How to PO and CAS successfully!
Pilot Officers or Dropship Pilots [PO & DP] are support roles that can cause big swings depending on the level of proficiency.
But it is, first and foremost, a support role, and if you are [un] lucky you can have a maximum of two PO and two DCC [dropship crew chiefs] so four airforce larpers in total! Isn’t that great?
Step one is talking to your fellow ‘human’ PO and deciding among you which is doing Close Air Support. Convince them, bribe them, or threaten them with bodily harm - this guide assumes you somehow manage to get the role you want.
The other PO nicely lets you run CAS! Great! Now you’ll be setting up your dropship. I hope you remembered to set the ship on flyby.
This guide will only address the role of Close Air Support. You may wonder how you can achieve the tailored physique, sharpened wit, and irresistible charisma of a hotshot pilot.
There are many paths, but this guide is a good start.
You’ll spend most of your round on the Almayer or in space - both of these are relatively safe places to be. However, make sure these key items are on your person!!
1 - Pack some snacks. You’re going to be running around a lot loading your weapons in between your strafing runs and medevacs, so bring a bite to eat.
2 - Medicine, stasis bags, roller beds, and a MedHud. When you land, there won’t always be a medicine serf to cart away your medevac patients. In this case, you will have to treat the wounded yourself.
3 - A shotgun and a motion detector. Worst comes to worst, you’ll need to evacuate someone off of the planet from the non-primary LZ. In this case, you need to be able to defend your ranch, and see if any critters are trying to board.
You’ll mainly be dealing with two types of enemy - skirmishers, and huggers. Skirmishers such as runners and lurkers suck, but they can be seen and shot. Huggers will sneak under the DS door, steal your girl, drain your 401k, and ruin your life after hiding under the medevac module for half an hour waiting for you.
4 - Armour piercing ammunition, at least one magazine of it. Eventually, you’ll fuck up, and marines will try and kill you after the op. It’s only natural, and we’ve all been there. AP ammunition will let you take as many of them with you as you can when the time comes, so you can hear them whinge in Dchat.
THE UD-4 CHEYENNE DROPSHIP
You may wonder why you are not capable of remaining airborne for 2 hours on end and dispensing pixel-perfect rocket fire onto anything that dares to fight you. This is because your ship is hot garbage, and the last guy who wanted to overhaul it had his country invaded by Putin, in a calculated Russian plot to weaken marine fire support.
Your ship comes with 4 mounts for weapons, two mounts for debatably-legal engine mods, and two mounts for electronics. You can see all that basic shit on the wiki. This guide is here for one thing - to educate you in aerial mayhem.
All condensed into one handy drop down with pictures!
Attach a COOLING SYSTEM to your ship, on one of the engine ports. This lets you spend less time between FMs.
Contrary to popular belief, the FUEL ENHANCER does not make you fly faster while on flyby. If anything, you fly SLOWER. This is good for you, since you have more time to shoot things. It is not as necessary as a COOLING SYSTEM, but still useful!!
“You can also attach electronic devices while you’re at it!” - This is a lie. The only electronic device you need is a TARGETING SYSTEM. This makes your shots connect faster and with greater accuracy when not using a FM.
If you need a spotlight as CAS, something is going horribly wrong.
If you use an LZ detector as CAS, please apologise to your fellow PO for your mistake. The LZ detector is a more obvious honeypot than a text from a fed - you will drain your points into buying one, then never get any use out of it. Don’t do it.
You also have slots in the REAR BAY of your ship. Three, if we want to be pedantic.
Maybe you want to attach a fulton system, to grab crates and xeno corpses sent up by Intelligence Officers! Though Transport PO will likely do that for you.
Maybe you want to attach a machine gun, to protect the rear entrance of your ship? Why would you need that? You’re CAS!
Maybe you want to attach a sentry deploy - NO. SEE PREVIOUS.
Your best three options as a CAS PO are the Medevac System, the Rappel Deployment System, and the Launch Bay.
The Medevac System allows you to recover wounded marines from medevac stretchers on the ground. Coordinate with medics, go to your weapons console, select the stretcher, then manually go back to the medevac system and activate it with your own two hands. This will winch up the lucky marine. If he’s really hurt, cancel your flyby and head straight back to the Almayer to hand him off to docs.
