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Subject: AH-6 Little Bird (Feedback Wanted) rss

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Ed
United States
New Hampshire
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I don't have much experience with the game as of yet, but already I'm longing for the presence of the Little Bird on the battlefield (and I'm actually surprised to see that no one has made a variant for it yet).

My intent is to make the AH-6 a quick but weak aircraft that can support your more powerful helicopters and planes by eliminating low-value targets and spotting. Here's my attempt:

Quote:
Type: AH-6 Name: Little Bird Numbers: 57 & 58 Years: 1980- Cost: 3 SO
Structural Hits: 1 Weight Points: 4* Cannon: 7 Speed: 0 or 1
Ordnance: AIM-92, LAU-68*, AGM-114
Traits: Scout†, Linked, +2 vs. Infantry & Trucks

Description: A frail but nimble helicopter that can make short work of soft targets while your other aircraft focus on more substantial enemies. The Little Bird's weak frame is offset somewhat by its pilots' relatively high Evasive trait, and its small payload by its +2 to Attacks against Infantry and Trucks. It is Linked and can also be used as a Scout instead of being sent on a mission†.

*Must carry at least one LAU-68 counter

†If used as a Scout and the roll is a 1 the aircraft is lost and the pilot will require SAR during the Home-Bound procedures. Roll another die to determine where/when the AH-6 crashed for the purpose of SAR modifiers: on 1-5 it crashed while over the Target (+0 to SAR), on 6-8 it crashed while Home-Bound (+1 to SAR), on 9 or 10 it crashed while Target-Bound (+2 to SAR).

Pilots:


The +2 vs. certain enemies and the boosted Evasive have precedent in aircraft already in the game (F-16 and AC-130 respectively). So does the Scout trait (shared with the Predators), and while it's a less appealing option with the AH-6 since you stand to lose VP, it's there if you want it (and one additional die roll lets it be used with normal SAR rules).

I phrased the +2 to refer only to target types (and not also weapon types) for conciseness. Since Trucks are vehicles it has the side effect of applying to Hellfires used on Trucks (whereas the intent is really for it to only apply to rockets and cannons). But a Hellfire fired at a Truck is already overkill to begin with, so I don't think it'll be too disruptive. By the way, if you're looking for a realistic explanation for the +2 to soft targets, you can attribute it to either the AH-6's maneuverability or the fact that they often carry Mk. 19 40mm grenade launchers--whichever you prefer.

I think the most unusual thing I've done is make a specific Weapon mandatory. This is both for realism (I've never seen a picture of an AH-6 without it having at least one rocket pod) and for balance, since in TAL Hellfires weigh half as much as rocket pods and I worry an AH-6 with 4 Hellfires might end up being overpowered.

I'm tempted to come up with a Spotter trait to replace Linked that's basically the same but is only one-way from the AH-6 to any other aircraft (Linked or not). Thoughts?

For the pilots I based my numbers on those of existing pilots and tried to give them different strengths (stress, speed/evasion, combat), but they're by no means finely tuned.

If you see any aspects of the pilots or the aircraft that seem unbalanced, please let me know. My goal is for the AH-6 to fit into the game in a way that is both representative of its real-world role while not disturbing the balance of the game.
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Joep Fennema
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On a quick glance, I love it! Very thematic and would be an excellent addition to the game. Now for some nice cards...
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Håkan Lundgren
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Hi Ed,
first just let me say nice work on your AH-6. I'm also working on a MH/AH-6 type helicopter. Just like you I've been experimenting on a similar trait as your Spotters trait. For me it started by having ground troops using LLDRs to designate targets for CAS aircrafts. Maybe we'll just settle on the term Spotter and consider it established :-)

Though I haven't tried your AH-6 or your pilots I have noticed one small thing. It seems that whenever the original pilots gain the Fast skill they usually drop one point in either Cannon/Strike, Stand-Off or Cool. Sometimes the values stay the same but then they would loose Stress points. Maybe that might be something to consider.

