Basic competitive NS2 tutorial

This tutorial will mainly focus on what should be in the minds of ground players, but will also include some situations where there needs to be a decisive decision from the team, likely the commander. I will try to be as brief as possible but still explaining the points, although it will probably still be a bit of a read.
The main things that ground players should be focusing on are map awareness, team play, positioning,  picking engagements, the economy war of the game and utilizing the opportunities the game presents you to gain an upper hand.
First and foremost go and set up your NS2 settings, so they suit you.
Here is my recommendation of how to set up your NS2 for competitive:
Map Awareness:
You need to be aware of what is going on, on the map, look at the map every few seconds when not in direct combat. Knowing where every single one of your enemies is on the map at all times and figuring out their goals is the point of map awareness. That way you and your team can use this information and counteract the moves made by the enemy team, to gain an upper hand.
You also need a good headset to listen to your surroundings and hear which direction noisy targets are incoming from. This is really important for both teams, being able to hear which direction an enemy is attacking from, is vital. This means that you should try to keep your voice chat to an absolute minimum, giving only the important information that is needed. You should not under any circumstances let this ideology prevent you from passing on your map awareness to your team. That awareness is crucial if you want to win. You should never discuss what to do during a game, decisions should simply be made and everyone should follow them. That is true team play.
If you are not aware of ALL your enemy’s positions, you should always expect an attack. Have your crosshair aimed at positions where the enemy could come from, to be ready to shoot/parasite/spike etc. the very moment they come into your view. Check EVERY little corner carefully and you’re behind every few seconds, if the enemy has access to get behind you, as you progress the map, but be fast about it, because time is resources. In other words; never go carelessly into a room that is not scouted, you never know where an enemy (or even more than one) is hiding. And especially aliens play around ambushing and outnumbering, because of their melee attacks and their ability to traverse the map a lot quicker than marines. 
You always want to avoid getting surrounded by the enemy and sticking with your teammates. Often falling back on the map is a really good idea, to make a spawning teammate be able to catch up to you sooner, rather than later.
Team play:
Team play is on several levels, one of them is organizing through voice chat. The other is getting in 'sync' in-game with your team. The latter is the hardest to achieve. 
It is very important to communicate your map awareness with your team on the voice chat. You should only give the vital information and keep it as brief as possible. As a ground player, you should always call out how many enemies and which weapons/life form they have and at which location. All that information needs to be compressed to it is delivered as fast as possible to your teammates. It could be for example:
"2 skulks 1 lerk topo" - Meaning that you've spotted 2 skulks and 1 lerk at topographical (ns2_veil)
Many of the location names are being shortened to give the information faster and keep the voice chat clear of unnecessary noise, so you clearly can hear incoming enemies. Here is a list of shortened locations names:
You should always call out to your teammates the moment you see or hear the enemy, every time you encounter an enemy. That helps your teammates by giving them your map awareness the instant you get it and they can more quickly counteract the enemy. For example; your teammates should think about which escape routes the targets have that you called out have and they should try surround/help ambush the targets if they are in a position on the map to do it. If you don’t call out your map awareness to your teammates, you are not giving your team what it needs.
Getting in 'sync' with your team are all the things that you can't organize in the moment with voice chat. like the exact moment and target of an attack, for example when several skulks are attacking a marine, knowing when the other skulks are using cover to bait marine bullets/confuse aim and the timing of the initiation of the melee attack. Using cover as a group of skulks is vital if the individual skulks are being targeted by the marines. You can say "go" on your voice chat and that will bring you a long way, but it really comes down to how well you 'sync' in-game and executes the engagements.
After you have become really good with giving all the necessary information and utilizing it to surround and ambush your enemies, you should try to practice games without talking on the voice chat at all and aim to do the same thing without talking on the voice chat at all. This will improve your teams 'sync', but if you haven't got your voice communication and the team play that should originate from it, then I don't believe you will get much use of this and it will just result in a game that is a lot more unorganized than before. Get the communication down first, then focus on getting your team in sync.
Positioning and picking engagements:
NS2 is an asymmetric shooter, which means the teams play very differently. The aliens do most damage when they are close to a target and the marines do good damage on range, but have a harder time hitting their targets up close and with a lower DPS than the aliens have on melee combat.
