Huttball Strategy Guide

Huttball. Some people love it, some people hate it, but if you’re a PvPer or take leveling seriously, you’ll be playing a ton of it. And if you’re going to play, then I say, win.

I’ve put together this guide to SWTOR‘s most innovative warzone, based on the best guides I’ve read and my own experience.

I win 75% of the Huttball matches I play. Here’s how you can, too.



The Basics

HuttBall is the warzone that queued players are placed into when Republic and Empire teams can’t be balanced. Gameplay is similar to no-holds-barred football — both the American and European varieties — played on an obstacle course of death.

Two teams compete to move a ball into the enemy’s end-zone, and the first team to score six times wins the match. If the game hasn’t ended after 15 minutes, the team with the highest score wins; or, in the case of a tie, the team that currently has possession of the ball. If neither team possesses the ball, the winner is the team that last had possession.

At the start of a match, the ball spawns in the center of the battlefield. Players pick up the ball by moving close to it and left-clicking on it. Once a ball carrier is within the enemy end-zone, his team scores a point and the ball resets to the center of the battlefield.

It is imperative to keep in mind that the goal of Huttball is to score, not to kill enemies. If you are not actively contributing to either preventing the enemy from scoring or helping your team score, you are a detriment to your team.

For the sake of this guide, when the enemy team has the ball, you’re playing defense. Otherwise, you’re playing offense.


The Battlefield

Mastering Huttball’s battlefield is essential to your success in this warzone. It is filled with power-ups, hazards, and vertical levels that encourage strategic play.

The battlefield’s basic layout is a football field with three main elevation levels: deep pits, a “ground floor,” and elevated catwalks. The field is symmetrically mirrored from one end-zone to the other.

To reach the enemy’s end-zone, players must cross a pit by means of a system of catwalks — fall into the pit, and it’s a long trek back to the ground floor at midfield to try again. Controlling the high-ground is essential to scoring and preventing enemies from scoring — you want to avoid the pits as much as possible, and force enemies into pits when you can.

Upon spawning, you’ll cross the catwalks on your half of the map to reach midfield. Don’t drop down onto the ground floor unless you have a specific, strategic reason for doing so, such as killing a low-health ball carrier — the high ground is always a tactically advantageous position. Once off the high-ground, it takes a several-second-long detour to return, which could be enough time for an enemy ball carrier to cruise by and score, or a missed opportunity to receive a pass.

When you spawn, bring up the map for a moment to briefly assess where all your teammates are situated and locate the ball carrier on the battlefield — a vertical shaft of light, either golden or purple depending on the possessing team, will mark his position. Use these two pieces of knowledge to set a preliminary destination — namely, whether to take the left or right catwalk.

If the enemy ball carrier is on the right half of the map, head right to stop him from scoring. If your team and your ball carrier are on the left half of the map, you can try heading right — the enemy team is likely tied up in combat with your teammates, so you may be able to slip by and move into an open position to receive a pass.


Hazards

The battlefield features three types of hazards that hinder, damage, and kill players. Your goal should be to avoid these hazards while trying to place enemies within them.

  • Fire traps: Found on the catwalks, these traps cycle between on and off states and block your path with deadly fire. The trap will begin to glow just before the fire activates — as long as the trap isn’t glowing, it is safe to cross.
  • Acid pools: Two rectangular pools of acid can be found in midfield. The acid is highly damaging, but is not as deadly as the fire.
  • Air lifts: Two clusters of exhaust vents can be found in the midfield. While they aren’t directly damaging, when stepped on, they throw a player high into the air, with a random landing spot that cannot be controlled. You may land on the high ground, but you may also land in an acid pool.


Power-Ups

The battlefield may be a harsh mistress, but it offers three types of respawning pick-ups that will heal and buff players. These are important resources that you should make use of, not just to receive their boon, but to prevent enemy players from using them.

  • Heal: Four heal power-ups are situated in the battlefield’s corners, by the chain-link fences. This pick-up will instantly heal you a considerable amount.
  • Expertise: Two expertise power-ups can be found on the sidelines at midfield, behind crates. This power-up will temporarily buff your Expertise stat, which increases the amount of damage you inflict and healing you bestow, as well as reduces the amount of damage you receive from enemy players.
  • Speed: Two speed power-ups can be found in the battlefield’s pits. This power-up will temporarily increase your movement speed, allowing for a quick sprint out of the pit.


