28 Nov Air to Ground Combat
One of the key features of Gamma Protocol is the mixing up of different battle spaces which are incorporated into each other. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the blurring of lines between air and ground combat, with fighter planes and bombers able to enter into the ground based combat arenas as a secondary, highly deadly, force.
The original idea was a thrilling one – imagine having fighter planes in a turn based game that fought each other in the skies and then were able to dive down and attack ground units that were also fighting each other on the ground?! But just having the idea as a basic concept was a long way off from making it a reality. Especially when we wanted to have a game that was as realistic as Gamma Protocol is. For example, how could you have an air space that was big enough to allow the planes to fly at the speeds they do and yet incorporate it into ground maps for tanks and ground forces that was also just as playable?
Making the ground maps as big as the air maps was out of the question – they would be so big that they would be impossible to manage. We couldn’t create maps that were hundreds of miles across and make them an effective, playable game space. Shrinking the air maps down to the 10 or so square miles of a ground map was also out of the question since our planes would fly through those spaces in less than one move.
Our solution was to place the ground maps within an area of the air maps, giving the planes enough room to dog fight each other while also giving them a target in the sky itself to aim for. Any plane entering the ground map airspace will then be moved into the ground map during that same turn, disappearing from the aerial map until the next round.
Then air combat continues until all turns are taken and you end the air round and are transported to the ground map phase of your turn. And here’s where it gets really cool. When your planes are available in your ground units, you can select an enemy and have a plane attack from the skies, peppering them with bullets before arcing straight back up and returning to the air maps for the next round.
This means that when a plane comes back to an air map it has to maneuver back round before it can attack the ground again. Like our tanks, our planes are subject to the laws of physics. They can’t just turn round on a pinhead and dive straight back down to attack an enemy tank, they have to bank and turn and line themselves up again, and this can take at least a couple of turns in the sky.
It’s at that very moment that the smart pilots will be waiting for you. Popping back out of the ground map leaves you wide open for attack, with your tail presented right in front of any enemy planes who watched you enter and know where to be when you come back. It’s all very simple with just the one plane in the sky, but the more fighters and bombers you add to your air force, and the more enemy planes there are in the sky, the greater the risks you take.
We’re talking about planes for the late 40s here. There are no heat seeking missiles, no target finders, there’s just you, your guns and your skills as an pilot. But even then, your flying skills might not matter at all if the enemy ground forces have a lot of SPG anti air units. These ground units can and will fire back on any enemy aircraft who come within range, and will often be found accompanying tank convoys, taking up strategic positions to retaliate with extreme prejudice against any aerial assaults.