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you spin me right round, baby

February 19, 2009
tags: ,

So, prompted in part by a highly misguided (and quickly deleted) forum post, I’ve decided to explain some of the finer points of circle strafing. I know, I know, characters in WAR auto-face and there’s collision detection and all those lovely things. You know what though? WAR also has a very large window for flanking/backstab style attacks and besides that people can actually turn faster than the auto-face can. I have a long history of circle-strafing. I did it in Doom, I did it in Quake, I did it in Mechwarrior… That’s right, Mechwarrior. Collision detection, mechanical movement, the works. It worked then and it works now, not because of some secret game mechanic, or the lack of an internal auto-face feature either. Good players are faster than auto-facing anyway as I said before. So what’s the point? It gives better players an advantage and serious players will take any edge they can get.

For those uninitiated, circle strafing is exactly what it sounds like. You strafe from side to side while also steering your character in a circle. This allows you to keep your aim to the center at your target while giving them a moving target. The advantage in WAR is reducing enemy avoidance and for some classes access to special abilities, or other damage increases. When circle strafing, the auto-face feature is too slow to prevent being struck on the sides/back, which results in being backstabbed in the face, or at least feeling like you were. Pretty much any ‘r-tard’ knows how to circle strafe and many will actually continue to circle even if you willingly give up your back and wind up looking royally stupid as they spam a backstab in your actual face for half a second before getting to your back again.

The separation between the typical scrub rogue from WoW and a good circle strafer is the knowledge of counter strafing. When two scrubs clash and begin a circle strafe it looks very random, two players spinning around each other, running into each other and otherwise looking kind of silly. They’re used to running through each other, something not possible in WAR and more importantly shooters, where the tactic started, but possible in WoW. So they never had to learn how to counter a circle strafe with their own counter strafing. Counter strafing is something that must depend on your opponents movement, but can be loosely defined as strafing in the opposite direction of an opponents circle strafe. So if an opponent circles you counter clockwise, you strafe to your left while keeping them in front of you. If they circle clockwise you strafe to your right and again keep them in front of you. If they don’t know how to react they continue their circle you wind up sidestepping outside their circle and they give you their own back.

Of course there is also a counter to this, which involves widening your circle, then reversing your direction. That leads to them having to also reverse direction and creates a pretty interesting ‘waltz’ until one player makes a mistake. The stalemate is of course very favorable for tanks as shields in WAR are so strong, but it’s also a great show of just how much better good movement is than standing still and letting yourself auto-face. It’s also great for making yourself dizzy and getting hand cramps.


8 Comments leave one →
  1. Omelettez permalink*
    February 19, 2009 12:27 am

    Yeah, I totally went there.

  2. Ventris permalink
    February 19, 2009 7:01 am

    Mechwarrior FTW!

    Played MW4 Leagues for a bit. We had a guy that could get take a gauss cannon and one shot someone from across the map. It was a pretty sweet thing to see. Was on the receiving end many a time in our practice skirmishes.

    It’s why I started a Shadow Warrior when Knights were dropped. It seemed like the perfect class for this kind of tactic. Now that they plan on making more skills available in Skirmish I may have to revisit the class.

    I never thought about using CS as a tank but it makes sense in open combat situations. 2nd Floor keep defense? Not so much. 🙂

  3. pancakez permalink*
    February 19, 2009 1:03 pm

    Wow, I reread this today and realized I made a rather big mistake in my explanation of counter strafing. If they go around you clockwise, you move right. If they go counter clockwise, you move left. Edited to reflect that… I should not post technical explanations before going to bed.

    @Ventris: I used to run a Mad Cat with an overload EMP setup back in MW2 and strafe for head shots at about 40 foot range. Great times. There’s no personal strategy in keeps sadly, tank wall, nuke, heal… boring. Scenarios, on the other hand. 🙂

  4. February 20, 2009 2:40 pm

    Try circle strafing with your mouse. I think I spranged my wrist the other day doing that.
    But the ability to turn quickly with your mouse is a good way to counter circle strafing tactics, in my opinion. And it really irritates circle strafers when your always facing them. It does, however, take some practice and a steady hand on your mouse to avoid over-turning.

  5. Omelettez permalink*
    February 20, 2009 3:14 pm

    Pancakez can circle strafe all he wants with the mouse, but I’m the queen at circle strafing with the keyboard.

  6. pancakez permalink*
    February 20, 2009 5:47 pm

    Nosmo, the point of counter-strafing is it’s easy and gives you the ability to quickly drop to your opponents back if they’re dumb. You can just turn really quick manually, but because of how WAR works you’re likely to get hit on the sides anyway.

  7. February 24, 2009 9:05 pm

    Yeah but I got a really awesome mouse with laser beams and stuff. LOL
    I get your point though. I think I’ll log on and goof around with key strafing for a little while. Good article, though. Awesome blogsite as well.


  1. change places! « breakfast at war

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