Circling means going around your enemy (mostly aliens (NPCs)) in circles.
It is one of the most import skills and it is the only way to kill stronger aliens by yourself.
In the home map (X-1) you don’t really need circling, since Streuners are weak and they can’t do much damage before they are dead and they attack your ship only when you attack them.
To successfully circle an alien you need to be a little bit faster than it is. Easiest kills are slow aliens like Mordon, Devolarium, Sibelon, Kristallon.
The idea of circling is as simple as it sounds, but the devil is in the details.
1. Select an alien;
2. Move away from it in any direction until you don’t see him on the screen.
3. Start shooting. If the alien shoots at you before you selected him then you can start shooting after Step 1.
4. Fly around your alien in circles while shooting it and launching rockets. You can look at the mini map to see where he is, but once you get a hang of it you will not need it. Nose of your ship will always point in the direction of the enemy you’re currently attacking.
With very strong aliens (compared to your ship) it is important to select them quickly and fly away.
With aliens that are not shooting first, like Streuner, Lordakium and Kristallons its much easier to select them and start to shoot them from a safe distance.
What damage is normal when circling?
Aliens that start to shoot you only when you attack them must not cause any damage to your ship in steps 1-3, because you start to shoot them only from a safe distance.
During circling the alien that you are killing should not cause you any damage – that’s the #1 rule of circling and that’s why it is so very important. No damage while circling from the alien that you’re killing.
At the end, when the alien is going to die it starts to run away, all of them do. Before they start to run you will get one shot from them and the screen will show you – You escaped an attack. Now it’s the part where you will have to sustain all the damage. If you have X3 lasers and stronger rockets then this is the time to use them to kill the alien faster and to minimize damage to your ship.
If the alien is very strong compared to your ship then this is the moment when he can kill you. If that happens and you had a full-health and didn’t sustain any damage while circling then your ship is too weak for this type of alien. You need to buy more/stronger shields, etc. before starting again.
When alien runs away other players may start shooting at it. Your lock on the alien in this case is only for some 5 seconds, which means that if you don’t hit him with a laser or a rocket every 5 seconds the other player will take it over, will get a lock on it, and will get all the credit for killing him. So you need to be killing the alien when it runs away.
If you get the alien in the corner his shields will regenerate, but it will not repair itself (except for Protegit).
In the corner there is a very tight safe distance where the alien can not attack you, but you can attack it with lasers or rockets. So when you find that the alien is not shooting you, but your laser ammunition is decreasing then you know that you are causing damage and sooner or later you will have a kill.
One last important thing regarding circling is that near jump portals aliens have a bigger range – it will be able to shoot you from further away. Solution here is to slowly drag your alien away from the jump portal and it will calm down and you will be able to circle without damage.
Sometimes you may encounter that an alien seems to have a bigger shooting range even in the middle of the map, in that case just drag him around a bit and don’t fly as close to it as you normally would and it will eventually calm down, it always does, and then you can kill him as was described here.
On Monday 14th February 2011 BigPoint replaced AI (Artificial intelligence) for all NPCs. This was done, so that BigPoint could add new behavior to existing and/or new aliens later on. Good news is that behavior of existing aliens did not change, so circling is still the most important skill. At the moment the only exception is Kristallon which now behaves differently.
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