A successful game is one where
EVERYONE has a good time.
If I win, that's just a bonus.
The only bad games are those where people go away unhappy.
|I realize that this document is long and you shouldn't
have any expectations that you can read through it one and immediately do
everything that is discussed. It takes a lot of practice. Work on one piece
until you have it right, and then tackle the next. I think that you'll find
the game is a lot more exciting when you can bump your mental game up a
couple of notches.
One of the reasons for this article is to dispel the myth
that FPS games are no more than simple 'run-n'-gun' games. A tight game of
cat and mouse between 2 teams of tactically savvy players is incredibly fun
and being mentally sharp counts as much as having the fastest trigger
|This document is broken up into 3 main sections:
- Develop Basic Skills. Addresses the basic requirement
for effective in-game control of your player
- Know The Game. Talks about the game environment and how
you interact with it.
- Think Tactically. Discusses how you think through a
game. Attempts to build a deeper appreciation for the tactical nuances of
RTCW, or any FPS for that matter.
Develop Basic Skills.
These are the basic ABCs of the game. The points here only
address fundamental movement techniques. There are other sites that do a
much better job of explaining this, but the points have been included for
the sake of completeness.
This is as basic as it gets. While there are other ways of controlling your
player, such as joysticks and trackball, at minimum, you should be
comfortable using the mouse-keyboard combination. There is too much going on
to rely solely on a keyboard for all of your looking, shooting, and running.
Get used to freelook and play with a mouse.
- When using the mouse, you should be able to look 180
degrees simply by twisting your hand at the wrist.
- Avoid moving your entire arm since it's hard to get the
entire arm moving, hard to get it stopped, and you'll tire quickly.
- Use the fingers to pull the mouse into your wrist or
push it out to look up and down.
- When you shoot with MOUSE1, especially at long
distances with a sniping weapon, don't stab down at the button, gently
apply pressure until you shoot. If you hit it too hard, you're most likely
pushing your mouse back towards you and throwing off your aim.
Stay in motion.
Don't stop moving unless you have a good reason. If you stop too long,
you're dead, plain and simple. Most newbies stop moving because they can't
shoot on the run. Moving and shooting accurately are independent.
Tweak your controls
until you do both comfortably. You need to learn how to combine them
together effectively. My advice is this, learn. Practice with a friend to
develop this skill in a low stress environment.
comfortable running backwards.
Tactically, you want to learn how to run backwards to return fire as people
chase you or to avoid presenting your blind side while you run into
dead-ends to pick up items.
- Once you've perfected your mouse flick, try running
forward, jumping, mouse-flicking to execute a 180, then simultaneously
shifting to running backwards.
- You can use this technique when you run into alcoves to
pick up items so that you never present your back to your opponent.
- This is also useful when you are being chased. Often
times your opponent is so intent on chasing you that he becomes an easy
A mouse-flick is the trick of rapidly executing a 180-turn by quickly
flicking your mouse left or right.
- With practice, you should be able to execute a perfect
90 or 180-degree turn every time.
- Practice in a map with plenty of running space and try
a 180-degree mouse-flick then fire when you land (or when you complete the
- Adjust the sensitivity of your mouse to the point where
you can control your crosshair easily but still have the range of motion
to execute a 180.
- Next, try running backwards then use a mouse-flick to
turn around while you simultaneously change to running forwards.
This is simply strafing left or right in a large circle. You want to learn
this to dodge enemy fire while still being able to shoot back.
- Find an object to shoot at in a map/room with plenty of
space to move around.
- Strafe left or right while using your mouse, to move
your crosshair in the opposite direction. The effect will be that your
crosshair stays on target while you circle around him. Keep firing while
you do this.
- Try strafing in the opposite direction. Now try to
alternate between strafing left and right while keeping your crosshair on
the target. If you're doing this correctly you should be pumping a steady
stream of fire into your target while staying constantly on the move.
- Another technique is to move closer or further away
from your target while your circle strafing. This is especially effective
against rocket launchers aimed at your feet since it's harder to predict
shots in 2 dimensions than 1.
- However, make sure you don't develop a pattern in this
as well. Try to randomly go inwards and outwards of the circle, it will be
harder for your opponent to predict where you will be next.
Ultimately, you want to have the simplest command set possible while making
all of your important weapons and commands accessible.
