Welcome to Skyrates! If you are new, you may be frustrated at the combat system. If you're tired of making crash-landings in the ocean, hopefully this document will get you started on how to fight successfully.
The choice of plane is very important to how well you will fare in combat. Some planes are simply not built to fight, and may need to flee or bribe their way out of certain combats. Of the planes that can hold their own, different fighting styles arise depending on how it has been customized, and the type of firing arcs it has. Here is a list of planes you may wish to avoid flying combats in: Halifax, Bullfrog, Kingfisher
Maneuver refers to the stat on your plane plus number of ranks in the skill "Maneuver". You will often hear it mentioned as a sum such as 11+3; this person is flying a plane with 11 maneuver and has 3 ranks in the skill. Maneuver is important in two ways--it allows you to turn faster, and it prevents you from getting hit when an enemy catches you in his arcs. Many of the top combat pilots regard this to be the most important stat.
Firepower determines how often and how hard you hit the enemy. It is augmented by the combat skills Eagle Eye, Precision Fire and Crack Shot, often abbreviated EE, PF and CS. While the exact bonuses are unknown, a pilot with these three skill mastered will have an effective firepower an order of magnitude greater. If you plan on flying combat, focus your combat points on these three skills first; level them up evenly for maximum efficacy.
The aircraft of Skytopia all use fixed gun mounts, and so each gun can only cover a certain area extending away from the plane. These are firing arcs, and on the combat screen your arcs are shown in green; enemy arcs are shown in red. When an enemy plane wanders into your arcs (or vice versa) they will light up a brighter color, and you will be able to hit them. The positioning of the arcs on your plane will generally determine your fighting style.
Not to be confused with the stat, combat maneuvers are tricks you can pull out of you sleeve while fighting. As you fight higher level combats, the computer uses them liberally, though not always to good effect. Here is a quick guide to maneuvers you may find useful:
Quite possibly the most useful dual-purpose maneuver in the game, Barrel Roll allows you to avoid enemy fire while allowing you to return fire. If you are caught in a cluster**** or are having trouble staying out of an enemy's arcs, a Barrel Roll can often allow you to take pot-shots while dodging (or getting the heck out of Dodge).
The single most useful defensive maneuver, hands down. If you are being mobbed, pop the Afterburner to put a little distance between you and the pirates. Slow planes may still have trouble escaping, but this will usually gain you a little time to think. It can also be used as an offensive maneuver, usually to strafe across an enemy plane.
This is a maneuver commonly used to let you turn rapidly, allowing you to lock an enemy into your forward arc as he tries to turn.
Wingover is a sharp turn that does not sacrifice any speed; it is a very useful defensive maneuver when being chased by a single plane.
Split S and ImmelmanEdit
Both of these maneuvers allow you to make a half loop to make a 180 degree "turn" while increasing your dodge rate. Use these on slower planes as they chase you, especially if you lack a rear arc or otherwise cannot get a clear shot.
Your fighting style will be tailored to three main things: the arcs on your plane, your stats, and the arcs on the plane you are fighting against. Detailed strategy for each plane may eventually become available in their respective entries, but for the time being this is a quick run-down of the kinds of planes you will encounter, and how to fight them in a fixed-wing aircraft with a front arc. ((A person with experience in a blimp, Nomad and a trader should write a section))
Most commonly found on trade planes, these are easy to deal with in planes with a rear arc of sufficient length. If you lack rear arcs or they are too short, consider using an Immelman or a Split S while the enemy plane is chasing you. Turning sideways and barrel rolling through a pursuing plane can also work.
The Mastiff and the Requin have arcs of this shape, and the Spectre and Seafire can be lumped into this category for the sake of fighting purposes. These planes have a well-defined blind spot; try circling inside by turning with them to keep your forward arc trained. You may also try circling inside by counter-turning.
Found on performance and performance/combat planes like the Loki and the Havoc, these can be very annoying to fight, especially when the plane is fast and maneuverable. Again, the strategy is to circle, turn or counter-turn. If fortune favors you, the circling may result in a chase to your advantage.
Front + Short/Wide BackEdit
These planes are fairly intuitive to deal with, just attack from behind and chase. If it is chasing you, try turning and letting it afterburn past you; give chase and throw in an airbrake if it tries to turn. Good examples are the KittyHawk and the Dauntless.
The Lancaster and Cyclops are most representative of this category, though for effective purposes the Hades and Seahawk can be put under this category as well. The former pair have large hitboxes that can be exploited, but the latter pair may give you some grief. On a Hades or Seahawk, try to fit your plane into the lower left or right pocket and use airbrake as it tries to turn.
Blimps (Wide X)Edit
For planes without rear arcs, blimps can be a nightmare. Additionally, the Barracuda is quite speedy, and staying out of its arcs may be difficult. Fortunately, it has low maneuver and armor, and will almost always lose a slugging match. The Bismarck and Leviathan are a different story; if you are in a plane that lacks rear arcs, your options are limited. Occasionally a blimp will try to run; take full advantage though be ready to wingover if it rapidly turns on you. Another strategy is to afterburner through its centerline or use Immelman/Split S.
Final Note and MiscellaneousEdit
Again, these tips apply only to fixed-wing planes with medium-to-long forward firing arcs. Hopefully, pilots with more experience in aircraft like the Nomad or Bolo will contribute their knowledge to this guide. A couple notes about interesting things have been appended, but that concludes this guide.
The "Tortuga landing bug"Edit
If you enter a combat (click on the black-and-yellow combat icon) prior to landing and remain in the "Click to Fight" screen until you have landed before continuing to the Encounter screen, the level of the patrols at that skyland will be added to the current combat level. This is most noticeable at Tortuga, where the average patrol level is around 30.
Ultra-high level combatsEdit
At combat levels above 40, many things in this guide will become wrong. If you have an interest in flying at the edge of your seat (and combat capability), ask Captain Keyo, Burrito Loco and other well-known combat pilots on the radio.
This guide is brought to you by Colonel Moros of Echo Squadron. Additional editors should add their names to the list; don't be shy!