Analysis of Monday Night Combat's "Uncle Tully's Funland"
Uncle Tully’s Funland is a throwback to the rickety and possibly life threatening glory days of the amusement park a la Coney Island. Even though it is set in the future, it has an old world feel to it. I can easily see this arena as being a former play area for kids. There is a bouncy pit in the middle, smiling clowns plastered on the walls, and 2 small sand filled Rodeo areas. But time has taken its toll on Uncle Tully’s and has become quite run down. The Funland provides smiles to the blood thirsty spectators, and a temporary home to Chicky Cantor.
Grant and I have spent some time analyzing the map and formulating strategies for you, fellow readers, and what follows are our conclusions on how to best play on the map. By no means is this a definitive ‘guide’, especially given the map’s infancy, but these are the tactics that work best for us at current.
Uncle Tully’s can be a crazy place for a fight. You can be pushing the bots along when suddenly you notice that enemies are behind you. By the time you turn around they can be on a whole ‘nother level or completely gone. The reason? Jump pads. Uncle Tully has pads scattered over the arena that can take you from one side to the other immediately. Proper use of these can allow the heaviest of classes to move from spawn to the heat of combat and then disappear just as fast, only to return for an ambush moments later. That’s not even mentioning the Charlie Foxtrot bouncy pit in the middle surrounding the juice machines and the annihilator.
The key thing here is mobility. Never before has a map on Monday Night Combat allowed you the insane mobility that Uncle Tully’s does. This makes for especially intense battles in just about any scenario you can think of. The two biggest changes in dynamics comes with downed moneyballs and overtime. I am of the opinion that the second that you start playing defensively on Monday Night Combat, you’re losing. No if and or buts about it. Playing defensively means conceding map control, which is always crucial, and it means that you allow the enemy team to accrue juice from bots.
Thus my crew and I have a specific philosophy about downed moneyballs: the best way to combat it, is to get our offensive players to kill the enemy’s moneyball first in a bum rush. They’re not defending, after all. This becomes an especially viable tactic in Uncle Tully’s, because all it takes is a jump pad, which is easily accessible from spawn. This being the case, the second big change in dynamics–overtime–should be obvious: getting to the enemy’s moneyball is amazingly easy.
The construction of Uncle Tully is of note here as well. In the center of the map, the game is very vertical. With effectively 3 layers is can be hard to tell where those annoying shots keep coming from. Also, the main bot path the the Money Ball goes through a totally enclosed corridor. This is a defensive godsend. More than a few matches have stalled out at this point. It becomes impossible to remove a coordinated enemy team but also unable to make any headway with a bot push.
Both pushes will almost always gravitate around this corridor. The ideal setup includes at least one support constantly maintaining a turret. You have a couple of options here– a 2.2 turret if the intent is offensive, since the turret can attack with reasonable firepower. The placement of a 2.2 is better suited towards the back of the corridor, where it can defend your team from flanking and, more importantly, is out of reach from recently-spawned enemies. A 3.2/3.3 is optimal if the intent is both defensive and offensive, since it can heal your frontline classes. Hence, the ideal setup will include at least two heavy classes manning the frontlines and keeping the turret behind them safe. Ideal placement for a 3.2/3.3 is more toward the middle, where the frontline classes can temporarily retreat to to be healed. Yes, this means the turret is vulnerable to attack from recently spawned enemies but it should fall on the people on the frontline to keep the turret safe.
There are ways around this setup, though. There happens to be an opening on both sides of the enemy corridor As well as a “secret” path that is accessible from the middle. That leads to a drop down and to the back of the Money Ball, which is unusual in its own regard. It is set up in a strange position to where the turrets are mostly behind it, leaving the naked front exposed. Be aware of this location when trying to hold down a position, lest you allow someone to sneak up on you. Another note is that, while the corridor setup is the ultimate goal, setting up underneath the jump pads on the sides of the enemy corridor at the start of the game is usually a good idea. The turret will be able to shoot anything coming out of that corridor, and has overhead protection with the jump pad itself.
But probably the largest difference that most players care about is that Bullseye and Juicebot have been replaced by Chicky Cantor (who apparently has some checkered past involving arson?) Chicky is a giant bionic chicken who will appear 2 or 3 times a match. If you can grapple and ride him like a rodeo bull for 8 seconds you earn about 200 bucks. The team that kills him has all endorsements set to gold for that life. This is a HUGE boost and can quickly turn the tide of combat. Getting it can be hazardous and outright cost you the match. Thus the combination of insane mobility and having entire teams running around with gold endorsements on a matchly basis–and not simply on the off chance that someone found bacon–makes Uncle Tully somewhat nerve wracking.
Chicky is unique in that he is the only mascot who will fight back. As he lumbers and chases people around the sand he will peck at them. These pecks do a sizeable amount of damage. He may not look like much but take a couple of pecks and you will wish he wasn’t following you. His other attack is a power stomp very similar to what the Gunner or Jackbot has. The shock wave can and frequently does blow people off the edge if you don’t manage to jump over it in time. But once it is over, it’s time to ride that chicken! After done riding it will drain half of his health. He wont be able to power stomp again for at least 30 seconds.
Because Chicky is the new thing to shoot and the rewards are so great that when Chicky’s old western jingle sounds, most people abandon the battle. Frequently I will let the other team take Chicky while I go unopposed and drive a wave of bots right into their Money Ball. Gold everything isn’t going to help when the match is over now is it? So, this is my strategy: first off, only 3 people need to go for Chicky. Only one person can ride him and he dies faster from that than 6 people shooting him. One designated fast character should have the duty of riding Chicky.
The other two, in a perfect world, would be a Sniper and a Gunner since the Chicky arena is an island with no walls and only 2 ways in but with the same landing spot. Sniper lays down a trap on the landing spot. As soon as an enemy lands you snipe them. The Gunner is there to provide cover fire against people trying to strafe from the edge or get in pot shots. If for whatever reason they make it in and the Sniper cant grapple or shoot them, he simply needs to grapple or slam them off the edge. People will suicide themselves off stupidly trying to get to Chicky. All of this while the other 3 try and maintain their position or even push.
One last thing worth mentioning is that you can buy any bot you wish. There are buttons for more Slims and Blackjacks, as well as a Jackbot! But the specialty bots can also be purchased. Does the situation call for Gapshots? Well go buy some! How about some Bouncers while you are at it? The ability to mix up the bots plays a huge role in the flow of the match. People camping in your tunnel? Go throw out a Jackbot. That will keep them busy and wounded while you take the jump pads and try and ambush them from behind. The ability to spawn a Jackbot alone is a tremendous change; it can provide the means particularly potent coordinated attack. Hell, you can force a pseudo overtime by spawning a Jackbot after the map itself spawns a Jackbot on its own.
Uncle Tully’s Funland is a map for those who value mobility and tactics. To paraphrase the master of war Sun Tzu “There is nothing more difficult than tactical maneuvering….Whether to concentrate or to divide your troops, must be decided by circumstances. Let your rapidity be that of the wind, your compactness that of the forest. In raiding and plundering be like fire, in immovability like a mountain. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” That is Uncle Tully.