Written by Ardbeg (Jul 04, 2004)
The first thing I want to make clear is that this guide should not be taken as some kind of formula for guaranteed successful operations. The idea here is to lay out some of the basic principles which players and alliances can then build on through experience – it doesn’t matter how good you are at theoretical tactics, going out and getting the job done (or trying and failing a couple of times) is the only way to improve. The other thing this guide will not be is a revelation of all my personal little tricks and trade secrets. I am perfectly happy to discuss detailed tactics on the forum or ingame, but this is not the place for that.
First of all, a quick introduction to what I mean by “operations”. Offensive operations involve a planned attack on planets or ports; the former to target an enemy alliance, the latter to raid for cash or to disrupt/improve trade routes. Defensive operations generally involve defending your alliance planets/territory against an enemy attack, and can involve maneuvers such as planet stocking, ambushes and engaging part or all of the enemy force in ship-to-ship combat. The rarest and perhaps most exciting type of operation is fleet-to-fleet combat, involving intricate maneuvers, tactical force deployment, understanding and outguessing your enemy, quick decisions and split-second timing. Some of the points I discuss apply only to planned offensive operations, but others will apply equally to fleet and defensive ops.
- Advance Planning. One of the keys to successful offensive operations is the preparations; if you do the groundwork properly you will find that operations run a lot quicker and smoother. Know where your UNOs and CAs are, and the routes you will use to get to them. Try to get information on the defenses you will encounter, it is often a good idea to do some force-clearing around the target in advance. Most importantly, make sure your team shows up with plenty of turns; operations usually fail on turns rather than the number of participants – for a major op, players should be showing up with a minimum of 75% of full turns. If you expect to take pods in the course of an op, encourage team members to have a return plan ready before you start.
- Communication and Leadership. Clear communications are essential to a good op. Use a chatroom and keep unnecessary chat to a minimum, if your regular alliance room is too noisy then create a separate room dedicated to the operation. Everyone involved needs to understand clearly who the operations leader is, and respond without question to his/her orders. There are times during an op to discuss alternatives, but one person needs to make the final calls, and the team needs to respond when those calls are made. Responding quickly and efficiently as a team is an acquired skill, and established teams will often be able to anticipate what their op leader will ask for. The only way to develop these skills is to participate in ops and to get to know your teammates.
- Information. Keeping unnecessary chat to a minimum does not mean that information should not be shared; make sure that the operations team has all necessary information available. Do not assume that everyone else knows what you know, there will likely be players of various skill levels taking part in the op and even the most experienced pilots are not psychic. If you know that hostile ships are grouping or that the direct plot to UNO is mined, make sure that your teammates know it too.
- Secure the target area. It doesn’t matter whether your target is a level 1 port or a level 70 planet, your target area should ideally be secured with scouts and mines. It should not be possible to get within a sector of your position or interfere with your escape/UNO route without triggering scout drones and encountering your mines.
- Stay together. It never ceases to amaze me how many players (new and experienced) go chasing around an operations area with hostiles close by. Whether you are attacking or defending, there is safety in numbers – experienced opponents will very quickly make you pay for letting team members get seperated from your main force. Move together and, when necessary, retreat together. Of course, there are times when it is perfectly safe to move singly or in small groups, just be aware of what the hostile situation is in the area and on the CPL.
Finally, even though a certain amount of discipline is required for efficient operations and some operations leaders can be quite demanding at times (just ask my teammates), do remember that this is still just a game. Have fun and don’t be afraid to die……..