[Guide] Chingles' Lightning Guide

Discussion in 'PlanetSide 2 Gameplay Discussion' started by ColonelChingles, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. ColonelChingles

    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... [IMG]

    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. [IMG]

    --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. [IMG]

    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. :D

    --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).
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  2. ColonelChingles

    Engaging the Enemy: This part is easy. Just shoot at them and try to hit them. Then reload. Then do it again until they're dead.

    Wait... come back! Ummm... I have more to say! Yes... uhhh...

    Okay, so keeping in mind that YOU ARE NOT A VANGUARD, the best time to shoot the enemy is when they're not looking at you, and the best place to shoot the enemy is in their fatty Spandex covered butts. Vanguards have great big cannons and thick front armor, so they can sit there and trade blows with enemy MBTs. But since YOU ARE NOT A VANGUARD, you must be more sneaky.

    Stupid sexy Vanu.

    Ah ha! That means I have to flank the enemy and hit them from the rear while they're shooting at the Vanguards!

    Well... it's not that simple. The problem is that enemy forward elements usually have more enemies behind them. So getting behind their forward elements means that you're sandwiching yourself. This exposes your nicely toned butt to the enemy, and also might cut off your all-important running-away path of VICTORY. Instead, I usually settle for hitting them from the side, or even just add my firepower to frontal Vanguard salvos.

    But when the enemy MBT has had enough and turns to go, it's your job to escort them off the battlefield... permanently. [IMG] Or at least until they respawn their tank for a nominal amount of resources. The Vanguards are lazy and will most likely just acquire a new target, so it's up to Lightnings to pursue wounded prey. After all you're fresh and undamaged, and hopefully can approach the enemy from a direction they're not expecting (Magriders won't see you coming at all, and Prowlers are probably facing their direction of retreat so they don't hit a tree going backwards). A good tip here is that damaged vehicles will give off a tall plume of smoke, so you can still find them even if they hid behind some rocks.

    And after you gleefully smash the enemy vehicle to wreckage, its blazing corpse around your triumphant little Lightning, you... run away!

    Skyguarding: So Skyguards get their own tactics section, as it is unlikely that they will be fighting off enemy MBTs. The best place for a Skyguard to be is behind the line of fighting, far enough from the enemy that no tanks or C4 bearing Light Assaults will bother you but close enough that you can provide protection to your meat shiel... errr allies.

    Like all Lightnings, Skyguards should also be well-versed in running away. If the enemy armor advances, the Skyguard should retreat to where it is safe. The only real threats to a Skyguard are other Lightnings and Harassers, which can break through friendly lines. But that's why you want to stay close to your friends!

    When engaging ESFs, it's important not to engage them too early. Let the pilots commit themselves to a strafing run first, with their ESF pointed at their targets. Then before they can begin, let loose with your cannons. Because the ESF is pointed at the ground already and probably in hovering mode, they will lack the direction and speed to escape.

    Feel free to engage Liberators at any range. This is partially because Liberators are slow and large targets, so hitting them from long range is easier. It's also because Liberators can be a threat from long range, so no point in waiting for them to come closer (most likely they won't).

    Remember to lead your targets with the Skyguard cannon; that is to say you want to shoot at a place where the enemy aircraft will be in the future. This is less of a problem after Game Update 11, but it still takes some skill. Keep in mind that a Skyguard cannon fires shells at a greater velocity than MAX Burster arms or base turrets, so you'll need to make adjustments if you're used to those.

    Finally the Skyguard wears a second hat: it is often the armored recon unit that first notices the approach of enemy armor and air. This is because the Skyguard gets to chill behind friendly lines (preferably on an elevated hill) and constantly scans the area for approaching air threats. While infantry and other armor might be concentrating on engaging the enemy, the Skyguard can get a good survey of the entire battlezone. If you see enemy MBTs massing to flank your buddies, be sure to warn them! After all if they get blown up then you're next.

    Trust me, it's as fun as Susie Skyguard. Seriously. No lies.

