Hey everyone! You might remember me from writing that Stronghold guide a while back. If there's anything I can make as an addendum due to new strategic developments, it's this:
The 5-person zerg defence for kill-points over objectives is very viable and mist champions are more often than not the most important thing to secure. If you're using the 5-person zerg, killing players is no longer always secondary and should be your primary focus after you're sure your gates are safe.
With that out of the way, let's go into everyone's favourite PVP game mode: Conquest.
So it's pretty late in the party and we all know, MMR is probably screwing you over more than your lack of playing abilities, buuuut you can always do better and who knows, maybe you can carry a lagging teammate and pull yourself out of a losing rut!
Before I begin, know that there are no solid rules. This is general advice, and while applicable in most circumstances, there always remains exceptional cases.
Close / home - The point closest to your spawn point
Mid - The point in between both spawn points
Far - The point closest to enemy spawn point
Decap (ping) - Losing control of a point.
Cap (ping) - Gaining control of a point.
Field control / advantage - Possessing more capture points than the enemy team. This can be either 1 point capped with the other 2 neutralized, 2 points capped with the third neutralized or enemy controlled, or 3 points capped.
Field disadvantage - When the enemy team has more points controlled than you. Essentially, the above situations but reversed.
Player advantage - When you have more people up than the opposing team. Alternatively, when you have more people on a point than the opposing team.
+1 - When you enter a teamfight that was evenly numbered to start with (1v1, 2v2, 3v3, etc.) and with your addition, you make it lopsided in your favour (now 2v1, 3v2, 4v3, etc.)
Zerg - Rushing areas as a group of 3 or more.
PUG - Stands for Pick-Up Group, but means you're queuing by yourself and have no control of your teammates.
BASIC ROTATIONS So for those who don't know, the name of the game is to cap points. Killing players, contrary to popular belief and as with most Stronghold strategies, is secondary. If your opponent knows when and how to run, you generally shouldn't chase.
There's 3 basic ideas to capping and holding enough points to win:
Don't overextend. That means if you have two points, don't try to hit the third with a lot of your team, as that will leave your held points to easier contestation and you may lose field advantage as a result.
Don't overcommit. This means if you have two points and someone attacks your close, don't send too many to close or you risk losing your cap on mid. This also means you don't need more than one person to stand on a point if there are no enemies about.
Don't fight to your death, don't fight a losing battle. You dying gives the enemy team 5 points, which can literally make or break some games, if having someone knocked out of the fight for ~15 seconds is not a large enough disadvantage on its own. If it's a losing battle, you typically should run away. Even if it's not a losing battle, if you're about to go down, you should run away to heal and return to the fight when your defensive skills are off cooldown. The worst thing that could happen is downing an enemy, going down yourself, and then getting killed so that the downed enemy gets up again. Surviving takes priority over killing.
These points are true in MOST situations. There are the rare times where fighting to your death has to be done to hold the cap just a bit longer, there are times where you need a +1 at close, and there are occasionally good times to pressure far to keep heat off the backs of mid and close. But generally, this is what you should be striving for.
THE OPENING PLAY 1 home 4 mid - The most common opening strategy, and for good reason. Teamfights allow players to hide their own skill levels behind all the craziness flying about, and this forces the biggest possible team fight at the start while keeping everything on mostly even terms. It works best for most PUGs as it generally just feels intuitive. At higher levels of play, this can get countered by several other opening splits.
What is important about this opening is that whoever is home must make a good play after capping. Sitting on home can be but often isn't the right play. If the teamfight at mid is still in full blast, either on equal terms or you have advantage and no one is coming for your home, get to mid and join in, or secure a secondary map objective. If you're losing your team fight on mid, then you should stay at home for any enemies who will try to take advantage of your team having dead members.
If you're at mid, make sure to watch for anyone disengaging to try and snipe your home, if your whole team is at mid.
1 home 3 mid 1 far - At higher skill levels, this becomes more common. Contesting all 3 points right at the start can give advantage even if the 1 far person only manages to stall the enemy close cap. If the enemy team went 1/4, that gives you one point capped while the enemy team has no caps whatsoever. Not only this, if your 3v4 disadvantage at mid holds out long enough for the one person at home to enter mid, you now have 1 cap while going 1-to-1 with the enemy team, which is a good spot to be in. This also lets you react a bit better to most other opening plays, as the extras at mid can head home or far depending.
1 home 2 mid 2 far - A variation of the above with a different goal of capping home and far while holding out mid. This somewhat counters 1/3/1, but unless the 2 you send to mid are very good, you most likely will lose a 4v2 on mid if the enemy went 1/4. The 2v1 at far should secure a kill, which lets you send one person from far to mid, and your home-getter, if they weren't contested either, can also join in on mid. This is the ideal scenario: close and far capped with a 4v4 on mid gives you a great starting advantage.
3 far 2 home - This is an awkward one, yet can work surprisingly well. You completely surrender mid in most circumstances, but 3 far should ensure a far cap if the enemy used 1/4 or 1/3/1. If the enemy team is smart, they'll know to contest your home, but the intuitive reaction is to protect the point closest to their spawn, which you have 3 people on and therefore makes a much more difficult cap. This is a bit of a shenanigans play, and I wouldn't really recommend it with PUGs.
WHEN YOU HAVE FIELD CONTROL If you possess field advantage, you should be aiming as a team to engage one-to-one. If the enemy team is 4 on your close and 1 on mid, you should ALSO be 1 on mid, 4 on close. If they have 5 mid, also be 5 mid. Assuming equal skill of all players and team fighting ability, you should capably be able to retain field control this way.
