Hello and welcome to my guide to how to play the role Heavy on Flag, or HoF for short.
There are many like it, but this one is mine.
In this guide you will expect to find strategies and tactics, skills and abilities, and interesting tidbits of information that you will need to learn to become what I call a rubber wall. A rubber wall is flexible but at the same time impenetrable by a human, and as a HoF you must always be flexible, yet rigid to succeed.
Hopefully you will accomplish just that. We shall see.
In tribes, there are quite a few roles that are played in a common CTF game:
Capper (runs the flag from the enemy base, to your base)
Chaser (runs after the capper who took their team's flag)
Long Ranged Spam (clears the flag stand [you] from a long distance)
Offense (clears the flag stand [you] from a close distance)
Sniper (kills cappers and other light/medium targets from a long distance)
Defense (kills cappers and other Offense from a short distance)
Heavy on Flag (kills cappers from a short distance)
as you can see, you are only a small part of a whole team, and as such, you cannot win a game by yourself. No one can. Your ROLE is to stop cappers from taking the flag by any means necessary, anything else you do is either unnecessary, or simply someone else not doing their job. Granted, public game teams are always going to be lacking in some area, but my advice is to NOT fill in for other roles if they are absent, unless your role is already filled by another HoF.
Alright, so lets move on and figure out exactly how a HoF accomplishes his seemingly simple task.
A soldier can only be as good as his equipment lets him. Lets dice up the best loadouts for the potential classes that can play HoF. I will start with the most common:
When the acronym HoF comes to mind, the class Doombringer should be the first class that follows that train of thought. He is simply designed for killing lights (and everyone else too) at a high rate of speed, and he does so from a very stationary position.
Looter (or Safety Third [more on this in the FAQ])
As you can see this class takes quite a bit to unlock. Mines, Looter and Super Heavy are all locked initially, as well as the DMB himself. With this loadout you have taken your first steps towards being a HoF.
Believe it or not, the soldier is (likely) the next most effective HoF in the game. His strategy at defending the flag will not be entirely covered in this guide until a later date when I have solidified when exactly this is a better solution [situational awareness].
Again, takes quite a bit to unlock, even more than the DMB. If you have a choice, take DMB first at all costs. Don't even bother with this until you are exceeding with the DMB and are getting bored at coming in first every pub game.
The last, but certainly not least possible HoF is the JUG. With a massive health pool and plenty of fire power, he can do the job just as good as the soldier. The only reason he's worse than the soldier is that he has less utility overall.
Fusion Mortar (or MIRV Launcher)
Health Regen Pack
And once again, another huge unlock fest. Take DMB first always. The main reason you'd ever take JUG over DMB is if the server has naked spawn enabled, or the defense doesn't have a lot of Offense, but a LOT of LRS. Once skilled, you can retaliate and subdue the LRS yourself.
There is one other class possible, but it's more of a novelty, and that's the Infiltrator. He can do a variety of HoF related things, but his health pool is his major restriction currently. I do not suggest this unless you're REALLY bored and have plenty of XP to burn on useless things.
This section covers the very basics of how to be a DMB HoF, mostly aimed at public games as I have little experience in the competitive environment. In the next section I will cover situational strategy and skills required to exceed, but for now, lets just get the basics down.
The chain gun is your MAIN SOURCE OF DAMAGE. I cannot stress this enough. Mines can be cleared, force fields can be destroyed, you can even be completely out of position and still deal damage with your chain gun. You can kill cappers before they even come CLOSE to your stand, and you will, and you will do it well with enough practice.
That being said: I really really really don't have any strategy, tactics, or skills that are associated with the chain gun. It is a learn as you go weapon. The bullets are slow and you will need to lead, a LOT. At close range against a 100 kph target, you will have to lead several body lengths to hit them. However, you also do 100 damage a hit 4 times a second. This equals a dead light every 2.25 seconds. This is a lot of dead lights.
I will say this, practice in Arena and TDM when you get bored of playing CTF. I did this from level 20-25 and my abilities as a HoF improved dramatically. People in Arena/TDM are TRYING to kill you, where as people in CTF are trying to move you out of the way, thus people in Arena/TDM are generally harder to hit, thus making you a better aim. Then when you go back to CTF, you can clear your own offense while cappers are still en route, and their blood will rain over your massive body in a shower of glory.
Body Blocks using Super Heavy
Aha, you thought I was going to go with mines next, didn't you! ALAS, they are not as important as the body block. This is what makes a HoF a HoF. This is an ability that requires very little skill, and a whole lot of strategy and awareness.
Tip 1. Always be aware of incoming cappers. You will probably not bodyblock someone you're not looking at directly. Pathfinders have a little wiggle room as to where exactly they grab the flag from, via reach. They can jump over your head and be completely safe and still grab the flag, so you will always need to adjust to ensure the bodyblock connects.
Tip 2. Stand behind the flag, opposite of the incoming capper. This allows the maximum amount of time to adjust, and the widest possible adjustment as he crosses.
