Author Topic: Problems with airbase attacks  (Read 6915 times)

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Bobsalt

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Problems with airbase attacks
« on: May 23, 2008, 07:57:09 AM »
I’m not one who’s prone to calling something “game-breaking”, but I’ve pretty much concluded that the way airbase attacks works at least approaches that territory.

To be fair, there is some disagreement here. Of the four of us who regularly play here, Jason thinks the airbase attacks are fine. As far as I know John really doesn’t have an opinion, and Peter and I think there are problems – problems enough that we’re talking about going back to allowing airbase attacks only in conjunction with a ground attack in or adjacent to the base being attacked, or even doing away with them altogether.

Quite some time back when I asked why the movement rates for ships were less in the Pacific than in the Atlantic, the response was that invariably the games wound up with two large fleets eventually going at each other instead of the more historical island hopping. This is pretty much the same thing we’re seeing now in Europe – two great big stacks of airplanes going at each other. Instead of air battles being waged across the front you have one large stack of aircraft trying to corner a smaller stack (as the owner of that side frantically tries to grow his stack); if he refuses contact the side with the larger stack uses them as ground support in attacks with sometimes 15-20 aircraft. It’s gotten to the point where it’s really dropped the “fun factor” down a couple of notches. In real life you had to have aircraft spread out across the whole front; with the airbase rules as they are now players just try to have a bigger stack of aircraft than the opponent.

I think one of the issues here is the scope of the game. An air system like this one works in a game like World in Flames because with the far greater number of hexes covering the same geographic area you can’t concentrate too much without leaving large areas of the front uncovered (I can’t remember since it’s been too many years since I’ve played – was there a stacking limit for planes in WiF?). In The Struggle, there are territories in Eastern Europe where you can have all of your aircraft in one territory and have almost the entire front covered, which when combined with the airbase rules gives an incentive to bunch them up. Having so few territories (compared to the hex grid of WiF) artificially increases the operational range of aircraft (especially fighters). A Me 109 in the Battle of Britain only had about ten minutes of loiter time over a given target, and this was within 200 miles of its home base. A fighter in The Struggle in the right spot might be able to hit a target well over 1000 miles away.

Another thing I remember about WiF is that planes were a lot harder to kill than they are in The Struggle – you were far more likely to generate an abort than to get a kill. I remember quite some time back there was discussion on here somewhere (Craig, if you’re reading this was that you?) about changing the rules so that air combat had the possibility of generating aborts instead of kills. This was before the airbase rules were introduced, and I was against the idea at that time since the defender had the ability to refuse combat if too badly outnumbered. With airbase attacks now in the rules I think perhaps something like this needs to be revisited.

Some of the ideas I’m kicking around:

1) Defenders do not have to fly against the attackers. This way they’re prevented from being used, but can’t get slaughtered the way they are now.

2) All aircraft (attacker and defender) have a -1 to their values in making airbase attacks. I’m not sure that this would really do much, but it’s an idea.

3) Say that any AA units in that same territory get to shoot normally at any attacking aircraft in an airbase attack. Again, this probably wouldn’t change much.

4) When the attacking planes roll, any result of a 5 or 6 results in an abort for the defender; aborts are scored before any kills can be recorded. In other words, if there are two defending aircraft and the attacker rolls two 5’s or 6’s, it doesn’t matter how many other dice result in kills – the aborts mean that the defender may retreat his aircraft.

5) Building on the present airbase rules, say that every clear territory is a Level 3 airbase and every flag territory is a Level 5 airbase. I don’t know if this would solve the problem or not, but it would at least force players to be a little more historical in the deployment of aircraft. I know some might carp about it, but this wouldn’t be the first time stacking limits were used in a game to force historical play. If this limit is too harsh, you could allow Level 5 airbases to be built in clear territories and Level 3 airbases to be built in flag territories; this would up the stacking limits in a clear territory to 5 and 8 in a flag territory.

