Tribes Ascend - Some spinfusor/blue plate special tips.

Published June 18, 2012

Update: I wrote this in June and since then the game/playerbase has degenerated a lot, and frankly, playing with a spinfusor is no longer particularly fun.

The reason for this is that the weapons are imbalanced with regard to their effectiveness in terms of a player's experience. Spinfusors are hard, unreliable and have a low average case effectiveness for a good player. Autos (and sniper rifles) are easier, reliable and have a very high average case effectiveness for a good player. As time goes on, the playerbase dwindles and the ratio of win-at-all-cost competitive players in the average pub game grows. Simply put, if you want to play Tribes, as opposed to (dare I say it) CoD with Jetpacks, you'll have more bad games than good. Don't get me wrong; I *love* Tribes, but most Ascend players are playing a totally different game (and I don't quite understand why - it's not a good game). Hi-Rez certainly won't fix these things, and it seems the most vocal voices in the community seem to start all their proposals with the false premise that everyone aspires to play competitively, so I don't ever see it changing.

On the plus side, PlanetSide 2's pretty good.

Tribes Ascend! I love it. I played Tribes 2 from its release and I have vague recollections of spending more time than I strictly should have in the Tribes 1 demo. I've probably been playing Tribes for 11-12 years or something crazy, so if I've killed you repeatedly with ridiculously improbable spinfusor shots, sorry.

Personally I'd love to see more players shunning the run-of-the-mill automatic weapons and instead using the spinfusor; remember in The Princess Bride when the Dread Pirate Roberts is duelling Inigo? A good disc duel is like that. It's a pleasure to lose to an artist, whereas it's a slightly less positive experience to lose to some idiot who pulls out a machine gun and starts spraying. So here are some tips which I hope will encourage you to forego the autos a bit.


  • if your game (FPS) is lagging, turn down your graphics settings. Having a responsive and smooth input/feedback is the most important thing. You barely even notice graphics when you're playing ... except those beautiful light effects on Raindance, I'll admit.
  • Mouse sensitivity: it's become vogue to have a very low sensitivity. This completely doesn't work for spinfusors (and seems like a bad idea if you don't want RSI).
  • Projectile weapons are subject to inheritance, i.e. the projectiles inherit your momentum. You probably know this already. This is just a 'feel' thing, there's not much I can say about it other than be aware of it.
  • Your class _does_ make a difference. I find it easier to stack up the MAs with soldier. It's probably down to a) the way people engage you and you them, and b) it being a sweet spot between being able to move fast enough to stay alive while being slow enough to not have to consider the inheritance too much (also note that for some reason lights have the same hitbox, as mediums, so being light doesn't make you harder to hit. TA has some very dubious design decisions). Pathfinder and Juggernaut, however, are the only true Tribes classes.


  • Aiming is hard. Tribes is very much a 3D game and aiming in 3D with your mouse is hard. Try to reduce the number of variable axes between you and your target. If they're flying straight at you, you only need to aim in the vertical axis. You wouldn't believe how many flag carriers I've surprised with easy shots like this by placing myself between them and their flag stand and just hovering at their height.
  • There's a point in a player's arc where they're almost stationary in one dimension - right at the top. That's a good place to aim, especially if you're moving in the same direction as them.
  • Try to aim as much as possible WITHOUT the mouse - if you can adjust your movement (by keyboard and jetpack) to better coincide with their arc, then DO. It's a lot more reliable than frantically waving your reticle around.
  • I don't go for 'tracking' people with my mouse:
    • If I need to adjust my aim before I shoot, I do it rapidly right before I shoot. This isn't a conscious thing but it seems to work quite well for me - your milage may vary (this is more for duels).
    • Try to place your reticle in the right place ahead of time, then wait for them to fly into your aim (this is less for duels and more for taking down people not paying a lot of attention to you).
  • At close range, it can be really unintuitive where you should be aiming. I'm not sure if this is the hitbox, lag, unintuitive physics or what, but generally, your reticle shouldn't be over your target if you're both moving at any speed. Aim well ahead of where you think you should be.

Practice, practice, practice

  • I miss loads. You will too. You won't get those awesome mid airs unless you try. And you won't get better unless you're willing to fail.
  • Engaging heavy classes is good practice (avoid jugs with the X1 LMG though). They tend to move much more slowly and predictably and their hitbox is massive.
  • Obviously, in a disc duel, it often comes down to energy management and making sure you're still in the air to land a ground-shot on them when they hit the ground. But think twice before you finish them off like this - it's often worth letting them get a few metres back up again just for the practice - they'll often be in a bad position and you'll get an easy-ish shot, but one which is more challenging than just splash damaging them when they're on the ground.
  • A very good skill to learn is rapidly throwing your viewport around to where you *think* someone will end up when you're flying past them (or vice versa). Don't be scared to sacrifice some aim to get some more mobility.


