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Thunderbolt Apache Leader» Forums » General

Subject: Why Only One F-16? rss

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Rick Bateman
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Out of the aircraft included in the game, the Fighting Falcon is by far my favorite, so I was really disappointed when I found out you can only have one of them in your unit. Diversity is key in the game, so I doubt I would've necessarily done a campaign with just a wing of four F-16's, but it sure would be nice to have the option of having two or three sometimes. I thought at first it might be an issue of play-balancing, but the A-10 seems a lot better in game terms, and you can have like five of those. Does anybody have any idea of why it was done like that? Also, does anyone think it would negatively affect the game at all if I house-ruled it to say that I could have more than one Falcon in my unit?
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Rookiebatman wrote:
Out of the aircraft included in the game, the Fighting Falcon is by far my favorite, so I was really disappointed when I found out you can only have one of them in your unit. Diversity is key in the game, so I doubt I would've necessarily done a campaign with just a wing of four F-16's, but it sure would be nice to have the option of having two or three sometimes. I thought at first it might be an issue of play-balancing, but the A-10 seems a lot better in game terms, and you can have like five of those. Does anybody have any idea of why it was done like that? Also, does anyone think it would negatively affect the game at all if I house-ruled it to say that I could have more than one Falcon in my unit?


I'll take a wild guess and say that the game has APACHE/THUNDERBOLT in its title. So you are mainly commanding CAS forces. The other aircraft included can also fly Close Air Support operations but they are more like a secondary option.

The aircraft limit may take into account the availability of certain types of aircrafts. In other words if a CAP mission can use A-10s then there is no reason why F-16s should fly CAP missions. I'm talking real life terms here not gameplay terms.
Having multiple F-16s flying CAS missions in a Close Air Support game is a bit unorthodox. It is an option but not a necessity.

Just my 2 cents.
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Andrew Walters
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I crunched some numbers when I first got the game and the F-16 is actually very, very good. If there were four in the game you could certainly run a fine campaign with four of them. I evaluated the aircraft in terms of WP per SO, in other words, how cost effective they are at carrying munitions...

Aircraft WP/SO

A-10A 1.75
A-10C 1.55
AH-64A 2
AH-64D Longbow 1.6
AH-1 Supercobra 3
F-16 Falcon 2
AV-8B Harrier 1.7
AC-130 -
RQ-1 -
MQ-1 0.5

As you can see the Falcon is great. The AH-1 is better, but helicopters can't carry cluster bombs and the smaller capacity aircraft get hit harder by the need to carry fuel on more distant battalions.

Now WP/SO is not the only way to evaluate an aircraft, and in the long run the A-10s and AH-64s are probably the best. But the F-16s are very tempting, and I would always take a pair if there were a second aircraft. That's why *I* think we were only given one, to keep the focus on the A-10 and AH-64.

I *don't* think this is serious enough to unbalance the game. After all, you get a weaker cannon, no hover, no link option, and how often do you get to use the +2 vs. Helos? But I may whip up some extra F-16s myself.

In fact, if DVG offered an expansion with some more F-16s, a couple variants of the F-15 and maybe some other goodies, I would spend the money immediately.

As for intent, the F-16 was supposed to be a dual role fighter from the get go, which is how it got its name: apparently falcons prey on both birds and ground creatures. In reality F-16s have flown cap for F-15Es, and the F-15 was supposed to be the air superiority fighter, so strange things happen. But I don't think there is any thematic problem at all with having a lot of F-16s fly CAS.

So go for it, and let us know what happens!
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Nate K
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Well, I was going to pop in and suggest that there were probably balance issues going on, but Andrew already said the same thing, but with numbers to back it up. Ninja'd!
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andreww wrote:

As for intent, the F-16 was supposed to be a dual role fighter from the get go, which is how it got its name: apparently falcons prey on both birds and ground creatures. In reality F-16s have flown cap for F-15Es, and the F-15 was supposed to be the air superiority fighter, so strange things happen. But I don't think there is any thematic problem at all with having a lot of F-16s fly CAS.


