From Worms Knowledge Base
I am the Runs
the Runs is too busy with other shit these days, so i'm pretty much retiring from the worms community. i still play, but only with some close friends.
the only thing i'll keep doing is the "Worst Shot Ever" site. other than that, you probably won't see me around the forums, irc channels, or on this wiki anymore.
i'll probably be back, but it may be a long time.
A team17 scheme guide
This guide is quite comprehensive, so if you're new to the scheme you'll never be able to take it all in. Nevertheless you may pick up some useful tips as you read through it. More frequent players may recognise some of the strategies, but only a very frequent player will be aware of all of them.
A game of two halves
Every Team17 game is played in two distinct stages: before Sudden Death (pre-SD), and after Sudden Death (post-SD). The two environments are wildly different, and no matter how well you think you might be doing as SD silently approaches, you could lose it all in the aftermath if you haven't prepared yourself. SD is the grandest opportunity for your enemy to make a dramatic comeback. If you don't know what to expect and your enemy does, you might be left rather perplexed by how it all went so horribly wrong in the final minutes.
Although it is possible to eliminate your enemy before SD arrives by being horribly lucky, you should always expect that your game will ultimately end in post-SD, and this should entirely shape the way you play the game pre-SD. To understand pre-SD strategies you need to understand post-SD strategies first. In most schemes the logical option is to go for the shot with the highest immediate cost to your enemy, but in Team17 you have to think well beyond that.
SD has two defining features that significantly upset the balance of the game: one is that it removes your ability to choose which worm you want to move, and the other is that it poisons your worms and floods the landscape, leaving your worms inevitably vulnerable. These combine to completely change the way players attack each other.
When Select Worm is disabled, you lose the ability to protect multiple territories. Having more worms suddenly becomes the disadvantage, because you can't switch to the worm you may want to move. If the enemy teleports into your territory, you may not be able to respond, as your next active worm might not be in the affected territory, but instead in another territory, too far away to do anything about the invasion. By the time your beseiged worm's turn comes around, he may already be dead, and the territory lost.
And so, the only way to effectively keep control of a territory is to have all your worms in just one territory, where you will be able to attack an enemy worm immediately after he teleports in, before he gets the chance to do any damage. As a result of this single-territory strategy, the map becomes polarised, with one player defending a territory in the east and another in the west (then known as 'lairs'). With falling health values, invasion becomes an increasingly risky tactic, and soon becomes totally unviable. As a result, a "no-man's land" forms between the two lairs which is rarely crossed.
Instead, players adopt a new strategy: waiting for their opponent's health to fall and for the water to rise, so that homing devices can be used, fired through the water or over the roof of the map. Precision is not required; if the target has merely one point of health, then the homing device need only explode nearby, such as on the roof of the map directly above him. With the water level rising, it is only a matter of time before worms enter this blast radius of various homing weapons.
It is these homing weapons and a few select others that are most likely to constitute the winning move, and so throughout the game when collected they should be saved in anticipation of this end-game scenario. These are the SD weapons. If you use them early on purely for their damage value, then you might find yourself eventually holed up in a corner of the map, unarmed and with no ability to prevent your enemy using the weapons he didn't throw away so carelessly.
Let's have a look at these SD weapons.
The SD weapons
The Magic Bullet is undoubtedly the most powerful of these end-game weapons. With an enormous blast radius and the potential to be fired both underwater or over the map, it is impossible to hide from for long. In fact, the collection of a Bullet should immediately change your tactics. The Bullet will almost certainly win you the game if you keep yourself prepared. It is the ultimate weapon, but if your enemy has two or more worms, you may need to wait longer before they can all be killed at once - and the longer you wait the more vulnerable your own worms will become. As such, you should set out to leave your enemy with only one worm, so that you can strike early in the end-game and win the battle before he has a chance to kill your worms.
The Aquasheep is perhaps the second most useful SD weapon. Equipped with a reasonable blast radius and, like the bullet, the capability of travelling both over the map and under, it can also be flown into your opponenent's cave (given a suitable entrance) whereas a Bullet may have trouble. Pigeons have a similar blast radius, but can only be shot over the roof of the map, and to prevent backfiring they need to be launched close to the upper corner of the map. Homing missiles can be used over and under the map, but have a dismal blast radius. Homing missiles are usually only worth saving if you have nothing better, and if that's the case, don't expect to win anyway. Unlike the Bullet, these weapons shouldn't result in any drastic changes to your pre-SD strategy. Just make sure to save them.
