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On Shifting

1. Basics

Generally speaking, to shift means to move/change/relocate your units from one place to another one. Newcomers use to scroll with mouse to new units, select them with the cursor, then scroll manually where there wanna use them, then click the units to that place. This takes a lot of time,  which experienced players save and thus be more speedy. How? They use sequences of hotkeys, called shifting. 

The basic idea behind is to transfer the newcomer´s way totally into hotkey-functions:


1) to jump to war factories (e.g.) with a bookmark W
2) to quickly select all new units with E (select-all-hotkey)
3) to jump back to the front with another bookmark R or D 
4) to group the new units into an old group #1, to gain better tank control (with shift+1 - ctrl+1)
instead of....

scrolling with mouse to new units

selecting them via mouse

scrolling slowly back to front

maybe reselecting tanks at the front manually.

Any half-decent player uses a kind of shifting to speed up things. To train and master the skill of shifting properly is a must-do, if you anyhow aim to become better. Just start to shift and soon it will become natural to click kind of these sequences. 
But, what to shift, only tanks? The main example of shifting may surely be shifting tanks, like prominently explained in the Goldmedal-Challenge: W-E-R-shift1-ctrl1 - repeat! However, the so-called infantry line (see pro-guide here) is another shifting example of outmost usage. Besides those two, of course u can shift all other units as well: boats, air units, dogs, whatever. 

2. The traditional Milo-Ehy-Guide

...lists 3 versions of shifting:

All three have in common the two bookmarks W and D - for @warfactories and @front -, and the grouping-sequence: shift+1 - ctrl+1 (note: ofc u need to have a group 1 in the first place).
The principles of differentiation here are: Either to select via mouse or to select-all with E; and to click-send the tanks in order to stack them at the front.

What does now exactly shift the tanks, move them to the front? In the Stack-sequence it is the send-click, which orders to move. But in the two others, actually your tanks won't move until you q-click your tank-group at the front. So if u don't stack `em, you would q next at front with your group-1-tank: W, E, D, shift+1, ctrl+1, Q is the full sequence. 

However, what does your new tank do, while you go back to front with D and then add the new tank to the group-1 by pressing shift+1 ctrl+1? The new tank does nothing! He is waiting for u to click the  fuckin´ sequence. Is there a way, to speed this up? Is there a way, to already let the tank move to the front, while adding it to the group? Yes, u simply click-send him first:

         W, E, D, click-to-the-ground-at-front (=send), shift+1, ctrl+1, Q

This way your new tank is already moving, while grouping together, and so the new tank is faster at the front, where u need it. But Claus, wait! What is then the difference between E-shift and Stack-shift? The difference now is very minor: in the Stack-way you would park your tanks only, and in the E-shift-way you would Q them next. So, the difference does not any longer concern the way of shifting/moving itself, but only in: what to do next with your tanks. 

From this perspective, it is very clear that only the Q-order or the sending-click makes the new tank moving to front. Paradoxically, many players believe, that shifting goes ahead with shift+1 - therefor the name shifting comes from. But! This is simply not true. 

a) What does shift+1 do? You have a group-1 already. If u now select a new unit and click shift+1, you would open the existing group-1, like: select that certain group of units. That does shift+1 do, not less not more. Then, with ctrl+1 afterwards, you would add the new unit to the group-1 and close the group. In-between this, there is absolutely no moving included. It´s only a way to add-to-a-group by selecting that group. 
Another way of using the shift-button is to hold shift and click-select on several units (or structures!). By doing this, you would create a temporary group, which would vanish if u select something else. It´s famous in defense by selecting multiple defense structures. But again, you only select here with the shift-button. 

Paradoxy: You don't shift with shifting! lololololol^^

b) Can u shift without shift+1? If the shift-button does only group-up, one could ask, if you then need it for shift-moving your units. The truth is: u don't. But if u haven't your tanks in one group, you need an alternative, to control your tanks: 
W, E, D, click-send, E, Q.

With this sequence you go back to wars, select new units, go back to front, send-click new tanks and then select-all at the front and Q - your new tanks will follow to front, while repeating this sequence several times in a row, soon the shifted tank is at front and will be E-selected as well. Note that click-send is essential here! Without it, there would be no moving/shifting. Two famous examples, that it is even possible to win Goldmedal-Challenge with this shorter shifting-sequence without grouping: Asmod and C|ommander.

With this shorter shifting we now reached a transcendent point to the tradition milo-ehy-guide. It does not name this shorter version. So it must be incomplete. Besides that, we noticed already, that the differentiation into Stack-shift and E-shift is obsolete - if u wanna speed up your E-shift, instead of letting your new tank wait.

