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Subject: Thinking of Buying: Some Questions rss

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Hi all,

I had an absolute blast over the last couple of days playing "Phantom Leader" on my iPad, so I am thinking the next logical step is for me to pick up Hornet Leader Carrier Air Operations. However, having watched a play-through on You Tube I have a few questions.

AIM-120: Is it overpowered? In the play-through the guy killed ALL bandits with AIM-120s on the first turn!

Situational Awareness: It looks like this allows a pilot to attack in BOTH the Fast and Slow pilot phases. I am not sure I like the sound of that as it again would seem to make the game too easy.

So, is Hornet Leader CAO easier than Phantom Leader? Is it too easy once you get good at the system? Would you recommend Phantom Leader Deluxe Edition instead seeing as I liked the iOS version of PL?

Thanks in advance.
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Peter Kossits
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I haven't played it for a while, but I found a way to breeze through some of the Phantom Leader iOS campaigns with very little risk, so the killer weapon exists in both games not just Hornet.

I find Hornet to be harder than Phantom. You can tune it to the level you enjoy. I think there's almost a dozen campaigns of varying difficulty and I've played only 2 of them in 3 years. I keep coming back to the same ones a lot.

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Jim Lederer
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I find hornet leader easier than PL (deluxe or iOS). That said, I enjoy HL more. There are many campaigns of different difficulty levels and I haven't tackled the hardest ones yet
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John Brown
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AIM-120 is nice since it's independent, base 60% chance to hit (other AtA missiles have a base 50% chance), and range 4 (i.e. can hit anywhere). However, that is balanced by it always costing 1 SO point per missile.

SA does allow a pilot to attack in both the Fast and Slow pilot phases for that turn. Unless you have an E-2C, it is also very limited and only the Flight Leader for a mission can spend an SA point to allow another pilot (otherwise the pilot can only spend it for himself).

I've found base HL:CAO to be easier than PL, but there are still many missions in HL:CAO where things go south. They are both really fun games with lots of replayability.
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Andrew Walters
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The AIM-120 costs SO points. They are pretty deadly, and if you spend the points you can clear the skies before you get close. But you can't always spend the points...

HL is lots of fun. I don't think it's easy, but it might be easier than PL. Some of that may depend on play style. I bet the way some people approach planning missions they might find one of the several games easier than the others.
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No No No Sheep
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hornet leader's modern weaponry and the situational awareness thingy makes it easier game compared to phantom leader..

that said, i personally prefer phantom leader as i am a vietnam war buff..

it is almost realistic watching my planes get shot down left and right, just like the real air war in vietnam..

my advice for you, get this trio :

Phantom Leader
Hornet Leader CAO
Thunderbolt Apache leader..

you wont regret it..

( watch singlehandedwarfare's (derek case) or lonesomegamer's reviews and gameplay tutorials )

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Andrew Walters
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And vis-a-vis Situational Awareness, that's a rare feature in a pilot, and he can use it once per mission. The pilots that have SA are generally weaker in some other area to balance things out. It does mean you can have a Slow pilot with a decent air-to-ground rating take out some defenses on the first turn before they fire. You will certainly not be able to use him on every mission, because he'll have a lower stress rating.

The SA counter you get from the drones, of course, is very nice and you may well be able to use that often. But you gave up an aircraft for that.

So there are some neat toys, no question. Carefully used these are fantastic. But the game is still hard. Remember, the enemy got better, too.
 
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Judy Krauss
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I like them both, but IMHO, Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations is easier overall mostly because of the SA points, BUT it does have a lot of optional rules for increasing difficulty if you want to use them. It has a lot of campaigns, and two different ways to play them (Marine Corp or Navy).

Phantom Leader Deluxe has 3 significant differences in gameplay (there are also thematic differences, of course) from Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations:

No SA points;
Uses LOS/LOF direction tokens;
The Politics track (my favorite difference).

The Politics track adds an extra layer of strategy to the game by restricting which target cards you can choose if you don't keep it under control.
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Thanks for all your replies.

One difficulty I have with the AIM-120 is that Russian aircraft nowadays have similar sorts of weapons. A Hornet pilot can expect to be targeted by a salvo of long range semi-active radar homing missiles at the same time as he is launching his own AIM-120s, so being "Fast" should not mean that the Hornet pilot can clear the skies with virtually no risk.

Going up against modern Russian aircraft like Su-27 should not be a cake-walk. In other words, I don't think AIM-120 should be a kind of super weapon. The enemy threat is still as high as it ever was, with the more advanced Russian aircraft and BVR missiles.
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No No No Sheep
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Baldrick0712 wrote:
Thanks for all your replies.