The kicker though, is watching for if an enemy disengages. If a smart enemy realizes that the teamfight or 1v1 is going nowhere, they'll attempt to +1 another point or try to find an unguarded point. If you don't see a team member chasing the enemy disengaging, the responsibility is on you to chase and follow them to wherever they're trying to head.
For instance, say it's 4v4 close and 1v1 mid right now and an enemy from close is now running away. If no one sees this person or chases, this person can make a +1 to mid. You now have a 2v1 disadvantage on mid and your one ally there gets killed, which costs your mid cap. Even if you now win the 4v3 at close and manage to make it to mid in time to stop the enemy cap, you lost your field advantage due to sloppy response time.
There are a few things that can ruin a 1-to-1 strategy during field advantage.
Your team composition is not as sustainable and/or tanky as the enemy team comp. Say you have two Thieves in place of your opponent's two Revenants. You are not screwed, but you will need to rotate around as opposed to keeping your two points held. Sacrificing a cap may be necessary to secure another cap. The optimal manner of this rotation would be a Thief stealthily disengaging to neutralize the third point. If the enemy doesn't send someone to contest your Thief, then they can stay to secure the full cap, while the rest of the team suffering disadvantage stalls for time. If the enemy team DOES send someone to take back the third point, the Thief should return to the disadvantaged teamfight to +1 there and maintain or regain the originally capped point.
Your team is collectively less skilled than your opponent's and can't survive going 1-to-1, either as 1v1 or teamfight. As with above, you'll need to rotate while they try their hardest to survive for as long as possible.
As a general rule, never leave someone alone on the point who you know is unable to 1v1, either due to less skill or because their build style just isn't made for it. If the enemy team knows what to do, they can suddenly rush your home and if your one guy there isn't able to hold out a 2v1 or 3v1 long enough for back up to arrive, you may lose field control.
Also, if the enemy team is not thinking straight, they may have 1 person sitting on their one controlled point. In that case, enjoy your lopsided battles on your points, as there's no reason to fight on top of the enemy controlled point if you already have field control. Going 1-to-1 in this scenario is actually an unnecessary risk, since even fights can go either way.
The only time when it may make sense to pressure far is if the enemy team has a lot of people dead and you have confidence in your bursting ability for the last guy on far. This should only ever be seen as PRESSURING. If you can cap, great, if not, don't sweat it and retreat back to your controlled points. You just forced the enemy team to have to use more time defending their one cap instead of trying to make a comeback.
It's very easy to screw up a pressure play if you overextend, however, so take great care not to die or have your allies die or have any of your controlled points snuck out from under you.
WHEN YOUR ENEMY HAS FIELD CONTROL This is when your real skill starts to show, or your enemies'. Most people know how to retain advantage; very few people know how to come back from the losing side.
When you're at disadvantage, you must take risks to force a player advantage on one point, even if it means being at player disadvantage in another location. Picking and choosing the correct locations to be at advantage and disadvantage is how you manage to get back on top.
Depending on many things (player skill level comparisons, team composition, build types, which map you're playing on, how many players on each side are currently up when field control was lost), coming back from a disadvantage can take many different forms.
First strategy: overfocus one point. This should typically be close or mid, though if enemies are camping your spawn point or staying on your close, hit far. If you have no points controlled, generally the way to go is 5-person zerg down the least guarded point you can find to secure at least one cap. You must kill any one defending ASAP before any back up arrives so you retain player advantage, which can potentially move on to field advantage. If you're lucky, this can snowball if the enemy team was foolish enough to constantly send people one by one to contest your zerg, as the only real chance of breaking of a 5-person group is another 5-person group. Leave enemy count +1 on a point to secure the cap and the rest of the team should hit another point to try and get field advantage.
Second strategy: distraction. If one team member can survive against a 2v1, 3v1 or 4v1 for an extended period of time ("extended" being something like 15-30 seconds), have that person going at a point alone, which, even if they can't possibly neutralize or cap on, they can hold off enough enemy team members to provide a player advantage across the other points, which optimally allows for securing caps.
Those are the two basic strategies for turning a game around. You will more than likely have to do variations or combinations of them, depending on all the variations of team comp and skill level.
Now I know what you're thinking; how do I co-ordinate this with my team? I'm a soloQ PUG, not some voice-chat party team. They aren't going to listen to my suggestions in team chat and blah blah blah.
This is where the biggest possible show of your own personal skill comes into play; how you play around your own teammates. Your key tool for this is the minimap.
If your allies respawn before you, watch where they are going. Count how many enemies are on the point they reach. If you can +1 the point they reached, then +1 it. If your ally was supremely confident / an idiot and rushed into a section with 2 or more enemies on their own, look for an opportunity to backcap, as your addition to that fight will not give you player advantage, but you can probably secure player advantage somewhere else on the map.
If you are first to respawn off a disadvantage, draw out your own path on the map (shift+click+drag by default) to let your team know where you intend to strike. This lets your allies get a better read of what you intend to do and gives them a better idea of what to do themselves. Alternatively, this gives them an opportunity to voice an objection by drawing out where they think you should go instead.
Regarding differences in opinion over strategy, generally always go with your teammate's plans. Matches are too short to argue about the merits of your strategy over theirs, and you're more likely to succeed if two people are on the same train of thought than if you stubbornly refuse to try something different. Teammates clashing over what to do will definitely cause a loss, so go with the flow. The only exception is if they're asking you to walk into certain death (eg, they're directing you to a 1v4). But generally if they ping or draw to a certain point, that means they intend to back you up when they respawn, or distract enemies away from that area.
I wanted to talk about map secondary objectives and knowing when to resurrect or stomp, but this came out a lot longer than I expected. I might do it as another post some time later, if this post has helped any of you.