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Poll

Woolston raid?

Radar first, then the factory
- 7 (63.6%)
Un-subtle factory-crushing
- 4 (36.4%)

Total Members Voted: 11


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Author Topic: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II  (Read 8866 times)

Fishbreath

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The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« on: January 14, 2013, 09:46:11 am »

Somehow I had never heard of Battle of Britain II: Wings of Victory during my most formative flight-simming years (Aces High II and IL-2 were my sims of choice in high school and most of college), and indeed I hadn't even given it a second look until a few weeks ago. Fortunately for me, ennui struck during the big block of vacation I just took, and I gave it the second look. Holy cow. It has:

- Literally hundreds of aircraft in the sky at one time. That's hugely exciting. IL-2 is capable of battles of that size, but I don't generally see them, and Rise of Flight can't handle that many.
- An honest dynamic campaign covering the majority of the Battle of Britain (from the convoy attacks and defenses over the Channel starting early July through to the cessation of daylight raids on September 15).
- The important flyables on both sides, well-modeled (as far as I can tell): the Bf 109E4 and 110 (C1?) and the Ju 87, plus gunner seats in the Ju 88 and He 111; the British only get the Spitfire and the Hurricane, but they don't need anything else.
- A real dynamic campaign, played from a strategic map that gives you the option to jump into escorts, scrambling flights, or patrols at your leisure.
- Fancy complex engine starts that I'll never see because of the dynamic campaign.
- A dynamic campaign, featuring painstakingly researched dispositions of British defenses, airfields, and industry, all of it blow-uppable, and nearly all of it with an effect on the course of the battle.
- Some of the best pilot AI ever seen in a flight sim.
- A playable Battle of Britain campaign, which reacts to actions taken by the player.

You may have noticed that I'm belaboring the snot out of a point here. I admit it: I love dynamic campaigns, and although I have maybe two flight hours in this game, I'm itching to document my failures in command and in combat. Below I've listed explanations of the options in the poll. This LP is running at two forums (Bay12 and Broken Forum), so I'll total the votes across both polls when I deign to invite audience participation in my decision-making.

RAF
Playing the Royal Air Force (wot wot pip ho old chap) brings with it, on the strategic map, a reactive style of play. It's a struggle to meet the larger numbers of the Luftwaffe with enough force to disrupt raids, minimize friendly losses, and shoot down bombers.

Playing the RAF carries with it the added pressure that the RAF won historically, and I'd feel rather foolish if I managed to blow it. On the other hand, I get to talk a lot about places with great British names like Hawkinge, Tangmere, and Biggin Hill.

I'd probably be dropping into Supermarine Spitfire Mark Is and Hawker Hurricane Mark Is in roughly equal proportion. The Spitfire is a superlative turner and nearly the 109's equal in speed and climb, although it stalls more severely and has a tendency to spin. The Hurricane is docile, durable, and 20 miles per hour slower than the 109, though it's capable of turning even more tightly than the Spitfire. Both RAF fighters have the early-war RAF armament, which is eight wing-mounted .303 machine guns. Such an armament spits out an impressive number of bullets, but it takes a lot of hits to down a bomber.

The objective for the RAF is to survive until September 15th.

Luftwaffe
Historically, the Luftwaffe was poorly handled, ordered by Hitler to start terror raids on London just as the raids against RAF assets were beginning to pay off. Since I fancy myself slightly less strategically incompetent than Hitler, I suspect I could do better than the Luftwaffe did historically.

The Bf 109E4, the ride I would usually drop into, is a better performer than the Spitfire, though a lesser turner (though not to the extent that a bad Spitfire pilot can out-turn a good 109 pilot [which isn't to say I'm a good 109 pilot]). It also has a mediocre armament, two low-velocity 20mm cannon and two 7.92mm machine guns; the cannon knock down aircraft very well but require accuracy. My gunnery isn't great, so I might struggle to score kills. Too, commanding the Luftwaffe requires a lot of working through menus and such that I'm currently unfamiliar with (since, y'know, this will be the first dynamic campaign in BoB I've played), and more generally it requires initiative. They're also the bad guys, and I don't normally play the bad guys. All of that said, I think the Luftwaffe campaign would be more interesting because there's more to do; the RAF campaign is mostly choosing which things are worth defending and trying to shuffle squadrons around so that they never reach the point where they're no longer combat-ready.

The objective for the Luftwaffe is to eliminate the RAF as an effective fighting force by grounding its squadrons, be it through lack of equipment, lack of pilots, or lack of morale.

July 10th-ish
Start during the convoy battle phase, which is mainly lower-intensity battles over the Channel. Playing the RAF, I'd have to avoid losing too many convoys for fear of being kicked out of the big chair; playing the Luftwaffe, I'd hope to engage the RAF in small numbers and begin the process of sending their pilots to watery graves in the Channel.

August 10th-ish
Start just before Eagle Day, the start of major German operations against the British mainland. The RAF's objective is to remain an effective fighting force; the Luftwaffe's is to take the fight directly to the RAF.

Donuts

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2013, 10:06:31 am »

I'd say play as the air-waffles raiding convoys.
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Knave

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2013, 10:39:01 am »

I would normally side with the brits on this one, but it sounds like you're more inclined to play Jerry, so please follow your heart!
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MonkeyHead

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2013, 12:03:08 pm »

Oh come on, clearly its gonna be harder to play the RAF, which I thought was how we rolled here...
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USEC_OFFICER

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2013, 01:18:21 pm »

Oh come on, clearly its gonna be harder to play the RAF, which I thought was how we rolled here...