One difficulty I have with the AIM-120 is that Russian aircraft nowadays have similar sorts of weapons. A Hornet pilot can expect to be targeted by a salvo of long range semi-active radar homing missiles at the same time as he is launching his own AIM-120s, so being "Fast" should not mean that the Hornet pilot can clear the skies with virtually no risk.

Going up against modern Russian aircraft like Su-27 should not be a cake-walk. In other words, I don't think AIM-120 should be a kind of super weapon. The enemy threat is still as high as it ever was, with the more advanced Russian aircraft and BVR missiles.


alas the hornet leader was created with memory fresh from the american air superiority against the third rate militaries around the world. it didnt potray real war potential of china and russian weapons.. of course your hornets will get shot down a lot in reality.. but it wouldnt be fun game if that happens lol

heck america lost 4000+ fixed wing aircraft and 4000+ more rotorcrafts during vietnam war , while the north vietnamese only lost less than 250 aircrafts.. so who won the air war in vietnam ? certainly not the side who lost almost 10.000 aircraft during the war devil

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Judy Krauss
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No one really "wins" a war. Too much loss and grieving on both sides.
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Neil Roberts
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Baldrick0712 wrote:
Thanks for all your replies.

One difficulty I have with the AIM-120 is that Russian aircraft nowadays have similar sorts of weapons. A Hornet pilot can expect to be targeted by a salvo of long range semi-active radar homing missiles at the same time as he is launching his own AIM-120s, so being "Fast" should not mean that the Hornet pilot can clear the skies with virtually no risk.

Going up against modern Russian aircraft like Su-27 should not be a cake-walk. In other words, I don't think AIM-120 should be a kind of super weapon. The enemy threat is still as high as it ever was, with the more advanced Russian aircraft and BVR missiles.


But you have to remember that the game is by design fairly abstract. This is true of the fast pilot/enemy/slow pilot sequence.
If your aim-120 armed pilot isn't a fast pilot, then even a MiG-21 could get you before you even think about yelling "fox 3".
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John Brown
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Baldrick0712 wrote:

One difficulty I have with the AIM-120 is that Russian aircraft nowadays have similar sorts of weapons. A Hornet pilot can expect to be targeted by a salvo of long range semi-active radar homing missiles at the same time as he is launching his own AIM-120s, so being "Fast" should not mean that the Hornet pilot can clear the skies with virtually no risk.


Adding to what Neil said, I think the "similar sort of weapons" is reflected in the range and attack values of the bandits. Mig-25s, Mig-29s, and SU-27s have ranges of 3 or 4 and attack values starting at 1 or 2. Without ECM, evasion, or suppression, you're almost certain to take stress and it's about 50/50 whether you get damaged. I feel like PL was all about ground defeneses and occasionally MiGs would come to the party.

And this game leans more towards the game end of the game-simulation spectrum. I'd call the attack values of the AtA missiles generous even if we consider that most ordnance counters represent 2 such weapons. I'd expect that the bandit values are similarly tuned towards "fun" and not reality.

Also note that doing a Marine campaign is vastly different than the same campaign as the Navy. Only have the AV-8B (and in later year campaigns, the F-35) makes things much more challenging.
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Alan Saunders
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If you have the points for smart weapons then this game is relatively easy. Especially if combined with fast pilots, but even slow pilots who can get their hands on SA can help to clear the enemy defences in turn one.

The problem is that SO points are in short supply. Especially in later campaigns if you take more advanced fighters (which is tempting because those extra 2 points of weight capacity are really really useful to compensate for the lack of intruders)

If you really want to make a dent in your target then dumb bombs are kinda hopeless. You have to go in low and you can't get rid of all the low firing sams and AA so you usually suffer the risk of getting shot at quite a lot. Then you miss...

The best weapon to hit your target with is paveways, if you can get to the centre area or JDAMS if you want to lob em from 1 space away.

But if you do that then you simply can't afford to splash out on AIM-120s

Here, the free smartweapons are your friends. HARMs goes without saying but mavericks also for vehicle targets. Here you can splash out on amraams if you like. So the vehicle missions I find really easy. Same with the bomber intercepts as you don't need to worry about ground units and can totally load up on AIMs.

For most missions, due to the lack of SO I like to take only a few amraams (or phoenix if using any Tomcats). These are to be aimed at any SU-27s or Mig-29s and the like that might happen to be over the centre area out of the range of sparrows. Then I fight my way in using sparrows, using fast pilots, if I have any or using SA, and a few sidewinders. These come in from two directions thus they can take out any closer 27s or 29s and shorter ranged fighters.

Obviously the group that is coming in from the opposite edge is often little more restricted as the range 1 high/low sam near them aren't necessarily going to be taken out.

Since I haven't overspent on amraams I can spend on paveways or jdams.

