NecroBones TRIBES2
Shrike Tactics

[Back to Main]

Bones and his Shrike


Hello and welcome! I know other's have written tutorials about shrike tactics before, but such resources and materials tend to be few and far between. Also, sometimes people don't appreciate just how much effort goes into being an effective shrike pilot. I've seen people yelling about how cheap being rammed is, for instance... they don't realize how difficult it can be, and how many variables are involved. And those of us who are good at it make it look easier than it is. Another example of under-appreciation is the official Tribes 2 playguide, which would have you believe that shrikes have little to no tactical value! For these reasons, I decided to go ahead and write this Tribes2 Shrike Tutorial, coinciding with refounding the TAE, "Tactical Airborne Elite", an honorary tribe for aircraft operators in Tribes 2.

I've created some wonderful shrike Demo Recordings that you may wish to download and watch. These will give you a good view of some of the things I will discuss here.

Dogfight Dogfight


Like the other Tribes2 aircraft, Shrikes are "Turbogravs", meaning they don't operate like normal aircraft. They have a large mass, but a reduced gravitational weight. A vertical thruster compensates for what weight is left. When flying level, the turbograv behaves much like an airplane, except that it can stop, hover, sideslip, and even fly backwards, much like a helicopter. The differences become very apparent when the shrike is tilted such that you're looking straight down at a ground-target, or straight up at an aircraft at a higher altitude. Since the vehicle still has some mass, and the thruster is no longer pointing down, you begin to slowly sink towards the ground, and the thruster starts to push you "up" (relative to the shrike, sideways relative to the ground), and you can very quickly lose control of the situation and crash if you're not careful. It takes some time to get used to the dynamics of the vehicle, and learn to keep it under control and compensate for these things, even while in a fight.

The blasters are very precise, and have a good range to them. However, as with most weapons, they're not lasers. The shots take time to travel, and are affected by your vehicle's momentum, so you have to compensate for these things and properly "lead" your target in order to hit them. The demo recordings I've made demonstrate this quite well. As to how much you need to lead the target... well, that depends on how fast you're moving, how he's moving, how far away you are, etc. You just need to practice and get a feel for it. Also keep in mind that the blaster shots diminish in strength over distance, so you'll destroy things faster at close range.

Ramming Ramming people is harder than it looks. Anyone can ram a single, motionless, clueless sniper standing at the peak of a mountain or ridge, but it's much harder to hit people who move, or stand in more protected spots. Sometimes the hardest kills are the ones out on open and flat terrain, because you have to fly down and back up, getting within a few feet of the ground without hitting it. Generally speaking, here are the variables you need to take into account:

  • How much of an "aspect" is the target showing? If they're partially hidden by a ridgeline, building structure, rock, etc, they're probably not a good target.

  • How much space is there directly on the other side of the target? You need to have room to maneuver and pull away after the ramming. If he's on open ground and you're coming in too steep, there's nothing but ground behind him. If he's on the front-face of a hill, there's nothing but hill behind him. Make sure you can hit and pull away.

  • Is the target moving? If so, you have to predict precisely where he'll be by the time you get there, and take into account the above issues relative to -that- location.

Here's why it's likened to "threading a needle":

  • Your vehicle has a large size to it, and your viewpoint is near the top. It's easy to misjudge and fly too low.

  • Go too low, you crash.

  • Go too high, you miss.

  • Too far left or right, you miss (or crash).

  • Go too slow, and you don't kill the target.

  • Go too fast at a slightly bad angle, and get deflected into the ground and crash.

  • Misjudge his movement (running, jumping, etc), you may miss or crash.

  • Good ram, but just slightly too low, you may get deflected into the ground and crash anyway.

  • If you're spotted, he may jump out of the way. Either you'll miss, or have to compensate. You may still miss, or crash.

  • If you're spotted and he has a missile launcher, you may take a missile right up the nose. It's hard to dodge one from straight ahead (though sometimes you can get under them if they're fired too close). At worst, the missile will destroy you. At best, it'll deflect you, which will cause you to either miss or crash. Sometimes they can deflect you with a spinfusor disc too.

Ramming Generally speaking, people will bitch and moan about you ramming them if you get good at it. The truth is, it's very easy for them to screw you up, and you're taking a big risk every time you do it. All they have to do is stop being so predictable, and be more on their toes. Remember, in cases like this, the only difference between "cheap" and "effective" is which team you're on.

In terms of what you should consider a threat and what you don't really need to worry about... here's some tips to keep in mind:

  • Spinfusor discs don't do much to shrikes.

  • Plasma can hurt a lot, but rarely will you ever get hit with it.

  • Chainguns are LETHAL if the enemy has decent aim. Back away. If the guy isn't really hitting you badly, you can sideslip around and let him waste his ammo... then move back in for the kill. :)

  • You can absorb a missile and take little damage if your energy is full. This will drain ALL your energy though and leave you defenseless. Otherwise, missiles are dangerous but can be outrun.

  • Shrike blasters will destroy you very quickly, so don't get caught at a standstiill or otherwise present a good target to your enemies.

