For any dedicated Call of Duty gamer, one’s loadout can be a fairly personal topic. As we progress, we grow attached to our choice in grenades and guns. Some of us will create multiple classes, each tailor made for specific situations and game types. Others will create one multi-purpose class; an accumulation of the weapons and perks they’ve grown most comfortable with over time. This segment in our HQ for Beginners series isn’t designed to tell you what your load out should be. Instead it is a discussion of some of the tools that might prove particularly useful in a match of Headquarters, and how. As I’m fond of saying, you need to bring the right tools to the job, and below we’re going to talk about some of the tools you may want to consider.
Primary Weapons: Primary weapons might be the most personal of all the options to consider in one’s loadout, making them, potentially, the most difficult to discuss. In general, though, one should look at the advantages and disadvantages of each weapon type and relate them not only to the general concept of headquarters, but also to the specific roles discussed in the last segment.
Small Machine Guns: To their benefit, SMG’s give you some of the greatest foot speed as well as being among the most agile of the weapons available. These are clearly great assets. For Cappers who rely upon quick action in tight circumstances, the dexterity of the SMG can be awesome. Further, you’ll find yourself in many situations where you have to traverse the map in a very short period of time, and the added foot speed granted by an SMG can be invaluable. SMG’s come with their own problems; relatively low ammo and clip size can leave you high and dry on the HQ (especially if you have it equipped with Rapid Fire). This problem is exacerbated by the relative lack of power meaning you can’t necessarily depend on dropping your enemies with a quick burst.
Light Machine Guns: Huge clip size and significant stopping power make these weapons formidable, but not without a price. They can be among the least agile in the game and really drag down footspeed. Further, the reload time on LMG’s is often tortuously slow. These problems make LMG’s something I would think twice about if you intend to be a Capper, as you’ll need both footspeed and agility. On the other hand both defenders and Traffic Controllers can probably do well if this is their weapon of choice.
Assault Rifles: The workhorse of the game, the versatility of the assault rifle makes most of selections in this category good in nearly all occasions. Less agile than Small Machine Guns, the assault rifle more than makes up for this deficiency with superior range, power, and in some instances, clip size. The only cautions I have on this is to be wary of the clunkier assault rifles including the short burst style weapons. Guns like the Commando or G11 might not provide the agility you need when playing close on the target.
Sniper Rifles: These much maligned weapons don’t have a large role in HQ mostly thanks to the fact that HQ is not a static enough game for any one sniper location to remain relevant for long. Further, Sniper rifles are among the least agile in the game making them largely useless for cappers, and not the wisest choice for defenders. They can, however, be useful in traffic control, especially on certain maps where key central locations have access to multiple traffic lanes (Example: The center building on Firing Range can effectively cover traffic lanes for four of the five targets). Seeing as how sniping is a very specific skill in the first place, perhaps learning how to snipe and play HQ at the same time is not the best of ideas.
Shotguns: Short range stopping power and no need to ADS can make these weapons an absolute terror in the right hands, but are they right for HQ? Personally, I think the best deciding factor as to whether to use a shotgun is your own proficiency with these weapons. Beyond that, you have to take into account the map. Is it a wide open map? Then you might want to put the shotgun away. Are we talking about a map with lots of close quarter situations? The shotgun might excel there. Of course I know many run and gunners that terrorize with a shotgun, so I have no desire to get in their way. As for those playing closer on the HQ, my concerns include the low number of rounds between reloads, the low range, low firing rate, and both the stakeout and Olympia have agility issues. Personally, I don’t even consider a shotgun unless it’s the Spas-12 (Black Ops, not MW2) for HQ. The spas can go 12 rounds without loading, can be suppressed which is always a bonus, and my favorite little aspect is you can interrupt a reload sequence which can save your life in a pinch.
Launchers and Everything Else: I don’t have much to say about your secondary weapons as I don’t often use them. I do recommend that at least one or two of your party equip a Strela launcher. Strelas are an absolute must for getting your opponent’s aerial killstreaks out of the sky. Here’s another little tip for those who don’t run a Strela and rarely pull out their pistol: After killing an enemy, switch to your secondary gun and THEN take their gun. Now you have effectively two primary weapons at the same time. Another thing to consider is the crossbow with explosive rounds. As we’ll discuss in greater detail in the section on grenades, and in the equipment section with C4 and Claymores, virtually all explosive devices have their place.
