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Serafiel's Guide to Intelligent Movement in the Battlespace

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  • [GUIDE] Serafiel's Guide to Intelligent Movement in the Battlespace

    After having actively participated on TG's BF3 servers again for the past couple of weeks, I've decided to write up a loose guide - based on some observations - to help out our beginning to intermediate players be more effective in how they position themselves within and traverse the battlefield. While I can't say I rank with some of our eminent players in the IHSs, I do feel I generally acquit myself fairly well.... and since its in the best interest of all of us to learn to be better players, both singularly and within squads/teams, I want to pass on any insights I've made in hopes that someone will a) have a more rewarding experience playing the game, and b) better their squad/team's chances and ensure rewarding experiences for them as well.

    That said, here's the caveat: While I feel the tips/tricks I'm about to list are pretty solid, they won't always work. The variability of any match dictates not only that there will ALWAYS be bigger fish, but that there is no such thing as a superior tactic..... only tactics that are more prudent than others in a given situation. Thus, I would very much appreciate it if all of you add YOUR experiences with some of the topics I'm about to discuss, either supporting or refuting them, to create a bigger picture. The plan at this point is to start with a few basic things now, and then edit/update as I think of more things.

    Alright, enough introduction....

    Battlefield Basics OR The Stuff You Should Already Know

    Being part of the TG community has many benefits, one of the primary ones being that, generally speaking, players are expected to know and practice certain SOPs. Thus, the bullet points in this section won't come as much of a surprise to many, but are nevertheless worth mentioning because of their importance.

    1) Movement = death (usually): Simply put, you are at your most vulnerable when you are on the move. Not only will your accuracy be poorer than standing/crouching/prone, but movement is what most players are looking for when they are looking for targets. Additionally, when on the move, the time between visual acquisition of your target and opening fire on the them is greater (especially while sprinting). This is a fundamental aspect of the game that you must ALWAYS be cognizant of, and is why we practice things like leap-frogging fireteams, moving to and from cover, serpentine running, maintaining superior firing positions, etc. to give ourselves a better chance on the battlefield.

    2) Proper cornering: Corners are dangerous places. Either there's something in them that is going to kill you, or someone has left you a deadly present just around them. So it goes without saying that blindly sprinting around them is not in your best interests. While there will, of course, be occasions where speed is of the essence, NEVER make the assumption that an upcoming corner is safe. The few seconds you spend in properly clearing a corner are well worth the tardiness in getting to your destination.

    Proper cornering, essentially, has two aspects. The first is simply to clear the majority - if not all - corners along your chosen route. This simply means slowing down, being aware of the nooks and hidey holes surrounding you, and actually LOOKING at them. The second aspect is one of form, and is typically referred to as "pieing" a corner. This involves having your weapon at the ready (hipfire or iron sights up), taking two to three steps back from the corner you're about to clear, and moving around it as if the corner is the center of a cirlce (or pie) you are drawing (illustration below).

    Pieing a corner primes your mind for visual target acquisition, and because your gun is already up reduces the time between acquisition and opening fire. Many players also open fire as they go around corners without target acquisition, if they either suspect enemies or noticed blips on their minimaps. Furthermore, pieing while crouched is recommended whenever you have reason to suspect claymores (anywhere near an objective, in narrow alleys/doorways, or any time Gunney is playing ;-P )

    Proper cornering is a FUNDAMENTAL aspect of BF3 (and many shooters), and should be drilled to the point that it becomes muscle memory.

    3) Spatial awareness: KNOW YOUR MAPS INSIDE AND OUT! Map knowledge influences just about every other aspect of the game, but on the fundamental I'm discussing here, the most important part is having a mental image of the corners you are going to have to clear, the spiderholes to check, major/minor firing avenues (in three dimensions), and a general idea of where the dynamic frontline is. Most map knowledge is only going to be learned through extensive play, but can be accelerated by simply maintaining an inquisitive attitude, instead of taking the map for granted.

    a) Checking corners and spiderholes requires little explanation, though it bears repeating that you should have an "eyes on" policy for likely spawn areas when you're capping a flag in conquest (the back rooms on Bravo flag in Grand Bazaar are famous for harboring whole squads when the capturing squad thinks everything's safe).

