Talking Tactics With the Boys by nkotb4evah!

July 12th, 2019 by

The second Halo 3 MCC grifball season is entering playoffs, and the tides seem to be directing towards a third season to follow. This game has been out and explored for a full decade now but aside from developments in the first few seasons it seems like much hasn’t changed in core strategy and tactics.

An interest of mine when playing this  game has always been to explore different options contrary to the accepted mold of how it is played. Unfortunately, to do so requires a team with equal vision and superior skill to my own to test the viability of said strategies. Seeking to find out if I was alone in my desire for more intricate and developed gameplay, and curious if any of the strong and weathered players in the league saw potential in new ideas, I went out asking some of the leagues favorites what they thought.

I didn’t ask for typewritten responses or record what everyone said but rather tried to get the conversation going and note and key ideas or mentalities that emerged. I talked to; imShad, Doc, TnTbioshocker, Regressor, Menz, and Diablo. I will briefly run through the basic idea of the questions asked and highlight any noteworthy points that came up.

I started off each by simply asking what role they felt tactics played in Halo 3 grifball. On the surface it seems like a simple question but I met a lot of varied responses. Of note, Shad shut tactics down pretty quickly only to have Diablo bring up a specific Shad story relating to tactical desires. Chalk that up to having a dominant regular season with methodical, old school tanking. The general consensus was that tactics can be very important but the mindset of the league under the poor circumstances of wild connection variance is not considering that realm. Diablo also highlighted that teams that are all kill power run the risk of having and off game with no fall back and cited powerful teams falling short in playoffs on a bad string of tank play.

I then defined my perspective on the rundown of a grifball game to bring a mutual thought process into focus. I see the game as having four different play patterns. There is offense with possession and defense with possession, where the main difference is looking to score and looking to not lose the bomb respectively. Then there is offense and defense without possession where the goals are to obtain the bomb or not get scored on respectively. When this was discussed the two people who seemed to have the strongest opinion on play variation in these phases were Menz and Regressor. Menz used old school terms such as defender and the roll of pushing for trades versus staying alive on possessionless defense.  Regressor stressed the importance of learning the tendencies of teammates rather than designating roles. This was a prominent way of thinking for Regressor who believed knowing how someone will handle a given situation and reacting to it proves more effective than trying to orchestrate a strategy. If you know someone on your team is going to go for the fast trade be aware to get the potential clean up kill and to give room for them to act quickly. Doc implied there was a difference in speed of play but for everyone else, it seemed to be business as usual regardless of bomb position. Personally, I feel is not an accurate representation of what happens in game.

Position and specific roles was the next topic that was brought up. The game at its macro level is three tanks and a runner, but strengths and variations occur on a micro level and I was curious if players felt there were things like main tanks, or off tank and such. In a general consensus the idea of main tank, aggressive tank, and passive tank were accepted and promoted as ways to play. Having the whole team push or stand still can cause drastic position loss and lead to turnovers or goals against, and with connection rearing its ugly head, bringing consistency to a strategy seems to be the best option.

The next question was to describe the dream goal or textbook goal. I varied my question format at times so the answers varied for that reason. Interestingly Taylor, who felt that raw killing power reigned supreme, idealized a sneaky sword lunge on a runner for a turn over and walk in plant. Doc on the other hand who spoke highly of tactics had the ever present runner dream of mass killing and planting solo, with the added spice of killing his own team in the process. Other than those two the accepted plan and most favorable way to score was an all out push with everyone getting their respective kills and a smooth solid plant occuring. Personally I have always felt the best way to score is with a trade off on the side of the plant where a tank gets a kill, dies, runner revenges and walks it in while the rest of the team do their standoff bologna on the opposite side and middle. The runners definitely highlight their role in scoring the bomb more than tanks do.

So where is all of this nonsense going? So far all I have done is highlight general questions and answers from various players. I have always felt there were unexplored strategies to Halo 3 grifball that could prove fruitful. My time playing with Goomba and Mindless, the refusing to launch Generic, and the abhorrent Killlg, let me explore the concepts a little bit, but never with stronger players. When asked about the idea of playing for position rather than possession, even with the opening launch being not to the center but rather to the sides or behind, Menz and Diablo were the other people to entertain the notion. The simple fact, as I see it, is that a team with four active tanks can apply more pressure than a team with three tanks and a runner. The fumble to position after a launch and bomb recovery also leaves potential openings to capitalize on.

With another season of Halo 3 grifball on the horizon and with connection being such a factor, is there room for development besides a functioning, communicating tank line? Doc is of the belief that the ceiling for Halo 3 grifball has not yet been reached and Regressor is already applying some varied philosophies to this seasons playoffs. His team takes aggressive launching and launching in general to new heights. Rather than using it as a Hail Mary when the pressure is on, they are creating opportunities to launch that skirt around the sometimes tiring standoff that can occur in mid court. Tactics being viable over tank power is certainly the opinion of the minority though. Progression and exploration of new ideas would need to come from a unified stance by the team itself with extensive practice. After ten years of the same formula being applied, asking a team to continue with alternate approaches when the scoreline looks bleak is a tall order. However, I look forward to another season and trying to see what more blood we can squeeze from the stone that is Halo 3 grifball.

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