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Flanking

Flanking is the maneuver in which one team surrounds the other team on two or more sides, reducing escape options, and increasing the need to defend from multiple directions simultaneously. Being caught in the cross fire of a flanking maneuver seriously impacts a player’s ability to defend themselves, and typically offers only the ability to push forward or drop back the way they came – neither of which are good choices.

While terrain and Geometry can play a role in promoting or enabling flanking, it can also play a role in reducing or eliminating flanking. For example, cliffs, walls, and other obstacles to both movement and cross fire can help one team eliminate possibilities of being flanked by anchoring their battle line to those obstacles. While this serves to reduce their exposure to attack from multiple directions, it also reduces their escape options.

If using terrain or Geometry to limit flanking options for a given Space, then you should consider adding features to increase other risks to balance its usefulness and playability. For example, Powerhouse has an open field bounded by walls and cliffs on three sides. The field is not typically used in games where a player can be threatened by cross map fire even though flanking is practically impossible to establish (the team in the field has only one direction to defend from). The openness of the field balances the benefits of no possibility of being flanked. However, in games where cross map fire is not possible, such as Living Dead, the risk drops away and what we see is that the Space is overly used and abused by the humans.

Flanking is something that you as a forger should include in any map, but keep in mind that the more players you have on a team the more interest there will be to perform flanking maneuvers. Flanking promotes team work, and as such increases in frequency and interest with increasing team size.

Basics of Flanking

Take the typical case of three major Paths across the map, from either team’s perspective they will have the choice of Paths to the left, the center, and the right. Generally it is a good idea to allow the center to be flanked by the right or the left sides of the map or the other way around, but to limit cross map fire between the left and right Paths.

With a Path along the right edge of a map, some additional Paths between the right and center Paths allow a team to flank an offensive push that occurs in the center. The offensive team can have a variety of responses, such as clear out the edge Paths to make the central Path safe; rush the central Path and hope that they make it to the other end alive; bait the flankers and keep them busy while their teammates progress along the other side of the map; and so forth. These options are dependent upon the Geometry and terrain of your map, but typically do not diminish the importance or effectiveness of flanking to slow or repel an offensive push.

Paths Of Flanking

The Paths that connect major cross map Paths can be contiguous. Ragnarok and Abandon are two good examples where much of the edge routes can see the center from just about any point. The only thing blocking the LOS are the rocks and trees that form immediate cover, but they do not represent lengthy walls that break up the flanking Paths.

Other maps may have two parallel Paths with discrete connections between them. A good example of this is found in both the upper and lower levels of Adrift. The walls break up the opportunities to flank and can form corridors or tunnels with little ease of escapes.

Consider how much flanking you want your map to offer and why? The amount of cover between two Paths and the distance between openings will dictate how many points of movement allow for flanking.

Flank Spawning

What I call Flank Spawning is the act of spawning in such a way that you could immediately initiate flanking maneuvers. In most cases spawning along a flanking Path is not a concern. For most Game Types, if a player spawns along a flanking Path it is because that is the safest place to spawn on the map, presumably because it is the furthest location from any enemy. Assuming that is correct, spawning along the flanking Path doesn’t offer an immediate flanking opportunity. Another way of saying this is that if a team is moving along the center Path (for example) then flank spawning should not occur due to their presence.

On the other hand, some Game Types, such as Halo Reach’s Invasion, define discrete spawn areas that are influenced by the spawning player rather than the presence or absence of enemy players. Invasion’s major Paths are so well defined that flank spawning would become a severe problem. Typically the invaders don’t have – and should not be forced into – other Paths to avoid flank spawning, but the Paths they have available to them become essential Paths. Their objectives are defined in very large part by these essential Paths, which are designed specifically to guide the invaders using intuitive level design strategies. In cases where an offensive push requires an essential Path, flank spawning must be prevented. In the case of Invasion, the way to solve this problem is to simply spawn behind the objective rather than off to the side of the objective.

While new game types may be unforeseeable at the time I write this, the principle will remain the same.

Summary

Adjacent Paths should offer flanking with each other; cross map shooting should be minimized.

Typically flanking is contiguous with LOS blockers, but there can be cases where flanking Paths between Paths are limited, discrete, and far apart.

Flank spawning is okay if the Path that winds up being flanked is not an essential Path and the occurrence of the spawning is atypical.

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