The Rappel Deployment System is a gimmick. A really funny one, but a gimmick nevertheless. Any marine wearing a rappel belt can use it to deploy from your ship onto a CAS flare below. This will often drop them directly in the middle of xeno lines and make them into a free cap. Sometimes, this wins rounds. Not often, though.
The Launch Bay lets you fire “Multi-purpose Area Denial Sentries” directly towards the planet. These are 360-degree sentries that can shoot at whatever they see. These super sentries were so absolutely annoying that they got nerfed for the trouble. Do NOT try to load regular sentries into the Launch Bay, it won’t work. As of now, you can deploy these to protect groundside medics in a pinch or to reinforce FOB.
Now that your electronics are sorted, your rear bay is sorted, and you’re personally equipped, where do we go from here? Well - we shoot things.
ON THE NATURE OF FIRE SUPPORT
OBSERVE, the might of the gimbal system. Bask in its comfortable green glow.!
When you create a fire mission, you are creating a preset pattern of explosions that will travel in a certain direction. If you send your FM north, the shots will land to the west and east of your path. If you send it west, the shots will land to the north and south of it. So on, and so forth. Grasp this concept, and all else follows naturally.
Weapons on the left of the craft can only fire left of the FM path. If they’re on the right, they fire to the right of the path. This is what Gimbal 0 to -6 or 0 to 6 means.
As said before, you can set the cardinal direction and offset of your FM. What does this mean? It determines in which direction you blow shit up from the laser. If you’re firing NORTH with an offset of 8, this will mean your path starts 8 tiles north of the laser or flare, and carries on from there. An incorrect offset can mean blowing up marines, and an incorrect cardinal direction can wipe the front.
“B-B-But I could just read the wiki and learn all this there!” No. Well, yes. Shut up.
Once again, the wiki offers excellent advice on these matters, yet many POs will fail to grasp basic graph knowledge. Here’s a quiz: If you have a 12 step FM path, and you set a rocket to an offset of -3 on the 8th step, will it directly impact a warrior as seen above? What about an offset of 3 on the 3rd step?
In game, your targets will rarely stand still for you. They often run. So hold to two main concepts when making FM patterns to seize the day: STAGGER your shots, and cast your net WIDE.
Try not to fire all of your weapons on the same step of your FM path, to make it harder for enemies to dodge. Spread out your shots from the middle to ensure maximum damage. Instead of having all your shots on Offset 1 or -1, spread them out to 3 or -3, maybe even 4. Live a little. Unorthodox FM patterns, when properly communicated to spotters on the ground so they can plan around these wacky FMs, can be useful.
To quote Ensign Sun Tzu, “He who fires all 4 rockets on Step 1 of a 12 Step FM is dumb as hell. He who fires all 4 rockets on Step 12 is a funny guy.”
There’s also Direct Fire too, I guess. See a laser, shoot a laser. When paired with the TARGETING system, you can hit these pretty accurately. Just make sure to be quick on the draw - if you can fire on a laser within seconds of it appearing, then tell the spotter to DROP the laser, your enemies won’t even expect the missile. In fact, coordinate with your spotter beforehand! Have them tell you exactly when and where they will paint the laser, so you can fire on it immediately. Far more accurate than an FM, and DOES NOT GENERATE A TEXT WARNING. Can be useful for assassinating targets that are standing still, or blocking off a path of escape.
I won’t lie to you - a lot of this comes down to muscle memory. As time passes, you get better at firing on lasers quickly, at talking to your spotters. You learn which FM patterns work best for you - don’t just copy FM patterns you see from other people, experiment! Or maybe never use FMs, and only direct fire, it can work!
THE FORBIDDEN ARTS
In the deep dark of the hangar bay, there are secrets man was never meant to know. We shall reveal them to you - use them wisely.
Fun at it's finest doesn't have to be effective.
THE X-WING: Run four Laser Guns, and light all you see on fire. The spotters will whinge at your lack of explosions, and the xenos will weep as you incinerate their T1’s. This used to be an executable offence by BE for “endangering the operation.” Nowadays, it’s actually pretty fun.
THE LEADWALL: If it is not broken, we do not hath to fix it. Same shit again, but GAU’s. Preferably, use HVAP ammunition for extra bullets. You will likely not kill a single thing, but no wall or resin structure will endure your firepower.