- Write all of your key bindings
NO scripts They are not allowed at the
Clan into an
autoexec.cfg file that is kept in your [gamdir]/main/
- I try to keep all of my commands on the left of and
including the keys 6-T-G-B. This is as far as my hand can comfortable
- Try not to make key bindings too complex or you will
get confused in the middle of a game.
- Conserve keys. If you have two commands that are
mutually exclusive bind them to one key using a toggle command instead of
using 2 keys for separate set commands. See the
bind keys pages to learn more about
Grab a friend, set up a simple LAN game between the two of you, and spend a
few minutes practicing basic skills in a low stress environment. If you live
close enough, I would call them or use a VoIP (Voice over IP) application
Ventrilo to coordinate your practice section.
- Have one person stand still and try to circle-strafe
around him. Do this again but shoot at him while he moves. Can you hit
him? Now switch places.
- Learn how to do the basic functions for each class.
Start off on Beach and practice blowing the breaches. If you're working
with a buddy, practice having one person plant the dynamite, while the
other person guards. Practice, whipping out the syringe and reviving a
buddy. You can do this by having one person binding a key to "kill", which
will make him wounded and give you the chance to practice revivals.
- On the same map, stand by various points in the map,
have your friend run around and listen for the audio cues. Can you guess
where he is based on the audio cues? Have him try to surprise you. Can you
Know The Game.
Now that you are comfortable with the basic movement
techniques, it's time to broaden your scope and think about where you're
going to fight and with what weapons and tools.
It helps a lot if you know the terrain that
you're fighting on. There is nothing more frustrating then losing a game
because you're constantly getting lost or you haven't figured out where the
objectives are. If you're playing on a server with a published map rotation
or you know what maps are going to be played, download the maps and spend a
couple minutes in a private server just running around, seeing where
everything is, and figuring how to get to various items.
For a more thorough discussion on how to learn a map,
visit my article on
Know where all your weapons are located on
your controls set up. Get your autoexec set up just right so that all of
your most commonly used weapons and tools are within easy reach. Simple
scripts, such as weapons toggles, can also make this easier. Choose the
right weapon for the job. Every game tries to balance the weapons so that
each one has advantages and disadvantages. No weapon is perfect for all
occasions. Learn what each weapon can do, under what circumstances it is
most useful, and what its downsides are.
For more information about weapons got to the
I conducted a weapons accuracy test with the
Thompson, MP-40, and Sten. Each weapon was tested on rate of fire and
accuracy. For the test range, I used on the Allied spawn point on Assault.
Rate of fire was evaluated in terms of number of seconds require to empty a
30-round magazine. For the Sten and MP-40, this meant dumping 2 rounds to
make sure all guns started with 30 rounds. Since the Sten cannot be fired
continuously, I fired in bursts to empty the magazine as fast as possible.
The number of seconds required to empty each weapon were:
- MP-40 - 5 seconds
- Thompson - 6 seconds
- Sten - 8-9 seconds.
I've been told that if you measure the fire rate for 10 rounds, the Sten
is actually faster, but have not measure this for myself.
Accuracy was tested by looking at impact groupings from a
continuous burst as well as a series of 3-round, 5-round, and 10 round
bursts. All weapons were fired from the white line labeled "Firing Line"
into the target area. I then used the binoculars to zoom in on the target
area and take a screenshot of the impact marks.
Weapons were fired from a standing position approximately
3 tile lengths from the wall.
In the following screenshots, I've compared the impact
patterns from the Thompson (column 1), MP-40 (column 2), and the Sten (colum
3). The rows show the type of bursts used: continuous (row 1), 5-round
bursts (row 3), 3-round bursts (row 2), and finally 10-round bursts (row 4).
Note: The same picture is used for all 4 Sten patterns.
Thompson - single continuous burst
MP40 - single continuous burst
Sten - fired as fast as possible
Thompson - 3 round bursts
MP40 - 3 round bursts
Sten - fired as fast as possible
Thompson - 5 round bursts
MP40 - 5 round bursts
Sten - fired as fast as possible
Thompson - 10 round bursts
MP40 - 10 round bursts
Sten - fired as fast as possible
- Distance doesn't affect damage
- It appears there are only two damage zones, the head
and the rest of the body.
