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Thread: z00b's Guide to Being an Effective Squad Leader

  1. #1
    N00b Herder
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Bay Area/Silicon Valley, CA

    z00b's Guide to Being an Effective Squad Leader

    Feel free to repost this anywhere, or move it. I just have this collection of ideas and things in my head and collected notes. This is going to continue to be valid for any squad-based games that come up soon, including quake wars and BF2142, and I'd like to expand on it and turn it into an actual Guide at some point.

    For reference, I generally start out sessions by being either squad leader or commander, and then when I get tired I'll try to find another good squad leader to order me around until I fall asleep. On non sR servers, I can generally turn the tide of any battle with a 6-man squad when I join, finding 15+ unassigned on each team. It doesn't matter how much you are cracking or glitching, a good 6-man squad will take all of your spawn points, kill all of the unassigned wanderers on your team, and win the round while you are busy spawn-camping inside the hotel or whatever. That said, I also lose a lot, because I will generally try to join the losing side when joining a server, and many times the teams are stacked. I'd also note that I have a blast losing and dying as long as our squad does well and works together. If I see the "Best X Squad" at the end of the round I'm happy.

    Now to the general points:

    This is BF2 specific, but may carry over to future games as voip is used and improved. First off, you need to make sure that everyone hears you loud (and possibly clear) over grenades and gunfire and tanks and artillery combined with whatever shellshock is happening at a particular time. Hence, if you are a squad leader, boost your mic gain for in-game use. This has a downside - In Ventrilo, which we use, your mic will pick up all kinds of noise due to the boosting, and you will be heavily distorted when talking to folks in Vent. I prefer to use the in-game voice, because that gets to the whole squad that might not be using Ventrilo. Squad members should boost the mic as well. You will notice when someone is using vent and in-game simultaneously, because their voice will be far too quiet in-game, but sound fine via vent. This isn't a vent vs in-game comms discussion, and I have used Ventrilo to coordinate over 300 people simultanteously in the past and know that it is far superior to what we have in-game.

    Talk. Talk a lot. Some people find it annoying, so kick them from the squad and get people who will spawn on you and do what you tell them to. Explain why you are doing this or that, which path we're taking, and so forth. Relay messages from the commander when/if he give you info, on the fly. Be situationally aware, and call out things like "2 infantry on the flag, prone" when you see them. This is valid for squad members as well. I will usually do a mic check to see who has a mic, and then will expect them to keep the chatter high. More info is better than less, and even random "WTF" comments spice things up and keep it interesting in my book. If you start talking constantly about your pet snail and whatever other random stuff, that can become a problem, but having a good sense of humor and banter within the squad does wonders for keeping together.

    First thing, look at who has taken the commander position. If they are a friend or regular that you know, keep communicating with them throughout the round; if not, try to establish some rapport so they know who you are and what you're going to be doing throughout the round. Even if they are not using their mic, try to engage with them somehow, as they are your line to the overall strategic situation on a given map. If they don't respond, just go about your business. Accept commands to see what the commander has in mind, but then explain that you are going to place Y before hitting X, but let the commander know you're on it, and if you're not on it, explain why.

    As a segue from the last section, realize that the battlefield is constantly changing. Standing orders do not last long on maps like Karkand. You may be going from Square to Suburbs, back and forth, and suddenly a spawn point will be captured at cement factory. You will then have to make a spot decision on whether to jump to that point quickly. This applies to every map - Don't be afraid to change your plans on the fly, just be clear about it and explain as you go. If you just take one order and constantly ram your head against a wave of defenders, you lose the element of surprise that is gained by fluidly adapting to the situation.

