Note: Much of my experience comes from Javelin vs. Javelin play; I do not base in this ship. The tactics for that are quite different, and usually, boring. :)
Level of play for Javelin users is divided up into the following 'layers', in my opinion. These are not mutually exclusive; switching between layers in the middle of a game is good sense, though takes practice.
Layer 0 - Newbie
BriefPlayers at this level are just beginning to use the Javelin, probably coming from other, easier to play ships. As this is most commonly the Warbird (Spiders get a lot of pub play nowadays too, but Lancasters do not), they use the same tactics.
- Get near my opponent.
- Fire a bomb.
- Run to a safe distance.
CommentsThis is not always a bad thing. Players who overuse this Layer will find their tactics to fail against an adapatable opponent. Mostly random performance will be had against other L0s. Simple tactics mean your mind is generally free to think more about the situation; you will be more wary of strays, for example. This allows for a lot of what is generally considered 'beginner's luck'.
Layer 1 - Thrustbomber
BriefInevitably, newbies cannot stay that way for ever. Sooner or later they will discover the powerful, but risky thrustbombing technique. This involves using up all of your energy possible with the afterburners, then firing a bomb immediately afterwards. Works extremely well with lag. Note that this does not cause the 'bomb going too fast' effect that it did before Continuum got involved.
- Get fairly near my opponent.
- Thrust forward until I reach ~1200 energy.
- Fire a bomb. (Try to bounce off a wall, too)
- Run like hell.
- Wait for full recharge.
CommentsAs you can see, this is more complicated than L0, but not overly so. This tactic is brutally effective vs. L0, will often suicide vs. other L1s, but loses horribly to L2. Will have problems against anybody who knows how to use bullets. As with other brutal tactics, will randomly cream L4. Good luck vs. L5. :)
Layer 2 - Sidestepper
BriefThe logical backlash vs. Thrustbombing is Sidestepping. Simply, this is the act of luring out a thrustbomb, then rushing forwards and bulleting for the kill. Because a Thrustbomber uses up all of their energy at the time of the shot, this will often reduce any chance of their escape to zero. Depends greatly on the timing of the rush.
- Hover at around 7-12sl away from opponent.
- Begin to move forwards but slightly perpendicular.
- Thrust sideways when the bomb is fired.
- Chase down with backwards thrusting and bullet when in range.
CommentsThis is the first purely defensive layer. Any good L3 or higher will know how to deal with it, but it is effective vs. L0 and L1. L0s may require two lots of bullets; try switching to single fire. If you are having trouble timing your rush, just try to think what you would do if you were in the attacker's shoes. And you were a nublet. :)
Layer 3 - TWEL-D
BriefUsers of Sidestepping will quickly notice its inability to do anything about wary foes. This usually happens after one or two schooling kills. In that case, you need to step up into a (slightly) more pro-active stance. L3 is primarily concerned with efficiency and long-range bombing. If a 1v1 javelin duel has lasted more than 10 minutes, both players are probably in L3.
- Get 1-3 walls between self and opponent (preferably with holes).
- If opponent is near:
- Bullet if approaching slowly/stationary.
- Do a retreating bomb (bounce off wall in front) and move away.
- If opponent is far:
- Fire a long range bomb (radar or guess).
- Move away if enemy enters screen before ~800 energy.
CommentsTerribly boring and dull this layer may be, but it is surprisingly effective. It can be very trying to play against L3; perseverance is the name of the game. Should beat anything less advanced than itself. Will have trouble with L5, but is practical vs. L4. It is a matter of taste how much this position is taken. I make it a point to hardly ever use it, but when you are on your last life, you might suddenly find a place for it in your heart.
Layer 4 - Dancer
BriefThose who get bored of the TWEL-D style tend to flip over and embrace the Dancing style. Extremely effective in the hands of a good player, Dancing is all about confusing and goading your opponent. You should be able to control every move an opponent makes by subtle positioning and bullet-herding. As with Thrustbombing, this is a dangerous layer to use, but this is rectified through good knowledge and reactions. It is a bad idea to use this style if you, or your opponents, lag more than ~150ms. Packetloss renders this layer quite ineffective.
- Confuse my opponent:
- Bounce off nearby walls in nonstandard directions.
- Thrust forwards as if to bomb, then peel off.
- Spin in place/rapidly change direction and move little.
- Match any advance with a bullet.
- Pounce on my opponent:
- If a bullet hits after they were thrusting, move in with more bullets.
- Thrust wildly to avoid straight-bombs. Wait until recharge, then bomb.
- Get in opponent's face and force low-energy situations.
- Ideally force a closebomb/eat and bullet for the kill. Not easy if your lag is low.
CommentsVery difficult to play, but works like a charm vs. L2 or lower. Relies entirely on mind games and opportunism vs. L3. Mirror matches with other Dancers are often very fun to watch, but (mentally) exhausting for both participants. As with any other layer, this has problems with L5. Strangely, the more opponents you face, the better Dancing becomes. This is at odds with every other layer; learn to use it when appropriate.
Layer 5 - Murderer
BriefIf all those Dancers start to piss you off, there is a good chance you'll stumble upon Murdering. While difficult to define, this layer's style is unmissable. Ruthlessly killing single enemies from packs, this is the ideal layer to engage when your opponent's team has a few players on 7+ deaths, and they need to be taken out. More aggressive than any other, Murderers always pile on the pressure, unconcerned for their own safety until the kill is made.
- Get near (3-8sl) to my opponent.
- Fake out their dodge attempt, and bomb.
- Retreat appropriately.
CommentsThose processes might look awfully familiar. Yep, back to L0 again! The difference is that any good Murderer will then fall back on Dancing to escape, rather than plain running away. In team situations this is easily the most effective way to keep adding pressure, even when you have no energy! Should, in theory, be able to beat any other layer at all. Years of experience go into a good Murdering strategy. Consider every superfluous move your opponents make as a weakness, and attack without delay.
Although my preceding comments might appear to, I do not endorse lag inducement. :)
Many good TWL-J players spend their entire javelin career in L5. This (sometimes) leads to some quite boring matches; both sides will be trying to bully each other into submission. This is where teamwork is most important. Presence, threat and planning are key in this environment, and I'll write some about that later in a Javelin Teamplay article.