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Formations Part 1: Basics

And this is formations 101, or "How not to get your t-dolls slaughtered for showing up in a terrible formation." This will cover the absolute basics, with more detailed lessons such as compositions to come later. Most of this information is based largely on Korean server meta and information.

The problem with formations is that it is a sufficiently broad and widely encompassing topic with enough little things about it that you can make an entire series on it, as it would be a pain to handle in 1 entry and I'm not being paid enough to do it all in 1 shot. Hence, this is part 1 of a multipart series on it.

Before we begin, the basic notation used for positioning is based on the position of numbers on a standard keyboard numpad. As such, they are:


7 8 9
4 5 6
1 2 3


Thus, referring to position 7 refers to the upper left corner of the formation (from the formation menu), while 3 corresponds to the lower right, and 5 is dead center. Easy enough right?

The goal of a formation is to provide your echelon with sufficient overlapping buffs and firepower while also allowing them to respond to enemy threats and present themselves in such a way that damage from enemy action is mitigated or eliminated entirely. Based on the position of a doll, its aura will provide bonuses to other dolls and it will in turn, receive buffs from the auras of others.

Your priority in this should of course, to buff the DPS units in a formation to the maximum extent possible. Buffs for tanks are secondary and much less important in general - raw, unrelenting firepower is the most effective shield in this game.

Keep in mind that auras for buffs are set at the very start of a fight, affecting units for the entire duration regardless of movement, so feel free to move your units around. In fact, moving units around is so immensely powerful as a force multiplier that it can make or break battles, depending on your degree of control.

Alongside that, the way dolls are presented will also affect enemy targeting, and to a degree, your own. A full explanation of targeting is available in Korean, but has not yet been properly translated to English (I'll work on it one of these days). The basic part is that the front and center position is the primary focus of the enemy's firepower. If your frontmost rank is occupied, then whatever is on position 6 will take the majority of the enemy's firepower. If 9/6/3 are empty, then whatever is in position 5 will take the most. The wing positions take less than the center positions, but will be prioritised over the center of the rank behind them.

Unlike with auras, targeting priorities DO change over the course of a fight, so movement will affect it. This allows you to swap tanks in the middle of a fight, or even spoof enemy units into wasting time trying to engage a unit, only for your unit to leave their firing range. This will be discussed in more detail in a more dedicated blog entry.

The last basic part of a formation is that it affects your firing range. The closer a unit (any unit) is to the frontmost rank, the longer the firing range of the echelon (as such, having units at the very front gives you the maximum possible firing range). However, because of how enemy units spawn and then advance towards you ,the further ahead units are, the sooner enemy units will reach their own firing range on them. Thus, both sides will fire upon each other sooner.

However, your range is generally greater than the enemy's. and thus you can take advantage of this by moving units back once the enemy have begun engaging, forcing them to move forward again. This basic trick can buy you several seconds for your DPS to finish the enemy safely.

Now, these are some considerations when forming an echelon and deciding your formation:

  1. A common rookie mistake is to want to maximise all the aura buff tiles. You should of course not waste them and try to maximise them if you can, but you need to accept that for the most part, some buffs will inevitably be wasted. Focus more on buffing DPS units if you can, and arrange other units to protect them.
  2. An echelon composition should have a specific purpose or otherwise some mechanic that allows it to deal with the enemy. Sometimes this is as simple as "shoot them a whole lot until they die first," but every t-doll actually contributing in some noticeable way. At least for combat formations. Leveling formations are obviously exempt, as the goal is instead to raise unit levels instead of maximise combat power.
  3. Make sure it has some means of survival. This doesn't necessarily mean it needs a dedicated tank unit (or else a lot of formations like 4HG/1RF wouldnt exist) but it does mean you should be mindful of what they will encounter on the mission you intend to deploy and make sure you have some sort of plan to keep them alive, be it kiting, stun bombs, shields tanks, or simply dealing so much damage that enemies die before they can hurt you.
  4. Echelons are fluid, not static. You can remove or swap in members as needed. Do not feel obligated to keep it together like some sort of dedicated unit if members would be more useful elsewhere for the time being or you need other units. If you need an echelon again, you can just it back together. 
  5. Rules are sometimes meant to be broken. If you insist in arranging units a certain way (for tile buffs), sometimes you will have enough time to arrange into a more combatworthy formation, sometimes you wont. In higher level combat, a bad formation can get your units killed before they have a chance to retreat. As you learn the game, you'll be more familiar with what you can get away with.