    The Gear

    I guess it would have made more sense to put this next to the weapons section, but vehicle gear isn't all that important (at least not nearly as important as running away).

    Optics: I usually opt for zoom instead of any of the augmented visions (Infrared or Nightvision). A Lightning shouldn't be engaging at the close ranges where augmented vision would be useful, and zoom optics are fun for picking off enemy infantry in doors, windows, or roofs. Infrared on a Skyguard would be useless.

    Utilities: I personally opt for Proximity Radar, but good arguments can be made for every option. Because YOU ARE NOT A VANGUARD, you should play more sneakily. IR Smoke is useful only if you've been spotted and sit still long enough for someone to get a lock on you. And the Fire Suppression System is only useful if you've been fatally damaged. You know what else solves the problem of being locked on or getting damaged? RUNNING AWAY!

    Defenses: I favor Stealth, because it adds to the overall sneakiness of a Lightning, and with incoming changes you should be able to sneak up pretty close to an enemy tank without popping up on the Mini-Map. Stealth is also highly suggested for Skyguards, since most ESFs rely on radar to find their prey. The Nanite Auto-Repair System is a good choice for keeping you in the fight after taking a single shell because, hey, no one's perfect. Armor upgrades are situational, and I prefer my general all-purpose solution of RUNNING AWAY.
    NOTE: This is outdated, Stealth is no longer available in this slot. They broke my Ninja Lightning build. :(

    Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting wascally wabbits.

    Chassis: This is completely up in the air. If you're trying to run away but end up bumping into rocks or trees that force you into a sitting target, you might want to consider the Rival Chassis. If you're fine with obstacles but can't seem to shake Magriders, then the Racer Chassis may be for you. One important thing to keep in mind is that the Racer Chassis is actually better at climbing hills, which is the opposite of what seems logical.

    The Scenarios

    Okay, now that we've covered some basic ideas, how would we put them into practice? Well here are some common examples of how to use your Lightning effectively.

    Close Infantry Support: After escorting the squad Sunderer to an enemy base, you glace around and notice that it's one of the rare bases that's not an Amp Station, Biolab, or Tower. There are no walls, just some low buildings. In these situations you can actually provide some fire support to your advancing infantry buddies. Priority targets include MAXes or areas which might contain waiting enemy infantry (inside rooms, behind low walls). Feel free to pull back if you're damaged, and don't get so involved that you miss approaching enemy armor or a flying Light Assault with a gift for you.

    This sort of base is nice for Lightnings, no high-elevation places where people can easily poke in and out.

    Tank Hunting: While moving with a group of Vanguards, you meet 2 or 3 enemy MBTs. While the Vanguards are engaged, you notice one of the enemy MBTs attempting to flank. You wait a second for it to become somewhat separated from its buddies, and then you call out to your Vanguards that the enemy is trying to flank. Hopefully one of your Vanguard buddies turns to engage the enemy MBT, and that's when you make your move and flank the flanker. At that point the enemy MBT has two choices, and none of them good: she turns to engage you to leave her rear vulnerable to the Vanguard, or she keeps facing the Vanguard so you can hit her rear. It's also likely that she'll panic and try to make a break for it, in which case both you and the Vanguard have shots at her rear. Once that MBT is clear and there are only 1 or 2 enemy MBTs remaining you may continue to flank while they are distracted. Watch out for enemy reinforcements though!

    Trust in the green line!

    Anti-Heavy Assault Flanking: Most often Vanguards are stalled by enemy Heavy Assaults and Engineers who are hiding behind a hill or a ridge. They pop out to shoot, and pop back into cover to avoid Vanguard reprisal. This is bad, because once they're done with the Vanguards they'll be coming after you! Instead, you take a long distance path to flank the enemy, so you're facing the side of the hill where they're hiding from the Vanguards. Then feel free to pelt them, and to politely suggest to the Vanguards that they advance. The enemy may have a Sunderer parked behind the hill as well, but your priority is to target the threats to the Vanguards. As the enemy infantry can no longer shoot at the Vanguards, your heavy MBTs can advance to negate the enemy cover.

