FFA Guide by notas

This is an in depth guide to the fundamentals of playing FFA duel in Sauerbraten, targeted at new and intermediate players. If you are a new player, you may find it a bit overwhelming at first – I recommend you come back to it from time to time as you gain more experience.

Disclaimer: While I think the majority of this is objectively good advice, this guide is the work of one player, and reflects only that one player’s opinions.


In FFA duel, you spawn with 100 health, 25 armor, a pistol with 40 shots and a single grenade. Everything else you have to pick up. How effectively you can do this is the core aspect of FFA gameplay.

A note on the start of the game – the game begins with no armor on the map. This means that off the first spawn you should focus on getting powerful weapons and setting yourself up for the first armor. The armor spawns for the first time after its usual interval. 


Yellow Armor (YA): 30 sec, 200 armor, absorbs 75% of damage

Green Armor (GA): 20 sec, 100 armor, absorbs 50% of damage


Every 16 seconds in 1v1.


Every 20 seconds in 1v1

Health boost:

(HB) every 60 seconds, +50 max health (capped at 200), +100 HP, resets on death


every 70 seconds, x4 damage for 20 seconds after pickup

See the Sauerbraten documentation for more detailed information on weapon and armor properties – http://sauerbraten.org/docs/game.html

Item Fundamentals

Health and Armor

Your basic goal in FFA is to build your stack up. The YA is the quickest and most powerful way to do this, and you will (usually) not win the game without taking it. That’s not to say, however, that the YA alone will be enough. You have to take the GA in between rotations of the YA and find enough health to stay alive and utilize the armor that you pick up.

Health Boost

While the Health Boost used to grant a permanent +10 to your health cap per pickup, as of 2018 tournaments and 2020 edition release, it now grants +50 max health and +100 immediate hp, and resets upon death. Max health is capped at 200, meaning if you collect two HBs without dying, you will be at +200 max health, but if you collect three without dying, the third will only give you the +100 hp (up to your maxhealth). In a vacuum, one HB is rarely preferable to YA; however, getting two in a row can create a dominating stack and allow you to steamroll the game. Getting HB + GA unchallenged as the out of control player can sometimes be enough to fight for quad, a situation that often manifests during the first YA/HB split of the game. And +100hp is a massive amount to collect simply as a restorative item, regardless of the overstack potential.

Quad Damage

Always turn up for quad. A good quadrun is the most effective way to open up a huge lead, or get/build on control by forcing your opponent to hide for the next 20 seconds. The quad is usually very exposed, and hard to pick up without taking damage. You have to decide based on the situation whether to try to take it, try to kill your opponent while they take it, or hide. For the out of control player, a combo of the second and third options is usually ideal. It’s worth restating that you don’t *need* to get the quad, you just need to make sure your opponent doesn’t. And you don’t *need* to get a quadrun – if your opponent is hiding well, it’s a great opportunity to refresh your health, weapons and armor.


Weapons are items too, and are as important or in many cases more important than the items above. Having strong weapons to attack with is necessary to push for frags, and keeping strong weapons away from your opponent is necessary to keep control. On most maps RL (rocket launcher) and CG (chaingun, often colloquially called machinegun) are the most important weapons, but in the right situation any weapon can be dangerous. CG however is probably the most common way to swing control because of its preposterous DPS, and both players need to be hyper aware of this.


You should know exactly when YA spawns by subtracting 30 from the game clock (make sure you enable the game clock and display in prominently) every time it is picked up, and be aware of the order the other items are spawning in. For example, you know that the second GA will come up about ten seconds after the first YA, and the third GA will come up at about the same time as the second YA and the first HB. The quad will be up ten seconds after that, and so on and so forth. These patterns should eventually be second nature.

Showing up for an item at the right moment is also key. You might want to be there either right before the item you want spawns, or earlier if you think you can stake out and defend the position. Or you might want to be there the exact second the weapon spawns, so you can rely on the resource to win the ensuing fight. Deciding which of these is correct in a given situation is something that you’ll have to get a feel for.

Managing Items

While it is sometimes obvious what item to go for, paying attention to what you need at a given time is a crucial skill. You might not want to go for armor when you don’t have the health to make use of it, for example, or if you need to replenish your ammo more urgently. Try to get the most out of every pickup – don’t take a 25 health with 97 points of health out of 100, for example, unless you’re trying to deny it from the opponent. Denying it can be just as important though – if you know that your opponent has 200 armor but 10 health, starving him of health will ensure you imminent victory. It can even be worth damaging yourself to pick up health, or shooting off a weapon to take away more ammo for it.