    b) Firing avenues are a bit more advanced, as it requires a degree of prediction on your part. Every map has a gamut of likely positions (ranging from poorly to strongly defensible) where enemy players are likely to set up firing positions from. Conceptually, it helps to envision the three dimensional map as a series of points or areas, from which radiate cones or spheres of fire. You should prioritize thinking about maps in this way, for a variety of reasons, some of which I'll list:

    - When turning corners that open up into a wide expanse, prioritize the most likely firing positions to scan first, before checking the less likely ones.
    - Knowing likely firing avenues will help you choose a flanking path that is less likely to get your spotted/killed
    - Most firing positions have firing positions SUPERIOR to them.... if an enemy squad is ensconced in a certain location, there's almost always a defensible place on the map that you can set up YOUR squad to eliminate them.

    Case in point, Bravo plaza on Strike at Karkand. Here we have three predictable firing avenues: The first is on the roof of the hotel, the second is in the "Sniper House" with the switchback stairway that borders the alley towards Alpha flag, and the third is the two story house towards beachside across from the hotel. The first only has one level to worry about, and has several rooftops throughout the map that can fire into it. The second has three levels (ground, second floor, roof), and with the absence of explosives is extremely hard to clear as it only has the switchback stairway as an entrance. The third is intermediate in its defensibility, as it can be assaulted from the front or rear with multiple doors, and the walls can be blown out as well. These three points should ALWAYS be in your mind when you make your way to or near Bravo plaza, as well as defensible positions from which to suppress or kill enemies that are bunkered down in them.

    c) Discussion of the dynamic frontline factors into my next basic point, which is....

    4) The Minimap is your friend: You should be checking this about every 5-10 seconds if not actively engaged in combat. Not only should you be looking for enemy blips, but you should be looking for the orientation of enemy icons (if they are all looking one direction, you could flank them), teammate death icons (likely enemy presence), and MOST IMPORTANTLY the presence and direction of friendlies. Why is that most important? A squad of players, when moving or holding a position, needs to cover a 360 degree circle of awareness. While some squad leaders will dictate who has point, rearguard, flankguard, etc. they won't always. Thus, the rule of thumb: If you see that the teammates near you aren't looking in a direction from which an enemy attack is likely to come, LOOK IN THAT DIRECTION. Having your entire squad killed because no one was looking at a second story window where a machine gunner is posted is a lousy way to lose tickets.

    All these things I've listed contribute to a generalized sense of where the dynamic frontline is.... that is, where active firefights/points of confrontation are currently occurring. In wide open maps (Op. Firestorm), this usually forms a line across the battlefield between the two bases, which shifts with the game. In CQC maps like Grand Bazaar, the frontline is generally more a set of pockets that are being attacked from around their periphery (Bravo flag especially). Having a sense of the dynamic frontline is hugely important if you want to flank effectively, or avoid conflict altogether for the purpose of capturing/destroying an undefended objective or punching through to a superior firing position in the enemy's rear.

    5) Moving cover to cover: Its war, son, not a marathon. If you exit cover without knowing exactly where the next bit of nearby cover is that you're heading to, you're doing it wrong. For every path you take, have a contingency (if possible) that will either allow you to escape a firefight or at least get under cover should your be suddenly assaulted.

    Squad Basics OR How to Play Well With Others

    Just some general points that only apply WITHIN a squad....

    1) Leap-frogging: Remember how movement = death? Well having six other eyeballs in addition to yours will reduce the chances of you getting rumbled by a sniper in his high horse. In addition to dramatically increasing your collective situational awareness (obviously only works IF YOU ARE IN TEAMSPEAK AND CONTRIBUTING!), you also have the opportunity to cover your buddies as they advance to or from a position. Usually this is the job for the support gunner and a bipod, but any kit can perform the basic function of advancing to an intermediate point between points A and B, and then covering the advance of the rest of your squad. This is also where those firing avenues come in handy.... if you're a support gunner and your team is advancing down an alley, take rearguard and set up your bipod on either side of the alley while your buddies move down the opposite. One of the advancing guys should also be periodically checking his (and consequently YOUR) six. Once they're safely ensconced in their new cover, they should cover you as you move up.