Other SD weapons include the Nuke and the Earthquake, but these can only work if your enemy is unprepared. While it is fairly easy to catch someone out with an Earthquake, most players keep high enough above the waterline to prevent a Nuke from being effective anyway. Nevertheless, a Nuke should be saved just in case, unless there is an opportunity to take out high-health enemy worms earlier in the game.
As with the other SD weapons, the collection of an Earthquake should be followed with plans to use it: focus on reducing your enemy to a single worm, to elevate the probability that he will at some point be vulnerable. Additionally, try to manipulate the territory polarisation. By fighting for one side of the map you can encourage your enemy to take the other. If one side of the map consists of a large, spacious and deep lair, force him to take that one. Although he may benefit from more crates initially, the water will soon rise to create dangerous pits, forcing him to spend girders to remain safe. If he does not suspect an Earthquake he may make a mistake, and leave his worm open to a watery grave.
There are two other weapons that are extremely valuable, and although they cannot be used to directly win the game, they will, if used correctly, push your chances of winning well into a favourable position. These are the Freeze and the Scales.
The Freeze and the Scales
As with the SD weapons, collection of these early on in the game should have a profound impact on your strategy. Let's begin with the Scales.
The most effective use of the Scales is obtained when you have only one worm, and your enemy has all four of his original worms. When used, the Scales will ensure that your worm has four times as much health as any one of the enemy's worms. Since health is deducted at a constant rate when SD hits, your enemy's worms will hit minimum health at the same time, while your worm will still have a considerable sum of health. This allows you to sit comfortably within the blast radius of most SD weapons without fear of being killed, while the enemy's worms are completely vulnerable.
To maximise this effect, you should change your style of play in the pre-SD stage to a risky, greedy and nonviolent strategy. Since your enemy will have numerous worms, you will need to stock up on SD weapons, so focus your efforts on collecting crates, with little regard for your worms' safety. Don't waste weapons on attacking the enemy, since this will only deduct health that the Scales could later steal. Don't kill enemy worms, even if they are weak, since every additional worm that the enemy retains will greatly increase the damage that the Scales does to them. Instead, consider using girders or weak weapons to block your enemy worms so that they themselves cannot get crates so easily.
Do not, however, be too careless with your worms. If you lose too many worms early on in the game, you will lose the ability to maintain valuable access to all areas of the map, and so the prospect for crate collection is somewhat diminished. You should aim to lose worms in the last few minutes before SD, with a goal to having just one worm when SD occurs and the map becomes polarised. It is vital to ensure that, when you are reduced to a single worm, you are barricaded from the enemy. If you are not you might be open to attack from a supercluster such as a Banana, even if you have used your Scales and obtained a lot of health.
The Freeze requires some clever timing and is reasonably easy to prevent if your enemy sees it coming. The big advantage of the Freeze is that it protects your worms from becoming poisoned, and this includes the start of SD. If your worms are frozen when SD strikes, they will not lose any health to poison, whereas your enemy will. The post-SD stage then becomes a simple waiting game, where your relatively healthy worms can sit inside the blast radius of SD weapons without fear of death, while your enemy's worms slowly become more and more vulnerable to your own SD weapons.
There is only one way to gaurantee that the Freeze will work: the SD clock must run to zero during your turn. This requires that the time on the clock is fewer than 45 seconds when your turn begins. If this happens, and you then activate the Freeze, you have succeeded. Some forward-planning might be required: you can ensure that your turn begins inside this time-window by ending your previous turn at 46 seconds on the SD clock. As long as your enemy makes a turn that lasts longer than a second, then you're all set to use the Freeze.
For the most part you needn't do anything fancy with your pre-SD strategy when a Freeze is involved. You should try to conserve a 150hp worm in a safe spot so that you have maximum health to save with the Freeze. If you have many SD weapons, focus on bringing down the health of each of your enemy worms. If not, focus on killing them off so that you have fewer targets, instead.