- It doesn't matter if your helmet is on
Panzerfaust Blast Radius Diagram Explained:
Starting from the left...we got the poor dumb sap just
standing there. Poor guy... The colored bars show the point of impact of the
The Gib Zone represent the total area between "Poor Dumb
Bastard" and the "Gibbed Point". If a panzerfaust hits within the red area,
our "Poor Dumb Bastard" would be gibbed with no way for a medic to revive
The "Grey Area" (grey) is a big question mark for medics.
This means if "Poor Dumb Bastard" is a medic with full health and the
panzerfaust lands within the grey area ... a random amount of damage is
assessed that MAY OR MAY NOT kill him. If he's not a medic however, don't
worry about the distinction because he'll will still be gibbed.
If the panzerfuast lands within the yellow area, the blast
will kill "Poor Dumb Bastard" if he is any class other than a medic.
However, he can still be revived by a medic.
If the panzerfaust lands within the Damage Zone (green),
"Poor Dumb Bastard" will take damage according to the numbers on top of the
This analysis assumes that "Poor Dumb Bastard" starts with
Artillery. Obviously better at hitting longer
range targets than airstrikes. Can be employed in 2 ways.
Air Strikes. Short range but
clears a large area quickly. Significant danger close issues. Leaves a nice
cloud of covering smoke.
- Destroy fixed defenses. This is pretty much a
no-brainer. This is how I typically see artillery employed, to fire on
groups of defenders who may be fixed in place because they're defending an
objective like the comm tower.
- Deny access or passage. Maybe it's just me, but I don't
see this application used much. Since artillery gives visibible signals
that it's coming in, and lasts for a period of time (4 rounds) people
avoid the blast area. You can use this to prevent movement through certain
areas or channel enemy movement areas into more advantageous engagement
areas. (e.g., bottle up in spawn site, deny reinforcing movement). For
example, an arty strike at the foot of the ladder leading to the comm
tower, can choke off the flow of reinforcements from the allied spawn site
to the defenders around the comm tower.
I conducted an experiment on Assault where I threw airstrike
cannisters from the same spot (center light just under the aircraft's wing)
5 times and then ran to a different spot on the map (# 1-5). In #6-7. I
threw the smoke twice from the same spot (#6) but on #7 ran backwards after
tossing the smoke cannister.
- Air strikes are best utilized to clear an area that
friendly forces have just vacated thereby giving some cover and breathing
room, or to clear an area that friendly forces will move into to clear
enemies and provide cover. This has to be pretty carefully synchronized
and people have to be careful not to run into the smoke until after the
- However, when used in the assault, an airstrike marker
will typically make all the enemies run away and then, if all the
attacking forces begin a sprint move immediately after the last blast, the
resulting cloud of smoke provides good concealment (not cover) to move
onto an objective. This not only helps you move across open kill zones,
but if you move fast enough, you can move into far side cover, out of
sight of the enemy and cause them to lose track of you - disrupting their
Did you know that you can control where your airstrikes
will impact after you toss the airstrike cannister (aka smoke grenade)?
Typically, if you throw the airstrike cannister and stand still, the
airstrike will impact a rectangular area centered on the smoke grenade and
running nearly perpendicular to you (doesn't seem to always be perfectly
perpendicular). However, you can adjust the impact area in two ways.
First, you can make the airstrike land further away from
the airstrike cannister by backing up once the cannister is thrown. The
airstrike should move away from the cannister the same distance you backed
off. Just be careful that you don't move so far that the point of impact
ends up in a place the pilot can't see or the airstrike may be aborted.
