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Subject: Stats in Action rss

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Zachary The Bruce
Australia
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Here is a play report, testing out my statistics sheets for weapons

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/145090/probabilities-...

The Campaign is Iran '14, and this is the 4th day of a 9 day tour. It's a Marines squad, 9 AV-8B pilots and 3 F35 A/C's.

The chosen target is a Minor Airfield (target 2).
There are 5 sites on this mission, and only 3 of them should give me any trouble, being able to fire on me when directly over the target, a SA-2, SA-15 and SA-6. The rest are SA-6's in approach areas, and I plan to be at high altitude directly over the target.

There is a possible 7 Bandits, with a new one coming out each turn. I expect 3 or 4 to be present at the beginning and will plan accordingly.

The Airfield is going to take 5 hits to destroy.

The pilots flying this mission are;

Saw, an Average AV8B
Mystic, also an Average AV8B
Meatball, a Green F35 A/C, already carrying 2 stress
Salsa, an Average F35 A/C, also carrying 2 stress

As the target is of the upmost importance, I arm for that first. My sheets tell me that Mystic and Saw, who have AtG of +2, GBU-12's are their best option, giving an expected damage of 1.50. They each take 4. I also give Meatball, who has +1 AtG a GBU-12, giving him an expected damage of 1.2. This ought to be sufficient for the target.

For the bandits, Salsa and Meatball both have +1 AtA. I give Salsa 3 AIM-120's, which have a 70% chance of hitting, and a AIM 7, which has a 60% chance. Meatball gets 4 AIM 7's.

For the sites that I want to destroy, I take AGM-88's. As Mystic and Saw have +2's, against the SA-2(+2) I have 100%, SA-6 (+2) 100% and SA-15 an 80% thanks to it's minus 1. I take 1 AGM each for the SA-6 and SA-2, and take two for the SA-15.

This completes my load-out. I'm a little concerned about my AtA capabilities, as I expect I'll expect to take 4 turns to destroy the target, needing to get right overhead to drop the GBU's. I expect I'll be able to destroy the expected 4 bandits from the first turn, but for the next possible 4 I have more doubt.

On the way in to the target, the phrase "best laid plans go to waste" comes to mind. My aircraft are attacked from below, and I cannot expend any ordinance to suppress. Thankfully the F-35's are targeted and their stealth capabilities save them, but Mystic has to take evasive action and takes further stress from a near miss. This puts him at Shaken, and destroys my plans. Now his AtG modifier is -1. This drops his AGM's to 50% chance to hit and reduces the GBU's to a mere 40% chance to hit once and 20% to score two hits. It's a big risk to continue the mission at this point, but I grit my teeth and venture in. No Guts, No Glory!!!

TURN 1
Luckily I draw favourably on the initial Bandit draw, only pulling 2 bandits out of a possible 7, a MIG 21 and 25. As I've been lucky with the draw I can afford to expend more AtA to make sure they don't get a chance to fire at me in the first round. Salsa uses his Situational Awareness and fires off 2 AIM 120's at the MIG 25, and scores a hit. He also fires a 120 and AIM 7 at the MIG 21 and also hits. In hindsight the AIM 7 probably wasn't necessary, with Salsa's +1 and the MIG-21's +2, the probability of the AIM-120 hitting was 90%.

Saw uses his Situational Awareness and fires off his AGM-88 for a guaranteed hit on the SA-2, which would have had range on me, and with no return fire from the enemy, my pilots advance towards the target.


Turn 2
Again no bandits take off from the airfield below. and Mystic fires 2 AGM-88's at the SA-15, a total modifier of -2 for 50% probability for the each of the AGM's. Both 88's miss. This is bad news and not planned for.

Turn 3
An enemy MIG-25 takes off from the airfield. There is also the SA-15 that has range on me now, and none of my pilots are fast. I have to make a choice, to destroy one or the other, so that I can keep a Situation Awareness for later turns in case of particularly nasty bandits. The SA-15 has a guaranteed stress result from it's attack, so I choose to target it. Saw fires an AGM 88, with an 80% chance of a hit. It hits and destroys the SA-15.

