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Thunderbolt Apache Leader» Forums » Strategy

Subject: How to use the deadly AH-1 Cobra rss

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Aaron B
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I have seen more than one post berating the Cobra and even suggesting this deadly (yes, I said deadly) unit needs to be “buffed-up” because it’s “useless”. They say, “the gun is a joke”, “the unit is worthless as-is”, “I never use the AH-1”, and it goes on and on… snore

What I think is being overlooked is that the true effectiveness of the unit is not realized until it is grouped into a squad. Not only do I use the Cobra, I may even make my own extra Cobra and Cobra Pilot cards just so I can use more than 2 or 3 at a time. The following discussion of the Cobra Squad as a unit is NOT a rule variant. This tactic is perfectly allowable within the base rules.

The Power of the AH-1 Squad

To appreciate the Cobra you must view it in the proper light: “The Cobra is weak if used as a single unit; but deadly as a squad!” The fact that the Cobra is exactly half the cost of the AH-64A should immediately make us wonder; “What if I used 2 Cobras flying in formation instead of a single Apache?” In fact, if you compare the AH-1 Squad as a unit to a single Apache, you might notice something cool; the AH-1 Squad is more powerful than the Apache!

Some would try to dismiss the AH-1 Squad concept with, “Well, that’s true of any aircraft in the game.” …but this really only applies to the AH-1 due to its SO cost of 2. You can either buy 1 Apache, or 2 Cobras; period. The question is, “Which would you rather have?”

Battlefield Narrative cool

In my mind’s eye, I see Apaches spread out across the battlefield as lone rangers taking on enemy units at will, unleashing 1 or 2 rocket volleys on critical enemy positions and winning! But then… an enemy unit leader spots something popping up over a distant ridgeline. He observes a small dot growing larger… “Inbound helo! …ready weapon!” The AA gun crew scrambles to align crosshairs on the target; but the gunner pauses for a moment as his target surprisingly splits in two and dodges toward a nearby ridge. The unit leader yells fire, FIRE! …and the shots finally ring out.

Cobra squad continues their approach; veteran pilots who have seen more than one conflict together. Adept as a team; the pair of boldly painted tigershark jaws sweep low across the desert floor. Cobra Leader “Grandpa” sees the threat and rolls left to the cover of a ridgeline. Without hesitation Cobra 2 “Freak” perfectly matches the movement as rounds from the AA gun narrowly miss their mark. Hooking right now Cobra Team follows the terrain and brings the AA unit position back into forward view. Cobra Leader radios: “They’re dug into the hillside” … “forget the hellfires” … “we need to get in close” … Cobra 2 confirms: “Roger that Gramps” … “cannon is hot” …

Compounding Cobra Hit Probability

I know, I know... Really? Attacking an AA unit with a gun that has a 9 “To Hit” requirement. I must be crazy, but let’s consider the actual math in this situation.

A gun attack in a single Apache carries a 40% “To Hit” probability, while the Cobra Squad “To Hit” probability using a 2d10 is 36%. OK, so Cobra Squad is a tad short of the “To Hit” roll of the Apache gunship; but not as underpowered as you thought! …am I right?

Here’s the math:
Kill Probability “KP” = 1-((ToHit-1)/DieSides)^Rolls

The Apache gun attack is a 1d10 roll with a 7 or better “To Hit” requirement:
1-((7-1)/10)^1 = 40% KP

The Cobra Squad gun attack is a 2d10 roll with a 9 or better “To Hit” requirement:
1-((9-1)/10)^2 = 36% KP

I believe we can also add to the formula to take into consideration the total gun attack modifier points adjusted for the number of pilots on board. ...might be over simplifying a bit here, but should be close enough to prove the point.

1-((ToHit-(Mod/Rolls)-1)/DieSides)^Rolls = KP

Where “Mod” is the total modifier points for all pilots in a squad divided by “Rolls” to properly adjust for the number of pilots in the squad. So a Cobra Squad with 2 pilots that have +2 and +1 gun modifiers would be counted as +3 for “Mod” in the formula.

A single Apache pilot:
Gun Mod+0: 1-((7-(0/1)-1)/10)^1 = 40% KP
Gun Mod+1: 1-((7-(1/1)-1)/10)^1 = 50% KP
Gun Mod+2: 1-((7-(2/1)-1)/10)^1 = 60% KP

A two-pilot Cobra Squad:
Gun Mod+0: 1-((9-(0/2)-1)/10)^2 = 36% KP
Gun Mod+1: 1-((9-(1/2)-1)/10)^2 = 44% KP
Gun Mod+2: 1-((9-(2/2)-1)/10)^2 = 51% KP
Gun Mod+3: 1-((9-(3/2)-1)/10)^2 = 58% KP

Three Cobras flying as a squad? 3d10 with a 9 To Hit requirement is a 49% KP with a +0 gun modifier. You know the formula; I’ll let you do the math.

We now rejoin Cobra Squad as Grandpa and Freak press the attack! Our veteran duo shares a combined gun modifier of +3 giving them a 58% kill probability on this run, not bad! Ammo spent, the AA unit gunner watches helplessly as the two helos rapidly approach… his eyes widen as he finally makes out a third set of hungry teeth emerging from behind the flight leader! In a hail of gunfire, the trio of Cobras dispatch the AA unit with a combined 3d10 9 "To Hit" attack roll and a +4 gun modifier. The 70.4% Kill Probability once again favors our team of heroes! “Glad you could join us Gator!” … “No sweat Gramps, where’s the next target?” “You’re pretty skilled kid, but don’t get cocky!”