Tip 3. As long as you dealt damage to him, you did a good job at body blocking. No one is expecting you to stop a 300+ kph capper down to zero every time, but they do expect you to at least damage and nudge him off his original course making him easier to catch.
Yep, theres a billion possible tips for mines, but I will cover the general ones that are the most helpful.
Tip 1. A mine on the flag is not a bad mine, you just have to place your other mines accordingly. Especially in public games, people do actually touch the flag stand and sometimes a mine directly on the flag will catch a pathfinder off guard. That being said, YOU SHOULD NOT PUT A MINE DIRECTLY ON THE FLAG. It will be cleared by any pathfinder above level 15, I promise you.
Tip 2. Mines have two radiuses: trigger and explosion. If the trigger of one mine is within the explosion of another, it will also be set off. However, it will not do additional damage. DO NOT STACK YOUR MINES ON TOP OF EACH OTHER. Practice the range at which a mine will be triggered, and space them out accordingly. You can get them pretty tight together to provide a very close, yet very effective mine laying strategy.
Tip 3. MINES ARE DESTRUCTIBLE, meaning a guy from half the map away can remove them at any time any place. This is the main reason your chain gun and body blocking are 100 times more important than some deployable on the flag. Do not leave your flag alone if there is only mines on it. Just don't do it.
And last of the items, and certainly not least, you have your signature item... thing... number 3: the Force Field!
Tip 1. Force fields deal the exact same ratios and damage as a body block with super heavy. Why is this important to know? Because it can replace you on the flag when you need to use the potty. The force field is best used as a substitute for a body block.
Tip 2. Force fields are destructible, AND tied to the generator. This makes them very unreliable for more than a couple of seconds to a minute. They are actually your least reliable source of damage UNLESS you expect them to only be up for a couple of seconds.
Tip 3. Use forcefields to block single, difficult to spot from a distance paths that pathfinders use against HoFs. The most common one is the tunnels on the sides of the flag on Arx. The reason I put them in there is because they are hard to kill, but more importantly, I can't spot incoming cappers coming from the sides because the buildings are in the way.
Arguably, the most important part of being a HoF is being a HoF. What I mean is, you are not just a series of tools to achieve a goal, you are a living breathing entity that takes up a player slot in a game. As a being of great capacity you, above all else, must be flexible and use the tools I gave you above to your best ability at all times. Anything less and you're cheating yourself.
Tip 1. Never NEver NEVer NEVEr NEVER, NEVER!!! leave the flag stand undefended, even if the flag is not present. The key to being a HoF is that you are not protecting just the Flag, but also the stand that it rests upon. Without you there, the flag may be returned and in turn, regrabbed by an enemy simply waiting for it to be returned.
Tip 2. Spot cappers, spot mediums harassing you, spot heavies in midfield. Spot vehicles in the air, ground, sea, tunneling into your gen room. Spot people who just spawned on the other team. Your left alt key better be worn to a nub by your 1,000th game, because it may very well be your most important tool to winning a game. Knowledge is power, and awareness is the key to that power. Use it.
Tip 3. Look for cappers roughly every 2-3 seconds, even while engaging Offense. If a capper is incoming, put down whatever sandraker neck you happen to be choking and focus all your attention on the capper. Also be aware of multiple cappers from different directions. This is not always defend-able but there are some things you can do to help.
Tip 4. Use VGS, but use it sparingly. Don't spam that you need assistance, it won't come, or likely you'll be pulling a slightly less skilled player towards your stand, away from something he's more skilled at. Sometimes life isn't fair. Just practice to your best ability and deal with it. If you do notice your team is lacking in an area (Chasing, Capping, or Offense), tell them so via CHAT, not just VGS. A lot of people tune out VGS, I know I do it all the time. Lastly, you cannot always salvage a lost cause. If you want to win, team stack and win, if you want to practice and learn how to be awesome, just stick to it and become awesome.
Bringing It All Together
You have your mighty Chain Gun, which deals a very high amount of damage the furthest away from you of any of your weapons. This is your main weapon, use it and use it well.
You have your massive body, used to damage and block cappers as they cross the flag. This deals a very sharp amount of damage at zero range, and more importantly it slows/stops cappers from exiting your flag.
You have your mines, which makes it more difficult for the pathfinder to capture the flag by turning the ground around you into lava. They mostly cover up any mistakes you made.
And you also have your force field, which is used as a temporary replacement for yourself while you go restock on your munchies as you watch the fireworks show go off around you. Also is used to block hard to defend methods of approach.
And lastly, and absolutely positively not least, there is the player: YOU. You make a HoF tick, and you make your team proud every time you don the heavy armor.
Now you have a basic idea of how to HoF for your team. The longer you practice, the better you'll get at your job. This section is designed for situational strategy, tactics, and skills that will help you along the way.
First I will break it down by map, arguably the largest variable in Tribes.
This is one of my favorite maps to HoF on, as you have plenty of options for defense, and it's also one of the hardest maps to play HoF on because you are in a very tight area with low visibility. If you don't know a cap is coming, you can't possibly prepare for it. If you don't have a good Sentinel on your team, or anyone playing Defense along with you, it can make for a very hard game. That's OK! I'll give you some tips that will let you make the best of this situation.
