The Engineer is a class that rewards planning, creativity and patience. In this guide we’d like to highlight an often under-appreciated aspect of Engineer that is Platforming. This is an advanced guide that will take your engineering to the next level.
Guide to Platform Engineer
We think the Platformer way is a world class Engineering strategy that will set you up for unparalleled high scores. To get a taste of the carnage, checkout these clips from some of our Platformer runs and try to beat our kill counts (Platformer Challenge section).
The Magnificent Platform Gun
This gun is unique in that it allows for creation where all other weapons and actions are typically destructive. While this is most often used to simply provide access to hard to reach places, it can be taken much further, making engineer a singularly influential class for dealing with waves and groups.
Platforms, as you may know, can plug holes, be chained to bridge gaps, restrict access and divert enemies. We suggest their most powerful use is in flow control where the calculated placement of platforms can turn an overwhelming wave of bugs into something puny and unworthy of your ammunition.
This capacity, combined with the Engineer’s inherent potential for wave clear can elevate his position in the dwarf hierarchy from merely convenient to indispensable, even the cornerstone of a team.
Platformer Engi Manifesto
As a Platformer Engi I will strive to use the environment to my advantage to transform it and create evident and accessible safety for myself and my team, I will condense and neutralize the bulk of the swarm efficiently and I will always see danger coming and have a plan to deal with it.
We have tried pretty much everything and settled on a loadout that works extremely well in most situations given our expectations of the Engineer’s role. Notable exceptions are included in the In Context section where we discuss different mission types and how you might want to change things up.
This grenade launcher is the key to Platform Engi trash mob cleanup capability. We’ve done a lot of experimenting with this and found this particular loadout to be optimal, especially with the Clean Sweep overclock. There is no greater weapon setup in the game for reliable mob destruction, particularly once you get good with the Proximity Trigger.
Loadout — ABABA
We recommend the shotgun for general purpose bug killing, although it isn’t as critical as the Deepcore. This loadout is just what we prefer but don’t feel too strongly about it, maybe try out the Stubby and see how it goes!
Loadout — BBCBB
We’ve tried all the different sentry setups and landed on this loadout for Platforming. Defender System plus a single sentry makes for a very hard hitting backup to your base. On mining missions it might be good to take Quick Deploy, and Penetrating Rounds vs Stun are both good choices.
Loadout — BAAA
Simply indispensable as it holds multiple charges, clears groups with AoE, warns you audibly of incoming threats and adds immeasurably to the safety of your platform creations. Placement, timing and refreshment of proximity mines is a skill with a high ceiling. Although they can be effective for group clearing, they are not as reliable as your Deepcore as they can be triggered by a single stray so they should be used primarily defensively as an early warning system and safety mechanism.
The Platform Base
Using platforms inventively can effectively flip the script on the bugs. Whereas the a normal defense consists of lots of running and trying to kill bugs approaching from every direction faster than they can kill you… the engineer designs his safe haven and decides how the bugs to come to him.
The platform base is a type of flow control where pathways for bugs to crawl to dwarves are limited, extended, made as safe as possible for dwarves while as dangerous as possible for bugs.
Anatomy of a Base
The simplest possible base is a single entry that leads to a run (of platforms) that the bugs must travel to get to you (the bait). The basic advantage of this is that you know where the bugs are coming from and it takes them more time to get to you, depending on how long your run is.
The completed base consists of multiple runs linked together by jumps. There is typically a main entry called the choke where most bugs are splatted and often a proximity mine is placed. The pocket is where bait stands most of the time to lure bugs through the choke. A simple but complete base, with proximity mine, sentry and supply drop placed might look like the diagram on the right.
Real World Example
And here’s a shot taken from one of our point extraction missions. As you can see, you can get pretty creative with your bases, which is part of the joy of Platformer Engi. Let’s explore the components of the base in more depth.
The Bait & Bug Pathing
Bugs are sneaky, and given the opportunity will avoid walking straight at you in a nice clump. They diverge and circle and spread out. However these tendencies must be balanced with their eventual goal, which is to eat you and snuff out your offensive dwarven odor. To do this they have to reach you, so they must find a path to you somehow. The ideal platform base has only one pathway at any given time which effectively negates all bug sneakiness and makes them much more predictable and nicely splatable.
