It is a means to an end for two reasons: a) you must have kills to carry armies and take planets, and b) you often need to stop enemy ships from doing things, such as taking your planets or bombing your space, or killing your teams carrier (or you!) when you are trying to take a planet. Killing them is one good way, although there are others.
The following is from the Netrek archives by J. Hammond a.k.a. Lance.
Here is the manual I mentioned. I posted it cause many people said I should.
I only use a CA, so if you play another ship take any advice with a grain of salt (actually, take it all with a grain of salt.).
There are, as I see it, 3 major things about successfully dogfighting.
The most important, by far, is intensive use of tractors. The second is to change speed constantly. The third is to det incoming torps.
Remapping the keyboard in the .xtrekrc file is important. For those interested, heres mine: keymap: dTeyadllrrqe D I think some of that was redundant, but it works, so I don't care! :)
II. Changing speeds
IX. Knowledge is half the battle :)
A. Tractors are most useful for holding an opponent in place so that your torps can catch up to him. By tractoring an opponent, one a) slows the opponents turning speed down for a short time and b) pulls him in the direction of your torps. THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT. I can not tell you how many people have come rushing onto the screen that I have tractored, using their speed, and pulled them right onto a string of torps.
B. Tractors are also useful for pulling wounded enemies (and full-strength scouts) into your phaser range so that you can finish them off. However, see III. Detting for more on that.
C. My favorite method of killing any enemy is to pull up next to him, speed up to warp 8 or 9, and on the pass launch a volley of torps and at the same time tractor him. Fire the torps almost perpendicular to your ship, because at warp 8, they will move outward AND forward, hence slamming into the opponents ship. I will also det his torps if they look like they might hurt me. Sometimes, if the torps might not hit him, I pressor him, and sometimes, just sometimes, his rapid turning pushes him BACK into the string of torps.
D. In the opposing situation, if an enemy tries this on me, I turn in his direction and pressor off of him at the same time, which (most of the time) propels me out of his incoming swath of torps. Pressors are most useful for maneuvering into and out of positions for battle. I don't use them extensively in battle but perhaps to keep a phaser-thirsty ship out of range so that I can torp him, or, in cases where there is a good BB playing, pressors are a key to survival.
[JE: T/P can also be very useful to help you dodge torps. The
most obvious way is to just turn away from your opponent
and pressor off him to give you more room to dodge. If you
have a teammate or an enemy off to one side that you can t/p
off of to move you sideways out of the torps, that is even
better. If you're using a teammate as a t/p post, though, make
sure you're not moving him into torps at the same time!]
A. It is important to change speeds constantly. Many opponents tend to dodge torps I send at them. However, when involved in a dogfight, and torps are flying in a perfect line at your ship, slam your hand down around the 7-8-9 area, and watch as your CA accelerates past the torps (I dogfight at 4). A while back, I fought with West 11 or 12 times on an abandoned server. Against that kind of skill, I change speeds maybe, once very 3 or 4 seconds, just to throw him off as to where I am going. That match ended in a tie or close to it. Those lil matches took over a minute usually. Learn to be patient. The next entry, B, illustrates that.
[JE: a style enormously helpful to conserving fuel while dogfighting is to fight at a base speed of warp 2, tractoring, pressoring, and accelerating as needed when torps are fired. This is most effective in a CA/BB/AS.
Thanks to Erik Lauer for pointing this out.]
B. The other day, I angered an opposing BB so much that he roared onto the screen firing a plasma and a blob of torps. I calmly turned perpendicular to his plasma and accelerated. That got me out of the torpsway and out of the possible turning radius of the plasma. The BB then turned tail and slowly moved away from me, firing torps all the way. By moving back and forth and calmly accelerating out of his torps I followed him all the way up to a fuel planet, never raising my shields or firing a shot. He started orbiting the fuel planet, and I sped up to 8 or 9 and roared by him, firing a volley of torps, tractoring him off the planet, detting, and phasering. Needless to say, he died and I lost my shields. But I was patient.
C. Also, remember to pressor oggers that appear behind you, as this will keep them from blowing up on you (I tend to tractor them, fire torps at them, and then pressor them, thus ensuring their death and preserving most of mine). However, you must be going away from the ogger at at least warp 7 for this to work, because pressors only really neutralize the oggers tractor.
D. When you are attempting to catch up to a target, and he is fleeing at similar speed, you can do 2 things: 1) If there are enemies in the area who could help him, you must get him quickly, so det torps sent in your direction. 2) If you and he are alone, if he fires a line at you, slam the 1-5 warp area and turn a little to the side. This usually lets you dodge most of them, but he gets those few extra seconds to flee a little more. However, if he has no help in the area, you might still have a chance of catching him.
Here is the Netrek concept that will get me in trouble with other good dogfighters. Most never det in battle. I, however, live on detting. I will cover detting on the accepted scale from A to C.
A.Det when tractoring scouts in and phaser them to death. Scouts fire dinky 25 pt torps that do 6 pts of damage when you det them. If you can tractor them and you are moving at sufficient speed, you can crunch a scout in a CA. As long as you det. This goes for any wounded ship, too. If a CA is wounded and is sitting stopped, rush at an angle, fire torps and tractor him in. However, you MUST remember to det torps. If you don't 10 to 1 you will mutual with him.