NOTE: all directions are as if you were facing the enemy flag stand from your flagstand: Right, Left, Back, Front, etc.
Tip 1. Use a forcefield in the tunnel to your RIGHT, there are 2-3 common left to right routes, all of which are hard to see coming. 2 of those 3 routes you can't use your chaingun effectively either. Pair it with a mine to make it an instakill versus any pathfinder trying to use it.
Tip 2. The shingle lips on each side of the flag stand are probably the best place to place mines, especially the one on the rear.
Tip 3. While it may be beneficial to place your inventory station off on one of the wings of the building, I suggest placing it directly behind the flag to prevent hasty front to back grabs. Your inventory station can also bodyblock, so just remember that.
Tip 4. If you need to use a hasty forcefield directly on the flag, always place it on the most common path that pathfinders have been taking during your game. In Arx I find that back to front routes are most common.
Tip 5. Don't be afraid to jump up onto the roof to spot incoming cappers. Normally if you spot them at a distance, you have plenty of time to re-position yourself. Same with getting shelled, as long as you have 980 HP, you can still be effective versus a pathfinder.
Arx Novena has a variety of situations that can be detrimental to your health, and your flag's placement. I generally place situations as: how do you deal with 'this'. That being said, a great deal of these tips will apply to multiple maps. I will place them in order of occurrence from the top of my head.
Long Ranged Spam
Difficult to deal with on this map as there is a lot of vantage points for Juggernauts, Soldiers, Brutes, and Pathfinders to shoot from around midfield. The most effective one for them is the buildings slightly off to the right of the middle bridge. You can't do much about them directly, but also since the point is pretty far away you can move off the stand and onto the roof and dodge the shells. When you spot a capper incoming, return to the flag and stop them with a body block, and always use your chain gun. This is what it means to be a Rubber Wall. You must be able to move and be flexible. If you drop below 980 life, just suicide and respawn quickly. A pathfinder will 1 shot you more than likely making you very ineffective.
Since you're in a tight area, it's very beneficial for Brutes, Raiders, Soldiers, and Infiltrators to fly directly into your area, unload every grenade they have, and die. Again, you can't do much except kill them as they come in and move off the stand to the top of the building. The benefit is that they are DMing which usually attracts more people to play defense, so your team might be more prone to help you versus bombers.
Ahh crossfire, the controversial map for all HoF players. Should I play HoF? It seems ineffective. Poppycock! HoF is always effective, tell those noobs to learn to play. : ) Crossfire is a very small map which allows the offense of both sides to return to the enemy base in a very short time. This can cause many headaches for inflexible HoF players, and can be a paradise for those that can adapt to the faster paced game play.
Tip 1. Your extra forcefield, if you have one, should be placed in the middle of your base, blocking the front to back/back to front route. It's very hard to remove from outside the base. This goes along with what I said before, block the hardest route to visually see coming. It's hard to see through a million tons of steel that is your ship. Once again, pair it with a mine to make it an instagib for pathfinders.
Tip 2. I find the best places for your mines are on the furthest left and furthest right parts of the flag stand, on the edge of the platform. You're aiming to hit a pathfinder on the way OUT of a path, so if you only have one, place it on the opposite side of the most common path taken for that game.
Tip 3. Inventory Station should be placed directly on the flag stand to make it harder for a pathfinder to exit the stand properly after a grab. As long as your chaingun aim is true, you will have plenty of credits because of the massive amounts of DMing that is done on this map.
Tip 4. Hasty forcefields should be front to back unless your other forcefield is up, then block LEFT to RIGHT, not RIGHT to LEFT.
Tip 5. This is a map where you can move around a bit and still be relatively effective versus incoming cappers, but monitor your energy. It takes about 40 energy to jump from below the flag stand and return to it.
There is a TON of situations that can possibly happen on this map, I will organize them via the most deadly to the most inane.
This is the only map where the beowulf can be perfectly safe, and still shell the flagstand consistently. The worst part is, he's going to be super effective versus you. Pray that your team is paying attention and harassing him. He can't shell you as effectively if he has to move around. Do not use your saber missile against him, it takes too long to lock on and a good pilot will switch to seat 2 to simply intercept it. Consider this the biggest direct counter to a HoF in the game on this map.
Long Ranged Spam
Everyone from all over the map can shoot at you. Just gonna have to deal with it. Move around but watch for incoming cappers and jump in front of them at the last second. Juggernauts are actually less effective on this map because there is no high vantage points.
Very effective on this map, but again since everyone is so close together it won't be as hard to deal with.
Snipers can hit you from the other side of the map for 300 damage a hit. It's worth noting that they will take out your forcefields and mines if they know what they are doing. This is why you shouldn't rely on mines or forcefields to do what a HoF should be doing.
They have a pretty good advantage on this team, the counter to them is to move around consistently and have good aim. If they mess up their sticky grenade, they will probably not kill you. If you have decent aim, you can probably remove them quickly.