As an engineer, always be aware of the pathway options bugs have to get to you and actively seek to understand bug behavior. This is not only critical for your own survival and efficiency, but your teammates may rely on your judgement, and bad judgement may get you all killed.
Observe that if you’re standing at the end of a run of platforms connected only at one end and there is no other way up, crawling bugs will be forced to enter at that connected end a crawl the entire length. This is obvious once you see it, of course, but nevertheless quite powerful and contains the seed insight for making your base as safe as possible for dwarves and as dangerous as possible for bugs. You act as the bait and therefor have some measure of control over pathing which you can use to your tremendous advantage.
Even a single platform can provide some measure of safety in a pinch by making higher ground accessible, or to serve as a vantage point. Taking this further, the pocket is the area at the end of run of platforms that naturally turns into the safest place in the vicinity. It gives you distance from the enemy, a vantage point, and if you need to jump away from it, the crawlies must walk all the way back down the run. This is only the start, as the pocket can be decorated and embellished greatly to make it more accessible, visible and defensible. More on that below.
It is possible start a run straight off a wall, or the ground, and this effectively bunches enemies together. However, this is not advisable for one simple reason: bugs can walk upside down. Bugs coming at you from below is never a winning strategy, so, much care should be taken to ensure that bugs come at you from above. The ideal entry starts from a stalactite (hanging column).
This choke point should be the single place where bugs are condensed for optimal slaughter, and before that, are visible from as far off as possible so that you can highlight and eliminate targets in the most effective order.
Although it is advisable to have multiple runs which act as escapes for yourself and your team, we’ve found it’s best to not try and use these runs as “alternative” chokes for a few reasons:
- Splitting attention and losing track of what is coming into the choke (and how much) makes it more dangerous to go back to it and often splits the bait which diminishes condensation.
- Baiting alternative runs (intentionally or not) makes them unavailable for escape, better to escape just enough to make the choke safe again then get back
- It’s tempting to use proximity mines to make multiple runs safe but it’s usually better to have more mines available and one safe run than no mines and no safe runs.
Alternative Runs, Escapes & Jumps
A base usually consists of more than one run, connected by jumps— where a jump is a gap between platforms that you can cross but bugs cannot. This serves a few purposes: grouping bugs by controlling flow and pathing, as escapes for runs that are overwhelmed and as ways for other dwarves to access the pocket.
We’ve found that the number, placement, length, and accessibility of alternative runs depends on too many factors to come up with hard and fast rules. Ammo, mission type, terrain, immediate danger, teammate, modifiers and where enemies tend to be spawning should all contribute to your choices. What’s more, if you have the time and supply, you’ll tend to notice opportunities organically. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good and get swarmed while noodling on the Platonic ideal of a base.
Taking Out the Trash
Now the theory comes into practice as you cash in on what your teammates may initially mistake for decadence or neurosis. So you’ve chosen a choke, made a primary run with a safe pocket, made it accessible and escapable with a few alternative runs and choice jumps. The swarm is headed your way — what now?
As Engineer you have the best tools for taking out the trash, meaning trash mobs or groups of smaller, lower health enemies. From the relatively safety of your pocket, you do your teammates an invaluable service spending your attention by searching out vulnerable groups of dozens of enemies and obliterating them preemptively. Staying true to the Platformer Engi Manifesto, you are also in the best position to see danger coming and formulate a plan on how to either deal with it or escape it.
Sentry Purpose & Placement
Sentry placement is a skill, and you cannot always completely control how it expends ammunition, but some there are guidelines. Ideally your sentry should be used defensively to make your pocket safer, kill bugs that get through the choke and watch your back. Often this means placing your defender sentry in such a way that it can’t see bugs until they pass some line. Controlling the arc in this way is fairly straightforward, but distance is a little tougher — experiment. Here are some tips:
- Expending ammo on far away bugs can be a waste if you’re only going to decimate the whole group at your choke.
- Know what your sentry is most effective for. They can put your mind at ease against swarmers and naedocytes but are likely to waste an entire mag on an oppressor unless your positioning is very lucky.
- Does your sentry cover escapes, and supply drops? This is often literally a life saver and may be worth it even if your sentry killed nothing else.