Well, the F-15E was never supposed to be air-superiority, it was just derived from the F-15 air superiority air frame. The F-15C has more air-to-air kills than the F-16. The F-16 is just a mongrel workhorse. The F-15C and the A-10 are both better than the F-16 in the specialized missions they fly. The F-15E was more a replacement for some of the missions that the F-111 and F-4 flew, which I suppose the F-16 could do also. It's kind of a cheap disposable airframe in that regard. Jack of all trades, master of none.
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Andrew Walters
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Sometimes it seems like everyone wants to harsh on the F-16. I've heard it called ugly even though I think it looks pretty cool, and it's always compared unfavorably to the F-15, the A-10, and lots of other jets.

But those comparisons are silly. The F-15 is a two engine jet, and is more than twice as expensive to buy, maintain, and fly. Of *course* it carries more, goes faster, goes further, etc. But the Air Force has four or five hundred F-15s, and two or three *thousand* F-16s (depending on the year and how you count, I don't keep very close track). It only makes economic sense to have a few *great* jets for the most demanding job and a less expensive jet for the hundreds of other missions each day. You can't have a navy that's all carriers, you don't have a basketball team that's all centers. The F-16 isn't supposed to be the best at everything, it's supposed to be good enough at everything that it can do the bulk of the work for half the cost. Lower cost means that you can have enough of them to be everywhere.

Similarly the F-4, F-111, and A-10 are twin engine jets.

And this carries over into TAL. Only the A-10 is going to carry out certain parts of the mission, but at the end of the day you need to carry WPs to the target, and the F-16 does that cheapest. (Again, discounting the AH-1 which can't carry all the weapons you need.) More F-16s would make the game easier to play. You might still plan missions around an A-10 or pair of AH-64s for the trickier, more dangerous runs, but when you just need bombs dropped F-16s do it very nearly as well for fewer SOs.

I think I take the F-16 (and AH-1) nearly every time. It's more than worth the SO cost. If there were two, I suspect I'd nearly always take them both. I'm not sure about three or four. I'd certainly try four, but diversity, as has been mentioned, is pretty important, too.
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I think it is because you can mix your TAL with Hornet Leader in co-campaign. That way, you may fly mission with F14 & Hornet planes.
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let's not forget the game is called Thunderbolt Apache Leader. If no-one used Thunderbolts or Apaches it wouldn't be doing it's job very well...
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Rick Bateman
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andreww wrote:

I crunched some numbers when I first got the game and the F-16 is actually very, very good. If there were four in the game you could certainly run a fine campaign with four of them. I evaluated the aircraft in terms of WP per SO, in other words, how cost effective they are at carrying munitions...

Aircraft WP/SO

A-10A 1.75
A-10C 1.55
AH-64A 2
AH-64D Longbow 1.6
AH-1 Supercobra 3
F-16 Falcon 2
AV-8B Harrier 1.7
AC-130 -
RQ-1 -
MQ-1 0.5

As you can see the Falcon is great. The AH-1 is better, but helicopters can't carry cluster bombs and the smaller capacity aircraft get hit harder by the need to carry fuel on more distant battalions.


This is a very interesting way to look at it. Thanks for that perspective.

andreww wrote:

In fact, if DVG offered an expansion with some more F-16s, a couple variants of the F-15 and maybe some other goodies, I would spend the money immediately.


I agree with this idea very strongly. If they made such an expansion as you describe, and it cost as much as the original game, I'd probably still buy it (though I probably shouldn't say that out loud).

andreww wrote:

Sometimes it seems like everyone wants to harsh on the F-16. I've heard it called ugly even though I think it looks pretty cool, and it's always compared unfavorably to the F-15, the A-10, and lots of other jets.


People call the F-16 ugly? I find that slightly shocking, as I've always considered it to be the most aesthetically pleasing modern combat aircraft. That's probably influenced by the fact that the Thunderbirds are F-16's, but from the time when I was young and had a nice, big metal model of a Falcon (with working landing gear), I've admired the sleek, elegant lines. I guess that's the thing about the internet, is you can never expect everyone to agree on any opinion there is, but while I didn't expect everyone to love the F-16 as much as I do, I never thought people would call it ugly.

Wulf Corbett wrote:
let's not forget the game is called Thunderbolt Apache Leader. If no-one used Thunderbolts or Apaches it wouldn't be doing it's job very well...


