If you are a relatively new pilot and you and your online buddies are struggling to notch up the victories in team play, perhaps we can bring you a quantum of solace in the form of some top tips from one of the best pilots in the EVE: Valkyrie universe, Quantum Delta. He’s a regular contributor to the forums and the Valkyrie community in general and he’s just the guy to set you on the path to glory.
Competitive play in Valkyrie is all about position and coordination. You need to work with your team mates and be aware of their presence and situation at all times, as well as knowing where the enemy are and who they're focusing on.
Valkyrie’s space combat is very similar to real life dogfighting with the exception to be noted that gravitational potential energy isn't a factor. Other than this, formations and tactics all work the same way and should be thought of as such.
What tend to be effective tactics will vary depending on what enemy you're facing and your own team’s flying style so there are no 'win all' tactics. Generally speaking, though, having your fighters gravitate around your heavies with a healer as a back up for all of you will give you a competitive edge if you can focus fire. There are much more diverse tactics though!
Team Death Match
The deal with team combat is working out how and where to split your team, or if you need to split. In team death match it can be useful to isolate the best pilot on the enemy team so they're less effective. This can be done by sending your best pilot after them if you feel you have the advantage, or the odds are even. Otherwise it can be done by swarming them. If everyone is equally skilled on both teams, combat will revolve around the effectiveness and survivability of the support pilots, who should stay as close to the front of their heavy as possible. The heavy then becomes the anchor for any team.
Technically it's most ideal for the heavy to be the shot caller – but the fighter can do it – and the supports can give out excellent intel as they're by their very nature (healing incoming damage) most aware of what the opponents are doing.
Splitting yourselves here can be done any way you like, but I strongly prefer splitting out on my own and encouraging my team to stay together and bully the enemy and keep firm control over a point. It varies based on the map which to favour, but normally go for the neutral or middle control point.
While they keep the enemy busy and control one or, if I'm lucky, two points, I will concentrate on wherever they are not, zipping between points, taking down drones and engaging in a limited fashion. Cheap kills can be had if I can get them but otherwise avoiding death and keeping the control point from going red is preferred. Even if you can kill an enemy relatively quickly, there is always more value in killing a drone than the pilot.
Some Valkyrie pilots have caught on to this and actually won their matches entirely by avoiding dogfighting. It's quite impressive, and very frustrating to play against a good pilot doing it.
The advice here is much the same as control for the first part, except that you want to get away with as few support and heavies as you can. If you want heavies, I would recommend the Maelstrom.
Generally speaking, fighters are superior for attacking cooling nodes. They're a bit vulnerable to a heavily organised defence presence inside the core tube at the end, but the overall damage increase makes them extremely useful. Don't dogfight during the attack stage. Fly as evasively as possible while killing off cooling nodes and the core. Coordinate with your team and start at different parts of the ship.
The core room is the only place worth fighting, and clearing enemy Maelstrom can be considered a priority. When defending, prioritise enemy fighters. Try to set up heavies near dense concentrations of cooling nodes (use the holographic map in the lower left of the cockpit to work it out), and use the support ships to drain enemy shields. Once they're down, the carrier’s defences will basically keep them down and damage on them becomes infinitely more effective if any of your wingmen are in the aforementioned hull-damaging fighters.
Working together, clear communication and situational awareness across the squad are the most important things for winning a competitive match. You can instantly tell the difference in a tournament between a winning and losing team the moment they come out of the tubes. It's all in the things they say.
Recommended Team Set-ups
This assumes a skilled team. The Accord strips targets’ shields extremely quickly, and the Dominator finishes them off. It takes a lot of skill as the two pilots need to work together and not interfere with each other despite what will normally be some quite close formation flying.
This is a lower-skilled pairing better for newcomers to Valkyrie. The Rhino is capable of taking targets down but it’s not that great at defending itself. It's a fairly big damage sponge so it'll be able to hold up quite well against two of any kind of ship (bar, perhaps the above combo) with a good healer.
If only one of you is an experienced fighter pilot, this set up works similarly to Accord/Dominator. Rhino strips the shields, Dominator does the rest.
The Wraith is much more versatile than the other fighters in that it doesn't overly favour a damage type or have a unique playstyle quirk. It can supplement a Dominator or go it alone. Otherwise, again this is similar to the Accord/Dominator combo.
Similar to the above with the Wraith subbing for the Dominator. They're very similar ships, the only difference is the Dominator is more armour-focused. This setup would struggle a tiny bit more versus two heavies.
This is a longer-range setup that focuses on dealing high damage before the fight even starts. It’s weakness is having people up close, but they can still fight somewhat effectively at medium-to-close range.
This is a long-range setup. It relies heavily on its MWD capabilities and the Spur’s high speed should move it in advance of its enemies and bait them on to volleys of blasts. It’s quite difficult to pull off but very doable.
Team Set-up: Accord/Dominator/Guardian
This is the same as the twos setup but the Guardian makes an appearance to keep the fighters alive and assist with shield stripping. The Accord is less important here, with the Dominator being more useful. A similar set-up would be the Rhino, Dominator and Guardian.
Team Set-up: Maelstrom/Wraith/Wraith
This range combo lacks a little on close up combat but the two fighters will orbit around the storm as much as possible when combat comes in close range, playing off each other more than dogfighting their own targets or focus firing.
Team Set-up: Rhino/Dominator/Dominator
This is an extremely effective set up when your team is playing against heavies.
Keeping in mind the combos already outlined above, for four players I would recommend the following team structures.
Two support, two heavy
Two support, one fighter, one heavy
One support, two fighters, one heavy
Any combination works so long as you have at least one of each class, though generally speaking, if you're only going to run two classes, be sure to take two support, if you've got the choice, preferably the Maelstrom for dealing with the heavies. Support generally work best in pairs, that way they can sustain each other indefinitely in most combat environments.
When five pilots come into play it’s a situation where people will have the most room to do their own flavourful thing. However, it's well worth considering that only the best ‘teams’ will be at the top of the table; individual player skill matters less than teamwork.
I would recommend the following team structure:
One or two heavies: Rhino/Maelstrom/Maelstrom/Gorgon
One or two support: Guardian/Revenant
One or two fighters: Dominator/Wraith/Wraith/Assuage
The revenant is an option here to increase burst, but generally the Guardian is the safe bet for the better healing.
A big thank you to Quantum Delta for that comprehensive guide to team play. That should cover you from the ranks of the Rookies right up until you become one of the pros.
If you’d like to see another top pilot’s take on team play be sure take a look at the advice from General Stargazer.