Gary Whittingham – Birmingham, UK & Brisbane, Australia

Wave 256 gameplay, to use for training

Author’s observation-  What you will see in the video is a basic pattern emerging in the chaos (herding sheep with a general goal in mind).

  1. At the start of the wave 5’s when humanoids regenerate, try to smart-bomb a majority of bombers
  2. move just below the terrain and eradicate all humanoids up to the big mountain, leaving a handful to protect. (this avoids dealing with unwanted mutants created from snatched humanoids you wouldn’t be able to reach)
  3. Protect or save humanoids in the valley to the right of the big mountain, which also contains the swarmer line
  4. stay in this zone to clear out incoming Landers, which keeping the swarmers at distance by strategically crossing the swarmer line
  5. Then work on finishing the wave once all Landers are safely gone.

Gary’s follow-up info for the video training:

  • Flow: at the start of a wave, I momentarily play the wave BACKWARDS in my head – ideally your ship would be an inch off the landscape just shooting Landers at the end and no Baiters to threaten you. To get to that stage, you must have had a clean 4 pod bomb, only had 1 or 2 humanoids to worry about and to have protected them while taking out the Bombers as they mingled with the Landers at a low level. Those are the bread and butter waves where you’ll rarely get killed. If, at the start of a wave, the pods are split, I’m imagining leaving the pods until last and having to deal with Baiters say x5. It will be a slower wave.
  • The flow revolves around being in that landscape position and never missing a Lander or bomber. Yes, you’ll have to break from the zone to deal with swarmers or Baiters, but think of the default position for your ship to be there an inch above the terrain. From their you will go back and forth when carrying humanoid letting the enemies come to you. No need to chase them after Wave 5 as they all want your blood. If you have a scattered set of humanoids, choose (or guess) which ones to save and euthanase the others – just concentrate on getting a flow going  even if it means using 2 bombs on some waves
  • Overlap: think of a Baiter to have really BAD brakes. Some Baiters have the turning circle of the Queen Mary – they are the ones which can be exploited the easiest by thrusting away from them (some call it ‘running away’!) but then pull your ship up and he’ll overshoot and you in the same direction and take him from up or down position on that first overlap. Prior to this you make a judgment call as to whether he’s on a good line to merely turn the ship and hit him head on. If you miss, thrust away again to either create a sufficient half screen to turn and shoot him, or again, make him overlap with his poor stopping ability at full chase mode.
  • Other Baiters tend to stick close to you (see Doug Mahugh’s Defender manual explanations) and they require everything you just read BUT in a much smaller timeframe and much smaller area of operation.
  • You can actually control baiters to an extent by having much going on on the screen / many humanoids being carried / 3-4 pods not bombed / playing above a bunch of landed humanoids. The baiter will give you plenty of warning about his imminent arrival bcasue the screen can’t process it all quickly enough and the materialiose much slower, giving you the chance to locate his horizontal position more accurately to start with. There are deviations at higher diff but as you’ve seen, clearing the waves quickly using the flow means there are never many Baiters.
  • One more thing – when I first clocked Defender, I didn’t have all the skills I have now which are a legacy of 30/99 @15k era (practicing on maximum difficulty) What I’ve lost in firepower and one-shot accuracy has been balanced out with cunning and experience!

Once the above skills are mastered, then it is time for extreme practice

  • Follow-up insights from Mikael Lindholm: (Extreme display of skill HERE )
  • Most of my Baiter-killing is done when they come from behind, overhead. Since they react immediately if you’re trying to move up to meet and reverse-kill them, the trick is to begin that maneuver, but as soon as they react and swoop down on you, you abort and let go of thrust = they will be directly in front of your nose. So it’s just a quick up-down-release thrust-fire. Or maybe up-release thrust-down-fire – I couldn’t tell: it’s one move.
  • Baiters are quite predictable, but rule by their speed and numbers. They always want to force you up or down with their zig-zag pattern.
  • Killing Baiters is often about shooting where they will be – not where they are. When they materialize, and you’re not quite on level with them, you can often just stand still and shoot: they will slowly move into your fire. If it’s taking too long/they’re moving too slow: stop firing for a few tenths of secs – you hold them down with your fire. (Bombers have the same behaviour, but more extreme: as long as you keep firing, they will stay under your fire – stop firing for a second or more, and they will continue their diagonal flight pattern).
  • Baiters are extremely sensitive to your thrust: it’s like they “see” you when you use it. So learning when to let go of thrust, and when to use it – in order to manipulate the Baiter’s movement – is probably the crucial lesson when learning how to fight Baiters.

circa 1989 in a Jersey arcade


October 2013 in Queensland



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