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Ace_Robz

Fixing Carriers: Attacking Flights

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Alright so the title might be a little strong, this isn't the ultimate "fix" for carriers and I am not going to pretend like I have the obvious solution that will solve every problem. This is simply an early idea that I think has potential if it is passed on and refined.

So personally I like carriers, they are my favorite class of ship outside the game, and I am definitely for their inclusion. However their current implementation is... controversial at best, and I've been on both sides of the wild ride. The rework has made balancing carriers tricky, and while it's easy to suggest another rework, it's more realistic to work with the system we have now.

One of the main issues I have singled out is simply the fact that the aircraft you control come in one large squadron. So when you encounter a carrier's air group, it is usually a massed formation (conservative players will sometimes return part of it to the carrier). The way anti air works is that it targets the rear-most plane in the squadron, so despite only the attacking flight being the only ones that drop their payload on the target, unless almost every plane in the squadron is shot down, anti air can't actually stop the aircraft from delivering the payload (unless the planes slam into flak clouds I guess). This makes balancing anti air more than a headache with the risk of making either side too powerful. Either the surface ship has no hope of stopping an attacking flight getting through, causing frustration for the surface ship player, or on the flip side, the anti air is strong enough to shoot down most aircraft, causing massive casualties and preventing the carrier from doing anything, causing frustration for the carrier player.

So with all that out of the way, what do I propose. Well I think it would be a good idea to separate attacking flights from the rest of the squadron during an attack run. What does this mean exactly? Well again, as it works now, you can only stop aircraft from dropping their payload if you go through the entire squadron's aircraft. With this change, the moment the attacking flight breaks off to commit to the attack, anti air will focus on the attacking flight alone, and that attacking flight will not be reinforced from the rest of the squadron.

Here's a simplified scenario (with very poor visuals) to show what I mean. A squadron of 9 torpedo bombers split into 3 attacking flights of 3 attack a target (I used a Kongo silhouette, but I should have used a Reference FusoTM like all the cool kids. Ah well, we'll just say we're recreating Hiei getting ganked by aerial attack).

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As the attacking flight flies through (poor visual quality) long range AA, and potentially AA from other ships, everything works the way it does now, with the last plane in the squadron being focused and taking the damage (excluding flak).

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Once the squadron commences the attack, the attacking flight splits off and commence their run. Anti air now focuses its fire on aircraft from the attacking flight.

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The AA shoots down one of the attacking aircraft, without the rest of the squadron reinforcing like they do now, leaving the two others to continue the attack.

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The two aircraft break through and release two torpedoes at the target (we're gonna end this scenario historically and just say Hiei eats the torps). The attacking flight then breaks off and returns to the carrier as normal.

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The important thing to note here is that by shooting down a single aircraft, the ship's AA defenses successfully prevented a third of the payload from being delivered. If the second aircraft in the flight was shot down, that's two-thirds of the payload denied. By focusing on the aircraft that are actually making an attack, AA can also *feel* more effective in dealing with the threat without having to make it overly powerful. Another advantage this can bring is increasing the viability of shorter range AA, as their DPM could be relied on more in the attack run, especially against dive-bombers. This might also help destroyers deal with aircraft, as they naturally don't have the anti air to stop, say a whole squadron of rocket planes, but could mitigate each attacking flight's damage output.

I thought about this idea a couple months back when the rework was still going through all sorts of changes, and I thought it might be too much of a sledgehammer change. However, with the time we've had with the finalized version, I think this might be viable. Of course, there will be other things that will probably change somewhat with this, such as AA values being tweaked for the change and such. Again, I am no expert, but I do hope this makes it up the chain and considered.

In regards to some "major" change I'd like to see with carriers, it would probably be a fighter overhaul, though I don't have any ideas as to what that might look like. One of the results of the carrier rework was reducing the carrier to carrier interaction, which I fundamentally disagree with and think should be reconsidered. 

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How about billing carriers for ordnance expended instead of planes shot down.

That would be like charging a DD op for all the torpedoes he didn't launch.

As it stands, drawing a random battle against high tier uber-AA ships has my planes parked while I try to ram and get some secondaries in.

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