Dogfight Dogfight


Here are some suggestions for general shrike flying that will help you to stay alive...

  • Always bring a repair pack. If you've taken damage, find a safe place to set down, preferably underwater, and repair.

  • Use the afterburners, but use them sparingly. Only lean into them hard when you need to escape from a standstill.

  • Use afterburners to aid in turns, so as not to lose much speed. Also, afterburners improve your maneuverability, so you can come about faster in a dogfight.

  • When travelling, always try to keep your energy at 75% or higher, so that you have the power for a dogfight, or to escape missiles, and possibly even absorb a missile.

  • In a head-to-head dogfight, pick your shots. Don't run the guns constantly.

  • Try to keep your speed up as much as possible. Moving targets are harder to hit, and you won't have to worry about missiles so much.

  • Missiles can be evaded easily, as long as you're not at a standstill and they're not coming head-on. They do however force you to leave the area. The magic number is 288 kph, since that's the speed the missiles travel at. Stay above that, and any missiles not coming from the front won't be able to catch you. This means you usually have to fly straight and level for a while to escape though. You can also go under water. You can fly straight and level just below the surface to help avoid crashing, and the missile will tend to lose track of you.

  • Stick close to terrain and hills, since it's hard for enemy shrikes to hit with a lot of ground in the way.

  • Use all of the terrain features to your advantage. Hide, take unexpected turns, fly under/around/through arches, bridges, etc. Sometimes the enemy on your tail can't fly as well or will flinch, and go right into the rock, bridge, lava, whatever. :)

  • If you're being chased and having a hard time shaking the bogey, lead him back towards your team, weather it's another shrike or the base itself. You can either get him destroyed or force him to break off. Don't lead him to a bomber or havoc though, as that's just plain rude to your teammates. Just beware, some pilots are good enough that they may take you out, plus the shrike that was trying to help you. And then go on to shoot one or two more down before retreating. I've personally pulled off such stunts. :)


  • In trying to escape enemy shrikes, you can either lead them away or try to sneak around behind them... or you can turn and fight. If turning, you need to spin around FAST. Do -NOT- try to pull up and loop up over them. You'll lose all your speed and present a larger target area. In the screenshot to the right, you'll see someone who tried to loop over me. He was dead a few seconds later. This is just one example from "Shrike 101" [Also see "fast turning" below]

  • In head-to-head dogfights, sideslip! Use the "S" and "F" keys and slip sideways while moving towards or away from your enemy. This will make it harder for them to hit you, especially if you change which way you're slipping. Note however that you must also compensate for this in your own aim as well.

  • Missile launchers have a minimum distance for locks. This means that if someone on the ground (even a turret) is preparing to fire a missile at you, you can move in close to prevent them from firing the missile. This can be dangerous though, since it makes it easy for them to hit you with other things, particularly chainguns (your worst enemy).

  • Don't get too close to enemy tanks. The chaingun will RIP YOU UP if the gunner knows what he's doing and the driver doesn't bounce it around too much for him to hit you with it.

    Free Look

  • Use "Free Look". Use it a lot. Whenever you're travelling, a quick look over your shoulder to see if anyone is there can save your life.

  • Follow contrails. Sometimes you may not catch a glimpse of an enemy vehicle itself, but the contrails are a dead give-away as to where it went.

  • Use gravity to your advantage. Dive when you can, climb only when you must. You can use gravity to help you accelerate when you're trying to escape a missile or another shrike. Generally speaking, climbing is bad since you'll lose speed, so always climb gradually and not at overly steep angles.

Dogfight Dogfight


Working together as a team is extremely important in tribes. Just because you CAN go solo with a shrike doesn't mean you should. At the very least you should be mindful of what your team is doing and what it needs. Also, there are some things you can do that are simply kind and courteous to your teammates.

Dogfight Dogfight


[more to come...]


  • Can you fly under the bridge on Phlegathon at 300+ KPH and live?

  • Have you rammed & killed two heavy defenders simultaneously?

  • Have you pulled a 180 and taken out two chasing shrikes?

  • Have you out-maneuvered an attacking shrike by tricking him into crashing? (such as leading him under the Phlegathon bridge, or through an arch, or something)

  • Have you out-maneuvered an attacking shrike such that you ended up behind him and he had no idea where you were?

  • Have you lead a missile that was locked onto you into an enemy aircraft?

  • Have you gotten a missile off your tail by leading it into a building?

  • Have you destroyed a shrike then shot the pilot to death before he hit the ground?

  • Have you destroyed a shrike and then rammed the pilot to death before he hit the ground?

  • Have you successfully dodged a missile fired from the guy right in front of you, while still successfully ramming him?

  • Have you saved a friendly bomber from certain death by taking out 3 shrikes that were chasing it as a team?

My answer to all of the above? Yes on all counts. :)

I hope this tutorial works well as a set of guidelines and suggestions for you. With a little time and patience you can become a great pilot in Tribes 2.

See you in the skies, and watch your six... :)

[Back to Main]

[All content Copyright 2002, Ed T Toton III, All Rights Reserved]