Playing in Control 

When you’re in control (meaning you have the larger stack, better weapons and know when items are coming up) your goal is to keep it this way and rack up frags. Accomplishing this requires situational awareness, fast decision making, and consistent execution.

Control the Items

A lot of what goes into this is implied by the section above. Controlling the items is a mixture of keeping exact timing on the YA and keeping a lockdown on the best weapons. But every resource on the map is vital. You will find yourself planning every move right down to each individual health pickup.

Control Your Opponent

Items are very important, but they aren’t the whole story. In order to utilize and maintain your control you need to keep the pressure on your opponent. You should try to figure out where your opponent spawns every time, and, if you can do so without giving up something more important, rush them down and kill them before they can take any items. Alternatively, you can trap them with spam, or, if you feel like their current position isn’t a threat, use the opportunity to go collect items yourself. On larger, less open maps, you will need to get inside their heads to predict where they want to go, and act accordingly.

Know Your Limits/Choose when to kill

You need to strike a balance between aggressively controlling your opponent and knowing your own limits. For example, don’t make yourself late for a major item by overextending yourself for an item or kill. It takes time to get from point A to point B, and if you kill your opponent across the map there’s a chance that they will spawn on or near the item and take it before you can get to it. Indeed, since the 2020 edition release, there is a guarantee that they will at least spawn some distance away from you, making this situation even more likely. However, If you leave them weak, you can backtrack towards the item and finish them off when you’re a safe distance towards it. If you have to let them take the GA or weapons in order to take the YA or another more important item, accept the trade and move on, rather than making a greedy play that could lose you the entire map.

Playing out of Control

When you’re out of control, your goal is to get back in control without letting your opponent get too many frags. This requires a mixture of stealth and calculated aggression

Minimize Your Losses

If possible, do not engage in a fight with your opponent unless you have the weapons/stack/positioning to do serious damage. However, it is very unlikely that you will always have this luxury. When you do have to take fights that you are going to lose, do not run away with your back turned. This is the biggest mistake I see new players make out of control. It is much, much easier to gun down a fleeing opponent, so be comfortable running away while also dealing pistol damage. However…

Don’t Disappear Completely

You can’t let your opponent walk freely around the map picking up whatever items they want. Doing damage forces them to go for health instead of weapons and kills, and if you go completely passive they will always outstack you and easily win fights. With the new HB mechanic, 2 minutes of passive play could mean you’re facing an opponent with full 200 200 stack and all the weapons they want. This is extremely difficult to deal with, so you need to keep some pressure on.

Make a Plan

What item can you take that will help you win back control, and how can you take it without your opponent intercepting you? This last part is key – the in control player is going to be able to deny you certain things, but they can’t deny the entire map. It’s up to you to take what you are being given and do work with it. If you can negotiate the GA, go for it. If you can get YA or HB when they’re synced up, take the one that’s free. Work on getting a powerful weapon and dealing damage to your opponent in ways they are not expecting or can’t respond to (a sudden rocket engagement, long range rifles, catching them with MG and shredding them, turning a corner with SG). Try to predict where they need to be, and set up situations where you can deal damage and retreat, or punish them by taking a resource if they don’t show up.

Keep Track of Items

This may go without saying, but try to keep track of when items are coming up even if you are not the one taking them. This will allow you to solidify control after you do manage to get the kill. As mentioned, you can also win back control by simply stealing a major item, if you see that your opponent has put themselves out of position.


Taking a Strong Position

Some positions are easier to attack from than others. As a general rule, it is easier to attack from high ground than it is to attack from below. A good high ground position can also allow you to observe your opponent without being seen, and mount an unexpected attack. There is more nuance to it than that, however. If you are standing by the top YA on nmp8, you have the high ground, but you are highly exposed and limited in mobility – clearly not a strong position.

Know the Angles

By angles, I mean angles of attack – positions that can be used to line up shots on other parts of the map. Metl2, for example, allows you to attack the quad and GA room quite effectively with rifle from the lower entrance on the YA side. These angles are particularly useful when you are out of control and need to deal unreturned damage. Figure out what they are on every map.

Choke Points

A choke point is an area that you can’t rush through without taking huge spam or splash damage, such as an archway or a corridor. Metl2 (to continue referencing a map that no one even plays anymore) is full of choke points. Use choke points to trap your opponent, or keep them from getting to you, and be wary of moving through them yourself.

Intercepting Your Opponent

There are only so many ways to move through the map, and different routes make sense in different situations. For example, if you’re in control, you can expect your opponent to be moving through the corridors of the map, not running around in the open. This is starting to sound like a broken record, but you need to get in their head and get where they’re going before they do.

