Duels have always been considered as the ultimate test of one’s Quake skills. No teammates to fall back on, nobody but yourself to blame and nothing but one goal in your mind: to crush and humiliate the opponent! *grins*
Of course, if you want to increase the odds of winning you are going to need some kind of a plan. Each map requires a different approach or tactic, yet there are definitely some general strategy concepts that apply to all maps as well.
In this post I will give a basic introduction and discuss some important strategies for the 1v1 Quake Live duel. Let’s start by going over the very basic rules.
The objective of the game
The goal in a duel match is to have more points than the enemy before the time limit is up.
- One kill = 1 point.
- Crater, blowing yourself up, melting yourself in lava, … = -1 point.
Picking up Health and Armor
Your entire duel strategy should revolve around picking up the Armors and Mega Healths before your opponent does. If you have more hit points than the enemy does, he will most likely die faster. Can’t be more logic than that, can it? 🙂
There are several health and armor items around the map. By far the most important items are the Red Armor and Mega Health. You should focus on collecting these before any other items.
- The Red Armor gives you 100 extra armor.
- The Mega Health gives you 100 extra health in addition to the 100 you might already have.
- The Yellow Armor gives you 50 extra armor.
- Health bubs give you 50 health (orange), 25 health (yellow) or 5 health (green).
- Green Shards give you 5 extra armor each.
Item re-spawn timings
Of course, if you are going to be fighting over the Mega Health and Red Armor, you should know when they re-spawn.
- Yellow Armor, Red Armor: Re-spawns every 25 seconds.
- Mega Health: Re-spawns every 35 seconds. On some maps however it only spawns every 2 minutes (like qztourney4 and qztourney6).
At first you might find it hard to keep track of even just one item. Yet with time and practice this becomes a natural thing. Estimating the spawn times is often more than enough if you can’t both play and remember times.
For example: very often the first Red Armor is picked up 5 seconds in game. This means the next red armor will spawn at 0:30, 0:55, 1:20, 1:45, etc… These times are approximately the same in nearly every duel match. This is only different if both players forget to pick an item up for a long time, or when a player delays the pick up on purpose for tactical reasons.
Use the sounds to gain information about the enemy
You can get a lot of information by just listening to the enemy sounds. There are many different sounds you should be paying attention to:
- Movement: Walking, jumping,
- Item pickups: (shards, health, mega health, armor, weapons… they all make different sounds)
- Rail gun or Lightning gun: When the enemy has one of these weapons in his hands you can hear a humming or buzzing sound.
- Health status: When the enemy’s health is decreasing you can estimate the health left by listening to the moaning sounds. Use the right weapon to finish the enemy of (shotgun, lightning,…).
These many different sounds give you information about the enemy’s location, where the enemy might be going to and what items he might have. Sounds also allow you to fire prediction shots with the rocket launcher, grenade launcher or plasma gun and kill the enemy before he even sees you.
For a beginner it’s not easy to detect all these sounds. The amount of information input can be quite overwhelming at first. With practice this becomes a lot easier though.
Adapt to the game flow
If an enemy has control over the map and is stacked with 150 health and 200 armor, don’t keep mindlessly rushing the enemy, giving away countless frag points.
When losing it might be a good thing to slow down, stay on the defensive part of the map and collect the weaker yellow armors and green shards.
Keep hiding until you have enough armor. When you think you’re ready try to take back the map control. There are several things you could do:
- Use a hit and run strategy with the railgun
- Ambush the enemy.
Surprise the enemy!
If you’re losing and you want to try and take over map control, try surprising your opponent with an ambush.
Most of the time the enemy will be very busy running from one item to the other, often following the same route.
Try hiding behind a wall or door with a rocket launcher when you think the enemy might pass this way. Make a prediction shot and follow up with 2 or 3 more well placed rockets.
Positioning yourself to get an edge
Choosing the right route and positioning yourself optimally in the map is probably the most important part of playing a good duel
By choosing your route and position wisely you can gain several tactical advantages:
- A tactical position could help you control entrances to important areas such as MH or RA room. (Vice versa, choosing the right path could mean getting cornered by the enemy or gaining access to an important area).
- In a combat situation good positioning could mean the difference between life and death.
- Example #1: Hide behind a wall when your rail or rocket launcher is reloading (very effective when the enemy has a lightning gun).
- Example #2: Battling from on an elevated platform makes killing the enemy a lot easier (the enemy has a harder time hitting you).
- Having control over a certain area could give you quick access to many other different areas (for example when you have the control over top rocket launcher area on DM6, you can quickly go to RA, MH and YA).
Last but not least. Quoting the both loved and hated Quake legend Fatal1ty: if you want to get better you have to practice, practice and practice!
If you want some inspiration or just like to see an example of the best Quake duellers in action, go watch the streams of the Quakecon 2008 Quake Live duel tournament at Quakeunity.com.