The MIG-25 now attacks, targeting Mystic. He takes evasive action and takes further stress from the near miss of the attack. He is in a particularly bad state now. I suppose I could have used one of my AIM's at to suppress, but I was still worried about further bandit draws, and Mystic was already shaken anyhow.

Meatball fires 2 AIM-7's at the MIG, with a 70% chance of each hitting, which one does.

Turn 4
My pilots have advanced to directly over the target. Again no aircraft take off from the airfield down below, which is a huge relief.
No enemies can attack me now, so I begin the bombing.
Saw, at +2, drops his GBU-12's, each one having an expected damage of 1.5, with a 50% chance of 2 hits, and 30% chance of 3 hits. Both only hit for 1, which makes my heart sink. Now the shaken Mystic drops his GBU's. He only has an expected damage of .6 each counter, only a 40% chance of hitting at all, and 20% of scoring two hits. The first hits once, the second misses. Now I only have 1 remaining AtG, and still need to score 1 more hit. Meatball has a AtG of +1, giving his singular GBU an expected damage of 1.2. But there is a 40% chance of missing entirely. The bomb drops, sails down towards the target,
and...
it's a dud. The bomb sits idly and the target is not destroyed. The only remaining option now is to dive to low altitude and take my chances with Cannon fire.

Turn 5
The situation is now dire. The SA-6's that I had counted out of the equation now are going to be able to attack my low flying aircraft. Salsa stays at high altitude, to protect the other aircraft from any enemy bandits. An enemy MIG 25 takes off from the airfield, and is immediately shot down by Salsa, firing his remaining AIM 9 at a 70% chance of a hit.

Now the SA-6's unload. Mystic is targeted twice, he first evades, taking even further stress, evades again but is hit, and destroyed, with an against the odds roll of two 10's. Saw is also targeted, and he evades and then takes a further stress from the near miss, also putting him at shaken with an AtG of 0

Now there is only Meatball and Saw to fire their cannons at the badly damaged target.

Meatball dives in first, he only has a 2 in 10 chance of hitting and destroying the target. He grips his controls with white knuckles, screaming in towards the target with the tree tops almost scraping the underside of his plane. The airfield looms large in front of him, he points the nose of his aircraft directly towards the control tower, and waits until he is at risk of flying straight through it. He squeezes the trigger for his Cannons, and shreds apart the control tower, completely destroying it! He pulls up hard on his controls, the smoke of the destroyed airfield swirling behind him!


Unfortunately Mystic wasn't recovered.


Overall, I think my system worked well. I knew that after Mystic being shaken early in the mission that it would be very difficult to complete, and in the end I beat the odds, although losing Mystic hurts my squad.

I was a little worried that having such a system would reduce the whole game to a spreadsheeting and probability experiment, but being able to make good choices and see them play out, and having an experience like this where you know the odds are against you but you press on anyway, can make for a very exiting game.

I hope you all enjoyed!
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Lawrence Davis
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Great write up Zach! This game has plenty of suspense and many times right down to the last die roll for sure. I was wondering if that is how you play normally though. Do you think up the percentages on each shot taken?
I'm just curious because I don't. I just go on gut feeling for the most part. "Yeah...this GBU 16 has a decent hit number....I'll use it".
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Ernie Olsen
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Where I mess up is not so much guessing the probability of the weapons, but in overloading on ata missiles against potential bandits who don't show up.
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Zachary The Bruce
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I've been trialling playing it this way. I've flown against three targets arming this way and they've all been positive results, although not all successful. I rolled 5 straight misses on GBU-16's on one of my targets. Stuff like that happens, and keeps the game interesting. If I could know the outcome beforehand there wouldn't be a need to play anymore!

I look at the percentages pre-flight. There are very few sites or bandits that have a negative multiplier, so I arm for my current skill level, or stressed skill level if I'm within 2 or 3 points of it (and depending on whether I have excess weight points to use a Pod, or whether I'll carry for suppression.) This means that I at least know the minimum probabilities for almost all bandits and sites going in.

I have a pretty rigid pre-flight routine to plan and arm that I'm continuing to develop.

The first few games I just went on gut feeling and looking at which weapons "looked" best (i.e. low hit numbers), but I wanted a more systematic approach, and developing that and then implementing my plan and seeing it play out is all part of the fun for me.
 