The Cobra Squad Weapons Platform cool

“OK, so cool story bro, but your squad of 3 Cobras will cost me 6 SO points! AND, I need 3 Cobra pilots with +1, +1, and +2 gun modifiers. I’m sticking with the Apache that only costs me 4 SO points!”

Granted, the narrative was my “Hollywood” version intended to paint a fun picture of how I see my Cobra Squad in the game while introducing the Kill Probability math. Let’s go back now to my original suggestion that: “Two Cobras are greater than one Apache”

Consider the Cobra Squad as a single weapons platform…
Apache: 1d10 Gun 7 KP: 40%, Cost: 4, Weapon Points: 8, Structure: 2
Cobra Squad: 2d10 Gun 9 KP: 36%, Cost: 4, Weapon Points: 12, Structure 2

So by giving up a minuscule 4% KP on the gun attack roll, Cobra Squad has 4 extra weapon points to spend! Yes, this unit costs 4 SO points, has a 12 weapon capacity, and has a gun KP score that is still very close to the formidable Apache. This alone should be enough to sway poor opinions of the Cobra, but there’s more…

Efficient Munitions Usage Bonus

An Apache targets a tank with a hefty -2V armor bonus. I really need it dead on this turn; so it gets 2 hellfire’s assigned. A volley of two hellfire’s is normally a 2d10 attack roll with a 4 “To Hit” requirement; but against a tank with a -2V armor bonus it becomes a 6 “To Hit” requirement. So my hellfire’s now have a 2d10 attack roll with a 6 “To Hit” for a 75% KP. Not great, but good enough; weapons away! YES, the first hellfire scores a hit and the unit is dead! My second hellfire screams past the flaming wreckage and slams into a vacant plot of desert creating an impressive “poof!”

Glad the unit is dead but would’ve been nice if my Apache could have fired just one of those hellfire’s and waited to see if it scored the hit before wasting the second one.

Cobra Squad, same scenario… Cobra 1 launches hellfire 1 and HIT! Cobra 2 sees no point in firing hellfire 2 in the direction of flaming wreckage. So on to the next target with an extra hellfire. Cobra Squad can carry 4 more hellfire's than an Apache and it also gets this extra “Efficient Munitions” bonus when it spreads a volley attack over two airframes.

Loadout Optionality – Economic Apache or Max Carnage?

I’ll bet you don’t give much thought to using those munitions that cost zero Ordinance Points as primary weapons? I mean the “To Hit” chance on those is horrible; pretty much filler munitions if I have some extra Weight Points to spare and can’t afford to spend another Ordinance Point. Right?

Now that you know how the KP formula works, take a look at a pair of TOW rockets compared to a single hellfire. The TOW volley is a 2d10 7 roll for a 64% KP compared to the hellfire’s 1d10 4 roll for a 70% KP. Not too far off!

Using the 12 weapon points of a Cobra Squad, and outfitting them with an array of cheaper munitions, I can match or exceed the firepower of an Apache at 2/3 the Ordinance Point cost.

The KP of a pair of LAU-68’s beats the 70% KP of a single LAU-61 with zero Ordinance Point cost. An Apache armed with 2 LAU-61’s and 4 Hellfire’s has an OP cost of 6. The Cobra Squad armed with 4 LAU-68’s and 4 Hellfire’s cost 4. It's 2/3 the cost and the LAU-68’s fired in pairs have a better KP at 75% vs. the LAU-61’s at 70%. The recovery probability of a pair of 68’s fired from separate platforms also gets the “Efficient Munitions Usage Bonus” putting it on par or better than the 61’s recovery chance in the Apache.

The Max Carnage option is pretty self-explanatory… You can match the best loadout of any Apache, and then add on 4 more Weight Points worth of extra weapons!

Enemy Attack Dispersion

Since an enemy unit can only target one aircraft per turn, a Squad of Cobras cannot be shot down in one turn by a single unit. At worst, the firepower of the Squad is reduced by one half per turn. There’s a tradeoff here in how the structure hits impact the Apache vs the Cobra Squad. Cobra Squad can take 2 or even 3 structure hits in a turn and still have at least half of its firepower. An Apache can take 2 hits and maintain 100% firepower, but on the third hit… it’s 100% dead. It’s possible for Cobra Squad to take 2 structure hits (one on each airframe) and still be at 100% firepower. So...

Cobra Squad: 2 hits ‘may’ reduce unit by 50%, 3 hits ‘will’ reduce unit by 50%, 4 hits to kill the unit

Apache: No unit reduction for 2 hits, but 3 hits kills the unit

Is there an advantage here to the Cobra Squad? Eh maybe, but I see it more as a tradeoff. It is true that regardless of how bad a pair of Cobras might be damaged, a single unit cannot destroy the entire squad in one turn. You can’t say the same for a wounded Apache. But there is a cost...

So what’s the risk? whistle

The Cobra Squad sounds cool but shouldn’t there be some balance here? I mean, now I want all Cobra Squads and I only have 3 of those aircraft in the game. Why don’t we have more? Well here’s the thing… we’ve cut the production back on the Cobras significantly and it costs a lot of taxpayer dollars nowadays to train pilots. So yeah, we don’t have as many Cobras and pilots to deploy. You’ll just have to make do with your Apaches! Hehehe... “make do with the Apaches” LOL!!laugh Remember when you said you’d never use a Cobra!

