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|10 SEP 2004 at 12:00am|
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Posted In: Articles : After Action Review
Editor's Note: This is part one in a two part series.
Harv wakes up from a deep sleep, and even though he feels a little groggy, he reaches under the covers and whips out his bag of Oreo cookies. While munching away, he thinks about the upcoming King of the Hill DIF Ladder Challenge Fight?
Harv wonders if challenging the actual designer of Down in Flames to a best of the best sudden death (literally) fight was a good idea. As fun as slapping him with that used rubber glove was, it?s possible he may have bitten off more than he can chew. He knows his guys are very, very good, but the possibility of having them retired forever adds a definite edge to all of his plans now.
Ref: Harv and Dan agreed that the loser of the match will delete his pilot and wingman. The two leader pilots that Harv and Dan will be using to play against each other are currently leading the internal beta test ladder, each with over 50 kills scored, several medals, and each worth a couple of thousand experience points.
Harv: All I know right now is that Dan will have the pick of either the P-47 or P-51, while I can choose between the FW-190A or the Bf-109K. Game-wise, the two planes are identical except the 109 has a turbocharger, while the 190 has an extra burst. Knowing that both of Dan?s choices are equipped with turbos, I?m almost forced into flying the 109K so I won?t be disadvantaged if the fight moves to higher altitudes. I?m sure Dan will be picking the P-51, because even though it has a lower airframe and burst rating than the P-47, the extra 2 cards the higher performance rating brings are much more important.
The choice of pilots for the first fight might be a little more difficult, however. Even though my two top elements are roughly equivalent, there are some small but potentially significant differences in the skills I have purchased for them. The Rubber Boots/Velcro Gloves team might be marginally better than Clay Pigeon & Sitting Duck, but without knowing what skills Dan?s pilot?s have, any decision I make might be no different than a coin toss.
Probably the most important determinant for the fight will be starting altitude. Whoever is higher will go first, and if we?re at the same altitude it?s a random chance. And if we?re at the same altitude at the start, I?m pretty sure who ever shoots first will win. So do I start at Very High in the hopes of starting first above him, or hopefully getting the first shot if he?s at the same altitude? Or should I start at a lower altitude (knowing he?ll be up high to use his turbo), which will give me time to trade out some cards and build a better hand?
Referee: In determining the order in which players take their turns, the game looks at who starts at the highest altitude. This is the player to take his turn first. The other players follow in alternating order, and descending altitude. However, starting High or Very High also means that you will start with fewer cards in your hand, while starting Low or Very Low means that you?ll get one or two extra cards at the beginning, respectively. So choosing the starting altitude is a tradeoff between being able to go first, and being able to get better cards to select from in the beginning.
Decisions, decisions. And with only a day to go before the first battle, I had better come up with some good ones soon?
At this, Harv throws back the covers to expose his collection of empty cookie bags, and walks into the shower. Staggering back from the impact, he remembers to open the door first and then steps inside?
Dan: When Harv first issued his challenge I knew it was going to be a tough fight. Our top-level pilots had gone against each other a few times in the past in online dogfight or bomber missions. All along his pilots usually enjoyed a one or two level skill advantage over mine due to his greater experience points. I knew that in this fight I was going to need to do something to overcome that edge.
I knew that Harv had a German pilot, so the best plane available to him is the Fw-190. The second best is the Bf-109K. While the 109K has turbochargers, the 190 has an extra Burst. To me, I think the extra Burst is more important, so I?m assuming he will come in with 190s. My top pilot, ?Wingman II? and his wingman ?Wingman IIa?, are Americans, so my top choices are the P-51D and P-47D. Both have turbochargers, and the P-47s have an extra Burst and take a little more damage. But the P-51s have a 2 card Performance advantage. Both are good, but I?m going with the P-51s. I think those extra cards will be important.
A bit of background on my pilot names: Originally there was a Leader II and his wingman, Wingman II. Not very creative I admit, but the names seem to annoy the other players, so they are well worth it. Well, at some point Leader II failed to bail out and Wingman II was promoted to leader. At that point he needed a wingman, so I named the guy Wingman IIa.
In preparation for the fight, I spent all kinds of experience points buying expendable skills such as Draw Extra Cards and Redraws. These are one-time use abilities but sometimes the right card can make a huge difference in a battle. I purchased an Out of the Sun 3:4 as a starting card for my Leader. With my Leader?s +1 Burst skill, I can play it from Advantaged and it is very difficult to counter. I also made sure my Wingman had a Take the Lead skill. This allows him to take over as Leader in the middle of a dogfight. This can be very useful if the Leader?s plane becomes damaged and has his stats reduced.
Referee: An ?Out of the Sun 3:4? card is an attack card. The ?3:4? means that an aircraft must be eligible to fire 3 bursts, and once it does (and hits), it will inflict 4 damage points on the enemy plane. Usually, planes rarely have more than 1 burst (and sometimes 0) by default, so in order to get 2, 3, 4 or more bursts, you need to maneuver to get on the enemy?s tail. Since Dan?s leader has a +1 Burst skill, however, he can already use a 3 burst card from an advantaged position, and doesn?t have to get on his tail. Another advantage of the OOS card is that it is difficult to counter for the attacked player?only a Vertical Roll card or an Ace Pilot card can be played against an OOS card, and those are rare.
I also gave some thought to my starting altitude. If I start high I can dive and draw extra cards, but if I start low I start with extra cards but give away the initiative. In playing against Harv in the past, I remembered that he usually started at the higher altitudes. Based on all this, I decided to start at a low altitude to get some additional cards, and also have a better chance of determining when our fighters initially engaged in combat.
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