Kestril’s guide to teaching new crews.
This is what I do when I take a crew of newbies under my wing. I enjoy teaching in guns of Icarus online and welcoming new players to the community. As such, I’ve decided to share my knowledge on how to teach up a crew when you can’t find a match with familiar faces. I hope this guide may help you teach incoming new players. Whether it’s the odd newbie here-and-there that need to know the finer points of repair cooldown, or the fresh-off-the-tutorial grouped buddies that are all too timid to find a captain among them.
It’s pre-game, or in the first few moments of the match, and your level 1 swabbies are scampering around the deck, clueless as to where to go. Here is what you do.
Build a sense of teamwork. Ships function better when everyone is working for a common goal. New players are both more receptive to advice and more willing to put in the effort to learn if they feel welcome aboard your ship.
Popular MOBAS have clear roles for players. From Overwatch to DoTA, players have clear roles to perform. In Guns of Icarus, is not as immediately clear. In GOI, there are many different roles that depend on a variety of factors. Specific roles depend on your ship, your ship’s guns, the amount of components that are disabled, and your opponent’s ship and relative position on the battlefield. Roles are fluid and changing. Competitive teams have practiced enough to instinctively know these changing roles in every possible situation. Your crew won’t, so you’ll have to start with the basics. These basics come in a few categories.
Overview the role of the guns
The guns will determine how and where your ship fights in combat, so it’s good to go over briefly what you need when attacking the enemy. Go over who gets what gun, and then explain their role.
Let your gunner know what their gun’s role is. If it’s an artimis, tell them to aim for components at all ranges. If it’s a carronade, tell them to aim for the balloon when they are close. If it’s a mortar, let them know to only fire when the enemy ship’s armor is broken. Finally, briefly go over ammo types and how each ammunition may help. Remember, the goal is not to micro-manage, but instead give them enough information to make infr
This is a bit more tricky than it sounds, as some engagements are decided by the first hwacha volley. Again, stick to guidelines and explain the role. For example, when I fly an ambush spire, I always let my gunner know that they must fire first to take out the front gun of that hwachafish or galleon, but can hold fire until a metamidion’s armor is down.
Once a player has the information about their gun and how to perform their gun’s role, they can make the most informed decision possible when it comes to gunnery. As a captain, you can’t do much about missed shots, but knowing when to fire is the most important factor you can influence. So influence it. Let them know what is an important time to shoot, and what is not. Once they start to get the hang of it, your results as a ship will only improve.
Overview the role of the engineers.
The engineers keep the ship alive so that it can keep fighting. However, the repair system can make engineers overlap their cooldowns and miss repair timers, or, even worse, neglect to repair crucial components of the ship. As such, the engineers need to be more informed of where to be and what to prioritize. Save the special routes and tricks for later, they need to know what needs to be active for the ship to function. This depends on the ship, as a mobula’s balloon is more important than a squid’s, but if you’re a captain worth your salt you’ll know what you need to function. Check out the other guides to become familiar with these loadouts if you are not already.
When explaining, think guidelines. You won’t be able to micromanage in the thick of things, so give them the knowledge they need to function the best at the task their given before the lumberjack hits the balloon. Let them know “In this pyra, we will get close, so will I need turning engines more than the side guns.” Or “In this squid, engines are life. If we have the altitude, prioritize engines over the balloon.” Or, “In this galleon, work with the gunner to fix the lumberjack before fixing your heavy flak.”
It may seem blindingly obvious to an experienced player, but newbies haven’t had the chance to learn these guidelines. Saying “you get the right side of this mobula” is a start, but isn’t nearly as helpful as “keep the balloon up, and check it every reload. If it goes down, go repair it.” You won’t have enough time to explain every situation, but once your newfound crew has the context to make the moment-to-moment decisions to keep the ship alive and fighting.
Overview the role of the ship itself.
Finally, go over the strengths and weaknesses of the ship, and how you’ll fight against your opponents. Go over the general doctrine of combat to give your crew the most information possible to make the best choices to play to your ship’s strengths and shore up it’s weaknesses. This will stop the trigger-happy gunner that fires the hwacha burst at maximum range ineffectually, or stop the eager engineer from giving away your ambush position with a gatling. Once your crew knows how your ship will fight, they will avoid actions that undermine that style of combat.
On a sniper mobula, I explain that our role is to pick them apart from far away and disable their weaponry but on metamidion or an ambush spire I explain that we are to ambush them for a quick kill. A hwachagalley, we ram and broadside, so keep the turners up and don’t fire until you’re sure you can disable their vital components.
By explaining your ship’s intended style of combat, you’re giving your novice crew the information to piece together all the working parts. They can equip their knowledge to choose what to react to.
Now that you’ve explained the basics to your crew, it’s time to actually start the match!
