If there’s one piece of advice that new Splatoon players are repeatedly hit over the head with, it’s “Ink your spawn!” Veteran turf warriors tend to get frustrated when newbies, especially those with backgrounds in different shooter games, get caught up in the excitement of battle and head straight for the enemy with guns blazing. Splatoon, of course, is different: Your goal is to claim territory rather than splat the most foes, and every inch of horizontal surface in a map is valuable. I can’t tell you how many times my team has scratched out a narrow advantage in the center of the map, only to lose because our base was completely uncovered. So…yeah, ink your darn spawn point.
With that question settled, the conversation has shifted to when you ink your spawn point. This debate isn’t so cut and dry, but two lines of thinking have emerged:
- You should cover your base immediately, and only move on to the center of the map once this is complete.
- You should move to secure the center of the map immediately, and cover your base later (such as after re-spawning). This theory seems to be gaining the most traction, and is being pushed by prominent community members like Allochii of the Gaijin Gamers:
It’s a thoughtful, convincing argument. It’s also usually the wrong choice.
For my money, the first approach is the best approach: You should ink your spawn right out of the gate, and worry about securing the center later. Here’s why:
- From my experience, maintaining map control in Splatoon 2 is much harder than in the original game, and come-from-behind victories are as common as Aerospray mains. That volatility means that being the first to grab the center of the map doesn’t mean a whole lot, as that advantage can be lost surprisingly fast. (One could argue that Splatoon 2 has the same problem as the NBA, in that nothing really matters until the last few moments of the match.) Territory around your spawn point, in contrast, is the easiest for you to cover and the hardest for your opponents to take. In short, you should worry about the turf closest to you first, because there’s more than enough time to claim the center (in fact, the later you do it, the better).
- By the time you get splatted for the first time, things have likely gotten frantic on the battlefield, and you’ve got better things to worry about when you respawn than inking your base: Where is the enemy advancing? Where should you counterattack? How much time do we have to make a push? Do any teammates need support? Is there a safe place to super jump? In comparison, things are relatively calm at the start of a match, and you have the time to breathe and focus on the task (and turf) in front of you. This, in turn, gives you one less thing to worry about later on. (On rare occasions, you’ll find that you play so well that you never need to respawn at all, and you have to make a special trip back to your base to cover it. When this happens, however, the match is usually so one-sided in your favor that it doesn’t matter.)
- Inking turf means building up your special meter, and having your special ability in your pocket can be a huge advantage when the initial fight breaks out. This is especially useful if you have a defensive special and aggressive teammates, as a well-timed Ink Armor activation can turn a battle into a rout.
Of course, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all mantra: Certain weapons (especially chargers) are going to want to grab strategic positions early (and they might as well, since they aren’t going to be terribly helpful inking the base anyway). However, for most players (especially new ones), the best option is to take the time to cover your spawn point in ink before moving out and engaging the other team.