Proximity Mine Purpose & Placement
It is tempting to use prox mines to splat big groups, and if you set things up right, this will often happen regardless. However your grenade launcher is your best tool for mob killing and your mine has too many defensive benefits with too limited ammo to be blown carelessly. Consider their function as early warning systems, as safeguards, and as a way to free up your attention for more important tasks.
The most reliable location is at the choke, in terms of damage output, but make efforts to use your prox only when you know you’re in trouble or when you need to spare your attention on far away targets and don’t want bugs crawling up behind you. As with all your weapons, balancing your ammo is critical for efficiency so take this into account and be generous or stingy with your prox mines accordingly.
Half the battle in condensation is creating the right choke that forces enemies spawning in different places to come to the same spot. After that it’s often trivial to ruin trash mobs and it then becomes a game of efficiency.
It’s possible to create jumps that condense swarms nicely by making bugs backtrack, affording extremely efficient opportunities for the use of explosives. However, the time and mental effort required to actively create that perfect shot is often unrealistic in context of Hazard 5 chaos. Instead, think about this during initial platform setup and let it happen naturally while running your base.
Part of your job as Engineer is to encourage your teammates to act as bait in your base to condense enemies even more. See sections on Accessibility and Cooperation for more ideas on this.
Now the fun part. You already know how to shoot your weapon, so here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Save your shots until critical mass is achieved.
- Trim pesky or lagging edges of a group down with your shotgun.
- Show self-restraint with your Deepcore, look for the juiciest opportunities but don’t neglect using it. All weapons need to be used evenly to maximize your re-supply.
- Try leaving your sentry 90% built until things start to get hot. You can further control your ammo flow by not completely building your sentry until you really need it. Most of the time an explosive can handle part of a wave on it’s own without needing to waste sentry ammo. This is an advanced technique.
Bug Priority & Tactics
First we’re assuming you’ve cleared the chamber you’re building in of static dangers, and you’ve setup a workable platform base. After that, here are our recommendations for enemy priority and some tips.
- Detonator! GLHFDD. This thing will probably clear most of your jumps, you’ve been warned.
- Mactera! Thankfully they are fairly easy to splat with a grenade launcher and Proximity Trigger modification, but deadly if left alone.
- Spitters of any kind! Glyphid menace, acid and web spitters will shut down a Platformer Engi quickly if not dealt with and unfortunately the shotgun is ineffective at distance and using a grenade is often wasteful. Usually best to highlight and ask for help, or if you can lure them across your sentry that can work.
- Swarmers! Not just because they are so satisfying to turn into green goop, but because they often represent the peskiest, ammo-wasting targets for your teammates. Groups are usually worth a Deepcore if you can hit it.
- Grunts! Bread and butter enemies, will probably make up the majority of your kills. Use any of your weapons for these.
- Praetorians! These are tough for Engi, and although perfect shotgun mag from behind may get you the kill, this often means sacrificing position and 100% of your attention which is better spent elsewhere. Highlight and enlist your team, help out when the situation is to your advantage.
- Naedocytes! Probably let your sentry take these or pickaxe them, if you’ve got a surplus of ammo a grenade to the middle of the a large group can be fun.
- Rolly Pollies! If you’ve done your job, these should be a non-issue (for you at least) if you’re off the ground, although watch out for arc shots when you’re not paying attention.
Ammunity Priority & Conservation
What weapon to use and when is a tricky subject, and there is much room for debate. The undisputed goal however, is to use up your ammo from each weapon equally so that each supply you take fills optimally. If you’re under 50% ammo on everything then there’s no problem, but we would argue that the Engineer should try to stay above 50% at all times when possible as safeguard against the unexpected.
With that said, here are some things we’ve found that help when considering how to dish out the pain.
- If you’re going to use more than one prox mine a run, space them widely so that a single low health enemy doesn’t waste a charge
- Use your shotgun to trim the edges of groups so that they groups are as juicy as possible, as well as eliminate threats that get through your defenses
- Always pay attention to how your sentry is being used, and consider recalling it during slow times or when it is clearly going to waste on armored opponents. Always having the status of your sentry in the back of your mind is a great skill to work on over time. If you know you’re going to move your sentry, recalling it can save you a reloading time.
