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Case study: Ranked deployment & strategies (ArIskandir)


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(Note: Copy and courtesy of a post by Arlskandir)

First, a quick Glossary of terms:


Most maps in Ranked have a "triangular" distribution of Capture points, roughly similar to the graphic above. In the following post, I'll be referring to them in this way:

  • A is the Capture point nearest to the enemy spawn. A.K.A. "Enemy" Cap
  • B is the Capture point nearest to your spawn. A.K.A. "Home" Cap or "Natural" Cap
  • C is the Capture point nested in the middle of both sides. A.K.A. "Contested" Cap

This is pretty much very basic stuff for any Ranked veteran, but as of late, it has been a recurring event in the game: The need to discuss with teammates faulty deployments and strategies. Being Ranked in a relatively "fast" game mode, often is very difficult to correct or overcome a faulty deployment, hence the importance of understanding how to deploy and how Ranked matches develop. 

The ranked setup, in comparison, is much more limited than Randoms. This makes Ranked more "predictable" and precludes many play options that may be viable in Randoms but are not effective for Ranked. Time and space are more restricted in Ranked and also more valuable. For example, wide flanking maneuvers that are common in Randoms are a waste of time in Ranked and will, most of the time, leave you off position and far away from the action. "Speculative" stances are also mostly ineffective as you'll be conceding the initiative to the enemy, providing an initial disadvantage you'll later be pressured to overcome. This "predictable" nature of Ranked makes the viable deployments and strategies evident and "unavoidable" (if you want a good chance to win). 

This is why a teammate typing in chat, "What's the plan?" is one of the most dreaded events for a Veteran player, as that's the trademark of a rookie player with no idea about Ranked dynamics. 

For the record, there's only one viable "plan" in Ranked: You need to secure your "Home" Cap and contest the "Contested" Cap. Where you go from there may vary, but it is imperative your team send ships to both flanks. You need a presence on both flanks, or you will be flanked and cross-fired into oblivion. 

A common recurring rookie mistake is to think the A-B push is a viable strategy requiring the team to lemming for the Enemy Cap while leaving the C flank open. I want to make it very clear to read and understand: THIS IS A MISTAKE. You should never push A-B with all your forces while leaving your flank open. If it works, it is because the enemy was even more incompetent than you. As images are worth a thousand words, I leave you two examples of the usual consequences of leaving your flank open and exposed:

Example 1 --

Example 2 --

Let's repeat: A-B lemming push does not work.

An A-B push might be viable as long as the enemy deployment allows it and you have enough forces at C to keep the enemy occupied, delayed, and contested. For example, if your team deploys in 4-2 (A-C), your A side will very likely have a numerical advantage over the enemy, and they will need to push for B as your C flank will likely be unable to push C, but they still can keep the enemy occupied to facilitate a B push.  Even then, it is a gamble and a bad starting proposition, as in most maps, there's no way to push B without falling into a crossfire situation with any enemy forces operating on the C flank. 

Almost as bad and more disconcerting than the AB push is the C lemming push. This is so obviously terrible that it is hard to believe it happens, but it happens... this is usually the consequence of the players spawning nearest A and deciding to push C along with the rest of the team because reasons. The only redeemable aspect of this faulty deployment is that one single ship (that's you, if nobody else does it you can and must do it) is often able to secure, hold and delay the flank until (hopefuly) a resolution is achieved on the Contested side and the team comes to your aid. 

Here is an example of making the best out of a bad situation by playing a delaying action:

In conclusion, balanced deployments offer you the best distribution of forces in order to capitalize on the enemy's mistakes. There are only two basic viable deployments:

  • 3-3 The Balanced deployment: Depending on what's the enemy doing, you have enough forces to either push B or C with local superiority. 
  • 2-4 The Aggressive deployment: You are making an initial gamble on the Contested Cap. Your A flank will usually play conservatively unless conditions allow more aggressive action.

As previously commented, a 4-2 setup for an A-B push is a weak proposition as your push can be easily stalled before reaching B, and you'll be conceding control over C.

5-1 deployments are extremely risky and only work if your lone operator is very good, understands the role he/she has to play, and has a suitable ship. 

Lemming trains (6-0) are Death. Don't do that, don't be that guy. Avoid this like the plague.

Cheers, Arlskandir

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