Phantom Leader, btw really has a quite a different feel and I suppose reflects the era well enough. A grittier less technical feel. I wouldn't say Hornet Leader is easier though. Sure, you have much better weapons, but you have a different environment to match!
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Andrew Walters
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I find it cheaper to use HARMs, Mavericks, and a just a couple smart bombs to clear the way for the "bomb trucks," my word for a couple Intruders or F/Gs with lots of dumb bombs.

I hope you're right, because with my way I am very effective but rarely get to play with the fancy weapons. I'd love to find out that you can afford enough smart bombs to kill the entire target so you get to use the cool toys and don't have to completely wipe out the defenses.
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Alan Saunders
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I dunno mavericks are only good against vehicle targets. No bonus against sites. Still harms are obviously useless against non radar sites, like most AA, so mavericks could be used there. But I usually find I can avoid most AA
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I decided to order the game plus the Cthulhu Conflict expanson this morning, for a not imconsiderable sum (these DVG games seem pretty over-priced for what are esentially card games). Looking forward to playing this as soon as it arrives. Thanks once again for helping me decide.
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Andrew Walters
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Hornet Leader: Cthulhu Conflict is really a different experience...
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Bob T
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I got a great deal on a used but perfect copy of HL. Got an ok deal on TAL, that was my first Leader game. I had my trepidations at first, but these games are incredible! Even if I'd paid the full $90 for TAL it would have been money well spent. (Barely scratched the surface of HL yet)

I think the high price is because its a niche market, not mass marketed. The more copies of something you print the cheaper the price gets.
 
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Bob T
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andreww wrote:

I find it cheaper to use HARMs, Mavericks, and a just a couple smart bombs to clear the way for the "bomb trucks," my word for a couple Intruders or F/Gs with lots of dumb bombs.

I hope you're right, because with my way I am very effective but rarely get to play with the fancy weapons. I'd love to find out that you can afford enough smart bombs to kill the entire target so you get to use the cool toys and don't have to completely wipe out the defenses.


You get a lot of extra SO points in a Marine campaign. I tried one of the later ones (with F-35s) and ran several practice runs against the Crude Oil Port, to see if it could be done. On my only successful attempt I had to spend a whopping 31 SO points! And it would have been impossible without the Stealth fighters, even with unlimited SO.
 
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Jeff Fike
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Thoth Amon wrote:
andreww wrote:

I find it cheaper to use HARMs, Mavericks, and a just a couple smart bombs to clear the way for the "bomb trucks," my word for a couple Intruders or F/Gs with lots of dumb bombs.

I hope you're right, because with my way I am very effective but rarely get to play with the fancy weapons. I'd love to find out that you can afford enough smart bombs to kill the entire target so you get to use the cool toys and don't have to completely wipe out the defenses.


You get a lot of extra SO points in a Marine campaign. I tried one of the later ones (with F-35s) and ran several practice runs against the Crude Oil Port, to see if it could be done. On my only successful attempt I had to spend a whopping 31 SO points! And it would have been impossible without the Stealth fighters, even with unlimited SO.


You get a lot of extra SO points in the marine campaign but you can only fly harrier jets and they cannot use ATG-88s. Therefore, they can't pluck the radar sites off the map, and it isn't very easy.

I feel the OP has legitimate concerns...but I also feel people legitimately answered. WIth SO points, you can make a mission really easy. I took out a major airfield and a headquarters by spending the 12 points on JDAM...oh, man, the ability to launch a stack of independent 1 weight point bombs that hit with a roll of 3 to 8 different targets all on turn one...it brought a tear to my eye.

So the mission was easy - does that mean the OP was correct? For just one mission he was. After spending those 24 points, I was dirt poor and could not spend SO points for most of the game. (In reality, I saved up like a scrooge and then unleashed fury on the final two missions)


So some missions are cakewalks...and, on those, you light the cigar. But AMRAAMs still need a 5 "to hit". That is only 50%. Good pilots can make the odds better, but dice are still dice and they don't always share your enthusiasm for destroying migs.

The SO points keep the game "in check" And the marine campaign with the inferior harrier jets make it all different. (It is the marine mode that feels most like Phantom)

Someone had also mentioned the SO costs to get the extra weight points. If you start out playing IRAQ - you have Tomcats to clear the skies, and access to fantastic bombers with 12 weight points to eliminate the target (Not to mention, selecting these bombers give you bonus SO!!). But then you switch to a 2014 campaign and you can only use hornets. They are so versatile, but their weight limit is much lower. Just that transition, by itself, changes the game.
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Andrew Walters
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Quote:
Just that transition, by itself, changes the game.


I can do well enough to be satisfied with Intruders, but not really with Hornets only. I need to learn the other half of this game. That should be one of my goals for the year.

But Intruders, wow.
 
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