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Posted 03 June 2021 - 09:28 PM
Like many people, the recently previewed space marine flyers have got me thinking about dipping my toe in AI. It’s looks like a cracking game, but I have a few questions
1. Community and online play - is there an online community for playing this game, like TTS, vassal etc like for other game systems. I know flight command exists as a game, but I’m more interested in the proper miniature game. Short of a formal online system, it strikes me that the hex map lends itself fairly well to play via webcam - has anyone tried this, and/or is there an established global community for this kind of thing? My personal circumstances don’t give much opportunity to get down to the FLGS for games, so it would be great to know that there’s an online gaming presence
2. Content - what are your recommendations for AI-focused YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs etc. I’ve found a few of the bigger 40k channels occasionally film an AI bat rep (usually just of the starter set), but I’d love to know what’s out there in terms of more dedicated content
I'm now also on Instagram: @wrath_of_bruinen
Posted 04 June 2021 - 10:03 AM
In terms of YouTube content, I've found most of it to be outside of the bigger channels. Kris Belleau, Old Average Brit Gaming, Pete the Wargamer, The Painting Coach, The Prefect, Dizzyfinger, Drybrushmagic have all done some painting tutorials, but for battle reports, you're looking at channels like All Miniatures Great and Small, WombatWargaming, Shades of Chaos, Live and Let Dice.
Don't know if that's any help
Posted 04 June 2021 - 11:01 AM
I haven't come across anyone talking about playing online. There's a reasonably vibrant Facebook group, where I think it would have been mentioned if it existed.
In all honesty AI is more of a game for modellers and painters than for players. The models are fantastic but the gameplay leaves a huge amount to be desired, in my opinion. FW have contrived to write a dogfighting game in which manoeuvrability doesn't really matter. Everything is very agile so all that really counts is moving after the enemy. Heavy bombers can end up tailing supersonic fighters about as easily as the other way round. If you've played stuff like x-wing then AI will almost certainly be a disappointment, I'm sorry to say.
If you're interested in a small-scale game with great models that does provide great gameplay then I'd point you towards Adeptus Titanicus instead. Sorry that this probably isn't an appropriate response but personally I regret spending as much as I have on AI and I can't recommend the game to others. I might actually get some of the marine stuff to use on AT bases and stuff, and in the hope that we one day get Epic again.
Posted 04 June 2021 - 06:01 PM
I really appreciate the frank review of the game, Mandragola. It’s a shame to hear, but still good to know
I'm now also on Instagram: @wrath_of_bruinen
Posted 04 June 2021 - 07:15 PM
The AI community is kind of limited at the moment, Facebook is a decent source of info and pictures but has the usual issues with poor moderation. You can always post here! Covid probably hasn't helped, but I'm hoping the game can bounce back with Space Marines entering the area of engagement.
The game is good fun.
I appreciate where Mandragola is coming from, the bombers are probably too manoeuvrable, but at the end of the day the game is as fluffy and or realistic as the players let it be. There is a difference in aircraft type performance, and with bombers making up half of each range I can see why they didn't want to force players to leave their bombers in the Hangar for some missions. I don't think Titanicus would be as popular if you couldn't always bring a Warlord along.
If you bring a bomber list to a dogfight scenario you might have a chance through sheer fire-power which isn't realistic, but if you are sensible with your force selection and have a like minded opponent I don't think it's really an issue. I hope the game won't devolve into two rival Thunderhawks circling each other with the new release
It's definitely a good narrative game, and the rules are simple to pick up and don't have endless supplements or tomes of rules to get through like 40k. It depends on what you are looking for.
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Posted 05 June 2021 - 08:38 AM
I can't attest to the issues Mandragola has highlighted as I've not played the game (I'm just here for the models, which are lovely but fiddly). I fear GW may have painted themselves into a corner with some of the models, as the background seems a bit contradictory (unless my memory is playing tricks on me, the Marauders in "Double Eagle" are capable of vectored flight, but also need to fly straight for extended periods on missile strafing runs due to their targeting systems ).
I think people wanting a "realistic" dogfighting game may be better served looking at Warlord Games' "Blood Red Skies" - obviously that's not a GW game which may limit appeal and also means we can't talk about it here, and it's based on times with real-world sensitivities around them, but I do know Andy Chambers (former "40k Overfiend") did a lot of research from pilots' memoires when he was putting it together.