B.Det torps for wounded ships, planet takers, and SBs. If you want to be a good escort, stay AHEAD of the planet taker and det any torps headed for the planet. However, REMEMBER to fire at incoming oggers, and if you must, mutual with any too close to the planet.
C.Det enemy torps to wound other enemies. This I use only in special situations. When a cloaker (planet taker) flies over enemy torps, det them. You will take damage, but so will he. Any planet taker that slows down cause of wounds is usually dead in any clueful game. Planet taking counts on the taker to make it to the planet as fast as possible before oggers overwhelm the escorts.
D.OK, I also det a lot in combat. When I am dodging, I will often det to open a hole in a stream of torps, or det the first few torps in a string so that I can zoom by. Remember, detting ideally only inflicts 25% of the damage on your ship, so detting 4 or 5 torps really is nothing in a CA. I also tend to det whenever I make a pass at an enemy. Granted, at one inch away those torps might not hit me, but I don't take the chance. 50-130 pts norm on a dogfight, I guess. At one inch, one pass is usually enough :). Some good players can use my detting against me, but not always.
E.You know those situations where you and an opponent suddenly zoom on the screen at the same time and right at each other? Usually, you will ram each other with a blob of torps. However, the best way to survive is to slam your hand down on the speed of 1-4, turn rapidly to one side, fire torps, pressor, and DET constantly. About 50% of the time this will allow me to destroy the incoming ship, but I in turn usually take almost 80-90% damage. However, I survive.
[JE: maxwarping at an enemy is never a good idea, and if you
do find yourself in that situation, keep in mind that it may be
better to mutual than to go to 90% damage and spend a lot of
time repairing if you mutual, you immediately get a new ship.]
F.If you are in a situation where both you and your opponent are both wounded and he is taking pot shots at your ship, go into repair mode. When he fires a torp, and you cant dodge it, det it. Repair mode will usually repair enough shields for a 10 pt det. This way you conserve your fuel. Once you get enough fuel, start moving and unleash a full string of torps at the enemy.
G.If you are in a situation when you have enough fuel to kill a crippled ship but he is right on top of you and his explosion will kill you, pressor him away before phasering him and killing him (assuming he has no fuel).
Never keep your shields up all the time. Your hull doesn't repair and your fuel regenerates slower. Get in the habit of putting shields up ONLY when you are doing the following:
Approaching an enemy planet for bombing or planet taking.
Within about ¾ the phaser distance of a CA or -->BB <--.
If torps are going to hit you.
If a cloaker is coming to ogg you and he is within phaser distance on the galactic.
If friends fire a lot of torps over you and an enemy is in the vicinity to det them on you.
Its fun to let a SC to get within phaser range: let him lock you a few times and he (sometimes) get cocky. Once he turns around to engage you, tractor him in and kill him.
A. Though I covered most of this in tractor, PRACTICE, PRACTICE,
PRACTICE. Some people here at Duke who program borgs say my torps are almost perfect anyway. I have been accused many times of having a blessed borg.It is because I practiced lots last year (this year I don't play very much anymore). PRACTICE AIMING THOSE TORPS. Learn to lead your opponent.
B. don't det your own torps when you are first learning. This is the lazy mans way of getting another shot. When you are first learning, and you die cause your first shot missed, you will soon learn to start aiming better. If, however, you keep detting your torps, you will waste all your fuel in no time and gain little experience from the situation.
A. I use phasers when I make a pass at an enemy. Usually it is the difference that kills him. It is difficult to remember to tractor, torp 8 times, shields up, det, phaser, and move...but the extra 40 pt phaser sometimes is all you can get on the guy.
B. I don't suggest attempting to whittle down an enemy with phasers. The only person Ive ever known to do this effectively against me was Val, and hes gone...
[JE: you'd be surprised how quickly a man who uses both
phasers and torps well can take down someone who only
torps. Learn where your 20 point phaser range is, and
phaser any time he is within that range. If you are doing
less than 20 points you are probably wasting fuel.]
A. don't cloak (remember, this is a dogfighters manual).
B. Cloaking is only for dodging outgoing oggers(those coming to ogg you before you reach your target) or to pass over some interference dogfighters who are between you and your target.
C. Cloaking is for mainly planet takers and oggers. That is NOT my forte.
A. Never use plasma.
B. However, plasma is useful when there is a solitary planet taker orbiting a planet and you are racing to it. A plasma and a blob of 8 torps will usually do the trick.
C. S M A C K !
IX. Knowledge is half the battle.:)
A. KNOW YOUR ENEMY. Know what kinds of ships the bitmaps are.
Learn what kind of shields and hull and torps and phasers each ship has. Learn to add up quickly in your head, Well, 3 torps and a decent phaser. 120 for the torps, 40 for the phaser. That CA is hurting and wont be able to flee from me for a bit...
B. Keep track of your shields and your fuel. Make sure you have enough fuel to get out of there, cause you might get 2 kills, but an ogger will rip you to shreds when you have an empty tank.
C. Learn to cripple an enemy. When you are rushing to say ogg a SB hanging around the enemy home planet or especially to take the home planet, NEVER kill oggers coming to engage the blob of escorts and planet takers you are moving with. If you do so, you a) waste your own fuel and shields and momentum, and b) enable the enemy to reappear right next to your target with full everything. Bad move. Either cloak before you get to outgoing oggers, or hit them with 4 torps to cripple them <-- This is possible.