I’m not even a serious player, I go out for a couple hours two or three times a week. But there are lots of stories to tell and lessons to learn; here are some of mine. [Warning: This post will be more or less completely incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t played quite a bit.]
Climate Protection · This game is going to be another whole kettle of fish in the Northern hemisphere when it’s, you know, not so bloody cold and wet. Having said that:
There’s a lot to be said for wrapping your device up in a good old-fashioned plastic zip-loc.
Glider Gloves are da bomb.
Umbrellas are practical and fashionable too!
Farm Futures · Just before Christmas, the Ingress eras shifted: abundance to scarcity. Multi-hack stopped working, portal keys became scarce, inventories were capped. It’s a different game. Well, not actually just yet; because a few of the high-level players are still running on the era-of-abundance leftovers.
As a consequence, the new resource economy isn’t yet established. But it’s pretty clear that it’ll be agricultural. Which is to say, in any arena of combat, the side that can establish and maintain farms will be better-armed and thus dominate.
I’m a little worried that there might be a positive-feedback loop here; if my side can defend a farm for long enough, can we build up enough inventory both to rebuild as required and quickly nuke opposition farms, keeping the other side impoverished? That would be bad.
If my hypothesis is correct, in any reasonably even area of struggle, you can’t afford to let the other side hold a good farm for too long.
Which also suggests the use of stealth tactics; maybe build your farm in a fairly-distant burb. And never slap an L7 resonator on a naked portal, because that goes on the public record; start with low-level resos then upgrade.
Of course, you can discover the real high-level portals on the intel map just by scrolling way back out, then hitting command-+ a few times, but lots of people don’t.
And the best defense is a good offense; if you’re constantly attacking the opposition’s core territory, they’ll be too busy pushing back to go after your farm.
Resource Management · When you’re conserving ammo (and you will be) you can’t just go blasting away without thinking. You have to:
Use lower-level bursters whenever you can get away with it.
When you know that some portal has a high-level opposition agent living right next to it, don’t waste your bursters on it, because it’ll be taken right back.
When the portal’s being defended, give up and go away. Even an outranked and outnumbered defender can replace portals faster than you can take them down. Unless of course there are some fields you want gone, in which case attacking a defended portal will do the job even if you leave it in enemy hands.
Leveling · Eventually, you’ll have a cadre of L7/L8 players, and whether you’re winning or losing is probably a direct function of the size of the group.
Which is to say that, if you like winning, you need to be leveling your noobs, aggressively and as a matter of policy. Since the days of cheap field-building are over, the state of the art in noob-leveling is not well-established. The most popular technique in my locale is almost-destroying enemy portals, so the juniors can finish them up and do an initial resonator deployment for you to upgrade later.
Keys · They’re scarce; not as scarce as they were for a while there, but scarce. They exist for two reasons: To level up by making fields; and for pure fun, either the joy of elegant triangle arrangements, or in monster fields that blanket large swathes of the enemy in an embarrassing sort of way.
This means that the most cost-effective way to level is by whacking enemy fields; not only is the AP pretty good, but you usually pick up a few extra keys.
Which is a fact you should bear in mind when you build your own fields: They’re leveling opportunities for the enemy. So don’t build throwaways, unless the fun value is way up there.
Bad People · We’ve got ’em, in two categories, cheaters and spies. There are a few people around who are obviously spoofing their GPS; “pammie”, who often plays in Vancouver, is so blatant that he or she gets sneers from both sides upon appearance. Report them (I suppose it’ll do some good eventually) but remember, if they’re on the other team, that doesn’t mean the other team can do anything about them. So accusations of collaboration with the cheater are inappropriate.
The other way to be bad is to have a pipeline into the other faction’s chat. Which I suspect, in most large cities, is happening already. In my hometown, we have some high-level comm channels that you just can’t get into unless you’ve established your bona fides on the field of battle. I suspect this is essential for any really ambitious operations.
Positioning · Bad GPS can drive you nuts. Few things are more infuriating than dropping a carefully-considered burster right on a resonator, and then having the firing animation animate leisurely for 30 seconds while the GPS drifts you 30 meters away.
Anecdotally, I hear good things about the GPS on the HTC devices. I hear more than anecdotally about wild variation in GPS quality from one device to the next, of the same model. It’s fairly obvious that if Ingress and things like it become mainstream, the handset makers are going to have to invest a lot more engineering and money into devices’ location subsystems.
Lots of people are installing the GPS Test Android app, which gives you detailed readout on how well your GPS is working, and offers clear/reset AGPS functions that people have said can really improve performance.
Power · Ingress sucks. Electricity, I mean. A serious (even a couple hours) outing will take more than your typical handset battery has. Fortunately, extra batteries and outboard power packs are available cheap for every popular device; check the usual online retailers.
Also, tablets, in particular the Nexus 7, will be Ingressing happily long after their handset companions have breathed their last. You can use a WiFi version, with your handset just being a tethering station; this may last longer. On the other hand, while a person wandering around staring at a handset screen is perfectly normal, the handset being a tablet makes its carrier look a complete dork. You gotta pay the price for victory I guess.
But plan ahead for power if you’re going to invest any time at all in this game.
Irritants · Things Niantic should fix.
Show me which keys I have on the intel web map. It’s incredibly tedious to try to keep a mental inventory as you plan your triangles. I actually use a Google doc for this, which feels pretty lame.
Failing this, offer some sort of portal-key organizer in the mobile client. I have keys for lots of different cities (Ingress is an excellent travelers’ game), and it’s a major pain in the ass scrolling back and forth to figure out what I have as I plan an outing.
No XMP burster should ever take longer than 15 seconds to fire.
Make the client a little more helpful about labeling the resonators on a portal; the color coding is feeble. If there’s a defender there you’re toast anyhow, so why not make the attacking operation more efficient, by labeling the portals with level and charge?
Deploying resonators after capturing a portal is booooooring. You ought to have an optional maximal-deploy recipe that loads up a portal as best you can, one touch and it’s done. (Obviously, if two people are collaborating you’re going to have to do it by hand.)
A little more generosity with portal keys, pretty please. When there’s a portal in your neighborhood that you’d really like to work with, it’s maddening to fail at getting a key a dozen times in a row.