PBEM is a lot different then single player. I mean you think your forces are solid are the enemy will take massive loses if he tries attacking you and your plan is a good one. Next thing you know you lost a E-2C, 11 Mirages and you hit a bunch of civilians. Or you think your SU-25s will be good aircraft to take out Norwegian radars in the mountains, except you did not see the F-35s in CAP above. PBEM has definitely changed how I have been playing the game. I am in the process of playing 2 PBEM gams currently: 1st one against the creator of PBEM, musurca playing Canary's Cage 2005, second being Artic Tsunami with a discord user.
I am not sure if this is an AAR or what exactly I am writing but I guess ill talk about my experience in my first game, Canary's Cage. So we ended up deciding to play Canary's Cage, 2005, myself playing as the Moroccan coalition and him as Spain. For those who have not checked out this scenario I definitely recommend it great scenario! This was the original PBEM (Not WEGO version) so you get to control your forces in Realtime for your turn. Where as in WEGO you only get to control at certain intervals (As I understand it, have not had chance to play WEGO yet). He set up the scenario then deployed his forces then sent the file to me. After picking my password I was ready for some PBEM! I honestly did not know where to begin, or what his plans were. So I figured I guess I might as well look at the briefing, you know that probably helps to read it. After reading it I guess I got to sink his ships, protect my island all while protecting my own fleet which needs to be escorted to reinforce the island. After having knowing that I began checking my OOB. In short in the north I had F.1 Mirages with Super R.530s and F-16s with harpoons along with a single E-2C. In the south was another base but was primarily fighters. F.1s with Magic missiles, F-4s with mavericks and F-16s with sparrows. On the island was the bulk of my forces with Mig-29 a very small amount of Mig-25s, 2 E-2Cs nearly a dozen SU-22s armed with AS-9s and SU-24s armed with AS-14s.My surface fleet was not nearly as nice, primarily patrol boats throughout the entirety of the map along with my reinforcement fleet. My reinforcement fleet was the fleet I had to get to the islands. It has several AS-565 Panthers for ASW along with a few other aircraft. The surface fleet was made up of 9 ships, half being landing ships other frigates. The ASW capabilities were acceptable but the AAM capability of the fleet was not the best. This is just a brief description of the scenario if you want to know more check out the scenario, highly suggest it.
Now the game is set up so that after I set up my forces I send him the file and he plays the first 1 1/2 hour of the game. He has a fleet somewhere west of morocco and several airbases in Spain. I set up my northern missions so that basically every aircraft is airborne. My harpoon aircraft are looking for ships, my Mirages are all in single formations flying over Spain and my E-2C is airborne looking for ships while still staying over morocco for protection. I had put my mirages in single formations because I had hoped to maybe get an ELINT aircraft or something before it had protection. Usually in my scenarios in Single player I launch ELINT first. Anyways that was the plan for the north. In the south I used my mirages to guard my airfield in a CAP. While launching F-16s to fly north to guard my E-2. Then I also assigned my maverick F-4s to the same mission as my F-16 Harpoon aircraft. Roughly 16 strike aircraft. The islands I did not do much with. I had just put 1 AEW airborne and then a CAP. I did not really protect my fleet, I figured his fleet was far enough away and only thing I had to worry about was subs, so I just put an ASW mission up. Ended up putting most ASW on patrol while keeping 2 aircraft on an ASW strike mission with only allowing 1 to launch at a time maximum to reduce the risk of not having any available ASW assets. Naval asset wise, my fleet was set to follow the coast and try to hide from him while still heading toward the islands. My subs and surface patrol boats were assigned to a sea control mission. And so I sent the scenario off!
As I said before you know how you think you have a good plan and then realize you screwed up. Ironically this plan in the north I had completely backfired. The doctrine of the mission is free fire for morocco. When my aircraft had launched in the north they had blown away civilian aircraft. I was hoping for an overwhelming majority of forces by launching all my northern mirages but he managed to destroy most of these aircraft for nearly no loses. The F-16 harpoon aircraft found their mark? Well sorta... Ended up sinking 2 frigates and a bunch of civilian ships... Me and musurca will definitely have our heads on sticks after this scenario. My F-16s opened fired on civilian shipping due to the free fire, reminder check WRA / doctrine before playing through a scenario. But thankfully 2 frigates were down! After talking to him about that turn he ended up launching most of his fighters to combat this attack and did pretty well! My F-4 maverick aircraft were also involved in this turkey shoot. After combating this attack he counter attacked and shot down the northern AEW. After further look.. make sure your CAP is over your AEW and not 100nm away. That's the big thing in this PBEM is realizing the little mistakes that can cost you. Anyways with day done musurca definitely has the lead with losing 6 aircraft (2 Harriers + 4 F-18s) to my 16 aircraft (9 Mirages + 4 Phantoms + 1 Hawkeye + 2 F-16s). I'll go over civilian loses later in this post.
