How do RAAS rounds usually play out? Can it be broken down in Phases? What is important and what isn't?
This is a good starting point for new players to get an idea how a Squad RAAS round is usually going down. Understanding this can help you as a Squadleader, Squadmember or Vehicle crew to contribute better to your teams success.
RAAS Meta Explained
A new update has landed (Beta 20) and as usual a huge number of new players will be trying out squad for the first time. Many of you will take your experiences from other shooters to squad and (naturally) start from there. As usual there is a learning curve. When you are trying to figure out how this game is supposed to be played here a piece of advice:
- Experience from other games will sometimes help you in squad, but the scope and mechanics of the game will require some things to be newly learned, no way around it. Being good at shooters will not be enough - knowing tactics from ARMA will help only a little. Squads gamemodes will require some specific things to be done quickly, otherwise you will be rolled over.
This guide (or: collection) about the current „meta“ is intended to give a quick and simple orientation about how the most common gamemode of squad is usually played in the present and hopefully can provide some insight about how the game works and what is most important for the team to prevail in any situation. It is primarily aimed at new players, but maybe it is also interesting for some not-so-new players.
I don’t really like the term „meta“ , but lacking a better term i decided to use it anyways and there are quite some findings players usually only understand about the game in the first 100-200 hours - maybe i can provide some shortcuts here. I will not explain all the basics about squad in this guide, just give a short overview what kind of strategies are commonly employed in the dominant gamemode (RAAS) and what to look out for so you have a rough idea how rounds in squad can be expected to play out and what to pay attention to.
RAAS - What Is It?
The dominant gamemode in squad is Randomized Advance and Secure (RAAS). Objectives have to be captured in a preset order by one soldier when still neutral, by 3 more soldiers than the enemy has in the Capture Zone when not. You have to fully capture an objective before it is possible to start capturing the next.
You can still neutralize an objective even when you are losing the previous one, as long as the enemy has not fully capped it, leading to a situation called „double neutral“ (more on this later).
RAAS was developed from Advance and Secure (AAS) with the addition of randomizing the objective layout so (in theory) no team will know in advance where exactly the objectives will be and discourage rush strategies where one team with an organisational advantage can block off the 2nd or even the 1st objective of the opposing team right at the start, altough this is still possible on some maps with few possible layers.
A typical RAAS round can be roughly broken down to 4 Phases:
- Backcap and Positioning (the first 10 minutes)
- The Recon Race (roughly: minutes 10-20)
- The Coordination Contest (until the first team manages to secure the middle flag)
- Mopping up or Turning the tables
Phase 1: Backcap + Positioning
An RAAS layout will look like this:
So, where to go now? The next objective only gets revealed when the prior one has been fully capped.
Even with excellent knowledge of all the map layouts you can only guess where the next flags will be, but you can know in which general area it is most likely to be.
What you do know is that the situation is the same for the enemy team.
Usually the first clash between teams can be expected to happen around the middle flag. This is simply due to the fact it roughly takes both teams the same amount of time to capture the first two (rarely 3) flags. This can well take 10+ minutes, so do you just hide somewhere and wait?
In this phase of the round it is common practise for squads to position themselfes favorably for the inevitable clash at the middle flag. Whoever manages to secure it first will have the initiative in the 2nd Phase.
Some knowledge of the possible layouts have to be shared in Command Channel at this point, since players who don't know the maps and where the Objectives can potentially be can't very well make a good decision where to deploy.
So whats important in this Phase?
- Get the backcap done - as said before ONE player is enough to cap the first flag. Having a full squad doing it can often be considered a waste of manpower. In practise its regulary done by a Vehicle crew that needs to disembark in order to cap. Alternatively one of the squads assigns one player to do it and lets him hitchhike back to the squad afterwards or organizes transport for him at a later opportunity.
- CAUTION: On some maps it might be possible for the enemy to reach your teams 2nd or even 1st objective and block it off, preventing you from capping it quickly. It depends on the road layout and how many possible variations exist on the layer. You will learn those few maps from experience or someone in your team with experience will hopefully keep it in mind. Sometimes having a full squad securing the first objectives might be necessary !
- The rule however is to secure yourselfes good positions in the area where the Middle Objectives are most likely to be. There is no clear ruling whether to build FOB's right away or better wait a bit until you have a better idea where its going to be. This is situational and depends on the map. On quite a few maps there are so few good fob positions getting those up as fast as possible is always a priority. As a rule, even when you set up a FOB right away in the rough Middle objective area, keeping at least 600 building supplies in reserve (enough for a HAB and Ammo crate) and a transport nearby is a a smart choice. This will enable you to redeploy quickly should your first guess prove less than ideal.