- Use the Deepcore for big groups until things start to get hot, then place a prox mine in your choke to allow yourself to focus on situational awareness.
Platformer Tips & Tricks
Platform Hazards & Repair
Through the course of battle, your platform base can become pretty ragged, and it’s a tragedy when that critical link breaks and your entire base with yourself, your team, and supplies crumbles pathetically to the floor. Do repairs and reinforcement of your runs early and often! Some hazards to look out for.
- Most explosives will pit your platforms, probably best to tell your gunner to get of here with those cluster grenades.
- Sticky Flames — they melt things slowly so reinforce accordingly.
- Exploders — be careful with a group of these, a prox mine triggering them at a skinny choke can be the end of your base.
- Detonators (duh!) — beg and plead with your team and offer them beer to wait until it’s cleared your base before sending the final blow.
- Accidental melees — platforms aren’t very tough, careful!
- Supply drops — while they will sit on platforms nicely, consider what’s above that!
This is how far the bugs must crawl to get to you, assuming you’re at the end of your run. Not only the platforms you’ve built but also the natural hardscape they are forced to crawl to even get to your platforms. Putting as much distance between yourself and the enemy is usually good, but there are limits! Here are some things to consider.
- How much time will it take build it? Will you be able to use this run by the time the next wave comes?
- Is it so long you can’t effectively eliminate or even see enemies at distance? Bravo! However, keep it practical.
- Are you sacrificing jumps, accessibility, or sight lines for length? Consider the tradeoffs.
Engi is focused on creation, but sometimes that entails a bit of destruction. Often the perfect hanging column is unavailable— make one! Sometimes platforms are a bit too wide in cramped quarters— trim them down! Enlist the Driller if need be, get creative.
Make your creations useful to your teammates by make it easy and obvious how to get to the pocket. Much of your work here may be psychological by creating bright yellow platform pathways that simply beg to be jumped up, even if they are not strictly necessary to reach the pocket. Don’t make jumps and runs too daunting and make sure they work in all directions, because a tricky base in fair weather can turn into a death trap when under swarm pressure.
Bases & Teammates
Consider that you as engineer represent only 25% of the bait if you’re on a four dwarf team— coordinate well and all crawling bugs will come to you in nice juicy clusters. If you succeed in the venerable 4-dwarf pocket, widen it a bit so everyone has room and congratulate your teammates on their evident intelligence.
The bane of all engineers! An error is an unintended entry point for bugs due to proximity to other structures. Make sure to identify and resolve these as soon as possible as a single undiscovered error will make the difference between a nice cozy base and instant, unexpected and humiliating death. Usually the fix is easy—just a couple pickaxe swings—so take those swings and err on the side of caution. Here are some common errors:
- Jumps without a wide enough gap.
- The Mine Head structure is full of pokey bits that are hard to judge, be cautious when putting platforms close to it.
- When terraforming, make sure the gap between terrain is wide enough, a single bit of terrain might make the connection bugs need.
- Proximity to walls or the ground, these can be especially tricky because the fix can involve significant effort due to a larger possible crossable area. Try and plan ahead to avoid this if possible.
- Dropped supplies can make an unexpected connection in the heat of battle! Be aware.
Recap: Platformer Engi Checklist
- Find a top entry starting point, make a run, platforms ascending if possible, check for errors!
- Place sentry in defensive position, add proximity mine to taste.
- Make pocket easy to enter and obvious to the team.
- Add escapes and lengthen enemy travel distance as much as possible.
- As time and platform ammo permits, continue to add safety, robustness and accessibility.
- Splat bugs, drink beer, profit.
A good Platformer Engi puts himself in a place of responsibility that must be backed by coordination. His base becomes a potential safe haven and killbox, but can also be a liability if his team is spread out and unaware. If you’re playing with strangers, it is your job to coordinate team positions and set expectations. A good base has a magnetic pull on most dwarves, but this is no substitute for communication and it is important to call attention to a base once built, so other dwarves can act as bait and achieve optimal flow control. However, not all classes thrive fighting from a platform base, so it is often a good idea that they venture out from time to time in order to eliminate high value targets, this makes accessibility paramount for cooperation.
Yourself as Engineer
- You should be responsible for supply placement and calls. You have the best knowledge of where the safest drops are now (or will be) and are responsible for plugging holes they leave (or avoiding making them in the first place).