Playing Offense

When your team is in possession of the ball, you have one primary goal: score.

A secondary goal is to maintain possession of the ball. If your ball carrier dies, the ball will jump to the nearest enemy team member. If there are none within range, a new ball spawns in midfield.

The following activities will help your team score:

  • Passing the ball. If you have possession of the ball, you should be constantly scanning the battlefield ahead of you for a teammate in a good position to receive a pass. Passing wins games. Your speed is decreased while carrying the ball, so you can’t outrun enemies without the use of special class abilities. The fastest way to score is to pass the ball downfield. Don’t forget that you can pass to teammates on higher levels than you.
    • If you are considerably injured, pass the ball to an uninjured teammate, even if you must pass to someone behind you. It’s better to surrender some yardage than surrender the ball by dying.
  • Running the ball. If you have possession of the ball and no suitable teammate is in a position to receive a pass, run the ball toward the enemy end-zone, sticking to the high-ground when possible.
  • Healing the ball carrier. There are two conditions under which healing the ball carrier is beneficial to your team: if he’s under light attack, or if he is close to the end-zone and just needs to survive for a couple more seconds. If a group of enemies is attacking the ball carrier, your healing won’t keep him alive and is simply a waste of time and team resources.
  • Fighting defenders. There are two conditions under which fighting enemies is beneficial to your team: if it doesn’t conflict with your ability to perform another activity on this list, or if you are confident that you can stop an enemy from attacking your ball carrier. If a group of enemies is attacking the ball carrier, you will generally be unable to save him and will waste time and team resources trying.
  • Moving downfield. If you don’t have possession of the ball, you should be moving further downfield, ahead of the ball carrier, ready to receive a pass. Stay within tactically advantageous positions — generally the high ground — and remain within passing distance of your ball carrier. Jump repeatedly to get the ball carrier’s attention, if necessary, but beware that you’ll also draw the attention of enemies.
    • If your team is about to score, head to midfield instead of downfield in order to pick up the ball when it resets.
    • If your team just received possession of the ball deep in your side of the field, head to midfield in anticipation of an intentional incomplete pass.
  • Throwing an incomplete pass. If you’re carrying the ball and are about to die, there are no teammates nearby to pass the ball to, and you’re currently in a position that would be advantageous for an enemy ball carrier, throw an incomplete pass to reset the ball to midfield.
    • If you’re deep in your side of the field and you have teammates close to midfield, throw an incomplete pass. It’ll take longer to walk the ball back to midfield, and if an enemy gains possession of the ball while you’re still deep in your side of the field, he can easily pass and score.


Passing

To pass the ball, you’ll need to have the ability on your hotbar. If you removed it, it can be found on the general tab of your ability menu.

Passing the ball is an area-of-effect ability that targets the ground. Travel time is not instantaneous. If no one is within the targeting circle, the pass is incomplete and the ball resets at midfield.

If only an enemy is within the circle, he will intercept the pass.

If both an enemy and a teammate are within the circle, the receiver is the player closest to the center of the circle.


Playing Defense

When your team is not in possession of the ball, you have one primary goal: gain possession of the ball.

A secondary goal is to prevent the enemy from scoring. The distinction between these two goals is that gaining possession of the ball is an active measure taken to attempt to win, whereas preventing an enemy from scoring is a reactive measure taken to draw out a game. While it is important to stop the enemy from scoring, your team cannot win unless you actually gain possession of the ball and go on the offensive.

The following activities will help your team gain possession of the ball:

  • Killing the ball carrier. It’s really that simple. The ball carrier is your priority target, because killing him will give your team control of the ball. Only attack other targets if doing so doesn’t conflict with your ability to perform another activity on this list.
  • CCing the ball carrier. “CC” refers to “Crowd control,” or powers that slow, stun, or root an enemy in place for a short amount of time. CCs are instrumental to stopping an enemy from scoring. Your CCs should be reserved for a ball carrier and are used to buy your team the extra seconds it needs to kill him.
  • Intercepting a pass. There is little point in attacking a full-health ball carrier with allies ahead of him — he’ll simply pass the ball forward. If your team is already attacking the ball carrier, move toward any enemies who may be receivers and attempt to intercept the pass by standing in the center of the targeting circle.
  • Moving to midfield. If the enemy team is about to score and you’re too far away from the action to get there in time to help, head to midfield to grab the ball as it resets.


