IV – Initial/FIrst Heart Engagement and Subsequent Heart Combat Cycle
Upon engaging a Thargoid interceptor of any variant in a non-human signal source (NHSS) the initial engagement should occur after the interceptor has finished his scan of you. The purpose of allowing the interceptor to finish his scan of you is that it allows you to get a scan of the interceptor (if you have a Xeno scanner fitted). Once the scan is complete, you begin your attack run.
The First Heart
Your first steps for engaging the Thargoid are:
- Disengage your flight assist and engage with your beam laser. [Pips at 0-4-2]
- Once the interceptor is aggressed he will begin launching his swarm. Begin your boost past the interceptor and gain the recommended distance of 4-6K. [Pips at 0-4-2]
- Once at distance, conduct a 180 maneuver while continuing your engagement of the Thargon swarm. (If swarm management is needed, see section V Swarm Management) [Pips at 0-4-2]
- Once the swarm is destroyed you may begin your engagement of the interceptor (preferably at 5K distance) with your thermal vent beam. This will drop your ship temperature to below 20% to allow you to begin your cold orbit around the interceptor.[Pips at 0-2-4]
- Begin your cold orbit attack run by applying down vertical thrust and forward until you achieve an orbit speed of about 180 M/S and maintain an orbit distance of between 900m-1.5Km. Applying your thermal-vent beam will allow you to set your orbit while avoiding damage from the interceptor.
- Once your orbit envelope is established switch to your gauss cannon fire group, engage a heat sink and begin alternating firing of your gauss cannons. (Alternating fire should be achieved by activating the charge-up of your second group once your first group of cannons fires its rounds.)
- Continue engaging heat sinks as needed once you hear “Heat Sink Deployed” from your COVAS (in-ship voice) until the heart has been exerted and destroyed.
- The first heart is when the interceptor is the most aggressive with his lightning ability—at which time he will aggressively chase you down. To avoid the lightning attacks, continue applying your beam laser to the interceptor. Once it reaches a distance of 1.5K apply downward thrust and forward thrust, while engaging your boost, and attempt to keep your beam laser on target and stay more than 800M away from the interceptor. (For subsequent hearts the interceptor is not as aggressive and you can maintain your distance from it by adjusting your reverse and forward thrust.)
- Each interceptor variant also has an approximate attack run window and will allow you to stabilize your orbit. Once outside of its attack run window the interceptor will change direction and reset for its own attack run forcing you to have to adjust your orbit accordingly. Using your thermal-vent beam during this time may be recommended if you drift outside of your orbit envelope.
Note: View Special Attacks of Interceptors for descriptions of each special attack
Subsequent Heart Destruction
- Once the first heart is destroyed immediately switch back to your beam laser and begin cooling your ship while also attempting to gain a minimum distance of 3K (engaging reverse thrust) from the interceptor. This is the time to set a pip into Systems to recharge your systems capacitor from your use of heat sinks. [Pips at 1-4-1]
- At this time, you are attempting to maneuver into a half orbit around the interceptor forcing it to change its momentum (all interceptors are slow at changing direction) and keep your ship under the 15% heat threshold, which keeps the interceptor in sleep mode (Section VII—Thargoid Interceptor Sleep Mode)
- Begin reverse thrusting away from the interceptor while still applying your beam laser on your target.[Pips at: 0-4-2]
- Once the interceptor begins launching its swarm you will want to maintain a distance of about 3.5-6K until it launches its swarm fully; then begin a 180-degree maneuver away from the interceptor and begin boosting away. Use this time now to begin any repairs or synthesis if needed.
- Begin the initial swarm engagement stated above.
- This time the interceptor will have a shield up (shields go up after the first heart is destroyed)—the shield will decay over time.
Attack Run Duration for each interceptor:
- Cyclops ≈30 Seconds
- Basilisk & Medusa ≈26 Seconds
- Hydra ≈20 Seconds
Note: View Thargoid Statistics for details on Thargoid specification
Note: Please Refer to the AX Quick Reference Guide
- To maximize time on target for heart destruction you can decrease the shield uptime by applying your beam laser to the interceptor degrading its shields faster.
