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 Standard Squad Leader gameplay tips

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PostSubject: Standard Squad Leader gameplay tips   Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:17 am


If you're squad-leading, chances are it's because all the other squads were either full, or full of idiots. Good for you, bear the following in mind and hopefully you'll do a better job of it than most of the glorified lone-wolfers about.

**MAKE SURE YOU'VE GOT THE SQUAD-/CELL- LEADER OR CIVILIAN KIT IF YOU WANT TO BE AN INFANTRY SQUAD LEADER** - you can spawn with them if your squad has enough people in it, or you can request it from crates if people join your squad while you are already spawned.

1. Create an appropriate squad; disband (lock, and kick all) and rename it if it becomes redundant. If you want to be a sniper, get *ONE* guy to be your spotter and *LOCK THE SQUAD*. If you want to drive armour, get a gunner (or two if you want a cupola gunner on the machine gun) and *lock the squad*. Some admins / commanders prefer ALL APCs to be in one 6 man squad to save on slots. That's ok, but it can be frustrating for the commander not to be able to contact the pilots separately and give them separate move markers, etc.

If you're leading infantry, make sure you have key objectives and counter-objectives in mind before you start, and name it appropriately. Call a squad "defence", and make sure that your squad is the one that is camping flags which can be captured, or is guarding a KEY (and not all of these will be key) firebase, hideout, cache or other spawn location. Realise that other squads will occasionally have the same idea, in which case be ready to fulfil another role.

2. Kick slackers from your squad. If you're doing your job, your squad should have a clear objective in mind at all times, and players not contributing to that goal should be warned, and then kicked. You can lock the squad temporarily to prevent slackers from continually rejoining if they don't get the message. Slackers are people who don't follow orders or otherwise try to lone-wolf. As SL it's your job NOT TO BE TOO ANAL about your orders, however. It's your job to keep your squad together, alive, and on-mission. It isn't your job to micromanage every little detail about how they put your instructions into practice. It IS your job to facilitate their needs and requests. That means if your squad is split up, it's your job to figure how and where to meet up or organise transport.

3. Don't whore assets. If you're in an APC, your job is to transport squads and allow them to rearm first and foremost. Close infantry support is a bonus, and laying down tons of lethal death is merely good fun. Don't forget your main job.
If you're in humvees, consider getting 1 gunner and being a transporter. 2 humvees will carry a squad, plus two dedicated drivers and two dedicated gunners, plus the two crates needed to put up a firebase: Dedicated 4 men humvee squads are rare, but of the greatest value when done properly - If the gunners go combat-engineers, they can clear mines too, or breach walls / buildings with C4 for the squads they drop off.
If you're in a transport chopper, try to find out if the squad-leader wants supplies to rearm or to build. If it's the latter, get a second crate back to him ASAP so you're not wasting 6 people's time while they're standing around.
If you're in a tank or attack chopper - that is not a license to see how many kills you can get. Supporting infantry is much more important than personal glory / blood-lust.
If you're infantry, don't take the Anti-Tank (H-AT) kit unless you have a specific target in mind, if you don't run into armour you're hurting a friendly squad who is probably face-to-face with it and needs that kit to nail it. Same goes for Anti-Air.

4. Have a clear objective in mind; if your Commander gives you one, make sure you do your best to achieve it. It is impossible to keep a squad together if none of them know what you are trying to achieve and feel they are just walking around aimlessly. For most maps, you will have two options - attack the flag with the orange attack marker, or defend the flag(s) with the purple defence marker(s). Place an "attack" or "defend" icon on either so your squad know which one to go for. Remember, these are the objectives of the game and ANYTHING ELSE IS JUST A DISTRACTION. The same is true for the caches you assault / defend in INSURGENCY game mode. Defending firebases is useful in many circumstances, but not if it's pulling vital bodies off cache-clearing or flag-capture. Feel free to query your commander, or else ask him to reconsider. Some commanders are terrible, or griefers, and are best ignored. That's fair enough, but remember to treat him as you'd like to be treated if YOU were commanding.

5. Assign kits that you need to achieve your objectives. Make sure you have at least one medic (two is nice, but not essential), get a specialist if you anticipate needing to breach doors or grapple up buildings, over walls / cliffs.
Don't be afraid to let squad-mates grab Grenadier, Automatic Rifleman kits; or the Anti-Tank Rifleman (L-AT) and Marksman kits to a lesser, more specialised extent. If used properly they can be very powerful, and you don't lose very much for favouring them over a standard rifleman. As they are squad- (not team-) limited, you won't be depriving your team of essential kits such as Anti-Air or the Anti-Tank (H-AT) kits.

