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Learning to blow up ships - A Beginner's Guide

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Galactic Starfighter
Learning to blow up ships - A Beginner's Guide

SeCKSEgai's Avatar

03.06.2016 , 09:21 PM | #1
Now, there is a wealth of information in the stasiopedia - but as a new player its hard to make sense of it all. When I started GSF it was a bit overwhelming, just like how I felt when I first started SWTOR and was getting accustomed to the interface and areas.

The first time GSF experience for virtually everyone is pretty lousy. The tutorial is not only easy to miss but provides little information. The odds are stacked against you as you are bound to face opposition with more experience and more upgrades. Most people try gsf once for the introductory mission and never try it again.


If you're reading this, you've probably already had such an experience but would like to give it a chance. I practically hated GSF for a while, but as I had fond memories of Tie Fighter I hated more that I was so lousy at it. Luckily, I managed to improve enough before I gave up altogether.

The most important aspect to GSF is finding something to drive you. You will end up in one-sided matches most of the time, close battles are few and far between. While dominant wins are great for motivation, devastating losses are very much a reality. You'll need something, whether it be a desire to finally blow up that guy that keeps blowing you up, not wanting to be a weak player, etc.

X is to STOP

IF one does find the tutorial, they will be given the very basics of movement. WASD has become pretty standard for movement controls yet not once do they mention how to stop completely.

X is the default key to cut throttle to 0. It won't stop on a dime given your momentum but learning to stop in any ship makes the world of difference. I myself had to look at the key bindings to find out it was possible, as I assumed something so useful would have been covered in the tutorial if it was.

For example, it's very common to see bombers park on or underneath satellites, often referred to as ticking. Because turning and aiming are tied together, trying to hit a target parked in a crevice while moving past it can easily get most new pilots killed, either by eating mines or crashing into part of the sat itself, all the while getting shot at by other people.


Most people who try GSF do so with the simple desire of making other ships blow up. When they do try it they find it very difficult if not outright impossible to kill something. Yet, on the flipside, they will often feel like paper and its common for them to be destroyed without even realizing what went on. If anything, this is what makes most players feel like there's no reason to ever bother with GSF again.

Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons for this.



One of the tell-tale signs someone is brand new is that they will fire long before a target is in range. You can line up the targeting reticule perfectly, but if the target is beyond effective range you aren't hitting anything. With an array of weapon types, a majority of the blasters max at JUST 4000m (3900 really). To further compound the problem, range impacts accuracy. The closer you are the more accurate your blasters will be. Gunships can shoot from as far as 14900m away (listed as 15000m however) and can destroy new players before they even know where the shot came from.


It is hard enough to line up a shot on a moving target. There are a number of penalties to be aware of even when you line up perfectly while in range.

If guns were fixed, it would actually be a bit simpler as you would always be firing in the same place and always centering your ship on your target. What they never clarify is that unless your target is in the very center of your screen, your accuracy is being penalized. To explain, for anyone who's played games like Tie Fighter, you aimed your guns by essentially aiming your ship. In GSF, your weapons work like a rotating turret and have a range of motion that gets penalized the further away you are from the exact center.

In other words, you can picture your firing arc like a cylindrical cone. The farther your target is from the center of that cone (range of motion/firing arc) the more you are generally penalized. A few weapons have upgrade options that can reduce some of that penalty, like the burst laser cannon and rail gun.


Even if your aim is solid and the target is perfectly centered (unlikely in most situations) you can STILL MISS. GSF has this thing called evasion. There's nothing more frustrating as a new player as firing on a target with the reticule lined up and seeing shot after shot fail to register a hit. Without getting into the math and mechanics, its easiest to think of it as another penalty to your accuracy.

For instance, my primary ship of choice is a sting/flashfire. My setup is 33% evasion without actives. When jousting (firing at each other head on) with a brand new pilot, his or her shots will barely land and what does just be absorbed by the shield while in return I hit far more consistently with a lot more damage.

The wingman co-pilot ability buffs accuracy and can be utilitized to help negate said evasion.

Don't JOUST as a new pilot.

Because of the GSF dynamics, the easiest way to shoot at someone is if they're heading directly at you trying to do the same thing. Until your knowlege and experience improves, avoid doing that as it's generally just going to get you killed. Instead of trying to play chicken, its a lot more effective to


When someone is shooting at someone else, they aren't trying to shoot you, which makes it far more easier to get behind them or at another reasonable angle and shoot them. It's impractical to expect voice communication level coordination in most matches with random people. But this simple practice not only helps to try and keep that teammate alive but also makes it easier to learn how to blow ships up!


