Starsiege:Tribes by Dynamix / Sierra Software

GriBBsY's Beginner's Guide To...
Starsiege: Tribes
Updated: October 18, 1999

Incorporating BobFat's Attacking Strategies

Starsiege:Tribes by Dynamix / Sierra Software



Starsiege:Tribes is a multiplayer PC title brought to you by Dynamix and Sierra Software. Read my mini-review of Tribes here and find out what all the fuss is about. Beware, if you're afraid of running up your phone or ISDN bill then stop reading now. This game is extremely hard to put down once you get to grips with what's going on. The trouble is that those first few hours are the hardest, and may put many people off. It's worth persevering with though. You soon realise how much deeper this is than something like Quake 2 CTF. This guide will get you through those first few games and give you a head start against other new players. Stick with it, this is the best online game yet IMO.


What You should Do First

1. Read The Manual. Yeh I know, this is obvious and something which most people don't do when they get new software. Do it. It will prevent you from getting flamed for asking obvious questions online (By the way captain newbie, RTFM stands for Read the F#*!ing Manual).

2. Try the Training Missions. These are by no means brilliant, but will teach you the basic controls. Getting the hang of the jet pack should be a priority - by default it's assigned to the right mouse button.

3. Try out some of the maps. The best way to do this is to start up your own server using the 'Host Multiplayer' option - there's no need to go online to do this. It's a good idea to choose one of the 'Capture The Flag' missions as most online servers run this game type, and it's what i'll cover in this guide. To look around the maps quickly, fly around in observer mode - accesible using the 'Tab' key.

4. Choose your favourites. Get at least one favourite list set up for each armour class before you go online. Otherwise you'll be holding up the rest of your team every time you go to an Inventory Station. If you don't do this, be prepared for plenty of angry teammates shouting 'Hurry Up With That Station' (VEH). Go here for help in Setting Up Your Favourites.

Inventory Station
The Inventory Station

5. Learn to Communicate. A team that doesn't talk to each other doesn't win. By default the 'T' key talks to everbody on a server. The 'Y' key talks only to members on your team. Pressing 'V' will give you access to the Chatmenu - more on this later, but in the mean time try and learn some useful phrases and the shortcuts associated with them.

6. Read On....


How the Game Works

For this article I'm going to cover the basics of a 'Capture The Flag' game. Most of the UK servers are running CTF right now, so that's all I've had to practice on. Most of the strategies here are useful for the other game types as well. Anybody who's played Quake or Quake 2 CTF will be familiar with the scenario. Two teams, each with their own base. Each team has a flag positioned somewhere within their base. The objective is to penetrate the enemy base, collect their flag, then return it home and touch it with your own team's flag. Here endeth the similarity with Quake CTF.

In Tribes, a lone player has absolutely no chance of getting in and out of an enemy base on their own. Good teamwork is the order of the day. A strong attacking force is useless without a good defence. A fast lightly armoured attack force has very little chance against a well defended base. With the right combination of defence, attack and the various types of armours your team will stand a chance. There's no place for the lone hero in this game.

A Capture The Flag Base
'Raindance' CTF Base


Your First Game Online

Fire up your internet connection, and start up the game. If you fancy a chat with some other players first, then Tribes has it's own IRC client. Here you can arrange games and ask questions. Most people will be happy to help you out. This is a far better place to discuss tactics than on a server during a game.

UK and Australian players should ensure they have selected their respective master server under Network Options. That way you'll only be refreshing the servers local to you (and not 500 servers in the US that you'll never use).

To connect to a server select 'Join Multiplayer'. You'll then be presented with a list of servers to choose from. Pick a server with the low ping that has room for another player. Then click 'Join'. All things being well and the game will load up. Depending on how the server is set up, you will either be automatically assigned a team or allowed to choose. Beware that if you are assigned a team automatically, you still have the opportunity to change teams. If you then go on to decide to choose a team the server will display a message to other players that you have swapped teams - get ready for a flaming (it happened to me once). The rule is: let the server decide and don't change it. If for any reason you want to change teams later on (usually if the teams are unfair), you can do so by hitting the 'Tab' key. This screen also acts as a scoreboard and gives you the option to vote in certain circumstances (changing map, kicking players etc).

