The calling of targets is an advanced technique that is not seen very often, and it is practiced nowhere near as often as it should be. Calling a target and focusing the fire of a team is what can make or break a team in any match, from 2 v 2 to 4 v 4, humans versus bots, return or no return. While this will discuss the theories of target calling, this should by no means be considered definitive. Calling targets is as much an art form as it is a technique. On the other hand, consider this at least a primer on the subject…
I’ll start by making 2 basic points that need to be made. First off, consider the page on the Communication MFD a must read, if you do not already know this information. This will give you an idea of what each pilot sees when you are calling targets, and is useful for all pilots, not just those who are calling targets. Second, the ability to call targets and handle them as a team is only as good as the team you are working with. You can call targets correctly every time, and it will not matter if your teammates are not following the commands you are giving. If your team is simply charging headlong into every situation, most of the time the other team will use tactics to combat this, and it is very rare that you have such an advantage that you can overcome an opposing team easily.
Now, in terms of selecting the optimal target in a situation, there are generally 3 rules that a pilot can follow, and these tactics work reasonably well for any general situation. These are what I will generally look for, in order:
2) Target gives a Significant Advantage due to Damage – Always look to concentrate fire on a damaged and weakened mech, and take him out whenever possible. Simply, a destroyed mech will never shoot back at you. Point to remember, however, is to avoid killing off an enemy mech when it is too close to a teammate. Not only will this cost your teammate precious armor, if your teammate is killed by the splash, you’ll lose points and firepower as well.
3) Target gives a Significant Advantage due to Pilot or Mech Choice – The hardest part to tell, and by far the most subjective. This actually breaks down into 3 parts. First, you can have an edge based upon your choice of mech versus what your opponents have in terms of tonnage. Second, with certain mechs weak to missiles or energy based weapons, it is possible to have an advantage based on weapons loadout. Third, it is also possible to have an advantage due to pure piloting skill. All of these can easily influence which mech to go after first, and a lot of the decisions on where to go first will come down to preference of the caller. One situation, it might be best to go after 2 smaller mechs advancing to your left quickly, eliminate them, and then go after the 2 larger remaining mechs. Other pilots might prefer to seek out the larger targets, destroy them, then clean up the 2 smaller mechs afterward.
There are two other points to think about that will affect who and how you call, and how a mech should be handled once a target is called. Ideally, with all teammates targeting a single mech, once the called mech gets to a certain level of damage, you will be able to break off firing at Target A, can start looking for the next logical target, and can start attacking Target B. This will allow your teammates to move fluidly from one target to the next, and will put at least a small amount of damage into another member of the opposing team. Just remember not to call Target B until Target A is defeated.
The other major point to think about is battle placement. When playing a no return game, this is not a major factor, beyond advantages given by terrain and elevation. However, in a return game, the caller has to think about how close the target is to the opposing spawn point, and in turn how quickly the defeated enemy can return to the battle. Ideally, in a return game, you do not want to go far beyond the midpoint between the two spawn points. Allowing the fight to take place in or very close to the opponent’s base simply means they can get reinforcements more quickly, and will generally have the full team available to attack more often than you will have all of your teammates available.
One last thing to remember is that the Communications system is not perfect. Your teammates will not get every message, and will not always give a response. However, with practice, most teammates will be able to tell what you’re thinking, and what the optimal target is, just by watching you.
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