Freespace Tactics

Prepared by Julian "Lone Wolf" Egelstaff

This document is copyright Julian Egelstaff, 1998-99. It may be reproduced, redistributed, or embedded in other HTML documents, so long as this copyright notice and the author's byline is preserved.

Contents

  1. Dogfighting
  2. Survival Techniques
  3. Controlling Your Wingmen
  4. Attacking Capital Ships
  5. Weapons and Ships

Dogfighting

Speed

When dogfighting, controlling your speed is essential. Use your afterburner to catch up to targets far away from you, or to keep up with targets speeding away from you. When a target is approaching, cut your speed to zero as they pass. You can quickly reorient your ship to face them as they speed away. (You can turn more tightly at low speed or at a stop.) Then put your speed back up to full again to follow them. If this is done correctly, you can end up right on your target's tail and get in a lot of good shots.

If a ship is faster and more maneuverable than you, and it's flying all around you, you can cut your speed to zero and basically become a gun turret to try and hit it. If you have Flails, then you can push the target away for a better shot. But often the safest procedure is to afterburner out of there, put power to the rear shields and then turn to face the enemy at about 300m. This way you can then line up a shot at your more maneuverable target as you approach it, since they'll always be in your forward view as you approach. Speed matching can be useful in the opposite situation. If you're going a lot faster than your target, it can be hard to keep it lined up. By matching speed, you can keep them in your sights more easily.

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Missiles

Using missiles effectively is an essential part of dogfighting. Know the capabilities of your missile, particularly its lock time if it's a locking missile. Longer lock times mean you want to launch from farther away. It's easier to get a lock with a long-lock-time missile when you're far away, because your target is moving around less wildly in your view. When you're close, you can't always keep them centered to establish a lock. But the farther away you launch, the better the chance the enemy will evade the missile. Launching from about 800-500m is a good rule of thumb.

If you've got non-locking missiles, or you've got fast locking ones, then simply pay attention to your target aspect indicator. (This is also true when you're trying to fire long-lock-time missiles at close range.) The best firing position is between 150 and 300m behind your target while they're moving away from you. Alternately, you can fire while they're approaching. But this is a much harder shot and requires excellent timing. You want to fire when your target is about 400 to 600m away and coming pretty much straight at you. Make sure you steer a little away from the target after launch or else you might collide with it, or be damaged by the explosion. Also, don't fire with your afterburners on. You're liable to be hit by your own missile since you'll initially speed past it. If you're using the afterburner to catch up to a target, turn it off when you fire missiles.

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Linking and Dual Fire Mode

Put missiles into dual fire mode whenever you don't have to conserve them. Also, if they're not heavy payload missiles, like Furies or MX-50s, then you'll always want dual fire mode. Specialty weapons, bombs especially, are not so good in dual fire mode.

Link your guns when it's not going to drain your energy too quickly, and you need that extra punch. For instance, link two Avengers, for sure. But don't link two Prometheuses. They will use up way too much energy. Besides, while you need the punch of the two Avengers at once, a single Prometheus is a good enough weapon to stand on its own, so linking isn't as valuable that way. It's better to have the higher firing rate which comes with not linking. In order of importance, think of, i) energy drain, ii) damage of the weapon, iii) firing rate. Of course, every situation is a little different and sometimes you'll want a fast firing rate more than high weapon damage because you're having a hard time hitting a fast moving target.

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Survival Techniques

Energy Transfer System

Shields are the most important area of the ETS, then engines, then guns. Give your guns only enough power to let you fire continuously for about 30 seconds. The first setting above zero, or off, is usually enough. If you find yourself running low on energy, then try the next higher setting. Beyond that, stick as much power as you can to your shields, but keep your maximum speed at or above your ship's default maximum speed. Of course, there are exceptions. Put full power to the shields when you're stationary and awaiting rearm/repair in the middle of a fight. Put full power to the engines when you're speeding to a battle site, or any other time when you're not in range of anyone. When you're not in the middle of the action and you need to quickly give a boost to guns or shields, then use the guns energy/shields energy swapping keys.

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"I need to rearm. Calling in a support ship."

Call in a support ship when you're in the middle of a dogfight and you're about halfway through your missiles. By the time you're out of missiles, the support ship will be nearby, and in the meantime it will have been a distraction target for the enemy. If you lose systems, especially your weapons system, immediately afterburner out of there, order all fighters to cover you, order in a support ship and put full power to shields.

