I’ve made a few threads like this in the past, but nothing focused specifically on the mental aspect of PvP. This will be a somewhat comprehensive look at how I see PvP and how I choose options in combat.
Section I: How to PvP
Let’s define a few terms first.
Options: Anything one can do in a particular moment. This is controlled by in-game mechanics such as skill or weapon cooldown, or by other players exerting situational pressure.
Spacing: How one positions oneself around another player, their weapons, or obstacles. This is generally done to keep oneself safe while being able to attack another player.
Map Control: Controlling the space around an opponent to cut off their options, particularly movement.
Pressure: Reducing the number of options available to a player or forcing them into unfavorable situations. This can be achieved through positioning, weaponry, or other situations such as camping or being on the verge of loss.
Baiting: A prerequisite to this is to first understand your opponent’s habits. Then, one can come up with a strategy to beat their opponent’s habit, bait the opponent into executing their habitual action, and the player can execute his or her punish.
Mixups: Switching option selection to make reading one’s movements more difficult for opponents.
Conditioning: Subliminally teaching a player to behave in a certain manner in a given situation over a period of time.
Let’s look at an example of baiting:
Step 1: Recognize the player and his or her habits.
This gets easier the longer one plays the game. One of the first habits I noticed was that blades with teleport like to teleport after a fleeing opponent for a free kill with phase blade. This works on most victims because they typically flee using Overcharged Speed Boost ET (which is the perfect distance for a teleport with casting speed ET), and they also tend to flee in a straight line because of their dependence on E for running.
Greg is a well-known user of this strategy. He’s pretty skilled, but he can be predictable for the above reason.
Step 2: Create a punish.
This can be pretty much anything as long as it does damage effectively. For some situations, it may be a planned sequence of weapon shots. For others, it can just aim to kill as fast as possible.
Step 3: Bait and punish
To bait Greg, I first attack him while I’m in Q. At this point, I have three options: I can run away, teleport away, or E away. Teleporting is the safest option, but it is not likely to reward me with a kill. Using speed boost is dangerous for the reason mentioned in step 1. Therefore, I run away just enough that he suspects I might be speed boosting, but I brake, cutting my run short. Guessing I have speed boosted, he teleports ahead only to be vulnerable to counter attack from behind.
For this strategy to work, the target must have habits or some other kind of predictable behavior ie. Consistently firing a particular weapon in a given situation. The target must also be unaware of the bait or they must not have also prepared a counterattack.
To continue with the blade example, if Greg recognizes that I am baiting his teleport, he can choose not to use it, and he can instead speed boost after me. This would mean I would be vulnerable, as my back would be turned.
A counter to his recognition of my bait would be to actually speed boost away. If he does not react to the speed boost, instead thinking that I have tried to bait him, he will speed boost after me, gaining nothing.
As you can see, this gets as deep as players are willing to go. I could even condition Greg to make him believe I will usually try to bait him by doing so multiple times. When I believe he has adapted, I can perform a mixup and not bait him instead.
Let’s look at examples of spacing, map control, and pressure:
Spacing may seem obvious to many players – don’t get hit, but hit your opponent. It doesn’t stop there, though, and it certainly doesn’t stop at dodging an initial hit then trying to tank everything else through Q.
In Astroflux, because most weapons are fired from the front, one is usually at an advantage when attacking an enemy from behind. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to approach an opponent slightly off their center of sight, if not directly from behind. This helps to avoid direct shots. Additionally, many players have a habit of believing players will flee. Thus, they chase with speed boost out of habit, even when it is not actually advantageous to do so. This opening can be capitalized on.
Attacking at a distance is also greatly preferable to fighting up close, as more options are available to you (but also your attacker); however, this is only beneficial if your ranged game is stronger than that of your opponent.
Map control may not make a lot of sense in Astroflux because, a lot of the time, PvP is conducted in large spaces. However, this is not actually the case. While a large amount of space exists and is usable, players tend to focus on chasing or fleeing from their opponent. This focus on one’s opponent means that relatively little space is actually used, so weapons that cover a large area (static, sniping, or slow-moving weapons) are very powerful for reducing options.
For example, Spike Strips cover very large areas of space, preventing opponents from maneuvering to a more favorable position without also risking a lot or wasting Q. Sniping weapons, mainly Aureus Beam and Chrono Beam, are also decent at map control because the threat of a charged beam means that an opponent cannot be careless in approach. Slow-moving weapons like space fish, rams, and other kinds of missiles offer map control in that they force an opponent to constantly be moving, lest they be hit by the weapons. This often leads to less favorable positioning, as the target’s back will be turned as they run.
Map control, as defined and clarified above, is one of the many tools one can use to create pressure on an opponent. Anything, and I mean anything that can potentially limit an opponent’s options can be considered a type of pressure.
Here are some examples:
• Too close to a death line: limits movement and escape options
• Too little health/shield: limits the amount of risk that can be taken (or increases the need for risk)
• Close to loss in a deathmatch: limits the specific opponents one should target
• Close to loss in a domination match: shifts tactics from zone capture to kills
• Opponent with a charged weapon: limits movement and Q options while waiting to react to or predict the attack
• Q ran out: limits options to kill or be killed, flee, teleport
• Shield regen stopped: limits options to retreating and waiting or risking death to attack
• Armor debuffed: limits options to using unbreakable as a counter, pressing F to reset armor, kill or be killed
• Unbreakable equipped: limits the total amount of armor usable, weakening a set to other forms of attack besides armor debuffing weapons
• Greg is hungry: limits options to feeding him snacks
• Burning alive: limits options to kill or be killed, run and heal, equip a high shield regen build, or tank it
• DOT: same as burn, however, damage debuff is also an option.
