Recommend
12 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations» Forums » General

Subject: Back to Hornet Leader (from Phantom Leader) rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Tuomas Takala
Finland
Lahti
flag msg tools
badge
Silk for Calde!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
OK, I just have to make a post about some of the differences between HL:CAO and PLD.

I got Phantom Leader Deluxe in the autumn, and flew about eight campaigns in Vietnam. In the last two weeks or so, I flew three, having finally started to grasp the difference between these two games. I have to say briefly, as this is not PL review, that I like the features of Phantom Leader, the ruthlessness of the Political track and the more primitive weaponry, and I think that this game has the feel of opposition that I get from Vietnam air war books and stories. Also, there are some things that make the game "easier" thank HL, for example you do not lose VP from downed pilots. Nevertheless, after finishing a hard Linebacker campaign, where I felt I did as good as I can, but ended up as only Adequate, I felt the need to return to Hornet Leader.

In HL:CAO, I had two campaigns where I had not scored Great evaluations yet, namely North Atlantic (surprise...not), and North Korea. So, I decided to tackle North Korea.

As this not a session report either, I will not dwell much on details, but I got a great start, then lost one plane (pilot went MIA, but was later returned), then lost another plane (pilot immediately recovered), and managed to screw up Scud Missiles target, which meant I lost another VP (in addition to the ones from downed planes). Of course, I finished the Scuds the next day, but Great evaluation seemed to be slipping away.

Towards the end of the campaign, I had to take immense risks. I had to fly two missions one day, both with one plane less than the allowance, one even without refueling, just hoping the Bandit draws would be favorable. They were. But still, after eight days (of ten), I was seriously behind VP schedule. I have to say, though, that I had had one Overkill, one Important Target and one Target of Opportunity, for a total of three bonus VP.

After day eight, I was at 28 VP, ten points behind Great eval. I was hoping to fly two missions per each remaining day, but what happens?! I draw Missile Boat Fleet immediately, which means I scramble and cannot fly additional missions on day nine. I destroy the boats, and now need to score SEVEN points on the last day. Impossible? Perhaps, but I will try. As a bonus, I get resupply, 4 SO points, so I can perhaps have some fuel or big missiles on the last crucial missions.

Then, on day ten, I draw Major Bridge and SAM Trap, 4 and 3 VP respectively. I can have Great eval if I destroy both! I buy JDAMs for the Major Bridge, and it is brought down. As Home-bound event I get refueling, which means I can refuel my last mission (for which I wouldn't have had points otherwise).

And, this time (as in so many other times) there were no last-mission screw-ups, and SAM Sites are destroyed and I get 38 VP! From the real slump on the middle section of the campaign, it was a great comeback, and this is what the meat of this post is.

In PLD, the Political track simply makes miracles like these impossible. If you are (as you often are) down in the Political track, there is no way you can fly big missions in the last days. Also, the events do not offer such a great scale of good surprises as in HL:CAO.

In Hornet Leader, there is often (not always, but very often) the possibility of saving a campaign, if you have a little patience and draw the right events and the right targets, and manage to use those event and destroy the targets. My North Korean campaign was a textbook example of this. And it was immensely satisfying, just the reason why we play this game. Against impossible odds, we rise from the brink of destruction (pardon my melodramatic language) and emerge as victors in the last moment.

This said, I will continue to fly Phantoms, as there is a great challenge and difference in style there, but the majority of my heart will always be with Hornet Leader. There are great guys in PLD, and Napalm, retarded bombs, flying downtown Hanoi, Skywarriors, and many other things make that game great and unique, but Horner Leader is my first love, and will always be special. Despite Bad Chow and multiple SA-11 draws...
20 
 Thumb up
1.11
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan King
United States
Stockbridge
Georgia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
great post, man.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan
United States
flag msg tools
1 Player hardcore
badge
Lone Warrior
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Awesome.

I have not played PLD though I would like to. But you have captured, in wonderful and descriptive language, what I love about Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations.

May your attack rolls always show "0" and your defense rolls always show a "1".
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tuomas Takala
Finland
Lahti
flag msg tools
badge
Silk for Calde!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks guys! I remember when I did not yet have HL:CAO and came here to look for reviews and session reports, and was glad to find great enthusiasm for this game. It convinced me to buy the game, and in turn become a part of this community!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Vermilion
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great post. A little HL love for ya. This is why HL:CAO is my favorite. Just about every campaign comes down to the last few missions. It’s taught, epic and measured in inches. I have not played PL but I own Corsair Leader and I do have to say that I enjoy it for its historical limitations however.

