r–a–i–l– [–h p w–]–g–u–i–d–e
tougher for HPW’s ?
basic aiming skills
simplify the shot
laterally strafing targets
Rocket Arena 2
[ If you are 100% convinced that your config is perfect, skip ahead ]
Back-up your configs now !!
In order to hit something, it helps a great deal if you can actually
see it. The more quickly you can ‘sight’ a potential target, the more
set up time you have. So firstly, some comments about how you can make
life easy for yourself with simple config settings. Many people use
FOV at 120. This gives you good peripheral vision, but severely
reduces the size of objects in the centre of your screen. Many players
do very well with this setting and feel no need to make a change. But
effective railing becomes a lot easier if you use a compromise FOV
setting, something like 100, which gives you more peripheral vision
than the default of 90, but still allows objects in the centre of your
screen to remain as large as possible. There are other tricks with FOV
Then if you have a 3DFX card, try using settings that are higher than
normal. I personally use:-
If the value is more than 1 then the texture will be brighter.
This variable mostly used to brighten up the lighting in the game
without changing any gamma info.
Description: The brightness of the OpenGL display.
Experiment with this one. Can make things look VERY different.
Description: The video gamma setting.
It helps to separate player models from the background shadows and textures.
Your monitor brightness settings will be different, so experiment
(back up your configs first). Remember that these settings are
dependent on your Voodoo gamma sliders.
Mine may be different to yours, so if it looks plain stupid, don’t use
[ I have a single Creative Labs Voodoo2 (12 Meg) with the gamma
sliders linked and set at 2.4 ]
Another trick is using:
It smoothes out the wall textures, and you may find it more easy to
locate a target quickly,
and track them more accurately when the unnecessary background ‘noise’
of high texture detail is absent.
The playerskin texture command:
is a commonly used way of trying to speed up the frame rate, but it
blurs all the player colours into a mash, and the highly visible parts
will merge into the less visible parts, making it much less easy to
‘0’ is the default setting, so you only need to alter it if you edited
the default setting to ‘2’ before. As I say, many people will have
done this to speed up FPS in crowded situations.
If your system cannot handle this setting in FFA’s, then try using it
in duels where there is never going to be more than one other player.
I used to use ‘2’, but recently changed it back to ‘0’ and was quite
The other great config trick is to get rid of the gun model and shoot
from the centre of the screen. Gives you more screen area clear, and
more FPS. Done with this command.
Description: Toggle the handedness of the player.
0 – Gun on the right and shots from the right.
1 – Gun on the left and shots from the left.
2 – No gun and shots from the center.
All this is to increase your ‘reading’ of the game. If you spot the
other guy fast , it not only gives you more time to ‘set him up’ for
the shot, but it may also enable you to actually avoid being killed as
well. Much of this is subjective, YOU may not find it any easier to
spot targets. I find it works well. Experiment. If you have backed up
your configs and don’t like it, just put ’em back.
tougher for hpw’s?
As an HPW, you have 2 functions to consider (that LPB’s don’t have to)
with each shot you make. Firstly, because of the latency of your
connection, you need to aim ahead of the targets current location in
order to actually hit it. In order to be able to aim infront of it,
you need to assess where it is actually headed. So you basically have
to extrapolate the targets position from what you can currently see.
Even though the Railgun is a hitscan weapon (instant hit) you still
have to infront of the target. Those are the two additional functions,
predict, then lead.
There is another thing that makes HPW railing more difficult (as if it
needs to be MORE difficult). As an HPW, you need to configure your
Quake2 settings to get the most from your connection. LPB’s configure
to get the most from their computers and graphics cards, as their
binary connections can usually handle very high levels of cl_maxfps
and Rate. In order to get a smooth game, most HPW’s need to cap frame
rate at around 30 – 40 and Rate at around 4000 for a 56k modem.
The CL_maxfps cap is very significant.
The more frames you can get, the easier it becomes to aim.
Try railing some Erasers with a CL_maxfps of 15.
At CL_maxfps 100, you can rail them in midair without too many problems.
Although, with an effective ping of 20, rail SHOULD be easier. Some
people can get away with higher FPS caps than others. Again,
experiment. There is nothing you can really do about this. Get ISDN
maybe. That is the ultimate cop out though, HPW railing is a
CHALLENGE. Don’t buy your skills, earn them.
The more frames, the more smooth gameplay becomes, the easier it is to
track the target.
In software mode, the railgun isn’t very easy to use.