As a marine you would like to have as much distance to the aliens as possible, while having the aliens in line of sight and being able to shoot them. Try to keep your distance to any potential alien cover, especially if you know an enemy is or might be hiding there. Ranged damage is your advantage.
You can jump backwards by rotating your screen 90 degrees to the left or the right and quickly holding "A" or "D"(or whatever your preferred movement keys are), depending if you look 90 degrees to the left or the right and then jumping, all done within a second. Then you jump backwards, away from your target and you can turn back the 90 degrees and shoot at your target again, while you’ve gained some quick distance via jumping. You can repeat the jump after a very short period of being back on the ground. It can save your life in many situations, giving you just the needed distance to do the required damage. Simply holding “S” and jumping won’t give you near as much distance because of the backpedal penalty.
Should an enemy come up close to you, you can also try to strafe around them while shooting them by holding either “A” or “D”, this makes it harder for your enemy to connect the bites because they have to spin around themselves to kill you when doing this.
When jumping/dodging, make sure to do it in the opposite direction of your teammate, so you create more distance for your teammate to do more damage if he is attacked directly after you. But be sure to not jump around a corner so you break line of sight to your teammate, if you do this, it is basically suicide if you are being attacked. Your teammate won’t be able to help you.
Your teammates can make a huge difference if you are in their line of sight. They are able to do damage the moment you are attacked if you are near a teammate. Make sure you can fully see and cover nearby teammates at all times! Good aliens will pick you off the moment you split up. As a single marine without cover, you are very vulnerable to ambushing aliens, having a teammate to help shoot attacking aliens off of you is priceless, kills don't matter, staying alive does. It is never worth it to sacrifice yourself to chase a skulk around a corner, where there might be more aliens waiting for you. Good aliens will try to lure you into an ambush, don’t fall for it.
Marines should always try to cover all routes leading to the marine base, to prevent any kind of base attack by the aliens. Try to progress at about the same time on all fronts of the map and either fall back or attack the enemy economy when the opposite front of your team gets attacked. Choice depending on the situation, if you are in near vicinity of an alien harvester, you should try to kill it if you think you can make it before the aliens rotate around the map to defend it. If not, fall back and push the front back up as your teammates pushes theirs.
Sneak attacks can also be very useful for marines, if you can see/hear that you are outnumbered by incoming aliens and you are not spotted/parasited by the aliens yet, then you can try to hide and pray the aliens won't check the hiding spots and pass on to other parts of the map, this makes you able to get behind their front line and attack their economy and force them to spend their time running back across the map to defend it, leaving you more time to do damage. Bypassing the aliens can be good to do with a single marine or two, as long as the remaining marines are able to hold your economy, but most of the aliens need to be on your part of the map, so they have to waste time to go all the way back to group up and kill you. This is generally a bad idea, if the aliens are all alive and on their side of the map/close to their harvesters. It is only a good idea if 4 or more aliens are on the offensive and you can see/bet that your teammates are going to hold it. You should focus on holding your own resources over killing enemy resources as marines. Hiding around a corner with a shotgun against an incoming fade or lerk can be very advantageous if they don’t know that you are there.
As an alien you would like to be as close to the marine as possible before he starts shooting at you, waiting around a corner, waiting for the marine(s) to come close by, is always the better option compared to going into a room where the marine(s) have plenty of range to shoot you as you close the gap to your target(s). You can however try to waste his bullets with erratic movement. Always imagine how your life form looks from the enemy’s point of view, your goal is to make it as hard as possible to kill you. You should try to make random patterns of movement as you engage, instead of going head-first into marines. Use the space and cover of the maps and your movement ability to try and waste the ammo of marines. When a marine is reloading or just low on ammo in his clip, he is fast food for aliens.
In engagements, you would like to outnumber the enemy, especially as aliens. Aliens have the fastest movement and they generally dictate when and where the engagements happen because of this. If you have two marines, two ambushing skulks could do the job if they execute perfect timing and teamwork. But getting a good ambush is hard against good marines. You would prefer to outnumber them and have at least three or more skulks to take down two marines, if the marines are holding a room that you want to take, outnumbering them is key. Three marines, you would want to have at least four aliens. With 4 or 5 marine pushes you would want to try and defend with most of your team (alien commander should likely jump out to defend), while having a single or two guys doing pressure on their phase gates/economy to pull them back from pressuring.