- Once the shields are down, begin the cold orbit cycle listed above as part of the combat loop for all the subsequent hearts. (Using gauss cannons against the shields is a waste of ammo especially when using precious premium synthesis)
- Begin your next combat loop with pips set at 0-2-4.
- Basilisk Consideration: The Basilisk variant has a top speed of 530M/S. The doctrine chieftain can not outrun the basilisk if followed to the fitting. A required maneuver of a cold boost (this requires firing a heatsink before boosting 180 degrees past the Basilisk) will allow you to gain valuable distance from the Basilisk, allowing you to synthesize more heatsinks, ammo, and perform any repairs to your ship before committing to your next combat loop. The Basilisk does not handle momentum well when adjusting to a different vector.
- This maneuver also puts you in the path of the swarm, which also triggers its agitated state.
- Another similar tactic to the cold boost would be to engage silent running and perform your boost maneuver 180 degrees past the basilisk. (The options taken will be dependent upon the commander.) The purpose of this maneuver is to allow the commander to save a heat sink and achieve the same outcome while taking advantage of the shieldless build.
V – Swarm Management
The purpose of engaging the swarm first on the initial engagement is to remove the “banked” swarm of the interceptor from the equation. Whenever an interceptor is engaged and the heart is destroyed first, the banked swarm will then launch forcing the commander to have to deal with a second swarm. Removing the banked swarm from the equation will allow the commander to efficiently use his time to focus on all subsequent hearts.
Note: For a full breakdown of the Thargon swarm please refer to the AX Swarm Guide by CMDR Aranionros Stormrage.
VI – Cold Orbit Purpose
The Cold Orbit has the advantage of preventing all of the damage from the interceptor if proper speed and orbit distance is maintained. This is approximately 15 degrees of arc past the center bore of the interceptor’s cannons while keeping your ship’s heat below 20%.
This tactic is used by many veteran AX commanders to prevent any sort of damage to their ship, allowing them to continue their engagement and preventing them from taking precious time repairing modules, especially when engaging advanced interceptors.
Note: Read AXI Combat Manual Cold Orbit for guidance on the cold orbiting technique
Cold orbiting is also the basis for more advanced interceptor combat when you want to use smaller ships, or for more advanced Thargon swarm management for small ships when flak launchers cannot be fitted. (beyond the scope of this guide).
The number of heat sinks within this doctrine will allow the destruction of any heart on any variants as long as the commander maintains a 900M-1.5K orbit maximizing the damage output of the gauss cannon.
Note: Staying outside of the orbit envelope may require further rounds from the gauss cannons due to damage drop off and a waste of heat sinks will occur. Firing outside the engagement envelope is ill-advised.
VII – Thargoid Interceptor Sleep Mode
- The interceptor will enter a sleep mode after the destruction of a heart if the commander maintains his ship’s heat below 15%. The sleep mode will prevent the interceptor from launching its caustic missiles allowing the commander to completely avoid that stage of interceptor combat.
- The sleep mode will also prevent the activation of the interceptor’s shut-down field—removing the need for a shutdown field neutralizer and the need for boosting away from the interceptor with flight assist off, waiting for your systems to come back online.
- Also, you will not have to race to get outside of the 10K threat range of the shutdown field (which many ships will not be able to achieve).
- The window the interceptor will be in sleep mode lasts approximately 30 seconds.
- This is why the importance of the thermally vented beam laser comes into play—it allows a ship to maintain 0% ship heat without the need to use heat sinks.
Further Resources can be found at:
- AXKB (AX Knowledge Base)
- AXI Thargoid Statistics
- How to get Guardian Weapons
- AXI Manual Bypassing Mechanics
Thank you to the Anti Xeno Initiative Discord for assistance in refining this doctrine and to the following AXI Commanders for their contribution:
- CMDR Mgram
- CMDR BADRACINGDRIVER
- CMDR Mackenheimer
- CMDR vini500300
Thanks to all the AXI Commanders that have spent countless hours testing and researching the Thargoid interceptors—whose time and efforts have allowed this doctrine to exist.
Tutorial by CMDR Avasa Siuu