Kidding aside, let’s not take too lightly the cost in Victory Points to Uncle Sam if we should lose a Cobra Squad. Losing one Cobra is still equal to losing one Apache. Lose a whole squad of Cobras? …ouch! So there's the risk you take bringing a Cobra Squad into the mix.

So why disregard the Cobra?

More weapons, hits harder, fun tandem flying role play, cool weapons mix and compounding bonuses, better paint job, throw in a little math maybe, all for some extra VP cost risk. Did I mention that in an emergency related to a poor scout roll, as a counter to the lack of time, you can still split up the squad to launch hellfires and work toward reforming the team as you move? I like to use em!

...and on a side note, I think the KP formula easily proves why you really shouldn't consider "buffing" up the "pathetic" Cobra gun. Any improvement in the numbers and you'll see Cobra Squad now wields a weapon more powerful than the gunship!

Note: I greatly appreciate all response and am very happy to see discussion on the thread. However, as a courtesy to others I do ask that you not quote this complete narrative in your response as it is rather long and I may also wish to add to it as new ideas emerge.

Edit: Including the explanation of the KP formula here so others will see it.

SALTER wrote:
The Cobra Squad gun attack is a 2d10 roll with a 9 or better “To Hit” requirement:
1-((9-1)/10)^2 = 36% KP

May you explain me the 1-((to hit - 1) part of the formula ?


What is the probability of success for hitting a unit in TAL?

All dice rolls in Thunderbolt Apache Leader (TAL) are based on rolling a single 10-sided die and checking against a certain number (a “To Hit” value) to see if the attack was successful.

Coins are 2-Sided Dice laugh

Flip a coin once, the odds of getting a heads result is 1 out of 2, or 50%. If you flip a coin twice, what is the probability you will get heads on at least one of those flips? To figure this out, we need to evaluate the coin for how many outcomes are possible. There are only 2 outcomes.

Then we need to know how many outcomes are possible that would not give a heads result. There is only heads and tails, so only one outcome is possible that is not heads.

We compute the chance of failure by dividing the failure outcomes possible by the total outcomes possible, so 1/2 or 50%. Now that we have this, we can compound the failure rate by multiplying it by itself for as many times as we want to flip the coin. For 2 coin flips, the chance of NOT getting heads would be: 1/2^2 = 25%

Therefore, the chance of success in getting heads would simply be the inverse: 1-(1/2^2) = 75%

What is the probability of getting a heads result on at least one coin if the number of flips is…
One: 1-(1/2)^1 = 50%
Two: 1-(1/2)^2 = 75%
Three: 1-(1/2)^3 = 87.5%
Ten: 1-(1/2)^10 = 99.9%

We can express the above formula as: 1-(y/x)^a
a = number of dice to be rolled
x = number of faces of each die
y = number of possible failure outcomes

In TAL we are given a “To Hit” requirement for each weapon but our formula actually requires that we provide “To Miss” as our y variable. We can modify the formula to accept “To Hit” as an input as follows:

1-((n-1)/x)^a
Where n = “To Hit” and we just replaced y with (n-1)

The Kill Probability Formula ninja

KP = 1-((n-1)/x)^a

n = “To Hit” requirement
x = die sides
a = rolls



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Mark Beazer
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Some interesting thoughts and analysis, thank you. I hope more people take the time to look at this post.

In my one whole game of TAL so far, I used a Cobra, but only one. Perhaps next game I'll consider trying some more.
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Mike Adams
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Lets not forget that the USMC DOES NOT use the AH-64 (Apache)
They have stayed with the AH-1 (Cobra)
When used correctly the Cobra is a very deadly weapons platform.
In a USMC scenario the aircraft would be AH-1s and AV-8Bs
The F-35B just recently became operational.
No AH-64s or A-10s














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Ryan
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Interesting write up. Thanks for sharing!
 
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Ivan Boscaro
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MJA1967 wrote:
Lets not forget that the USMC DOES NOT use the AH-64 (Apache)
They have stayed with the AH-1 (Cobra)
When used correctly the Cobra is a very deadly weapons platform.
In a USMC scenario the aircraft would be AH-1s and AV-8Bs
The F-35B just recently became operational.
No AH-64s or A-10s


Are not the A-10 planes used by the US Marines ?











 
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Ivan Boscaro
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xljedi wrote:
I have seen more than one post berating the Cobra and even suggesting this deadly (yes, I said deadly) unit needs to be “buffed-up” because it’s “useless”. They say, “the gun is a joke”, “the unit is worthless as-is”, “I never use the AH-1”, and it goes on and on… snore

What I think is being overlooked is that the true effectiveness of the unit is not realized until it is grouped into a squad. Not only do I use the Cobra, I may even make my own extra Cobra and Cobra Pilot cards just so I can use more than 2 or 3 at a time. The following discussion of the Cobra Squad as a unit is NOT a rule variant. This tactic is perfectly allowable within the base rules.

