The Lerk in natural selection is a creature not often used due to its complicity and tendency to die very quickly, however it can easily tip the scales when used in the right hands. It's a very agile creature with the ability to fly and has the advantage of getting into those annoying hard-to-get-to places. This gives it a big edge over those Lerk-hungry Marines and allows you to, not only aggravate them, but to slow them down as well. This is all very well but to be able to utilize a Lerk effectively, you'll have to learn all the tricks of the trade. If you are new to Natural-Selection, I strongly advise you to read the general guide sections before reading the Lerk guide.
The Lerk costs 30 resources meaning it can be around very early on in the game, before high weapon upgrades. It's even possible to have a Lerk at around 50seconds in. Early on is when a Lerk is most effective as the marines are generally trying to expand and the Lerk is a fantastic means of slowing or halting them. It has four abilities to choose from, though the second, third and fourth abilities require one, two, or three hives respectively.
The simple bite. Much like the Skulk bite only slightly weaker but with a higher attack rate. This is the default attack for a Lerk and does its job. Although this is the first ability available to the Lerk, it shouldn't be excessively used, mainly due to the fact that you have to get close to the Marines. It can be risky to use it especially against more experienced players who can aim better or drop meds efficiently. However, if you feel that a situation calls for biting, then timing is crucial. Wait for openings to increase your chances of survival eg. while the Marine is building, knifing a resource tower, shooting someone else, reloading, climbing ladders or you could go in with other friendly aliens you get the idea. Two bites are required to kill a Marine with no armour, which makes it especially effective when combined with the Lerk's second ability.
Spore. This is a cloud of green gas that does 7 damage per second to a small area. Its main use is to reduce armour allowing for a two-bite kill for friendly skulks and yourself. Of course, it's also possible to get a couple of spore kills if you're lucky while the Commander isn't paying attention. It also has a much more subtle use, often overlooked, and that is to waste resources, to slow the marines down and to act as a distraction. A Commander needs to spend resources on medpacks if he wants his marines to live or hold a position of strategic importance. With each medpack costing 2 resources, a Lerk can force the commander to spend a great deal simply keeping his marines alive. 2 or 3 marines, even with well-timed meds, will require a substantial amount of medpacks to keep them above that crucial 75hp point (the amount of damage a Skulk-bite does) which can mean a lot of lost resources for Marines. Marines may also become hesitant to push forward into spores, thus slowing them down. Sporing a Marine building a structure also slows them down and can be an excellent time to attack. As building Marines are stationary, they take the full effect of spores (note that Heavy Armours are not affected by spores). It's also possible to push Marines into various areas with well places spores. Equally, the Lerk can provide excellent distraction for skulks. By sporing whilst flying about (details on how to fly effectively below), the Lerk can draw enemy fire, reduce their armour and take the attention off your Skulks who will be able to finish the marines off with a lot less hassle. If you want to further increase the Skulks' chances of survival you'll want to use the Lerk's third ability.
Umbra. This looks similar to the spore, only yellow. It reduces the damage done by enemy fire to any friendly creatures in the umbra cloud. As you have probably noticed by now, the Lerk is largely a support creature and is only truly in its element around other aliens. Umbra is most helpful when aliens can benefit from it so umbra the entrances and the areas where the aliens will most likely be to maximise it's effect. Again, a seemingly subtle difference but a big difference nonetheless and one that might just save that Fade from untimely death. More specifically: for Skulks, umbra the paths to the marines; for Fades, umbra the Marines; for the Onos and Gorge, umbra the creatures themselves. With umbra stopping a whopping 50% of the bullets from hitting, you can't lose with this ability.
This is the final ability of the Lerk and only usable with three hives so you might find you rarely have a chance to use this. Primal scream increases the attack rate of all aliens in your vicinity. This is very useful when destroying structures as it can mean the difference between a horde of Marines bursting through that phasegate and an easy win. Due to its large adrenaline cost, you might find that you aren't able to join in the fray but know that your aid is more than worth it.
In this advanced section, I will be going into more detail about lerk techniques in real game situations
The Lerk's ability to fly is extremely handy but if flown in various ways, can be infinitely harder to hit. Different situations call for different measures so there's no need to dodge like a maniac provided there are no enemies nearby. If you are merely scouting, double tab the jump button and you'll glide in the direction you're facing at nice speeds. If you hold jump, the glide will be silent giving you the means of a stealth attack or simply scouting quietly. Until your Lerk decides to give out an annoying grunt that is. Be careful when using this, as your speed will decrease fairly quickly and will be an easier target to wary Marines. This method conserves energy as well so you should be able to bash jump should the need arise.
Walking in general as a Lerk is an absolute no. Lerks are incredibly slow when walking and are basically screaming "kill me, kill me!". You should never be in a position where walking is necessary as even if you run out of adrenaline, one or two jumps will set you on your way. Basically, walking isn't in the Lerk's vocabulary so don't use it. Lerks in combat are not invincible and survive longest when evading. They make up for their lack in armour by being hard to hit in the first place. To effectively evade, use all three dimensions. This can confuse Marines as they have to be conscious of where the Lerk might go next at all times. The ceiling is your friend so use it. It's infinitely harder aiming up or down than it is aiming in front, as your mouse movement has to change to accommodate the new position. If you look directly up as a Marine and then turn left or right, you simply rotate on the spot so, as a Lerk, abuse this.
