For anyone that is new to the tactical side of ArmA outside of popular public gamemodes as well as those that want to get into organised events.
Welcome to “Tactical ArmA for Beginners”!
You will find knowledge you need to join just about any organised group in the ArmA Community, all in one place. Built by a collection of great artwork creators and experienced tacticians, unit owners and ArmA-veterans alike.
The idea behind this guide is to have something to give to someone, that is completely new to ArmA. We are not aiming to teach you complicated procedures or similiar, this is just meant as a quick dive into ArmA’s most used features, the different soldier specialization, vehicles, team structure and ACE3’s most used features. Anything more advanced than whats shown here, should be handled by the group said player is joining.
The following content will be based around the features of “Advanced Combat Environment 3” (ACE3), as you can expect >95% of organised groups to run this mod.
A list of contributors can be found at the end of the guide.
What is “Tactical ArmA”?
To get an understanding of the differences in playstyles, we will now describe a few terms. Some people might look at this from a different perspective and call it differently but this is mere to have common ground about following topics. Take it with a grain of salt.
The term “Tactical ArmA”, refers to any kind of scenario, Team vs. Team (TvT) or Cooperation (COOP), where players communicate and work together in order to achieve their mission’s goal.
This term is used to separate the gameplay style discussed in this guide from the more arcade-style gameplay found on most public servers and popular gamemodes. While you may still find some semblance of tactics and cooperation in public multiplayer such as in the popular “King of the Hill” mode, this does not fall under the “Tactical Arma” category. The nature of public multiplayer involves a distinct lack of cohesion and coordination due to the wide spectrum of skill levels, interests, and playstyles inherent in a publicly accessible environment.
Typically, “Tactical Arma” is the style of gameplay found on private, organized servers where players with a common mindset meet up at designated times to play with or against each other.
This side of ArmA can be divided into more specialized groups:
- Military Simulation
- Tactical Realism
- Casual Realism
An organised event usually has specific roles you can choose from. Most of the common roles are covered in this guide. These events are probably the most advanced way to experience ArmA 3 and are a very special type of gameplay in any game: ArmA 3 offers powerful mission editing tools as well as a real time Gamemaster Module called “Zeus”. A player that takes the role of Zeus can completely change anything in the mission on the fly, organically react to the players decisions and create a very realistic environment for gaming. As the term “Gamemaster” already describes, it is the same as a Gamemaster in Tabletop/Pen and Paper Gaming, as he is responsible to supervise and control the story and world.
You may have played a shooter with a campaign before, such as Battlefield or Call of Duty. In ArmA you can create these stories and scenarios pretty easily and dynamically change them to fit the players needs. This is currently not seen in any other game to this extent.
If you want to know want to know what awaits you, here is a short cinematic video captured both in the editor, as well as with my ArmA Group. It shows alot of the possibilities ArmA has:
The most complex and perhaps most realistic way to play ArmA. A group of organised players trying to mimic real life military operations as closely as possible.
Military Simulation is a very widespread term in the ArmA community, sometimes used more liberally than it should be. As one can see from the name, a Military Simulation Units try to simulate a real military. At the extreme end of the spectrum, this may include standard procedures that do not leave room for personal banter. Step out of line and you may get into trouble with the moderators of such a group.
Often a unit that plays in this style will also ask players to roleplay, at least to a certain degree, as they are trying to keep it as real as possible. Many units also apply a rank progression system to their unit.
The gameplay style, as briefly described above, will be very strict. You will get direct orders from superiors where you are expected to follow them closely and do not let your individual decisions interfere to not cause confusion or problems. Such a unit will typically teach many standard procedures to new players, who should expect to go through basic training at the very least, to meet the standards of such strict groups.
Some variations of this gameplay style may even have fixed roles for players; you may be expected to pick a certain role within the unit (e.g. pilot, medic, vehicle crewman, or infantry) and receive additional training specific to reach an advanced degree of skill in that particular specialization.
Other units allow players to choose roles freely for each mission, but place strict limitations on which roles can be assumed without specialized training. This is one of the most widespread styles utilized by milsim groups. Individuals are free to pick whichever roles they desire as long as they have passed the appropriate course of training.
Finally, many units still retain the high standards of gameplay and operation while allowing users to freely select any role they desire, including important roles such as vehicle crews, commanding officers, and medical staff. Training is usually highly encouraged but nevertheless optional. These groups may have a more laid back gameplay style, but this is not necessarily always the case.
The middle ground of Tactical ArmA. Probably the most widespread variety of gameplay. Tactical Realism describes Groups/Units that play tactically and try to keep the mission and environments realistic but are not going as far as to simulate the real world.
To put it simply: It is a more laid back variant of Tactical Arma. You will not find fixed unit structures or even roles here. The gameplay can be described as normal gamers and friends that just play ArmA together while also planning the mission accordingly and trying to have a proper plan where all teams need to stick to. A chain of command is usually to be found in any normal scenario that involves a military playstyle but there are also more laid back missions that follow more creative (or unrealistic) settings such as Cops and Robbers, a Zombie Apocalypse or even civilian style missions.
