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Tactical debrief - Pluto's perspective

JD Webster
 

My scenario assessment

The Zero is already more maneuverable and faster than the Wildcat and thus dangerous. The lack of full maneuvering options (or flying trick rules) that Tiger Wings does not allow for, compared to the full FW rules, makes the Zeros even more superior to the Wildcat in this scenario. The fact that the simplified climb and dive accel rule (1 per increment, regardless of speed) enhances everyone's ability to gain height with lower speed loss than normal, and doesn't aid anyone more when slow than when fast when putting their noses down for speed also helps the Zeros. In TW rules, this gives the Zero an even greater edge in getting on top than it does the Wildcats because of the Zero's higher power and speed potentials.

The opening set up is a classic sandwich with everyone somehow merging into this sandwich at max level speed. The set up geometry is such that a left spiral flow is encouraged. In my opinion, a left hand circle would be a death trap for Wildcat 2 or 1 allowing Zero 2 to saddle in on one or the other. Since both prey and pursuers are co-speed, closure is controlled by the prey through the use of providing angles. Zero 1 had many safe options to drag us around while letting Zero 2 get camped on one of us. Once there, IMO, it would most difficult to shake the Zero before suffering critical damage. We decided not to go along with this fight.

Combat Choices

The Wildcat strategy was to break out of the left hand flow and head west. We knew we could open the distance from Zero 1 for the first few turns. If Zero 2 did not press me, we would have extended to do a 180 and reversed to come back for head on merges beginning the fight anew from a neutral rather than threatened position. However, Bing's pressing of me on the opening forced us to counter him with our own sandwich and also shortened the time before zero 1 could impact us again. I did my best to lead Zero 2 away from Zero 1 to buy time. Wildcat 1 shoo'ed him off my tail eventually and we hoped to gang up on him and turn the tables, but Zero 2 skillfully broke off and circled south while Zero 1 commanded our attention.

Zero 1's entry into the fight at this point set Zero 2 free. At this point Wildcat's 1 and 2 were somewhat separated, with W1 defending himself with a well timed stall out, and I diving for energy. This is where I think Zero 1 should have gotten really aggressive and into our knickers by pressing Wildcat 1. Instead, Z1 repositioned giving W1 enough time to break loose and steer back to the north gathering me back up on his wing. Zero 2 had the opportunity here to gang up on W1 as well but didn't out of concern for W2's trailing pursuit. The vertical zoom to height was safe, but also allowed the Wildcats to focus on coming back together and extending north building maneuvering room. War is a trade off of risks. Had you both focused on W1 I would have been able to come in for shots. However, the question is, and the chances were, that you could do more damage to him with your cannons and agility, before I got in to effective range. No guts, no glory as they say. What the Zeros did was safe, but not aggressive.

The last reverse on our part was strictly a defensive to offensive move on our part to try and get in one last attack. The odds were lousy, but hey, Chad went by firing. Can't argue with that. I also cannot argue with the Zeros deciding to head off and break off.

Lessons learned, or reinforced

Don't dogfight with a Zero. Keep your speed up.

The Wildcat was only good for 180 degrees of dogfighting. By the time we did a 180 of hard turning combined with having to point our noses up to threaten the higher Zeros, we were too slow to continue and had to slant back down for energy. After trying that during Zero 1's initial merge, we decided we would not go up to the Zeros again, but wait for them to come down to us to fight.

We had to be judicious with our energy spending. We worked hard to see when it might be safe to ease off turning to build up speed for future defensive moves while keeping some potential to get back on offense. The Zeros helped us by not pressing too hard after the first attack by Bing. More aggressive flying by the Zeros might have sapped our energy down to helplessness during the second merge.

I'd rather be lucky than good.

I never felt safe in this scenario. At one point Bing could have gone in for shots on me during the opening but only at the risk of Chad messing him up. I was thankful when Bing opted for defense rather than offense. Gary kept showing up at the most inopportune moments for the Americans. If you could have waited two more turns we could have gotten our teeth into Bing a little better. I was thankful when some of the init rolls went our way when the Zeros were in position to either press or reposition. Everytime the init rolls worked for us, the Zeros, mainly Gary, would pitch back up for height. That actual behavior trait predictability was taken into account in our maneuver plans after mid-game.