Use obstacles to lose Marines firing-sight temporarily. This can give you time to decide on your next move, call for help or get into a better position whilst sporing. Just darting in and out of obstacles is useful and disorientates the Marine, leaving him more vulnerable to attacks. I strongly recommend that you learn all the maps well and learn the vent systems off-by-heart because they can be lifesavers, especially if your Hive is being closely guarded and you're on low life. The Hive itself is usually a great place to sit and spore from. You get a nice big hitbox covering you, clear sight of the nearby surroundings and permanent regeneration. A Lerk on top of a hive is one the things marines have to be most wary about as it can attack often, due to the health regeneration and it's prime position.
One of the most effective ways of dodging and gaining speed is a technique called pancaking. This is basically flying up and down very quickly which gains a great deal of speed and makes you great deal harder to it. This can only be done effectively with the upgrade 'Celerity' and is one of the main reasons Lerks choose it. It works around the fact that the speed going up and down is not capped so by flying up and then flying down, you can go a lot faster making you harder to it. It is a drain on the adrenaline, however, so you don't want to be doing this all the time. Coupled with biting/sporing, your energy will deplete very quickly and a Lerk that can't fly is a dead Lerk. Pancaking is arguably one of the most effective flying techniques a Lerk have, it is vital that a good Lerk knows how to do this as it gives you that edge over a more experienced Marine.
As a Lerk, it's important to choose the right upgrades. This can depend on the game's situation, your personal style of play and obviously which chambers you have. The following is just a quick summary of how each upgrade can be useful or useless. These are just suggestions, however, and you should by no means take it upon yourself to be exactly like every other Lerk in the community.
A nice boost to armour, raising it from 30 to 60. It enables the Lerk to be slightly more offensive which, depending on your style, helps no end. Combined with Celerity, it allows the Lerk to be much more aggressive as then you'll have both speed and toughness on your side. Personally, I think that Carapace is a standard upgrade for the Lerk, especially as a second/third hive upgrade. It just gives you that slight edge over marines who might otherwise kill you or force you to retreat to the hive. You probably wont find yourself having to use this often as a first hive upgrade as Defence Chambers aren't often used first.
This allows you to stay put for extended periods of time making it possible to maintain pressure on advancing marines. This upgrade is very useful if you're wanting to act as a support Lerk, distracting Marines and reducing their armour. Some offensive Lerks might even opt for it simply because it cuts down the time needed for flying back to the hive for healing. The healing speed is substantial enough for it to be useful but will not prevent Marines from killing you quickly. As a first hive ability, this upgrade might be handy but I don't think it quite cuts it after that as Marines will have stronger weapons and you'll have another hive/gorge to get healed from anyway.
On low life, this upgrade gives you a %chance of teleporting back to the hive. I feel this upgrade is the weakest of the three. It doesn't give you any inherent advantage over Marines on the field and can be unreliable. You might as well take Carapace for the extra damage soaking potential; it's certainly more reliable. The usefulness of this ability is very limited, relying on the situation and luck and luck is a definitely not something you'll be wanting to rely on.
This upgrade, though rarely taken, can be pretty effective. With it, you can get close to the Marines without them knowing, so aggressive Lerks that have a knack for dying from afar might want to try this out to close the gap between you and the Marine. A silenced Lerk can be quite disorientating if you fly in and out of obstacles so use this to your advantage. Although these benefits are nice, I can't help but thinking that this upgrade is dwarfed by Celerity and Adrenaline. It's usefulness is too limited in comparison, motion tracking pretty much nullifies it and you'll find yourself dying quickly to more skilled Marines who can track well.
The most common upgrade for Lerks and arguably the best. The extra speed that it gives you allows you to pancake with much more success, which is one of the most important techniques a Lerk can have. With this, you'll find yourself dying a lot less quickly, especially if you pancake. You'll be able to respond sharply to the actions of the Marines and will able to scout the map more efficiently, an important aspect of clan matches. It's an aggressive upgrade that gives you that extra something when going in for the kill. Speed is everything. It's hard to go wrong with this upgrade.
Arguably, this upgrade is the preferred choice when supporting other higher lifeforms or defending against repeated pushes. It basically allows you to spore endlessly forcing Marines either to retreat or to spend a substantial amount of resources on medpacks. You won't be able to play aggressively though as you'll be flying too slowly to live very long. With a second hive, Lerks will be able to utilize Adrenaline more with the use of umbra.
For a laugh? I can't see much use in this upgrade as Lerks are constantly moving, nullifying the upgrade entirely. No Lerk will want to creep up to their prey and surprise it from up close unless they just want to humiliate them or they're lacking a few marbles. By using cloak you completely ignore the Lerk's role in the game to support. Imagine your embarrassment (and surprise) as the commander scans your area revealing you crawling along the floor at a snail's pace in front of numerous Marines' stay clear of this upgrade.
Scent of Fear
This upgrade allows you to be canny about your whereabouts on the map, locating yourself where you're needed the most and also prevents you from flying straight into a hiding shotgunner, which is always invaluable. You'll be able to spore without showing yourself as you can spore just to the side of your target reducing the damage you take, permitting a more aggressive move later on. Scouting is made quicker and easier so no more sneaky phase gates. Basically, Scent of Fear is a versatile upgrade making it easier to time your movement and control the map and this is incredibly important in matches so I'd get this.
A very aggressive upgrade that basically means you'll get more frags. You'll be able to get in and out just as quick but you'll have double the effectiveness. Combined with spores, you'll be sure to reel in the frags - always helpful. Don't take this unless you're dominating and can rely on others or the sensory chambers to do the scouting for you. It still won't stop insta-kills by shotguns though, so unlucky.
Knowing all of this doesn't change a thing unless you implement it, which is easier said than done. Being in the right mind-set helps exponentially so the more you practise, the more you'll get used to the style of play. Try things out and find your own Lerk style, just remember the basics and you'll do fine. I hope you found this guide helpful, feel free to make any suggestions or ask any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by: Tweadle