Have an Escape Route

No matter what you’re doing, it’s a good idea to be able to run away from a fight that’s not going your way. If you have low health but high armor, you can save your control if you manage to run away and fall back on health. If you are trying to maintain a scoreline, the extra time you buy from getting away can be critical. So make sure you are always thinking about how you can escape – a choke point you can run through and defend, or an item you can get to before your opponent can catch up.

Some Specific Examples of Baiting Items

By baiting items, I mean leaving an item up that your opponent needs and trying to give the appearance that you’re not there watching.

The most obvious, low risk item to bait is the GA. If you take the YA, you know that your armor starved opponent will want to take the GA. You don’t need it, so you can easily trap and kill them when they go to take it. Be careful though – if your opponent is experienced they will be expecting this and try to sneak up on you.

A more dangerous strategy is to bait the YA. As I’ve hinted at, if you’re out of control, it’s a great opportunity to deal damage while your opponent is occupied with something other than killing you (at the risk of exposing yourself to death if your trap does not go well). If you’re in control and very stealthy, you can trick your opponent into thinking you’re out of position, and kill them AS they go for the YA, but before they take it.

As mentioned, baiting the quad can be a viable strategy if you have more to gain from killing your opponent as they take it than you have to gain from trying to take it yourself. Perhaps you don’t have enough stack to effectively defend it, or perhaps you are in the lead and would rather keep your stack high than risk going for a quad run.

Baiting the HB is the obvious thing to do if you already have +100, or if you just can’t win a fair fight for it. Be careful with this though, as if your opponent makes it on to the HB relatively cleanly they’ve just gained an extra 100hp in the fight.

No item is too insignificant to bait. If your opponent has just spawned, they need weapons. If they’re weak, they need health. You can bait them.

Using Sound

It’s important to be aware of sound cues, both to figure out where your opponent is and to avoid being heard yourself. Sound cues are also useful for figuring out when items are taken – for example, you can stand out of sight of your opponent but still hear the YA being taken if you’re close enough.

Things that make sound: Jumping, landing from height, picking up an item, bouncing off a jump pad, firing a weapon and taking damage.

This section is small but sound management and reading is one of the most important skills in this guide. Note that different actions have different sound radii – item pickup sounds are more limited in range than firing weapons, for example.


Have Good Fundamentals

Practice your weapon jumps, and practice preserving the tiny amount of momentum you get from jumping in a straight line. Failing a jump can and often will be the deciding factor in a match. Master Kal’s weapon training map, at http://quadropolis.us/node/1198, and watch lots of Redon and Jomra (Master) games.

Know How to Traverse the Map

Make sure you know the fastest way to get where you’re going, and make sure you can execute it every time. Maps like nmp8 (well, mostly just nmp8) take a lot of practice just to get to a level of basic mobility. Take ten minutes and just practice running around the empty map. Every map has SOME crucial route that takes specific practice, however, which leads to…

Movement Tricks

Every map has its own important movement tricks. Figure out what these are and get them down. Metl3 has a nifty rifle jump from corridor to HB. Metl2 you want to be able to rocket or nade jump to quad from the upper doorway, not just the teledest (and also be able to double rifle jump to the quad if you have no explosives). Corruption you need to know how to get up the jump pad to YA smoothly, and also be able to jump from the YA bridge to the upper floor. This list could go on for ages, and these examples are once again from less played maps that reflect the creator of this guide being stuck in 2012. Every map has something, if not multiple somethings.

Map knowledge

This is already implied by everything I’ve written above, but bears reiterating: you need to know every competitively played map back to front.

  • Where exactly are all the weapons, armors and health?
  • Which of these items are more or less important for this map?
  • What angles can each position be attacked from?
  • Which positions are strong or weak?
  • What are the movement tricks on this map?
  • How long does it take to get from powerup to powerup?

By the time you’ve mastered a map, you should be able to play 99% of the items on it from memory. Like I said, a lot of this was already touched on, so I won’t go into any more detail here.

Getting Better

Nothing in this guide will help you if you don’t also play! Practice against players of all different skills – playing people worse than you will let you practice your control and give you confidence, while playing people better than you will give you a sense of perspective and push you to play your best (don’t play exclusively against people who own you, however – it is discouraging and stunts your growth). The best thing to do is find yourself a practice partner of the same skill as you to improve with. You will be able to practice all aspects of the game equally and you will push each other to improve.

I also HIGHLY recommend watching demos (or stream vods!) of top players – you will see them doing all the things in this guide and more. Then you can steal their strats.


Well, that’s the general idea. Feel free to message swatllama or I GUESS me in discord if you have any questions. Happy fragging!