Who won? ...

Nobody won. The fight was inconclusive as no critical damage was inflicted to either side. Who was happy with the outcome? We were. Given our aircraft inferiority, and the opening set up...being able to deny the Zeros any shots and get off four of our own in return certainly counts as a morale victory for Chad and I. We're not proud, we'lll take it.

That's my comments, over to the rest of you guys.

JD

Chad Lunceford
 

As JD and I kept pretty open communication throughout the fight, I can say that I agree with everything he said.  This was a tough fight--a real head scratcher almost every turn, frustratingly so at times.  But in truth, it was exactly the kind of fight I would have chosen to have JD on my side giving tactical advice.  The Wildcats started the game with almost every disadvantage--in turning fight with zeros--there wasn't even a speed advantage to offset the Zeros' turning capabilities.  A slight banking advantage was the only advantage we had to work with, and as JD pointed out, all of the high-speed AC advantages afforded by 3rd ed. rules aren't in TW.  So we had to fight very smart.

Turning out of the left circle fight right off the bat was our only option.  Staying in the L flow, we would've been dead.  Breaking right, split the zeros up and gave us our few shots at Bing.  Had the dice gods been kinder to us, or less kind to the zeros, the game would've played out very differently.  

After that initial go, we botched the plan a bit and almost got me killed, but the zeros were pretty content to hold the high ground and not press the attack.  I thought this was just ultra-conservative playing (like the guy in Halo that hides behind the wall with a shotgun and waits for unsuspecting people moving around the map).  Where I still think it was partly that, I saw on the axis radio page that Gary was trying to bring the fight up above 13 because of a slight advantage the zeros get up there.  In reality, there was no way we were going to climb a steep energy hill to fight you guys.  About 1/2 way through the game we decided we'd settle for a draw before climbing up to you guys.  :)

Either way, the last few turns of the game got kind of boring--aerial equivalent of trench warfare with neither side willing to play the other guys' game.  We decided that rather than bug out, we'd circle back in and try for one more go.  The zeros still didn't want to play and made the smart choice to bug out with their speed and altitude.  

All-in-all, the game went better than I thought it would.  My first analysis of the game was that we were doomed and I wanted to trade planes.  :)  But Bing seems an aggressive guy (single-handedly took out the bombers in the last game, damned near running into every one!), Gary seems a conservative "line it up and strike when it's perfect" kind of guy (I really enjoyed reading through all his analysis on the axis page!), and JD's got a shit load of experience at this game.  We threw all that together, he reigned in my panic and got us talking tactics.  And in the end, we did alright, given the hand we were dealt.  Historically, I don't think we both would've made it home from this encounter.

Thanks again for a great game guys, and all the insight, JD.

Chad



On 1 November 2018 at 14:09, JD Webster <jdwpilot@...> wrote:
My scenario assessment

The Zero is already more maneuverable and faster than the Wildcat and thus dangerous. The lack of full maneuvering options (or flying trick rules) that Tiger Wings does not allow for, compared to the full FW rules, makes the Zeros even more superior to the Wildcat in this scenario. The fact that the simplified climb and dive accel rule (1 per increment, regardless of speed) enhances everyone's ability to gain height with lower speed loss than normal, and doesn't aid anyone more when slow than when fast when putting their noses down for speed also helps the Zeros. In TW rules, this gives the Zero an even greater edge in getting on top than it does the Wildcats because of the Zero's higher power and speed potentials.

The opening set up is a classic sandwich with everyone somehow merging into this sandwich at max level speed. The set up geometry is such that a left spiral flow is encouraged. In my opinion, a left hand circle would be a death trap for Wildcat 2 or 1 allowing Zero 2 to saddle in on one or the other. Since both prey and pursuers are co-speed, closure is controlled by the prey through the use of providing angles. Zero 1 had many safe options to drag us around while letting Zero 2 get camped on one of us. Once there, IMO, it would most difficult to shake the Zero before suffering critical damage. We decided not to go along with this fight.