Without the focus around simulation of the real world, this leaves you with way more possibilities in mission diversity, hence the reason this is the most widespread gameplay style to find in units. Players are usually allowed to pick the role they want on each mission but there is also training for those that desire them. There are roleplay and simulation aspects to be found but those are completely dependent on the scenario design itself, rather than the entire setup of the unit, hence the difference to the Military Simulation groups.
The most laid back variant of the three. Groups and Units that do play organised scenarios but in a completely laid back tone.
Casual Realism, in a very simple way, could be exemplified by a few friends playing Counter Strike together, therefore applying tactics and strategy and working together but in a very laid back and friendly way.
Chain of command does not necessarily have to be present, it can also just be a “Every player is worth the same” and just cooperation. These groups play scenarios just like every Tactical ArmA group but the style which they apply is not necessarily a realistic approach but rather making a plan which they think could work out or be fun. Not much planning to be found but still cooperation in a team.
It is a bit weird to describe this kind of group on its own so the best example that comes to mind is probably gamemodes like “Antistasi” when played in a group. Not many rules around how they engage these missions, but still chasing one cohesive goal. Because of this, it is the most beginner friendly style to just learn the basics and have some fun outside of public gamemodes.
Roles and Specializations
ArmA 3 offers a lot of different classes to play as. They differ in tactics, difficulty, and responsibility and every unit utilizes different roles in slightly different ways. However, the basic playstyle of each role as well as its weaponry is still expected to generally be the same.
The most commonly used roles can be divided into 4 categories:
- Grunts (Basic Roles)
- Vehicle Based
- Support Roles
The descriptions will be kept simple and based on a more western approach of the roles.
The Basic Soldier: A rifleman is a normal grunt without any specialization. He is simply carrying a rifle without any special weapons or equipment.
According to the mission setting and unit you are playing in, these can also be found as a variety of different classifications, such as “Operator”, “CQB Rifleman” “Soldier” or similiar.
Most player groups may not even use this class, as it is more useful to take some kind of specialization, even if just an underslung grenade launcher or disposable AT launcher.
As a rifleman, your job is to take orders and execute them as effectively as possible. Just like all players, as a Rifleman you are supposed to know all basic combat skills such as using cover and concealment, basic first aid, how to call out enemies, how to hold a position and much more (More extensive tutorials can be found further down in this guide.
A general rifleman kit would look similiar to the picture in this section.
We are going to use the rifleman kit as the basis for all following roles, as basic equipment will stay the same. All of these kits are only a general idea and may vary from unit to unit or in different armies/scenarios.
The Ammo Carrier, Ammo Bearer or simply Assistant is a support role, that works together with either specialized soldiers such as a Medium AT Gunner or in a squad as the primary source of spare magazines. His role is the same as the rifleman, with the difference of carrying extra supplies for his mates.
The autorifleman (AR) carries an automatic weapon designed to lay down a volume of fire. They carry a light machine gun (LMG), typically belt-fed and chambered in an intermediate caliber. The weapon and bulk ammunition is heavier and unwieldy. Compared to a normal rifle, he will be limited in movement and responsiveness. The AR often operates in conjunction with an assistant, either a dedicated “Assistant Autorifleman” (AAR) or another role such as a rifleman or team leader without any other specialized equipment. If there is not a dedicated AAR to carry extra ammunition, it is usually distributed amongst the other members of the squad.
As an AR, your task will usually be supportive fire of either bursts or fully automatic. You are not expected to necessarily hit the enemy but rather to help your team fulfill their roles purpose easier by limiting the enemy’s movement.
When using ACE3, your weapon will gain heat over time and become less reliable in terms of accuracy, fire rate and failures. For this purpose, there is a “Spare barrel” you can use in the field. Furthermore, a midrange scope can prove extremely useful, especially combined with a rangefinder of any kind.
The following video is a demonstration of how MGs can work:
The Medium Machinegunner or MMG for short, is not far off the LMG class. The only difference is the weight he carries around. The gun itself weights a lot more and so does the ammo due to being a higher caliber. An MMG is thus mostly paired with a dedicated Ammo Carrier.
The MMG can also effectively engage vehicles and even strongholds, as the ammo is able to penetrate a lot more material than an LMG. This allows the MMG to be a much more effective support class for assaults, as he can lay down fire on the enemy position to much greater effect.
You will sometimes see this class outside of a normal squad as a support element. These are covered further down in the guide.
An MMG will be able to make short work of lighter vehicles and can even be used as AA against helicopters. Be aware though that a gun can overheat and get inprecise or even jam when using ACE3
The following video is a demonstration of how MGs can work, MMGs start at 2:11:
The grenadier is a rifleman who carries a grenade launcher, typically in the form of an underslung rifle attachment. Most grenade launchers fire 40mm ammunition and allow usage of rounds at ranges of several hundred meters. The HE and HEDP rounds are effective for engaging targets in buildings or trenches, as well as light vehicles and other soft targets. Grenade launchers can fire a variety of ammunition, ranging from explosive or frag to smoke and flare rounds, over buckshot and stun rounds, as well as little camera drones that fall slowly on a parachute, known as “HuntIR” rounds.
The following video shows how grenade launchers generally work:
In some cases, grenadiers are equipped with an RPG or recoilless rifle, instead of the normal grenade launcher. These can fire a variety of grenades, including anti tank rounds. We take a closer look at this specialization, furth down.
