Friday, January 21, 2011

Swarm: Arena #4 - Shoot Strategy/Technique (1)

The last strategy/technique post was about Circulate, so it only makes sense to discuss the Shoot power this time around.  The wonderful thing about Swarm: Arena is how diverse these two abilities are.  There are clear visual differences between the two powers, but they play differently in less obvious ways.  Once again, let's start at the basics.

The Physics

Though I've explained how Shoot works in an earlier post, it causes enough confusion with beginners that its worth touching on again. The Shoot mechanic simply accelerates your drones in the direction they were moving in at the time you press the button.  This explains why players find their drones being launched everywhere.  Unlike Circulate, Shoot makes us work to get the full value of the power, but it may be even more versatile than its counterpart if used correctly.  Let's go over some techniques and the sweet names I've given for them.

Does anybody know how to use shoot??

The Punch

This technique is titled as above because it allows us to punch a hole in our opponent's defenses.  This is the Shoot equivalent of Bludgeon (see previous post) due to its simplicity and effectiveness.  The player needs to gather their drones behind them to ensure that they are moving in vaguely the same direction, and release toward the enemy.  This can cause your opponent's Circulate ability to become less effective, as they'll have to deal with a large hole in their circle of drones.  If done correctly, it also matches nearly 100% of your drones against whatever is in front of your enemy!  The chances of a hit are that much greater for this reason.  See the quick demonstration below for a level 3 example.

Fire and forget!  Then remember and go collect your drones.

Blocking Powerups

Let's say a powerup has just appeared, you have the Shoot power, and you want to beat your opponent to it.  Even if farther away, this can often be done quite easily by firing drones toward the powerup.  This protects the player since the drones are guarding where you're about be, and it prevents your opponent from getting there without serious risk.  In this way, Shoot can be used to move about the map gaining an advantage while the player using Circulate feels immobile.  The effectiveness of this ability is increased as your power level increases, and it works very effectively with the next technique!

The Wall Bounce

The Wall Bounce is an under-used, underrated move.  It is exactly as it sounds: bounce your drones off of a wall using Shoot in a controlled manner.  Physics-wise, its usefulness comes from two facts:
1. Drones bounce off walls at a surprising velocity, and
2. Shooting drones against a wall actually allows us to keep our drones within our COI for up to twice as long!
Let's consider that for a moment.  Drones are accelerated while using Shoot, and accelerating drones for longer should mean that they move faster.  Combine this with minimal loss of speed when making contact with a wall, and suddenly Shoot becomes a whole lot scarier.

Now let's analyze the actual movement of the drones, when we're protected, and when we're not.  If shooting against a wall, the bulk of the drones should be behind the player (that is, if 'forward' is the direction the player is moving).  It is likely, then, that the player is actually protected while the shoot is taking place!  This is unusual; I can't count how many times I've accidentally walked into a drone because I was hoping to fire at someone with my drones behind me.  Then there is a tiny window of vulnerability while the drones pass the player, hit the wall, and begin to come back.  Once they pass the player again, the player can follow an army of ultra-fast moving drones.  Take note of how long the player is vulnerable in the short sample video below.

Didn't see that coming, did you?

But wait; there's more!  Actually, it's more accurate to say that there's less.  The Wall Bounce is incredibly useful in certain circumstances, but it should not, not, NOT be overused.  It's easy to get carried away and forget the Second Fundamental Theorem of Swarm Arena: Take the center!  Never forget that being near a wall reduces the likelihood of receiving that next vital powerup.  The Wall Bounce is a situational technique only, and should be treated as such.


That's all for today.  I feel a bit behind in my posting because I've been working on a handful of posts simultaneously instead of focusing on one at a time.  Hopefully that means that we'll get a post about advanced techniques pretty soon!  I will do my best to have one out by Sunday night, but given that I'm celebrating my birthday this weekend (happy birthday to me!), it may be a short post.

Any other Shoot techniques you think I'm missing?  Make sure I hear about them!  Post below for a chance to win absolutely nothing.

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