I stood on the corner light, tossed smoke, and then stood still. Notice
that the airstrike's impact doesn't always fall at a 90 degree angle to
my point of view
Next, I threw smoke from the corner light, but ran directly backwards
for 2 seconds. The airstrike impacted a little further away than on my
The second method is to move and rotate your point of
view. Try throwing the airstrike marker, strafing right a comfortable
distance, and then making a 45% left turn. The airstrike will still land on
top of the smoke grenade, but now, it will impact diagonally from where you
tossed the cannister
The first illustration shows the strike pattern after standing at #1,
tossing the smoke, and then not moving. For all subsequent airtrikes, I
threw the smoke grenade from location #1 and maintained a consistant
direction and distance of throw
Here, I threw the smoke from #1, strafed to #2, and then looked towards
the halftrack. You'll noticed that spots #2 - 4 form a semicircle around
the spot the smoke cannister lands. You can see how the impact marks
have rotated about 60 degrees
Again, I threw the smoke cannister from #1, ran all the way over to
point #3 and looked towards the halftrack. Here I get just a little more
rotation than from point #2
Next, I repeated the same steps but from the other side. I ran over the
left hand corner light and the looked at the rightmost edge of the
Lastly, I tossed smoke from #1, ran all the way over to point #5 and
looked parallel along the airstrip markings. I get nearly a full 90
degree rotation from my point #1 results
By now, you should be comfortable moving smoothly through
maps. You know where to go and how to get there. Let's now talk about how to
play smarter than your opponent, maintain the initiative, and dictate the
flow of the game. These principles don't necessarily apply to every type of
game play or even every map. Tailor them to your situation as you see fit.
You want to control the game by getting your strategy
going or by preventing the other player from getting into his rhythm. This
can be done by controlling key objectives, chokepoints, or spawn points,
thereby forcing your opponent to constantly react to your moves.
Keep your cool.
Everyone blows theirs, especially if they get
into a bit of trouble early in the game. However, the best players/team
recover quickly or just don't let it get to them.
- The important thing to remember is what ends the game.
Sometimes, it's a set time limit. For other game type, the game doesn't
end until the final objective has been taken. When you're playing for
specific objectives, then the number that counts is what your team has at
- Think rationally about why you got tagged so quickly so
many times. It might have been luck, or you might have been caught in a
chokepoint a few times in a row. You might be showing some hesitation
because it's an unfamiliar map.
- Adjust your playing style as necessary to compensate.
On new maps, I adjust to play more defensively and watch what other people
- Avoid getting angry when playing. You may think this
will help fuel your fragging, but it will make you more jittery. You need
to stay calm so that you can maintain your aim and keep thinking straight.
- Continue to kick ass.
Watch and learn from your
Scope out how your opponents are playing and that will give you a better
sense for the strategies you'll need to beat them.
- Are they playing aggressively or defensively?
- If they are defensive players or tend to stay in one
area, you have a lot more freedom to plan how you want to take the fight
- If they are on offense, then you constantly have to be
on guard lest they surprise you. This may mean that any rest or listening
breaks are done seldom and finished quickly.
- The best way to learn any game is to play against
people who are better than you. Play against them as often as possible and
watch their technique. If they're really cool, they might even share some
of their tips with you.
When I first started playing FPS games, the single
biggest problem I saw in myself was that I could always be counted on the
chase after a target. I usually got a bullet to the head for my troubles.
- Don't always run in straight lines. Zigzagging as you
run, even when you think you're alone is permitted.
- Don't circulate the map or portions of a map in the
same pattern. I still find myself doing this and it's easy to get stuck on
a set route you use to navigate a map. A smart opponent will pick up on
this and be able to anticipate where you will go and therefore wait for
you on his terms.
- Don't circle-strafe in the same direction all the time.
The point of circle strafing is to dodge fire. But if you're going to keep
moving in the same direction, it's easy really easy to lead you. Change it
up every now and then.
- Run away when you no longer have the advantage in a
firefight (e.g., when you are outnumbered and nearly out of life).
- Sometimes you will want to run away even when you have
ammo or health:
- Run away and immediately double back. If your
opponent is chasing you, thinking that you've run out of ammo, you may
surprise him and gain the upper hand.
- If your opponent has guessed that you are trying to
get behind him, he may have doubled back, trying to cut you off. He may
have turned his back to you, giving you the chance to catch him unaware.
- This is also a part of not being predictable. If you
run away even when you have ammo, especially after pulling some really
good ambushes, your opponent is more likely to not immediately try to
chase you down when you run. This gives you valuable breathing space
when you REALLY DO NEED to run away because of low ammo, you're hurt, or
he has the upper hand.
- When running away, try to run backwards, but ensure you
still check your back often. This allows you to run away while preserving
your ability to return fire. Keep in mind that you sacrifice speed for
Maintain situational awareness.