Try to FACILITATE the use of these kits. Get the grenadier to lay down long-range smokescreens, smoke up a building you think there are defenders who'll try to snipe you from; launch grenades onto technicals from long-range, etc etc. It is often a much safer means of dealing with threats than the standard squad charge-and-rinse - a single grenadier-shot into a room that kills all three occupants instantly and unawares is better than a protracted gunfight that leaves one occupant prone and hiding ready to ambush the first person through the door.
Likewise, if your squad gets the drop on ANY infantry, get your automatic rifleman in position and deployed, ready to suppress BEFORE you get the scoped riflemen / marksman to pick them off. The suppression will prevent the risk of counter-fire.

6. Use the markers clearly, frequently, and usefully. You have two methods of placing them, either via the map on the squad-screen, or via the commo-rose. If you use the commo-rose, you can "place" them more precisely by targetting features with the SOFLAN or Binoculars.
Use "move" indicate the position you want the squad to make their way to, you can use this to indicate a way-point (cover, a place to regroup, a defensible position to survey the surroundings, etc etc) on your route to a more important objective.
Use "defend" icon to mark on the map flags, firebases, or terrain features (ambush choke points) you want the squad to take up defensive positions around.
Use the binocs / SOFLAN and the "target" icon to mark up enemy units. This last one is REALLY useful for people in the fixed .50 calibre guns, as they can't zoom, so it gives them a target to suppress; likewise it means grenadiers can nail the target with indirect-fire from behind walls, it gives a range for marksmen or snipers to work out the zeroing and elevation too, it lets you give the commander a very precise contact report location for air-support, etc.
Use the SQUAD-MAP and the "observe" icon to position it DIRECTLY ON TOP OF FRIENDLY UNITS so that your squad can see if the units on the horizon really ARE the friendlies on the map, or if there's enemy squads between you sneaking up on them. Also if there's an area where you suspect an enemy rally point / cache that you need to scope out.
Use the "Build" icon to mark up where you want crates dropped by squad-mates and for them to ready their shovels.
Use the "demo" icon to mark up bridges, structures, assets, etc that need booby-trapping or destruction.

As a squad leader, you can also request chopper/APC pick-ups for your squad, and supply drops. These will place an icon on the map for friendly units to see. Placing coloured smoke on safe level ground where you want the crates / pick-up also helps pilots figure out PRECISELY where you want them.

Remember, your squad will be following your orders, and if you expect blind obedience you'd better damn well be infallible when it comes to issuing them. That includes using the "HOLD!" and "GO GO GO!" verbal commands off the commo-rose.

7. Place rallies in secure places so they don't get over-run, and update their position regularly. Running for miles to catch up your squad is no fun at all. Keep your squad's rally point up at all times.

8. Don't bash your head against a brick wall. If you're making no progress with one strategy, switch. Pick a different route to the objective, go for another objective; regroup at main or a different firebase; wait for more support, ask commander for alternative suggestions. Get your grenadier to spam an area; get your CO to drop an area-attack; get your specialist to rope you onto a roof, through some closed gates, over a wall. Toss grenades into a building you can't assault safely. Try smoke-grenading every inch of the way between you and cover. Remember, deaths don't cause insurgents to lose tickets, but they do bring the coalition forces ever-closer to defeat. Insurgent deaths are nice for getting intelligence points, but are worthless if you neglect taking out caches to pursue them.

9. Build smart. Make sure the firebase isn't in a exposed position where it will get hit from long-range by snipers, grenadiers, anti-tank fire, tank-shells, APC fire, etc etc. Place a foxhole near to crates so that anti-tank/air kits can have cover whilst waiting for ammo to recharge. Use razor-wire to block doorways and roads and limit access to the base (make sure you leave a SAFE way out for the people spawning!). Place the HMGs (.50 cal heavy machine guns) so they have a narrow view to cover with their kill-zone so they are harder to out-flank. Make sure that, if AA emplacement is necessary, it's relatively high up to avoid as many obstructions as possible that aircraft can fly behind as cover. Don't build in the middle of nowhere - there's no point in a firebase that's further from objectives than a main; but don't build it somewhere that enemies will obviously get close to. It may seem "safe" up against impenetrable buildings, but it still may be in range of enemies lurking beyond the walls, even if there's no possible route through those buildings to get to it. Too many enemies too close = no spawning.

10. You're not alone. Use mumble to co-ordinate with other squad-leaders across the level, or other grunts / drivers / pilots who are up close and personal. Get the commander to relay messages to other squads, to place (AND DELETE!) contact report markers (especially for tanks, rallies, firebases, etc. etc.) or to instruct armoured squads to come support you.
As a squad-leader you can call in area-attacks (if there is a commander present) which can take out caches without you even needing to get close; or lazer targets for planes / choppers to destroy from halfway across the map.
Even if there's no anti-air/armour vehicles available to support you, even some transport choppers can drop an ammo crate for you. Get a squadmate to grab an AA/H-AT kit out of that, and your squad is capable to take on and eliminate any threats it may come across.

A beginner's guide to commanding will follow in a subsequent post, although I consider it to be of limited utility given the absence of commanders ATM, and hopefully a massive revamp for them in the near future to address the issues that lead to this.

With thanks to Ave42 for this tutorial
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