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Zachary The Bruce
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Haha Ernie, for sure, I've had this happen a few times. I think the last target I flew against was something like 2 on approaches and 3 centre, and I armed for six and got just two!! It worked out well when the event card I drew on the flight home was an AtA attack.

If you use the probability of a bandit being drawn vs. no bandit (50/50) at least over the long run you know it'll work out
 
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Jonathan Townsend
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That was really interesting to read - from the learning perspective it was really cool to see something done differently, - from the dramatic perspective, as you wrote, knowing the numbers increased rather than lessoned the tension.

I guess it would only be boring if it were capable to figure things out so as to know you had 70-80% + chance of succeeding a mission. Even then the effort spent to make that so would be enjoyable, even if the mission itself were not.

Thanks for a great report.
 
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Zachary The Bruce
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Thanks Jonathan.
Right from the get-go with this game I felt that the most interesting decisions were made before actually flying against the target, from the initial squadron selection, target choice, managing stress levels and trying to gain XP, SO budgeting, then arming the planes and planning the mission ahead. At this stage I've got a pretty tight system to know that, if everything goes well, I will have enough ordinance and a solid plan that will make the target a success.

But it's the (predictably!) unpredictable things that happen that keeps the game engaging and interesting, e.g. rolling two tens for an enemy bandit against your flight leader.

So I do have a large amount of confidence in succeeding in a mission pre-flight, and I know 9 times out of 10 exactly how I am going to react to each and every situation, which sites/bandits I'm going to hit first, what altitudes are going to be flown etc., but as you say, it's all the pre-planning that goes in to it that makes the game fun, and the actual flight against the target is just a test to see how good my plan was.

As the game says, you are the Squadron Commander. When getting in to the game I see myself in this role, not as one of the pilots. All this pre-planning is what I do to best prepare my pilots to tackle the mission, I brief them on who targets which sites/bandits and when, what ordinance to carry, whether they should be trying to suppress or evade, their planned routes etc., and then the dice rolls simulates their individual skill, tenacity, ability to think on their feet, dive left/roll right, how well they acquire targets, how close are they willing to fly to the edge etc. etc., all the things that as a Commander I cannot control.

If my plan is good and my pilots do their job well (i.e. the dice rolls are favourable), then the mission will be a success!
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Jonathan Townsend
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Well I would pick you for my Squadron Commander. Its nice to know someone is doing their job.
It must be a relief when all your boys come home, and a sadness if some of them dont.Perhaps there should be a pad in the game for writing the letter to the family, or is that your bosses job?

I have Hornet Leader, I will play it with new appreciation now.
 
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Zachary The Bruce
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I do get pretty attached to some of my pilots. I really like flying the longer campaigns for this reason and seeing them gain experience and level up is cool.
Some of them just seem to be particularly heroic. I know it's just "luck" that one pilot out-preforms what the stats say he should, but it sticks in my mind, and it's sad to see them go down. And I run a little narrative in my head about how it affects the other pilots, and how they feel about the replacement if he comes along, especially if he's green and the boys have been together for a long stretch of a campaign, or if he's a Vet and then has to prove himself to be accepted as part of the group. At times some pilots just seem to have a hard time, always being the target of attacks and being stretched to their limits all the time.

Last night I had an epic experience, it was late in the Iran 14 campaign, and I picked a pretty hard target (don't have the sheet in front of me to reference), there was something like 13 possible bandits, I thought, cool, I'll arm for 7, and then took enough ordinance for the 4 sites that were going to give me trouble. Then one of my pilots gets shaken coming in to the target, I draw 10 bandits and then there are more sites than expected thanks to the over target card draw. To make matters worse I then proceed to miss 4 AIM-120's, two AIM 7's and 3 AGM 88's in the fast pilot round, hitting absolutely nothing. My boys get absolutely HAMMERED for the round, shaking two and causing one to become unfit, but thankfully they all survived long enough for me to get them the hell out of there!

I'm patiently waiting for a copy of "The Hunters" to come my way, and hoping it's going to give me a similar sort of experience as Hornet Leader has thus far, it seems to be a bit more hands on in the tactics, and less on the pre-planning but should have the potential to create a strong narrative.
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