The MAT or MAA is the backbone of defense against all types of vehicles. Armed with highly effective
missiles, these guys can disable most vehicles with ease. The biggest difference to the LAT is how the missile reaches its target. The missile knows where it is at all times. It knows this because it knows where it isn’t. By subtracting where it is from where it isn’t, or where it isn’t from where it is (whichever is greater), it obtains a difference, or deviation. The guidance subsystem uses deviations to generate corrective commands to drive the missile from a position where it is to a position where it isn’t, and arriving at a position where it wasn’t, it now is. Consequently, the position where it is, is now the position that it wasn’t, and it follows that the position that it was, is now the position that it isn’t.
Put in other words, it can steer itself, either automatically or by input of the soldier. This allows for more accuracy and ease of usage. However some launchers are more complex to use and require previous explanation as to how they work.
Loadout management and sometimes a dedicated ammo carrier will be needed to play this role to its highest effect, as the launcher and rocket are very heavy, thus limiting your mobility.
The following video shows how to use most of these launchers:
The Engineer is a rarer role and specializes in planting and defusing of any kind of explosives. Usually operating within a dedicated Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team or as part of a vehicle crew. Sometimes you will find an engineer in a strike team when there is explosives needed to blow up an objective. If he is not handling explosives, you will find him taking care of vehicles that need repairs.
His combat role is the same as the basic rifleman, as he does not carry any special combat equipment. When it comes to his speciality, there is not much to say about it: You either plant explosives via the ACE3 interaction menu or you defuse them via the same option. There is no skills besides pressing a button involved. Even repairing vehicles is very straight forward. The difficulty in his tasks lies within knowing what explosive does exactly what and how much is needed to get the job done.
Contrary to popular belief, the marksman is little more than a rifleman, operating a weapon for longer ranges. The marksman is embedded in the squad like any other rifleman but takes on the additional roles associated with his equipment. The marksman’s primary function is to extend the effective range of his squad as well as precision.
Marksmen use weapons that are designed to facilitate his role, firing larger rounds that carry more energy out to long range. Unlike snipers, they use semi automatic rifles in order to effectively place quick, rapid fire on distant targets. The side effect of using such a weapon, however, is that optics and generally a larger weapon, makes it less effective in close quarters. If anything the lack of automatic fire itself is reason enough call it a worse choice in CQB than a normal rifle. For this purpose, marksmen are usually equiped with a sidearm.
A marksman kit is an exceptional choice if providing overwatch or gathering intel is going to be needed, as the scope and rangefinder easily allow for these tasks to be done to expectation.
The following video will give you a basic idea on controls as well as possibilities of marksman rifles and scopes:
You can also read up on scope settings under ACE3 on their wiki: https://ace3mod.com/wiki/feature/scopes.html – [ace3mod.com]
A more in-depth guide to Snipers is found in the Sniper Team section.
The crew of helicopters, vehicles and planes. This role is mostly self explanatory: You command, drive and operate vehicles, mostly in a team rather than alone. Your tasks are completely dependent on your vehicle and mission. To go more into detail, these tasks are explained in the sections about the respective vehicles.
Your gear will include special suits made for the respective tasks, such as G-Suits and parachutes for pilots. A tanker will sometimes also be an engineer and be equipped with repairtools.
You will most likely not operate alone and rather be paired with 1-3 other crewmen or pilots. Especially tanks have many roles to be filled to make the tank more effective.
The first level of leadership: As a (Fire)Teamleader, your job is to take direct command of usually up to 5 soldiers and micromanage them in the field while fulfilling tasks given by your squadlead or command. You are expected fight at the front together with your team and be able to give quick and direct instructions to handle any situation. Arguably, this is the hardest leadership role, as you are directly in combat and still need to give orders and keep a cool head, while a squadleader can usually sit back and carefully think about a plan.
You are usually in direct contact with your squadleader over a radio, while having your team on a secondary channel. This way you can stay in contact with both completely independent from another.
A Teamleader is usually equippted with a normal combat rifle that sports an underslung grenade launcher. This launcher is able to use smoke grenades to mark targets for his team or otherwise provide support with various ammo types.
The mid level of leadership: As a Squadleader, your job is to take direct command of usually up to 3 dedicated teams, specialized or general, while fulfilling tasks given by your command. You will most likely be a bit more in the back instead of actively fighting in the frontlines. All information from the before mentioned FTLs will be send directly to you. Your job is to give each fireteam their general tasks to fulfill the entire mission. Depending on Unitsize, you might be the overall leader of an entire operation or operate next to other squads. Your job can also be to coordinate support from external teams such as artillery or close air support.
A Squadleader is usually equipped with a normal combat rifle that sports an underslung grenade launcher. This launcher is able to use smoke grenades to mark targets for his team or otherwise provide support with various ammo types. You will also most likely have a high powered radio, to stay in contact with friendlies over long distances, such as the headquarters or overall command. You will also see an SQL quite often with a laser designator, to work with supporting elements, such as helicopters.
Expect to not actively take part in the action but rather act as commander of a strategy game when playing as an SQL.
Platoon Lead or Command is the highest instance of a mission that can be taken by players. Only headquarters, usually maintained by the Zeus (Game Master) is above this role. Your job is the management of the entire operation, taking care of everything there is, outlaying the entire mission plan etc. This role is assigned to a Squadleader when you do not play with larger amounts of players.