THE CALIFORNIA CLASSIC: Run two pairs of incendiary minirockets, and two Banshee rockets. Have the minirockets offset wide, to cage your target in with fire, then fire your Banshees up the centre to kill whatever’s left. Gavin Newsom sends his regards.
THE MAGIC MIKE TYSON: Run a single Keeper rocket, and set it to fire on the 12th step of a firemission. If your spotter knows what you’re doing and aligns the laser perfectly, you can directly snipe a stationary xeno with it.
THE VENETIAN: It’s four incendiary minirockets. Is it powerful? Yes. Will you run out of points? Also yes. The peasantry will envy you and your wealth.
THE GREAT WALL: If you’re facing a bunch of lurkers or a horde of Mongolian steppe archers, this is for you. Run no weapons, and spend all of your points on deployable Area Denial Sentries. Proceed to drop them all into 1x1 cade cages. This used to be a lot stronger, but alas, the Kublai Khan sympathisers in the CM dev team sabotaged the great work.
The Weapons and ammo
The GAU and it's ammuniton
The GAU, funny BRRRT gun. Fires fast and many times during a firemission with small delays in between. Honestly sounds cool but HAS NOT been maintained over the years with ammo being cheap, I’d say it might be good for HVH,
HVAP- the more expensive of the two ammunition types for the GAU firing 40 rounds for each burst of a fire mission and hitting in a 7x7 square can stun and fling T1-T2s may hurt and stun some T3s additionally good for clearing walls.
Standard ammo, cheap at 275 per box compared to HAVPs 325 cost firing 20 rounds per burst covering a 5x5 radius will clear weeds walls and hurt and fling T1s and some T2s
Mini rocket pod and it's two flavours
The mini-rocket pod - a great all rounder and a solid go to if you are unsure on your loadout. Capable of firing four times during a fire mission, although for maximum ammo usage I’d recommend three for best ammo conservation. A solid and reliable performer on every map and every mode.
Incendiary mini rocket stacks are a good pick if you have the cash to spare. This makes them the aristocrat’s CAS ammo. They both Explode & knock around what they hit. Making them great at torching bugs and wiping the frontline with a cost of 500 points per stack best make it a good fireworks show.
Mini Rockets are a great, cost effective way to do damage. These are the pauper’s CAS ammo. You can fill out your firemission with cool explosions and wall clearing utility. Not going to slander these - they do well enough and only cost 300 to print.
The laser beam very simple here.
This is the laser beam. In recent years has actually become a menace and a sleeper pick. Once considered hot garbage but is now in a very comfortable place. Hits near instantly and covers a big radius to boot so much so that 4 lasers is a annoying combo to deal with.
This is the battery for the laser, like all batteries it runs out of charge eventually. The laser holds the perk of being a fast hitting and hard hitting weapon with each shot only taking 10% of the maximum charge and costing only 200 points if you want cheap effective CAS the laser is a choice contender.
The Rocket pod not to be confused with the mini.
The rocket pod a proverbial swiss army knife for CAS with munitions to cover each axis and any mood you feel in coming with 5 ammo types to choose from ranging from anti armour to area denial.
The GBU-67 ‘Keeper II’ coming in with a near instant droptime and a guaranteed gibbing zone within a 3x3 radius makes it a potent yet challenging rocket to use. Costs 300 points.
AGM-227 ‘banshee’ this thing…was bugged at one point in time but now is happily working as a slightly bigger incendiary mini rocket costing 300 points best used in combination with other munitions to compensate for it’s lack of raw power.
AIM-224 ‘Widowmaker’ great on its own and in a combo, with a fast drop time cheap cost of 300 points and a large AOE knocking down and stunning those pesky bugs, these are a great go to pick for CAS.
XN-99 ‘Napalm’ this is an easy one to explain, it fires a massive 9x9 Area of denial costing 500 points and unable to be fired from a fire mission and a slow drop time make it a powerful rocket…provided it’s well aimed.
AGM-84 ‘Harpoon’ is…complicated while not entirely terrible owing to it’s large blast wave and massive radius if dropped behind a bug it could theoretically fling them to the marines, fireable from a fire mission unlike the similarly priced XN 99, 500 points to print. The harpoons use is extremely niche and not worth it.
EDITORS NOTE: WE ARE OPINIONATED CUNTS! But don’t hesitate to experiment and mess around with your loadouts. Shout out to Marcus for helping me hammer this together.
Anyways that’s all drop anything else helpful or otherwise in the comments below.