The Freeze and the Scales: counter-measures
But what if your enemy has a Freeze or a Scales? What can you do to prevent them from being used against you? Because they are weapons of surprise, you will never know if your enemy has them until he uses them. However you can look out for the signs, and employ some tactics to limit the damage or even prevent it altogether.
A Freeze is difficult to see coming, as your enemy won't be acting unusually. But there are nevertheless a few things you can do reduce the effect. These are what I like to call the Anti-Freeze tactics:
- Poison. Use skunks when you can. A Freeze will do nothing for a poisoned worm - it will still lose health in Sudden Death.
- Try not to leave your enemy with high-health worms. If your enemy does manage to Freeze, you will want his worms on the lowest health possible so that they can still be vulnerable to SD weapons.
- If your enemy does Freeze, you may be able to recover slightly by using a petrol bomb on his next active worm. When he unfreezes, he will lose his turn - and this may allow you to finish him off entirely if it's his only worm.
- If your enemy manages to Freeze a high-health worm, and you can access it, do everything you can to inflict as much damage as possible before you lose the opportunity.
- Finally, try to prevent it altogether by keeping an eye on the SD clock. If your enemy ends his turn on 45 to 50 seconds - that's very suspicious. Skip your turn or conduct a very quick teleport. Better safe than sorry. (If your enemy is familiar with this counter-measure, you can bluff by ending your turn on 46 seconds even when you don't have a Freeze. He might panic and skip his turn - giving you a free extra turn! Make sure to follow this up with lots of gloating and mocking in the chat window)
The Scales is considerably easier to see coming, and very easy to discourage. Look out for the signs:
- Is your enemy playing unusually carelessly?
- Is he refusing to attack?
- Are you winning by a considerable margin?
These are all signs that a Scales might be on the way. The Anti-Scales tactics are easy to implement:
- Start killing your own worms. Yep, that's right. Providing your lead is sufficient, suicide should not greatly diminish your chances of winning, but it will diminish the effects of your enemy's Scales.
- Try not to let your enemy barricade himself away - you want to make sure that if he does use Scales, you can still access him and use a supercluster to do major injury and possibly kill him. Even if you don't have a supercluster, the threat of one will discourage him from using his Scales, and this will buy you extra time to, say, collect crates.
- Poison - the sooner the better. If he does use Scales and steal a lot of health, the poison will slowly take it off. Sudden Death will take it off even faster.
The pre-SD strategy
Now that you have realised the importance of the so-called SD weapons, and how to use them (or prevent them) effectively, it should be clear that the pre-SD stage of the game should be spent maximising your SD weapon stockpile by collecting as many crates as possible, and preventing your enemy from doing the same. This is done by manipulating access: giving yourself as much access as possible around the map while denying the enemy the same.
At the beginning of every turn, a crate will land. There are three types of turns to make. You can:
- just ignore the crate and use a weapon or tool of some sort,
- use a tool to get the crate, or
- get the crate without using a tool and then use something else to finish your turn.
The third of these is the by far the best sort of turn to make. Not only do you get the crate, but you also get to attack the enemy, block the enemy, teleport to a new location, make your worm's location safer, or any one of a whole swathe of actions that will reinforce your position in the game. However, getting the crate without using a turn-ending tool such as the teleport or the blowtorch requires some clever foresight in your placement. You will want your worms placed such that between them, they can access as much as the map as possible just by walking, jumping, and parachuting.
The map can be divided into numerous 'territories', each being a large open space mostly closed off from the rest of the map. Large open spaces are the most likely places for crates to appear, so you will want your worms placed in a way that allows them to reach these open spaces. If you don't have a worm in a closed-off territory, and a crate lands there, you would have to teleport there to collect it. If you have a worm already there, however, most of the time you will be able to reach the crate and then do something else. The most effective distribution of worms, therefore, is to have them scattered around the map, with one worm in each of the largest territories. Sometimes a territory can take up a huge stretch of landscape, in which case it is usually reasonable to have two worms present.
Also bear in mind that territories near the edges on the bottom of the map can be accessed from the upper territories even when there is no visible connection. With care taken, worms are able to parachute or bungee down the very edge of the map. If you have a worm placed in one of these upper territories, it may therefore not be necessary to also have a worm in a lower territory, since both can be accessed anyway.
