Suggestions for New SF Enlightened Players
Welcome to Ingress, and to the San Francisco Enlightened! It’s a fun and collaborative game, can be played many different ways, and it’s a great way to get some exercise and meet great new people. This is a basic list of suggestions that may help you acclimate given the unusual in-game environment of San Francisco and the Bay area.
Need to know where to go next? Join the SF ENL community -- get in touch with your teammates, meet the folks who play in your areas, and coordinate your play to gain strategic advantage, level up more quickly, and have more fun!
We’re unstructured - there is no leadership. There are some folks in logistical roles where we need them, but there is no hierarchy, no one calling the shots - there are no leaders or we’re all leaders, it depends entirely on how you play. That makes things a lot more fluid and enjoyable, but it also means we rely on everyone’s ability to behave properly and with good sportsmanship. If we had rules, based on very rough consensus, they’d be these:
And with that said, on to the tips:
SF is one of the densest areas in the game - there are thousands of portals, many densely-packed clusters, and hundreds of active players at any given time. While there are areas of stronger blue or green control, it’s highly fluid, and most any area has players from both factions passing through it regularly. Don’t settle on a single strategy until you’ve had time to learn the dynamics of your area, and don’t get attached to holding or defending particular spots early on.
If you’re a low-level player, below about L7 or so, anything you can build can be destroyed really quickly by higher-level players just idly passing through. Try not to get upset about it - even the high-level players’ builds get destroyed a lot here -- the game balance favors offense. If they blow your stuff up, you get a chance to get the AP for building it again.
Until you reach about L5 or L6, don’t worry too much about attacking anything unless you find a really easy target. Found a low-level portal with minimal shields? Sure, go ahead. But you won’t find all that many around, since there are so many high-level players here. Take your easy shots if you find them (look for yellow and orange resonators hanging off portals), but focus on capturing, deploying, fielding and linking for the first while.
Get a portal within range (the yellow circle on the scanner screen), tap it, and press the “Hack” button. Hacking gives you in-game items - XM Bursters, the main offensive weapon of the game, Resonators, which you attach to portals, Portal Keys, which let you link portals together, and some other stuff that won’t really be important for a while.
In the beginning, hack everything you can - regardless of what color the portal is. Blue ones will zap you, causing some XM loss, and a really strong blue potal may zap you so much your scanner turns red - don’t worry, just walk around a little to collect some more XM (the white dots all over the map). You’ll earn a little XM when hacking a blue or gray portal, and all hacks can give you portal keys for linking and fielding, which is the easiest way to earn AP and level up as a newcomer to the SF environment.
Any time you see a gray portal, capture it by getting it just inside your range (the yellow circle on the scanner screen), tapping it, hitting Deploy, and filling up its resonator slots (use whatever you have available; don’t worry about using the best resonators you have). Likewise, if you find an incompletely-deployed portal, get it just inside your range and fill it up. Higher-level players often leave just a single resonator deployed on a portal so that it takes some effort for the opposing team to destroy but leaves 7 empty slots for lower-level players to fill up - each deployment earns you AP, and placing the 8th and final resonator earns extra. Once the resonator slots are full you can link to or from the portal if you have the keys.
Why that emphasis on having portals just barely in-range when you deploy? Well, each resonator will attach itself to a portal at the same distance as you were from the portal when you deployed it. If you deploy at or near the maximum range, the resonators will end up widely spaced, which makes them harder to destroy - XM Bursters’ effectiveness drops off exponentially with distance. When the resonators are deployed at close range (sometimes called a “campfire” because it vaguely resembles one up close), they bunch up a single spot and our opponents can blow them all off quickly and with only one or two shots.
When you have a key to a portal, you can make a link to it from another portal. To create a new link, four things must be true:
Linking two portals will get you a nice little bit of AP, and linking three together in a triangle (or “field”) earns a bunch more. Linking and fielding are the easiest ways to earn AP and level up early on, so plan to focus on it. They also help you learn the in-game landscape in your neighborhoods or commute routes.
Try to focus on making lots of short links and small fields. Generally you shouldn’t be making a link longer than a city block or so, or that cuts through another group of portals. If in doubt, don’t link further away than the portal’s nearest neighbor. Because links can’t cross one another, and because links work like shields to protect the portals on either end, more links in a given area makes for a stronger structure. Long (or “YOLO”) links greatly reduce the number of total links you or other players can make in an area, making it easy for blue players to destroy and weakening the structure your teammates spent their time and equipment building.
There are a few offensive uses for long links (splitting up blue areas, blocking opposing fields) but they’re relatively advanced tactics -- wait until you’ve had a chance to meet your fellow players and discuss strategy before trying it.
Please don’t play Ingress while driving -- it can get you or someone else killed. Playing as a passenger is fine, but in general driving to play is discouraged. Rough consensus among the SF Enlightened players is that “cargressing” in general is frustrating, ecologically irresponsible and shows poor sportsmanship. In SF’s dense environment, it’s hard to play both well and legally from a car, even if you’re not the one driving, and you’re likely to get cited if pulled over while playing. SFPD are aware of Ingress and generally approve of a game that gets people out in public spaces; we don’t want to give them reason to think otherwise. It’s more sustainable when you play as part of your normal routine in your work/home areas rather than driving to other parts of the city to play.
Most Ingress players in San Francisco play on foot - you get the best control over your attack positions, resonator placements, etc, and you get lots of exercise. Playing by bicycle works well too if you’re comfortable riding in the city - a bike mount for your phone can make for a fun way to play.
Playing from Muni is an excellent strategy for capturing gray portals, hacking and recharging, though the LRV tunnels can get frustrating. Playing by BART usually doesn’t work since it’s almost all underground north of Balboa Park station.
The game won’t let you play if you’re moving too fast (above about 25mph), and will put you in a “penalty box” for ten minutes or so if you were playing in one spot, abruptly jump to another spot and immediately do something else in the game - this is mostly an issue underground, e.g. on BART. Very few Muni lines move fast enough to hit the speed limit.
We have an active community of players here in SF and the Bay Area, and we’re happy to help new players learn their way around. The game becomes increasing strategic as you get to higher levels, rewarding more cooperation and coordination between players. You can use the faction tab under “COMM” in the game to talk to players near you, but don’t be offended if no one responds - not everyone reads the comm, it scrolls past pretty quickly, and it’s easily infiltrated by our opponents making fake accounts, so we don’t use it for serious discussion.
We do most of our coordination through a combination of Google+ and Google Hangouts for discussion and chat, with some other tools used in specific areas or contexts. There’s a brief verification process we go through to catch Resistance infiltrators, usually requiring an email and a comm check - fill out the form here to get started, and the mods will take care of you.
This can be a really fun game - but it can also be a a really frustrating one. While there’s no Player-vs-Player combat in the game, it can feel like you’re being personally attacked when someone destroys your portals or fields. Try not to get your ego invested in it. Play when it’s fun and take breaks when you need them. Don’t let the game turn into a job, or an obsession. It’s a fun pastime, a good way to get exercise and fresh air, and to see the city you live in from new angles. Enjoy, and we’ll see you on our scanners.