Infantryman's Guide Part IV: Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself
Crux's Infantry Guide Part IV: Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself
So you understand the importance of engaging the enemy in situations that are to your advantage. How exactly does one go about doing that? In order to shoot your enemy in the back, you have to know two things: his location, and the direction he is facing. Given the prospensity of people to move around, and the fact that IDS and UAV are not always available, this means you have to be able to predict with some measure of accuracy what his actions will be.
So exactly how do you predict someone’s actions? First of all you have to understand their motivations. If you know what they are trying to do, then you can reasonably predict how they will go about doing it. If I know someone is going to try to cap the flag at Com Tower on Belgrade, and that he is coming from Ruins then there are only a few routes he might take. If I look at the mini-map and see where our forces are, where their forces are and where there are engagements taking place, I can narrow down that route pretty well. Then I can move to an ambush position and strike.
This is merely one example, and more of a complex one in many ways because it entails a larger-scale prediction. First we are going to talk about small-scale interactions, and soldier ‘personalities’.
Pick a Number Between One and Three
In basic terms, there are three types of playstyles. Aggressive, Defensive, and Adaptive. There are sub-styles within these three major categories, (Defensive-Adaptive, for example), but to get you started on the right track we will deal with just these three as they provide the over-riding motivation for predicting your opponent’s movements.
Aggressive players are driven by the need to kill. They care little about their own ‘life’. These are the players who, despite being at 20% health will charge into a building in pursuit of an enemy who is at full health. Who will throw himself into a blockage again and again, dying a ton but not caring because he is driven to get kills. Aggressive players tend to be highly mobile, and eschew specific locations in favor of whereever the action is. His driving motivation is simply the satisfaction he gets from killing others, and having a high kill count and score at the end of the round.
The Defensive player is risk averse. They will go out of their way to avoid dying, and are happy to camp locations. Many of your Support users (not shotgun whores) are defensive in nature. They tend to have favorite locations where they will set up, and kill people who travel through. They often care less about their score and more about their kill/death ratio.
The Adaptive player is someone who has a sophisticated decision tree. They are typically capable of recognizing Aggressive and Defensive players, and have separate reactions to the same scenario based on which player-type they are facing. These are the ‘advanced’ players. They often have a tendency towards aggression or defense, but have learned to modify that to circumstance (ie they started out as an Aggressive or Defensive player, but then expanded their decision tree/AI over time to build on their natural tendencies).
It is important to be able to recognize which of the three your opponent is, because knowing their playstyle you can reliably predict how they will react in a given situation.
Climbing the Decision Tree
Remember when I spoke about everyone being a robot and having AI? I also used the term “Decision Tree”. Everyone’s actions are really driven by their decision trees in game. And most people’s decision trees are very simple in nature. The better the player, the more complex and sophisticated his decision tree has become. If X then do Y. For an Aggressive player, Y will be designed to get them a kill as quickly as possible. For a Defensive player, Y will be designed to allow them to live.
Your goal when encountering someone should be to swiftly recognize their player type, and then climb their decision tree. If you can successful climb their decision tree, you can know what they are going to do. This allows you to control the situation. For example:
You come around a corner and there is a support player in the rocks with a Ganz. He opens fire and wounds you, but you duck back behind the corner. If this were an aggressive player, he would come out of the rocks to pursue you. But he’s got a Ganz, which is not a very mobile weapon. This is your first clue. He was waiting in the rocks for you to come. That’s your second clue. So you realize you are dealing with a defensive player. Now the trick about defensive players is that they tend to be patient, and will wait you out. But, the moment you have the upper hand, they will run.
As a simple example, you put a grenade in the rocks. Now an aggressive player would leave the rocks and come towards you, but he is defensive. He is going to move away from you. Now before you throw the grenade, you already know what his reaction is going to be. You can use this to jump his decision tree. So you duck out, throw the grenade and duck back behind cover for just a moment. This is to make him think you’re staying put while he runs. Then you leave cover, sprint around his previous position to catch him in the open trying to get to a new camping spot. Of course if your grenade is off-target, then none of this works, but you get the picture
The point being if you can predict what your opponent will do, then you can control what your opponent will do. If X then do Y. So you give them X in anticipation of Y, and kill them.
Of course, all of this is predicated on the ability to recognize their playing style. How exactly do we do that? Experts suggest that 90% of human communication is non-verbal. Although the graphics in 2142 are not good enough to show facial expressions or hand gestures, you can still read playstyles by physical movements. Do they move forward or stay behind cover? Is their weapon choice suited to aggressive or defensive playstyles? How “gung ho” do they appear in their firing patterns? A bunch of very small clues can give you the ability to ‘peg’ someone in a moment.
This is probably the single hardest skill to master, but doing so will take your game to an entirely new level. However you simply will never become good at this unless you go through the steps described in part I of this guide. What just happened? You HAVE to break down encounters and evaluate what occurred in order to learn this invaluable skill.