To understand the zerg and eventually counter it we must first deduce what it actually is and how it is likely to behave.
To me the term zerg can refer to any large offensively minded concentration of troops
Fortunately it will tend to follow a series of rules.
. It will always attempt to advance at their fastest speed along the shortest possible path assuming no external factors are operating upon it. External factors can include combat bases being hacked or targets of opportunity.
. the players within a zerg exhibit a herd like mentality though all share a desire for xp and kills this will lead to the zerg group rushing to an enemy position and when unable to continue to move forward they will encircle it in an attempt to find enemies and a position to fire from
. The presence of an enemy will draw the zerg like a magnet, even a single enemy has the potential to pull a huge response from the zerg group as the individual members rush to be the one to get the kill and associated xp
. In general the zerg members will advance untill they meet the enemy, then try to close the distance to what they perceive as optimal range. unless the zergling is an infiltrators this is invariably close quarters.
. When close to a facility that can support it the zerg group will pull the “biggest, baddest” vehicle available to them. This leads to a scenario where the zerg will initially consist of mainly‘s with a sprinkling of AMS’s and other vehicles. As time progresses the style of the zerg will evolve into an infantry zerg due to the zerg members reluctance to fall back and pull a replacement vehicle and…..
. The zerg will always spawn at the quickest and closest location available to them, getting back into the action is paramount for them often this is a forward positioned Sunderer as they will become available for deployment a few moment earlier than normal spawn rooms.
. A zerg assault will often be preceded by ESF’s before the infantry assault this follows the “biggest baddest” vehicle rule because some people just love their lolpods. The normal zerg rules will apply and inexperienced ESF pilots will often head straight for the nearest visible target regardless of Anti Air
. The zerg will normally prioritise the closest target above all others, ignoring threats further away which may be a greater threat to the group as a whole. The mentality is one where “someone else will deal with it”.
. A zergling will respond to fire upon them and return fire, on that target, conversely they will open fire immediately on a new target (they fear losing the opportunity for xp), however…..
. The zerg is blinkered and will often fail to detect enemies that are not directly in their path until they open fire and become a threat to the zerg
. in essence the zerg is a blob of individuals moving as an instinctive herd.
Physics in understanding the zerg’s behaviour
When a zerg meets a zerg assuming all is equal I often find myself depicting it using Newtonian physics ie whichever zerg is more powerful will push the other back. Simple I know but it is important as it founds the cornerstone for ideas to disrupt and break the zerg.
In the above diagram x and y are the same strength as in diagram one, however a friendly squad (Z) have fortified themselves in a defensive position (a building, outcropping etc) this has pulled a large number of the zerg to assault the squad’s position (I have never seen us not be vastly outnumbered) while the remainder are pushed back by our own friendly zerg. (Obviously care needs to be taken with positioning in these instances too close and we get wiped out, while too far and our effectiveness is diminished (though not eliminated).
We often use this method on a strategic level aswell as the more local tactical level, as the goal of deep strikes into enemy territory is often not to capture the base, but to draw as large an enemy response as possible and relieve pressure on the front.
A situation where the TR are on the defensive and the enemy zerg has attempted to encircle the base our squad (Z) has taken up position far enough away from the zerg as to draw little attention but, still able to take a vast toll on enemy air and armoured units relieving the pressure on the besieged TR. This tactic can be used in any location and will often be used “behind the enemy front” where we attempt to destroy approaching enemy units.
The zerg and fluid dynamics.
The Zerg will often exhibit the same characteristics as a viscous liquid. they have a flow, and much like water flowing downhill, they will flow together along the path of least resistance responding to constraints in terrain. they will bottleneck and become clumped in areas such as spawn rooms, and they will spread to a degree, while still retaining a vague blob shape in more open areas such as Indar’s northern region. In these instances the zerg will resemble a water drop, being quite concentrated in the middle and the front and less so at the edges and as it tails off at the rear.
This is due to a herd instinct, players will naturally group together and the instinct to be in the centre of the herd will compete with the desire to be at the front and increase the possibility for a kill.
When in combat a fluid behaviour can also be observed. As mentioned previously the zerg will tend to advance till they can go no further then spread out and encircle the target. Different behaviour can also be witnessed in differing scenarios.
Much like water flowing into a glass when the zerg is attacking the inside of a tower or other similar area the zerg will quickly flow to the combat area (often the stairs on a tower), they will then clump up as more bodies rush to join the fray but are rendered unable to advance due to the press at the front and enemy defenses stalling the attack. This behaviour can be witnessed anywhere there is a defended choke point that the zerg is eager to attack.
An important aspect of this behaviour is the individual zerg players reluctance to strike off on their own. Players will group together but are unwilling to expose themselves to death (much like behaviour in a school of fish). This can often be observed at choke points where the zerg will prefer to stand in a group and return fire rather than start an assault which will often be succesful in achieving the zerg’s objective.
This can be used in both offence and defence. On the defensive you can be confident in holding a position on the map against overwhelming odds, while on the offence you should ask your outfit to equip MAX suits and push to the front of the engagement before charging in. In most cases the zerg will follow the new herd leaders and assault (beware this when defending). MAX units are chosen for their intimidating and distinctive look and the large numbers encourages many zerg players to have faith that the squad knows what they are doing. (I for one am not too bothered whether the MAX units survive or not, they are there purely to encourage an assault once the zerg has the numbers to be succesful but no-one is willing to strike out on their own.
Spawn points, especially sunderers are very good places to spot fluid behaviour. The Sunderer is a good example as it is often set up behind cover, and players spawning like a leak in a pipe will first take positions along the cover if a fire position is available, then spread out along the cover and round the edges towards the enemy. All this assumes that the enemy is firing on the spawn position, as if it is unopposed the default zerg behavior will apply and players will sprint directly towards the objective.
I hope this has helped improve your understanding of the zerg, Posts detailing secific strategies to deal with an enemy zerg will be posted shortly so stay tuned!