    There are several ways to go about working a squad. The easiest one is just to hop into Alpha squad and hope that the first 5 guys to hit join squad are good. This actually pays off more than you'd think, but you also will end up with random people in your squad. You have the ability to lock your squad, invite members, and kick members as you see fit. Use these well. Create a custom squad with an obvious name, and wait for a few minutes. Once the initial flood clears out, you have a few choices. Either you have filled your squad with regulars and friends or generally clueful folk already, or you are sitting there in Squad 6 with nobody yet. Don't go and spam the top five guys in the list, as they are already assigned and you'll just be annoying them. Look at the squads page under alt-tab for the unassigned people, and try to pick up members there first. A lot of people don't even know about the squad functionality, so you will pick people up and show them a new experience this way.

    I'm generally pretty patient about this, and don't kick anyone from a squad unless a friend is coming onboard. However, if you have picked someone up who just never spawns on you, never communicated via the radio or voice or text, and generally is wandering around lonely or swimming laps in the river, then don't hesitate to kick them and find another person. No harm, no foul, but they're just wasting a spot in your squad if they are not part of the group. It doesn't matter if they have 2 points at the end of the round - if someone is running with the squad and being communicative, I prefer them over the guy spawn camping in some random place with an APC and racking up 100 points every round.

    This fits in with the above. There are plenty of great folks who prefer to drive around in armor instead of ground pounding and using light vehicles. If you want to make an armor squad, great! Get engineers and medics together and you will have a killer convoy. But do it in a squad made for that purpose. Exceptions always abound - I like having a helicopter pilot/gunner in the squad providing air cover for the other four of us, and will always welcome that. Same for a tank/gunner pair. So be flexible on this, but realize when you'd be better off splitting the squad and grabbing two other ground pounders to help out instead.

    I know I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Be aware of what is going on at the strategic level. Watch out for Friendly Artillery strikes and know how to survive enemy strikes. This can be impossible at times, but try to stay alive and revive your mates when the strike concludes. Spot enemies as much as you can, and watch the UAV. If there is a clear path that enemies are flooding into, flank them or do something to maximize your element of surprise. Taking out a whole wave of infantry by flanking them is a blast when done right. Also try to stay out of common grenade spam areas so that your squad members are not constantly getting wiped out when they spawn. This is frustrating to anyone, so just move around and know the map. I am actually more aggressive than I should be some of the time, and will end up in bad situations where I can hide out but newly spawning members will get blown away by an APC or tank just waiting for them to appear - In this case tell the rest of the squad to not spawn on you for a moment until you get clear.

    I'm assuming that in most cases the squad leader will play as a medic for several reasons. One, a medic can be revived to keep the spawnpoint up, and can hide out, reviving or waiting for squad members to respawn as necessary. You can also run with the medic bag out, healing as you run and giving your group a little more edge as it moves through and to hot spots. However, always be ready to adapt and switch kits for a moment or two as need be. Spec Ops, anti-tank, and engineer have obvious purposes, and support also is a good bet if you have another medic in your squad already. Realize that you are a lot less fragile as the support kit, and work with that. I tend to go about 70/25/5 medic/support/other when leading a squad. Also make use of kits that are dropped on the ground after a fight if you want to change up before the next respawn.

    This varies widely. I have had an absolute blast playing as a 6-medic squad, or AT kits and supply, and all of the mixes you can imagine. Just state what you need, but the most important thing is to have people use the kit they are good with. If you have a sniper who prefers that kit and can provide cover, great. That said, when you are moving rapidly into new situations, don't be afraid to call out "NEED ANTITANK ASAP" so that people get the drift. Antitank (with upgraded weapons) and support kits are my favorites to have in the squad if I am a medic, and a second medic is also always helpful. But someone who is excellent with pretty much any kit will fill a valuable role. Simply be aware of what you may be lacking at a particular moment, and explain things to the squad if need be.

