I've done some pretty extensive tests of air units against AA and then compared that to the effectiveness of air vs artillery. There are 4 AA types in the game. When you buy an AA unit you get 2 units of AA and each unit has 2x85mm and 2x75mm. There are alos 37mm AA guns and dual AA guns that you can actually produce. In my tests I've conducted 1 to 2 (air commitment to AA commitment) bombardments, 1 to 1 bombardments, 2 to 1 bombardment and 3 to 1 bombardments. I also conducted air attacks against AA on a 1 to 1, 2 to 1 and 3 to 1 basis.
For the above air attack tests air loses out to AA in a single turn when done at anything less than 2 to 1. At 2 to 1 the air unit is usually destroyed in 3 or 4 turns unless you reinforce. Only at 3 to 1 does air end up destroying the AA unit. I did this with both majority A-4 and majority B52.
On the bombardment tests the AA units rarely take any damage. After all you are attacking the location and not the unit. On bombardments of less than 2 to 1 the air units took more damage. Not sure why this was the case unless the bombardment supresses the defender. On 3 to 1 the location always was destroyed (1000 points). On 2 to 1 it was destroyed in 2 out of 3 tests. At under 2 to 1 it was never destroyed. But even with 3 to 1 ratio's I still suffered a couple of lost planes during the three tests.
I also conducted bombardments against a HQ unit with 2x37mm and 4 to 6 dual AA. My 3 planes had 2 losses and 1 retreat. Using 9 planes (a full 1 point commitment) destroyed the location but suffered a plane loss in one test and 2 planes in another test run.
I then decided to compare how planes do against a VC batallion and a NVA regiment. I used 6 A4's and 3 B52's against 2 units of 175mm artillery. Both were worth 1 commitment. In all cases the artillery did much better. I even tried changing it to 9 A4's and 9 B52's, but the artillery was still much better at killing and forcing retreats. All tests were in jungle, hills or forested hills. I did not try urban, cultivated or mountain but I really doubt it would have mattered.
So my conclusions are that a comitment in US air is a bad idea. You eventually lose the unit. Artillery (175mm) does much more damage. Also, air vs. AA is too weak. I can see air retreating but unless you have 3 to 1 advantages you lose the air unit. In looking at the real war there were just 17 B52's shot down by enemy action during the entire war. Ten were lost to SAM's during Linbacker II. Looking at all fixed wing aircraft there were just over 1600 lost during the whole war. But they flew over 5 million sorites which translates to .4 losses per 1000 sorties. Anyway you look at it the game has way too high air plane losses.
I'm not sure what the right answer should be. There needs to be a balance of commitment costs, damage done and losses. But I'm convinced that the air losses are too high when compared to historical losses, commitment ratios, and compared to damage done. Maybe the answer is to cause the air unit to retreat much more often and not be shot down.
EDIT: I'm not afraid of losing interest at all. When the scenario is balance and finished I think it will offer many replays. The thing I loved about the boardgame was that you could do it over and over and never use the same strategy. Besides I think this scenario has some great potential to fill a niche that the whole industry has missed. To that event I plan on devoting much more time to it and eventually even trying to code a US AI variant. (If you don't and you don't mind).
EDIT2: I also did a test where I declared an offensive as NVN player. I played it where the NVN player ran away and dispersed units to avoid combat as much as possible. Now to speed things up I wen big super fast to get to 150 US commitment. But I tried to compensate and held back lots of NVN units (3 full NVA divisions) to balance out the excess commitment received. I then attacked all over the place and even did a few suicide attacks. There were 922 PP kills which resulted in -15 to US morale. I think this was way too high, especially if you consider that ARVN units suck compared to NVA and that the NVN gains commitment every turn no matter what the Free World does.
This means that doing three offensives I can basically force US withdrawl to start in 1968! This is based on a solid US build up of 25 commitment per seasonal turn where 150 nets you 6 US divisions, 1 US brigade, some Free World, and 12 ARVN (5-6 augmented). Once the US hits 150 commitment the NVN player will get 25 an up commitment. That means every half year I launch an offensive and have 4 new NVA divisions to do it with. No way the Free World player can ever win. I bet if you programed the AI to just build NVA units and launch a full offensive every 9 months once US commitment hits 150 the AI would win every game.
< Message edited by Goodmongo -- 10/2/2011 7:27:36 PM >