Because there is so much stacked against you as a new pilot, it can easily seem like upgrades are so important that skill isn't a factor. While certain key upgrades like Ignore Armor can make a world of difference, piloting ability ultimately is the heavier influence.

If you were to put an ace level pilot in a stock strike fighter ship with everyone else at a beginner level, that ace could easily achieve a kill count in double digits despite everyone flying the same ship. Because upgrades can essentially take forever and a day in the current system, the player is constantly having to gain experience. Often what sets pilots apart is simply how fast they improve and learn.


When I first started, I thought strike fighters would be what I needed because I wanted to focus on dogfighting and blowing up other ships. Months later and a few more strikers and I find I'm happy if I can just blow up one ship.

As I felt like I was making little progress I tried some gunships out. As I was learning all the components, the ones I picked that made sense to me at the time ended up being "noob traps". If no one bothers me I can get a kill or two, but I'm basically dead if someone wants to kill me.

My flashfire is one of the later purchases I make because I picture a scout as something that's supposed to be quick, nimble, easy to kill and with little firepower. I wanted to be a dogfighter but in strikers just weren't cutting it. The first match I felt a huge difference, as I had finally found a ship that responded the way I was expecting. It also eventaully allowed me to become a better gunship pilot.

By default you get two ships. The standard issue scout can be upgraded and used even in "competitive" level matches, though if you want to focus on dogfighting the sting/flashfire is ideal. I personally think that leveing a sting/ff with Burst laser cannons will not only make allow a pilot to become a better dogfighter but learn to aim better in general as well. If paired with cluster missles, you tend to naturally learn to stay on a target better in order to maintain that lock as fast as it is because of the short range.

Strikers on the other hand aren't in a great place and haven't been for some time. While an ion/heavy laser cannon setup can be decent and a cluster/concussion missle battery can do some damage, not even the support striker really fit into the current META.

If you're still getting a feel for everything, the rampart/razor is great as with just one component change (hyperspace beacon) you can change the entire dynamic of a battle. As powerful as Evasion can be, it does nothing against missiles and mines. It may not be fun for most, but a new player is far more likely to be more useful to his or her team in one of these than a striker when first learning the ropes.

Another great option is the 2500 req quarrel/mangler. Ion/Rail is the strongest combination overall, especially once the Ion AoE upgrade is added. Barrel roll is practically essential to gunship mobility and the other options will just make you an easy target.

There really is just a lot of information to digest when it comes to Galactic StarFighter, so hopefully this helps accelerate the learning process. Eventually you'll have to worry more about engine/power management, mobility, and a world of other things, but once you feel comfortable and confident in your ability to blow another ship up, it should sustain your desire to improve.
Réiyn - Maryss - Rölánd - Monéy - Retrocide - Reiyñ

Rélentless - Reíyn - Rölañd - Tàtiana

SeCKSEgai's Avatar

03.06.2016 , 09:22 PM | #2
Reserved just in case
Réiyn - Maryss - Rölánd - Monéy - Retrocide - Reiyñ

Rélentless - Reíyn - Rölañd - Tàtiana

Lavaar's Avatar

03.06.2016 , 10:43 PM | #3
Well done, thanks for writing this

Krixarcs's Avatar

03.07.2016 , 11:08 PM | #4
this guide gets the Krixarcs seal of approval

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Wildtee's Avatar

03.08.2016 , 01:54 AM | #5
Nice one

Greezt's Avatar

03.08.2016 , 03:42 AM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Krixarcs View Post
this guide gets the Krixarcs seal of approval

davidrodriguezjr's Avatar

03.09.2016 , 03:23 PM | #7
Bumping for reasons...
Eclipse Three | Simairi

SeCKSEgai's Avatar

04.15.2016 , 02:27 AM | #8
Moving to first page to hopefully get noticed by some of the newer pilots joining us in GSF channel.
Réiyn - Maryss - Rölánd - Monéy - Retrocide - Reiyñ

Rélentless - Reíyn - Rölañd - Tàtiana

ALaggyGrunt's Avatar

04.15.2016 , 02:34 AM | #9
Effective range depends on lag and target's speed. I've had clusters locked on me from 7km and failed to lock at 4km.

Noicha's Avatar

04.15.2016 , 05:18 AM | #10
This forum needs a like button.

I never got passed the first fight, and sometimes wondered whether I should try again. I feel pursuaded and happy a weekend is coming up

Perhaps a stupid question: can all my characters access the same hanger and help eachother saving up for the upgrades, or is is character specific?