Now your in the game it's time to get acclimatised. With any luck you'll be on a map that you've already played on your own. If not, then you've got some learning to do. Hitting the 'C' button brings up an overhead map of the level. Try and work out where the key items are on the map - flags, inventory stations, power etc. Use the 'Z' key to zoom in if necessary. Go back to first person perspective (press 'C' again) and have a look around. Use the compass in the top right to get your bearings. Next thing is to try and work out what your team's strategy is (if any). On a public server it's unlikely that anyone will try and command your team (would you want to look at a 2d map after lashing out all that cash on a Voodoo 2 powered PC?), so you'll probably have to decide your own strategy from what others are doing around you.

For your first few games it's best to play in a defensive role. This way you can learn the maps, the weapons and hopefully you'll die less. To play attack you have to know the maps. For the time being, leave that to somebody who knows what they're doing.


Going Defence

If you're on a server with a bunch of newbies then you can bet that they've all gone running out to capture the flag on their own. They won't make it (unless the opposition are really bad). In the mean time the enemy has all the time in the world to blow your base into smithereens and capture your flag. Defence is never the most exciting job in the world, and can reap few rewards. However, an experienced player will acknowledge the great job you are doing for the rest of the team - and hopefully give you some encouragement.

The first thing you should consider doing on defence is laying turrets. How to accomplish this is the most frequently asked newbie question  - read this and don't forget it! To lay a turret you need to purchase a turret from an inventory station. Adding it to one of you favourite setups is a good idea. You can only carry a turret if you are wearing medium or heavy armour. Then find a suitable place to lay it. Preferably choose somewhere that it will catch an enemy intruder by surprise - eg. in a shadowed area or behind an object.

Deployable Turret
Deployable Turret

Deployable turrets are easy to destroy from a distance (with the aid of the zoom), so the less obvious you make them the better. Once you've found your chosen area, look down at the ground at about a 45 degree angle then hit the 'P' key. If it doesn't work, read the message bar. If a message reads 'Deploy Position Out Of Range' you need to look down a little more. If the message reads 'You're in The Way' then it's because you're pointing at your feet - look up a little. If it still won't go down, remember there's a limit to the amount of turrets a team can lay, and you can't place them too close to each other - the message bar will let you know if either of these happens. Run back to the inventory station and pick up another turret. Do the same again until you've exhausted the amount of turrets you can put down.

To maximise the capabilities of your turrets, it's also a good idea to lay motion sensors nearby. Otherwise an enemy equipped with a jammer pack can walk straight by your turret network without a shot being fired. Motion sensor's are laid in the same way as turrets. However, they can be carried by all armour classes.

Motion Sensor
Motion Sensor

With turrets down your base is a lot safer. They'll defend you well against lightly armoured units running in for a quick flag snatch but you'll need to use the rest of your arsenal to deal with the heavier enemy.

To identify who is on your team and who's an enemy, look at the coloured arrows above players heads. Green is your team and red is the enemy. If an arrow doesn't appear, then it's probably an enemy near to a sensor jammer or carrying a jammer pack - shoot the bast.

Consider sniping with the laser rifle from a good vantage point - this way you can pick off enemies from afar. Alternatively go heavy and arm yourself with a mortar gun - this has a good range and large blast radius but is tricky to aim with at first. Note: It's not a good idea to use the mortar gun for this purpose if team damage is on, your teammates will accuse you of being a TK'er (Team Killer) and you'll probably, quite rightly, get kicked off the server.

Another important job of the defence is to repair your base. To repair you can either buy a Repair Pack from an Inventory Station or pick one up from nearby your base (there is usually one nearby). Once you have it, hit the 'P' key, the repair gun should appear. Now you can stand in front of damaged items and pressing the fire button will restore them to their former glory. If the opposing team has taken out your power supply then this should be your first priority for repair (none of the other structures work without it). Remember you can repair your teammates with the repair pack in the same way, and also, if nothing is in range, you can repair yourself. If somebody repairs you then remember to say thanks (VET).

Repair Pack
The Repair Pack

Obviously the biggest job of a defender in a CTF game is to protect the flag at all costs. Keep an eye on the message bar for any indication that your flag is under threat or has been taken. If the enemy as has gotten out with the flag then get after them. Consider suicide with a heavy weapon if you can take the flag carrier out with you - the chances are you will respawn nearer the flag than he does, and can return it back to base.

That's it for the basics on defence. With time you'll acquire your own strategies and adjust how you play according to what your teammates are up to. When you know the maps and how to use the weapons then think about helping out in attack.

