weapons. This list could go on forever. As you move better and play more multi-player game this should come naturally.
Counter Method
Prepare for the unknown.

Camping aka Hiding
A very annoying habit, usually used by less capable players. A poor players percentage can easily go up, but the number of kills generally remains low. Hide in a place where all entries into an area can be seen without moving. Not moving is critical since movement makes you noticed. Use rear view if necessary or camera views from markers if possible. Keep an itchy trigger finger. The benefit of this tactic is that you are 100% prepared to attack while your victim is not prepared. The only movement in your field of vision is your opponent, while everything in their field of vision is moving. Use Vulcan or Gauss cannons which camouflage your position. Remember to use missiles and guns simultaneously. Listen carefully for your victim, this will prepare you before they can be seen.
Counter Method
Pick levels without many hiding places that are well light.
Turn on ambient ship light.
The best counter to this technique is to note how predictable it is. Campers keep us honest, we sometimes get too complacent and forget that we may be getting into dangerous situations.

Moving Faster
Obviously, afterburner can be used to move faster. Another way is to use at least 2 directions of movement. For example, if you move forward, you will move at a speed of 1 d/t. When you move forward and slide right, you will move 1.414 d/t. If you move forward, slide right and slide down, your speed will increase to 1.732 d/t. Afterburner use can increase your speed even more. Unfortunately your nose will not be pointing in the direction you are moving and visibility is diminished. This will take some getting used to but is well worth it.
Counter Method
Move faster.
Use weapons that move even faster.
Anticipate destination.

Static Mine Use
Dump mines in strategic places. Just around corners, on the other side of a door, mixed in clutter of weapons. Dump them anywhere that someone might not notice them until it's too late.
Counter Method
Use afterburner to fly past quickly.
Shoot them, but remember this may announce your position. Turn on "invulnerable while appearing" option.

Active Mine Use
Use mines during battle to add to the clutter. If you are being chased, dump some mines. Fly by someone and dump some mines near them. If you are about to die, dump your mines. This can give you the best kills per mines ratio.
Counter Method
Keep a reasonable distance while battling.
Watch your rear view.

Changing Weapons
While in a battle sometimes you will notice that your weapon is not very effective against a given opponent. Change your weapon and it may throw your opponent off guard. Be careful, changing weapons causes a delay in weapon availability. Don't stop moving while you are waiting to fire your new weapon.
Counter Method
Use their inability to shoot to fire as a moment to attack.

Lighting Changes
Watch for lighting changes, these can be tell-tale signs that a ship is nearby.
Counter Method
Turn off ambient ship light.

Stereo Sound
It may be tempting to use speakers but headphones give the best stereo effect. The combination of volume and direction can be quite useful in determining the position of other ships. Don't have music playing while in multi-player games.
Counter Method
Pick up only items that you really need since this creates noise.
Don't bump into walls.
Always be aware that every noise you make can be heard by other players.

Missile Miser
Don't dump all of your missiles at the beginning of a battle. Wait a few seconds into a battle, often better situations can arise and your opponent may become too busy to properly avoid them.
Counter Method
Keep you distance during a battle.
Don't let your opponent get behind you.

Be Aggressive
Be aggressive, be VERY aggressive. Often very aggressive behavior can catch your opponent off guard. Temper this, it can be your undoing.
Counter Method
Use Doppler effects to your advantage.
Don't panic.

Doppler Effects
On many of the slower weapons (anything except the gauss and vulcan) a Doppler effect can take place because of the differences in velocity of your ship, your opponents ship, and the weapons fire.
Defensive Doppler is created when you fly backwards and your opponent flies towards you. This slows down his fire, widens gaps between fire, and increases leading requirements. Unfortunately this leaves your backside open for attacks.
Offensive Doppler is created when you fly towards your opponent while firing and creating a compressed line of fire. This can be very deadly for your opponent.
Counter Method
Use missiles to disrupt their movement.
Move up and down.

Bombing is the process of spending most of your time gathering weapons and then quickly unloading them on an opponent. Then begin looking for weapons again.
Counter Method
Get very good at avoiding multiple missile shots.
Run away for a few seconds, these people usually unload their missiles quickly, then come back and attack.

Squeezing is creating a line of fire to pin an opponent in a confined area and then squeezing that area down until they are destroyed.
Counter Method
Move up and down.
Fire towards your opponent to allow an opening in the fire.
Fly directly through the fire as fast as you can.

Fake Chase
This tactic requires a mine(s) setup in a tunnel or behind a door. Then leave the area and watch for an opponent. Fire a few shots at them. Don't try to kill them, just scare them a little. Often if you catch them off guard, they will run. Keep chasing them while firing just enough to keep them running. Fire in such a way to guide them where you want them to go. If done properly, they will be driven into your mine. This is not very effective but it is fun.
Counter Method
Don't run away when people chase you, turn and fight.
Use the Fake Run.