    I'd like to see a Vanguard do this!


    So in the end, remember that YOU ARE NOT A VANGUARD. But really, that can be a good thing, and a Lightning tank truly is a tank in its own right.

    Well except for the fact that there are Harassers. Screw Harassers.
    NOTE: This is outdated, and Harassers are no longer the OP dune buggies of death they once were. Still, watch out for the TR Vulcan ones!

    --IRL Fact: I HATE Harassers.

    --IRL Fact: None of these images are my own, and credit for them should go to their owners and not to me!
    • Up x 6
  3. Iridar51

    Great guide, I will add a link to this to my Game Guide. Though I'm not sure why'd you chose to make "Note: outdated!" instead of just straight up updating the guide before posting.
  4. ColonelChingles

    Because I'm lazy. :D
  5. tgipier

    Bookmarked for future reference.
  6. Iridar51

    Hear hear. CBA to fix my LA guide, which now looks like a woman after Caesarean section, after I moved out of it stuff to Game Guide and Gunplay Guide.
    • Up x 1
  7. Demigan

    Pretty good.
    • Up x 1
  8. Goretzu

    Nice guide. :)
  9. kadney

    I wish the second picture would become reality. Rotary Cannon and G2A lockon missiles combined with some sexy design.
  10. Botji

    I know this is more up to personal preference but I just have to say that auto repair is too good not to take on a Lightning, its pretty much twice as effective compared to on any other vehicle and as you say quite a few times a Lightning spends a lot of time running away, especially if you are a Skyguard.

    Being able to repair your Lightning while you run is fairly major, add fire suppression and you can recover from near fatal damage in no time at all while you run from whoever is trying to kill you.

    One of the Lightnings weaknesses is its terrible turning speed, if you are face to face with an enemy tank you will more than likely die if you try to reverse/turn around so being able to just drive past them so THEY have to turn around to chase you, you can usually tank the few shots they can fire at you with the Fire suppression but you will be heavily damaged but the auto repair can fix that while you run in a big arc back to safety.

    Or if its another Lightning you might even be able to grind them down with the Skyguard because unlike most I regenerate the health so what was a smoking Skyguard running for its life can quickly become a full health Skyguard with enough damage to kill the hunter.
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  11. CNR4806

    Utility? Proximity Radar? Man how old is this thing?

    And yes, it HAD the greatest synergy with pretty much all Lightning builds since it's actually useful for preventIng pesky infantry from getting the jump on you. It was an unjustified massive collateral damage from SOE's oh-so-genius attempt to "balance" MBT abilities.
  12. ColonelChingles

    I posted it on my outfit forums back in... August 2013. :p

    That was the heyday of the Harasser, where they were ripping through Lightnings left and right since May 2013. *shivers*
  13. Ronin Oni

    Actually, "Not being a Vanguard" is more significant than you think....

    For NC, the Lightning is pretty much your best AI option.

    For VS/TR, it's actually probably better specced and used for AV hunting.

    Lightning is still verstatile, and as a NC can be used as a flank tank hunter, or you can spec it to kill infantry just as well as the NC use it to do so as TR/VS...

    it just seems a better use of the 2 vehicles IMO.

    Of course, any time you're solo without a dedicated gunner, quite likely you're actually better off in a lightning.

    The exception to that only being a Prowler :p
  14. Ronin Oni

    Also, since you wrote this, Viper, HE, and HEAT have all been pretty heavily nerfed.

    Viper most of all, not even being able to OHK infantry anymore.
  15. AssaultPig

    your picture of the NC lightning's old look made me sad

    stupid high saturation blue doesn't match anything

    ed: also stealth is still pretty great. Nerfs to auto-repair make it not that useful for a lightning anyway; just run fire suppression
  16. STR1D3R109

    I was one of those harrasers back on esamir in the day, oh the great halberd sniping times xD

    But hey, thanks for the guide!
  17. ColonelChingles


    Seriously though, you didn't need to snipe. You could have just waltzed up to me and wrecked my Lightning just as easily. :p