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Outflying Heavy Fighters with Foxtrots


Dranak
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I've referenced in several threads now that you can completely negate Heavy Fighter escorts by outflying them, but I never really went into detail on it so here it is.

The basic strat is to have enough Foxes to kill the escorted ship with a single volley, light the afterburners, and directly at it. Just before entering the Fighters' missile range pause, then order your Foxes to execute a 90 degree turn. This will give them enough transverse velocity to dodge the incoming missiles. If you time it correctly the torpedoes will also barely be able to fire (works better with higher tiers as they have longer range). If a torpedo doesn't fire, generally you can burn out of cannon range and then still get your torp off. Then simply fly straight away from the Fighter and disengage. The crash site will spawn and the fighters will despawn from the Geoscape once their escortee is gone.

Here's a quick video demonstration. One of these days I'll start adding audio commentary.

[video=youtube_share;oskuOx0VGzw]

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Good stuff! I just figured out that you can pull a 90 degree and dodge missiles. This is a logical extension. My old solution was simply charge in on AB and get the missiles off (generally you will get them off before you're destroyed or damaged) and hope I survived. That did work, but I lost Foxtrots or at a minimum had substantially damaged jets to repair.

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Impressive. I can also down UFO by rushing at it with Foxtrots, but like StellarRat I usually take quite some damage in the process (but it's quite interesting how much a Foxtrot on afterburner can evade).

I think the way to avoid this is to make escorts actually act as escorts, meaning they should have better positioning. Here they fly a too close escort and start acting when it's already too late. For this reason it also doesn't matter much how or what they fire, as it's simply too late.

Having escorts work better would require either having a longer distance between the squadrons at the start of the fight (which in turn would require reducing fuel burning in combat), as that would give escorts more time to get their act together, or alternatively they should be already positioned between their escorted craft and the attackers. After all, it's not like they get ambushed, the UFOs should be well aware of the inbound interceptors for at least some time before get attacked.

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Because I am utterly evil I will give you the solution in 2 words...

Homing Missiles

Bwwaaaahahahahaaa!

Increasing missile turn speed enough to track a Fox using this maneuver would probably also mean increasing it to the point where rolling is useless (unless it was buffed even further).

Changing the spawn distance could work, but it would also slow down air combat even more. It would also have to force the fighters to spawn closer to our aircraft, as this would be even easier if they were further away. A simpler change to make this less viable would be to just boost Heavy Fighter speed to where they at least match a Foxtrot with ABs active. That would also make them faster than Corsairs, but I don't think that would actually change anything.

The larger effect would be that the number of aircraft needed to clear most waves would increase from the current 12-15. It would also make air combat a lot more frustrating as you can not have Corsairs in adequate numbers before Heavy Fighters show up, and Condors are a total crap shoot for being able to catch Landing Ships (and pretty much incapable of catching Cruisers). Venturing a bit into theorycraft, it seems that this would push you pretty hard towards Corsairs - possibly even to the point of rushing them being mandatory (as opposed to the current state where they aren't worth building).

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Changing the spawn distance could work, but it would also slow down air combat even more.

Well, it's not like air combat couldn't use time compression, even without this.

It would also have to force the fighters to spawn closer to our aircraft, as this would be even easier if they were further away.

I'm not following.

A simpler change to make this less viable would be to just boost Heavy Fighter speed to where they at least match a Foxtrot with ABs active.

I think that wouldn't change anything here. It'd be enough to tail the UFOs for a moment, which would ensure the interceptors would attack from behind, and the time fighters would spend turning would make up for this.

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I mean that if the default was that fighters spawn "ahead" of the main ship, it would increase the time window for Foxes if they attacked from behind, so if we changed fighter spawn locations it would have to move to them always being closer to the Foxes. Or possibly one in front and one behind the main ship, but that might make it easier if you were actually killing the fighters with Condors.

You could probably execute this against faster Heavy Fighters with a rear approach (probably depends on exactly how much faster they were), but if you couldn't outrun them you'd still lose the Foxes, which negates the primary purpose of this maneuver.