That's true, but if there were a plane, such as the Falcon, that were better in the game than the Thunderbolt or Apache, then either the Falcon should be balanced better, or the game should be renamed Falcon Leader (you wouldn't hear me complaining). But I do think that the Thunderbolt is better than the Falcon in-game, because of the higher weight points and the fantastic cannon. I've had a couple missions where a lot of enemies have gone into cover, and of those missions, the ones that turned out okay were the ones where I had an A-10. With other aircraft, it's a good idea to bring Strike ordinance as a contingency for enemies going into cover, but you don't need to do that with the A-10 because the cannon is as good as any of those weapons anyway. So it's almost like the A-10 has an even higher number of weight points over the other aircraft. Whether the A-10 is as cost-effective to buy as another aircraft is up for debate, but once my squad has been purchased and the missions are starting, the A-10 will generally be my first choice.
So I'm not concerned that the Thunderbolt will be neglected (although the Apache is another story--as an Air Force brat I'm partial to the planes), but if I'm running multiple missions in a day, it wouldn't be unpleasant to be able to bring one F-16 on each of them, and then maybe just every now and then run a mission with a couple Falcons, just for the thrill of it. But I definitely wouldn't neglect the A-10 in their favor, as much as I like them.
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Rookiebatman wrote:
People call the F-16 ugly? I find that slightly shocking, as I've always considered it to be the most aesthetically pleasing modern combat aircraft.


A beauty contest between a Viper and an Eagle is never, ever going to be won by the Eagle. Throw the F-22 and the F-34 into the mix and the Viper's still going to win. I'm struggling to think of a better looking jet fighter than the F-16.
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RDewsbery wrote:
I'm struggling to think of a better looking jet fighter than the F-16.


Su-27 Flanker. cool

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DIFFLOCK wrote:
RDewsbery wrote:
I'm struggling to think of a better looking jet fighter than the F-16.


Su-27 Flanker. cool


It does look quite similar to the F-16, so I don't really feel the need to argue that one way or the other.
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I apologize for wasting everyone's time, but the Flanker looks more like an F-15 than an F-16. Twin tail, twin intakes, boxy intakes instead of the F-16s oval "mouth", even the wing tips. The Flanker's cockpit is a little alien-looking, though, like it's HP Lovecraft's F-15.
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andreww wrote:

I apologize for wasting everyone's time, but the Flanker looks more like an F-15 than an F-16. Twin tail, twin intakes, boxy intakes instead of the F-16s oval "mouth", even the wing tips. The Flanker's cockpit is a little alien-looking, though, like it's HP Lovecraft's F-15.


Okay, sure. I'm not saying it doesn't look like an F-15, I'm only saying that it looks similar enough to the F-16 that I don't feel the need to argue about which one is prettier.
 
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andreww wrote:
The Flanker's cockpit is a little alien-looking, though, like it's HP Lovecraft's F-15.


Possibly due to the IRST (Infra Red Seach & Track) sensor in front of the canopy..

Any modern fast jet has similar traits to other fast jets of a similar age: They need to do about Mach 2 & a bit flat out, require excellent manoeuvreability, excellent visibility for the pilot, plenty of excess power, have enough space to contain their radar systems. Hence all these similar requirements mean that similar shapes are part of the design.

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andreww wrote:

And this carries over into TAL. Only the A-10 is going to carry out certain parts of the mission, but at the end of the day you need to carry WPs to the target, and the F-16 does that cheapest. (Again, discounting the AH-1 which can't carry all the weapons you need.) More F-16s would make the game easier to play. You might still plan missions around an A-10 or pair of AH-64s for the trickier, more dangerous runs, but when you just need bombs dropped F-16s do it very nearly as well for fewer SOs.


It may not be portrayed in the game, but the A-10 (even with two engines) is cheaper than a F-16. Both brand new and regarding maintenance. Not that they buy them anymore mind you, but during historical scenarios it is important.

I haven't played the game yet, but to reflect USAF doctrine, I would hope that if the game were modified in respects to F-16's, it would be to make them more expensive for CAS type missions. Sure, as a fighter bomber they are good at bombing static targets, but for CAS support it was found out the hard way and against much of the USAF's desires that the A-10 was superior in the role and the F-16 was just supplementary (as reflected I think by the limit implemented in the game).