I personally prefer to play a defensive role, always did on Quake / Quake 2 - it's far less strenuous on the old ticker. I don't feel qualified enough to write attacking strategy so my old chum BobFat has come to the rescue. Read BobFat's Attacking Strategies.


Other Things a Newbie should know

What the Targetting Laser is for and how to use it. This is the second most newbie FAQ after  'How do I lay a Turret?' This device fires a laser beam towards a specific point and can be used as a 'range finder' for units carrying mortars and grenade launchers. To use the Targetting laser select it using key '9'. Point it at the place you want to take out and press fire. Any mortar carrying heavys can now fairly accurately take your target out. To increase accuracy always use the zoom function when acquiring a target - default key 'E'. Be warned that use of the targetting laser will also make you a sitting duck (a green line points straight at your head. It uses your energy up as well, which may hinder your jet-pack escape.
The Targetting Laser is excellent against static targets such as turrets, but your mortar support will have a hard time if you are tracking a moving target - let them take out 'movers' manually. To be honest, the targetting laser is a nice idea but in reality is not that useful. Anybody who's practised with a mortar gun for long enough, can gauge where they should be aiming, solo.

Targetting Laser
The Targetting Laser

Using the Mortar gun in conjunction with the Targetting Laser. If somebody on your team has gone to the effort of 'painting' a target for you, this is how you use the Mortar accurately. Assuming the target you have been given is in range, a white vertical line will appear on screen with two small blue triangles along it. Both blue triangles indicate the  point you have to aim at to hit the target. The lower one projects the shortest path, while the higher one projects a much more angled trajectory. The advantage of using the higher one is that it's far harder for the enemy to detect where the shells are coming from - plus you can hide away from snipers behind large objects. Note that it's possible to use the grenade launcher in the same way, but it's range and blast radius is much smaller.

The Mortar

Using The Chatmenu Properly. This is an extemely powerful feature of Tribes and can enhance the gameplay enormously when used correctly. With it you can coordinate your attack and defence, and speedily let your team mates know what's going on around you. The chatmenu can be accessed by pressing the 'V' key. Try to learn the three letter shortcuts to the most useful commands. eg. Defending Our Base (VDD), Going Offence (VVG), Incoming Enemies (VDI), Base Secure (VDC).
The chatmenu also contains many useless commands and player animations. These do nothing but irritate your more experienced player trying to fight a battle. Don't use them, at best the other players will mute you, at worse you'll be kicked off the server.

Be weary of mines. This is fairly obvious if you're attacking the enemy base, but don't forget you can trip up on your teammates mines too. A quite legitimate defence is to mine around your own flag and switches. Mines can be hard to see so look out for messages from your team to see where mines have been placed - they've been put there to screw the enemy - not for you to go and destroy them all (and take yourself with them).

Only fly vehicles that you have built. This is the first time I've mentioned vehicles in this guide - you really shouldn't be using them in your first few games - you only have a limited supply of vehicles per team, so you'd only be wasting them right now. It's incredibly annoying to build a vehicle and see somebody else jump in and take off in it. If you want to fly a vehicle, first learn how to pilot offline, second, build your own rather than steal somebody else's.


General Tips

Jump before using the Jetpack. If you're wearing Medium or Heavy armour you'll find it's hard to get off the ground. In maps with floating bases this can be a major pain in the arse. If you jump (spacebar is default) then apply the jetpack while you are still rising, you will find that you can achieve a lot more height.

If an Inventory Station reports it is disabled, then its likely the enemy have taken out your power. Get a repair pack and fix your energy source - either a generator or solar panels.

Always carry a Repair Kit. Not the same thing as a Repair Pack. This smaller and lighter item will give you a quick health boost when you most need it. Activate by hitting the default 'H' key.

Consider remapping the 'use pack' key (default 'P' key) to somewhere nearer your left hand. That way you don't have to move your hand or look down at the keyboard. It will save you some precious seconds. I have it remapped to left-shift.

Try and pair up with another player on your team and help each other out. Using a voice comm program like Roger Wilco really helps too.

If you're being chased and need some help getting away, run backwards and toss out a few mines (Default 'M' key) or grenades (Default 'G' key) into your opponent's path.

There is one chatmenu player animation of some use. The kneel animation (VAZ) makes you about half the height of normal (much smaller than crouching). This makes it perfect for sniping when there's nothing to hide behind.