Do’s and Don’t's

Don’t die needlessly. Pick your battles. Don’t engage a larger force. Wait for backup.

Don’t stand in places that are tactically advantageous for the enemy ball carrier. Some classes have abilities that allow them to leap to your location.

Do try to break line-of-sight to enemy ball carriers when you respawn. Because they may have the ability to leap towards you, you must ensure they can’t target you.

Do use geometry and objects on the battlefield to break line of sight to avoid ranged enemy attacks.

Don’t kill enemies on your half of the battlefield when your ball carrier is far into enemy territory. The enemies will respawn and potentially stop your carrier from scoring — killing them does them a favor.

Do use your out-of-combat heal ability whenever you can. A few extra seconds is worth fighting at full power, unless there’s an emergency.

Do use your PvP and PvE health packs. Ideally, save them for when you’re carrying the ball and close to scoring.

Do save your CC-break ability for when it will allow your team to score. The cool-down is long, and you want it available when you’re crossing that last fire trap toward the enemy end-zone.


Advanced Tactics

Fire trap defense: Stun enemy ball carriers that walk onto fire traps for a quick and easy kill.

Vigilant resolve: Watch your enemy’s resolve bar. Don’t waste a CC when their resolve bar is full.

Get over here: Stand at the edge of an acid pool or fire trap and use a pull power to drag an enemy ball carrier onto the hazard.

Leap forward: Use leap powers to get out of pits, onto high ground, or across hazards.

Water walk: Use speed-boosting powers to give yourself enough momentum to jump over acid pools. This can allow you to be the first to grab the ball, as most people will have to run around the pool.

Take my hand: Use pulling powers to pull your ball carrier through a fire trap, onto a higher level, or into the end-zone.

Fus-ro-dah: Use knockback/push powers to knock ball carriers into acid pools or fire traps, or simply into the pit to prevent them from scoring.

Puff of smoke: If you have the ball and are about to die, rather than throw an incomplete pass, you could activate a stealth power. The ball will still reset to midfield, but you will likely survive.

Hail Mary play: If you’re being attacked and low on health at midfield, walk onto an airlift. Who knows where you’ll end up, but you can pray it’ll be in a safer place.

What airlift?: Beside the airlift is high-ground, normally accessible by a ramp on the opposite side. However, it is possible to jump from the area between the airlift and the high-ground onto the high-ground, as demonstrated in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJbcTdUwNAY

Denied: Standing right on the edge of a ramp will occasionally cause players who leap to you to fall off the ledge instead of land beside you.

Pit escape: This tactic requires a combination of luck and skill to pull off. As a ball carrier, have the enemy team chase you into their own pit, then, when either an ally or an enemy (depending on the ability you have) appears at the edge of the pit by the end-zone, leap out of the pit and score while the enemy team is left in their own pit, useless.

Into the pit: If you’re on the enemy catwalk, holding the ball, about the die, and have no allies to pass the ball to, dive into the pit. It is less convenient for enemies to have to run out of their own pit than run across the high-ground.

Switcheroo: When you’re carrying the ball, run for the uppermost enemy catwalk, then decide to drop down onto the lower catwalk and complete the end-zone run if it proves to be a safer route. It generally does, because you will have misdirected enemy players.


Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, this strategy guide boils down to two points: pass the damn ball, and play smart. Every action you take should be a decision, not an impulse. Act; don’t react.

Constantly ask yourself, “Is there anything I could be doing right now that is more useful to winning this match than what I’m presently doing?”

While it’s obvious that we should always do our best to help our team, it is easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and stop thinking. Take a breath, clear your head, and stop reacting. Make decisions, work as a team, and victory is yours.


References

http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=54647
http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=275880
http://www.reddit.com/r/swtor/comments/nuzu1/how_to_not_suck_at_huttball/

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2 Comments on Huttball Strategy Guide

Camui

On February 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm

All of this is pointless because scoring, healing, and even properly playing the game does not yield greater reward medals, people will ALWAYS go for kills because they reap the benefits of having gold medals, even when losing they get the same amount as if they won the match. Until they fix this, nobody will pvp seriously.

Derpa

On March 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Team players will always play to win first. Selfish people will always try to better themselves first. Simple as that.