Of these I think the last might work the best. I really like the idea of aborts, but in a D6 system where a fighter has a 50% chance of a kill I don’t think a one out of six chance is enough to have much effect, but a two out of six chance may be too much.

In our games we are currently using all of the airbase rules, with the addition that aircraft on a coast or island block supply into or through that sea zone unless there is a combat ship in that zone. We also allow the defending aircraft to react to an amphibious assault, and allow the attacker to send aircraft into the sea zone containing transports for the amphibious assault to fly CAP.

I’d really like to hear everyone’s thoughts on airbases. I think airbase attacks are realistic, but I’m real tired of the unrealistic situations they’re causing in our games due to the way aircraft are being deployed – enough that I’m to the point of sacrificing a little realism to get back some of the playability.
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kriegspieler7

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Re: Problems with airbase attacks
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2008, 06:16:55 AM »
5) Building on the present airbase rules, say that every clear territory is a Level 3 airbase and every flag territory is a Level 5 airbase. I don’t know if this would solve the problem or not, but it would at least force players to be a little more historical in the deployment of aircraft. I know some might carp about it, but this wouldn’t be the first time stacking limits were used in a game to force historical play. If this limit is too harsh, you could allow Level 5 airbases to be built in clear territories and Level 3 airbases to be built in flag territories; this would up the stacking limits in a clear territory to 5 and 8 in a flag territory.

. . . In our games we are currently using all of the airbase rules, with the addition that aircraft on a coast or island block supply into or through that sea zone unless there is a combat ship in that zone. We also allow the defending aircraft to react to an amphibious assault, and allow the attacker to send aircraft into the sea zone containing transports for the amphibious assault to fly CAP.


Good ideas here.  I'd like to see each numbered and un-numbered area be able to have air units on them equal to +1 of the resources available, for instance: 

          No resources= 1 air unit (This would include islands.)
          1 resource= 2 air units
          2 resources= 3 air units, etc.

This would take into account the infrastructure needed to utilize airpower.  3/5 airbases could still be constructed, adding to the amount of air units able to use the territory/area.

This probably was talked about somewhere else in the forum area, but I think it could be applied here. 

And while you could use the square flags to say that the navies control the sea zones, you could use the A&A roundels to say that the air forces control the sea zones.  Just a thought. ;D

4) When the attacking planes roll, any result of a 5 or 6 results in an abort for the defender; aborts are scored before any kills can be recorded. In other words, if there are two defending aircraft and the attacker rolls two 5’s or 6’s, it doesn’t matter how many other dice result in kills – the aborts mean that the defender may retreat his aircraft.

I tried this idea at Gen Con Indy a couple of years ago and it seemed to work with the Axis and Allies Wakoras I was trying to run.  (The game didn't run very well, but some of the rules did.)  When an air or naval unit rolled a six (6), that unit had to withdraw, signifying all sorts of stuff, mechanical difficulties, lack of sufficient ammo, fuel, other supplies, poor coordination/communication, any kind of logistical difficulties.  This might not be workable for tS4EnA though.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2008, 03:28:28 PM by kriegspieler7 »

Yoper

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Re: Problems with airbase attacks
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2008, 01:53:49 AM »
We never liked the airbase attack rule so we never used it.

The discussion about aborts was here:

http://www.ww2wargame.com/forum/index.php?topic=207.msg2245#msg2245

Also, Mark sent along a file to us Detroit guys about a change in the air to air ratings of the different air units in the game, but if I remember correctly it was using a d12.

While nice, it doesn't exactly fit in with the rest of the game (d6).

Craig

Bobsalt

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Re: Problems with airbase attacks
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2008, 07:19:02 AM »
We never liked the airbase attack rule so we never used it.

The discussion about aborts was here:

http://www.ww2wargame.com/forum/index.php?topic=207.msg2245#msg2245

Also, Mark sent along a file to us Detroit guys about a change in the air to air ratings of the different air units in the game, but if I remember correctly it was using a d12.