Your best friend is your map, followed by your radio.
Depending on the mission, you might have a second in command or “Platoon Sergeant”, as well as a dedicated Medic under your command, that acts as the medical leader for the entire missions. Some Command Teams also have a JTAC or UAV Operator with a small drone for gathering intel. You are probably not even going to fire a single shot with this role. Your entire duty is similar to a strategy game when playing as this class.
In the following section, we are going to take a close look at ArmA 3’s vehicles and what they can be used for. Vehicles themselves are a very vast topic, thus we will only scratch the surface here and show you how to use their main features.
Main Battle Tanks
MBTs are the backbone of armored warfare. The MBT is basically the modern evolution of medium tanks first popularized shortly before the second world war. MBTs are known for high tech equipment, effective and diverse weaponry and protection against all but the nastiest of AT weapons.
There is a huge variety of tanks: tracked or wheeled, big cannons or smaller ones, autocannons and even tanks with missile launchers. Their tasks remain mostly the same though.
As a crewman of a tank you will most likely be an engineer as well, in case your tank needs field repair. For this task you will find repairkits, entire service trucks as well as spare wheels and tracks to repair your vehicle. If it ever comes down to leaving your vehicle for whatever reason, you will most likely have a smaller weapon for personal defense.
Cannons of MBTs are usually either 105mm, 120mm or 130mm, anything above that is deemed to heavy to efficiently implement, as it comes with a lot of downsides. MBT cannons can fire a variety of ammo but most importantly:
-Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot rounds (APFSDS), which are currently the most effective and cost efficient armor piercing rounds. They pose a threat to any vehicle, no matter how good its armored.
-High Explosive (HE) rounds are your old school rounds, which are just a big pile of explosives. -Canister rounds are basically shrapnel filled containers that spray a large area with metal.
-HEAT are more specialized explosive rounds, capable of piercing armor.
-ATGMs which are guided either by laser or by wire and are used to accurately shoot an explosive payload across vast distances.
Here is a video, showcasing the most basic features of tanks. This is also translateable to IFVs and some APCs.
Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs)
An MRAP is an armored vehicle, usually used for transportation only. These bad boys have been introduced after the shift away from regular warfare into more guerrilla like battles, where regular armies had to worry more about IEDs, ambushes and so on, giving MRAPs their name.
You usually find these vehicles outfitted with heavy support weapons, controlled either directly or remotely from within the safety of the vehicle via computer.
Unlike light vehicles, these things can take a beating. In some cases they are completely protected to rounds up to 12.7mm/50cal but will definetly protect you from regular rifle rounds. They might have some weak points such as open spaces like the gunner hatch, their tires, sometimes their windows and so on. Luckily for you, not every guerrilla fighter is able to hit a tiny weak spot on a moving vehicle from 400m away. Beware though as even outdated anti-tank weaponry will do short work of MRAPs in most cases.
Are you interested about the “mine resistant” part of the name? They simply started using bigger bombs, making even the heavies or armor useless, so do not get your hopes up too high and watch out for those strange garbage piles on the side of the road!
Armored Personnel Carriers
If protection of your foot soldiers is the highest priority: APCs provide heavily armored protection for transporting soldiers to where they need to be. Usually equipped with some kind of machinegun, sometimes even autocannon, they can also provide some hate towards the enemy.
An APC usually stays a bit behind instead of openly engaging with the enemy as that would be the job of an IFV, laid out further down in the vehicle section.
Infantry Fighting Vehicles
The backbone of any infantry based large scale operation, transport and support vehicle unified in one: The IFV!
These bad boys might not be able to take a lot of damage, but they sure know how to deal it themselves. Their job is to support the infantry elements where ever they can, take care of armored threats and provide cover as well as to transport their precious meat based friends to where they are needed.
As the name suggests, IFVs will usually not work on their own and rather be used as support. They sport various weapons from basic machine guns over cannons to up to highly effective missiles. They have a low profile to keep themselves hidden relatively easily.
You will see IFVs in larger scale missions, manned by 2-4 crewmen and used either in cities as mobile cover or as overwatch from further away. Their control scheme is the same like with MBTs.
Crewmen of IFVs are fullfilling the same requirements as tankers of MBTs, including gear and tasks.
Artillery and MLRS
Artillery is there for all your heavy support needs. They stay back from any active fighting and provide covering fire as well as active bombardment of enemy positions. They are at least lightly armored and are considered a prime target for any enemy, hence why they are usually protected within a base or have some sort of covering element when working in enemy regions.
Due to their nature, these bad boys will have a rather boring mission ahead of them. They are rarely operated by players due to this. You can expect them to be used by headquarters (the Game Master) if the front line infantry calls for it.
Their ammo is divers: You can select anything from smoke shells, to cluster ammo up to even laser guided rounds, besides your normal HE rounds.
First off all, try to think of the plane as a tool you need to learn to use: Once you know how to use it and it’s weapons, you start to have total control over it like the rifle of a rifleman.
Before we go on, we’ll go over some terms you might and hear during your career as a jetpilot.
