A chaser is a defensive role played within Tribes: Ascend often played by a Pathfinder or, occasionally a Soldier. A chaser's main objective is to remain close to the flag-stand to help defend the flag and occassionally harrass the enemy offense (while making sure to reserve health and energy if the flag is grabbed). If an enemy player manages to grab the flag from the flag-stand, the chaser is charged with chasing down the flag carrier, separating the flag from him, and retrieving their team's flag. It is essential that chasers have a good understanding of movement techniques such as spinfusor/nitron jumping, advanced skiing, and energy conservation, in addition to expertise in combat with all of their weapons.
Chasing is one of the most challenging-yet-rewarding roles in the game when performed effectively, as it takes a lot of skill to intercept a fast-moving capper and remove the flag from him. Like a sentinel, capper, or HoF, a good chaser can single-handedly tilt the match in his team's favor.
Chasing as a Pathfinder
As the enemy flag cappers tend to be moving at a very high speed when grabbing the flag, the chaser needs to be able to go from moving very slowly to very quick speeds to keep up effectively. Because of this, many chasers tend to prefer pathfinders equipped with the thrust pack and mass-reducing upgrades (such as a fully upgraded Pathfinder MK I, Rage, and Lightweight). This combination grants what may be the fastest acceleration from a dead stop in the entire game.
While chasing as other classes is possible, the Pathfinder may be the most effective at running down - and more importantly, separating the flag from - enemy flag carriers.
- Light Bolt Launcher. Chasers in general prefer the LBL to both the Light Spinfusor and Dueling Spinfusor due to its higher damage and larger splash radius, respectively. Bolts also travel faster than spinfusor discs. It is not without its disadvantages, however - it takes longer to reload and the projectile is affected by gravity.
- Light Assault Rifle is considered by many to be the optimal choice for the chaser, as it allows for consistent, albeit small damage over long ranges. This can be used to finish off weakened carriers, or simply attempt to weaken him for others to finish the job.
- Shotgun This weapon is situational, in the sense that it is not of much use during the actual chase, but it holds the advantage of burst over the LAR (light assault rifle). The LAR gives a consistent damage output even at long range, but consistent damage is not always desireable. Scenarios in which the enemy carrier has come to a stop, (could have missed the flag stand, or the flag could have been grabbed) you as the chaser have a very small amount of time to kill the carrier or be killed by the people coming to assist him. This is where the shotgun shines, as you can deal a great amount of damage before being taken out, even if he is trying to get away by jetting upwards. The shotgun will however not help you if the carrier is able to capture the flag instantously. This can call for a more emergency grab oriented playstyle, where you decide to ignore the carrier and attempt to grab the flag instead.
- Holdout Shotgun Same as the shotgun, except even more suited for the style, as it has an even greater burst damage.
- Thrust. Chasers often need to accelerate from very slow speeds to full speed as quickly as possible - the Thrust pack allows for this while the Energy Recharge Pack does not. Some argue that Energy Recharge can be used for chasing as the Pathfinder can simply find a hill and use it to gain speed. While this tactic is fantastic for a capper it often results in too much lost time for a chaser to recover and ultimately, a flag capture. Not only does the thrust pack allow for the chaser to catch up to the enemy carrier in swifter fashion, it is also quite useful in scenarios where the chaser attempts to return the flag before it is regrabbed by the opposing team, as the chaser swiftly can switch into the direction the flag is bouncing using the pack.
- Impact Nitron or Compact Nitron are the optimal choices. The Compact Nitron gives less impulse (i.e., the chaser will gain less speed from a nitron boost at the same damagecost), but it has an increased (+1) carrying capacity. The choice of Impact vs Compact is a subject of minor debate, and one should use what feels more natural during gameplay.
Some argue that Explosive Nitrons can be used, with the reasoning that they can "simply kill the flag carrier!" The Pathfinder's ability to immediately separate his flag from an enemy carrying it is invaluable and of greater importance than killing the enemy outright.
- Rage is considered by many to be the optimal choice for a chasing Pathfinder. Thanks to the increased energy regeneration, Rage allows the Pathfinder to still jet effectively after using his thrust pack. Of course, Rage has a downfall: the chaser is practically rooted to the flagstand and is limited in his ability to play light defense.
- Reach is another option. It can sometimes mean the difference between a flag being returned and an enemy picking it back up.
- Safety Third is yet another option, both increasing the radius of thrown nitrons and allowing for an additional one to be carried.
No other perks come close to the utility of these three options, and Rage tends to have the most utilization among chasers.
- Lightweight is useful because the lowered mass allows for greater acceleration gained from disc- and nadejumping. The downfall of the increased regeneration cooldown can be offset by combining the perk with the aforementioned perk, Rage, as it will heal you when the flag is grabbed. If lightweight is not combined with Rage it is advisable to stay away from the stand, as health damage is effectively permanent. The chances of regenration are very small, and you should assist in places you are more likely to only meet one enemy at a time, if any. One of such places could be with the team sniper, helping him fend off incoming attackers. This has the combined effect of usually placing you at a high altitude, which will prove useful for when you need to quickly gain speed.
- Egocentric is fantastic choice for a chaser. This perk allows the Pathfinder to use two nitron jumps in addition to a disc jump to get up to speed very quickly. Without Egocentric, this is certain death.
- Quick Draw and Potential Energy can be used, but both have limited utility as a chaser and should be reserved for those Pathfinders focusing more on light defense. Egocentric and Lightweight have the top utilization for Pathfinder chasers.