The precise location of worms in the territories is also important. Often the best place to keep them is perched up high on ledges, where the enemy will have difficulty attacking them. High positions also give more access, as you can utilise the parachute to drift to places you might otherwise not be able to reach. Another useful place to put your worms is in pinch-points; tunnels barely bigger than a blowtorch tunnel. A worm in a pinch-point becomes a block, denying the enemy some degree of access, since he cannot get past your worm. You, however, will be able to access both sides of the tunnel simply by moving out of the pinch-point. Also, be wary of positions that are vulnerable to firepunch and dragonball - the enemy will not hesitate to use them if it results in your worm becoming trapped down a pit (requiring a turn to escape), or landing on a mine.
Sometimes you can "force a move". Suppose for example an enemy worm teleports to the edge of the map, where he is vulnerable to being killed by a firepunch. He might be isolated and therefore safe, but you can force a move by teleporting one of your own worms nearby. Your opponent has little choice but to move that worm. A similar situation can occur with an enemy worm on the bottom of the map, very close to the water, where even a small explosive can break through the land and drown him. Again, your enemy will probably not take the risk, and move his worm to a safer location. Another good way of forcing a move is by blowtorching an enemy worm right next to a barrel. If the enemy doesn't move, you can score extra damage by blowing up the barrel in an attack.
Blocking a worm with a girder also forces a move to some extent, since the enemy will have to move him at some point. And even if he doesn't, that worm is out of action, and with one less worm to move about, the enemy's crate-collecting ability is diminished.
When you have a choice of crates to choose from, it is usually best to get as many as possible. But also consider which crates the enemy can collect. If there are two crates on the landscape and you can only teleport to either of them, it is better to "steal a crate" by teleporting to the one that the enemy can reach. That way, your enemy has to spend a turn to get the other crate, rather than merely walking to the one you just stole (although this might be undermined by the placement of the very next crate). Such tactics will probably not have a great effect, but they can add up and every manipulation of the statistics in your favour is worth striving for.
Making a decent start
But before getting bogged down in all this decision making, it's important to get a decent start in the game. The initial conditions of a game can be very important, and any major imbalance can quickly lead to a bias in the arms race. If the imbalance is working against you, you have to work quickly to get out of it before things spiral out of control.
Vulnerable worms are the first to take care of. Easy kill potentials are the first priority: so if any of your worms are near the edge of the map, move them away. Next you should move worms away from thin terrain points on the bottom near the water, since any small explosive could kill them. Then take care of worms that could be punched or blowtorched onto mines. Worms that are clustered together in the same territory should be distributed around in other territories. Finally, free any worms that are stuck in small spots - they can't collect crates if they can't move around.
Sometimes it's possible to fix two problems in one turn, using a girder. If you have two worms that could be easily killed, move one, and then place a girder to protect the other.
Obviously, as well as being on the defensive, you should look out for any easy kills you can make. Getting a kill this early in the game will give a significant advantage, as it reduces the enemy's ability to maintain access around the map, and so reduces his crate-collecting ability.
Skunks and Axes make good starting weapons, too, as they are at their most powerful at the start of the game. The axe takes off a whopping 75 points from a full-health worm - even a dynamite struggles to achieve that. The skunk does little initial damage, but as time drags on the poison will have done more and more damage. In fact, you needn't bother using your valued weapons on a poisoned worm, since its fate is already sealed. Save your weapons for the healthy worms, and then pick the poisoned worms off when they can be killed by low-end weapons.
As SD approaches you need to start thinking about which side of the map to claim for the post-SD game. Since the water will soon begin to rise, you will need to start moving your worms from the lower level to the upper level. Ending up on a specific side won't always be easy to control, but if your weapons stockpile has certain characteristics you should fight for the appropriate territory. If, for example, you have dismal SD weapons, you should fight for the side with a lot of space in a large territory (since crates will be more likely to land there). If you have an Earthquake, you will want the side that will require minimal preparation, since you don't want to spend all your turns using girders just to prevent it from backfiring. And so on. The territory you end up with will be your lair.