- 1. CAS = Close Air Support – You are supporting the troops on the ground and therefore your targets will mostly be on the ground
- 2. Fighter = This is how you call a jet which is used to hunt for other air assets
- 3. Helo = Short for Helicopter or rotary-wing
- 4. Fixed-wing = Another term for airplane or jet
- 5. Hold = This is a point or area in which you can wait for targets to be called as well as more information on your mission
- 6. RTB = Return to base – You, as a pilot, can call out RTB when you need to refuel or rearm
- 7. Taxi = The paths to and from the runway to a hangar or a parking area
- 8. AO = Area of operation – The area in which your troops or the mission is located
- 9. AA = Anti air
- 10. AT = Anti ground
Each Aircraft comes with Weapons which fit best for its job. But more on that topic further down.
When taxiing to the runway, just press [Shift] slightly so your engine is running on about 8% power. You’ll see that next to the engine symbol in the top-left corner of your screen.
You can steer your aircraft on the ground by pressing [Q] and [E].
The best speed for taxi is somewhere between 20 and 35 km/h. If you go higher than that, you might tip over and damage your wing when doing turns.
When you are on the runway, you should put your flaps down to a half extended position. The flaps will help you to control your aircraft better in lower speeds as well as when landing or taking off. Push the engine up to 100% using [Shift]. Once you reach ~200 km/h carefully pull back your stick [S or mouse]. If you are pulling up too quickly your tail might touch the ground and a tail strike could damage your hull or gear so take it easy.
When in the air, you need to retract your gear by pressing [G]. Retract your flaps once you have reached a few dozen meters of height.
Your plane is controlled along 3 axes:
Yaw = Turn horizontal left and right [Q and A]
Roll = Turn left or right [A and D]
Pitch = Point your nose Up and down [S and W]
Be careful when doing sharp turns, you will lose speed and in some cases even altitude. If you have ACE3 installed, you can black out by pulling too much G-forces.
You need to navigate to your AO or to your holding point.
HUDs in ArmA have a bar at the bottom with numbers. Those are your Bearings they are calibrated to the magnetic north. So 0° is North, 90° East, 180° South and 270° is West. With that in mind you can find your way around the terrain.
The HUD (Heads up display) shows you most of the information about your Jet:
- 1. Selected weapon
- 2. Speed
- 3. Horizon Marker
- 4. Velocity vector
- 5. Impact point – most unguided weapons like some rockets or the cannon calculate an impact point for you
- 6. Camera/Laser – If you’re watching something on the ground that marker indicates where your camera is pointing.
- 7. Altitude
- 8. Bearing
1. The Active Radar Homing (ARH). This system is used for anti air (AA) targets. You activate your radar by pressing [Ctrl + R], then you have to get your target in that big circle on your HUD and then press [T] to lock on.
Once locked you just have to press [Mouse left] to fire.The missile will track the target on its own.
2. Infrared (IR). IR guidance is used for both air and ground targets. The target has to be warm for it to work. The engine of a jet or of a tank for instance
Again fly towards the target and press [T] to look on a target. You can press [Z] to cycle through targets. once locked on you can fire.
3. Laser. The laser can be used in many different ways. If you press [Ctrl + Mouse right] your camera will open. you can freely look around and see what is happening below your aircraft. To lock on to the terrain you press [Shift + T].
You’ll have a laser marker as a weapon, go ahead and cycle through your weapons with [F] till it’s selected. Now, while in camera mode press fire to activate the laser. You can use this to mark any target manually. It will even follow them around.
If your troops have a line of sight to the target, they can laser it for you using the laser marker or the lasers on their weapons. Important: The laser has to stay on the target until the weapon hits.
The laser can also be provided by a UAV in the area.
4. Dumb fire. Those are weapons which can not lock on to any targets. They just go straight. Use the impact point on the HUD to aim.
Attack helicopters are some of the most powerful weapons available in ArmA 3. Depending on the type of helicopter, they can carry long range laser guided missiles that make short work of MBTs, AA weapons to shoot down other helis, even 20 or even 30mm cannons to rip light vehicle or houses apart. Sometimes these even come with bombs as well as thicker armor to protect themselves.
These helis can act completely on they own or be used as support for other units. Laser guided weapons can either be used via lasers on the helicopter itself or work in tandem with a JTAC elsewhere. Using colored smoke, ground units can mark targets easily over 300m when fired from a grenade launcher. This smoke can make communication with an attack helicopter easier. Some modern helicopters even come with extremely powerful cameras that have thermal imaging, making it possible to easily see anything that lives or has an engine.
Cooperation between pilot and co-pilot/gunner is key to make this weapon effective. Usually there is also a ground based logistics team or at least a base with fuel, ammo and repair trucks to support an attack helicopter.
Using ACE3 you can easily change the loadout of them on the fly.
As a support helicopter, we define anything from transport to recon helos. These helicopters will not be used in an offensive way, even though they sometimes have quite effective weapons themselves.
The most used role of support helicopters is to transport infantry from one point to another or to resupply forward operations with ammo and medical supplies, sometimes even sling load vehicles to transport them around. A MedEvac would be a more specialized support helicopter. We are taking a closer look at those further down in the guide.