• Damage debuffed: limits options to using high burn damage, running and waiting, or overpowering.
• Swole is chasing you: limits options to giving up and accepting your fate.
These are obviously not all of the situations that can be considered pressure. In my opinion, one of the strongest ones is positional pressure. Just spacing one’s own ship at a distance one’s opponent knows is a positional advantage can force a reaction and a counter. For example, if I am close enough to an opponent to hell flame them, but I have not actually done so yet, a knowledgeable opponent would recognize the danger and respond accordingly by fleeing or finding another countermeasure.
In my experience, due to its relative transparency, everyone tries to become stronger by collecting very powerful artifacts and upgrading strong, versatile weapons. While this is obviously advantageous, an approach to PvP based solely on these aspects of a build will no doubt leave a player bumbling around in a mess of a build. Careful attention needs to be given to how weapons interact with each other and with weapons in other common builds (or builds of specific players, if that’s your goal). This can mean finding weapons of suitable range, debuff type, or damage style. Another downside of the artifact-centric approach is that it places too little emphasis on a player’s greatest tool: piloting. I’ve said this before, but people must’ve thought I was joking. Just don’t get hit. I understand, certain situations require that one gets hit, but that’s what tankiness is for. Otherwise, try to avoid as many hits as possible (without dipping into a safezone). Dodging successfully usually means that the opponent has left themselves open to counterattack, and it also means you can keep your Q.
All of this was meant to give everyone insight into how I think of PvP. I’ve said it over and over again: my arts are only okay. The real secret to my power is all of this analysis that goes into my decision-making in fights. It may seem very unnatural to think of PvP like this at first – it’s certainly a lot to digest at once. This is why I recommend slowly incorporating it into your playstyle as you learn more about the game and your opponents.
The crux of all this is that, to be good at PvP, you must first look for and recognize patterns. Once you see a pattern, think of how you can beat it or use it to your advantage. Practicing this mindset will make it come a lot more naturally as time goes on, and eventually, you might be able to adapt mid-fight (these are the most challenging and fun fights to have).
I watch a lot of competitive Super Smash Bros., and when one thinks about it, very strong parallels can be drawn between fighting games and dueling or PvPing in Astroflux. Pretty much all of the concepts I have written about here I learned about through a few years of following competitive Smash.
This is also what I mean when I say I practiced PvP with Shredder for months. He is a formidable opponent due mostly to his great adaptive abilities. I learned to apply this thinking thanks to fighting him and analyzing his combat style.
I would have liked to include videos of some of the techniques discussed, but I lack the time to create any.
Send me PMs if you have questions regarding tactics or how to build for PvP.
Here is my take on .
Section II: How I Build Sets
Some people have asked me how I even begin building sets for PvP. This is something fundamental to doing well, and it’s something even seasoned players can struggle with at times. There are many aspects to consider, such as artifacts, weapon range, debuffs, defense, ship bonuses and stats, and of course, the current meta.
Allow me to elucidate on a particular point:
I decline to make a post that discusses what I think are the best options. My reasons are as follows:
I don't believe that players should ever hear from others what the "best" weapons or setups are, because that stifles creativity and also fails to account for the fact that everyone's artifacts are different.
I will give personal recommendations under the condition that my words be taken only as guidance and not as law. These suggestions should be treated with skepticism. The last thing I want is for the meta to stagnate because everyone uses the “best” build.
On to the builds:
For my builds, I aim for a minimum 50% resist at all times. This is because resists debuffs are relatively rare in PvP, and the default cap is set at 50%. To be completely safe, 100% is preferable; however, this is not feasible for most players. As such, anything above or around 50% is usable and in some respects, optimal. One might aim for the lowest resist above 50% with the best hybrid lines.
For shield builds, I like to have regen at around 10k with a minimum 300k shield. For health builds, I like to have around 15k armor minimum with at least 300k health. This is a matter of preference based on my personal experience fighting others. I find that anything less than that leaves me vulnerable to very fast kills, and much more will trade off too much damage. This will depend greatly on one’s artifacts.
As for which weapons or ships to use, I encourage everyone to first configure their artifacts into setups that they think will be effective. Then, find weapons that are well-suited to that artifact set. Always follow your artifacts. A method like this can be time-consuming and quite difficult. It requires that a player get a good feel for artifacts and what certain stats can do to change the dynamic of a fight.
Many players are tempted to follow the path of pure DPS. This, in my experience, is due to a few reasons: PvE, kinetic phase blade, and ease of use. It makes sense that high DPS would mean faster kills in PvP. This is not necessarily the case. One must consider how one’s weapons react to high rate of fire versus high damage per hit. Beam weapons, for example, do not require any rate of fire artifacts to be effective. They are meant to deal single, powerful hits, and increasing rate of fire will not increase the effective DPS because charging time remains the same. However, a weapon like Skeletor Lighting thrives on high rate of fire due to its stacking damage over time.
Another aspect of building to consider is that weapons must serve certain purposes in PvP. Weapons restrict options of opponents and create options for the player using their unique properties. These properties include, but are not limited to: range, damage type, rate of fire, damage per hit, elite tech options, debuffs, etc. To build a powerful set, one must consider how weapons interact with each other and with opponents’ defensive or offensive options. For example, beam weapons are great at pressuring opponents into approaching, which often leaves them open to counterattacks. This is because of their range, damage, and relative unpredictability.
I hope this section helped shed some light on how I start with builds. If you have specific questions concerning your artifacts, ships, or weapons, feel free to PM me and ask for my opinion.
Last edited by boogerrito on Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:21 am, edited 6 times in total.