LIFE ON TITAN
The Advanced Tactics section is for experienced pilots and oriented toward online play, but everything you learn here will be doubly helpful in playing the offline game. It's usually easier to apply these tactics to the game-generated pilots. Enforcers, however, can play as well as a good online human.
There is a very different flavor to online HardWar gaming. Human pilots are, of course, the big difference. Humans don't just run into crater walls and let you kill them. They use all sorts of evasive maneuvers and escape tactics. They also are quick to target those that are targeting them unlike the game's AI pilots. They also tend to fly faster, better equipped Moths.
Most of all: Human pilots want to kill you as much as you want to kill them.
Most of the tactics presented below are designed around the fact that human pilots will be overall better pilots when it comes to attacking and evading. Expect dogfights to last longer and to lose more of them.
There aren't any big advantages to trading and scavenging in the online game. Most games are short and emphasize dogfighting over empire building. And, a pod will slow you down. When a dedicated server is found, this will change, but the current pilot/hosts generally only run for a couple of hours or so at a time.
THE BASIC DOGFIGHT
Almost every dogfight you will have will include the following four stages:
This begins right after you and your enemy have targeted each other. It's almost always going to be a head-to-head conflict. This is because human pilots will launch a counter-strike as soon as you target them, unlike the AI pilots. Being able to turn the head-to-head attack to your advantage is what will ultimately lead to victory or defeat.
After initial attacks, both Moths will try to turn to get behind the other. This causes both to fly in circles or a spiral. It's at this point where a good set-up and good piloting skills come into play. It boils down to a contest of seeing who can deliver the most damage the quickest. A spiral will end with one Moth either running for his life or to start another head-to-head approach.
Eventually one Moth will sustain enough damage that it tries to escape the dogfight for repairs or rearming. This is when the chase begins. The wounded Moth will use every trick in the book to keep you from catching and killing him.
The End Of The Line
This is the ending of the dogfight. Either your prey will make it to the safety of a hangar or you will kill him. Occassionally a badly wounded foe can trick you into a trap and kill you. Never, never let your guard down and always know what's going on around you.
Your priorities in a dogfight are as follows:
Kill the bastard, kill the bastard, kill the bastard
Hit your enemy as hard and fast as you can
Avoid being hit yourself, as much as possible
Don't lose sight of your enemy
If you have to run, run early
Targeting human pilots can be a little tricky. If the host has selected the "Named and Targeted" option, current pilots can target new pilots from a message issued by HardWarp FM. New pilots do not have this advantage.
A new pilot can use the chat function ("c" key) to broadcast a message and see how many pilots are out there. I like using the "Rankings" function ("u" key) to get a list of all of the pilots in the game. You can't target from either of these functions.
About the only option you have is to constantly scan "Radar Range" from your Nav menu and keep an eye on your radar for red lines. When using Radar Range, keep an eye out for unusual names. Check the Pilot Rankings ("u" key) to see who else is playing and what their names are. And always keep an eye on your radar (bottom-right of HUD) for red lines. These are Moths that have your targeted.
A few dirty tricks have been developed to prevent you from recognizing a human pilot using the "Radar Range" function. Typically, an experienced pilot will recognize the human name as not being of the common HardWar genre or will even remember it from the bulletin board. Some clever pilots (Ouch), however, will name themselves "Scrap Metal" or "Laz Patrol 06". This little irritation is actually quite brilliant, but doesn't prevent current pilots from targeting you from HardWarp FM's message.
The surest way to target pilots is to use the "Next Target" function when you are being targeted and notice the red line on your radar. Cycle through all targets until the one with the red line to your changes colors to red. Now you have him targeted. Get quick at cycling through targets. Make sure to lock in targeted human pilots at your earliest opportunity.
FUNCTIONS and CONTROLS
Two functions have supreme importance in online HardWar (I'm assuming firing and flying aren't a problem.) These are the "Next Target" and "Next Weapon" functions. Keep both of these and the "Previous Weapon" function close at hand. Most people do more switching between cannons and missiles in the online game. Keep your flares and/or chaff handy, too.
Second priority functions include the Nav and Message Menus and NightScope. You'll use "Radar Range" a good bit and will probably be doing a lot of targeting from your messages. I like having NightScope close at hand so I don't put off using it when it's needed.
Joystick users: Make sure you have your throttle and POV activated. They are activated by checkboxes in the Main Launch Screen's "Controls" tab.
SPECIAL ONLINE FUNCTIONS
There are two functions unique to online play: Chat and Pilot Rankings. Chat enables you to message another human pilot or broadcast a message to all human pilots in a game. Pilot Rankings are useful to view upon joining a game to see how many other human pilots are playing and what their names are.
Chat is activated by the "c" key (default). It opens a small black box in the lower center of your HUD with the word "To:" in the upper-left corner. You may type in an individual pilot's name to message him alone, or just hit "Enter" to broadcast a message to all pilots. Now type in your message. Note: there's been a lot of lag in chat. Send the message by hitting "Enter". It is important to note that your controls are frozen while chatting. You may want to get to a hangar before sending a series of messages. You may cancel Chat by hitting the "Escape" key.
The Pilot Rankings screen is brought up by hitting the "u" key (default). It presents a table that includes the name of all pilots in the game, how many kills, number of hangars, and amount of cash they have. It comes in handy when you've just joined a game and want to see how many other pilots are playing and what they're names are.