Air Promotions

Stalker0

Baller Magnus
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
10,907
I wanted to do an in-depth look at Air Promotions, similar to how we did naval some time ago. Lets see how the current system looks:

Fighter Promotions

Air Supremacy II: Right now, this seems the absolute "duh" promotion of the line. As far as I know, this gives you a 100% boost to air strikes against helicopters, air sweeps against fighters, and interceptions. That is a much greater boost than any of the other promotions.

Dogfighting I-III: Air Supremacy non-withstanding, this seems a solid promotion line for a fighter focused on air sweeps. That said, I do think while the new Air Sweep mechanic is cool (an airsweeper that is unopposed does damage to adjacent aircraft equal to a % of its air sweep damage), currently the damage is too low until you hit jet fighters for it to matter.

Eagle Hunter: This is a weird promotion in a weird place. What is the point of this promotion? I already have a promotion to add big damage vs fighters, and two lines to specialize a fighter into its two main jobs. I honestly don't know why this promotion exists or even needs to exist.

Air Repair: Obtainable on both main lines which is very good for balance, its a strong promotion that signifies reaching the pinnacle of that role as a fighter. Good balance.

Ace Pilot vs Interceptor
So here is the problem with having both of these lines on the fighter. Interception as a mechanic is already murky and poorly understood. I bet if you were to ask most of the forum goers how it truly works (aka with multiple planes and percentage chances), most would get it wrong.

Now we further add murkiness to the waters with 2 lines that do the same fundamental thing in two different ways. One line does more damage when intercepting...ok. The other line does interception more often...um alright. But the first line does more interceptions...so, which one is better at intercepting? Honestly I don't know and I don't care....interception is meant to be a defensive power, you set it and leave, like fortifying a SAM near your units for protection. Its not meant to be super complicated.

Ultimately having both of these lines on the fighter is confusing and unnecessary. So I recommend we combine and clean up the lines.


Fighter Promotion Adjustments:

1) Remove the Interceptor line from Fighters. The promotion line can remain for AA guns and Destroyer type units.

2) Revamp Ace Pilot Line
  • AP I: +25% Interception
  • AP II: +25% Interception, +50% damage when intercepting Aircraft.
  • AP III: +25% Interception, +50% damage when intercepting Aircraft
  • AP IV (rename of sortie, or just use sortie but after APIII): +25% interception, +1 interception, +1 operational range
  • Range, Air Repair unchanged
3) Fighters start with AP I.

4) Remove Air Sweep %damage to aircraft when not intercepted (this is no longer core to air sweep). Update Dogfighting promotions
  • DF I: +33% damage on air sweeps. Sweeps that are not intercepted deal 5 damage to adjacent aircraft.
  • DF II: +33% damage on air sweeps. +5 damage for sweeps not intercepted.
  • DF III: +34% damage on air sweeps. +10 damage for sweeps not intercepted.
5) Remove Eagle Hunter Promotion.


Summary of Fighter Promotion Changes
  1. Ace Pilot line is now a clean and clear line for a person wanting to focus on interception. It gives the user all the tools needed in one package.
  2. Dog Fighting line now introduces the air sweep damage mechanic, so that new players don't have to look on a help guide to suddenly know something has changed. Similar to Splash damage, it provides nice consistent damage regardless of fighter type. Useful from triplanes to jet fighters.
  3. Air Supremacy II is now for flexibility. Choosing this promotion gives you the ability to have strength for both interception and air sweeps....but at the cost of the special extras that DF III and AP IV would give you. You are choosing power over special benefits...a clear and solid choice.
  4. Eagle Hunter is removed, and no one will miss it.


Bomber Promotions

Range: This is the elephant in the room of bomber promotions. Range is everything for bombers. Every time I have not taken range I've regretted it at one point or another. +2 range is just too good. When I make a unit killing bombers, its Siege I + Range....and then whatever else I want.

Air Targeting I-III: Solid, does the job.

Air Logistics: Very good, though with better interception mechanics now not as crazy as it once was, and available on both lines for balance. Ultimately a good capstone for strong bombers.

Siege I-III: Solid, does the job.

Evasion: I'll admit to rarely taking this promotion, though it seems useful to do what its designed to do, help against a heavy interception blanket.

Air Penetration I-II: These are weird promotions. First, they have weird overlap with Evasion (they even have the word "evade" in their description). Second, they become useless with stealth bombers, which never feels good.

Stealth Bomber Issues (more radical): This is a more radical notes, not truly pertinent to promotions but seemed the best place to put it. I still believe the stealth bomber is "too invincible" to interception, I honestly never even think about interception when I use them. I believe that for a unit to completely remove a core mechanic of the game for so little a cost is too great an impact to gameplay....it also makes late game naval battles too one sided, as stealth bombers can just snipe carriers without counter.


Bomber Promotion Adjustments
1) Evasion Promotion is removed.