Ah, but the RAF won the Battle of Britain, so clearly the Luftwaffe must be the more difficult of the two factions. Or something like that. To be honest I think that everybody secretly loves trench-coats and jackboots, hence the Luftwaffe. If the RAF had more snazzy uniforms everyone would pick them instead.
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MonkeyHead

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2013, 01:20:53 pm »

Oh come on, clearly its gonna be harder to play the RAF, which I thought was how we rolled here...

Ah, but the RAF won the Battle of Britain, so clearly the Luftwaffe must be the more difficult of the two factions. Or something like that. To be honest I think that everybody secretly loves trench-coats and jackboots, hence the Luftwaffe. If the RAF had more snazzy uniforms everyone would pick them instead.

But BLUE TWEED! Mustaches, bamboo canes, leather pilot helmets, sheepskin coats, leather elbow patches. PIPE SMOKING! What what, pip pip, bash the bosch!
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Fishbreath

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2013, 01:58:50 pm »

It's true that I generally prefer the aesthetic of the RAF, but I think the Luftwaffe would be a greater strategic challenge with more room to play contra history.

As for the jackboots... Mitchell and Webb had something to say about that.

Donuts

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2013, 01:59:55 pm »

Oh come on, clearly its gonna be harder to play the RAF, which I thought was how we rolled here...

Ah, but the RAF won the Battle of Britain, so clearly the Luftwaffe must be the more difficult of the two factions. Or something like that. To be honest I think that everybody secretly loves trench-coats and jackboots, hence the Luftwaffe. If the RAF had more snazzy uniforms everyone would pick them instead.

But BLUE TWEED! Mustaches, bamboo canes, leather pilot helmets, sheepskin coats, leather elbow patches. PIPE SMOKING! What what, pip pip, bash the bosch!
Sounds like a plan, chap!
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Lorgath

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2013, 09:06:43 pm »

As a mustachioed gentleman presently smoking a pipe whilst clad in nothing but elbow patches, I approve of this.
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Stworca

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2013, 04:25:10 am »


But BLUE TWEED! Mustaches, bamboo canes, leather pilot helmets, sheepskin coats, leather elbow patches. PIPE SMOKING! What what, pip pip, bash the bosch!

That's what won them the war.
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Fishbreath

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2013, 10:54:25 am »

The Luftwaffe July start edges the RAF July start 11-7 at the time I'm writing this, so evil Nazi Fishbreath it is!

At the start of July, 1940, The Luftwaffe had just delivered a serious drubbing to the RAF during the Battle of France, but didn't have an obvious strategic path forward. The Kanalkampf, as the Germans called the first phase of the battle, was more a time-filler and an opportunity for the Germans to get familiar with British coastal defenses.

Historically, the Luftwaffe spent July and early August engaging the RAF over the British channel convoys. The Luftwaffe, superior in numbers and tactics, acquitted itself well, scoring a favorable ratio and exacting such a toll on the convoys that the Royal Navy stopped Channel convoys altogether, and the United Kingdom was forced to ship its coal by rail, like cavemen.

The manual (which isn't great) suggests that an RAF player can lose if he doesn't dedicate sufficient protection to the convoys or to industrial targets, but a hypothetical RAF player losing doesn't translate to a Luftwaffe player winning. Bombing convoys and other assets not directly related to reducing the RAF's effectiveness are ultimately a distraction, so I want to avoid that to the degree that it's possible.

The Luftwaffe messed around with convoys during the first month of the historical battle. I'm inclined to try something different, but I don't have the strength to make too many forays over English soil just yet (the RAF has 700 or 800 fighters available; I don't remember how many the Luftwaffe starts with, so I'll update this post with that information later). I'll outline some options for the first few days below:

Deception
Plan raids with an eye toward drawing out and engaging the RAF, employing such tactics as very heavily-escorted convoy raids with nearby fighter sweeps, and small raids targeting coastal facilities followed by subsequent raids over airfields from which the intercepting fighters were scrambled. Prefer larger raids less often, thereby limiting overuse of fighter Gruppen and saving their strength and morale for more intensive operations later on.

Target the Supermarine Aircraft works at Woolston with at least one raid.

Saturation
Plan numerous small raids on coastal RAF, radar, and production facilities, largely ignoring convoys, staggering attacks in an attempt to overwhelm RAF interception capabilities. This is a riskier strategy, given the limited force available to the Luftwaffe, and could yield a very tired, poorly-equipped force by August when I would need it the most, but it could also create opportunities to score early successes against RAF airfields.

Target the Supermarine Aircraft works at Woolston with several raids.

Caution
For the first few days, at least, take a less-aggressive stance, bombing convoys and potentially coastal radar stations. Engage the RAF as heavily as possible over the Channel, with an eye toward shooting pilots down over water where they're much harder to recover.

This option probably won't feature a raid on the Supermarine Aircraft factory, unless conditions are very good.

MonkeyHead

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2013, 04:31:36 pm »



What ho old chap, I see you are coming over for some shenanigans. Well, once I finish this quite spiffing cup of tea I shall meet you in the air above the white cliffs for a jolly boys game of tag and we shall see which of us has the testicular fortitute to claim ownership of the blue skies above blighty!
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ndkid

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2013, 05:37:18 pm »

I'm in favor of saturation. Strategic objectives will win the war. Whatever we can do to hurt their aircraft production will help us in the long run.
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Hanzoku

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Re: The End of the Beginning - Let's Play Battle of Britain II
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2013, 05:40:42 pm »

I like the ideas behind the Deception tactic. Particularly if you can do some damage to the fighter works and slow down the RAF's production of fighters.
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