The National Cyber League (NCL) Team Game is rapidly approaching, and by rapidly, I mean it starts tomorrow, April 9th. If you have yet to set up your team or join a team, you will have until 11:59PM EST tonight, April 8th, to join/set up a team. There are no exceptions to this rule, so make sure to get it done on time. If you’re reading this during a season other than the Spring 2021 season, double check the dates for your season. Now, onto the information that applies no matter what season you’re reading this blog.
Before the Team Game starts, sit down with your team to discuss your strategy for working together. This should include:
- How you keep track of who is working on what challenges and where their answers are going before they are submitted
- Who is permitted to submit answers through the Cyber Skyline platform
- What strategies you’ll use for timing of submitting answers
- Methods/channels of communication
- Times you plan to be working on challenges together and whether you meet in person or over video chat
For teams I’ve been on, we always put all of the challenges into a Google Sheet that is shared with every member of the team. Each category had its own page and each person would then get their own column on each page to input their answers. We tried to make sure that at least two players agreed on the same answer before submitting it and then whoever was designated as the answer submitter would submit the answers for all of the challenges. The reason we always chose to designate one person to submit answers was to keep everyone from submitting incorrect answers without discussing with the team beforehand. The only time answers would be submitted with only one person finding the answer was during the last few hours of the competition, that way if the answer did end up being incorrect there was still time to try again.
As for communication, we would always have a team group text chain going on, and we would also set up a Discord server where we could text chat about the challenges, but we could also video chat to help each other when necessary. Now if everyone is free for the entire weekend, you may not need to schedule exact times when you plan to be working together in person or over video chat, but if any of your teammates have work schedules to work around, I do recommend having those times scheduled beforehand.
Now, when it comes to answer submitting strategies, every team does it differently. Some teams will submit answers immediately after finding them, some will flag hoard until they are closer to the end of the Game, and others may do a combination of the two. If your team is just trying to have fun and learn along the way, flag hoarding is not recommended at all. Most teams do not like the teams who flag hoard because they’re the most competitive and in it to win rather than to learn. Flag hoarding is generally used to trick other teams into thinking they can be more relaxed because they’re at the top, but then all of a sudden a team comes in and submits all of their flags at the end of the game and ends up on top, and the other teams don’t have the chance to catch up because it’s already too late.
All of these factors are going to look different for every single team, so do what works best for your team, whether that means using the strategies I listed above, or doing the exact opposite. Just keep in mind that whatever plan you come up with could make or break you as a team. If you plan for things to go one way, but that strategy isn’t working in the moment for your team, be prepared to readjust strategies mid-game. That’s the way working as a team works in real life, especially when you’re working with people with different personality types and opinions in a field that is constantly changing, so embrace and prepare for the fact that things may not go according to plan.
As for Team Game logistics on the NCL and Cyber Skyline side, reminder that the Team Game opens at 1 PM EST on Friday and closes at 9 PM EST on Sunday, which means you have 56 hours total for the Team Game. For your team bracket placement, the player on your team with the highest individual bracket placement determines which bracket your team will be in, i.e. if the top player on your team ranked in the Gold Bracket for the Individual Game, your team will be placed in the Gold Bracket for the Team Game. Also remember that, just as it was in the Individual Game, the leaderboard will be blacked out in the final hour of the Team Game and you will not see the finalized leaderboard until after Cyber Skyline completes their cheating audit, which takes several days, so keep an eye on the Community Slack for the announcement of when the finalized leaderboard gets posted.
If you have anymore questions about the Team Game, reach out in the #ask-an-ncl-ambassador channel on the Community Slack, fill out the Contact Us form on the NCL website, or submit a support ticket to Cyber Skyline here.