With a 3DFX voodoo1 graphics card, rail gets a LOT easier.
With a 3DFX Voodoo2, it gets a LOT more easy than with a Voodoo1.
With 2 Voodoo2 cards in SLI mode, railing becomes…… ummm….. Yep.
The fastest way to get good is literally to throw money at your
computer. But don’t despair if you run in Software mode, many of the
things here will still help you a lot.
basic aiming skills
Effective ‘HPW railing’ means basically mastering two things.
1 – it’s being able to hit a ‘point’ accurately and quickly EVERY time.
2 – it’s being able to assess the amount of lead you will need due to
the lag of your connection.
Good practice for number 1, is to go into the megahealth room on Q2DM1
(off-line obviously) and stand between the MH box and the Yellow
armour box. Then run toward one of the boxes, jump in midair and spin
around and while still in the air, rail either the YA or the MH
depending on where you started from. This will help your ‘snap aim’.
And run around the level with ‘give all’ and rail things.
Like armour, health boxes etc. Try to randomly choose a target, then
spin and instantly hit it. Jump off ledges and hit targets while you
are in midair, select targets and fire while strafe-jumping or while
doing the MH or Armour box jumps. Practice until you can hit pretty
much all of the time.
Even better than this is to download the Gladiator Bot and the map
2box4 from the 2box4 page on this site. 2box4 is a conversion of the
Rocket Arena map ‘Railgun 101’, and consists of a small, open map that
contains nothing but 4 railguns, 4 respawn points and a single armour
shard. Use force respawn and weapon stay, then choose a bot from the
menu and rawk. See how fast you can hit 100 frags. Very good for
all-round rail skills.
Another good map for this bot ‘rail only 1on1′ is a conversion of
Rocket Arena map ‘Zoraks Revenge’, which you can get here There is
more cover, and a broken bridge in the central area, so it’s good
practice for more 3 dimensional railing, as well as being a lot of
You can blame me for this conversion, I did it the other day for a laugh.
As for point 2, the only real practice is to play online really.
Off-line bots don’t give an accurate simulation of net lag.
Simplify the shot
To ‘snap’ your crosshair onto a target, as an HPW, is not easy, mainly
because you have to build some lead into the shot. You may be able to
hit an ammo box or a the Yellow Armour 99 times out of 100 on your own
server, but add the lag, and it’s a different story. There are times
when you just have to spin and relex shoot, but if the target is
visible, hasn’t seen you, and you have the time and space to stand
still for a moment, then you can make life easy. It’s a simple way of
reducing the railshot into a matter of timing, not aiming.
A target hasn’t seen you, and is running in a straight line. (You are
viewing them side on).
You have the easiest of all possible rail shots, apart from someone
running directly at or away from you. In this instance, you don’t need
to ‘snap’ to the target, because their motion is constant, which means
that your railshot is simple. All you need to do is place your
crosshair at about waist height to the target, at any point between
the target and the targets destination.
As the target approaches your ‘motionless’ crosshair, Fire. You have successfully
reduced the railshot into a simple matter of timing. The correct time to fire will
depend upon your current latency, and distance from the target.
All the targeting is done relatively slowly and precisely, and isn’t
‘snap’ aimed at all.
This technique is sometimes known as ‘Trip-wire’ or ‘Trap-wire’ aiming.
In essence, this process is the basis of most railkills, and is what I
mean by ‘setting up’ the target. The more open the territory, the
further ahead you can place your crosshair and just wait for them.
This is an easy example, and most situations will never be this easy.
But it’s about predicting the targets movements, and if you can
correctly guess where they are headed, then you can ‘set them up’.
Using this method you only get one shot. If you miss then they know
you are there. Then you have to skip to the next section to find the
next best way to kill them. It’s easier if you don’t miss first shot.
This technique of leaving the crosshair ‘placed’ in a position has
many uses. If you don’t believe me, then take it from immortal, who is
flesh2 in this condump of a 2on2 game with his partner, the ‘real’
flesh1, D2 B2
——-(flesh2): heres a tip
——-(flesh2): that i use
——-(flesh2): dont AIM at them
——-(flesh2): let them AIM for you
——-(flesh2): let them walk into it
——-(flesh2): thats my tip
——-(flesh2): thats how i hit so good
——-(flesh2): i just keep it in 1 place
——-(flesh2): and let them strafe into it
——-flesh2 was railed by flesh1
——-flesh1 killed a teammate. What a shame!
