What We Learned Training for a Tribes: Ascend Grudge Match
Phil Hornshaw’s Advice
Find the best way to contribute. Look, there’s one thing you have to remember when you’re playing a competitive game with other people, be they randoms in a public game or your friends: everyone’s there to win. You’re placed onto a team for a reason. That doesn’t mean you should get mad at players who are bad (although Tribes doesn’t penalize you for bailing from those games); it does mean you should pay attention to your own play and try to be better.
This is especially true in public CTF games or in games in which you’re facing opponents who are better than you. Team action is more important than individual play — that’s just a fact. So the best thing you can do in any given game is to analyze and figure out where you’re best able to add your skills to the pot. Check the load-outs when you get into the game — are there seven pathfinders already? Then even if Pathfinder is your best class, you should pick something else. Follow the leads of the other players in different roles and help them out. A heavy offense on your team (or coming from the other side) means your side could use more defense. Add to it.
The same is true in-game: even if you’re a light class usually dedicated to fast assaults, you can be useful on defense. If your offense can’t bust through the enemy defenses, they might need some help from you just blasting turrets and firing shells at the flag. Your situational awareness is your greatest skill, and the ability to recognize when your team needs you doing something other than your very favorite or most specialized thing is the hallmark of a good player. Get good at being versatile.
Don’t worry about the goddamn generator. Or do. But whatever you do, be objective about it. The flag in a CTF game is the most important element in the game. It’s what makes you win or lose. If your generator is constantly getting flogged, that’s okay — you can outperform a turret or a forcefield on just about any map with good class balancing and an active, defense. The generator is not essential to defense, nor to winning any game, and the worst public games I’ve been in are the ones where six guys commit themselves to protecting the generator while a heavy plods between the bases, capturing the flag.
Like I said above with versatility, you need to be able to recognize when you’re making decisions that are losing you the game. If the enemy team is constantly attacking your generator and your team is committing your resources to protecting it, those are resources that are not protecting your flag. It may well be the enemy’s plan just to keep your guys in the generator room. But regardless, the sensor, the vehicles, the turrets — those are not necessary to win. Protecting the flag is. So pay attention; if the enemy is taking advantage of your team’s insistence on protecting the generator, abandon it. Worry about the flag.
And especially don’t bother with the generator if your base is a smoking ruin anyway.
Don’t be afraid to die. Some classes are prone to excessive, soul-numbing death counts. When you play Heavy on Flag, for example, you’re going to get trounced. When you’re running an Infiltrator, you’re gonna be away from everything and maybe a little bored as you travel about, sabotaging stuff. That’s okay — your contribution to the game is not your kill-to-death ratio, regardless of your class. You’re not there to kill guys, you’re there to win matches.
So if you find yourself dying a lot, don’t get disheartened. In fact, get comfortable with the K key, as it instantly suicides you and gives you a respawn. That’s actually great, because it’s often faster to suicide than try to resupply or find an inventory station to switch classes. If you’re way out in the field and you need to get home, suicide. If you run out of sniper rounds and resupplying will take you longer than 20 or 30 seconds, suicide. If you’re a Pathfinder with being chased around the map and you’re not contributing as either a distracting offender or a hit-and-run defender, suicide. Reset yourself and do something useful. The only numbers that really matter are the flag caps.