Maintaining your situational
awareness is the art of knowing what is going on in the map at any given
point in time. If you watch any Quake 2 demo featuring Thresh, then you know
what I'm talking about. Thresh seems to know exactly where his opponent is
going, when they're going to pop out of a door, when they're going for
armor, etc. This lets him get a lot of frags before the other player even
has a chance to react.
- Look behind you every now and then. I can't count all
the times that I've followed someone around the map and they never noticed
I was there.
- When you cross corridors, take a quick look left and
- Listen for audio cues to discern where the other player
is and where he is going.
- Keep tabs on when key objectives have been taken,
especially true when a new spawn point has been taken
- Don't get so focused on chasing down one person that
you lose track of other people who may be gunning for you.
Anticipate your opponent's moves.
People are predictable
and you should take advantage of that. During games, observe your opponent:
- Does he move predictably? For example, do he always strafe-left or
circulate the map in a clockwise direction? Picking up on these patterns
will enable you to anticipate where your buddy will be and therefore get
yourself in the best position to frag them.
- Are audio cues followed by predictable actions? On certain maps, when
you hear and audio cue such an an elevator, do you just know exactly where
your enemy is and where he's heading?
- Does your opponent always chase you, only pulling back if he is out of
yourself topped off.
Keep your ammo and health status in mind and don't unnecessarily call for or
look for ammo or med packs unless you need to.
- There is nothing worse than getting killed for health pack or an ammo
pack that you simply did not need.
- Don't make a habit of picking everything up unless you need it.
Remember, you have to share with the rest of your team. If I'm a medic and
have picked up at least one ammo pack, I'll leave the rest for other
smart approach to doors and natural choke points.
The worst thing you can
do is to walk straight through a door. Watch how a police SWAT team takes
down a room. It's an interesting exercise that has a lot of practical
applications to RTCW or any other FPS.
- Doors are natural choke points because they're narrow
and restrict your ability to move and dodge. From the shooter's
perspective, it's easy to concentrate fire into a doorway, especially with
splash-damage weapons like panzerfausts and gain easy frags.
The following screenshots were taken from the Elite
Forces map 'Boarding Party'. I may or may not
adapt this for RTCW.
Simply stepping through a door leaves you exposed to fire from both
sides of the corridor.
Starting from the oblique enables you control how much of cooridor the
room you want to expose yourself to at any given point.
The audio (door opening) and visual (door opening) cues
are a dead give-away that someone is at the door, and gives your opponent
that split second advantage.
There are a couple of counter measures that can be used
individually or in combination:
- Get a buddy to open the door and then have him step out
of the way. If you open the door with your body, you'll be forced to
hesitate for a moment while it opens for you, exposing you for a few
- Sprint through doorways. People are going to be gunning
for you and you want to get though this constricting passages as fast as
- Get close enough to the door and open it, but take a
step back or to the side. Often time, someone will shoot at a door as soon
as it opens, expecting a body to come charging through. Stepping back
makes them waste that first shot and alerts you to the presence of an
- Approach the door from the oblique. This means that
you're standing off to the side and looking through the doorway at a
45-degree angle. This gives you a view into about 1/3 of the room while
hiding your from the other 2/3. This has most of the advantages of taking
a step back, but gives you a better field of fire into the room. You can
take in the remainder of the room by circle-strafing left or right, attack
by going straight on or button-hook around to the opposite side.
In this example, I'm getting ready to enter No Man's Land on the
Wizernes map. I suspect that enemy soldiers might be hiding along the
walls, so I begin my by quickly checking the wall opposite of the one I
plan to move down. If there is an enemy soldier, I'll either withdraw or
shoot it out with him.
I see there isn't anyone there, so I execute a quick button hook, clear
the near side wall, and make a quick scan of No Man's Land.
Once I'm convinced there are no enemy along the near side wall, I
circle-strafe right, keeping my eyes on the center of No Man's Land and
my back to the wall.
Now I'm up along the right hand wall and ready to move down to the far
tunnel. At no time do my eyes leave No Man's Land and the activity along
the right wall.
As I move down the right wall, I move at the oblique so that my gun
stays trained into the center of No Man's Land. I do this so that my gun
is ready and so that I can take in as much of the action as possible. I
can also see the destroyable Allied side entrance so if something
develops up there, I can quickly run up the stairs to assist
I finish near the far tunnel, ready to move into a blocking position or
stage for the next push to the Allied far side spawn point
- Standing directly in front of or in doors and windows
silhouettes you perfectly for anyone who wants to return fire.
