Tag bang launch method

Posted July 31st 2012

While working on the 2010 revision of my Elite fireworks article, it struck me that frozen personnel could be exploited for launching things. If you tag a frozen victim with lots of plasmas (fetched from potentially anywhere in the level, even other loading zones), then kill him and cross a release plane to release him from his freeze, the grenades will start going off in rapid succession after a delay of anything up to about 2.4 seconds, depending on how many you used - up to a limit of 61 it seems. With suitable arrangement the resulting combined blast - or 'tag bang' as I've been calling it - could send something flying, aside from the obliging 'grenade holder'. So that's the basic idea. Frozen personnel provide a powerful means for launching things.

I advertised this idea in an HIH forum thread and hoped it might lead to some new launching feats in single-player; perhaps some feats previously only done in co-op due to the relative difficulty of forming large grenade collections in single-player. Community reaction wasn't as enthusiastic as I'd hoped however, so it's only now that I've finally got around to finishing off an expanded write-up on the idea (though I may well add more later when I spend some time actually doing some launching). In the meanwhile PerseusSpartacus has made a forum post entitled Marine Blasting on The Silent Cartographer which, as I commented, is essentially an example of a tag bang launch.

Note: Assuming things work also in Halo Anniversary, the thing to do would be to have the Bandanna skull on, so you won't even need to go around collecting plasmas to tag your holder with. You'd have an infinite supply with you, making things far more convenient.

Checkpoint drawback

The method does have a serious drawback. Unfortunately, I don't think you'll be able to get a checkpoint just before launch. Once there's at least one plasma on your grenade holder, I don't think the game will give you a checkpoint anywhere, even in a different loading zone. The existence of a fizzing plasma grenade seems to delay any checkpoint indefinitely. This is obviously discouraging for launches expected to require many attempts to succeed, especially if needing a lot of grenade fetching each time.

The bang delay

Before I get into some practical details of technique, let me explain about the bang delay, by which I mean the delay between the release/unfreezing of the grenade holder and the explosion of the first grenade.

Having tagged the grenade holder with a first plasma, the current bang delay would be the usual delay for a plasma to go off, namely about 2.4 seconds on PAL Xbox or about 2 seconds on NTSC/PC. However, each additional plasma will reduce the bang delay a little, and likewise so would each needle if you care to use any (there could be some point to that, as I'll explain later). It turns out that if you were to follow that first plasma with 60 more, that would take the first grenade to the very brink of going off. Adding a further plasma would cause the first plasma to explode without further ado - which is why there's a limit of 61 plasmas for this launch method. Taken to the brink, the bang delay will be almost zero and the bang would commence almost the instant the grenade holder is released.

Getting the bang underneath

Typically you'd want the grenades to start going off on the ground so they're under your launch object or objects. The first thing I'd recommend is that you kill the grenade holder non-explosively. Melee is the obvious way. By checking things out in advance (perhaps with the aid of a handy delayed checkpoint, prior to tagging him), it's possible to know exactly where he'll fall, and thus know where the grenades will start going off if you give him enough time to settle (i.e. fall and become motionless). You can position your launch object accordingly. He doesn't have to settle though; just as long as the grenades are low enough when they start going off. If you don't give him time to settle though (you might not be able to, if using a lot of grenades), it could be a bit more difficult to control the launch because you might not be so sure where the grenades will start going off.

If the bang delay is going to be close to zero, you'll probably need to've tagged him on his feet and he'll need to be on the ground, else the bang will start off too high. If the bang delay is going to be long enough for him to settle however, it would be ok to instead tag him on the face if you find that easier. Between those extremes, it's for you to decide where best to tag him on his body. However, when using the chest and he falls on it, I find that sometimes not all plasmas go off. I'm not sure why. I've not noticed any such problem when tagging on the face or feet however, so those are my preferred locations.

If you care to follow your sequence of plasmas with sufficiently many needles, you could make the bang delay near zero, which might be a help in controlling where the bang starts. However, I don't have enough practical experience to be able say more on that yet; I just mention it as a possibility. If you want to avoid any needle bangs going off on the grenade holder while still frozen, don't exceed 28 needles.

Killing the grenade holder more spectacularly

I recommended killing the grenade holder with melee, but for the sake of added amusmement you could instead kill him in a more spectacular way, e.g. by rocketing him or smacking into him with a Warthog (the choice of PerseusSpartacus in the post mentioned earlier) or Banshee. As long as you can get a checkpoint afterwards without releasing him, you can learn where he's going to go and you'll be able to place your launch object (or objects) accordingly, having already brought it close to hand - though there's also the issue of whether the grenade holder will have enough time to move into position before the tag bang starts.

In regard to getting that post-kill checkpoint, there are various possibilities. The most ubiquitous method is to simply be delaying a checkpoint prior to the killing, then let yourself get it afterwards. Another method is to go somewhere to trigger a checkpoint after the killing, as long as that can be done without releasing the grenade holder. There's also a method specific to using a chamber Hunter in The Silent Cartographer. If your Hunter is the final survivor from the Hunter chamber in the main facility, his death triggers a checkpoint (something mentioned in my old Hunter fireworks article). That method was exploited by PerseusSpartacus in his Marine blasting fun.

Multiple tag bangs

If you've got multiple frozen personnel, you could potentially have multiple tag bangs going off together, for added power and suddenness. For example, two grenade holders with ten grenades apiece would provide a shorter bang duration than a single grenade holder with twenty grenades, and that could make a difference to the launch dynamic. I haven't experimented with using multiple tag bangs yet though, so I'm not in a position to say much more. Just thought I'd mention the possibility.