This technique works as well for a 200 ping as it does for a 20 ping.
You just have to fire earlier with higher pings to account for the
laterally strafing targets
A target is moving along an open area, and you drop down to the same
level. They see you have rail and immediately start to make life
difficult by strafing from side to side.
One technique for this is to aim the crosshair in the middle of the
range of their strafes, then you can time the shot as they move
backwards and forwards through your crosshair. Alternatively, you can
place the crosshair at the edge of the range of the targets
strafing,and then you might get them as they stop to dodge in the
opposite direction, or you can just time the shot as they run into
your motionless crosshair.
If the target is moving unpredictably, try keeping the crosshair
‘just’ behind them as they run, then when they stop you know they will
reverse direction. You can fire, and you have the ‘lead’ automatically
built into the shot. As they jink back through the crosshair, they
should meet your rail.
As long as you can place the crosshair across the path that your
target will take, then you can ‘time’ the target through the
crosshair, and not have to rely on the more difficult ‘snap shot’.
If you hear an opponent making his way through the map, and you feel
that he may appear at a certain doorway or gap between two objects,
place the crosshair there and wait for him, don’t try to snap it there
the moment he appears. Also, if the target is moving from the left to
the right, place the crosshair on the right side of the gap or
doorway, so you have the maximum amount of setup time to make the
This is assuming that your motion is limited, which makes this form of
shot relatively easy.
With practice, you can keep your crosshair trained on a particular
spot as you jump, strafe and avoid incoming fire. It’s many times more
difficult obviously, but if you can learn the map well enough not to
have to look where you are headed, then ALL your attention can be on
keeping the crosshair placed as you evade. Tough to do, but very
Because of many factors, it’s not always possible to move your
crosshair a small distance with absolute accuracy. Mouse quality,
Mousemat smoothness, wrist position, or even just a high sensitivity
will mean that small controlled movements may not be as smooth as you
would wish. So to make tiny, controlled aiming tweaks, you use your
strafe keys. You place the crosshair rapidly into as close a position
as you can using the mouse, getting the correct vertical position and
(if you can) the correct lateral position, then if you have time, you
can perfect the aim by simply strafing sideways. The crosshair will
move smoothly to the side as you keep the mouse still.After a while it
becomes second nature even though it seems impossible at first.
The most spectacular and satisfying of all Railshots is the midair kill.
Trouble is that as an HPW, you do not possess ‘The power of point and click’.
The easiest way to kill flying targets is to guess their landing
position, and rail them as they hit the floor. Much of the time you
won’t be able to do this, maybe they are jumping into water or into
cover, so you have to use the same technique as described above to
skeet shoot them out of midair. Assess the arc of travel, and place
the crosshair ahead of them on that path, and just ‘time’ them into
the crosshair. Not easy admittedly, but easier than ‘snapping’ the
crosshair onto them. If you can predict the path of flight accurately
enough, it can be quite a common shot.
If they are strafe-jumping, or jumping to try and avoid your shots,
either try to aim for a landing place, or aim at head level and ‘time’
them into the crosshair. This way, if they are jumping then you hit
them in the feet, and if on the ground you hit them in the head.
sensitivity for railing
Very high mouse sensitivity makes accurate railing very difficult.
Unfortunately, low sensitivity makes snap Rocket shots and spinning
SSG shots difficult. Many players overcome this difficulty by finding
a compromise sensitivity setting, not too high, not too low, and then
using it for all weapons. But you don’t have to do this. You can bind
your weapons key with an additional command to alter the sensitivity
every time it’s pressed. This way, you can have a custom sensitivity
settings for Railgun, or on all your weapons. Below is a snippet from
the config of Thresh, showing exactly this technique.
bind c “use railgun;m_pitch .017;sensitivity 5.55”
bind e “use grenade launcher;m_pitch .017;sensitivity 5.55”
bind f “use hyperblaster;m_pitch .017;sensitivity 5.55”
bind g “use grenades;m_pitch .017;sensitivity 5.55”
bind r “use rocket launcher;m_pitch .018;sensitivity 5.55”
Note how he has increased the m_pitch on the Rocketlauncher, rather
than decrease it on the Railgun. It’s the same idea, but done in the
I have touched on this in a previous section, the lower the FOV, the
larger objects in the central screen area appear, the easier they are
to hit. But you can utilise the FOV customisation command to create
another useful effect that may help you rail at distance.