- Door and window frames make you vulnerable to splash
- Instead, take a step or two back from the door. It's
still as easy for you to shoot into a room and actually reduces the area
inside the room from which people can see you. Plus you retain your
peripheral vision to see people coming down the hall.
- Stepping back will most likely put you into more
- It also gives you a little more room to maneuver to
incoming fire or if you get surprised.
Use prep fire when available.
This can be really
useful if you have a lot of ammo, and you know the opponent is probably set
up in a defensive position, for example, the map room on Beach. Often times
as I enter a room or approach and elbow in a corridor, I will toss a grenade
just before I go in. This does several things:
- If I think someone might be coming around the same
corner, you can surprise him or her with an area effect weapon. Since they
have no idea that you are around the corner, they probably won't have the
opportunity to dodge out of the way.
- If someone is waiting to ambush you, the suppressive
fire can cause him or her to break ambush early, thereby saving your skin.
If the person simply happens to be coming down the same corridor, it could
cause them to hold up and try to figure out where you are shooting from
which buys a couple of moments to gain the advantage.
- Naturally, the benefits of this should be weighed
against the disadvantage of potentially giving your position away.
A lot of players stop at intersections, turn,
and then proceed on their merry way. Unfortunately, this causes you to stop
for a moment and creates a situation where you are not looking at where you
are most likely to encounter an unexpected opponent.
- Always keep your crosshairs centered on the corridor,
door, or path that you intent to use.
- As you approach the opening, circle-strafe left or
right so that your crosshairs stay on target, but your model is swinging
around in alignment with the door.
- Once you're lined up the way you want and you're
convinced the coast is clear, make your entry.
- This ensures that you are always ready to shoot if
someone pops out of the entry.
Every now and then, do
a quick mouse-flick, turn around and backtrack. It's healthy to look behind
you every now and then and see if anyone is chasing you. This also helps you
be a little less predictable.
natural kill zones.
Many maps are designed to
funnel the action around key areas or items. The last place you want to be
is standing in the middle of those places.
|No Man's Land in the Wizernes map is a good example.
It has a large open area that must be crossed, but there is no reason to run
down the middle road and be the target for every enemy soldier or get caught
in the cross fire from team mates. Stay out of the shaded kill zone and work
you way around the edges instead.
- This is especially true in certain maps were all the
action is funneled into arenas (like Wizernes) where you might have 8-12
people exchanging fire back and forth across No Man's Land. Why would you
want to be in the middle of that? Stay on the periphery of these areas and
shoot into and across the kill zone.
- By staying on the edges and keeping your back to the
wall, you only have to keep track of your left, right, and front. If
you're in the middle, you have to keep track of all 360 degrees.
- You become less of an easy target. People will
typically shoot at the easiest kill. You just don't want 8 people to see
you as the easiest kill.
- By staying back, you can also keep better track of
what's going on thereby letting you play smarter with your ammunition and
shots. Watch who is getting hurt and go for the easy kill. Gang up on the
same target as a teammate for faster kills.
Getting your groove back.
Sometimes all the stars are
aligned; you run the maps beautifully, every shot hits, you're absolutely
untouchable. Then, all of a sudden, your game goes to crap. Now you're
always lost, you couldn't hit yourself with the panzerfaust, and every
grenade seems to have your name. Sounds like it's time to take a step back
and analyze what's going on. Ask yourself a couple of questions and see if
they lead to any revealing answers
- Are you playing on new maps
- How well do you know the maps?
- Are you spending more time thinking about navigating
the maps than you used to?
- Are you playing on maps that you simply don't play
well on? Personally, I do very poorly on certain maps.
- Have new players been introduced
- Has the total number of players increased? In servers
with large numbers of players, especially on small maps, this may put a
lot of additional pressure on people who are used to having that extra
moment to line up their shots.
- How good are the new players? How can you adjust your
game style to compensate? What techniques do you need to work on?
- Are you playing on a new server?
- The server may be running a mod that changes the game
in a different than you are used to.
- Is there new weapons or equipment being used?
- How does the ping and lag compare with your regular
server? Have you compensated yet?
- What else has changed?