One of the most important objectives in BZFlag is to stay alive (if not the most important!) "Staying alive" means "not getting your tank blown up", because when it's blown up, you can't have fun driving around shooting the enemy tanks, which is why you play BZFlag in the first place, right? On the positive side, you're only "dead" for about 3 seconds, and after that you can get back into the mayhem. There are several ways to die in BZFlag:
- You get shot
- Wholesale kill, i.e:
- You self-destruct
- Death physics drivers
- An admin executes a /kill command
So, your best chances of staying alive basically boils down to avoiding these 2 situations; getting shot, and getting your team flag captured by the enemy - avoiding to self-destruct is easy; just don't hit the DEL ("delete") button. Normally map makers will make it clear where death physics are, and there's not much you can do about the trigger happy admins.
Avoid getting shot
An obvious way to avoid getting shot, is to stay away from tanks that might fire shots at you. However, this is not very desirable (if you are out of their firing range, they are out of yours, and thus you can't blow up other tanks which is the fun part!). And it's not possible to hide forever, so you will eventually have to deal with situations where bullets are coming in your direction...
It's possible for you to blow up your own tank by shooting yourself. This can be done on maps where bullets can ricochet, which means that a bullet hits something, like a wall or a building for instance, and then springs off in a new direction, which is in a parallel angle if ricocheting off a vertical surface. So if you fire directly at a wall in a game where the ricochet option is "on", the bullet will spring back and possibly hit your own tank, thus blowing it up! If you shoot yourself (by accident or otherwise) you see a message saying "shot myself", your body-count will go up, and everyone else on the server gets to laugh at you.
You can avoid this by giving your shooting a little thought, i.e. don't stand close to solid objects (like buildings and walls) while firing directly at them, or fire at them in sharp angles, sending your bullets away from you even after the ricochet.
Also, be very, very careful when firing off a laser on the ground level.
Not only can you shoot yourself, your teammates, your brothers in arms, can shoot you as well on most servers! Keep in mind that, if you are stealthed, you are much less visible to your teammates, and are likely to get shot if you stand in their way.
Main article: Dodging
Dodging shots in BZFlag requires a different technique than most other games. The key to dodging shots in BZFlag is to face at an angle from the person shooting at you. That way, you can avoid the shots completely, or slip in between them. If you are facing straight at your opponent then you must turn to avoid their shots, which wastes precious time.
Of course, if you are facing away from your opponent, it is difficult to shoot them. Thus, you want to time your approach so that you are facing towards them when they are out of shots, and you are facing away from them when they are shooting at you.
Somebody has fired a GM at you, and it is bearing down fast. What do you do? You drive full speed in a circle perpendicular to the player firing the GM. Watch their frustration as the GMs miss the rear of your tank by a fraction. Keep driving until you're out of range or out of space to drive. This is particularly effective against stationary GM users. With practice, you can develop this method by moving in a spiral, gradually reducing the distance as you drive around the GMer. This way, you can close in and hopefully take a shot at them. Also, keep in mind that the GMer can't lock on you if you are too close to him, making you nearly invulnerable.
Jumping in order to avoid enemy fire is generally considered a bad idea, unless the jump is such that you land in a less accessible place (for example on top of a box). Jumping in the open makes you unbelievably vulnerable to being shot, as all the enemy tanks need to do is fire off a few shots in your direction just before you land. Don't do it unless it's your final option.
For further information on jumping tactics, see Jumping
By exercising a little caution, you can avoid many deaths. Keep an eye on the radar, especially when rounding corners. But also, keep an eye on the screen, in case somebody is stealthed. Identify people's flags. Never ever try to jump in a battle against a wings. If there is a laser running loose on the ground level, go someplace high and wait for him to kill himself. When going against a GM, hide behind buildings, if there are any. Keep your distance from shockwaves. Be careful around teleports; shockwaves and phantom zones like to camp there. And don't let yourself be hit by a geno; because then everyone will hate you. Finally, be on the lookout for tanks acting strangely (driving straight at you, for example). They probably have some special flag: wings, shockwave, or masquerade.
Prevent the enemy from capturing your teams flag
This one is relatively simple. If an enemy picks up your team's flag, shoot him! Note: Dropping your or your opponent's team flag on a "bad surface" i.e. a pyramid or cone will return it to a certain point, often the middle or the owner's base.
A note on self destruction
Some people self-destruct in order to avoid getting shot. This may sound a bit strange at first, but the idea is that if you self destruct and thus avoid getting shot, you prevent your enemy from getting a hit point as a result of shooting you - and keeping your enemies hit count down is desirable.
Please don't do this!
It is generally frowned upon - if your enemy has you cornered, and your destruction is the only possible result in this situation, then of course he deserves the point. So please, either fight your way out, or die with honor!