When there are higher tier weapons/life forms involved you also have to account for that when trying to outnumber the enemy. A shotgun is significantly more dangerous to skulks than standard rifles are. A good rule of thumb is to put weapons and life forms into categories tier 1, 2 and 3. Tier 1 being vanilla rifle marines/skulks/gorges. Tier 2 being lerk/fade/shotgun/HMG/GL. Tier 3 being onos/exosuits/jetpacks. Then say that for every tier the enemy has higher than you, you need another player to take them down, than you normally would at the same tier as described just above. So for example: Three skulks (with leap) to take down a single jetpack fairly reliably. Four skulks for two jetpacks. Without leap, that can be very hard, but increase the players by one more and you suddenly have a chance. But if you ended up in this situation, something else went wrong and you don’t have the required life forms/upgrades/map control.
When you want to attack as a group of aliens, you would like to have your players attack from different angles and you would like to have two players attack the same target to negate medpacks and eventual other players to attack other targets, to take their aim off of the two players attacking the one target. As you approach your target(s) you should be trying to go behind any piece of cover the maps offers, this is especially important if you are being targeted and shot at and it will force the marines to pick another target and you will stay alive for longer and be able to help in the engagement. Getting a good engagement is very important when marines are blocking the routes to their resources especially because you can't always surround the marines in those situations, you need to outnumber them and make a timed attack.
When marines are grouped up with 3-5 marines it can be really hard to engage them, especially if they have the range advantage at their position. What you should try to do is split up your forces and attack their economy all over the map, to force the marines to split up to save their resources. When the marines are split up, it is much easier to engage both them and their forward bases. This tactic can be really good to break marine forward positions like phase gates.
A sneak attack is also an option, but it is very hard against marines that have good map awareness and it is definitely very situational of when it can actually be successful. If your teammates are busy doing other things, like pressure on enemy economy or defending your own economy and you're the only one going for resources and you are forced into a 1on1 engagement; you should try to ambush and come from a location/corner where it is not expected at the very moment the marine walks closest to that corner/hiding spot. You can get the timing down with just listening to the footsteps of the marine(s). Good marines will try to trick you by walking back and forth and trying to lure you into a bad engagement where the marines have range advantage, if they know you are there, picking the right moment can be hard, but you need to be patient when waiting and decisive when you make the move. Be silent a bit before you expect the enemy to be able to hear you.
As skulks in the early game you will want to parasite as many marines as possible while staying alive. You want to hurt the marine economy while protecting your own. You can crush one of the marine’s natural extractors (the ones closest to the marine base). Be sure to only try to do this in rooms where you can get a somewhat decent engagement. 2 or 3 marines will often kill 5 skulks if they have the range advantage. The other approach is trying to parasite the entire marine team and then set up group attacks, while at least one skulk is sneaking behind the marines to hurt their economy. Sneaking behind the marines becomes to hurt the economy becomes the skulks main purpose later in the game, when most of the team has other life forms to combat the marines, like the fades. When attacking marine structures (phase gates, for example) as a group, one skulk should always keep biting the structure even if marines are popping into the room. This keeps constant DPS on the structure and it will more likely go down. Try to hide behind the structure from the marines bullets if possible. The other teammates should focus on killing marines so they don’t kill the one guy attacking their structure.
The main priority is to heal and build. Healing nearby teammates to full health should always be your top priority. The gorge also helps build alien structures by healing them; the gorge is the most useful in the early game to get a tunnel up so aliens can traverse the map even more quickly. Mid-game the gorge is not that useful, although it’s the best front line healing station you can get. It becomes a lot more useful again when there is onos on the field, they need the gorge to effectively be able to attack any marine locations and be sure to stay alive.
As a lerk your main priority is to defend your resources and your teammates. You are a support class that can divert marine’s attention and you have the free movement of flying, you can really use the space of the maps to make it harder for marines to hit you. Doing some quick left/right or up/down gliding maneuvers (double-press and hold space, change direction, release and repeat) can sometimes save your life by throwing off the aim of the marines. Try to take the attention of the marines and make them waste their ammo on you so the skulks and other life forms have an easier time engaging, do this by spiking from a distance while strafe flying left and right. But be careful, the lerk is by no means a tank. The lerk is a support class and you should not fly in close and try to bite marines unless they are out of ammo. Always keep your distance to shotguns, they won’t hurt you much on range, but if they get close enough they can kill you in an instant. You should also be careful of any higher tech weapons of the marines, GL/HMG/Exosuit/Jetpack are all also very dangerous to the lerk. The lerk has decent structure DPS, but it is very vulnerable when biting structures, because it becomes a static target. Be very careful if you bite structures as a lerk, it might be a deathtrap if there are nearby marines to pick you off while you are biting.