Anyway, great work and I'll be sure to try them out someday.
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Ed
United States
New Hampshire
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This is quite a resurrection for this thread, but I've come around again to implementing the AH-6 in the game. After using it in some missions, here are some observations/thoughts I've had:

Instead of Linked, a new Spotter trait would be preferable. In a recent game I made it a simple +1 to another aircraft's attack when the AH-6 also has their target in line of sight, but it might be neat to bump it up to +2 if the Little Bird doesn't make an attack of its own that turn. Considering where to position the LB to coordinate with other aircrafts' attacks was already fun, and the choice of whether to sacrifice an attack by the LB to boost that of another plane or helo could be another interesting layer.

The evasive numbers may be a bit too high. I want the nimbleness of the Little Bird to come across in its stats and playstyle, but its fragility also needs to come into play. As it was, I could plop the LB into a hover in a hex with infantry and an APC and not have to worry about it at all, which didn't feel right. The simplest way to fix that within existing systems would be to bring down all their evasive numbers--by 1 would probably suffice. The idea of keeping the numbers but having LB pilots take an automatic stress per a certain number of evaded hits also crossed my mind; I'd have to test that to see if it feels right, though.

The +2 against Infantry and Trucks is a bit too generous. Particularly against Trucks, which already have +2 for everyone: that gives the AH-6 a 80% chance of destroying a truck counter with its strength 7 cannon even before you take pilot bonuses into account. My first thought is to limit it to just "+2 vs. Infantry," but I'll also try out some other variations (namely "+1 vs. Infantry," "+1 vs. Infantry and Trucks," and "+2 vs. Infantry, +1 vs. Trucks").

I don't like that the Little Bird can carry two Hellfire counters. Gameplay-wise it makes it feel too much like a regular attack helo, and it's also unrealistic because I've only ever seen LBs carry two AGM-114s (and each Hellfire counter in the game counts as two missiles, as noted in the Single Weapon Attacks optional rule). My AH-6 as originally outlined could carry two Hellfires because it had 4 Weight Points, and it had 4 WPs because I wanted it to be able to carry two LAU-68s. For some reason LAU-68s in the game weigh just as much (2 WPs) as the LAU-61s, despite having half as many rockets. Maybe the 68s would be unbalanced at 1 WP due to the very simple mechanic used to simulate efficient salvos that could hypothetically give you infinite rockets. In any case, I think it might be best to just ignore WPs with the AH-6 and instead choose from a few possible configurations:

- 2 LAU-68s, or
- 1 LAU-68 and 1 AGM-114, or
- 1 LAU-68 and 1 AIM-92

I've already given the LB a decent cannon for its size, so it should be relying on that as much or more than rockets and missiles. Also, I've seen it stated in several places that LBs can carry Stingers but I've never actually seen a photo of one doing it so I don't know where they're mounted: underslung like their other armaments, or on the end of pylons like you might see on Apaches or Cobras. For the options above I've assumed they're underslung, but if anyone has a link to a photo confirming it one way or the other please share it.

I'd like to see the Little Bird's maneuverability better represented. Evasive boost aside, the AH-6 basically feels like it handles just like a larger helicopter on the game board. My first thought was for it to cost 0 movement for the LB to move into and/or out of a hover, but that didn't seem thematic or balanced. My next idea is for it to be able to perform a sort of "quick 180." The idea would be that if it was on an edge leaving a hex it could basically flip around so that it would be facing into that hex from the one it was previously pointed towards. It would cost 1 movement, and possibly also add a stress, and the LB wouldn't be able to perform a Cannon/Strike against any units in the second hex (the one it begins facing and ends leaving). If there's a ridge in the way you'd hit it twice, so the maneuver would be limited by the terrain assuming you want to avoid that but also stay Low, but it could give you some interesting new options for the LB and help differentiate it.

I'd be happy to hear your opinions on this stuff or anything in the original post, so please chime in.
 
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