The Power of the AH-1 Squad

To appreciate the Cobra you must view it in the proper light: “The Cobra is weak if used as a single unit; but deadly as a squad!” The fact that the Cobra is exactly half the cost of the AH-64A should immediately make us wonder; “What if I used 2 Cobras flying in formation instead of a single Apache?” In fact, if you compare the AH-1 Squad as a unit to a single Apache, you might notice something cool; the AH-1 Squad is more powerful than the Apache!

Some would try to dismiss the AH-1 Squad concept with, “Well, that’s true of any aircraft in the game.” …but this really only applies to the AH-1 due to its SO cost of 2. You can either buy 1 Apache, or 2 Cobras; period. The question is, “Which would you rather have?”

Battlefield Narrative cool

In my mind’s eye, I see Apaches spread out across the battlefield as lone rangers taking on enemy units at will, unleashing 1 or 2 rocket volleys on critical enemy positions and winning! But then… an enemy unit leader spots something popping up over a distant ridgeline. He observes a small dot growing larger… “Inbound helo! …ready weapon!” The AA gun crew scrambles to align crosshairs on the target; but the gunner pauses for a moment as his target surprisingly splits in two and dodges toward a nearby ridge. The unit leader yells fire, FIRE! …and the shots finally ring out.

Cobra squad continues their approach; veteran pilots who have seen more than one conflict together. Adept as a team; the pair of boldly painted tigershark jaws sweep low across the desert floor. Cobra Leader “Grandpa” sees the threat and rolls left to the cover of a ridgeline. Without hesitation Cobra 2 “Freak” perfectly matches the movement as rounds from the AA gun narrowly miss their mark. Hooking right now Cobra Team follows the terrain and brings the AA unit position back into forward view. Cobra Leader radios: “They’re dug into the hillside” … “forget the hellfires” … “we need to get in close” … Cobra 2 confirms: “Roger that Gramps” … “cannon is hot” …

Compounding Cobra Hit Probability

I know, I know... Really? Attacking an AA unit with a gun that has a 9 “To Hit” requirement. I must be crazy, but let’s consider the actual math in this situation.

A gun attack in a single Apache carries a 40% “To Hit” probability, while the Cobra Squad “To Hit” probability using a 2d10 is 36%. OK, so Cobra Squad is a tad short of the “To Hit” roll of the Apache gunship; but not as underpowered as you thought! …am I right?

Here’s the math:
Kill Probability “KP” = 1-((ToHit-1)/DieSides)^Rolls

The Apache gun attack is a 1d10 roll with a 7 or better “To Hit” requirement:
1-((7-1)/10)^1 = 40% KP

The Cobra Squad gun attack is a 2d10 roll with a 9 or better “To Hit” requirement:
1-((9-1)/10)^2 = 36% KP

I believe we can also add to the formula to take into consideration the total gun attack modifier points adjusted for the number of pilots on board. ...might be over simplifying a bit here, but should be close enough to prove the point.

1-((ToHit-(Mod/Rolls)-1)/DieSides)^Rolls = KP

Where “Mod” is the total modifier points for all pilots in a squad divided by “Rolls” to properly adjust for the number of pilots in the squad. So a Cobra Squad with 2 pilots that have +2 and +1 gun modifiers would be counted as +3 for “Mod” in the formula.

A single Apache pilot:
Gun Mod+0: 1-((7-(0/1)-1)/10)^1 = 40% KP
Gun Mod+1: 1-((7-(1/1)-1)/10)^1 = 50% KP
Gun Mod+2: 1-((7-(2/1)-1)/10)^1 = 60% KP

A two-pilot Cobra Squad:
Gun Mod+0: 1-((9-(0/2)-1)/10)^2 = 36% KP
Gun Mod+1: 1-((9-(1/2)-1)/10)^2 = 44% KP
Gun Mod+2: 1-((9-(2/2)-1)/10)^2 = 51% KP
Gun Mod+3: 1-((9-(3/2)-1)/10)^2 = 58% KP

Three Cobras flying as a squad? 3d10 with a 9 To Hit requirement is a 49% KP with a +0 gun modifier. You know the formula; I’ll let you do the math.

We now rejoin Cobra Squad as Grandpa and Freak press the attack! Our veteran duo shares a combined gun modifier of +3 giving them a 58% kill probability on this run, not bad! Ammo spent, the AA unit gunner watches helplessly as the two helos rapidly approach… his eyes widen as he finally makes out a third set of hungry teeth emerging from behind the flight leader! In a hail of gunfire, the trio of Cobras dispatch the AA unit with a combined 3d10 9 "To Hit" attack roll and a +4 gun modifier. The 70.4% Kill Probability once again favors our team of heroes! “Glad you could join us Gator!” … “No sweat Gramps, where’s the next target?” “You’re pretty skilled kid, but don’t get cocky!”

The Cobra Squad Weapons Platform cool

“OK, so cool story bro, but your squad of 3 Cobras will cost me 6 SO points! AND, I need 3 Cobra pilots with +1, +1, and +2 gun modifiers. I’m sticking with the Apache that only costs me 4 SO points!”

