Introduction: This is my attempt at teaching the Tron style of Dogfight. It used to be about how to dogfight in a clan war, but I decided to change it into a general guide. This is mostly a skill guide and doesn't focus on the nuances of how to be a likeable player. However, the Armagetronad wiki has a very good article on etiquette.
So yeah, you want to learn how to dogfight, or you already know how and you want to suck less. Getting better at dogfight is a one step forward, two step back process. A good deal of it is trial and error. The purpose of this tutorial is to help you take the first steps in the right direction.
Dogfight is more of a dance than anything. It is very different from other game types because you are not trying to kill your opponent by any means possible. It's much like dueling. There are a specific set of rules that each participant is expected to follow, and the dogfight will only be successful if each follows those rules.
"You can only dogfight as well as your opponent"
In dogfight, the most noticeable rule is that you cannot touch the walls when trapping an opponent. Many newbies have a hard time with this and will often touch (or stab) without meaning to. A good way to realize that you're stabbing is to play in a server with low/one/no rubber. Another way is to keep track of your rubber meter. If the needle jumps, you've most likely touched something.
Another much disputed about rule is the fact that you cannot backdoor in normal game play. Basically, there are two times in general where you can backdoor.
When the front is sealed (by a stab, seal, plug, or sandwich, etc.)
When you're not fighting the person who's trapping you.
Now there are three points to dogfighting: attacking, defending, and maneuvering.
Attacking is exactly what it sounds like: making your trail trap your opponent in order to kill them.
Defending is getting out of your opponents' attacks and traps.
Maneuvering is getting in front of your opponent so that you may attack.
An average player will spend much time defending and attacking, and then once in a while, maneuver. Good players maneuver slightly more and will be able to get in a wrap once in a while because of it. Veterans are all about maneuvering. In fact, DF, in my opinion, is most fun when both players are exceptionally good at maneuvering. Anyone can trap, anyone can escape; the truest form of dogfight--just like a sword dance-- lies all in the maneuvering.
Technique in dogfight can vary much between players. That's one of the wonders of dogfight: the style of dogfight depends on the player, the computer, the keyboard layout, etc etc. Thus, technique is hard to explain due to these differences.
In this tutorial. I will be assuming you have the capability to brake and perform triple binds. However, most of the time, players can get away with double binds.
Hooking (author: Supra) So, one basic trap that is both simple and effective is the classic hook. It requires minimal time and is perfect if you want to whip off a simple trap to slow your opponent down. Once you've learned this hook, I encourage you to practice it, but don't go applying it to every corner you get that chance to (like HSP does/did).
Here are some examples of hooks that I made. (in these diagrams, you're the colored line, not the red one.)
Every hook has the same concept, the closer your turnaround gets to the corner, the stronger and more effective the hook will be. However, if your turnaround goes further then the corner, in most cases, you will put a plug on the corner causing it to be unclean. And don't make your hook too tight, there should be a clear passage out.
With the knowledge of producing hooks, you will require the knowledge of escaping/evading hooks. A good technique I use is after the corner I do 4 turns one way, and 2 turns the other, depending on which way the hook is facing, this should create 3/4 of a paperclip (Double one way, double the same way, double the opposite way). I suppose a triple would suffice, but that usually distracts me and is not as instantaneous for me.
While this section is labeled "tips and tricks", it's could more accurately called "advanced techniques", as most pros know and work to hone what is described here.
Rubber Control: those best at dogfight (and almost every other tron style) know how to use rubber to their advantage. If you watch really good players fight each other, their rubber meters never jump, and it looks as if they're gliding against each others trails as opposed to getting stuck in some trap.
Maneuvering: While average players think maneuvering is just something you need to do to attack, veterans will use maneuvering to make you think you have trapped them, then drop out in front of you and wrap the hell out of you, killing you in one go.
Perfect Turning: A perfect turn occurs when the turn is so sharp and flush against the wall that you're trapping against, the opponent has to dig and/or perfect turn in order to escape. The key to a perfect turn is that ABSOLUTELY NO RUBBER IS USED. This is a fairly hard thing to do, and will occur at random. However, there are a elite few who can pull a perfect turn at whim, just out of sheer skill. To practice perfect turning, go to low rubber servers (see "Where to Practice").
GLOSS AR Y Here are some common terms you'll hear players (ab)use in a dogfight server:
LOOSE - Style of dogfight where you attack with no rubber. In other words, when you trap your opponent, your rubber meter should not jump at all.
TIGHT - Style of dogfight where touching is acceptable, but there is still no stabbing/digging.
MIXED - A middle ground between loose and tight. This doesn't really exist anymore.
TOUCHING - Where slight rubber is used against a wall (usually your opponent's).
STAB - a (usually) unintentional turn into your opponents wall while attacking. This uses significant rubber (your meter will jump) and may or may not be fatal for your opponent. It's polite to give them space to escape a stab.
DIG - an intentional use of rubber (in any way against your opponent's wall) to kill them.
Backdoor (BD) - escaping by going following your opponent's (or your own) wall backwards. Hence going out the back door.
SANDWICH - a situation where three players are fighting each other and the one in the middle gets screwed over. In a sandwich, the one in the middle has rights to backdoor.
MY BAD (MB) - What noobs say after they stab you. Usually followed by letting you out of the trap.
VETERAN (PRO) - someone who dogfights better than what I've described here. They usually also have spent years (usually on and off) playing tron.
NOOB - someone inexperienced (and usually bad) at tron. Can also be synonymous with "idiot". Thus any player, regardless of skill, experience, or bravado, can be a noob. Except for z, who's always pro.
NEWB - someone new to the game. These people should be treated with kindness so they grow into veterans and not noobs.
FLYBY - when two players attacking each other backdoor at the same, usually unintentionally.