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When On the Defensive

Only launch countermeasures when the line on the missile approach indicator has disappeared. Doing so in conjunction with afterburners and turning is a good tactic. After taking a hit or hits, or after a nearby blast, hit Q to equalize your shield energy on all quadrants. Hit Q often in a tense battle. It's your best defense. With a lot of power from ETS to your shields, you can use Q to stay alive for a long time when you're outgunned.

Hold down the up-arrow as you approach a capital ship on a bombing run. Dodge from side to side to avoid the cover fire it will be shooting in your direction. As soon as you've launched your bombs, turn, afterburner away, and hold down the down-arrow to send full power to your rear shields. Be careful in firefights when you're in a bomber. Their cannons are weak, so you're almost always on the defensive. But, if you stick anti-fighter missiles in a bomber's secondary slots, they can be a great addition to a dogfight, because they can fit a ton of missiles onboard. Hornets are highly, highly recommended. Synaptic bombs are good too.

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Controlling Your Wingmen

Hotkeys are essential here, both the command shortcuts and the assignable hotkeys (assigned with F3). Make sure all your wingmen have appropriate orders at all times. If you order them to attack something, make sure they get another order once they're finished. Giving orders to protect a target is very important, especially if you're in a lull in a battle and one wing or ship is badly damaged.

By chaining orders, you can create powerful formations of ships. For instance, order Beta to cover Gamma, and then order Gamma to attack a capital ship, or attack a fighter wing. Beta will follow along, and cover Gamma automatically. You thus essentially order two wings into a battle and they have an implicit formation already.

Keep the targeting hotkeys in mind at all times. The ALT-Y, G combination will target the ship attacking a ship that just messaged you. This is great when someone calls for help. R is a useful key when someone says an enemy's on your tail. If you're flying an escort mission, don't forget E to target the ships you're escorting. E and then G is a powerful combination. E, G, SHIFT-A, [assigned wing hotkey, ex: F6] is a great combination in the right circumstances. That combination orders one of your wings to attack the enemy ship that is attacking the friendly ship you're assigned to escort, and all in just a couple seconds!

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Attacking Capital Ships

Hit their weapons subsystem first. Their turrets won't be nearly as dangerous once the weapons subsystem is down, and it's a whole lot easier to hit that one system than it is to hit all the turrets! Next hit engines, then turrets. Watch out for the missile launchers on the Cain and Lilith class Shivan cruisers. If you're in the bombers, order the fighters to cover you. If you're in the fighters, order the bombers to attack a particular subsystem (or to disable or disarm your target). Then attack the turrets yourself, or attack the fighters in the area.

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Weapons and Ships

Cannons

Basically, the Avenger and the Prometheus are your top weapons. Banshees are nice, but require a heavier craft to really make proper use of them, and they are energy pigs. A Prometheus is preferred. Avengers are good because they don't use so much energy, but they're not so powerful. Flails are handy in a pinch, since they do better shield damage than Avengers, but they can be annoying if a wingman hits your target with one and the target is suddenly pushed out of your view. However, Flails only really move targets a lot at close range. Disruptors are handy if you need to disable capital ship systems, but if you've got a proper bomber complement you shouldn't need them.

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Missiles and Bombs

Interceptors are a good basic weapon, and they're fast; fast enough to take out the Dragon class Shivan fighters. Phoenix Vs are preferred for bombers and slower targets, but it's only worth taking them if you can carry enough. A lot of Interceptors are better than a few Phoenixes. Hornets are awesome, but not good in a close dogfight. They're a fighter's strategic weapon, and make for good backup on a bomber too. Furies are good if fired in double fire mode, since they fire so fast, and you can carry so many. They are definitely to be considered if you've already got Interceptors on board and no Hornets are available. The Disruptor missile is a tactical weapon which you either like or you don't. If your bombers are doing their jobs, you shouldn't need it. Synaptic Bombs are excellent anti-fighter weapons for bombers, but they'd be better off with Hornets if available. Tsunamis and Harbingers are, of course, necessary for taking out capital ships. When loaded on a bomber with Stilettos, you should be able to take out anything.

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Fighters

Bombers