Fortress Tactics offense

From Armagetron

Offense is relatively simple. The two players who will usually rush the opposing fortress are the point and the person to the right of point. The person to the left of point can rush, but usually doesn't get to do so right away. So the two rushers need to account for at least one opponent between them, two is preferred, on their way to the zone. If they don't even get one, they need to double back and go pick one off. The reason is simple, there's probably one goalie at the zone, and if they don't kill anyone on their way, they leave their defense outnumbered.

The left of point is usually an offensive position as well, but his is a little unique from the rest. He has to take out one opponent before he can rush the zone, and it's this fact that usually causes him to show up after the other two. It's not a big deal because three players at the enemy's fortress wind up killing each other in their rush for the zone. So left of point is usually better off playing a forward defensive position until it's time to go to the zone. When he goes to the zone, his best bet is usually to prevent opponents from returning to protect the zone and buying time for the two rushers (who should already be there) to take the zone. In either capacity, he's playing a defensive role, but he's playing it in offensive positions.

All other players are defensive players until the opposing team has been reduced to a point where it's safe to leave the goalie by himself.

Offensive Roles

On a 7 person team, you will have 3 offensive players. The number of offensive players generally starts at 2 because 2 are required to take the opponent's fortress. The role of the offense is pretty simple. Rush the opposing team's fortress, and on the way take out 1-2 of the opposing team members. Depending on how the line separates, each player will have a slightly different role.


The center has all the responsibility, so choose your center wisely. He has to come up with a way for the line to split without killing everybody, usually by making a call of some sort. After the line splits, he will be the fastest player on his team, typically, and you'll want him to take advantage of the speed to get as close to the opposing fortress as possible.

Which direction he turns is going to depend on a number of things. If the line splits early, he can turn left. If the line splits late, he must turn right, because there's an opposing wall on his left.

The Responsibility of the Center

This is a very important role in the offense. The center really needs to be in tactical command of the team, so if your center isn't in tactical command, you need to get rid of him. Since the server chooses who goes in what positions, you might need to take drastic measures to get rid of the guy. Since he's an offensive player, he needs to be making calls to tell the offense when to attack, when to pull back, and so forth. He's also the player who will get killed in the first 5 seconds of play if he doesn't do something to split up the line, so he has the most to lose by not taking his role seriously.

On your team, it may not make sense to actually give tactical command to the center. In that case, if your team captain isn't close enough to the center to split the line properly, the center will still need to make the appropriate call to split the line. So he doesn't have to be in tactical command of the team to split the line, but in that case he needs to respect the team captain's wishes about splitting the line.

Offensive Guards

I call the other two offensive players "guards" for lack of a better word, and the term is borrowed from basketball. These are the players immediately to the left and right of the center. Their individual roles will vary depending on how the line breaks. If the line breaks early, then they each need to account for one opponent before rushing the zone. If the line breaks late, then the guard on the right and the center together need to account for one opponent before rushing the zone and the guard on the left must account for one opponent before rushing the zone.

If the offense doesn't account for any opponents, then their defense is likely to be overwhelmed. In that case, and regardless of that fact, they need to take the opposing team's fortress as quickly as possible. It goes without saying that they need to take the opposing team's fortress before their own defense falls.

Rushing the Fortress

Rushing the fortress only takes one offensive player, but the player that gets there first needs to decide quickly if he can take it by himself. If not, then he needs to wait for assistance before proceeding. There are plenty of tactics that work when taking a fortress, but not all of them work against the same people. The only rule that seems to hold true is that two attackers can take a fortress, but three can't. So when the third attacker arrives, he needs to hold back and be prepared to lend assistance while playing a rear guard position in case the opponent's team arrives to help defend.

It is becoming more common to work on a planned rush before the round even starts. Several strategies have appeared that work with varying effect at various times that are worth discussing. In all rushing strategies, generally offensive players will approach in pairs using standard wingman tactics to get to the zone. The standard wingman tactics deserve a section of their own and are discussed separately from the rushes.

Right-side Rush

The right-side rush is usually executed by the point and point's right-hand guard. This rush becomes possible as a result of a really tight grind by the right-hand guard onto the center's wall, resulting in a substantial speed for both of them, allowing them to slip by the other team's left-hand side. This is a flanking attack, you intend to go around the other team's flank and then advance to the zone.

In this rush, the point turns right after break, then the right-hand guard immediately grind's the point's wall again. The point takes the first opportunity to turn left towards the enemy, hopefully he'll kill his counterpart on the other side when he does it. When he goes around the other team's flank, his guard follows, grinding his wall some more. The point then needs to go back to the middle area where the other team's long wall trail sits. If everything goes well, his guard will do the same and they will arrive together at the other team's fortress, having wiped out half of the other team to get there.

Left-side Rush

The left-side rush is generally only possible in two situations. The first is that the other team hasn't grinded well on their right side. If they have, they will usually run a right-side rush against your team and your left side will instead be trying to hold it off. The second situation is through the use of a somewhat controversial method called double-grinding. This method has the potential, if done well, to block the other team's right-side rush, and set up a left-side rush for your team. It has the drawback that if it fails, your left side usually collapses.

In the left-side rush, the point's left guard takes the lead in the wingman approach, and the player to his left is his wingman. Otherwise, this rush is the mirror image of the right-side rush.

Center Rush

There are two types of center rushes. First we'll talk about the point sneak, second we'll talk about the more general center rush.