Combat Choices

The Wildcat strategy was to break out of the left hand flow and head west. We knew we could open the distance from Zero 1 for the first few turns. If Zero 2 did not press me, we would have extended to do a 180 and reversed to come back for head on merges beginning the fight anew from a neutral rather than threatened position. However, Bing's pressing of me on the opening forced us to counter him with our own sandwich and also shortened the time before zero 1 could impact us again. I did my best to lead Zero 2 away from Zero 1 to buy time. Wildcat 1 shoo'ed him off my tail eventually and we hoped to gang up on him and turn the tables, but Zero 2 skillfully broke off and circled south while Zero 1 commanded our attention.

Zero 1's entry into the fight at this point set Zero 2 free. At this point Wildcat's 1 and 2 were somewhat separated, with W1 defending himself with a well timed stall out, and I diving for energy. This is where I think Zero 1 should have gotten really aggressive and into our knickers by pressing Wildcat 1. Instead, Z1 repositioned giving W1 enough time to break loose and steer back to the north gathering me back up on his wing. Zero 2 had the opportunity here to gang up on W1 as well but didn't out of concern for W2's trailing pursuit. The vertical zoom to height was safe, but also allowed the Wildcats to focus on coming back together and extending north building maneuvering room. War is a trade off of risks. Had you both focused on W1 I would have been able to come in for shots. However, the question is, and the chances were, that you could do more damage to him with your cannons and agility, before I got in to effective range. No guts, no glory as they say. What the Zeros did was safe, but not aggressive.

The last reverse on our part was strictly a defensive to offensive move on our part to try and get in one last attack. The odds were lousy, but hey, Chad went by firing. Can't argue with that. I also cannot argue with the Zeros deciding to head off and break off.

Lessons learned, or reinforced

Don't dogfight with a Zero. Keep your speed up.

The Wildcat was only good for 180 degrees of dogfighting. By the time we did a 180 of hard turning combined with having to point our noses up to threaten the higher Zeros, we were too slow to continue and had to slant back down for energy. After trying that during Zero 1's initial merge, we decided we would not go up to the Zeros again, but wait for them to come down to us to fight.

We had to be judicious with our energy spending. We worked hard to see when it might be safe to ease off turning to build up speed for future defensive moves while keeping some potential to get back on offense. The Zeros helped us by not pressing too hard after the first attack by Bing. More aggressive flying by the Zeros might have sapped our energy down to helplessness during the second merge.

I'd rather be lucky than good.

I never felt safe in this scenario. At one point Bing could have gone in for shots on me during the opening but only at the risk of Chad messing him up. I was thankful when Bing opted for defense rather than offense. Gary kept showing up at the most inopportune moments for the Americans. If you could have waited two more turns we could have gotten our teeth into Bing a little better. I was thankful when some of the init rolls went our way when the Zeros were in position to either press or reposition. Everytime the init rolls worked for us, the Zeros, mainly Gary, would pitch back up for height. That actual behavior trait predictability was taken into account in our maneuver plans after mid-game.

Who won? ...

Nobody won. The fight was inconclusive as no critical damage was inflicted to either side. Who was happy with the outcome? We were. Given our aircraft inferiority, and the opening set up...being able to deny the Zeros any shots and get off four of our own in return certainly counts as a morale victory for Chad and I. We're not proud, we'lll take it.

That's my comments, over to the rest of you guys.

JD

Gary Collins
 

I want to start off with a couple comments about my mindset playing FW:

  • I play and study poker, so some of the factors I consider in Fighting Wings are carried over from that experience.  One of the common themes you will hear in both arenas is "Aggressive Poker is good poker" and "Good fighter pilots are aggressive".  I've made a lot of money off poker players that were too aggressive, so my tendency is to let aggressive players hang themselves.  I also tend to judge situations by relative VP payoffs and relative damage potential - in poker/statistical terms, I'm looking for positive EV plays.
  • I also play War in the Pacific: Admiral's Edition as Japan.  In that game, I've faced the realities Japan faced.  Simple trades of pilots and planes were a losing exchange for Japan.   The Allies had a relatively endless supply of both.  For Japan each loss of plane, and more importantly skilled pilot, was a huge loss.  It makes me fly and play in a way that wants to preserve the asset or at least trade at greater than 1-1.