Fake Run
When someone starts shooting at you run away, act like you don't have much for weapons. As soon as you get around a corner, turn around and let loose on them.
Counter Method
Don't let them get out of your sight, stay close.
Don't be too aggressive.

Remote Killer
Hide somewhere and shoot guided missiles. You probably won't kill anyone but you might. You can also use this method to find people.
Counter Method
When you see guided missiles, assume someone is hiding. Find them, kill them.

Party Crasher
When two or more ships are battling, don't enter the battle. Stay as far as possible and shoot into the battle. Best weapons to use are missiles, gauss, and vulcan cannon. These weapons don't divulge your position.
Counter Method
As soon as you notice a third party is involved in the battle, run away.
Don't stay in a battle too long.

Secondary Trackers
Secondary trackers are missiles like smart missiles and earthshakers. These missiles fire straight and then track after they are detonated. These can be more useful when used unconventional ways. If possible, a direct hit will be quite deadly. This is not usually possible, and sometimes not even optimal. If your opponent is close to you, then you want the secondary tracking as quickly as possible. Shoot at the ceiling, floor, or wall next to you. This will start tracking very quickly with little notice. Anticipate escape areas and shoot towards them. Shoot at the spot with the best "view" of the area you are in. This will give it the best chance of line of sight tracking on your opponent.
Counter Method
Avoid like primary tracker.
Use afterburner or multiple rockets to run away.
Be careful trying to avoid since they tend to spread.

Primary Trackers
Primary trackers are tracking missiles. These weapons are best used when shot from a blind spot of the opponent. It is fairly easy to avoid one primary tracker with practice. Anticipate this ability and shoot two missiles, one directly at them, another at their anticipated escape position.
Counter Method
With practice it is easy to use walls to avoid missiles.
With even more practice you can escape a missiles cone of acquisition.
The best way to avoid a missile is to fly directly at it and slide around it when you get close.

Innocent Bystander
Innocent bystander is a special case of the sandwich. When you are overwhelmed by an opponent, run away. If you are lucky you will fly by another opponent. If you got enough distance before passing the secondary opponent neither opponent will know the other exists. Shoot the middle opponent. The initial opponent will fire on the secondary opponent. You will be shooting at both opponents. If executed properly you will kill both opponents by using an innocent bystander as a decoy.
Counter Method
Try to notice when you are fighting against multiple opponents. Then use Doppler effects.
Don't get too aggressive when fighting multiple opponents.
When an opponent goes out of sight, be careful how much is assumed.

Mine Switch
Destroy some mines, replace them with your own. Many people will assume that the mines are still their own and get careless.
Counter Method
Never assume those mines are yours.

Hit & Run
Hit and run is a technique where you never try to fight a battle. Fly around as fast as possible and when you come in contact with an opponent, shoot quickly and run away, then repeat. Don't try to finish a battle. your opponent will try to start a battle and their enthusiasm will put them at risk. In games with many people this can be very useful to avoid getting shot from behind while in a battle.
Counter Method
Use hit and run against them.

Crabbing is sliding to the right or left while continuing to point your nose at your opponent. When done for any length of time you will circle your opponent while firing on them. It is important to move up and down while sliding to the right or left. You should also occasionally switch directions. If your opponent starts crabbing you will need to lead your fire rather than shooting directly at your opponent.
Counter Method
Look for an opportunity to change direction and possibly get close to your opponent. This is your best chance at getting behind them. Moving up and down can negate the usefulness of this technique.

Stay as far as possible away from your opponent(s) and use weapons that move fast and don't show your position. These include mercury missiles, vulcan cannon, gauss cannon. Shoot at them, if they are in a battle you will have a good chance that they will never know you are shooting at them.
Counter Method
Notice third party fire and leave the battle as soon as possible.
Don't stay in battles too long, assassins find you by the sound of battles.
Stay away from areas that give assassins clear view of you.

Double team an opponent, this almost guarantees their death and gives you a 50% chance of getting the kill. The most effective form of this is to keep the opponent in the middle of a hall and block both of his exits.
Counter Method
Get on the outside of the sandwich at all costs.
Try to get your opponents to shoot at each other.
Do a suicide run into one of the opponents.

Suicide Run
When you are not doing well against an opponent, you need to even the odds by having them start over from a death. This can be achieved by flying directly at you opponent dumping as much fire and missiles as possible. If done well, a few suicide runs should kill almost anyone.
Counter Method
Run away, then reattack with surprise.
Use Doppler effects.
Remember they are intending to die, your only goal should be to cause this to happen with little injury to yourself.

Combination Attack
When attacking use multiple attack styles simultaneously.
Counter Method
Be unpredictable.
Run away.
Use combination attack.