It’s called the Sniper Zoom. Here is an example of a simple Sniper Zoom:-
alias +sniper “fov 70; wait; fov 45; wait; fov 30; sensitivity 4”
alias -sniper “fov 45; wait; fov 70; wait; fov 90; sensitivity 12”
bind u +sniper
This is a momentary version, that zooms when you press the key (in
this case u) and returns you to the default FOV of 90 when the key is
released. It also changes the sensitivity to make the mouse less
sensitive at lower FOV, so you can make small adjustments with mouse
The good point about zooming is that far away targets can be hit more
easily, but it can leave you unaware of your immediate surroundings,
and makes you very vulnerable while you are zooming.
rocket arena 2
One of the best ways of getting good with the rail is to find a quiet
Rocket Arena 2 server, and with a few friends, enter a small to
medium sized arena and play for an hour or two using ONLY
the railgun. (needs to be quiet, otherwise people will come into
the arena and start whining when you ask them to use rail only,
and then try to chaingun you all the time, heh).
It’s the short, concentrated bursts of action in RA2 that help you
spot mistakes in both you aim and avoidance more quickly than would in
Duel or Battle mods. Infact, Rocket Arena is great training for your
all-round melee skills.
Remember that your Quake model has a bounding box, and that you can
halve it at any time by simply hitting your crouch key. Many people
will tell you that this is a cardinal sin, but there is a trick (and I
know it sounds funny – hehe) to crouching successfully.
Bind your crouch key in a easily reachable position.
Lots of people say that crouching is for newbies, so let them stay
standing, while you use very random and very, very speedy little
crouches, to throw off the opponents aim.
The reasoning is simple.
If you have read about hitting jumping targets, you will remember that
railing at head level catches them in the air OR on the ground. Quick
crouches help not only to avoid the head height rails, but they also
help to keep your opponent honest, forcing him to lower his aim.
It does work, but don’t use it too often. Good players will quickly
notice the kind of style you play with, and as you know, prediction is
the key to good aiming.
As I have previously mentioned, bright enemies are easier to see,
easier to aim at.
Dark skins are easy to see, as are light skins, but some mid-tone
skins can be difficult to spot quickly. If you wear a custom skin,
compare it to a default iD skin. If you think your custom skin is
easier to see, then don’t wear it anymore. Choose a less visible one,
or just wear one of the iD skins like Sniper or Flak.
Because of the ease with which you can access the playerskins, many
people use a technique called ‘skin hacking’ to try to gain an
advantage. Skin hacking simply means deleting all the custom skins in
your male and female folders, and replacing all the default iD skins
with easily visible, bright white versions. This way, every player is
at maximum visibility all the time. A skin hack does exist on this
site, so you can make comparisons for yourselves as to whether it does
bring a huge advantage or not.
Even using the default iD skins and the console, it is possible to
achieve a near fullbright effect. By using a low gl_modulate (2 or 3)
as your normal setting, once the map has loaded (and the global light
level for the map has been ‘fixed’) you can type a much higher
gl_modulate (20 or 30) at the console *without* doing the vid_restart
that you would need to see a global change in light level. What this
does is make all the item and player skins VERY visible, and although
not as visible as a fullbright skin, the effect is much the same.
Given the fact that this ‘skin brightening’ function exists within the
console (and must therefore be deemed legal), I have changed my mind
about using fullbright skins, and I don’t view them as the complete
cheat I once did. Things like frame-rate, ping and connection quality
will play a much larger part in success than will a skin alteration,
but at the end of the day, it is your choice whether to use these
customisations or not. They exist. Your call.
There are some things you can do to make yourself less visible
Make sure you have a model type specified in you Gamespy player menu.
If there is no model type specified ( ie. Male/sniper) then instead of
seeing the Vwep for your Marine, your opponent will see you with a
bright white shape where the gun model should be. White = visible, so
this is to be avoided at all costs.
Lots of people use the female model because it IS slightly smaller in
surface area than the male model – so although the bounding box is the
same size, the female model appears slightly harder to hit – or is at
least SLIGHTLY less visible.
Certain skins are very tough to see on certain levels. Try using
Voodoo on dm1, Athena on dm3 or Jungle on dm7, infact, Athena is a
general nightmare to see on any map.
avoid getting railed
If you have read everything up until this point, then you should have
a fairly good idea of what to do to hit someone with the railgun. You
should also know what NOT to do yourself if you think your opponent is
a good Railer.
