Air attrition and establishing air superiority

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Red Harvest
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Air attrition and establishing air superiority

Post by Red Harvest » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:22 pm

One of the more gamey aspects of the 1940 game is that air power most often doesn't attrit in action unless one places it in a position where it is very vulnerable. In real life air power attrits rapidly in use, whether carrier or land based. When discussing this with another player he had a way around this:
Have any air supported ground or amphibious attack conduct an "establish air superiority" phase in the territory.

This makes sense as an attacker generally had to establish some level of air superiority early in a campaign in order for the ground assault to succeed. This would force some attrition of air power if there is any air opposition present. And that would mean nations like Japan and Germany would have to regularly replace air combat attrition. But it also means that overwhelming air power would sweep the sky before the ground combat phase.

Another thing that he might have suggested was limiting this air superiority phase to a single round before regular combat with all of the remaining forces. (Air combat would use standard full attack/defense values.) This would make the attrition of both sides manageable for well planned attacks and still encourage overwhelming air attack.

I'm not sure if this should be allowed to apply to "strafing" type attack with no ground support in the assault. (In such a case the Flying Tigers unit might get blasted immediately even if positioned behind the lines.)

Yes, this would add to complexity and result in rebalancing, but it is a thought to consider when creating future games.

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Re: Air attrition and establishing air superiority

Post by WILD BILL » Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:08 am

Dog fights would be cool, but very costly especially at full values (just think of how dog fights have cut down SBR and it uses lower values). As you said you could force air to air combat to knock out your opponents defending planes. The flying tiger was a good example, but would still get destroyed even if there was ground units involved because Japan could overwhelm it, in even a one round dog fight. China needs the final battle to go several rounds so the tiger can roll 2-3-4 times to take out some Japanese ground units.

The battle for Moscow would be another major blow to the defender. Imagine a 1-2 punch with Japan or Italy forcing the Russian/allied fighters to a dual to weaken the overall defense of the Russian capital, then the Germans hammer the ground units. The ground game is balanced partially on having defending fighters rolling higher, and surviving till the end. If you allow the attacker to call those defending planes out into a dog fight, you have taken away what was a defensive advantage and given a huge advantage to the attacker IMO.

With that said, I agree with you that it is silly for the fighters to be the last unit standing in a ground battle and you can't call them out to some degree. We have tinkered with some stuff in the past. One of those house rules were to have the ground battles as normal, but if a fighter or tac rolled a 1 (attacker or def) that casualty had to be applied to an air unit. If no air on the other side, then to a tank and so on (higher ranking units). In sea battles it was similar (1's rolled by ftr/tac applied to air units, then to capital ships ect...). That way some of your air hits went to something other then infantry or destroyers. I will say in sea battles sometimes you would rather take out a destroyer then air (scrambles or subs involved) so it could back fire if you use this at sea. We have also just allowed the person who rolled the "1" with an air unit to choose the opponents casualties (targeting). As an option you could allow attacking strat bmrs that roll a 1 to choose causalities as well. We have also at times given defending carriers AA defense at sea allowing them to roll as normal each round, but if they hit (2 or less) it goes to attacking air units.

I'm not saying that I'm against some kind of air combat, but I think something would have to change in the game mechanics to incorporate a full fledged dog fight. I would also be interested in Larry's view on this subject, and some of his own house rules or test runs involving air. I know that initially the tac bomber was given target capabilities (but that was scrapped).

There is even some talk of limiting the dog fight in AA1914 to only one round because of attrition. In AA1914 the fighters don't have much strength in battle, but air supremacy gives your ground units a boost (art). Below are some quotes from an AA1914 thread. AA1914 has many new game mechanics that could be brought into G40.

You can read the entire thread here: ... 44&t=18616

Krieghund wrote:How about one round, and whoever has the most planes left gets air supremacy?
Krieghund wrote:
Flashman wrote:On the other hand, if both sides end up with planes after the dogfight maybe they both get to spot enemy positions and promote artillery, leading to bloodier battles all round.
I was thinking more in terms of only the side with the greater number being able to spot and attack land units, and then only with the planes in excess over the enemy (the others being tied up in ongoing dogfights). This would achieve the same effect as the current rule, but there would be less attrition of fighters.

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Craig A Yope
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Re: Air attrition and establishing air superiority

Post by Craig A Yope » Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:19 pm

Red Harvest- My friends and I play a game that is similar to A&A (a bit more complex) that has a good system for what you are looking for on this topic.

There is an air-to-air combat phase that is part of the overall combat sequence.
Air-to-Air Combat
Air-to-Air combat is resolved before land, naval, or strategic combat during every combat phase until all of one sides’ air units have been eliminated or have withdrawn. Every combat round, all planes involved in the battle are placed on the Air Battle Chart.
One point to understand as part of this is the fact that at the end of any round of combat first the attacker then the defender can retreat none, some, or all of their units from the battle. Also, there are different values for each of the different air units for what role they are doing in the battle- be it air to air, ground attack, or naval attack.

It is more involved but not so much that it bogs down the game. It is a nice balance that gives a more realistic playout. You can contest air superiority early on and then later shift to ground support with your fighters if you destroy the opponents fighters. That is if the battle continues. Also, as the defender, you can choose not to come up to defend in the battle if the attackers numbers too much. Or bail out of the battle with your air units if you take too many hits in a round.

The main thing is that you have to go to a more complex combat system (and a more complex set of combat values) if you are going to try to get something that models actual combat.

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