Granted, the narrative was my “Hollywood” version intended to paint a fun picture of how I see my Cobra Squad in the game while introducing the Kill Probability math. Let’s go back now to my original suggestion that: “Two Cobras are greater than one Apache”

Consider the Cobra Squad as a single weapons platform…
Apache: 1d10 Gun 7 KP: 40%, Cost: 4, Weapon Points: 8, Structure: 2
Cobra Squad: 2d10 Gun 9 KP: 36%, Cost: 4, Weapon Points: 12, Structure 2

So by giving up a minuscule 4% KP on the gun attack roll, Cobra Squad has 4 extra weapon points to spend! Yes, this unit costs 4 SO points, has a 12 weapon capacity, and has a gun KP score that is still very close to the formidable Apache. This alone should be enough to sway poor opinions of the Cobra, but there’s more…

Efficient Munitions Usage Bonus

An Apache targets a tank with a hefty -2V armor bonus. I really need it dead on this turn; so it gets 2 hellfire’s assigned. A volley of two hellfire’s is normally a 2d10 attack roll with a 4 “To Hit” requirement; but against a tank with a -2V armor bonus it becomes a 6 “To Hit” requirement. So my hellfire’s now have a 2d10 attack roll with a 6 “To Hit” for a 75% KP. Not great, but good enough; weapons away! YES, the first hellfire scores a hit and the unit is dead! My second hellfire screams past the flaming wreckage and slams into a vacant plot of desert creating an impressive “poof!”

Glad the unit is dead but would’ve been nice if my Apache could have fired just one of those hellfire’s and waited to see if it scored the hit before wasting the second one.

Cobra Squad, same scenario… Cobra 1 launches hellfire 1 and HIT! Cobra 2 sees no point in firing hellfire 2 in the direction of flaming wreckage. So on to the next target with an extra hellfire. Cobra Squad can carry 4 more hellfire's than an Apache and it also gets this extra “Efficient Munitions” bonus when it spreads a volley attack over two airframes.

Loadout Optionality – Economic Apache or Max Carnage?

I’ll bet you don’t give much thought to using those munitions that cost zero Ordinance Points as primary weapons? I mean the “To Hit” chance on those is horrible; pretty much filler munitions if I have some extra Weight Points to spare and can’t afford to spend another Ordinance Point. Right?

Now that you know how the KP formula works, take a look at a pair of TOW rockets compared to a single hellfire. The TOW volley is a 2d10 7 roll for a 64% KP compared to the hellfire’s 1d10 4 roll for a 70% KP. Not too far off!

Using the 12 weapon points of a Cobra Squad, and outfitting them with an array of cheaper munitions, I can match or exceed the firepower of an Apache at 2/3 the Ordinance Point cost.

The KP of a pair of LAU-68’s beats the 70% KP of a single LAU-61 with zero Ordinance Point cost. An Apache armed with 2 LAU-61’s and 4 Hellfire’s has an OP cost of 6. The Cobra Squad armed with 4 LAU-68’s and 4 Hellfire’s cost 4. It's 2/3 cheaper and the LAU-68’s fired in pairs have a better KP at 75% vs. the LAU-61’s at 70%. The recovery probability of a pair of 68’s fired from separate platforms also gets the “Efficient Munitions Usage Bonus” putting it on par or better than the 61’s recovery chance in the Apache.

The Max Carnage option is pretty self-explanatory… You can match the best loadout of any Apache, and then add on 4 more Weight Points worth of extra weapons!

Enemy Attack Dispersion

Since an enemy unit can only target one aircraft per turn, a Squad of Cobras cannot be shot down in one turn by a single unit. At worst, the firepower of the Squad is reduced by one half per turn. There’s a tradeoff here in how the structure hits impact the Apache vs the Cobra Squad. Cobra Squad can take 2 or even 3 structure hits in a turn and still have at least half of its firepower. An Apache can take 2 hits and maintain 100% firepower, but on the third hit… it’s 100% dead. It’s possible for Cobra Squad to take 2 structure hits (one on each airframe) and still be at 100% firepower. So...

Cobra Squad: 2 hits ‘may’ reduce unit by 50%, 3 hits ‘will’ reduce unit by 50%, 4 hits to kill the unit

Apache: No unit reduction for 2 hits, but 3 hits kills the unit

Is there an advantage here to the Cobra Squad? Eh maybe, but I see it more as a tradeoff. It is true that regardless of how bad a pair of Cobras might be damaged, a single unit cannot destroy the entire squad in one turn. You can’t say the same for a wounded Apache. But there is a cost...

So what’s the risk? whistle

The Cobra Squad sounds cool but shouldn’t there be some balance here? I mean, now I want all Cobra Squads and I only have 3 of those aircraft in the game. Why don’t we have more? Well here’s the thing… we’ve cut the production back on the Cobras significantly and it costs a lot of taxpayer dollars nowadays to train pilots. So yeah, we don’t have as many Cobras and pilots to deploy. You’ll just have to make do with your Apaches! Hehehe... “make do with the Apaches” LOL!!laugh Remember when you said you’d never use a Cobra!

Kidding aside, let’s not take too lightly the cost in Victory Points to Uncle Sam if we should lose a Cobra Squad. Losing one Cobra is still equal to losing one Apache. Lose a whole squad of Cobras? …ouch! So there's the risk you take bringing a Cobra Squad into the mix.

So why disregard the Cobra?

More weapons, hits harder, fun tandem flying role play, cool weapons mix and compounding bonuses, better paint job, throw in a little math maybe, all for some extra WP cost risk. Did I mention that in an emergency related to a poor scout roll, as a counter to the lack of time, you can still split up the squad to launch hellfires and work toward reforming the team as you move? I like to use em!