Onto the match
Now that you’ve explained the role of the ship and the roles of the crew within it, it’s time to put it into practice. On your way to meet the enemy team, keep in mind that your crew doesn’t have the situational awareness of a 45-stacked SkBo or FCD ship. In some cases, Keeping this in mind will help you manage your expectations, and put you in a position to help build your crew’s situational awareness. Start with the basics, like hull and balloon.
Hull and balloon
With a new crew, you’re going to have to perform double duty and help watch the state of the hull and balloon before they go down. Whether your newbie engineers don’t realize when the armor is down, or if those mallet cooldowns seem a little longer than you’d like. Keep in mind, it takes time run to repair components, and, oftentimes, the fatal mistake has been made long the mortar shots come raining in.
To help with this, keep an extra eye out on the hull and balloon. If you notice a new engineer using the mallet instead of spanner to rebuild, go ahead and correct that. If one engineer is a bit trigger happy, inform them to check their component after each reload. The key here is to offer constructive advice rather than blame. Remember, part of your role as a captain is to augment the situational awareness of your crew.
Mistakes and the blame game
While your crew’s performance may be frustrating, infuriating, maddening, or otherwise shatter your temperament and open up the salt mines deep within you, focus on helpful advice. It’s natural to get a little tense and quick with your calls in the thick of things. That’s okay. However, once the engagement ends and you’re faced with the respawn screen. MOVE ON.
Your crew gains nothing from passing the blame around. In my experience, it does negative work. Blaming people demoralizes the ship and makes people less likely to try their hardest to secure the victory. Moreover, passing the blame leaves you with no crew come the next lobby, as they will seek out another captain that doesn’t berate them for their mistakes. Or, if you’re lacing your commands with incendiary ammo, they’ll quit mid-match. Leaving you, ironically, with no one to blame but yourself.
Furthermore, in my experience, captains that do play the blame game oftentimes underestimate repair cooldowns or how much fire their ship is taking. There is nothing more deflating in guns of Icarus than watching your captain sail headlong into a 2v1, only to die and blame the engineers by shouting “I NEEDED HULL AND ENGINES WHY DON’T YOU REPAIR!?”
A more constructive (i.e: better) approach is to let them know what a success looks like. Tell them how things would have gone if they played optimally. Remind them of their role, and how effective that role can be! I’ll often say, “If we landed the mine, the pyra would have been bumped away out of arc.” Or, “Next time, if we catch their engines in a hwacha, they will be helpless to dodge.”
Giving such advise puts your crew in a position to better understand the game and look for those plays. But sometimes, those shots will still miss, even after deaths, and you won't see much improvement. The mortar is still missing entierly and your gatling gunner is still wiffing half of his clip. Things can seem a bit hopeless, and that nothing can be done. But something can be done.
So what can be done?
This is the big secret. The whole cake (happy birthday). The big Lebowski. The one sassy section you should take away from this guide if you read nothing else:
Instead of asking “what do I need from my crew?” ask, “what does my crew need from me?”
Draw from your experience and adapt to what your crew can give you. If your engineer is slow to repair the turners, then adapt and don’t burn the pilot tools as much to relive the repair pressure. If your newbie gunner is having trouble landing difficult shots, keep the ship still to give them a steady platform to aim from, or get so close that they can't possibly miss.
Captains don’t carry matches by ship positioning alone. Captains carry matches by playing to the strengths of their crew to maximize their ship’s potential given the tools they have.
For example, My fresh-off-the-boat trainer ship is a mercury-art-art mobula (newbula) with the flamers on the top deck. All the weapons are easy-to-aim with no “wait until red” trigger discipline required, engineers only have one critical component to look after, and staying a long distance away from the engagement improves everyone’s situational awareness. It’s not the most effective ship, not by a long shot, but it is the most effective loadout to take with a crew of newbies that don’t have the awareness, aim, or experience under their belt.
Finally, if it’s your fault, own it.
Captains are not infallible gods of icarus. They make mistakes too. And you, as a captian, will as well. If you mistakenly sail into a 2v1, eat the broadside of a galleon, or linger in a lumberjack’s arc for too long, own it. This will tell your crew that you have the awareness to know what went wrong, and the willingness to improve.
Furthermore, owning your mistakes improves captaining skills. At level 10, once I changed my frame of mind from “man the engineers didn’t repair that hwacha hit fast enough.” To “I shouldn’t have been in a position to get hit with the hwacha in the first place”, I could start realizing the delicate dance between ships, and realize when I had been outplayed, then adjust my strategy and flying style to not allow myself to be caught in that situation again. Own your mistakes, and I guarantee that you will improve as a captain as well!
With alliance mode around the corner and a growing playerbase on the horizon, knowing how to make a newbie crew into a well-oiled death machine will be a nice skill to have. I hope this guide has helped you train up a new crew, or just make the level-1 random that happens aboard your ship a bit more easy to guide to the gatling gun. Fly safe!