    Of course, not all squads have the luxury of practicing this to perfection, but it helps if even just one person takes up the role of providing supportive fire for a squad's advance, rubber-banding between the bulk of the squad and superior firing positions from which to guard it.

    2) Don't cluster up: It goes without saying that having a majority of your squad wiped out by one lucky enemy isn't a fun experience. Covering each other is part of the equation, as stated above, but maintaining spacing is also important. If the pointman of your squad comes into visual range of a baddy and is gunned down, but the baddy can't see you, or you are still under cover, you maintain a slight advantage in that you can kill the baddy and revive your pointman.

    Spacing distance is going to depend heavily on the map and the dynamics of the battlefield. Is the enemy team using mortars/RPGs a lot? Increase spacing. Are you on a small map with tighter corners? Decrease spacing, but don't have the whole squad turn a corner at once (and have a squadmate equip squad flak)

    3) Cornering as a squad: Similar to cornering as an individual, except now you have more options. Generally, the squad leader is the point from which the rest of the squad derives their orientation, and thus the squad leader should usually take point for the sake of clarity, unless SL-only spawn is enabled on the server. Again, remember to check your squadmates' orientations on the minimap. The other three squad members should be covering the right and left flanks, and the rear. Each squad member is respectively responsible for all cornering in their respective "jurisdictions". When coming to a "T-intersection" (e.g. a doorway that leads into an alley), the squad leader should specify who corners left and who corners right if it's a tight map.

    Also, when cornering as a squad, the person closest to the corner should crouch, so as not to get killed by the person cornering behind them.

    Better Living Through Flanking & Other Advanced Tactics
    Flanking, loosely and generally defined, is attacking an enemy position from a direction that exploits a vulnerability, be it diminished situational awareness, setting up in a superior firing position, and so on. Practically speaking, you are taking the dynamic frontline mentioned earlier into account, and hitting the enemy from a direction they expect no resistance from. In the best case scenario, you catch them unawares and bag a few squad wipe ribbons. In the worst case scenario, they see you and return fire.... but this is still a good thing (if you aren't intercepted and die outright)... you have effectively divided their attention, and turned guns away from your teammates. Said teammates may now have a better chance at gaining a stronger position or reinforcing their current position to take out what's left of the enemy.

    1) Flanking Basics : As already mentioned, flanking requires relatively up-to-date knowledge of enemy positions and firing avenues before you can effect a successful flank. In addition, you need to have a solid understanding of the available routes in the map you are playing to build a mental, three-dimensional image of a) where you are, b) where the enemy is, and c) the safest route to hit them in the sides or rear.

    What does "safe" mean in this context? Simply put, you don't want to be detected by the enemy you are trying the flank, or they'll be able to respond. Furthermore, you don't want to run into any additional enemies you didn't know about on your flanking route. The latter DOES happen from time to time, especially on small maps, and is especially frustrating when your flanking maneuver is time dependent and you can't observe proper cornering and awareness as already discussed.

    To stay "safe", there are a few general rules you can observe which will increase your chances at flanking effectively....

    a) Favor flanking routes that skirt the edge of maps. Objectives are always central, so the edges of maps generally see little play.

    b) Favor narrow routes over wide expanses. If you're on Seine Crossing, and your choice for a flanking route is one of the big avenues or a small alley, take the small alley. The big avenue is a massive firing avenue (see above), and chances are you'll be seen and Q-spotted. The alley gives you visual cover, and is easier to cover with your situational awareness.

    c) Favor flanking routes that the enemy doesn't expect you from. This is a broad category, but becomes readily apparent with a few examples.

    i) Can you flank an enemy from the direction of their UCB?* Most players will think of territory between them and their UCB as relatively safe, so if you can approach an enemy position from that direction, you'll have a small element of surprise. The same goes for enemy held flags. Be careful in both counts, though, because you can be easily hit in the rear by enemies coming out of their base.