Phase 2: The Recon Race
As soon as the middle objective is known the priority becomes getting there and finding the enemy.
The situation may vary a bit depending on which team managed to position itself closer to the middle flag in Phase 1. In any case now usually the first skirmish for the middle flag begins. The most important thing now is to find out where the enemy is coming from. Where are the fobs?
- Spotting and clear communication are essential now
- Protect your Habs !
- Place Backup-Rally Points
- Gather Information on enemy movements
Spotting is more important than kills for now. The team that establishes the enemys position faster and more accurate is able to react more efficiently. Squadleaders can not make smart decisions for their squads when they have no idea where the enemy is. At least elements of your team will still have to redeploy now its clear where the first engagement is going to happen. Those squads can position themselfes much better when they have a clear picture of current enemy activity around the middle flag. The same goes for vehicle sightings and friendly vehicle crews.
- IMPORTANT: Since your team might be a few minutes faster than the enemy and you can start capping the middle objective uncontested at first, impatient players may run off on their own trying to find the enemy. This can be beneficial to some degree since your chances to spot the enemy increases, but be wary about squad cohesion. Having the squad too scattered around by the time you make first contact can mean you can not really react on the situation anymore and your squaddies will run into a cohesive enemy squad one by one and get picked off.
Phase 3: The Coordination Contest
The fight for the middle objective is ongoing and one of the teams will eventually capture it.
This doesn't mean the fight for the middle objective is over for any of the teams.
Since there will be usually multiple squads with their rally points and vehicles, as well as multiple FOB's involved capturing the middle flag first will give one team the initiative now, but it does NOT decide the round right away.
I called this the "Coordination Contest" because now the round is about which team can deploy its elements faster and more efficient to the 2 flags in play. The team who captured the middle flag first is now in a position where the enemys 2nd Flag is known and can try to capture it. The enemy has to prevent this and needs to assign elements to defend it.
- There is no textbook for this. It depends on the distance between the objectives, the terrain, squad cohesion and the quality of the communication between Squadleders. Many rounds get messy now because structuring the chaos that emerged from the first major engagement of the round is no small task.
Whats most important now?
Taking out enemy spawns (Fobs and Rallys) is always the best way to go in squad. This can now also lead to the whole enemy team spawing on either the defensive or offensive objective. The situation will be fluid and changing fast, the team that can communicate and coordinate better will now take the upper hand.
Phase 4: Mopping up or Turning the Tide
Now it will be decided if either:
One team is able to force the enemy to commit more and more forces to defending and eventually either:
- Takes the Middle objective back, forcing the enemy to do a lot of redeploying in a short time, since they will usually have noone in the defense but still attacking the 2nd Flag, which can not be captured anymore now. (Turning the Tide)
- Takes out most spawns of the enemys attacking elements and is able to concentrate the fight on the enemys 2nd Flag and finally take it or even win the rounds by tickets before. (Mopping up)
Double Neutral: Its not rare that due to elements in transit or a sudden reallocation of forces into the offensive on both teams, either team will be unable to stop the enemy from capping the objectives.
This can lead to the situation called double neutral. Both teams can only finish the cap when the prior objective is fully secured again.
The (Un-)Importance of Kills
Are kills (and deaths) important in squad?
Sure they are not unimportant. When you get shot all the time and don’t kill the enemy team you won’t get anywhere, but how important are kills to win the round?
It turns out the total NUMBER of kills in squad is NOT the deciding factor when it comes to winning the round – quite often in fact the team with LESS kills wins by 100 or more tickets. How can that be?
- Objectives are key. Taking an objective from the enemy team is worth 60 Tickets. Your team gains 30, the enemy team loses 30.
- Taking down a Fob Radio is worth 10 tickets. Most players, even experienced ones, don't score 10 kills in a single round. In fact total kills for each TEAM are often somewhere between 120-200, depending on how long the round was. This means the average kills for each player are somewhere between 3 and 6. In practise quite a few end up with zero or just one or two kills, while others reliably get over 10 kills or even more, but the number doesn't say anything about how much those kills mattered towards winning the round.
- When you have many players in your team who care more about kills than about taking the objectives you will often see behaviour that hurts squad cohesion. Squads will become more slow and cumbersome to react on new developments, don’t respond quickly on new orders because they believe they are in a good position to shoot ppl and don’t want to miss a kill. This often leads to lost objectives because of misplaced priorities. Even when your squad performs really well on the shooter side and comes out with a 3-1 K/D it might have been a waste of time, when many of those kills happened in a context that did not contribute much to taking or keeping the objectives.