Lethal Grenades: In Headquarters, you will see both teams converge in close quarters early and often. As a result, grenade usage is very important. Both Semtex and Frag grenades have their pros and cons and we will cover those in greater detail in just a second. As both have their advantages I highly recommend that your HQ team have a good mix of both grenade types.
- Semtex: The defining characteristic of the Semtex is that it sticks which has several obvious advantages. For one, you can stick the Semtex to the HQ, making it a deadly objective for opponents attempting to capture it. While you are playing Headquarters, you’re going to meet a lot of people running Flakjacket and that’s where another major advantage of Semtex comes in; frag grenades aren’t very good at taking out Flakjacket foes, but there’s no escaping getting stuck by a Semtex. Another great advantage of the Semtex is that they don’t roll, meaning you don’t have to worry about your grenade rolling past the HQ target area, nor do you have to “cook” or time the release of the grenade to ensure it explodes near the target. Indeed, you can cook a Semtex indefinitely which can be handy if you are attempting to use a grenade defensively (I’ll discuss this a bit more further down and also in a later installment of this series).
The strengths from Semtex grenades can also be their weaknesses. Indefinite cooking and stickiness qualities give you a lot of options, but the price you pay for those options is control and distance. Generally speaking, Semtex grenades can be easier to use than frags, and therefore more effective at the onset, however Semtex grenades lack the versatility a practiced veteran can milk from a frag grenade.
- Frag: Let’s face it, for the longest time I avoided frags because I just didn’t know how to use them. Picking up on the principles I learned from Lethal Frag, these are now my grenade of choice, especially in headquarters. There are two properties of the frag that give it superior control when being used. The first is the fact that you can time a release or cook it. This means that with practice you can manage the amount of delay before detonation before the grenade reaches its target. If you’ll notice, when a grenade is incoming, you usually see the indicator giving you a chance to escape, but when you cook a grenade, you effectively rob your enemies of their chance to get out of the way before detonation. The other great thing about frags is that they bounce meaning you can bank them off of walls and door jambs. Not only does this allow you to deliver an explosive payload at an angle, but it means you can actually attack enemies from a concealed position. Combine both of these properties to achieve a lethal formula that has exhaustive offensive and defensive properties. Frag grenades can be your last hope of clearing out an HQ before the enemy captures it, or you can use it to hold off a cluster of oncoming attackers as you are attempting to cap the HQ yourself.
The downside to frags is that learning to use them to their maximum effectiveness takes a lot of practice. Until then, not only can poorly used frags be horribly inaccurate, but there’s a higher potential for killing yourself. One can easily overcook a grenade, and if you aren’t comfortable with banking a frag, there’s a good chance you’ll bounce it off a wall right back onto yourself.
PROTIP: Depending on the location, try this as a defensive maneuver as you attempt to capture a target. When you’re attempting to capture a target, try to assess which access point is the highest probability entrance for your opponents. You can do this with a good fundamental knowledge of the map, and by looking to see where your team is spawning on the mini-map. Having a spy plane or SR71 in the air at this time is of course a huge help here. Once you’ve picked out the most likely route, start cooking your frag grenade as you keep your sites locked on that access point. Hold out as long as you can; throw only when you start to see the first evidence of incoming opponents (shadows, gunfire, the actual enemy), or when you’ve reached the longest safe amount of cook time (about to the count of four). Good timing and judgment here might not just net you a multi-kill, but also grant you the few precious seconds you may need to successfully capture the headquarters.
Tactical Grenades: There’s only one major point I wanted to cover on tacticals, and that is using good judgment when equipping the Wily Pete. Smoke bombs can be a great way to get cover and buy you time as you capture the HQ, but smoke bombs are not always a great idea. While the enemy can’t see you in a smoke bomb, you can’t see them either.