    *Always follow TG rules regarding the UCB.

    ii) The old adage is usually true: People don't look up. Part of it is because humans never really had to worry about aerial predators, so we're not programmed for it. Any flanking route that maximizes the use of higher ground is going to be more successful.

    iii) Is there a wall between you and your quarry? Guess what, BF3 lets you destroy some walls. Even though this is readily apparent to all players at this point, you'll be surprised how many people you can catch unawares by simply blowing a wall apart and then shooting into the hole you just made.

    2) "Run Away!" OR How to Retreat & Ambush Effectively: This one might take a little mental reprogramming, because the drive to confront enemies head on is always powerful in FPS games. However, you will maximize your effectiveness in BF3 if you are mindful about your relative advantages when engaging (or being fired upon by) an enemy. If you are caught out in the open (and don't immediately die), the chances of you returning fire and killing the enemy is very low. It makes more sense for you to retreat to a superior position and set an ambush for any enemy that follows you.

    Retreating/ambushing is a sort of flanking, because you are doing relatively the same thing: Maximizing your advantages over the enemy and/or minimizing theirs. The only difference is that this time, the enemy is moving to you, not vice versa. All of the same tips apply, such as retreating to a superior firing position where you have to cover less visual ground.
    There are added considerations as well. If you run into a group of multiple enemies, you might get lucky and kill a majority of them. But there's always a bigger fish, and there's always that extra guy. Thus, you are better off killing one enemy and getting the attention of the rest, then start your retreat. If you have claymores, plant them along your retreat path. Favor paths that will force the remaining enemies to spread out so you can engage them one by one, or that will force them into straight lines from your vantage point. Furthermore, use your map knowledge to quickly stage multiple fallback positions, so that you can retreat/set up/engage/disengage multiple times. If you think you may have ditched your pursuers, you can always fire a few unsuppressed rounds in the air to light up on their minimaps.

    3) Flanking With Friends: Flanking with a squad gives you one incredible benefit that flanking by your lonesome does not: Your squaddies can act as bait. It's not a particularly nice way to think about it, but reality is harsh.

    In most cases, a squad on the move will come up against enemy resistance and immediately return fire. Instead of maintaining that relative position and hopefully killing all the bad guys, coordinate with your squad, have one or two people break off and start a flank while the remaining members in the firing position keep putting suppressive fire on the enemy. Not only will enemies be suppressed, but their attention is prioritized towards the squaddies currently shooting at them, not the squaddies that are sneaking around them.

    Maneuvers like this also make the "satellite squaddie" a highly effective part of a squad. The satellite squaddie (should be specced as medic in most cases) does not move with the squad as a whole, but simply "orbits" it by taking parallel routes along the squad's intended route. The satellite squaddie is there for two reasons: First, to serve as a spawn point should the other members be wiped, and second, to be the flanker when the squad comes under fire. If done properly, you can flank and take out the enemies, then revive your fallen squadmates.

    The retreat/ambush tactic is also much more effective with a squad. A squad can set up in a strong firing position adjacent to a known enemy position. One squaddie then gets their attention (firing into the air or in the general direction of the enemy), then retreats back to the ambush site. If you have claymores or C4, set them up along the route the enemy will take to get to your "bait" squaddie. Putting smoke on the enemy as they approach your position will hide the explosives, and/or disorient the enemy.

    4) Outflanking Flankers : If you can flank, so can the enemy. The only realistic defense, unfortunately, is having good situational awareness, and using your knowledge of the map & the dynamic frontline to predict possible flanking routes, then patrolling/visually assessing those routes. Everything that applies to YOUR flanking attempts should be used AGAINST enemy flankers. Be aware of vulnerable flanking routes, areas you aren't visually scanning, high firing positions (Look up!) and so forth. It's also important cultivate an innate sense of timing, i.e. the time between your squad meeting enemy resistance and the time the enemy may start attempting flanking maneuvers. This will usually start within the first minute of the enemy team realizing they are up against your entrenched position, but obviously, this can vary greatly.

    To illustrate some of these concepts, I'll use Grand Bazaar as an example...

    Let's say you're the US squad, and your team has Alpha and Delta. Your squad is currently defending Alpha, and you have a firing position at the mouth of Bravo alley because that's where the greatest enemy presence is. Your getting good kills and reviving/healing each other, but you're not making much forward progress. Whenever you end up stuck in a position like this, you need to start expecting a flank.