Point Sneak

The Point Sneak is a favorite of many players and is a pretty good attack in its own right. In the Point Sneak, the point player will bleed off his speed as soon as possible after break, then approach the other team's break point. He will then pick a place to grind, beat the other team's grinds in that place, and go right through the center of the wall trail. This has the significant advantage in that if he can beat those grinds, he will regain all of his speed and shoot out right in the middle of the other team's fortress, inside the goalie's defense. If he can keep his wits about him, he can usually wrap up taking the zone within a few seconds. The biggest drawback is that if your point is otherwise a strong player, and he fails, then you've lost a player. It also means one less player on the right, because the center didn't break right.

The Point Sneak has some other main drawbacks that are worth considering. Most goalies are prepared for it, to begin with, because it's a common tactic. If the point starts his run too early, it's just a glorious way to commit suicide early in the round. If he starts too late, the goalie has closed off his fortress. So the timing has to be pretty good to get in. If not, this is a suicide attack.

The second drawback is that it's very hard to gauge the level of grind needed to get in between those walls in the first place, and misgauging means death for the point. This is something of a blessing in disguise, other players can use the point's hole to advance. On the other hand, astute defensive players will go through the hole to deny this avenue entirely to your team.

Center Rush

The more general center rush is what usually develops when the left and right sides have both been deadlocked. Players on both of those sides will tend to turn around, leaving some to fight with the other team. The ones that turn around will form up in the center and make a center rush. "Rush" probably isn't the right word for it, it's usually more like a stately advance.

Rushes in General

The advantage to making rushing attacks in general is that you're sending in 2-3 players at a time at high speeds, usually against players that are of lower speeds. This lets you setup a series of wave attacks on larger teams that wears down the other team's defense and lets you break through into their zone eventually. A successful early rush finishes the round, but an unsuccessful early rush can still result in peeling off some defenders.

Some argue that the first rush isn't against the fortress anyway. It's against the prepared defenders. This argument has some merit, because generally the first wave of attackers against any prepared defense results in 50% casualties, if not more. So if you attack with all 5 offensive players on an 8-person team, you will lose 2-3 of them against the 3-man defense. What's left is parity in numbers, a long fight, and a serious possibility of losing your own fortress to superior numbers. If you instead send in 2 players on a rush, they have a good chance of defeating one or two defensive players, only lose 1 of their own, and then your second wave brings your offensive numbers up to 3 or 4 against only 1-2 defenders.

Then there's the argument that 2 players rushing can get inside the other team's defensive line and seige the fortress without losing any attackers, and with killing a few defenders. This argument also has merit, but does depend on your second-line team advancing to engage the defense from the front. If they don't do that, the other team's defense will just close in around your 2 sneak attackers and wipe them out.

Wingman Approach

The wingman approach is an offensive formation, it's rarely useful as a defensive formation. In this approach, you have a leader and a wingman. The leader carves out the path to wherever it is you're going, and the wingman grinds his wall for speed. The leader generally has to find his own walls to grind for speed to keep his up, and if they're not there, the two will switch roles partway down. The leader is usually on the side of the pair nearest the other team's zone, that is to say, he's on the inside, and the wingman is on the outside. The leader will then try to get around whoever else is inside and close them off, if necessary he'll break formation to engage defenders while his wingman will continue to advance. In this case, the leader will rejoin his wingman as soon as possible afterwards.

The wingman will do the same for defenders that are found outside, where he is. He'll keep them off the leader's back, and even break formation to engage them, returning as soon as he can.

Neither generally try to kill defenders, although neither will avoid the target of opportunity. Generally, though, they don't try to kill defenders. Instead, they try to isolate and neutralize defenders so they can continue their attack, because trying to kill a defender usually takes too long.

It is common for a wingman approach to encounter defenders that block their avenue of advance completely. In this case, the two attackers have to deal with the obstacle directly. They can't leave a fighting force like this behind them to come and harass them, and they can't advance around them. There are many ways to deal with it, but they all boil down to one thing: one attacker stays and occupies them and the other attacker circles around in a flanking maneuver. If this doesn't work quickly, then it's a judgement call. Sometimes it's better to break up the wing at that point and fight as individuals for a time, sometimes it's better to stay together, eliminate the defenders, and then advance as a wing again.

Defense Crush

I learnt this while being defense against rim walls.

If you find yourself attacking alone, or there's just you and the opponent's defense left (or you are having problems breaking the defense), a useful tactic to use is what I called the Defense Crush. This move can take time, but if you have troubles killing overlapping defenders, then it can be useful.

Imagine a wavy defense, where it is basically a jagged shape (this works best on those kind of defenses). This tactic simply entails circling the defense as close as you can to the wall, similar to a double defense. Depending on how much rubber you are willing to spend, you may want to grind the walls to help the process along. as this happens, your opponent's defense should get tighter. As this happens, start closing in on them, like you are defending a shrinking zone, crumpling your Crush as they do their defense. Hopefully, they will box themselves in, and start having problems staying alive, and will eventually die. Despite this being a good tactic, it can take time, especially if the defender is good at sumo matches. To do this properly, you need to be a good defender; effectively it is an offensive defense. This also works in Sumo, and Capture The Flag games as well, but it is harder to pull off in Sumo. If there is low rubber, though, you need to keep a constant eye on the gauge, as it can run out very quickly.

Of course, in Capture The Flag especially, if you see a crusher having a go at your defense, and if you are willing to lose your defender, start Double Crushing them. If they cotton on to what's happening before it's too late, they may even pull out, saving your player.