My general rule of thumb is to only use smoke bombs for HQ locations that are in open areas, particularly those areas that are susceptible to sniper fire, or any fire from an elevated position for that matter. The HQ location next to the fountain on the Stadium map is a GREAT example of an HQ location that would benefit from a smoke bomb.
For enclosed HQ locations, though, smoke bombs are a no-no. The problem that arises is that when capping a location in an enclosed area, in order for an enemy to kill you, they often have to be in the effective radius of the HQ with you, thereby stopping the capturing process. Since you can’t resume the capture process until that enemy is dead, you now have to grope around in the smoke and hope you get him before he gets you.
Lastly, don’t just indiscriminately throw a smoke bomb. Try to coordinate with your team and make sure your cappers are ready to get in position before you drop the smoke. The last thing you want to do is pop smoke and then have the other team use it to capture the HQ.
One other point: It doesn’t hurt to have at least one person run Nova grenades. You can render an HQ virtually uncappable by your opponent with a well timed Nova nade unless someone on the other team is running Tactical Mask.
Equipment: There are two pieces of equipment that are of particular usage in headquarters; the claymore, and the tactical insertion. C4 is handy for reasons similar to the claymore, though I personally think the passive quality of the claymore gives it a definite edge. Meanwhile camera spikes, motion detectors, and jammers can be definitely useful for Defenders or Traffic Controllers that are adopting a more static strategy (ie. Camping).
Claymore: Claymore gets a lot of usage in objective based games. Usually you’ll see them crowding around an objective, especially in Domination, but that’s not the best use of your equipment. Here, claymores can do several things depending on the specific set up of each individual headquarters. For Closed Headquarters (those HQ’s that are in enclosed spaces with limited access points), use your claymore to effectively secure an access point, leaving your cappers and defenders free to control other access points. For Open Headquarters (those HQ’s in open areas that have multiple access points and aerial access) you might not be able to use the claymore effectively to control access, but you can use it for other reasons such as booby trapping sniper spots that over look the target.
Just be careful not to be too reliant upon claymores. There are a number of ways they can be bypassed, and not all of them will give you a voice warning. Also, don’t forget that grenades and other explosive devices can also destroy your claymores.
PROTIP: Coordinate with your team on when to place claymores. If your team places all the claymores too early in the cycle you’ll have none left after the capture. Determine how many team members have claymores equipped, and try to mete them out to ensure you have claymores deployed prior to, during, and after the capture.
Tactical Insertion: The advantages this guy can give you in Headquarters should be obvious. All too often you will find that your entire team gets knocked off the HQ by a grenade or a charging enemy in full on beast mode. The last thing you need is to have to try and race across the map with the enemy already on the target. Indeed, the only reason I don’t recommend everyone in a team run TI’s is because that means no one is left to run claymores. TI’s can be particularly useful for defenders whose job it is to maintain control over the target area in the first place.
Be sure to place your TI wisely. There is such a thing as getting the tactical insert too close to the action, and the entire purpose of the TI is defeated when you put it in a place that is easily discovered by the enemy. The trick to TI placement is to make sure that you place them in a low traffic, low action, low visibility area. Do not place the TI in the building of the HQ, or in any major thoroughfare adjacent to it. Instead, try to place it in a building or alcove that is about half to two thirds of the way from the spawn point to the HQ. This should give you the lowest probability of having your TI discovered by an opponent, while still having the benefit of a greatly reduced travel time to the target.
PERKS!: This final portion of the Loadout section is also quite personal and can be controversial, so before we begin, a brief explanation of my philosophy might be in order. I believe in bringing the right tools to the job. If a perk is in the game, it is not cheating or cheap to use it; it is a tool to be used. If you don’t like a perk, by all means don’t use it, but you’ll get far more mileage learning how to combat these perks than you will complaining about them.
Since both defending and controlling traffic are both more of a free style sort of game, when we discuss perks we’re really going to focus mostly on those perks I believe will give an advantage to the cappers, though I will point out a perk here or there that could be handy for the other roles in your team.