    Now look at the map. There are three flanking routes you have to worry about. The first is the West street coming up from Echo, which is probably the most effective way to assault Alpha flag because it offers a lot of options once you get to the northern footbridge. The other two flanking routes are from the eastern street... either through the buildings/alleys that connect into Bravo alley, or up and around along the northern street.

    Its important to patrol these three flanking routes relatively regularly. Do so by leaving a support gunner and possibly a medic to keep covering Bravo alley, and have your other two teammates form a firing team that sweeps the eastern and western streets, while staying close enough to your original firing position to assist should the enemy team start a major push down Bravo alley. Obviously, its incredibly important to stay in touch with your squad via TS when you do this, so that your squad can respond quickly and effectively to any new enemy troop movements.

    In terms of coverage, its generally advisable to spend more time covering the flank with the shortest route (in this case, eastern street -> alleyways -> Bravo alley), for two reasons. First, the enemy will psychologically favor the shortest route, and second, a shorter route means that the same enemy squad can mount more assaults over time if they die and respawn at Charlie. Thus, the counter-flanking fireteam should be spending more time watching the east street approach.

    Another effective tactic would be having the counter-flanking fireteam set up an early warning system on the western approach (claymores, TUGS, MAV, etc.), and simply monitoring it remotely while watching the eastern approach. If a squad makes its way down west street, the fireteam guarding Bravo alley should respond, while east street fireteam moves to cover their now abandoned position. If you ARE patrolling west street, be aware of the alley running parallel to it, and scan both the footbridge and the three story house in the northwest corner of the map. In the event that the enemy takes Delta flag, prioritize taking it back rather than defending alpha from Bravo. It's better to shore up your backfield. It should also go without saying: If there's vehicles on the map, get some mines down.

    In the event that you ARE outflanked, and forced to abandon firing positions at the mouth of Bravo alley, revert to your retreat/ambush tactics. You have the entirety of Alpha to back into with multiple possible fallback positions. Across Alpha street, you have the pillars and the alley looping behind towards your deployment to fall back into. You MAY end up losing Alpha flag, but you should be making the enemy team pay dearly in tickets for it. Try to hold out until friendly reinforcements arrive to help take Alpha/Delta back, and adjust your counter-flanking efforts according to your new firing positions.

    <To Be Continued>
    Last edited by Jeepo; 05-08-2012, 12:05 PM.

    |TG|Serafiel - Pfälzer Wolf
    "For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother"
    - King Henry V, Shakespeare's "Henry V"

  • #2
    Re: Serafiel's Guide to Intelligent Movement in the Battlespace

    Good. Very good. This is basic knowledge for comp play or all around pub play. I suggest people use this guide.


    • #3
      Re: Serafiel's Guide to Intelligent Movement in the Battlespace

      Good write up Serafiel, looking forward to reading more. As basic as some of the info is, a reminder is always useful.


      • #4
        Re: Serafiel's Guide to Intelligent Movement in the Battlespace

        Another section on flanking added for your enjoyment/education. Next up, "Psychological Warfare OR How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love BF3."

        |TG|Serafiel - Pfälzer Wolf
        "For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother"
        - King Henry V, Shakespeare's "Henry V"


        • #5
          Re: Serafiel's Guide to Intelligent Movement in the Battlespace

          Awesome guide, thank you!
          "All wars are fought for money" (Socrates, 470-399 BC)
          "Only the dead have seen the end of the war" (Plato, 427-347 BC)
          "We make war that we may live in peace" (Aristotle, 384-322 BC)


          • #6
            Re: Serafiel's Guide to Intelligent Movement in the Battlespace

            Great write up serafiel thanks


            • #7
              Re: Serafiel's Guide to Intelligent Movement in the Battlespace

              +1 on this excellent guide. Good reminders for old hands. Essential strategy for newbies.
              ARMA Admin (retired)
              Pathfinder-Spartan 5


              • #8
                Re: Serafiel's Guide to Intelligent Movement in the Battlespace

                As all have said thus far: awesome guide.

                ...That's a big twinkie




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