...and on a side note, I think the KP formula easily proves why you really shouldn't consider "buffing" up the "pathetic" Cobra gun. Any improvement in the numbers and you'll see Cobra Squad now wields a weapon more powerful than the gunship!

Usually I use Average or Green skill level pilots - so to keep adherent to the idea that it is the first real war or battle to fight instead of "simulations"... And also because I like to see them survive and "fire to live on" or to see another day or becaming aces due to field promotions and field achievements and heroisms... But that is a matter of taste right ?
Feel free to deploy Aces and Veterans too from the very start if you like them (Usually I do so in linked campaigns / scenarios) !!!
 
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Compounding Cobra Hit Probability

I know, I know... Really? Attacking an AA unit with a gun that has a 9 “To Hit” requirement. I must be crazy, but let’s consider the actual math in this situation.

A gun attack in a single Apache carries a 40% “To Hit” probability, while the Cobra Squad “To Hit” probability using a 2d10 is 36%. OK, so Cobra Squad is a tad short of the “To Hit” roll of the Apache gunship; but not as underpowered as you thought! …am I right?

Here’s the math:
Kill Probability “KP” = 1-((ToHit-1)/DieSides)^Rolls

The Apache gun attack is a 1d10 roll with a 7 or better “To Hit” requirement:
1-((7-1)/10)^1 = 40% KP

The Cobra Squad gun attack is a 2d10 roll with a 9 or better “To Hit” requirement:
1-((9-1)/10)^2 = 36% KP

May you explain me the 1-((to hit - 1) part of the formula ?
And why "rolls" ? I see in the rules you cannot roll more than 1 die to a single attack "roll die phase"... So... I don't get the point here
Explain me all the gaps I have... Some things you say are correct like the AH-1 tandem role play and such... But I remember you that TAL seems to be though in the way "Even if you are using more than 1 aircraft they are not acting like a team or "in tandem" but DO still remain and must be counted as single units"... In addition... You do not take into account the STRESS COUNT for pilots... Even if they are Aces they do sum up Stress for each mission flew... So... If the AH-1 team flies a single mission together as a team then, maybe, you could have to face a situation that does not allow you to field them for the next mission or the subsequent days missions !!! So... A single Apache can / cannot do the job of a whole tandem of Cobras BUT, potentially, the whole AH-1 pilots can be unable to be fielded do to stress count or just because they are KIA due to the lack of Structure Points of their aircraft !!!
Usually I try to field aircrafts being "historically accurate" and such... So... If I play the 2014 Scenario for example, I use the AH-64D aircrafts as "leaders and targets spotters" for another pair of Apaches... Or the Cobra "trio" as you called it !!!
Also I use the Cobras as "finishers" if I field the Spectre or the more powerful A-10s / F-16s... Their sole purpose ? To wipe out what left alive from the former types of planes !!!
Also I do find a certain grade of incongruences when I read the Spectre's Card... It reads that such gunship is not usable in the Gulf War Scenario... While I remeber that in the reality such types of planes or similar were used...
I also read some threads here reporting this issue. Then; where resides the truth ? Can you tell it to me ? Where and were the Spectre was used or not in the 1st War of the Gulf and - if YES - why TAL reports that they are not fieldable along with the Cobras themselves, for example, if I use that proper Scenario Card ?
 
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Aaron B
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Thank you Ivan for these excellent questions... Which I am happy to continue discussing.

Would you mind, using the "Edit" feature on your replies and removing the quoted text from my original post? It is rather lengthy and can cause some confusion if I see a valid point noted and wish to revise my narrative to include a new idea. This is for the benefit of others who might be reading through for the first time. I would hate to see a valid point lost deep in a thread and go unnoticed.

I will work on a response for your points related to Pilot Stress and add those as a new section to my original post as I think it is an interesting topic that should be included for all. My initial inclination would be that Pilot Stress does not stack. However there is some nuance to how it affects Cobra Squad vs an Apache. I think the response will have a similar tone as my commentary related to Structure Points in that I will see it as a tradeoff rather than a bonus or detriment.

Your questions related to the formula... I think I would prefer to address in a new thread, which I will start and reference here with a link. I wish I could take all credit for that formula, but I'm really just copying a basic formula from statistics related to dice rolls or coin flips. I'm happy to post an explanation though, because I think it might be of value to folks who are contemplating variant rules involving weapon modification and/or weapon targeting and they may not appreciate the balance already present in the orginal values. [presumably as a result of extensive gameplay and statistical simulation by people who adeptly understand and use these formulas]

Your questions related to other units in the game and IRL... I think are interesting discussion topics for a new thread(s) that you may wish to start. I would rather not derail or hijack this thread with those discussions.
 
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Aaron B
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Hello Ivan,

In response to your question related to "How do I justify a 2d10" attack roll when the game only allows for one roll per attack?

The Cobra Squad does not modify the base game rules. When a pair of Cobras are in the same hex (as a result of tandem movement) and they target the same unit, they each get to roll one attack against it. Which from the standpoint of calculating your Kill Probability for the turn is equivalent to a 2d10 ToHit 9 attack roll. ...and meant to be interpretted as either of the 2 dice rolled having a value greater than 9; not roll 2 dice and see if their combined value is 9. Granted, I was taking some liberty in assuming people would understand that I was not suggesting a rule variant on the attack roll mechanic.