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Posted 05 June 2021 - 05:16 PM
I can certainly see the intent of making a "lunch time dogfight" game. And there's likely some thought given to competing with X-wing, without hewing too closely to that game's conventions.
If ever there was a 'modern' GW game that needed a "Top Gun Manual" advanced ruleset, it's AI.
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Posted 06 June 2021 - 10:15 AM
I'm now also on Instagram: @wrath_of_bruinen
Posted 06 June 2021 - 11:16 AM
I think that a lot of the problems are caused by the activation system, combined with the enormous freedom you have when it comes to your activation. The fact that any plane can gain or lose two altitude, for example, means that you can always escape by going up or down, but enemy planes can’t escape you if they move first.
X-wing and wings of war are the obvious games to compare AI to. In both, your move is totally set in the planning phase and then carried out in order. X-wing does allow some agile planes to adjust their moves a bit with barrel rolls and boosts, but their main move can’t be changed (barring a few rare abilities, and even then only slightly). AI gives you the option to decide which way you turn, how far you go and whether you ascend or descend, meaning that it’s very easy to point at a target or, at worst, to escape from one.
Simple alternation of activations really hurts, especially due to the freedom you get in your manoeuvres. When all that matters is moving last, having more planes becomes a massive advantage. This means that, in effect, cheap planes outmanoeuvre expensive ones, by moving after them, arguably making points cost not just a measure of a plane’s value but actually an active part of the plane’s performance in itself. Valkyries can out-dogfight barracudas, despite being vastly less manoeuvrable, because they’re cheaper so some of them get to move after all the barracudas. That’s a big problem when Valkyries are also 50% tougher and have more firepower... and transport capacity. It means the cheaper plane vastly outclasses the more expensive one.
This also means it’s all but impossible to recover from a bad position. If you lose a couple of planes early on, you’re now at an activation disadvantage relative to your opponent. And ground defences weirdly become a disadvantage because spending points on them means fewer planes, and therefore fewer activations.
X-wing gets around all these problems by assigning every pilot an initiative score. So all the rookie x-wing pilots move at the same time and then Darth Vader always gets to move after them, even if all his tie fighter minions are dead.
I think a lot of AI’s problems could be fixed by giving it an initiative-based system like x-wing’s. We don’t know anything about the relative skill of pilots but we could have faster, more agile panes activate after the slow, clumsy ones.
Range is also a problem. Other games make everything most effective at short range, but not AI. Imperial and Tau stuff tends to best at medium range. This reduces the effect of dogfighting even further. You can get your dakkajet right on the tail of a thunderbolt but you’re still stuffed if some other thunderbolt can line up a shot from half the board away - which is actually very easy for it to do.
I’m not sure how to solve this without significantly changing weapon stats. One option would be to radically reduce ranges. So make short range 1 hex, medium 2 hexes and long 3 hexes. That might be too short But the point would be to make you actually play for position rather than just aim your planes speculatively across a massive area.
A couple of changes to the rules like this could improve the game a lot I think.
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Posted 06 June 2021 - 04:52 PM
For a period I wondered whether Bomber class planes should have to activate prior to any Fighter or Scout class, but what you’ve just said makes me think Handling value might be the better metric to use. So maintain the alternating activations, but only within each Handling Value level. That would also make Lightnings worth taking, but might make Eldar game breaking (If they aren’t already!).
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Posted 06 June 2021 - 08:38 PM
I think Eldar could be in a tough spot actually. The best planes are the tankiest, cheapest ones with the most firepower. Something like a night wing could be fairly squishy, have fairly average firepower and cost quite a lot due to extraordinary mobility that isn’t actually worth very much. They might have some special rules to keep them alive but if not I think they’ll be in big trouble against marines and their flying tanks. Going up against a fire raptor doesn’t really bear thinking about.
I thought quite a bit about how to design an initiative system. I looked at speed, and that’s definitely a nice and simple score to use. I couldn’t help but find it too simple though, as there are so many other relevant factors. I drew up scores for each plane based on their speed, the highest manoeuvre they could do, their throttle and subtracted their hull points, on the idea that heavy planes will react less fast.
Edited by Mandragola, 06 June 2021 - 08:39 PM.
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