Thursday, April 7, 2011

Aircraft & Cover - Can Phil be Wrong?

Phil's ruling...this is no cover.  Really?
Can I dare say the 'boss' is wrong?  Well, maybe not wrong, but I'd have to say he's mistaken or has forgotten the original meaning. What I'm referring to is Aircraft and cover. There was a huge discussion on the BF forum about it here;

I recently just listened to WWPD podcast Episode 14, and they say they received an e-mail from Phil about the correct ruling.  Even though this comes from the creator I still have to strongly disagree.

The Rule
Teams in, or on the far side of and within 4"/10cm of, woods or buildings are Concealed to aircraft.

There are two interpretations of this rule.  Even though I can't, for the life of me, comprehend why.

Camp A (Phil's ruling, and the wrong camp)
The woods or building has to be between the aircraft and target at the time of shooting, in order to get cover.  So, if the aircraft can fit inside that 4", the team gets no cover.

No cover from a dive bomber?  Really guys?
The #1 reason this is the wrong ruling
is because the rule doesn't say, "woods or buildings between the aircraft and target".  There would be zero reason to say "far side" if this is how the rule was suppose to work.

I don't even see much of a reason for 'direction of travel' if this is the way the rule was meant to be.  You might as well just let people put aircraft where you want with in 6" of a target.

The other reason, not that this game is realistic, but for a dive bomber trajectory, this makes absolutely no sense.  A bomber would have to dive at a 90 degree angle to make this attack work.  And a bomber with rockets or guns would NEVER dive at this angle.  I think only the Stuka even came close to this dive angle.

What happens if 2 of the 3 planes end up in the forest?  does only the lead plane count?  Or does the lead bomber let his buddies crash into the woods just so the target team doesn't get any cover?  If the target has cover from 2 of the 3 planes why wouldn't the team get cover?  You already have rules where the number of planes matter.  So why would you get no cover from aircraft if 2 of the 3 are in the woods and not in the 4" space between the plane and the unit?

The other 'excuse' camp A makes is intervening friendly troops can cause your aircraft to push into the woods and then you would get cover.  To me this is a reading to much into the rule cop out.  Especially if the target is 3.9" away from the woods.  The slight chance that you can't get your aircraft in there, where there isn't intervening friendly's, you'd probably just choose another target.  More often then not you aren't going to take a chance on your units being that close...especially if you want to move them.  I'm not saying this can't happen, but using this as a reason why camp A is correct is total garbage.

Camp B (The right camp)
The cover is based on the direction of travel of the aircraft.  If a team is on the far side of woods or buildings, and within 4" they get cover no matter where the aircraft is placed.

The #1 reason this is the correct ruling
All the rule says is;
Teams in, or on the far side of and within 4"/10cm of, woods or buildings are Concealed to aircraft.  There are no if's, buts, exceptions, or conditions to the rule.  If you are using aircraft and your target is on the far side of and within 4"/10cm of, woods or buildings....they are concealed.  End of rule.  It seems very clear to me.  The other camp never say it seems very clear.  They always say "I see how that can be misinterpreted.  But, I really can't see how.  I think they are reading way to much into it.

Again, not that this game is trying to be realistic, but think of the trajectory of a bomb.  Unless the bomb came down at a 90 degree angle, it would hit the building or the woods before it hit the target.  And because its a bomb, the target would still take damage, but because it wouldn't be a direct hit, the target gets cover.

Stuka's had a trajectory of 60-90 degrees.  The Stuka might be the only plane that could pull it off.  Shturmovik only attacked at 30 degree's as did most other dive bombers with guns and rockets.  The 'camp B' ruling resolves this 'realism' issue.

Look at 'point 3' in the picture to the right.  This is even at a 90 degree angle dive.  The direction of the bomb still doesn't travel straight down.  And as I said, no way aircraft with rockets or strafing machine guns dive at this angle.

Its simple physics people.  Don't make me pull out the equation....because I found it.   

With the camp B ruling, there are no arguments about realism or goofy game play situations.  If you attack with aircraft, your target is on the far side of and within 4"/10cm of, woods or buildings....they are concealed...end of story. 

Maybe in version 3, Phil could add some special rules to include both camps.  Maybe Stuka's or even aircraft using bombs could ignore this 4" cover rule.  But aircraft using guns and rockets, the target would still get cover....based on direction of travel.

Unfortunately I'm not as articulate on paper as I sound in my own head, so hopefully this all makes sense.
All this over a +1 to hit...sheesh! 


  1. I thought the tree models themselves were more of an abstract representation, and the base the trees sat on represented the actual tree line. Simplicity and ascetics.

    If that were the case, you should be able to move the tree models to fill the space that the plane squeezed into, as it shouldn't matter where on the base you set your tree models as long as they are within the tree line.

    At that point A=B

    Therefore I support Camp B for its simplicity.

  2. Kage -

    Love your examples. But I will publicly admit to being in Camp A. Of course, I don't see that as being "wrong." :-)

    The heart of the issue lies in the actual rule, which you quote directly. There is no point of reference made to either the "aircraft" or the "table edge of entry". Lacking anything specific, one has to fill in the blanks. And as you have stated, "reality" and "game play" are not the same in Flames of War.

    My own personal experience with planes has been that the location of my ground teams are by far the most important piece of determining where I place my aircraft. If I do not have ground teams anywhere near the target, I would place my aircraft 180 degrees opposite of your example. If my team is within 16", then I would move them to the same side as you have in the example and as close as possible without having the 16". I don't think that is really a cop out.

    In V3, I am all for Camp B. I also like the idea of a special rule for a dive bomber like the Stuka. I would just like to see a clear rule and not one that is ambiguous.

    Yes, rockets and machine guns at 90 degrees sounds crazy. I agree. But I also agree that a front armor hit when I can only see the rear is just as crazy, if not more so.

    Keep up the great examples. You are much more articulate than you give yourself credit!

  3. I am with Camp B.
    The ruling is simple.

  4. I can see the arguement from both sides but I have to admit I'm leaning more towards camp B