Basic Formation Shapes#

This is not an all-encompassing guide to how you should shape your formations, but a reference for some commonly used (and formerly commonly used) formations and the theory behind them. There are a few others, but they will tend to be variations of these. If you're new to formation building, you should probably use these until you are more familiar with the game.

F-type Formation

The basic formation used for most purposes. Considered the general purpose array, this is the formation that should first be used by commanders while they learn the game, and continues to serve well even late into the game. Main DPS are placed on 7 and 1, with the primary being placed on 7 as that position generally receives the most buffs. 5 Has the main tank, with 8 having an off tank to share some damage, though the doll at 5 will bear the brunt of the enemy fire. 4 is sometimes a DPS, sometimes a buffer, depending on needs. It is also generally the most hands off formation and does well without supervision, though manual control can still help it greatly.

B-type Formation

Less common than the F-type, and usually done for strange aura reasons or for specific maps. The reason this is less common than an F-type is enemies will tend to focus on attack the mid and upper areas, rather than the lower (except for enemies that walk straight in). As such, the DPS on 7 is at some risk at being shot, while a DPS at 1 generally is very rarely attacked except via melee enemies.

C-type Formation

Due to lack of a center tank, damage is shared more evenly between the dolls in 8 and 2. However, it is generally harder to buff multiple DPS in such a formation. Most commonly used for 4HG/1RF formations, which rely on the raw buffs provided by the 4 Handguns to make the rifle as overwhelmingly powerful as possible. Compared to B and F types, will sometimes require more active control (on the part of your handguns) depending on target, as its much rarer to use actual tanking units with it. Also used in hydrahunt formations which will be explained when EN actually gets hydras to hunt.

T-type Formation

Most often used for 1Tank/3DPS/1HG and  1tank/2DPS/2HG formations (usually Shotguns and MGs, though Rifles with SMGs is not particularly uncommon early on). As there is only a single tank, it will often either have less staying power and relies on very good tanks and high DPS to maintain combat effectiveness. However, it works well with high firepower units bursting things down, as it's ideal for 1SG/1HG/3MG.

Island-type Formation

Due to a range upgrade patch and artillery damage upgrade patch on CN/KR servers for SF artillery, a lot people who use the F formation brought the formation forward in order to destroy the artillery units more quickly. However, this is dangerous for RFs, thus this formation is generally used with AR/RF/HG/2 Tank formations, moving them while leaving the RF on the back so as to lengthen the amount of time enemies would take to reach and otherwise reduce the odds of targeting it. If there's a HG in the middle, then it can also benefit from RF's skill cooldown buff if available due to the typical shape of an RF's buffs.

Cross-type Formation

Used a lot for old SMG/AR/RF/HG combos or 3HG/2Attackers. The formation tends to have less staying power as the burden on the lead unit (normally an SMG or HG) is really high, requiring a really good tank for normal ops. These days not used as much except for extreme combinations to maximise 3HG worth of buffs on 2 attackers, and relies on sheer attack power to get through.

K-type Formation

Used mainly by 2SG/3MG builds and some 2SG/1HG/2MG ones. A lot of SGs have weird buff tiles that make this practical. Sharing damage between 2 SGs gives it a good amount of staying power as the MGs behind attack the enemy with impunity. A revesed version with 3SGs forming a wall and 2 attackers is also sometimes used.

X-type Formation

Typically used for 2SG/1HG/2DPS formations. It's also something you can form up during battle, as opposed to making it a starting formation. When placed in X formation, all t-dolls can easily move or withdraw from their position without having to switch with others, thus making effective when you want to kite/control bosses. For example, when fighting Elphelt and evade-controlling against her Genoise skill, or against Dreamer, Gager, or similar bosses that target whole rows, the formation can be used to great effect. It's also used for FNC's banzai runs in Arctic Warfare or suicide runs against active Jupiter Cannons in general.

L-type Formation

A very specialist formation, used specifically for farming using Zas M21 who takes the 4 position. This formation is used almost exclusively to farm Dinergates and Tarantulas, but as hunting these is a very efficient way to level, commanders will get very used to this.


Author: Katyusha
Tags: Autism First Steps Formations Game Mechanics
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