NOTE: This guide is adapted from a guide meant for my outfit, meaning it is written from the perspective of an NC tanker. But since the Lightning is available to all factions, it might be useful for everyone! No refunds and I am not responsible for damage to your vehicle or person if you choose to use this guide! See, I'm a tank too! I've got a turret... and treads... and maybe a little armor... The NUMBER ONE rule to remember about Lightnings is... YOU ARE NOT A VANGUARD. Do not pick fights like a Vanguard, do not engage the enemy like a Vanguard, and do not stoically hold your ground like a Vanguard. The Vanguard is a Main Battle Tank. You are not a MBT, you are a scrappy little Light Tank. --IRL Fact: The class of "light tanks" pretty much died out after World War II, and the only light tanks that remain today are either used because MBTs are literally too heavy and sink in the ground or that you can air drop them in battle. The role of light tanks has largely been replaced with (Armored) Infantry Fighting Vehicles (imagine a Sunderer with an Enforcer strapped to the top). So until the sand dunes of Indar act like sand dunes or until I can figure out how to duct tape my Lightning to the belly of a Galaxy, keep in mind that you're driving an antiquated WWII vehicle against people with laser rocket launchers. --IRL Fact: The original Lightning was envisioned as fast-moving fast-hitting adaptive platform, perhaps as a counter to MBTs. Concept art shows that it was supposed to have access to anti-tank guided missiles, not the traditional cannon that it ended up with. The Planetside 1 Lightning did have a cannon, but it resembled a tracked buggy with a cannon on top rather than a tank. Wait... you mean that I could have had this... ack... Now we have the original Lightning in its natural habitat. See how the majestic Lightning hunts for its prey in the foggy valleys of Auraxis. The Weapons C75 Viper: The default cannon for the Lightning. Fires 6 low-damage shells that are effective against infantry and not as great against armored vehicles. The 6-shot magazine means that you can fire the first as a range-finding shot and follow up with the remaining 5. Also more effective at suppressing infantry as you can maintain sustained fire. At launch it was pretty unimpressive, but through some balance patches (Game Update 11) it has gotten more respectable. Since GU11 it has gone through a yo-yo of nerfs and buffs. L100 Python HE: A relatively rare choice for Lightning operators, as it fills the same anti-personnel role as the C75 except it's not free. Hits infantry harder and in a wider explosive radius than the C75, but fires much more slowly. The explosive radius has also been decreased through balance patches. Not as bad against vehicles as it used to be. L100 Python HEAT: The great general-purpose cannon for Lightnings. Effective against infantry with good aim, and moderately effective against vehicles. Probably what you will bring along most of the time if you don't have a plan. L100 Python AP: Dedicated anti-tank cannon for fighting other tanks. Surprisingly not as effective against Sunderers or Harassers, mostly because those vehicles were not given negative AP resistance in Game Update 08. NOTE: This resistance value may be out of date. Not good against infantry as it has a very tiny explosive radius, though if you have exceptional aim it might work. --IRL Fact: Perhaps the modern equivalent to the L100 series might be the 2A70 100mm cannon found on Russian IFVs or the 105mm cannon on the newer Chinese Light Tanks. Except the real cannons can also fire anti-tank guided missiles. All my little Lightnings... lined up in a row! They even come in NC colors! Skyguard: My personal favorite, if only because we seem to be permanently cursed with clouds of Scythes and Mosquitoes. The Skyguard is now the premier ground-based anti-aircraft unit, particularly after Game Update 11. One or two Skyguards in an armor column will protect it well against most reasonable threats from the sky. It is relatively ineffective against infantry and armor, though it can somewhat deter speedy Harassers. NOTE: For a while Liberators were buffed and presented a real threat to Skyguards. But nowadays there are enough Valks in the air for Liberators to hunt so they're much less likely to try to kill a Skyguard. --IRL Fact: The Skyguard most closely resembles the Russian ZSU-23-4, which uses 23mm cannon instead of the Skyguard's 40mm cannon. Supposedly the ZSU-23-4 is significantly more effective against infantry... sigh... 1962 called, and they want their SPAAG back. The Tactics Formations: A line of Vanguards lining up to fire at the enemy in an echelon is a majestic and fearsome sight, standing tall and proud silhouetted on a ridge. But oh Lightning operator, remember thy golden rule! YOU ARE NOT A VANGUARD. By necessity Lightnings don't work well in combat formations. HEAT and AP Lightnings need room to maneuver, and Skyguards prefer to hang back where pesky things on the ground won't bother their stargazing. Instead, Lightnings should think of themselves as part of a greater formation in relation to other non-Lightning elements. Lightnings can act as forward scouts (their low profile makes them hard to spot behind rocks or in ridges, and they aren't as soft as Flashes or Infiltrators) ahead of the main body. They can form a special hunting pack to take down enemy armor that might have wandered away from the zerg. Or they can flank the enemy by approaching the enemy from an entirely different direction. A good Lightning operator has to be able to think like three different people at the same time: the enemy, friendly elements, and as an opportunistic Lightning operator. Of course ridges and other hidey spots are often a Lightning's worst enemy. Running Awa... errr Retrograde Maneuvers: Wait! Why am I teaching you how to run away? I haven't even mentioned any tactics that involve doing damage to the enemy! Well, it turns out that running away is one of the Lightning's greatest strengths! And that's not one of those silly job interview "oh-my-weaknesses-are-actually-my-strengths" responses. The only advantage a Lightning has is its speed, and this means that against everything that's not an ESF or Harasser or Liberator the Lightning can dictate its engagements. If the Lightning is feeling cocky it can bring the fight to the enemy, and if its feeling tired it can grab its toys and go home. This ability to pick or leave fights gives the Lightning survivability that rivals the Vanguard's shield. Thus there are three important parts of the art of running away. The first is when to run away. Now interestingly you should be running away if there's no enemies in sight. And I'm not saying that because I'm a coward (well I am a coward but that's not the reason I'm making this point), but because Lightnings are not designed to occupy territory. You want to be the one that finds the enemy, not have the enemy find you. And sitting there forward of your lines is a good way for the enemy to find you. So after you are done scouting or engaging the enemy, you should scramble back to the protective wing of friendly forces. You should also run away from one-on-one engagements with MBTs, ESFs (unless you're a Skyguard), Liberators, Harassers, homing rockets, other angrier Lightnings, annoyed bunnies, funny looking rocks, scary shadows, etc. One of the MANY threats that you will no doubt encounter on Auraxis as a Lightning operator. The second part is how to run away, particularly when you are being chased by a big angry Magrider. Don't run away in a straight line. Try to weave behind trees and hills, or if you're stuck in the open at least wiggle or zig-zag. Not only does this increase your survivability against homing rockets or tank shells (or whatever it is that Magriders shoot), most enemy tanks have short attention spans and forget about you quickly if they can't see you. The third part is what direction to run. When I said that a sad little Lightning can go home, it's important to know where home is! Usually it's towards your own lines or a nearby friendly base, but it could also be towards a pair of Vanguards or a hill filled with friendly Heavy Assaults (think of these as your "big brothers" who will protect you from bullies). Keeping a picture of the developing battlefield in your mind is critically important (that pair of Vanguards might have moved on some time ago).