While nice, it doesn't exactly fit in with the rest of the game (d6).

Craig
I like the idea of airbase attacks per se. I just think that as they work now they’re broken. The concept of attacking enemy bases is realistic (Battle of Britain). The problem is that cramming every aircraft you have into one territory and having none anywhere else is totally unrealistic.

The more I think about it the more I think I like the idea of establishing the stacking limit I mention above, where clear terrain can hold 3 aircraft and flag territories can hold 5, with the ability to increase the limits for each of these by building airbases. This would require players to be more realistic in their deployment of aircraft across a front. I am very tired of having all of each side’s aircraft crammed into one territory each. My first suggestion above that when an attacker hits an airbase the defender doesn’t have to fly against him is probably my second choice. This way the attacker does pin the defender, but can’t score casualties. This would accomplish pretty much the same thing as aborts, but it still doesn’t address what in my opinion is the real problem (mega-stacks of aircraft).

Has no one else run into this issue? Craig, you say you aren’t using the airbase rules – does anyone else out there have any comment?

I have never liked implementing a rule just to force players to play more historically, but in this case I just don’t really see any alternative.

In addition to the stacking issue I’ve come to agree with Craig that some sort of system to generate aborts instead of kills is probably necessary. Unfortunately I think the limitations of a D6-based system mean that we will probably have to wait until the next game to see something that works well. Mark/John – do you have any plans to retro-fit the rules for the new game to the old game?

Changing the subject a bit, in reading the post Craig quotes I think what I’m going to do long-term for naval air is order more aircraft miniatures and create two new units – naval fighters and naval bombers. This way the player has the option of customizing his naval air groups the way he wants them.
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John D.

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Re: Problems with airbase attacks
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2008, 12:30:22 PM »
Bob, Craig and all,
      Sorry for the delay in response. Mark and I have been extremely busy with different work and family obligations. We have addressed most of your "issues". Since our free time is more limited, it is taking longer to develop and playtest rules. As you bring things up, this will add to the list of things to consider.
     Your stacking limit idea will address your airbase issues. We have developed stacking limit and abort rules. We have many new units. We have oil as a factor in the game. We have not developed fleet out of supply rules - I do like where you were going with it (but we do not want to overcomplicate things). Mark will come up with something I believe.
     Overall - if there is something being taken advantage of - change it - let us know how it works and we can incorporate it into the standard rules if all goes well.

John

kriegspieler7

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Re: Problems with airbase attacks
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2008, 03:35:59 PM »
If you are married and raising a family, you are to quote the old sage, "busier than a one-armed paper hanger!"  'Nuff said.

Part of the issue with the "airbase attack" was that I think it's a misnomer, (though I don't know how better you could have named it.)  You are not really trying to destroy your opponent's "air base," rather, you're trying to destroy your opponent's air units using the "air space's" capability above the air base.  That thought struck me when I was reading the forum re: air base attacks.  You all probably knew that though.   :-[

Are the rules you're coming up with, John, going to be just for tAS4E or will they apply to tS4EnA, or both?

Yoper

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Re: Problems with airbase attacks
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2008, 01:16:16 AM »
Changing the subject a bit, in reading the post Craig quotes I think what I’m going to do long-term for naval air is order more aircraft miniatures and create two new units – naval fighters and naval bombers. This way the player has the option of customizing his naval air groups the way he wants them.

I don't know as if I would got to the point of having a separate naval fighter unit. 

Just use the regular fighter for all fighter situations but come up with a specific naval tac air/naval bomber unit for all powers (except China).

Craig
« Last Edit: June 03, 2008, 01:38:19 AM by Yoper »

John D.

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Re: Problems with airbase attacks
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2008, 03:43:57 AM »
Yes - I am married and have a family. Correct concerning the Airbase attacks - They are essentially Air to Air combats. The updated game rules should be able to be apllied to both games. We will have separate naval air units. ;D

John