Besides transport, you will sometimes see smaller and lighter helicopters used as reconnaissance tools to scout out enemy positions and vehicles. These helis are sometimes equipped with powerful anti-tank weapons for worst case scenarios. They are also seen with powerful cameras, usually equipted with a laser to act as JTACs for other air elements, or to steer their own AT weapons.
Many support helicopters, especially transports, will have a dedicated crew of 1-2 pilots and 2-5 door gunners, depending on the model of helicopter. The job of a door gunner is to provide nothing more than suppressive fire when taking hits, to prevent the enemy from being effective. These guys are also your life insurance when landing in a landing zone, that is in the middle of the enemy. Usually equipted with high caliber and/or high fire rate MGs, sometimes even cannons or grenade launchers, they are definetly a force to be reckoned with.
Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles
As most of the drones are already explained within their subclasses such as vehicles, planes or helicopters, we will keep this section extremely simple.
UAVs are anything that is controlled remotely via uplink. They exists as vehicles, quadrocopters, planes and even little rovers and turrets. Each UAV is highly specialized for a single task: Recon, Fire Support, Laser Marking, Transportation or even defense.
You can access UAVs via a UAV Terminal, linked to a specific faction. You need to select the UAV you want to control and then either give it commands within the UAV terminal, or pilot it directly. From there on out, they work like any other vehicle of its class.
This class of vehicle is meant as support for your operations. They exist as transport, utility, command, medical, ammo, refuel, repair and a few versions in between.
Transport trucks will be used to transport equipment and troops, while the actual service vehicles are mostly used for vehicle support:
Refuel trucks can be used to refuel any vehicle via a hose and fuelnozzle. Repair trucks allow an engineer to perform advanced repairs while wielding a toolkit in his backpack and an ammo truck allows an engineer to change a vehicles loadout, at least on helicopters and planes as well as to rearm their weapons.
In quite a few bigger units, you will have dedicated squads of players to tend to vehicle, using these trucks. They are classified as logistic teams.
Teams and Structure
The following sections take a closer look at possible combinations of classes as well as special teams and their tasks. This is also where we take a look at support and specialized teams.
To get a basic understanding of how a larger group of players is put together, take a look at the following chart:
This is an old Chart from 2013-ish, provided by the (then great) Iron Brits ArmA 3 Clan. All Credits to them.
This chart explains how each team is connected via command structure and radio, to ease communication and effectiveness. Support Teams such as vehicles, specialized AT teams and what not, operate like their own squad, still under command of the platoon leader, while a normal squad is divided into multiple fireteams, under the command of their squadleader.
Heavy Support Weapons
Any weapon that requires at least two people to operate and/or to put together is considered of the “heavy” class. These weapons are often found on vehicles such as mounted HMGs, automatic grenade launchers and so on.
Within ArmA there exists the possibility to split these weapons into different parts, put them into backpacks and carry them around with 1-2 people. This allows you to put them together wherever you need. Due to their weight and size, ammo is usually limited, thus a vehicle to carry the team is advised. If you use ACE3, these possibilities can be expanded on by many additional weapon types and more approachable ways to carry the weapon. Even ammo handling can be changed via ACE, allowing you to carry the “magazines” as a normal item in your inventory, like you would with any other weapon.
Logistics and Engineering
Any dedicated team that tends to other vehicles or provides ammo, resupply, fuel etc. Is considered a logistics team. A more specialized role of this are dedicated engineering teams, that are manned by, you guessed it: Engineers.
Depending on the mission, you have access to refuel, reammo, repair or transport trucks. Sometimes even recovery tanks. You task is to help out the main force with whatever they need. A tank ran out of ammo and has a broken main gun? No problem for a pair of engineers with a repair truck. Your platoon is out of grenades? No problem, just bring them some crates with new ammo from the FOB.
In some extremer cases, these teams have access to transport choppers, which would make them an amalgamation of the support helicopter and logistics team.
An engineering squad is also able to work as a demining squad, getting rid of any IEDs you may find. There is also special vehicles for this.
A reconnaissance (recon) team would be a normal fireteam or squad that operators covertly to gather information or destroy key targets to weaken the enemy. The normal squads and teams would do the heavy lifting and play in a more standard manner, while those men apply special tactics and are provided with the equipment to suit their approach. A special operations team would be a more complex and diverse approach to a very similiar goal, than a recon team.
As part of a recon team, you will most likely be carrying a lighter set of gear, to be able to keep your stamina more easily. This means you should suspect to carry limited ammo, no heavy support weapons, not even proper anti tank launchers. You weapons will most of the time sport a supressor.
As for the tactics of this team composition, you will try to stay hidden for as long as you can until you reach a position where you can easily achieve your goals and still have a way out. This means scouting the area, finding the best approach and then only go for your objective. Other targets are usually ignored.
If it is not needed to eliminate a target, then your main task is going to collect intel for your team. This can go from scouting a base, to finding a target, to understand movement and equipment of the enemy.
A MedEvac or medical evacuation team is meant for exactly what its name suggests: evacuate and give medical attention. They are called to action when someone was wounded and needs urgent care, like in a dedicated hospital, rather than in the mud where he was shot. That’s when those guys come in.
Usually they work with a dedicated support helicopter, where everything applies what we previously said about them. In some cases however, they are vehicle based.