    Right off the bat, be prepared to not have the highest score in every round. It will happen, and I get enough gold/silver/bronze medals just as a matter of course, but you have to be willing to stay back at times, let your squad members take kills when appropriate, and generally focus on the flow of the game rather than racking up massive scores. Also be prepared to die a lot if you are constantly trying to keep your squad alive in hot zones. On the other hand, there is a totally different squad leader style that I only use on occasion - sniper kit who finds the safest place and defends that spawn point for the whole round. You can minimize your deaths that way and provide cover for the squad. Again though, you are going to be giving up the points for flag neutralization/capture/defense. I will often end a round at the bottom of the scorelist in my squad, but we have won the round and end up with the highest squad score overall. A lot of this will be addressed in future games, giving more power and bonuses to squad leaders, but for now just deal with it. I generally average anywhere from 25-50 points per round as a squad leader, but at times will have a paltry score, or at others be up around 75 or so. My best advice here is to just not worry about it and focus on helping your team out as much as possible, even in defeat.

    This overlaps some of the other items, but it's important enough that it merits attention on its own. A key to having a good squad experience is
    to continually have goals that you are working together on, above and beyond "winning the round" and "getting mad points". Those are nice,
    for sure, but if you spend a round controlling different areas, eliminating particular resources, or any number of other specific goals,
    even losing can be a great experience. It's your job as squad leader to figure out these goals in real-time, and break up the overall flow so
    that people can contribute, succeed, and then move on to the next goal. On the flipside, if you try to take a flag 10 times and you get wiped
    out each and every time, switch things up! Being persistent and breaking through an enemy line can work, but at least try something a
    little different each time, even if you don't change plans entirely. Usually you can treat your fubared sortie as recon, and do a lot better
    the second (or third, or twentieth) time through. Changing the goal entirely is more my style, as you can clear out an area and then return
    to the original if need be afterwards.

    This applies to way too many things, but it's so key to having an enjoyable time that it bears mentioning. Just step back and get a
    little perspective as need be. Don't get uptight or frustrated when people disconnect, or have a mic that isn't working, or don't follow
    your lead right away. Give things time; also understand that any number of things can lead to confusion or hesitation when playing online. There are all sorts of network and rendering issues that can make BF2 a pretty awkward experience at times. Knowing when to just laugh off some totally ridiculous situation rather than huff and puff at your screen can go a long way. Yes, there are exploits out there for the game (and we see them often enough on sR servers), but they are usually pretty obvious and can be dealt with. More often than not, what people mistake for cheating is actually just latency and glitches in how things are calculated. If you know much about how a game architecture like this works and what it's doing under the hood and over the network, you should be amazed that it works as well as it does most of the time over
    commodity internet connections.

    - HAVE FUN
    Above all else, if you're not having a good time playing the game, and everything is frustrating, take a break. Seriously. Unless you really enjoy getting worked up over what should be absolute fun, there's no point in letting anything that happens get to you. This applies to the game in general, but especially if you are in a leadership role - Either give it up to someone else and follow them around for a while or just quit the game. Enjoy the beverage of your choice and chill.

    [will edit/paste in more later. comments, additions will be catalogues and added, and are much appreciated! These are things that may seem obvious after you have played for 400 hours or more, but a lot of people are just starting out (or have never thought in this particular manner) and will benefit from even seemingly commonplace ideas.]
    PLAYING: Gears of War | Battlefield 2142 | Medieval 2 | Civilization 4 | Supreme Commander

  2. #2
    en route to the Endzone for 6 scoobieskyman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    good. now if i could EVER find someone that does all of these things to play with in my squad maybe i would be a higher rank than 1st Sgt.:cursing:

  3. #3
    I kill for Fun ~ Creasy_79's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Mid Whilshire ~ LA, CA
    Outstinkinstanding zOOb Good Job

  4. #4
    You wanna play rough? Okay Guntizzle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Glen Burnie, MD
    shweet guide

  5. #5
    m00tini! wootini's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Some Hotel Somewhere
    GOod stuff bud! Worthy of a 'stick'


  6. #6
    Registered User AznEclipse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Stuff I'll think about when leading THE MEDICS
    Battlefield 2: sR EclipsT

  7. #7
    The Real Joe DarqHelmet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Right behind you, don't look
    Awesome z00b

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