- Try to do your share of mining work that is close to your base. Call out close-in strips of minerals so the others can branch out. Deposit stray Aquarqs or partially build the Uplink during slow times.
- Keep an eye out and act as shot caller. Highlight threats, notify your teammates when they are too spread out.
Working with Scouts
- Ask them to be Nitra gopher and they should callout when minimum necessary Nitra collected for supply drop so you can drop it.
- Scouts can be powerful big game hunters with the proper loadout which compliments your wave clear well — highlight targets they should focus.
- If you have good rapport with your scout, they should focus spitters for you when they are around.
- The scout can effectively “drop off” bugs chasing them by crossing over your base where they will be easy prey for you.
- We believe Pheromones are the best scout grenade, and can make for powerful wombo combos with your Deepcore.
Working with Drillers
- Ask nicely for terraforming of columns to easily remove the bottom entry to your base leaving only the top. A super nice driller will use an explosive to completely remove the possibility of errors.
- When setup at your choke, sticky flames can be amazingly effective — just make sure they don’t melt through your base!
Working with Gunners
- Ask for zip lines for accessibility. Lines running perpendicular to the run for easy high threat target elimination are nice.
- Gunners are a great trash cleanup companion and will be very appreciative of your ability to condense enemies… make sure they know where the choke is!
- A shield is a great way to extend the time you can stay in the pocket, in fact, you may never need to leave.
In Context: Mission Types Best to Worst
This is the inspirational mission type for the Platformer Engi, play lots of these to get an idea of the platform base possibilities. Lessons learned here are often generalizable to other mission types so long as you make sure to take into account the limitations of those types.
Use the Mine Head as an asset in the early game while you’re setting up. This can help thin out the waves while you concentrate on platform placement. Be careful for potential errors from the edges of the Mine head and don’t feel you need to build immediately on top of it if there is a nice looking stalactite a bit further out.
A platform base near the Uplink / Fuel Cells can be extremely valuable but there are some considerations worth noting. Engi can serve better not standing in the green zone, but instead provides overwatch from the platform base, nuke groups, lure enemies to thin out threats. Often the problem while defending an Uplink is not seeing enemies from far enough away, so one dwarf standing outside it is often worth the loss for objective completion time.
- Have your base and sentry positioned in an outside-looking-in fashion towards the Uplink / Fuel Cell.
- Make your base easy to escape to if teammates need to leave the green zone.
- Pesticide platforms can be somewhat useful for flow control although they are not completely reliable.
- Close Dropship cracks and other holes that would provide unexpected bug entrances or pitfalls.
It may be worth investing some platform ammo into a base if the opportunities arise. Build a base roughly at the center of a group of unharvested eggs, downhill is advantageous if possible so eggs can simply be thrown your direction and deposited.
- Create a base teammates can retreat into (and let them know!).
- If you’re confident, have your team spread out to various eggs, harvest several eggs simultaneously and have the whole team gather at your base to clear the wave.
This game type can be hit or miss, look for opportunities and get creative, but don’t get too attached, you may need to move on quickly.
- Mini bases — take everything you know and do it with fewer platforms in less time.
- Terraforming is often a waste of time if you don’t know for sure that you’ll be staying long.
- Suggest retreating backwards if a swarm approaches just after you’ve left a defensible base.
- Remember, you may need to trek backwards through your bases to get to the Dropship, so think about this when entering a room and placing runs.
Worst game type for Engi, focus on providing safety and escapes while doing your best to kill mobs. If you’re going to invest in a complicated base, make sure your team is willing to fight there and draw the Dreadnaught back to it.
For the Dreadnaught fight:
- Be the caller for who is being chased.
- Don’t waste prox mines.
- Don’t waste Deepcore.
- Don’t waste sentry.
- Take opportunities to use shotgun when Dreadnaught is vulnerable.
Engi Kills (in a 2-Dwarf Crew)
1,748 bugs splatted by Frisbee!
2,031 dead bugs (and 3 brave dwarves that sacrificed it all for the splats)!
We firmly believe there is an fledgling engineering revolution within these pages and invite you to take part in no less than a space mining paradigm shift. Spread the good word of the Platformer Engi!