Artillery and Mortar
Static Artillery and Mortar are support weapons that are used to deploy a variety of weapons. Usually the bigger the caliber, the greater the range and effectiveness. Smaller mortars start at 60mm and go up to 120mm where 82mm is the most commonly used size. Artillery can be anything from 105mm to 240mm.
Artillery is usually quite sturdy and takes some time to deploy. Using RHS arty, you are able to carry them around using their wheels and attaching them to a vehicle. This allows the artillery team to stay mobile and go where they are needed. Rounds for the artillery are usually very heavy, whereas no soldier would be able to carry them around. This is why you usually see artillery backed up by a vehicle carrying the ammo.
Mortars are basically small artilleries. They are usually carried by a team of two and consist of a baseplate and a tube. Most mortars are very simple in terms of their construction. All you need is a device to aim them, a data sheet to know what elevation is needed for what distance and the tube itself. Technically the baseplate is not even needed to fire the mortar. They work by dropping a shell/grenade into the tube backwards, you do this by interacting with the mortar via ACE3. Once it is in, the gunner can hit fire. IRL the round would fire automatically once hitting the bottom of the mortar, as it functions as the firing mechanism, setting off the charge.
Mortar and artillery both come with a variety of ammo types but are usually only used for HE, Smoke and Illumination Shells. Cluster and Mine ammo also exists, as well as incendiary but those types are rare.
For usage under ACE3, you will most likely need to calculate your shots. A 82mm Rangecard is provided by the mod, as well as artillery range cards for modded artillery/mortars.
Mortars usually have multiple “charges”, meaning how much force is used when shooting the projectile. The higher the charge, the further you can shoot. By adjusting the elevation of the tube by pressing PageUP/DOWN you can adjust the angle of the shot.
You can read up on the mortar usage on the ACE3 Wiki: https://ace3mod.com/wiki/feature/mk6mortar.html – [ace3mod.com]
Snipers in ArmA are somewhat of an urban legend at this point: Every second newbie seems to want to be a sniper, because other more casual shooters portray them as badass killing machines. In ArmA 3 however, the story is very different: They are deadly and precise, but they are far from killing machines.
A sniper teams main task will be similar to a recon team: collecting intel. They do however have the ability to give precise fire support using various tools to calculate their shots such as computers that measure atmospheric pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction and so on. Once they opened fire however, their effectiveness vastly lowers due to enemy scattering and moving around. Because of this, their try to have their first shot being as accurate as possible and make sure to hit the right target.
In many missions with snipers, they will be equipped with laser markers to be able to act as JTACs to coordinate airstrikes. Besides that, they will always carry rifles with the highest performance rounds you will probably ever see. Some of those weapons are even equipped with explosive rounds to maximize effectiveness.
A dedicated Sniper Team normally uses a high powered rifle, at least 7.62 caliber. These specialized weapons retain accuracy even over great distances.
If you want to effectively shoot such a weapons over large distances when using ACE3, you will need at least a Rangefinder and a way of measuring wind speed. A rangecard is also mandatory, as it will show you how to adjust your scope according to the previously mentioned measurements.
If you want the best results, you will need a Kestrel and an AtragMX. The Kestrel allows you to read multiple additional measurements such as atmosphere pressure, humidity, precise windspeed as well as temperature. If you put in the data correctly into the AtragMX, it will calculate the exact settings for your scope to hit your target.
You can read up on the entire AtragMX on the ACE3 Wiki: https://ace3mod.com/wiki/feature/atragmx.html – [ace3mod.com]
Advanced Combat Environment 3
ACE3 is the main realism mod just about everyone uses. Before we dive into some of the most important features, let me point out that this is just going to be an overview. Every groups uses their own settings that may even vary from mission to mission, thus taking a deep dive will most likely not be too beneficial. Besides that, you can read up on the entire mod here: https://ace3mod.com/wiki/ – [ace3mod.com]
The Goal of ACE3 is to either introduce new systems and feature to expand upon ArmA 3’s sandbox or to rewrite, refine and sometimes even fix existing features. We have already talked about many possibilities in this guide. Here is a quick list of the most used features, either directly by player action or passively during gameplay:
- Highly Customizable Medical System
- Advanced Grenade Throwing with high precision
- Weight and Stamina System
- Dragging/Carrying Soldiers
- Storing crates and static weapons in vehicles
- Additional Gamerules (Viewmode, Viewdistance, AI Interactions etc)
- Ingame customizable vehicle pylons with new ammo types
- More realistic vehicle damage system
- Many new interactible inventory items
- Pointing on maps
Just to name a few on top of my head. Lets take a closer look on some of these…
Advanced Medical System
If you use ACE, you will most likely have some sort of injury system active. This system is highly customizable and there even exist expansions that add features such as breathing and blood circulation, advanced monitoring devices and blood groups. You can read up on it on the ACE3 Wiki: https://ace3mod.com/wiki/feature/medical-system.html – [ace3mod.com]
We will only take a look on how to use the medical system and not get into the custom settings, as that is different from group to group.
Windows & CTRL + Windows are your interaction keys in ACE3. You can either interact with people, crates, vehicles etc., or with yourself. If you want to treat yourself, interact with yourself via CTRL + Windows. If you want to help someone lying unconscious on the ground, use Windows.