As fade your main purpose is to kill the marines. Fades have very bad structure damage and are usually better off not attacking any structures at all. While fades have the upper hand against a single rifle marine, the terms are more equal against shotguns and higher tier weapons. And you will need team play to take down groups of marines, especially if they have weapons. Just like the lerk, the main priority for the fade is to defend your resources, while skulks work on the marine economy. However, if marines are on the back foot and only present on their own side of the map, the fades can go on offensive and group with the skulks.
As onos your main priority is like the lerks and fades, to defend your own resources. While the onos is a tank, it is very vulnerable by itself. You should focus on being on your own side of the map, where you always have a safe escape route. You can also group up with the other life forms to attack an offensive position, but I would only recommend doing this if you have a gorge and other life forms with you. You should tank the initial damage of engagements, but you should also make sure be able to escape in time to survive. The onos have very good structure damage and should in an attack on a structure always have to keep attacking the structure until it’s down, don’t chase the marines and trust that your teammates will kill them. Don’t panic and just watch your health, when you have about 60% health remaining, you should already be running if the threat is still present to do damage on you. As a general rule of thumb; 1-2 marines, you can kill them before they can kill you, if it is 3 or more marines, you should run unless you got backup from other life forms.
The resource game:
As a marine you would like to have more extractors than the aliens have harvesters. This means holding your own resources and having more of them than the aliens have, is more important than killing the alien harvesters. Going on the offense against an alien team that has most of their players alive is usually a certain deathtrap; they will be grouping up on you and try to clear you as soon as they have outnumbered you. Hold all the routes to the marine base and resources from somewhere around the middle of the map with your marines and only pressure harvesters when you get a decent amount of kills within a short time, so you know most of their team is dead. It is far easier to protect what you got than it is to go into alien territory with alien players alive to protect it. 
As aliens, you would like to have at least one skulk bypass the marines and attack the extractors the entire game, you only want to group up to kill marines if they are a danger to your economy/structures. For example: if the marines are pushing for your harvesters or if they are setting up a forward base (phase gate) that you want to prevent, because that makes it easier for the marines to attack your economy. If the marines attack your economy, you should still leave one guy to pressure their economy and avoid contact with marines, point being that you defend with most of your team but still leave one guy that can make you come up with the upper hand; you never want to have the entire team on the defensive as aliens. Try to get as many marines parasited as you can without taking much damage, do this by quickly peeking around a corner and parasiting the marine(s), then quickly falling back to a safe position again and go take another route (vents etc.) to the marine resources or ambush with teammates.
Applies for both:
You would want to stay alive as much as possible; staying alive prevents the enemy from doing any significant pressure on your economy. Sometimes it’s better to stand your ground or fall back on the map rather than progressing on the map. It makes you able to group up and kill the enemy by outnumbering/surrounding them. Protecting the economy is vital for both teams, but aliens should always leave at least one guy attacking enemy economy. Defending and team play is most important for marines though, for them it would be bad to always have a single guy on the offense. That should only happen if only a single guy is in position to pressure alien economy, while aliens are attacking on
When your team gets a good amount of kills (3-4+) or within a few seconds or simply kills a strong life form(like a fade or onos), that is a good opportunity to pressure the enemy economy and possibly their base. This is usually something a good commander would tell you to do in that situation, if you have held your own resources. Else he will tell you to recapture your own resources first and then try and then kill them again and to make another opportunity to pressure.
This is the second edition. Please leave any feedback, suggestions, criticism and questions in the comments. Then I will do my best to address it. Hope this will be of some use to new teams out there.
swalk on 11 March 15 03:47



Blank jiriki | old people

Nice work.

28 March 2015, 00:37


Blank CRaZyCAT | Gorges Gone Wild

I'm totally agree with lerk's support style and totally disagree with fade's defend/support style.

19 May 2015, 10:25


Blank Kaydex

This is my new bible

19 January 2016, 08:57


Blank rudyeckert | Diamond Gamers


Why do you disagree with his fade tips? I find them to be 100 percent on point.

20 March 2017, 16:48

New Comment
Please log in or register to post comments.