The questionable question now is: How to differentiate substantially between certain ways of shifting, in order to gain a:

3. Full Tableau of Shifting-Sequences

Like AndrewFord uses to say: People don't open up their minds to what is possible. Shift-possibilities so far have been:

* to select singly with mouse or select-all with E-button, gives us a difference between: selective and E-shifts

* to use groupings or to not group and use E at the front again, gives us a difference between grouping and non-grouping shifts - I use to name them full-shift (with grouping) and half-shift (without grouping)

(* to send-click at the front is a must-do with half-shifts, but only an option with full-shifts - therefor it is not a substantial criteria in differentiation nominally, but only accidentally hoho. )

To this two main criteria comes a third one: Strangely, the tradition-guide´s co-author ehy was known for shifting backwards at his war factories. Meaning:

W, E, shift+1, ctrl+1, D, Q. 

Hereby, before jumping back to the front, the grouping takes place back at wars. Therefor i choose the name back-shift. Following this, all other shift-versions, where the grouping takes place at the front should be called front-shifts. The question is now: Is back vs front shifting substantial, or not? Besides the #1-tanker ehy, the #2-tanker atomi is known for back-shifting as well. The fact, that the two best tankers used this, compared to many many people I asked, why the hell one would shift backwards, makes the whole question very interesting. To be clear: Almost all known players use front-shifts. But why ehy seems to use it backwards? 

I admit to not have the full answer. Although, asked numerous very experienced players, most of them either never heard of back-shift, or simply had no clue (like nastynate and herm), why someone would prefer back-shift instead of front-shift. The answer, which makes most sense so far, was given by ORA-boy: Ehy´s play style comes from standard finite ore maps. There, it could be very useful to shift backwards, see your base and ore-trucks, and besides adding new tanks to a group, do some ore management clicks, before going back to front. This is a valid reasoning. However, kind of ironic, that ehy didn't mention his used shifting method in his own guide.

Summing up, we now have 3 main differentiations: selective vs E, full vs half and front vs back shifts. If u combine all, you receive a 2x2x2 matrix of 8 shifts:


W, E, D, shift+1, ctrl+1, Q
* most used
* optional: +click-send to speed up

W, E, shift+1, ctrl+1, D, Q
* ehy-way
* optional: +click-send to speed up

W, E, D, click, E, Q
* faster, but no grouping
* needs better tank control at front

W, E, click/Q
* usefull, when front is very near your wars (then skip D-bookmark to be faster)

W, select, D, shift+1, ctrl+1, Q
* select always means: via mouse-frame, or by clicking singly on units +shift-button, or by deselecting units like the truck via shift-button from a pre-selected group
W, select, shift+1, ctrl+1, D, Q

W, select, D, click, E, Q

W, select, click/Q

Side notes: 
* If u wish to stack tanks, your send-click aims one of your tanks at front, so all new tanks will group around that tank in a stacked pattern. 
* Half-shifts need the send-click essentially. 
* Full-shifts can be speeded-up with such a send-click, but not necessarily needed.
* To place bookmarks usefully is very important. Therefor W should be placed covering all your war factories to not miss new produced tanks. Front-bookmark D is needed to be re-arranged often! Whenever fighting front is changing, bookmark has to be re-arranged.
* Your resolution will affect your shifting: The higher res u use, the more selective u need to shift. 
* Remember, you can personalize hotkeys. So choose your bookmark-hotkeys wisely. 
* Shift- and Ctrl-buttons can not be personalized (even with the method explained in the TAB-button-removing-article).

* Bonus: Dual-tanking-shifting is possible with 2 front-bookmarks: D and R into 2 groups 1 and 2. hehehehe


Test, experimentate and share your results and comments below. 

GG cousinclaus

1 comment:

  1. When I wrote the original article on shift sequences, I didn't really consider writing in back shifting as important because in practice the time between when you press ctrl+1 and when you make your next action at front is extremely small. If you do it fast enough, you can select and regroup the next tank before it finishes leaving the war factory, and the next thing you do after W, E, D, shift+1, ctrl+1 is almost always either click to move at the D bookmark or target an enemy tank, both of which get your tanks at your war factories moving. As long as the downtime between the regrouping, ctrl+1 and the next action at the front is minimal, there is no advantage to back shifting unless you want to spend time looking at what's going on in the back.

    I think the primary reason to use back shifting as described in this article is similar to what boy said. If you want to go back to your war factories and do other stuff at your base, then regrouping without returning to the front makes a lot of sense. It's interesting to see all the possibilities enumerated here. The three primary ones I wrote in my guide were the ones I thought most important, but some of these other sequences could be useful some of the time.

    The big down side to the half shift is that if the battle front moves you lose your tanks or you have to either go searching for them to group them or else wait for them to get to the location of your D bookmark before you move elsewhere. The primary reason that I would imagine someone would want to use half shifting is if they have difficulty pressing shift+1, ctrl+1. These sequences are hard to press accurately and quickly because they rely on your 4th finger and pinky which are the two hardest fingers to control. However if you are able to press shift+1, ctrl+1 quickly and accurately, then it is clearly superior to half shifting.