Tips for winning Sticks and Stones in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Break their bones.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Sticks and Stones

Image via Activision

The Sticks and Stones game mode has a long lineage in the Call of Duty: Black Ops series, and it makes its return in Season Three of Black Ops Cold War. This free-for-all playlist pits up to eight players against each other, and each player is equipped only with the R1 Shadowhunter crossbow, the Ballistic Knife, and a Tomahawk. While the mode still plays mostly the same this time around, it is still new to plenty of players.

Getting in the top three in any match is an accomplishment, but here is how you can get a solid win in Sticks and Stones in Black Ops Cold War.

The basic rules

With a time limit of five minutes, your objective is to eliminate players as many times as possible. Kills with the crossbow and the Ballistic Knife will net you 100 points each. Throwing your Tomahawk for a kill will not only give you 50 points, but it will bankrupt the opponent you hit and take all of their points away. It’s a high-stakes game. All three of your weapons are one-hit kills.

Lead your shots

Knives and crossbow bolts obviously don’t travel as quickly as bullets do; not only that, but they will travel in an arc. Pay close attention to your enemies’ movements — as twitchy as Call of Duty can be, especially in Sticks and Stones, you have to be observant of how your enemy is moving and shoot or throw your weapon at where you anticipate they’ll be. There will be a lot of strafing in this game, so aim at their sides.

Never stop moving

Remember that there is a constant Spy Plane UAV hovering over for the entire match; your general location will always be known. Because of how generally hard it is to hit people with bows or knives, you will want to be wary of everyone’s position on the map and keep your distance from people. If you have the better aim, you should come up top in those mid-range encounters. And should you find any unsuspecting opponents who aren’t as aware of the map as you, you’ll have a perfect opportunity for some Humilitation.

Don’t underestimate hip firing

While you would assume that the crossbow requires pinpoint accuracy down the sights, ADS with the crossbow will cost you some precious time. Believe it or not, but the crossbow reticule while shooting from the hip is quite useful, especially during moments where you find yourself in sudden close-quarters combat. Put that reticule over their body and don’t be afraid to fire; a hit anywhere on their body will be an instant kill.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Ballistic Knife
Image via Activision

Melee with the Ballistic Knife

The Ballistic Knife gives you two knives in each hand, one for a quick melee. Whenever you do find yourselves in those unideal close quarters situations, using melee with the crossbow equipped will be pretty ineffective — it will take two full thwacks to kill an enemy, which is a waste of time. Hot swap to the Ballistic Knife if you absolutely need to get a melee kill for 50 points.

Move in zigzags and don’t bunny hop

The key is to be unpredictable in your movement, as reloading in Sticks and Stones is relatively a huge time commitment. However, don’t think of this as a free pass to hop around the map, because that’s more predictable than you think. If you see someone coming straight your way and they’re jumping up and down, that extra height will do them no good when you shoot in their direction and a shot anywhere on the body will kill them. Instead, serpentine during combat and juke your opponents so they miss shots and have to switch or reload.

Don’t be complacent in the lead

You may eventually find yourself on top of the scoreboard, but there is no opportunity to rest easy in Sticks and Stones. You’ll have to defend your title, because not only will everyone keep climbing up, but you can easily get humiliated with a well-placed Tomahawk. The leading player shows up as a gold dot on the radar, so once you yourself are the gold dot, expect everyone to be (ballistic) knives out. You certainly can’t stay in one place, and while running away from encounters will prevent you from getting humiliated, that may allow someone else to sneak up on the scoreboard.

It’s a fine balance, being careful of enemies while also having to add score to maintain your lead. It’s best for your lead to be as close to the end of the match as possible.