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I don't think anything needs to be "fixed" as far as the aliens being able to hit Foxtrots "better". Holy crap guys! Have you actually played until Dec - Jan in Veteran lately? I just got Marauder tech (haven't actually got any built yet) and I've got Cruisers, Strike Cruisers, and Carriers to deal with all with heavy fighter escorts! Even with the best tactics it takes multiple strikes to down these guys and you can't make ANY mistakes! Bottom line, I don't consider this an exploit, cheat or anything else. It's survival in Dec and beyond.

Edited by StellarRat
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Of course it's not an exploit or cheat, but it also pretty much completely negates any value in Corsairs and Marauders. All three UFOs you listed can be killed with a single volley of plasma torpedoes with this method, with highly repeatable results.

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I mean that if the default was that fighters spawn "ahead" of the main ship, it would increase the time window for Foxes if they attacked from behind, so if we changed fighter spawn locations it would have to move to them always being closer to the Foxes. Or possibly one in front and one behind the main ship, but that might make it easier if you were actually killing the fighters with Condors.

I didn't say ahead, I said between (it's a question if it'd be better to have escorts start closer to interceptors or have the escorted UFO start further away). The idea is simply that the escorts shouldn't act as if being ambushed - if this was "real" they would have seen the intercepting Foxtrots soon enough to have enough time to not let them get close enough to fire at the escorted UFO without the escorts firing at them first.

You could probably execute this against faster Heavy Fighters with a rear approach (probably depends on exactly how much faster they were), but if you couldn't outrun them you'd still lose the Foxes, which negates the primary purpose of this maneuver.

I think I wouldn't like heavyfighters being able to outrun Foxtrots with AB (unless that'd be a part of something bigger such as making Corsairs more useful). I'd consider it valid if Foxtrots could run for the escorted UFO, down it and get away if lucky/skilled enough, as long as they would get reasonably shot at. It just shouldn't be possible to do it as cheaply as in this example.

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Of course it's not an exploit or cheat, but it also pretty much completely negates any value in Corsairs and Marauders. All three UFOs you listed can be killed with a single volley of plasma torpedoes with this method, with highly repeatable results.
OK, well, I can see that point. I read your suggestion about speeding up the alien fighters to match the Foxtrot. However, forcing players into Corsairs when they aren't much of an improvement and can't carry heavy missiles seems wrong to me. I would be more likely to agree IF Corsairs were more capable. Right now, I don't think you get your monies worth with them and having to up the total number of AC a player would need compounds the problem due to the expense and maintenance costs of building a larger airforce.
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@llunak - I think we're mostly in agreement on where fighters would need to spawn, I'm just bad at wording things today. This maneuver already has a fairly small window of execution, which makes me suspect that it would be pretty hard to make it still possible but harder to pull off.

@ Stellarrat - I agree that requiring even more planes probably be getting ridiculous. I really think this game has too many types of planes for them to all have a meaningful role. Corsairs are obsolete at about the same time you get able to produce a few of them (Marauders are a straight upgrade to them in every sense).

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@ Stellarrat - I agree that requiring even more planes probably be getting ridiculous. I really think this game has too many types of planes for them to all have a meaningful role. Corsairs are obsolete at about the same time you get able to produce a few of them (Marauders are a straight upgrade to them in every sense).

That's why I said they were the Jackal of aircraft. There is a problem with the "notches" in air and ground combat even now. My personal feeling on game design is that nothing should ever be totally obsolete, but also that each upgrade should be worthwhile and cost effective (otherwise no one would bother.) So, overall I don't want GH to make first gen AC incapable of downing ANY TYPE UFO it should just be cost prohibitive to buy enough to do the job at some point. A Corsair should have 1.5 - 2 times the capability of a Condor then it would make sense to upgrade. The gen after that should a be similar improvement, etc... Right now the only advantage of the Corsair is speed and toughness, but it really needs more/better weapons. It wouldn't take much to convince me either, maybe just a better cannon (double cannon ammo and 2x ROF), or one more missile OR one heavy/light launcher plus two light launchers. Edited by StellarRat
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As I said above, that's the simplest way to negate this trick. But it also causes/highlights some other balance problems, such as the lack of access to Corsairs (in numbers) until after Heavy Fighters show up, and seems like it would tilt the economy even harder towards "Build more planes!"

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