Phoenix Gate is a “capture the flag” scenario. The goal is to “capture” a “flag”; as you spring down from the starting location you may see an unguarded flag right in front of you, and think “well that doesn’t present much of a challenge in the capturing department”, but there’s a twist. There are *two* flags, and you have to capture the *other* one. Off you go!
You wanted more, huh? Oh, all right. If you’re a highly trained elite MMOG-squad with voice comms and codenames and you shout stuff like “ECHO TWO TO RED SECTOR”, I’ve got nothing for you I’m afraid. I’m assuming you’re solo or in a casual group, got bored of Mourkain Temple and figured your side have a marginally better chance of working out what “capture the flag” means as opposed to “run up the big hill in the middle pick up the thing at the top and take it to the three shield-y things around the map”. Advice on group make up and team tactics is therefore pointless, though you’re very welcome to try and co-ordinate your side. Perhaps offer a suggestion in scenario chat like “follow me let’s get their flag”, though bear in mind people will pay about as much attention to you as to a politician saying “honestly, the banks are fine, please don’t take all your money out of savings accounts and shove it in an old sock”.
So, on your own there are two useful things you can do in Phoenix Gate: stand by your flag, or run towards the enemy flag. See how this list does not include “wander around the middle of the map attacking the enemy”? Is there a loading screen tip that says “In Phoenix Gate, why not wander around the middle of the map attacking the enemy?” Did everyone else on the server get a memo about putting cover sheets on TPS reports, oh, and by the way, wander around the middle of the map attacking the enemy? If you want a big old ruck, head in to Mourkain Temple (and follow this strategy guide), if you’re in Phoenix Gate, head for one flag or the other. You’ll get more renown, the respect of your peers, and chocolate biscuits. Except for the biscuits. And sometimes the other two.
Standing by your flag, then, or to use the technical jargon: “defending”. A striking feature of Phoenix Gate is the socking great wall in front of your flag, with a fairly narrow gap. In front of this wall are siege weapons. Clearly what you should do is bombard the enemy from afar with these siege weapons, then fall back behind the wall in good order as they approach, blockading the gap with your tanks and visiting much carnage upon the enemy as they struggle to get past you to seize your flag, right? Wrong, I’m afraid. Press “M” and have a quick look at the map. If you’re a military history buff, think of the wall as the Maginot Line, with an undefended Ardennes either side of it. If you’re not a military history buff, think of the wall as a really impressive and formidable wall, with a big gap either side of it. My first time in Phoenix Gate, I was down by the wall doing my best Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian, action, wizard “You shall not pass!” impression when a message popped up that an enemy player had taken our flag. Slightly baffled, I turned around and saw said player making a run for it, gave chase, but was too late to do anything except watch them vanish around the side of the wall. This taught me a valuable lesson: there are gaps either side of the wall. Can you see a theme at all? When defending, you really need to stay back by your flag, in case the dastardly and underhanded enemy don’t just run straight down the middle of the map. Also watch out if, while dutifully standing near your flag, a lone opponent tries to lure you and any fellow defenders away, there might well be a Witch Hunter/Witch Elf cunningly concealed, waiting to nab the flag and leg it as soon as your back is turned.
If you don’t feel like standing near your flag, run towards the enemy flag (or “attack”, to slip back into argot). Unless the enemy are fiendishly cunning, or have read this guide, chances are they’re wandering around the middle of the map attacking people, or possibly defending the gap in the wall in front of their flag, so don’t dash up the middle and hope for the best, take a little detour around the edges of the wall. Personally I prefer working around the right hand side (as you run towards it); the enemy spawn on the left hand side, so there’s less chance you’ll bump into someone. If you’re very lucky, there won’t be an enemy player anywhere near, in which case grab the flag and leg it. If you’re quite lucky, there’ll be a guard or two intently watching the gap in the wall; grab the flag and leg it a bit quicker as they’ll probably notice the really big message telling them you stole the flag and give chase. If you’re slightly unlucky, there’ll be a solitary guard at the flag itself; kill ’em if you can, otherwise wait for reinforcements, or throw yourself to a futile but heroic death. If you’re really unlucky and they’re guarding the flag in force, you’re in trouble. A diversion might pull people away long enough for a sneaky Witch Hunter/Elf to nab the flag itself, or if you’re an Elf try taking your clothes off (if a Dark Elf, put a load of clothes on), and saunter up to the flag saying “hi guys, I’m on your side definitely don’t worry about that coloured name thing over my head, and the boss says I should take this flag somewhere safe, OK?” Though as you can’t speak directly to the other side, you’ll have to try and convey it through the medium of interpretive emoting. Good luck with that. Should you happen to grab the flag, head back the way you came, and hope you make it back to your own flag without being nobbled from behind (painful, that). If by some miracle the other side haven’t captured your flag, interact with the interact-able thing slightly behind the flag to get the capture (not your own flag, as in many other games; thanks to whoever it was that pointed that out the first time I was carrying the enemy flag and desperately trying to interact with our own).
There’s the basics, then. Stand by your flag, or run towards the enemy flag. Now on to the advanced stage: what about if you, or one of your heroic band, have picked up the enemy flag *and* they’ve picked up yours? Well, what you should do is… stand by your flag carrier, or run towards the enemy flag carrier. See the difference there? If you have their flag, I recommend standing somewhere around your own base, close to potentially respawning reinforcements and your flag area so you can swiftly get the capture once your flag is returned. I don’t recommend pelting off up the map in a desperate bid to get killed and hand the flag back to the enemy as soon as possible in the charge of the ADHD brigade. If one of your team has the flag, either stand near them and guard/heal them for all you’re worth (check the map if you’re not sure; chances are, the dot moving as rapidly as possible away from their base and towards your base is the flag carrier), or head off to find the enemy flag carrier and kill ’em, ideally in an epic and magnificent fashion.
So please, please don’t just run around the middle of the map attacking people. That’s what Mourkain Temple is for, or world RvR. Or chucking out time outside nightclubs.