Welcome back. Many of you have already read my previous post, but I’ve linked it just in case. I didn’t realize my article would be seen by so many people! I’m glad it’s transformed from a monologue into a discussion, especially considering I glossed over several things I knew and didn’t mention, and learned a few new things in the process. My goal is to be a well-informed, well-intentioned source of information, so after receiving enough feedback [and blocking off enough time], I can now write up all the things I neglected to mention before into coherent pieces.
Let’s start with wrecking.
As we now know, Ultrastrikes are excellent for ripping mods off portals [I, personally, have had something like an 85-95% success rate with them] as well as being able to heavily damage resonators by standing on top of them. However, in my haste, I neglected to mention several important pieces of info! First and foremost, you won’t see the mod destruction animation when you pop a mod off with a US. I hope this is just a glitch, but until it changes, I recommend developing the habit of checking the mods on the portal after every US or two. Second, any level of Ultrastrike can break a mod, regardless of portal level. Save them all!
Finally, Ultrastrikes are valuable. Despite being listed as Very Common items, their hack rates are quite low. [I theorize their hack rates are gradually increasing as time goes by, but who knows.] Combined with the time it takes to use them effectively, this means that it’s both unwise and impractical to use USs to rip off every enemy mod you encounter. This is useful, considering bursters are still just fine at destroying mods – Ultrastrikes are just a specialized tool that are much better at it. While I’m on the subject, for those who don’t know, firing bursters from within the dome animation of the shield gives you a much higher chance of destroying shields on that portal. This is tried, true, and tested by many agents on my team. A theory that I need more evidence for is whether or not other mods are easier/equal/harder to destroy from under the dome. I’ll revisit this another time.
So, now the question is when do we use which tool? The short answer is that every agent will have different priorities. I can’t/won’t tell you how to play, but I can tell you how I play. Hopefully, the information is useful enough to help you develop your own strategy!
The argument comes down to one major point, and it’s something you’ll hear me repeat often: there’s a balance between spending gear and spending time.
Overall, gear is less valuable and easy to replace. Time is not – in fact, it’s impossible. In addition, you can’t use resonators and bursters outside of Ingress. This makes time the more valuable resource. Sometimes – if you’ve set aside a block of time specifically for Ingress, for example – you can prioritize saving gear over saving time. An easy example: there’s a stretch of 15 portals on your commute between work and home that’re built up and modded by the enemy team each day. You wake up, get ready, and head out, but only have a few extra minutes to show up on time. In this scenario, to take down these 15 portals, you just fire X8s as fast as you can, hoping you’ll neutralize some portals [or at least break mods]. Fast forward to your work day being over, and you have no plans for a few hours. These 15 portals can be treated entirely differently now! You can align yourself on the map to get the most damage out of your bursters, you can use USs to knock off particularly pesky mods, you can even build/link/mod the portals yourself! The first half of this example is a pretty extreme prioritization of time over gear: you don’t care how many bursters you’re spending, since you’re on a serious time crunch. The latter half illustrates how spending more time will save more gear in the long run, which is sometimes more important. Despite time being more valuable, gear is also finite. It’s up to you to decide which half of the spectrum you’re focusing on more any time you wreck.
Back to our Ultrastrike talk. Using USs to take mods off portals is an example of spending time to save gear. A mod that would take several [or more, depending on the mod - more on this next] bursters to rip off and the time it takes to fire them now costs 1 [or 2 if you miss] Ultrastrike and the time it takes to center yourself on top of the portal. So, when do you use Ultrastrikes and when do you skip them? [The following sections already assume you're prioritizing gear over time; if you aren't, the strategy is much simpler - throw your best bursters at it until it dies.]
In addition, we have to assume you can even reach the center of the portal – if you’re unable to, you’ll have to just use bursters anyway. Now that we’ve established that 1) you have the bonus time to strategize, and 2) you can use USs in the first place, let’s look at the more complicated half of the equation.
Step 1 – Mods
Only bursters, or Ultrastrikes to soften the portal up first?Sometimes this question is easy to answer.