- zombie
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Josh Malbon
United States
Santa Cruz
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great write-up Tuomas! You really hit on what a joy this game is.


Playing my first mission after the tutorial mission of a short campaign, I just realized the importance of the VP's in this game from your write-up. I wasn't thinking about that initially.

I drew Scud Launchers, which I thought was a great target, until I realized it is only worth 2 VP and I need at least 4 more with one mission left after the Scud Launchers, just to be adequate.

But if I choose another target that will be -1 VP per day because of the improvement. Ugh! Somehow this just makes Hornet Leader all the more fun.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gord Dickson
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Okay, Tuomas, for a lurker who is reading all of the reviews and equally interested in both Hornet Leader and Phantom Leader and too obsessive compulsive to not own both... what's the game to start with? I know they'll both end up in my collection, along with Thunderbolt Apache, but I'd be interested in hearing what you think is the best entry point with this system.
Thanks in advance.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tuomas Takala
Finland
Lahti
flag msg tools
badge
Silk for Calde!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm not very objective, because HL was the first solo game I ever bought, and I spent a lot of time with it last winter, when things were not always so great otherwise. Compared to that, I haven't got the same relationship with PLD, and have played PLD far less.

PLD has its merits, but since you asked about HL, here's the lowdown.

Hornet Leader is all Navy (and USMC). You get all the great navy planes, especially the F-14. This was a major point for me.

Hornet Leader is airy and wide; more space, more options (as compared to PLD).

Hornet Leader has a great variety of challenge levels. From the introductory Desert Storm to the legendary ultra-hard North Atlantic 1986, you'll be climbing an interesting ladder of advancing difficulty. You are not, however, bound to follow it exactly, and as you go from campaign to campaign, you'll enjoy the different threat environments and the different equipment at your disposal.

I'm not sure that I'd ever have bought HL:CAO if I had played PLD first. But, as I bought HL:CAO first, I'm glad occasionally to taste the harder, more chore-like environment of Vietnam, because I can, if I start to feel low there, always go back to the lofty skies of the Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
No No No Sheep
Russia
St Petersburg
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
hornet leader become too easy nowadays, phantom leader still more challenging
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Judy Krauss
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
but I'm not the only one
badge
My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours, they are my own
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Rockhopper01 wrote:
dprijadi wrote:
hornet leader become too easy nowadays


Seems to me that whenever someone says this around here, they've usually been playing it wrong.


Nope. Remember, we discussed this a lot a couple of years ago? IMHO, the the Situational Awareness Points just make it too easy to win by giving 2 attacks to a US pilot using an SA point. If we played it wrong, it was by forgetting to to roll for evasion or ECM and therefore actually making the game harder.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan
United States
flag msg tools
1 Player hardcore
badge
Lone Warrior
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations is awesome. With that out of the way...

I think this game strikes the right balance of punishing you for making mistakes and allowing the player to obtain good ratings with very tight, careful play.

1) It will not arbitrarily defeat the player during play (die rolls) due to bad luck.
2) The player is not beaten at game outset before playing because the randomizing agents (cards) were shuffled together in the wrong sequence.

It's not like some solitaire games I own that will defeat me a certain percentage of the time regardless of my gameplay (Where There Is Discord: War in the South Atlantic, Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game, Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm, D-Day at Omaha Beach). I might fail a HLCAO mission because of bad luck, but I won't fail the campaign because of bad luck. I'm responsible for my rating in HLCAO.

I think if you like to win only a certain percentage of the time because both luck and skill aligned, you might think this game is too easy. If you like to play games that you can win because skilled play will normally trump bad luck, then you will might think highly of the challenge offered by HLCAO.

As for me, I get frustrated after a while if a game is programmed to defeat the player n% of the time just to be difficult. Seems more like bad design than rewarding play to me.

When people claim that HLCAO is too easy, especially because of the SA factor, I like to point out the time period involved. HLCAO takes place in a period when U.S. air power is dominant. The game reflects this. If you compare it to Vietnam, Korea, or WWII, it makes sense that the game should be more difficult (or at least demonstrate higher casualty rates to U.S. aircraft).

With this in mind, I might expect PL to be more difficult. But it's because of the time period, I hope, and not because PLD is more arbitrarily difficult.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.