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Splatoon is a simple-looking shooter. It’s colorful. You shoot paint. No way that’s as complex as a Counter-Strike or Call of Duty, right? Well, just a handful of days following its release, it’s obvious that Nintendo’s latest Wii U hit has some serious depth (read our review).

The goal of Splatoon’s regular Turf War mode is as straight forward as it gets: cover more of the ground in paint than the other team. The problem is that objective is so basic that some people are missing some important strategies.

But that’s why we’re here. Let’s break down some keys to winning and debunk some popular theories that are probably even hurting your game.

Don’t waste time covering your base at the start of a match

The complaint I hear most often from other Splatoon players is that they hate when their team doesn’t immediately take the time to paint their own base. But the truth is that you really should not waste the precious early moments of the match covering easy territory.

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Success in Splatoon doesn’t come from mindlessly spraying paint everywhere. Instead, you should always try to push and disrupt your opponents.

If you sit back and take the time to cover your base, you’re going to give the enemy team the opportunity to make paint paths to important choke points on the map. They may even rush your base and immediately start undoing what you’ve done in your base.

If your entire team is still in your base when the enemy shows up, this will make it that much more difficult to fight your way out. You want someone on the other side of the map that you can superjump to.

If everyone on your team is deep in enemy territory, that is in no way a bad thing even if they are wrecking your base. Because you can always — at any time — use your GamePad’s touchscreen to jump back to your original spawn point. If one person does this, they can start fighting back the enemy onslaught. And your team can start working their way back for a pincer attack.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should never worry about covering your base. Just never make it your top priority.

You’re going to die. When you do, cover more of your base each time. By the end of the match, if you’ve done a good job of disrupting the flow of the other team, you’ll have naturally covered your entire base.

In a situation where your whole team is pressing on your enemies, you could potentially get them in a situation where they cannot even get out of their own spawn. This could enable you to get big wins where two people are repeatedly killing anyone who tries to get back into the fight while everyone else is painting every inch of the play field.

Cover your opponents paint first

This concept should serve as the basis for all of your thinking about how to win at Splatoon: covering your opponents paint is worth two points, where covering bare ground is only worth one.

When you throw paint on empty ground, you’re helping your team. But you’re not helping your team nearly as much as if you are simultaneously covering areas that your opponents have already painted over. That’s because you are gaining points for your team and taking them away from the enemy all at once.

A match of Turf War in Splatoon is only 3 minutes long. That’s super-short, and you need to use that time as efficiently as possible. That’s why you need to, whenever you have the opportunity, cover the other team’s paint.

This is actually one of the main reasons it is so so important to get out of your base as soon as possible. Covering your own base isn’t worth nearly as much as immediately getting to somewhere that you’re covering your opponents’ colors.

Again, this doesn’t mean you should never put paint on bare ground. But you should pretty much only put paint on empty spaces on your way to more fruitful zones and control points.

Maintain paint paths out of your base

Here’s yet another reason you want to get out of your base as soon as possible. You cannot count on your team members to always provide suitable superjump points. Sometimes, you’re going to want to get to a point by swimming from your base. The fastest way to do this is as a squid, so you want to make sure that your team has made plenty of paint paths out of your spawn point so that you always have a decent option.

Again, if you’ve done a good job disrupting the other team, most of your paths should survive.

Cover certain walls even though they don’t count

Walls don’t count toward your team’s score. Always keep that in mind.

But that doesn’t mean you should never paint walls. Splattering vertical surfaces with your color is a crucial way to create paths for getting around. You can get to high ground and have an advantage over the other team.

Getting on the wall is always a good way to hide in hectic fire fights.

A kill is worth more than covering the ground in paint

And here is my favorite piece of advice: kill people.

I’ve seen people say thinks like, “quit trying to shoot people and put some paint on the ground.” But, my lord, that is terrible thinking.

Just like covering your opponent’s paint is worth more than covering bare ground, killing an opponent is worth even more. I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus on killing enemies over painting the ground.

To understand why, just think about the one thing that is hurting your team’s score more than anything else. What is that? It’s the other team. If you can take one player off of the field, you can do way more damage while that person isn’t doing any at all.

And getting killed is a huge detriment to your team. Respawning takes between 10 and 15 seconds and even longer if you need to superjump or swim to the battle.

If you have a high kill-death ratio, it’ll have a huge effect on the match. And your team will almost always win.

Other tips

  • Think of submerging as a squid as stealth.
  • The perks on your clothes really matter.
  • Keep buying clothes and let them re-roll until you get the perks that you want.
  • The weapons have really obvious top-tier versions — find out what they are in your favorite make and get it as soon as possible.

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