As you can see, a menu appears, telling you about the injuries of the soldier. The torso interaction point is orange, instead of white like the leg. This means it has sustained heavy injury. The more it shifts from yellow to red, the more injured a body part is, meaning red is a critical state.
You have two options to treat someone: You either keep holding Windows to interact with the limb and apply bandages from there or you look at the soldier and press H to open his medical menu. This must be enabled in the ACE Addon settings.
Personally, I find the Menu a lot easier to navigate, so we will use it as our example:
The top left shows the different interactions you can perform, from left to right they are:
- Triage Card Changes
- Examine (Pulse, Blood Pressure)
- Bandages/Fractures (Actually treat injuries)
- Medication (Help against pain etc.)
- Breathing (Disabled unless additional Mods are present)
- Advanced Treatment (Stuff only a medic can do, Blood, CPR etc)
- Drag/Carry (Move patient elsewhere)
- Switch from patient to self
When we treat the wounds of our test subjects by applying multiple bandages to the torso and head, they will start to appear blue, meaning bandaged or not bleeding anymore. Wounds can reopen according to the settings chosen. You must understand that a wound usually does not magically disappear because a bandage was applied, although even that is possible with custom settings.
If a patient is fully sealed, he is either blue or, if all injuries are fixed, he is fully white:
Grenades and Explosives
ACE3 adds quite a few features to the throwing and placing of explosives. Timers, clackers, high precision throwing, more intuitive grenade selection as well as many new types of ordnance. Even a new defusal system is present.
First of all, we are going to take a look at grenade throwing.
You can cycle through harmless grenades with 7 and dangerous grenades with 6. There is multiple new throwing modes available for the default throwing by pressing G. You can cycle through these modes by pressing 8.
The most interesting feature here is the advanced grenade throwing system though. By pressing Shift+G.
The white dots represent the traveling arc of the object. If you look very closely near the window, you can see a single red dot, meaning the grenade will hit a surface. If you want to throw it into the window, you need to aim a little bit higher until the red to disappears. It is purposefully hard to spot, as to maintain some sort of difficulty.
If you want to throw grenades sideways around a corner, you can do so by changing your stance towards the corner.
While holding a firearm, press Q/E, depending on the direction. Then you can also change your stance with CTRL+A or D for more precision. The arc will change to a slight sideways motion.
You can say that the white dots in the picture are grey-ish. This means they are behind a wall, not directly in your line of sight, meaning you are doing it correctly.
Explosives, such as demolition charges and mines also have a new system within ACE3. You are able to place them from within your self interaction menu:
Once they are placed, you can interact with them, choosing a trigger. You can choose a timer, a clacker or even a phone to trigger them, depending on the type of explosive. Mines have special triggers, such as pressure plates. In this case, I have selected a firing device, so that I can trigger them via button press:
Credits and Contributors
My gratitude to all the people that helped create this guide. We had people write texts, make the illustrations, create artworks and proof read this guide.
DSFreaker, a old friend I have been playing ArmA with for years. Quite knowledgable around ArmA and ACE3. https://www.twitch.tv/dsfreaker – [twitch.tv]
Silas, a very helpful lad, that provided a bunch of Artwork for this guide, as well as as reach within the Furion community, to find new helpers.
https://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561198135902247 – [steamcommunity.com]
MrMustache, a talented artwork creator and modder. Quite well known in the ArmA Community by now and a great gaming friend. https://steamcommunity.com/id/ArtistWithAMustache – [steamcommunity.com]
The_Demongod, helped a few years ago, when this project started. Provided a lot of the texts and a great deal of critic on the layout: https://steamcommunity.com/id/the_demongod – [steamcommunity.com]
Underain, helped the project in the early days with artworks and critic: https://steamcommunity.com/id/6060606606060 – [steamcommunity.com]
FlyingGasmask, a very talented Artwork Creator that provided a lot of the art in this guide.
https://steamcommunity.com/id/FlyingGasmask/ – [steamcommunity.com]
L1nx, helped with Artworks and critic.
https://steamcommunity.com/id/_l1nx/ – [steamcommunity.com]
Neptune2284, helped with critic.
Tearing, helped with critic.
My ArmA Community. Without them I would have never made the step to create this and would never have had so much fun in ArmA to motivate me. Here is our *german* discord: https://discord.gg/3V3bNmK – [discord.gg]
Thanks to the “Furion” Community for endorsing this project. They are a collection of artists and gamers alike. Here is an invite to their Discord: https://discord.gg/QkqtyGd – [discord.gg]
This guide was made over the span of 4 years, on a very loose time schedule. Still, I’ve easily spend douzens if not houndreds of hours on the entire guide. The few tutorial videos themselves took 2-3h each. The “This is ArmA 3” Tribute Video took well over 30h to complete. Writing, iterating, getting feedback, refining the texts etc, easily took another 40h. I always worked on this whenever real life lend me the time to do so. I really hope you enjoy this.
You want to support my work? You can do so via my twitch donation page, best when I am streaming 😉 https://www.twitch.tv/tehf0cus/about – [twitch.tv]
I hope you enjoy the For Beginners Guide – Arma 3 guide. This is all for now! If you have something to add to this guide or forget to add some information, please let us know via comment! We check each comment manually!
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