 

With the above in mind, let's consider the setup/game rules:

  • The Zero's relative firepower and durability kept me from wanting to take even odds battles.  So, yes, I was cautious.   Both in durability (7/10 vs 9/13, Cockpit +2, Fuel +2) and firepower (54 vs.36), the Zero is a loser in any "equal" gun battle.  If I couldn't get a significantly better shot than I gave up, I wasn't playing.   Kind of like JD and Chad were not going to come up and play with us or turn with us.  :)  
  • I wanted a result that netted a shot or forced JD and Chad into a disadvantageous position.  If I could not get that, I'd bank up energy in the form of speed or altitude.   On T09, I determined we had a sure fire shot at Chad - and probably more than one.  At that point, I engaged, but as I will note below, I didn'’t communicate to Bing what I saw as his part in the plan.  I lit the barn on fire, but didn’t do a good job of telling Bing to close the barn doors.
  • One of the consequences of 1 accel/decel per increment rule is that it takes a lot more altitude to regain energy.  Yes, I had over 2k on JD and 3500 on Chad at one point.  The thing to note is that is 2.0 to 3.5 speed and all the options for closing range are mine in that case.   To threaten me, you had to point your nose up.  To threaten you, I could nose down and Break turn at will and not lose speed unless I chose to.   I was waiting for the opportunity to use it to good effect.   When I saw that chance on T09, I took it.
  • In the absence of LH rolls, attack modifiers in TW are huge.  JD's decision on T06 not to take the 5-1 shot to me demonstrates how overpowering those shot mods are.  In 3rd edition rules, that should would have been a no brainer because there was a VERY high probability of severe damage despite the +35 Mod and some chance of an outright kill based upon damage alone.  An attack of 4H would put Z2 at 7H/SD.  With the +35 as an LH mod, a roll of 64 or less (LH+14+35) would still hit and bring him to SD.  A 79 (79% chance) would have given him the 3H for a crit.   In TW with the mods as percentile mods, JD still had a 41% chance to score severe damage and a 58% chance to score a crit, but that is about a 20% reduction in probability of each damage result.  Furthermore, the max damage in FW would allow for up to 10 hits (granted, VERY rare) and some chance of destroying Z2 by exceeding max damage.  There was no chance of that in TW, with a max possible damage of 6.   Enough for SD and 2 crits, but not enough to destroy the A/C due to hits.

 

The specifics of the game:

  • When Chad broke right I figured out that I was going to be out of the action for a while.  I wanted to maximize my energy gain while reversing and chose the path I did because I thought it had me reversing back as fast as I could reverse while also letting me bank to the new flow.   At the same time, I expected Bing to focus on Chad instead of JD.
  • Bing's aggressiveness was not lost on me and his willingness to engage put me in a spot where I was looking to cover him.  As JD puts it, "Gary kept showing up at the most inopportune moments for the Americans."   Bing's brush with death in the early turns and subsequent damage was on my mind a lot and one solid hit would put him at severe damage, so I considered how my move  supported him when I moved.
  • I was pretty shocked that JD did not take the shot on T06.  From an EV perspective, a maneuver to shoot by JD on T06 would have been positive EV (see poker note above):
    • 10% chance for collision, both destroyed (net -1 VP)
    • 0.9 * 0.41 = 36.9% chance to score severe damage (net +6 VP)
    • 0.9 * 0.17 = 15.3% chance to score a crit (net +1 VP)
    • 0.9 * 0.12 = 10.8% chance to score an additional 2 damage. (0 VP)
    • 0.9 * 0.39 = 35.1 % chance to avoid collision but miss (0 VP)
    • (0.369)*6 + (0.153)*1 - (0.1)*1 = 2.267 VP per shot taken
  • I DO get the idea that it was a risk, but I was 11H+6V away from JD's theoretical shooting point, at speed 6.0,  and had already moved.  JD had another full turn or two of maneuver to worsen my shot/gain speed, then had a decent chance to turn it into "chicken" by turning and climbing into me.   I do not see the risks and rewards as much different than playing chicken would have been as suggested in  (https://fw-buffalowings-02.groups.io/g/BW2-Allied-Radio/message/308).
  • I don't get JD's reluctance to close to range 0 and risk collision.   As demonstrated above, repeated a hundred times, it is a positive VP move.   Was it necessary?  No, but for a team that perceived themselves as at a disadvantage,  I think it was an opportunity to change the battle that was wasted.  I know the perception of me is that I'm cautious, but frankly the aversion to a 10% chance of what is effectively a VP draw and what for that time in history would be a victory for the Wildcats seems timid. 
  • After reading through the enemy radio chatter, one thing is clear - lack of communication/coordination was a big part of our issues in this on one. While JD and Chad communicated effectively and worked together discussing alternatives, Bing and I didn't. 
    • This occurred on the 2nd turn, when my thinking was "Let focus on Chad - he's behind JD and slowed due to his snap rolls and break turns."  I felt at the time that it was the move Bing would do and his actual move came as a shock.   I needed time to get back headed in the same direction as the flow and I was kicking myself about not "transmitting" something to Bing to let him know my thoughts.    Had I said something and Bing moved more to gain angles on Chad, the fight would not have gotten so far away from me.
    • It again had an effect on turn 9, I'd predicted all the locations Chad would end up and felt like we had him bracketed.  I was trying to  cover the positions he could move to in hex/on a hex side of  3722 and 3723.  I wanted Bing to cover 3724 and 3725.  Bing Rolled Left to LB, but I wanted him extend a right turn so he could turn onto the 3724/3725 North-South line in the turn where Chad stalled.  With that move Chad would have been left with two choices: give up a tail to me and/or an attack while slowing, or have Bing lined up on him.   Reading back through my post (https://fw-buffalowings-02.groups.io/g/BW2-Axis-Radio/message/410) , what I was looking for was not very clear at all. 
  • I'm not sure how I would have moved differently on Turn 11 to pressure Chad.  From my perspective, the stall put him in a VSDV that I could not follow at my speed and altitude.  I was below him and moving faster than him.   I would end up below him and in position to get shot rather than shoot.  I'd really like to see the actual moves JD would suggest for me on T11 and T12 to pressure Chad.  As much as I wanted to threaten Chad, I didn't see a move that kept Chad defensive.  I'd like to get some of that coaching Chad got.  :)  I don't disagree that "This is where I think Zero 1 should have gotten really aggressive and into our knickers by pressing Wildcat 1."   My question is  "How?"

JD Webster
 

Regarding the T6 shot opportunity - my personal style of play is to avoid range zero collision risks unless the chances of damage are really really good. Also, I look down the road. Even If I had gotten away with it, I would have been helplessly slow when your Zero approached. Those two factors swayed my desire to go conservative in that instance.

Regarding TW and BW shot modifiers - I hear your repeated arguments. But, I am deliberately not going to change them. The reason is that BW and TW are feeder games for the full rules system. I want the combat modifiers to be familiar to players when they transition on. So, the mods are going to have the same values, in spite of the different magnitudes of their affect. My goal is not to have a true stand alone game with TW and BW products, but to have a recruiting game for the wider system.

That is not to say your argument is not valid. I am looking at designing a WW-I stand alone game based on the TW flight rules and the combat system and shot mod's will be unique to that use of percentile dice.

JD

Chad Lunceford
 

Great analysis Gary.

I just want to weigh in on the damage probabilities of BW:
One of my early complaints with the game (coming from Air Superiority where you could make a gun attack mid move) was that a player works so hard for the opportunity to shoot, but the chances of getting in a good attack are exceptionally low against a good opponent.  20 turns to a game--really bending the plan around (and let's not forget that that is tough work when you're first learning the system), only to pull the trigger once and... score 1 hit.  It's probably more historically accurate (though I'm not sure how you could really say that is or isn't), but it's less rewarding to the newbie and down right frustrating at times.  The damage mods in BW/TW help that for a new player, who isn't going to get in position for good shots as easily as the veteran of the system.  I used the BW damage mods in my solo games for a long time and only moved on to the full rules because I wanted to include defensive fire.  Here again, maybe it's less historical, but it's certainly more fun if you spend 15 turns cleverly to pull the trigger and something actually happens.  Just my 2 cents on the matter.  :)

Chad

On 3 November 2018 at 08:57, JD Webster <jdwpilot@...> wrote:
Regarding the T6 shot opportunity - my personal style of play is to avoid range zero collision risks unless the chances of damage are really really good. Also, I look down the road. Even If I had gotten away with it, I would have been helplessly slow when your Zero approached. Those two factors swayed my desire to go conservative in that instance.