  • Latency isn't *that* important. Easy for me to say with my ridiculous < 20 ping, but I used to be semi-competent on Goon Haven (a US Tribes Next server) with a 250 ping. There is so much compensation going on in your aim for other factors that as long as your ping is relatively stable and your game is playable, latency is just another factor and you'll adapt to it.
    *EDIT*: Actually, T:A's netcode is terrible, ignore this point.
  • If you play jug, it's worth getting the throwable discs so if you get a good shot but you're half way through reloading, you can throw a disc at them. The aiming for these is weird - you have to hit fire and *then* aim, but I've had a good few MAs with them (and the improved rate of fire has saved me a few times).
  • Don't let your enemy get _directly_ above you. It's very hard to aim upwards. It seems much easier to aim downwards and shoot a disc in someone's face.
  • Bonus tip! Since writing this, Hi-Rez has released more spinfusors. I _always_ use the 'direct-hit' spinfusor for whatever class I'm playing - the one that does more damage but less splash. It'll improve your aim. And being able to take down a heavy in 3 shots with the duelling spinfusor is nice.
  • And finally... don't spend the whole game chasing mid-airs and ignoring the flag. No one cares that you've got 16 blue plates if they know you spent all game in the mid-field picking off easy and pointless kills.
Filed under: tribes, gaming

Talk is cheap

Nice article - completely agree with your view about the spinfusor. I played the original T1 and T2 and seemed to find more enjoyment there.

In my recent games I've not been enjoying the play as much because everyone seems to use autos. Spinfusor should be king - Hi-Rez should adopt a single game balancing propostion for these weapons. i.e. a good spinfusor player should on average marginally beat an autos player. The game would be great if they did this.

– 14:57:37 16th December 2012

Thanks. I haven't played Ascend since I got my PS2 beta key, but it did seem to go downhill in the few months leading up to then.

In my opinion, all other arguments aside, the autos in Tribes are just *bad* in that they promote boring gameplay. They have no recoil, no spread and no inheritance. They also have highly visible tracers and so are easy to adjust, and with damage indicators they give continual high quality feedback. Combine that with the facts that movement in Tribes tends to be fairly predictable and rarely is there any cover, autos turn a game of physics into something quite one dimensional that I could find better implemented in virtually any other modern FPS.

There seems to be a lot of rabid support for them on the forums and so, which baffles me. All I can suppose is the people who argue in favour of them never experienced the incredible game they're missing out on.

– 20:29:03 16th December 2012

Thanks for all the tips, i hope they help me in a game though
btw what do you do if you run out of energy while dueling someone, when this happens to me, i lose the duel for sure
what should i do?

– 03:47:39 31st December 2012


Don't run out of energy :) Which class do you play?

Being immobile is usually what gets you killed, rather than being out of energy per se. Even when out of energy, you can still jump and ski. A short burst of your jet can also get you moving fast enough for a short period of time to avoid certain death. Partly it comes down to timing: you should have a feel for when your opponent is able and likely to shoot at you, and you should save energy up until that point so you have enough to propel yourself away from the explosion.

– 09:35:51 31st December 2012

10 months since this article was posted and it's still quite true of what I currently see.

It was interesting seeing the game evolve since beta in late 2011. Fun times were had, but I'm done with T:A. I was pretty damn good too.

– 03:39:55 1st May 2013

Energy management plays a way bigger role in this game than I would like. I've played Legends, Tribes 2, Tribes:Aerial Assault, Soldat... etc (never Vengeance) but nothing, NOTHING compares to back in the day when T1 was pumping.

Tribes 1 = Best game ever, hands down. Theres a reason I still fire it up every now and again, ever since 1999.

somethings off with the depth perception in this game too. I have trouble lining up peoples Z position. X + Y no problem but Z.... ugh. maybe they can just change directions easier with the wierd ski controls. Its all too floaty to me and leaves the narrow disc shots with alot to be desired. And all the hills are way to smooth. I like lots of nuances to my capping routes, not this sanded down terrain. Ok. I'm done bitching. I love tribes in any case and want to support Ascend.

Best advice : Pay attention to timing, and how your character moves. Purposefully shoot too soon/too late to test your weapons timing. Try to keep a sense of your location/velocity in the "world" and look at each death as a training exercise.

– 06:04:55 14th January 2014

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