LIFE ON TITAN
When playing the regular, offline game, you generally have the opportunity to fall in behind an unsuspecting pilot. If you get this chance, use it. Online and when dealing with Enforcers or Pirates, you will attack head-to-head or be attatcked from behind. Always turn to face your opponent in these situations if you are not trying to outrun them.
Most of the approaches to attack in the online game will be head-to-head. This is due to the fact that your target will quickly target you and begin a counter-strike. This is the best part of online HardWar. It can be nearly impossible to get behind your target.
Head on approaches are prevalent when fighting the AI pilots in the offline game, too. When a pirate or enforcer "gets the drop" on you, you'll have to turn to engage them and be face-to-face with them.
The biggest key to any head-on approach is to avoid it. Never fly straight toward your enemy's nose and weapons. Always steer a little to the side, above, or below your foe. A straight on approach is nearly always suicidal.
Below are some of the better strategies for handling a head-to-head attack.
Over The Top
Over The Top is a common and very natural tactic. You approach your target with your nose pointing just above the "head-on" position, firing missiles and a few turret blasts. Before he can do any real damage, you pull up just enough to clear your enemy. Now make a quick turn, nose down, and hopefully you'll be behind your opponent and able to continue attack. This also works when you go beneath your opponent. Start your turn immediately after passing your prey. Neo-Tigers and Swallows: Get a little more distance before making your turn. You can close quickly.
The turn after passing your opponent is the critical point of this tactic. If he turns faster, you're back to a head-to-head face-off with little gain. You can offset this and suprise your target by hitting full reverse thrust just after passing him and catching him off guard in his turn. Remember that you should pass him and keep going (with Afterburner) if you have substantial damage. You'll get a head start as he's making his turn to follow you. This makes the Over The Top tactic a good defensive maneuver as well.
The Reverse Turn
This technique is particularly good if you are relying on cannonry to defeat your opponent. You're in a head-to-head approach and fire off your initial missiles and cannons. Get close to your target. Now hit full reverse and make a left or right turn as needed to keep your target in your sights. This pulls you quickly out of your opponent's line of fire. Stay in reverse and continue to fire while trying to get behind your opponent. Then it's full ahead.
More than likely, the sudden reverse thrust will cause him to pass right in front of you. Keeping him in your sights will cause you to turn at an optimal rate. Blast him as he tries to turn toward you. Go full throttle if he gains distance. If he runs, you're in a good position to follow and attack safely from behind. If he turns, you'll deal him a lot of damage before you're back to the head-to-head position. Another pass will generally kill him.
Sliding takes more guts and practice than the above two tactics. You begin your head-to-head approach, get fairly close, slow way down (or even reverse) and begin to slide to the left or right while turning to keep your target in your sights. The sliding can prevent him from homing in on you and force him to start flying in circles to keep you in his sights. Because you're flying in a line (using directional thrust) and your opponent is turning, you will be able to fall in behind him at some point.
This tactic is effective with up and down directional thrust, but the dynamics are different. Eventually you'll hit the ground or stall and may not get the chance to get behind your opponent. Basically the attack confuses your opponent about where you are going and this hinders his ability to target you.
It's difficult to describe the above tactic, but if you find an opponent getting in about five hits to your one, he's probably using it.
GroundBase and Holograms
The practiced use of GroundBase missiles can make them devastating in a head-to-head attack. The key is in firing the GroundBase before you are too close to your target. Follow up immediately with a second type of missile or cannon. Remember to try to orient yourself behind your opponent in case he gets back in the air and runs. If you are too close when you fire your GroundBase, you'll probably lose your target and take too long to lose altitude. In this case, just dive with nose down and directional thrust while using Laser Turret. GroundBase your enemy again once your re-target him. That's always annoying.
Holograms are also effective for the head-to-head attack. They'll divert your attacker away from you and buy you time to attack him and get into better position. I fire them about a second before I fire a missile. If you ever have to decide between giving a few good hits to your opponent or gaining better position, always go for the hits. Position changes constantly, hits last. No dogfight is won by flying alone. Get in those hits any way you can.
The Spiral begins right after the initial attacks and both pilots are trying to resight each other. Each is turning toward his enemy and this causes both to run around in an ever-tightening circle or spiral. Don't sucker for this. Begin evasion at once and try to target your enemy. Never let your enemy out of your sights after the initial attack and turn. Failing this, gain distance and start another head-to-head attack. Don't ever sucker by getting into a spiral with your enemy.
FLY IN A SERIES OF RANDOM TANGENTS. DO NOT SPIRAL WITH YOUR ENEMY.
Don't hesitate to gain distance and make another head-to-head pass. If you take the initiative and act quickly, you can broadside or even get behind your opponent. If you lose sight of your opponent and can't turn toward him quickly -- gain distance. Full-throttle or even Afterburner. Break, run, return prepared. Beat him to the punch. Don't sucker for spirals. If you are having trouble getting behind your enemy, face off again and keep jousting.
Begin evasive tactics anytime your opponent is behind you. The simplest and most effective evasion is to simply change altitude by nosing up or down. You can then keep flying your basic pattern and when your enemy pulls around, you will be above or below him. The downside is that as easy as this technique is to use, it's just as easy for your enemy to resight you.
A more advanced version of the above is to use directional thrust (sliding). You can slide left, right, up, or down using your POV or a jink/strafe button held down while using your main flight control buttons. The POV/joystick method has the advantage of allowing your to slide and turn at the same time. Sorry keyboard users.
Master throttle control. You'll constantly be using the Quick-Turn technique (slamming in reverse to whip your Moth around). Just staying in reverse a while can often retarget a lost enemy. It will certainly confuse him for a second. Coming to a dead stop and using up or down directional thrust will also confuse an enemy. Throttle control is at least as important as turning and sliding and often more so. Practice Quick-Turns with the Afterburner. Be ready to make a short retreat and return at any time. Be prepared to chase your enemy if he retreats.
Another use of sliding is to enhance climbs and descents. Just pull your nose up or down and use the corresponding POV position to add slide to your climb or descent. Side sliding comes in handy when your foe is directly behind you and blasting away. Sliding, combined with turns and changes in speed can evade both cannons and missiles. It takes some practice. As a rule, always keep evasion in mind. Not getting hit is nearly as important as landing hits on your enemy.
Top pilots can make a super-quick turn by combining three techniques. First fire the Afterburner, next begin a quick-turn with careful throttle control. You don't necessarily want to gain distance from your enemy. Now slide in the direction of your target. You'll have him sighted in no time. Either that, or you'll be totally lost.
Regaining Your Bearings
From time to time you completely lose your target. Don't panic. He's probably lost you, too. Gain distance. Use the Afterburner. This prevents him from targeting you and gives you room for a turn. Now just resight your enemy and begin with another head-to-head attack. Use that radar and the arrow on your HUD.
Eventually one Moth will be more damaged than the other. If you are the most damaged Moth you need to escape. Otherwise, you need to finish off your opponent before he has time to get repairs and to reload missiles. This is The Chase.