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I guess I shouldn't have been so surprized at my latest Planetside experience, since I have had similiar ones in WarBirds before. After all, it was "flying" as a member of the 100th Bomb Group Heavy that I would spend 3 hours or more, staring at a computer monitor, at the graphically rendered portion of a B-17 windscreen, trying to keep 2" of windscreen adjusted to little frikken dots out ahead of me, formation flying for hours at time producing some of the worse neck and backaches I have ever had.

So, the other night, I saw some guys MISusing a weapon called The Flail. The Flail is the closest thing PlanetSide (PS) has to an artillery weapon, in that it is extremely powerful, slow rate of fire......but has the only capability to fire beyond your line of sight. From one side of the "map" to the other. These guys were using like I have seen it used for nearly ALL of my PS career...rolling it up to the doors of an enemy base like a plasma battering ram, getting one or two shots off and then getting killed (they are fragile machines).

I decided that it was time to change. I re-certified for the Flail, and then rolled it out the door of the motor pool. I stayed within the walls of the base, right next to the re-arm and re-load depot, so that every time I fired a shot, I would automatically reload.

Then I started looking for customers. Asking players to be my "spotters"; people who could call the "shots" and tell me to adjust. It was very hard, because most of the kids online don't know anything about artillery spotting. But finally I got a couple willing to try.

In the game every player has the ability to put a marker down on the map, which displays as a giant white column. So I would zoom in on the map, place a marker down on an enemy motor pool (I'm using different terminology than the game, to help with WW2 grognards understanding), and then start firing. This would give my my bearing; I just needed help with the range.

After three shots or so, I would start making hits. At first I was simply taking out enemy vehicles and crew who had rolled out, paused to add more gunners, or load different kinds of ammo. I racked up impressive numbers of kills just by saturating the courtyard. Then my spotter moved my rounds in on the "vehicle pad" itself, a place where players went to select their armor/aircraft/etc. One hit is enough to take it out until someone repairs it. This would deny the enemy, even briefly, the ability to roll aircraft and armor. Then me and my spotter would learn to stop firing, wait until several engineers came out to repair it, and players stood in line to use the VecPad...then call in another shot right on target. VERY impressive number of kills, and it took them several iterations to realize what we were doing.

So now the enemy is pissed. And my side (outnumbered that night) is starting to realize that we are getting an advantage with the VecPad out of action. Enemy aircraft are now trying to get through to my base, and successfully launching missiles at me, but the auto-guns of the base are taking them out as they come one at a time because the my position next to the repair pod is fixing me up faster than their rockets are damaging me. Some of the AA Max units (powered suits with AA guns) notice that I am "attracting" these aircraft, so by the time they start coming at me in groups of 2-3-4 the AA units are in place, and wipe them from the skies.

Spotters report a column of armor is heading towards my base (taken from another enemy base, not the one I am hammering). I rebroadcast the report, and armor guys from my side roll out to intercept them. Even better, engineers lay down mines outside of the sector of the base I am in. The few light and fast enemy units that are not taken out by friendly armor and aircraft, are blown up by mines as they attempt to charge through the gates to destroy me.

Now as our side assaults the base I had been hitting, I have four more spotters willing to work with me by sending private messages. The commo alone is getting complicated. I am hitting the nearest bases to the main attack, trying to take out their VecPads. I can usually do it with 3-4 shots if the spotter is good. And the spotters, usually "cloakers" hiding inside the base, or airscout pilots at high alt, are learning to swoop in an kill the engineers who run out to repair the VecPads. We are systematically denying the enemy access to aircraft and armor.

From my position back in the base, a nearby Motion Sensor Alarm starts going nutz. Then, explosions start going off around me....its a cloaker trying to place mines/boomers to take me out. The repair pod is rebuilding, but not fast enough. I send out a call for help ,and 10 people respond, hunting down the cloakers. By now, my kill-death ratio is something like 62-4 (normally, I have something like 4-2Cool

Finally, the enemy resorts to Total War. In a previous post, I described how players of Command Rank would jump out of aircraft, triggering an Orbital Strike on a position before they died (think of a nuclear-armed suicide bomber). Airscout planes started overflying the base, most getting shot out of the sky by the AA. A few guys jumped out in time, and the giant-turbine sound of the OS would start.....but my "guards" on the ground would kill them before the OS hit, cancelling the strike. I went on another 5 minutes, before one Command Rank managed to sneak through, and trigger an OS on his own position. After hours of play, I was finally dead.

Teamwork, and layers of operations. Man, that was fun. The amazing thing was....I received LOTS of private messages from guys on the other side, congratulating me on the "new" tactics. Most of them I didn't start; the AA guys, air guys and armor guys all took it upon themselves to "protect" this asset.

I envision a squad of Flail drivers in the coming weeks, with supporting spotters and maybe an AA platform or two. Lets see how the "Zerg" deals with this.
Very interresting read. I'm playing a simmilar game named Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising but it's not an MMORPG. Please keep posting this kind of stories ^^.
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