Bursters. At 30% mitigation and with common shields being the easiest to remove, this won’t take much time to take down, regardless of the portal’s level. Shields have a stat in addition to mitigation, known as stickiness. The rarer a shield is, the stickier it is, and therefore the harder it is to rip off with XMPs. Common shields are the least sticky, so using XMPs to remove them is often a good call.
Bursters. As we know from my previous post, a turret on its own is just a Force Amp that works 30% of the time – in other words, hardly a threat.
Ultrastrikes, until at least the Very Rare shield is off. This will likely take 2 or 3 USs, assuming I’m aiming them properly. In the process, the Rare will likely also fall off. Not an egregiously tough target, but I save a lot of bursters by opting for the US first.
Definitely Ultrastrikes. The beautiful thing about the US’s tiny attack radius is that using it won’t tap any resonators, unless the portal has some very closely deployed ones [and bam! Epiphany! Help make your portals more resilient to Ultrastrikes by deploying a couple high resonators at the 2-5m range. Your portal will still zap the agent!].
Step 2 – Portal Clusters
Now, let’s tackle a trickier scenario. Let’s say you encounter something like this:
Here’s a pretty close-knit cluster of high-level portals, all of which have several links and are armed to the teeth [2-3 shields, force amp on each, some random turrets]. Attacking this is going to be tough no matter what. Using Ultrastrikes to remove the mods on each of these portals will be an enormous time sink, use up what is likely your entire stock of USs [assuming you can reach every center], and probably not be very fun, on top of it all. So, what do you do?
If I were looking at this and thinking about how to take it down, what I’d likely do is start with the middle two portals [the highlighted on and the one above it]. I’d US them both until the attack mods were gone, then move to the two portals in the top left corner and repeat. From there, I’d wreck that P8 and move downwards. This strategy conserves some of my power cubes now that the portals aren’t totally frying me, and has the benefit of potentially knocking the lingering shields from the portals I’m not attacking. From there, I’d move in a circle around those middle two portals. This allows me to encounter the remaining attack-modded portals one at a time, which further conserves more cubes/XM, while breaking links gradually, dropping the mitigation of the upcoming portals. By the time I wreck all of the perimeter portals, the middle two should be soft enough to take down handily. Remember, if you’re following a similar strategy and can’t reach the center of the portal, you can always US 2-3 of the resonators off the portals to drop their levels and, thus, reduce the damage they deal you.
Here’s another cluster to analyze.
This highlighted portal is what I refer to as a “wheelspoke” portal [mostly because I don't have a better name for it yet]. In this scenario, you have two major paths you can take: take down the wheelspoke first to drop the mitigation on every surrounding portal, or attack it last after all the links are down, therefore making it easier. The path you choose will be different based on each scenario. In this particular instance, where all these portals are armed to the teeth [same as before - force amp and 2-3 shields on each] and the path is fairly linear, I’ll likely just start at the bottom and work my way to the top two portals, biting the bullet on the fact that I haven’t maximized the effectiveness of my bursters by not dropping mitigation in the most strategic manner. I’d use USs on the portals that have the toughest mod arrays. This is a scenario where I would sacrifice some gear for time, due to the exchange rate being lower overall. If you were looking at this from a saving-gear scenario [thus, walking a different path than me in regards to the wheelspoke portal], what seems to me to be the best strategy is to US all the shields off of the wheelspoke portal, regardless of rarity [the heavy linkage will make the mitigation decent no matter what, so using another US to give yourself as much of an edge as you can is a good idea, in my book], then tearing down the remaining portals one at a time.
The first example lets you save a ton of gear for what is only a slightly longer time sink than this cluster, so I’m okay sacrificing the time for the circle movement pattern I described. You may find you also want to save gear in the second example for whatever reason – maybe you’re low, or have a backstock of Ultrastrikes, who knows – and that’s where each agent’s personal goals and judgment factors in. Again, I can’t tell you how to play, I can only tell you how I play.
In my next piece, I’ll go over additional building strategies and information. In future posts, expect to see the results of various combat experiments, including the usefulness of the epiphany I had and the non-shield mod destruction rates from within and outside the dome.
Have fun out there, agents.