2) Update Air Penetration line
  • Air Penetration I: Reduce interception damage by 50%
  • Air Penetration II: Interception no longer cancels the attack
3) AP line follows Air Targetting II and Siege II (available on both lines)

4) Bombers gain +1 range. Range promotion reduced to +1 range.

5) [more radical for Stealth bomber adjustment] Stealth bomber loses its 90% evade interception. Instead has: +50% evasion of interception, reduce interception damage by 50%.


Summary of Bomber Promotion Adjustments
  1. Air Penetration no longer has overlap with Evasion, its a one stop shop for interception reduction on both lines, which is really all you need. AP II now gains a strong ability to remove the interception cancel, making this line now a strong incentive for those facing very strong interception forces.
  2. Range becomes a solid promotion but no longer mandatory, providing more flexibility to the lines.
  3. Stealth bombers at base are still highly resistant to interception but can no longer completely ignore it. They now also have incentive to take Air Penetration...AP I would take no damage from interception but would still have a +50% chance to lose the attack. With AP II they return to their current level of invincibility.
 
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So overall I have really liked the push back of the range promotion to Tier IV. Opens up more interesting options for the Air.

That said, I do think triplanes and bombers (aka Tier 1 air) should get an extra +1 range. I am commonly finding that planes are just a tiny bit out of reach often to units right on the front lines....which is exacerbated by the limited number you can put in a city. A +1 range would help round things off nicely.
 
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So overall I have really liked the push back of the range promotion to Tier IV. Opens up more interesting options for the Air.

That said, I do think triplanes and bombers (aka Tier 1 air) should get an extra +1 range. I am commonly finding that planes are just a tiny bit out of reach often to units right on the front lines....which is exacerbated by the limited number you can put in a city. A +1 range would help round things off nicely.
I don't know, they might be too good since nothing intercepts them when you have the tech lead.
 
I don't know, they might be too good since nothing intercepts them when you have the tech lead.

Generally I find air power goes through teh following phases.

1) Air Dominance: This is what you noted, you have aircraft, and your opponent doesn't have interception, so you can bomb to your hearts content. In general I find the 2 air units per city to be the major limiter here, so while your aircraft are very strong you can only apply their power in a few places.

2) Gap Targetting: As interception comes online (especially destroyers as the AI loves to spam them), suddenly your aircraft suffer a big power drop. At this point, aircraft are used to wherever you can find holes in the interception screen. This tends to be Air's weakest point, as often you can only hit in a few places, mainly to pick up stray units.

3) Tactical Air: As Airports come online, and your second tier of aircraft.... the real air "game" begins. This is when I consider adding in fighters for air sweeps. Aircraft at this point is a combined arms approach. You use aircraft to finish off units your ground can't reach, pound down a single highly fortified position that just has to die (a key citadel as one example), or commonly snipe artillery pieces that your main ground force can't get to. Aircraft are very useful, but still have not regained the glory of Phase 1.

4) Stealth Dominance: Once stealth bombers are online, you can bomb with relative impunity. Stealth bombers can still be affected by interception, but its a lot weaker now....so its possible to engage in complete bombing campaigns as your main force. At this point air is very strong again, but its mainly balanced by time. As powerful as they are, an air army can only kill things so quickly, and the clock is running down till the end of the game.


So that was really long winded, but wrote it out to highlight that air is balanced at different phases by different aspects. And though air is at its strongest in phase 1, you generally dont' have enough planes, and enough city coverage, to use them too dominantly....even if you have the tech lead.
 
4) Stealth Dominance:
I call that the "stare at the screen for a minute waiting for the bombing animation to finish" phase. That bug needs to be fixed for me to enjoy air battles.

Overall I'm experiencing differently from watching AI battles. AIs are so slow at pushing in their navy/army are just getting smashed by the massive amount of bombers their enemies have, before they can get to the cities.
 
I call that the "stare at the screen for a minute waiting for the bombing animation to finish" phase. That bug needs to be fixed for me to enjoy air battles.

Overall I'm experiencing differently from watching AI battles. AIs are so slow at pushing in their navy/army are just getting smashed by the massive amount of bombers their enemies have, before they can get to the cities.

Do you use the QuickTurns mod. Its wonderful and turns off combat animations when you want it to.
 
Do you use the QuickTurns mod. Its wonderful and turns off combat animations when you want it to.
I don't want to turn off animations though. I just want them to play faster so I still know what's going on. Planes are a separate issue because that's bugged.
 
Interceptor promotions do not help Fighters when they Intercept other Fighters. They are instead forced to Dogfight. The Fighter that took the DF line will have the edge, not the one that took Interceptor/ AP.

Another quirk of Interceptions, is that Units that don't have 100% Interception chance can fail their Interception attempt for the turn and let the attacking air unit attack safely.

Eagle Hunter should just stay exclusive to the Zero.

Stealth Bombers should not have Air Recon (additional line of sight at the start of the turn). That is something that should be Fighter exclusive.
 
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