|November 9th, 2019|
You fly by tapping a button, sometimes very fast (7-15hz depending), and it turns out this hurts my wrists. I have bad wrists, and generally need to be pretty careful. Not being able to play any flying roles, I've been getting a lot of practice playing drone, and wanted to write up some notes.
The two main things drones do are collect berries and ride the snail. Since those are the direct paths to victory, the objectives, we call this "running objective." Typically a team will have one member who always runs objective, and another member who plays "flex", either playing warrior or running objective depending on the needs of the situation.
Presenting everything at an introductory level would take way too long, though, so the rest of this post will be terse and jargony. If you'd like me to explain something ask in the comments, or you can ask your teammates.
The longer you hold the button the higher you jump. Making a minimum-sized jump requires only a very slight tap.
Your forward speed is the same whether you're walking, jumping, or falling.
If you're not making progress because of offensive guards, call for a hive/snail clear.
Even though you can't kill anyone, booping others is still very valuable in the right situation. You can boop drones out of gates, boop enemy warriors into your own warriors, and boop warriors out of the hive. Play around with booping to learn which parts are safe and which will kill you.
Coordinate with teammates before the round starts to pick a strategy (typically 2-2 berries or 3-1 snail) and figure out if there are any gates you should plan to deny off the bat.
Watch the whole board so you have as much warning as possible about what's coming next. Give other players a heads up about important things: number of berries remaining, progress of the snail, warrior counts, gate possession, queen lives. What's worth tracking and calling takes time and depends on your team's preferences, but as dedicated objective you generally have more spare bandwidth than anyone else.
Don't get speed unless you literally have nothing better to do. As a drone you're going to die a lot, and the time spent getting speed is not worth it. Speed can help you deliver berries past an inexperienced hive guard, but you want to be building skills that will still work when you play really good players.
You can trap standing warriors by jumping onto their heads, but I haven't been able to figure out a good use for this.
Go for the hardest spots first, which means the spots that are easiest for the opponents to guard. Top berries on Dusk and Twilight, back berries on Day and Night. Though possibly on Day and Night you should fill front berries first at the very start, if this lets you get an extra cycle in before the other team gets their hive guard up.
To get around the hive guard, coordinate with the other objective runner to run the hive at the same time. A solid d-guard can block a solid drone most of the time, but it's very hard to stop two drones at once. On Day you can often boop a hive guard by sticking; see the end of the post.
Make sure you and someone else don't go for the same hole. A good convention is you divide left-right based on your position at the cabinet, but make sure you're using the same convention as your teammates. Some teams prefer to call holes.
Practice the hard jumps, especially jumping across the top on dusk. Work on delivering the berry into a specific target hole. On Dusk and Twilight learn which holes can be reached by running off the ledge vs jumps of various sizes, and which can be reached by jumping from the bottom ("bottom berries"; lowest three rows on Dusk, lowest two berries on Twilight) vs which need to be filled from the top ("top berries").
Figure out the fastest routes on every map.
Keep in mind that you're going to crawl back out of a hole, and while you do that the hole is occupied. This means there are times when you should hold back just a little to give another objective runner time to catch up, so you can deliver together. This matters the most for the end of the game, but can also apply to top berries. Don't hold back if it's going to get you killed though.
If you're holding a berry and run into another berry you'll kick it. Flying berries that go into holes register immediately. Play around with kicking berries to learn the physics of how your speed affects their speed and angle, because it's not obvious. While warriors absolutely need to learn how to kick so they can clear berries after killing the drone carrying them, berry soccer is only rarely useful for drones and can be a distraction.
When the snail is eating someone, its rider is trapped and is an easy target for warriors. If the snail rider is killed, however, the drone being eaten is immediately free. These combine to mean that you can feed the snail to trap your opponent, get rescued by a teammate, and then ride. If there's high military pressure and you're not sure if rescue is advisable, your o-guard should make the decision.
If you're not going to be able to be rescued, and especially if they're not going to be able to be rescued either, it's generally better to just stay on the snail and wait while it slowly eats them.
When to hop off the snail and run away vs stay on it and get a few more pixels of progress is a really hard judgement, and mostly depends on whether they're just going to kill you anyway even if you hop off.
Normally, if you jump and hit the ceiling you'll bounce off. But if you hit the ceiling at just the right speed, you'll stick to it for a short time instead. This gets you high enough that you can boop warriors and even the queen, but you have time time it well enough that you're still sticking when you boop them.
Generally you'll want to stick while moving:
Unlike with warriors, tapping while you're sticking has no effect.
To practice sticking, first practice jumping right next to a low ledge, aiming to get your bear's knees even with the underside of the ledge. Once you see what that feels like, try to do the same thing just under a low ledge. Once you're good at sticking you're surprisingly difficult to kill when there's a low ceiling, you can boop hive guards on Day, you can boop warriors out of their own sticks, and you can be one side of a pinch.
With perfect timing it is possible to jump from one ledge and stick on a ledge above that you're not on yet, effectively lipping as a drone, which could be powerful. For example, it should let you boop a hive guard on Night.