I haven't got a physical copy of this book yet and only have read excerpts online, but from what I have read, it gives a fascinating exploration of the CAS debate through the 80's and 90's.
http://www.amazon.com/Warthog-Close-Air-Support-Debate/dp/15...

And finally, as a USAF veteran, I'd just like to throw this little anecdotal historical tidbit. When I was stationed in GE from 88-92 we called F-16's government lawn darts because they seemed to be crashing into villages with alarming regularity. Some people blamed the fly-by-wire systems, some people blamed cockpit-information overload, but in any case we didn't really respect the plane that much. Plus, I do think it's ugly
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Rick Bateman
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TheChin! wrote:
andreww wrote:

And this carries over into TAL. Only the A-10 is going to carry out certain parts of the mission, but at the end of the day you need to carry WPs to the target, and the F-16 does that cheapest. (Again, discounting the AH-1 which can't carry all the weapons you need.) More F-16s would make the game easier to play. You might still plan missions around an A-10 or pair of AH-64s for the trickier, more dangerous runs, but when you just need bombs dropped F-16s do it very nearly as well for fewer SOs.


It may not be portrayed in the game, but the A-10 (even with two engines) is cheaper than a F-16. Both brand new and regarding maintenance. Not that they buy them anymore mind you, but during historical scenarios it is important.


I'd assume that the price was more about play-balance than real monetary cost. Since you're paying with "Special Option points" and not dollars, it could also include maintenance cost or various other intangible factors. (Such as paying for all those bullets for the A-10's cannon? I don't know, only spit-balling.)

TheChin! wrote:
I haven't played the game yet, but to reflect USAF doctrine, I would hope that if the game were modified in respects to F-16's, it would be to make them more expensive for CAS type missions. Sure, as a fighter bomber they are good at bombing static targets, but for CAS support it was found out the hard way and against much of the USAF's desires that the A-10 was superior in the role and the F-16 was just supplementary (as reflected I think by the limit implemented in the game).


So, basically, what you're saying is that Dan Verssen needs to make another game more in the style of Hornet Leader (which is about bombing static targets instead of CAS), but with Air Force planes. I'm hoping that, as a consolation prize at least, there'll be F-16's in the upcoming (if they get the pre-orders) Israeli Air Force, but there's no word on that yet. Still, I'd rather have the American Air Force. I wonder if all the properties of the aircraft in IAF will be directly scalable to HL, to the extent that you could bring aircraft from one game into the other without imbalancing anything. That would be pretty cool, and a good extra reason to buy IAF. Not that Air Force and Navy planes generally fly missions together, but you could still run an HL campaign, using HL targets, but with IAF planes; that could be fun. Anyway, that's a little off-track.

TheChin! wrote:
...Plus, I do think it's ugly


I won't ask you to explain or expound on that, because it's purely subjective, but I will reiterate that I don't understand it.
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Here is a fascinating interview with the designer (according to the uploader, I haven't confirmed it) of the F-16 and the A-10. The main gist of the interview is how poorly designed the F-35 is (which is fascinating on it's own since it touches on so many air combat concepts) but later in the interview he also talks about the importance of CAS and how the three planes compare specifically in that role.

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We *really* need this guy's credentials. What he's saying is pretty basic, and I'm sure there's a counter argument. These aircraft are designed by groups and committees, and it's hard to imagine they didn't know about or ignored these criticisms during the design phase. I don't want to discount what he's saying, but I want to know how to evaluate it.
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andreww wrote:

We *really* need this guy's credentials. What he's saying is pretty basic, and I'm sure there's a counter argument. These aircraft are designed by groups and committees, and it's hard to imagine they didn't know about or ignored these criticisms during the design phase. I don't want to discount what he's saying, but I want to know how to evaluate it.


Looks like he was a member of the "fighter mafia" that came up with he concepts that became the F-15/F-16/A-10. He looks like an outspoken critic of many of the recent airframes, not just from the U.S. but from Russia also (not in the article that follows, I read a blurb somewhere else about his criticisms of the modern Su line).

http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this....

I think in some ways he has a point, Defense Contractors are going to ramp up the gee-whiz factor and the bells-and-whistles in order to make more money and that really can be counter productive to the essential purpose of any specific aircraft. These airframes, for the most part, are designed by people trying to make money and marketing may be having too much influence over function.
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