Remember you can only carry one backpack at a time. The quick way to check what's weighing you down, is switch perspectives to third person view (default 'R' key) and learn what the different packs look like. If you pick up a pack accidentally, you can drop it again using Ctrl-P.

If for any reason you need to suicide it's on Ctrl-K by default. Please use it if your mouse stops working and you're using the only inventory station on the map (I've seen this happen).

Some of the newer CTF maps include additional objectives to flag capturing. If you're playing a map you've never seen before, check the Objectives screen (Default 'O' key). For example on 'The Damned' you'll get 3 points for holding the Dam at the end of the game (could be far easier than 3 flag captures).

If you are suffering from laggy gameplay - hit the 'TAB' key. It will bring up a list of players on the server plus your current ping and packet loss. Packet loss should ideally be zero. If it's not, your game is going to suffer - check your comms settings and try another ISP if necessary. Users of 56k modems may want to try connecting at 33.6k, you'll probably find it a lot more stable. You'll need to check your modem's AT strings for the right command to do this. On my Pace I use +MS=11,0 in advanced modem properties.

Ensure you are running the latest version of the game. Dynamix have released serveral updates with bug-fixes and enhancements. The current version is 1.4 you can download it from Tribesplayers.


Useful Files

These are scripts and tools which I've put together using various utilities and other peoples scripts around the web (I don't have the names of the peeps who wrote these - if you want credit then drop me a line). Netscape users may have to hold down shift when clicking on the links to get them to download correctly.

autoexec.cs - This file goes in your \Tribes\config directory. It's the Tribes equivalent of a Quake autoexec.cfg file but much more versatile. This config file includes automated messages on certain events (flag capture, flag taken), a Disc Launcher jump (bound to the ALT key), and a series of voice commands bound to F1 thru F12 (this was the only part I did myself) - for this to work you'll need the voiceList.cs file as well. If you're gonna use this autoexec then please substitute your player name for mine throughout the script. Note if F1 doesn't work properly, it's because you've got it mapped to another key - by default F1 is mapped to "player view" - remap it to something else. There's also a bug in the game which prevents F10 from working properly - you may want to bind something less important than 'Incoming Enemies' to it!

voiceList.cs - Also goes into your \Tribes\config directory. I pinched most of this from Planetstarsiege's scripting section - however there were a few sounds missing so i've added them in.

tribeskeys.xls - Excel spreadsheet the you can print off and use in conjunction with the keys set up in the autoexec.cs above. Stick it above your F keys for quick reference. BTW, remember to print it of in landscape.

tribespeak.doc - Word doc which you can print off for quick reference to some of the chatmenu commands.


Tribal Links - please e-mail if you want a link adding.

Planetstarsiege - The Tribes equivalent of planetquake and planetunreal.
Tribes Nation - All the latest info on the UK scene.
Tribesplayers - Carries the html version of the manual and plenty of other stuff.
Tribesplayers UK - The official UK version of TP.
Datumplane - Load of Starsiege info including a Tribes players list.

Xtremegaming - Great site for downloading new maps for Tribes.
Gamespyder - Find links to some more Tribes sites.
Tribes Top 25 Websites - Find more links to other Tribes Sites.
GameSpot UK - Read GameSpot's playtest of Tribes
Barrysworld - Continuing to Serve the UK online gaming community for free.
Tribesplayers BBS - Very active Tribes Message board.
Tribal Warfare - News, Info and other Tribes related stuff.
Wireplay Tribes League - A UK league with it's home based on Wireplay.

UK Tribes League - The first and toughest UK Tribes competition. But watch out for...
The Banana Republic - The Tribe that I play for.
Cuba's Tribes Page - Fellow Banana Tribesman Cuba's Site - Get Your Tribe a Web Presence Here

GriBBsY on Dangerous Crossing CTF
GriBBsY on 'Dangerous Crossing'

The Tribes Webring

Thanks go to everyone who supplied input to this in the newsgroup. Particularly those who responded to the 'What annoys you about newbie Tribesmen' thread. I'd also like to thank all the early adopters to Tribes in the UK (Tribe McMental, Head Hunters et al) - without you this guide would never have been written. Not forgetting Barrysworld for having servers online months before the Euro release.

All above is copyright 1999 Steve Griggs. If you really want to steal it (and you must be really desperate) then please ask and ye shall more than likely get. Any feedback is welcome and should be sent here. If you've got any tips that you think should be included then please mail those too. To see what else is on offer at GriBBsY's, go here.

Gribbsy Productions 1998 - 1999