SLOT ONE PERKS: Perhaps the two most useful perks you can get in HQ are Flakjacket and Ghost. Indeed, I personally think that Flakjacket is an absolute must have if you intend to capture a lot of HQ’s, and I highly recommend going and getting Flakjacket pro as early as you can every prestige. The Pro bonus to Flakjacket makes you virtually immune to fire damage which means Napalms (a highly recommended killstreak in HQ) won’t keep you from capping the target. Given all of the grenades that get dumped on an HQ (and trust me, there will be many), the Flakjacket will keep your cappers alive and capturing long after everyone else gets bumped off.
I don’t recommend Ghost so much for capturing the target, but if you just refuse to run flakjacket, or if you are filling a different role on your team and have to collapse to cap for whatever reason, the ghost is not the worst perk to have on a target. It’s at its most useful in that neutral targets don’t flash when an opponent is capping, so even if the enemy has a spy plane up, ghosts capping the HQ could lull your opponent into a false sense of security. Really, though, ghost is far more useful for defenders, and potentially traffic control.
SLOT TWO PERKS: My personal favorite slot two perk for cappers is Warlord Pro. It’s definitely nice to tweak your gun with two attachments, but just as important to me is the additional tactical and lethal grenades you get with the Pro bonus. Having two grenades means you can use the first to clear an HQ of enemy presence, and still have one left over for defensive uses when you are attempting to capture.
Warlord is also a boon for any of your defenders and traffic controllers running ghost since they can throw a silencer on top of whatever attachment they already have equipped on their weapon.
Also of use for cappers, though, can be both sleight of hand (with the pro bonus naturally), or steady aim. Both perks give you added agility and reaction time which are very welcome since cappers are almost always at the very center of the action.
SLOT THREE PERKS: Second Chance. People hate Second Chance, but let me tell you, if you want to capture a lot of targets, you need to stay alive as long as humanly possible and that’s what Second Chance does for you. While I swear by Second Chance as a tool to stay alive longer and capture more HQ’s I want to make it clear that I’m not equally as fond of the Pro bonus of being able to be revived. By all means, get Second Chance Pro as it lets you stay alive even longer, but I think a lot of people rely far too much on the revive ability. The short story is that you don’t HAVE to wait for someone to come along and revive you, and often times when you insist on being revived you are putting your team mates in danger.
Further, I’ve seen a lot of people wait around to be revived when letting themselves die might have spawned them closer to the target quicker in the first place. There are times when being revived is appropriate. When someone is available, and when you’re far enough from the action that being revived can be done safely, sure, go for it. Further, if you are one away from a big kill streak I can understand the desire to be revived. Finally, reviving after a capture is definitely a positive since there are no respawns and the more people you have up and defending means you are controlling the target for a longer time and getting more points. But more often than not, if you find yourself in second chance and you aren’t actively capping a target, you’re probably doing yourself and your team a favor by just doing yourself in and getting that respawn faster.
Another very handy third slot perk for those that simply refuse to run Second Chance is the Tactical Mask. A fairly common tactic is to put Nova on an HQ either to clear out a group already on it, or to prevent anyone from the opposing team to get within the effective radius in the first place. This perk lets you render this tactic useless, and if you go through the pain of getting the Pro bonus, you will render enemy flashbangs and concussion grenades useless as well.
MY LOADOUT: Before we put this installment to bed, here’s what I run when I’m playing Headquarters. I put my killstreaks down here, but we won’t discuss those until the next segment in the series.
Primary weapon: AUG with Red Dot and Extended Mag equipped—Everyone has their own preferences, but in my opinion the AUG has a beautiful balance between power, accuracy, and agility.
Secondary weapon: Strela
Lethal Grenade: Frag
Tactical: Wiley Pete
Perk slot 1: Flakjacket Pro
Perk slot 2: Warlord Pro
Perk slot 3: Second Chance Pro
Killstreaks: Spy Plane/ Counter Spy Plane/ Napalm
I capture Headquarters, that’s my job. On a modestly coordinated team, this loadout helps me get at least six captures a game, and even on terrible teams I can still manage to pick up the most caps of either team. If you want to consistently pick up a high number of captures, you have to start with the right tools and these are the tools I use.