Once the map is polarised and the lower levels have flooded, there will be a struggle between players to gain the most land while denying the enemy access around their own lair. You can force many moves by placing girders around your opponent's lair, if you can get close enough. This has the added advantage of preventing your enemy responding to your own expansion - allowing you to hoard crates.
You can also increase your lair's crate-collecting potential by removing mines and barrels (crates will not land near them), placing girders over water and steep terrain, and opening up the terrain with explosives.
Keep your worm as close to the middle of your lair as possible, far from the edges of the map where SD weapons might kill him, and remember to defend yourself from Aqua Sheep by placing girders over water holes. Don't block up the hole at the edge of the map completely, though; you'll need it open to fire your own SD weapons when the time comes.
Throughout the game you will need to be constantly using the parachute. Advanced use of the chute is an important skill to have, as it greatly enhances your ability to navigate the landscape, and so increases your access.
Traditionally the chute is used by jumping off a cliff and waiting for it to open. However it can also be opened prematurely, and by opening it at a greater height you can drift over a greater distance. In fact, the chute can be opened during a jump, so a common move involves performing a backflip and deploying the chute at the height of the jump, then drifting with the wind over the terrain. The motion of the chute can be slightly manipulated using the arrow keys. Slowing the descent of the chute using the up key allows a greater distance to be achieved.
Sometimes the chute can give your plans away, however. When chuting, one of your weapons is shown. I call this "chute-o-vision", and it can be very annoying. To begin with, the displayed weapon will be a firepunch, but as you collect weapons it changes. If you have an Aquasheep, it will always be shown. Since an Aquasheep is a powerful SD weapon, you may want to keep it hidden, so as to maintain the element of surprise if ever your enemy is vulnerable. As such you may want to avoid chuting so that your enemy isn't aware of your Aquasheep, whenever possible.
In the Team17 scheme, the ninja rope is an incredibly powerful tool, and you only get the one. So when should you use it? There are only a few select occasions:
- When you can win with it
- When you'll lose if you don't
- When you can gain a very good lead early in the game
- When there's no obvious reason to save it
Let's go through those in a little more detail. The first is self-evident: if you've got the weapons to make the winning shot, but need to use the rope to do so, then do it. The second is a "last resort" situation - if you're on your last worm and there is nowhere safe to teleport to, and no girder that will make you safe where you are, then you may need to rope to a new location and place a girder there instead.
The third situation might occur when you can take out two or three enemy worms in the first few minutes. The game will become so inclined in your favour that you will probably not need the rope later on. The final situation usually occurs late in the game, well after the map has become polarised and the flooding has begun. Since a rope-and-attack is usually out of the question, the rope simply becomes a tool of convenience.
'Telecide' is a very specific move that can be used to win the game - and its biggest advantage is that a player unfamiliar with the tactic will be completely unprepared. Telecide is simply the act of teleporting a low-health worm high up above a low-health enemy worm, so that the fall damage kills your worm, and your worm's death explosion kills the enemy worm. The health-reducing effect of SD will often ensure this tactic becomes viable - but you have to make sure you have a spare worm to use for the task.
This guide has mostly concerned 1v1 games, but often you will find yourself in games with many players. In these games, your best chance of survival is adapting your strategy to that of a shit-stirrer. Keep your worms high up and out of the way, so that the other players find each other easier to attack. Use girders to help a player attack another. Try not to let any player other than yourself attain a significant lead.
Furthermore, a great deal of success can be had in the chat window: use whispers to forge alliances between every player, and set them against one-another. This way you can avoid being attacked while not having to use any weapons yourself. Instead, you can save your weapons for when you backstab all your allies.
Never give up
Finally, it's worth pointing out that you should never give up. Even in the worst of circumstances you can still pull through and win. With a little luck, and a lot of good judgement, you can turn a truly awful situation into a victory.
This guide has been long and tedious and it would be impossible to apply every tactic I've mentioned in your very next game if you don't already do so. So here's a final rundown of the most important thoughts:
- Every crate you get is a crate your enemy doesn't get.
- Keep your eye on the clock - don't get caught out by Sudden Death.
- Use girders liberally. Never skip a turn when you can use a girder.
- Save your homing weapons, and your Aquasheep - you'll need them to win the game.