You target and roll all attacks from one Cobra, then you target and roll all attacks from the second Cobra. The resulting Kill Probability is stated in terms of whether or not the unit is dead at the end of turn (which includes both attack phases).

What I have not yet begun to discuss at all is the concept of a Mixed Munitions attack in terms of Kill Probability. I need to think about how to adjust the formula and I may tinker with the idea on another thread. I am interested to see, for instance, should I attack a tank with two hellfires or would a hellfire and TOW suffice? hellfire and 2 TOWs maybe? ...but that concept is not unique to the Cobra Squad.
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SALTER wrote:
Are not the A-10 planes used by the US Marines ?


Although I am no expert, my layperson understanding is that the Marines are a division or department of the US Navy [ducking now as things are being thrown at me].

I also note that a friend of mine who was a Marine was quick to counter that fact with, "Correct, we're the Men's Department!" laugh

Pretty sure a basic requirement for a naval aircraft includes the ability to land on an aircraft carrier and the A-10 (AFAIK) is not equiped with an arrestor hook or adequately "beefed-up" shock absorbing landing gear. So I would think NO, A-10's are not used or flown by Marines.

The A-10 is deployed by the US Air Force I believe? ...can't help but think I've seen one with "Marines" stamped on it though? I might be thinking of the Harrier though.
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MJA1967 wrote:
In a USMC scenario the aircraft would be AH-1s and AV-8Bs


Yes, thank you for that point! I really like the idea of flying a USMC scenario. Now I just need to create a little model of the USS Wasp to land my chits on next to the game board.
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Bob Davis
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Awesome post with great supporting analysis. You better believe I'll be flying my cobras this way. I was just playing the other day and sent a squad out with 2 cobras but I had them come in from opposite sides of the battlefield, hover so as not to get in enemy range, and then scoot back off the battlefield after deploying their weapons. I didn't even use their cannons. As a group I now see the power of their cannons.
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David Low
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xljedi wrote:

The A-10 is deployed by the US Air Force I believe? ...can't help but think I've seen one with "Marines" stamped on it though? I might be thinking of the Harrier though.


Which reminds me of a (possibly apocryphal) story I heard around the traps, where (in a review/enquiry into air support for joint operations) the Commandant of the Marine Corp was asked how he arranged for air support to the Marines. His response was along the lines of, "We buy a plane, and paint 'MARINES' on the side" whistle
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Jeff Fike
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But the Apaches get a bonus for being paired and they do not have to fly in the same zone, just the same mission. That bonus is pretty much a given when calculating their odds.

Also, the APache - C (I haven't played in a while so I may have that piece wrong) is a huge upgrade further distancing itself from the AH-1

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schmoo34 wrote:
But the Apaches get a bonus for being paired and they do not have to fly in the same zone, just the same mission. That bonus is pretty much a given when calculating their odds.

Also, the APache - C (I haven't played in a while so I may have that piece wrong) is a huge upgrade further distancing itself from the AH-1



I might be missing something here.

I don't think the AH-64A that costs 4 SO points gets a bonus for flying in pairs? Unless you fly them as a squad, similar to the Cobras, but the cost in that case is too prohibitive to field enough Apaches to cover the battelfield in the alotted time.

If you mean the "linked" bonus for the AH-64D then yes, but they cost 5 SO points. So you do pay for that ability.


 
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dlow wrote:
"We buy a plane, and paint 'MARINES' on the side" whistle


laughlaughlaugh
 
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SALTER wrote:
The Cobra Squad gun attack is a 2d10 roll with a 9 or better “To Hit” requirement:
1-((9-1)/10)^2 = 36% KP

May you explain me the 1-((to hit - 1) part of the formula ?


What is the probability of success for hitting a unit in TAL?

All dice rolls in Thunderbolt Apache Leader (TAL) are based on rolling a single 10-sided die and checking against a certain number (a “To Hit” value) to see if the attack was successful.

Coins are 2-Sided Dice laugh

Flip a coin once, the odds of getting a heads result is 1 out of 2, or 50%. If you flip a coin twice, what is the probability you will get heads on at least one of those flips? To figure this out, we need to evaluate the coin for how many outcomes are possible. There are only 2 outcomes.

Then we need to know how many outcomes are possible that would not give a heads result. There is only heads and tails, so only one outcome is possible that is not heads.

We compute the chance of failure by dividing the failure outcomes possible by the total outcomes possible, so 1/2 or 50%. Now that we have this, we can compound the failure rate by multiplying it by itself for as many times as we want to flip the coin. For 2 coin flips, the chance of NOT getting heads would be: 1/2^2 = 25%

Therefore, the chance of success in getting heads would simply be the inverse: 1-(1/2^2) = 75%

What is the probability of getting a heads result on at least one coin if the number of flips is…
One: 1-(1/2)^1 = 50%
Two: 1-(1/2)^2 = 75%
Three: 1-(1/2)^3 = 87.5%
Ten: 1-(1/2)^10 = 99.9%

We can express the above formula as: 1-(y/x)^a
a = number of dice to be rolled
x = number of faces of each die
y = number of possible failure outcomes

In TAL we are given a “To Hit” requirement for each weapon but our formula actually requires that we provide “To Miss” as our y variable. We can modify the formula to accept “To Hit” as an input as follows:

1-((n-1)/x)^a
Where n = “To Hit” and we just replaced y with (n-1)

The Kill Probability Formula ninja

KP = 1-((n-1)/x)^a

n = “To Hit” requirement
x = die sides
a = rolls


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J. Atkinson
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Thanks for the analysis! It was very well done. I just bought the game (still in transit), and I'm super excited about playing. I'll definitely have to give the cobra squads a spin It would be cool to do a "marines" scenario as well with just the cobras and harriers (they do have airfields like Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan).
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Bob T
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This is a great post! I think this is the correct way to look at the Cobras- and I've been missing it all this time. Another advantage of a pair of Cobras, they can divide the enemy fire among them whereas a single Apache takes all the hits aimed at him (although I think the Apache is more resistant to certain types of damage)

I wish they'd finally publish Huey Leader cause I think the Cobra was the latest super-weapon in that era.
 
