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TacticalWiki Fixer Upper: Motion Tracking

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  • TacticalWiki Fixer Upper: Motion Tracking

    An article written for NSLearn that had the unfortunate timing of being submitted when the site was shutting down. It was written for 3.0B5, so it'll probably need a little work regarding sensory changes.

    Motion tracking is an important tool that can eliminate completely the advantage of the alien team in terms of stealth and ambushing. When combined with accurate fire it is very difficult to impossible for the alien team to slow the marine team down by merely ambushing them as they move to an objective. While it can be ineffective in certain situations, namely against sensory, it is very effective at preventing aliens from using their main advantages against the marine team, and in fact turns it against them.

    Motion tracking is researched at the observatory and costs 35 resources. It takes 90 seconds to research, during which time the observatory cannot be used for any other task besides its passive ability of displaying aliens on the map within its 800 meter sweep range. The observatory is a very weak structure that will easily fall to even a single skulk in a short period of time, so it is very important to arrange the base so that the obs is covered by not only the marines spawning in, but by the commander upon exiting the chair. The obs passive scan range should be able to cover every entrance to marine start as well as the command chair, so that the commander has full control over when and how to engage any aliens trying to chew the obs or other structures down. Once motion tracking is complete, this fail-safe isn’t quite as needed, but can be useful for alien teams running sensory.

    Once motion tracking is online, the commander should immediately begin using the strategic value of knowing where the enemy is moving to and move marines into position to block them. Use this ability to move marines to nozzles before the skulk can actually get there. Also use it to move marines into position behind aliens as they move forward, either to ninja a phase gate or finish off a retreating larger alien. This type of movement is the number one way to kill fades, as they don’t expect another marine to be behind them. Using motion tracking to this end will not only frustrate the alien team, but allow the commander to maximize the abilities of his marines by moving them to where they’re most needed before they’re actually needed there. Once aliens realize what’s going on, they’ll become extremely defensive and pull back to their resource towers in an attempt to hold what they have. Don’t let them. This is when the tactical advantage of motion tracking for the marine comes into play.

    Marines on the ground can use motion tracking to a great advantage if they play in a way that maximizes the ability to the utmost. Once armor1 is up, motion tracking marines are able to take a significant amount of damage and still be able to survive, mainly because ambushes are no longer a problem. Marines can push through ambush positions without slowing down, and quickly see and react to any threats. The threat of marines pushing into alien turf will push them onto the defensive, with 1-2 skulks staying on node destroying duty. Do not let them attack your nozzles. Use the strategic ability of motion and push marines to the nozzles before aliens can arrive, and prevent them from running past to attack a different nozzle. Containing the aliens using strategy and attacking them using tactics on the ground by marines is the main way to win with motion tracking, as skulks are useless at this point. Fades are a much more serious problem.

    I’m sure some readers have already read some of my writing on fade counters, yet here is more advice on using motion to break the power of fades. Use motion to get behind fades with at least one marine and push the fade back with the other marines. The marine behind him needs to attempt to block him in order to get in enough damage to drop him. While a LMG might be sufficient, I’d recommend at least a shotgun. The destructive power of a shotgun at close range is amazing, and blocking a fade usually puts you in a position to pump at least 2 good shots into him, even if he manages to blink past you. Often this will drop a fade running from a firefight. Another method is to get marines at every entrance and bait a fade into the room, and try to cut it down before it can find a way past someone. In most situations a HMG is far better than a shotgun in terms of fade killing power, but often the best weapon when blocking a fade is a shotgun, due to the extreme damage at close range. The commander should have the marines use their weapons effectively, with HMGs attacking frontally and shotguns blocking the exits. The entire point of using motion tracking against larger life forms is to surprise them by doing something they did not expect. Once surprised they often panic or simply can’t find a way out and are killed. This is especially true against the lerk, which simply can’t survive an ambush in most cases. Aliens are very physically weak, and use their speed, agility, and hitting power to harass marines and take them out one by one. If you negate some of their abilities and enhance yours, they simply cannot stand up to marines on the offensive.

    Tech abilities from the same structure are usually similar and work well together, and the observatory abilities are no different. Motion tracking coupled with phase tech provides the commander a way to use superior map control and intelligence to totally break the alien expansion capability in the mid-game. The logistical capabilities of the commander have to be top notch, but it’s possible to move marines around the map to counter alien movement using the intelligence gathered from motion tracking and the movement ability from phase gates. Doing this allows a single marine to cover the important areas, even if they’re on the opposite sides of the map, and frees up marines to do other tasks. The marines no longer being used to defend can be flipped onto the offensive, allowing for faster kills on alien resource towers. The result is that over time the marine team grows stronger and stronger, while the alien team is constantly growing weaker. This catalyst-like effect is what I personally call the “steam engine effect”. Once the marines take a strong offensive stance and hold it, the aliens are pressured into staying defensive and not attacking resource towers or pressuring marine start, which results in a constant positive growth in terms of marine weaponry, firepower, logistics, and technology. Once it reaches a certain point, each level of marine technology is pretty much impossible to directly counter without having either additional aliens or higher level aliens. HMG marines will shred hive 1 skulks, but have a more difficult time versus hive 2 skulks. When aliens are at a higher tech level than the marines they’re facing, they can usually just push in and wipe them out. When the tech is equal, a mix of ambushing and rushing is needed to take down marines. When aliens are behind marines, the best policy is to attack marine structures and stop attacking marines period, unless an opportunity is present that assures or nearly assures a kill. The problem is most alien teams do not do this, they simply run and hide from high tech marine teams, which is an auto-catalyst that usually results in an alien loss. Use this might and awe factor as a commander during any game, but it is ruthlessly effective with motion tracking.

    The morale factor is one that’s almost universally ignored by most people outside the top level competitive community. Too often I see what could be an excellent team get totally disillusioned and give up when the game is very winnable. Motion is one of those abilities that in other games is a blatant hack, but in NS is perfectly legal and built into the game. Use the morale factor and destroy the alien team’s ability to function. When the individual aliens lose confidence in themselves, they pretty much cease to be useful members of the team. Breaking every ambush attempt and slaughtering every alien that moves will erode the morale of the enemy team if the marines use motion tactically and never allow themselves to be attacked in a position that is not favorable to them. Constantly defeating aliens in “their” areas will result in aliens never going anywhere but the hive room and the immediate area around it. Only the better players will be able to fight against motion used in this way, and they usually refuse to attack marines except when they have the advantage. This tug-of-war back and forth between who has the advantage is the heart of the game, and a team often loses because it attacked when they lacked the advantage. This problem is especially prevalent on the alien team, as inexperienced players simply run straight at marines. In fact the #1 cause of alien team losses is not due to the skill of the marines, it’s due to the incompetence of the alien team. Motion tracking simply makes this back and forth advantage issue stay with the marines more often than the aliens due to its cancellation of a major alien ability, which combined with many player’s inability to recognize when to act and when not to, usually results in marine victory.



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