Regarding TW and BW shot modifiers - I hear your repeated arguments. But, I am deliberately not going to change them. The reason is that BW and TW are feeder games for the full rules system. I want the combat modifiers to be familiar to players when they transition on. So, the mods are going to have the same values, in spite of the different magnitudes of their affect. My goal is not to have a true stand alone game with TW and BW products, but to have a recruiting game for the wider system.

That is not to say your argument is not valid. I am looking at designing a WW-I stand alone game based on the TW flight rules and the combat system and shot mod's will be unique to that use of percentile dice.

JD

Mike Kroona
 

Greetings!

Wow!  Impressive analysis by all of you.  I keep telling myself to take notes as I make my moves on my flight log but have not yet begun doing so.

So my comments will be brief.

An apology to Gary for my lack of communication during this game.  Lack of time and energy over the past couple of months impacted our game.  Maybe next time.

As Gary noted our communication wasn't sufficient for us to work well as a team.  When he took the reins about mid game I felt it helped.

As both Chad and JD noted I have been overly aggressive--at times.  My early play I think would be marked by trying to be too safe, not aggressive enough.   I try not to be foolishly aggressive but clearly sometimes cross that line.  As our comments stated we were lucky when the dice rolled in our favor during combat.  If I remember correctly, as I was working on that move I failed to note that Chad could get me in his sights as I plotted my move that turn--a lack of situational awareness!

While proficient in full rules FW this is a different game and only now after playing a couple of scenarios are its peculiarities coming to light.  I found the analysis by all of you helpful in discerning these and so hope future games will benefit from what I learned.

A good game that kept me/us guessing.  A moving puzzle is how I've described it and I think that's why I keep coming back for more.  Thanks to you all for your time and energy put into this game. 

Peace,
Mike Kroona
aka Bing

Gary Collins
 

JD,

Okay, I will stop pointing them out.  Was not sure if you'd seen the other arguments, but I know Chad has.  Anyway, I do want to note that you could change the attack roll for TW to something to 3d10x10 + d10 and use the a slightly modified damage table to closely mimic the LH table.  Results would be much more in line and still be approachable.  I would think gamers can do 3d10x10 + d10. 

Chad,

To be clear, I'm not saying what is accurate or not.  JD knows that far more than I do.  I am assuming that FW aligns more closely with JD's analysis of expected combat results.  My note is how the two diverge and my presumption is that "FW is right".  I have no clue what system represents historical results best.

On the topic of newbie satisfaction, I feel like the shot mods actually frustrate more than help.  It will require a stroke of luck or a big mistake most of the time to get a high odds shot in TW, so there is less action because there are not many negative mods (12:00/6:00, Gun Harmony, and Pilot skill) and they are harder to get as a newbie.  The positive mods (slip, snap roll, BT rates) are far more common.  Higher damage results are skewed towards very low probabilities that will not occur at all with even a slight positive modifier.  Pilot mods are the most frustrating to a newbie because they have a very large impact upon results that a newbie can't do anything about. 

The tendency I've seen is to assign the lower skill pilot slots in a scenario to the newbies.  In games where I am working with newbies to teach the system, I think my intent will be to assign the less experienced game pilots to the more experienced "human" pilots or not use pilot skill at all.  Assigning pilots with less skill to the low skilled game pilots:

  • Forces a tendency to have to move ahead of others.
  • Makes the rare situations where they get a good position harder to get results
  • Makes it harder to follow up on good maneuvers due to tailing restrictions for Green/Recruits.
  • Reduces the challenge for higher skilled pilots
It is hard enough starting out doing your own turn the first couple times, let alone predicting where others will go.  Moving last more often and being able to hold a tail more easily I think will help new players adjust to the game. 

JD Webster
 

Re player assignments

It's a result of the reverse phenomena, that of me usually giving the more experienced pilots/players positions of leadership for each side in the scenario to better mimic the skills. This also only happens in multi-player games.

JD