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Ivan Boscaro
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Thoth Amon wrote:
This is a great post! I think this is the correct way to look at the Cobras- and I've been missing it all this time. Another advantage of a pair of Cobras, they can divide the enemy fire among them whereas a single Apache takes all the hits aimed at him (although I think the Apache is more resistant to certain types of damage)

I wish they'd finally publish Huey Leader cause I think the Cobra was the latest super-weapon in that era.

...me too friend... but it seems that they need almost 200 people to pre order the game in order to let it go the the printer...
Unfortunately, then, it can take a lot of time...
 
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Thoth Amon wrote:
Another advantage of a pair of Cobras, they can divide the enemy fire among them whereas a single Apache takes all the hits aimed at him (although I think the Apache is more resistant to certain types of damage).


Thank you, and agreed!
I mentioned it in the "Enemy Attack Dispersion" section and characterized it as more of a tradeoff than an advantage to a Cobra Squad. You do raise a good point though. I haven't reviewed or analyzed the enemy attack chits to see if there are more/less attacks that are disregarded by an Apache.

Thoth Amon wrote:
I wish they'd finally publish Huey Leader cause I think the Cobra was the latest super-weapon in that era.


I might go ahead and add myself to the preorder list; as long as DVG doesn't charge upfront? I was kinda wanting to try Hornet Leader Carrier Ops next and these games are a bit pricey!
 
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Mick Lee
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Hi,
Just received my copy of TAL yesterday and at the moment I am studying the rulebook and I am playing some minor missions just to get aquainted with the mechanisms. I want to start with the Cobra squad right away, but I cannot find any information about “squad-building“ or the possibility to pair aircraft in the rulebook... All I can find is the ability to link A10Cs and Longbows-but that doesn't help either. So if anybody has a rulebook reference or a hint where I can find the “squad rule“, I'd be very grateful.

Thx in advance,

Michael (who wants to bust tanks with Cobras)...
 
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J. Atkinson
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Sonnenprinz wrote:
Hi,
Just received my copy of TAL yesterday and at the moment I am studying the rulebook and I am playing some minor missions just to get aquainted with the mechanisms. I want to start with the Cobra squad right away, but I cannot find any information about “squad-building“ or the possibility to pair aircraft in the rulebook... All I can find is the ability to link A10Cs and Longbows-but that doesn't help either. So if anybody has a rulebook reference or a hint where I can find the “squad rule“, I'd be very grateful.

Thx in advance,

Michael (who wants to bust tanks with Cobras)...


Hey Michael,

There's no linking of Cobras. I believe what xljedi is referring to is that you team them up together and have them fly and shoot at the same targets together. You'd be using the power of two dice rolls on the same targets to increase your kill probability instead of one die of a single Apache attack.

 
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Ivan Boscaro
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Sonnenprinz wrote:
Hi,
Just received my copy of TAL yesterday and at the moment I am studying the rulebook and I am playing some minor missions just to get aquainted with the mechanisms. I want to start with the Cobra squad right away, but I cannot find any information about “squad-building“ or the possibility to pair aircraft in the rulebook... All I can find is the ability to link A10Cs and Longbows-but that doesn't help either. So if anybody has a rulebook reference or a hint where I can find the “squad rule“, I'd be very grateful.

Thx in advance,

Michael (who wants to bust tanks with Cobras)...

Hi; there is not a proper "squad creation" or "team building" within TAL since each plane or copter is acquired via a points' system - so - it is not completely adherent to the reality since you will end up seeing most of the TAL's matches evolve more as a sort of "aircrafts mixed up by the fate" against the enemy battallions rather than seeing them like they were 100 % correspondant to the real life warfare situations... With proper "teams" of copters or planes or a mixture of them as they are used in real combat...
However the game remains very cool and enjoyable !!!
PS: the "linked planes" rules in TAL refer to the "modernized version" of the planes and copters depicted in the game itself (Apache Ds and A-10Cs)... Since they use avionics and computerized targeting "matrixes" and satellitar infos to spot enemies and avoid threats the TAL creators added such rules to show those tactical advantages and aids granting the "linked" skilled aircrafts of the game to aim and fire also between ridges and also to get bonuses due to their "upgraded avionics"... As I stated before... It is kinda adherent to the real life combatants abilities of most modern aircrafts...
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Bob Davis
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The rules read "Resolve the Turn for each Fast Aircraft before moving on to the next Fast Aircraft." how does that affect this strategy? It seems that you can't actually move in unison. If you have a fast pilot and a slow pilot they can end up in different hexes during the enemy attack, but even if they are the same speed then when attacking you have to completely resolve one Cobra before attacking with another.
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