Try not to jump too much, don’t move in straight lines and don’t avoid
shots by strafing side-to-side in a regular way, mix up your movements
and apply this Guide in reverse.
Some of the more basic things I will mention.
Do not allow the Railgun to control your firing.
Don’t run around with your finger held on fire, trying to aim in time
for the next slug firing.
You have to be able to fire, take you finger OFF, line up your next
shot, then fire.
It’s no good rushing yourself in order to aim in time.
The railgun delivers 100 points of damage every hit. You spawn with
100 points of health.
The first thing you should do against an opponent that has just railed
you, or that you know has the rail, is to get either armour, a stim
pack, or an armour shard. You HAVE to have more than 100 points of
health, OR armour of some description. If you have, then you can
survive more than one railshot, and this might give you the time you
need to finish off your opponent, or to run away and rebuild your
health. Make a habit of constantly scanning your health status. You
may think you have more than 100 health, but the Mega-Health drains
away slowly, and falls can deplete armour and health without you
getting hit, and without you realising that the total is below the
The map can play a huge part in whether the railgun will be a useful
weapon or not. Q2dm1 is a map that makes it VERY easy for a good LPB
to make a modemers life hell. All that open space makes it easy for
them to use their ping advantage to it’s maximum extent.
Try suggesting a different map to play, like q2dm3, where tactics can
win out over pure aiming ability and ping advantage.
Dueling against Uber LPB’s, make sure they don’t get the Rail.
Duels should take place with Weapstay off, so collect the rail as
often as you can and deprive them of instant hit weapons. Easy to say,
not so easy to do, but you can only try.
The Railgun has slow reload. Time your movements to just after your
opponent has fired.
Although SSG will do little damage at distance, it can still jar your
opponents aim off target enough to make them miss. If you have to
cross an open area, make life difficult for them by hitting them with
anything you have, it might just upset them enough.
Use the right weapon in the right situation.
Moving across a map in Quake2, you can sometimes switch weapons 4 or 5
times, depending on the type of terrain you come to. Adapt your weapon
choice by observing where your opponent has been, and which weapons he
is likely to have picked up. If your opponent has the Railgun, then
switch to Chaingun and use the massive firing rate to it’s fullest
advantage. If you have armour, then even if he hits you, (which under
the pressure of Chaingun fire is very difficult) you will most likely
cut him down before he can get in a second shot… and don’t try to
use rail in close, use SSG or HB.
Try to prevent your opponent from dictating the pace of the game.
If he is controlling an area and obviously wants you to try and get
whatever resource he is sitting on, then don’t play his game. Stay
hidden and totally silent for 20 minutes if you must, and force him to
commit to a course of action. Even if you are well behind, you don’t
need to get back all the frags in one go. The greatest weapon of
all… is simply patience.
Remember to use different parts of the Guide together, string together
different techniques as the situation changes. Don’t get tunnel
And… none of this is of any use unless you practice.
There are many reasons why some people are better than others.
Some players have P2 450 + V2 SLI rigs.
Some have a 20 or 30 ping.
Some have more time available to practice than you.
…and some are simply better than you.
Use every opportunity to learn more about the game.
The most frustrating experience in Quake2 is to be railed and railed
and railed. Sometimes, you are made to feel like a newbie again. In
situations like this, all you can do is try to learn as much as you
can. Just realise you were outplayed. As horrible as it might be at
the time, you only really learn when you are beaten. It forces you to
recognise your weaknesses. Losing knocks you out of the complacent and
lazy habits that can set in when you win too much. Back to Earth with
You will never realise your true Quake potential without playing
people that can push you beyond your limits. Playing people better
than you forces you into develop more successful tactics, and puts you
in situations that you would never otherwise encounter.
If you can’t find any HPW’s that can beat you, then look for good
LPB’s and play them.
And don’t be a one-map-wonder. There is nothing more amusing than
seeing somebody play like a God on one map, and like a ‘2 week newbie’
on every other map in existence.
Get some diversity into your repertoire, don’t end up as a shallow
excuse for a duelist.
………. if you are thinking,
“Who is this guy? I’ve never seen him, or heard of him? Why should I
listen to this crap!!!”
It’s a guide, not a rule book. Take it or leave it.
It’s late in the day for a Rail guide. Quake2 begins its long, slow burnout.
Quake3 is around the corner. But don’t forget…
Quake3 has a railgun.
—————————-(a brief flash of life on E1M2)
with contributions from:-
—————————-(33.6k modem, huh?)