Now its turn two and boy have things changed. But I keep things the same for the most part. The single phantom that survived would be rearmed with mavericks (would be important to know later). Three F-16s would be armed with harpoons (all loadouts I had for harpoons) the rest with sparrows. Other then that things remain much the same for this turn, I did take my AEW North CAP and make it into northern airbase CAP. (All aircraft in the north were rearming and it was an attackable airbase did not want to get bombed without any form of CAP, would be bad). Turn 3 is another minor victory for musurca, sinking several patrol boats. However I began to realize how important it is that you make sure the missions are set up. That is the biggest thing in PBEM, is the missions you set going to do because once you send it you cannot take it back. I realized this after having noticed my mistake of putting my submarines and surface ships in the same Sea control mission, would end up losing several ships. I began to fix this and completely rearranged my sea forces. After a few more air to air engagements my southern airbase was completely out of A2A missiles, other then missiles that were on the planes already. My F-16s there had no missiles so I ended up ferrying them to the northern airbase were I had more missiles. I am not sure what turn this happened but that F-4 phantom in the south with mavericks had a mission. Take out Spains radars. Would end up using a single F-4 phantom to take out the radar with 4 F-16 sparrow escorts. While taking out the radars I noticed a large amount of unknown aircraft airborne. So would begin the 2nd air battle of Spain. For felt like nearly an hour my F-16s used whatever they had in their armorment to fight the Spanish F-16s and AEW / ELINT aircraft over spain. Nearly every single F-16 that had missiles was in the air fighting over Spain to shoot down these aircraft. After the battle I would had lost 2 F-16s in exchange for 5 F-18s and an KC-130 along with an ELINT aircraft. Now you begin to see a reoccurring theme here and that is how important mission setups are in PBEM. You literally have an hour where you cannot control your forces, the AI controls them. This can go very badly, especially in musurca case here where he lost a lot of his F-18s due to one of the missions he had set up. His strike aircraft had A2A missiles but had not used them against my F-16s. This allowed my F-16s free reign over his strike aircraft, *almost*. He had CAP set up or at least some form of CAP because I did begin to lose aircraft however that was not before I was using strafing runs against a KC-130 because I had expended all my missiles. This is where I began to worry and is one of the things with PBEM you have no idea what the other player is gonna do and you do not know the condition he is in. I took down his strike aircraft but does he have? I had no idea at this point. But what I did know is at one point I had 2 F-16s in the north that were ready. And that was it, if he had attacked my airbase I would have lost a lot of my aircraft. Anyways I launched a small F-16 raid against his fleet, remember those 3 F-16s armed with harpoons? Time to put them to use!! I located his fleet by my Southern E-2C. This fleet was his carrier group. My aircraft began to reach SAM range. They haven't fired? Why haven't they fired? Hmmm... Not wanting to get shot I did the CMO Professional move of reducing alitutde to just terrain following as low as possible. I kept closing in, still haven't gotten shot? Alright now I am getting worried. Launched harpoons with about 35NM? I still wonder how much further I could have got, but anyways missiles away! Hit the carrier once and sunk a frigate. Then during his turn my submarine would fire at his DDG and would sink it but not before being sunk itself. His submarines would then express their anger by sinking more of my patrol boats. Not much A2A happened this turn or his turn (that I can remember).
So I guess we are getting close to the end and here is the great battle over Spain (Iberia Air Battle *round 3*). Moroccan F-16s would intercept a large strike group flying from Spain to the south. I did not talk to him about where it was going but I do believe it was headed for my invasion fleet? Not really sure? During this battle I would lose more F-16s while taking down another KC-130 along with several F-18s. I may have gotten these events out of order but hopefully musurca can clarify some of these events haha. Another small A2A engagement would end up with more F-16 and Mirage loses. Now for our current turn, I had just launched an SU-22 raid against him with AS-9s escorted with Mig-25s. Well turns out his fleet has more missiles then I thought because I would do nothing against his fleet with that attack. But I did have some more time left to do some damage so I decided to launch my Kedge SU-24s. These would sink the carrier as well as an aircraft however would result in the loss of 2 SU-24s and 1 Mig-25. So that is where the battle is at now. I am not sure of his offensive capabilities in Spain but he still does have an entire landing fleet which will needed to be taken care of whilst still trying to intercept any attacks flying from Spain. Will be interested in seeing how this plays out. Enough with AAR time for some PBEM talk!
Well PBEM definitely changes the game. The can completely change your plans way more the AI. No matter what I did musurca would counter my forces and attempt to take the advantage. Every single turn you are changing plans. Also it changes your thoughts on thinking ahead. You cannot control your forces in PBEM when it is the opponent turns, the AI controls them. So you see several cases in our AAR where our units do not do what we want haha. Definitely will take some messing with the mission editor to get things to work right! The other thing is the timing. In this PBEM we set it to an hour and half. I liked this time, it allowed for me to change what my forces are doing without micromanaging them. With Half and hour big battles will not always be over. You may get the turn back in the middle of the battle, this happens a few times. One example was the launch by musurca, his strike aircraft launched middle of my turn. This had a massive effect on the whole game because I wouldn't been able to intercept them if I did not have control over my aircraft. And them being in the middle of my turn meant he could not control them. They would suffer losses because of this. From my experience PBEM is about timing especially with an 1+1/2 hr turn time. You want to strike during your turn to maximize effienceny. However you don't wanna get caught with your pants down when the other player gets to play! musurca did a great job on PBEM. It is very fun to play! But a small criticism on the way PBEM turned out. I believe it was too much about timing. When the player had control it gave them a big advantage over the AI. However I do believe PBEM is way more of a challenge overall then playing single player. Musurca has also released a WEGO version, I cannot say much about that I have not had a chance to play but I believe that this fixes a big issue in PBEM. It makes it so you cannot micro manage as much. This levels the playing field because the player cannot micro manage against the AI while still having the challenge of an adaptive players. One final thing, I have another scenario with 15m turn, Artic tsunami. Its a long scenario and very short turns, its a lot of waiting and sending files back and forth. The 15m changes what I said before in that micromanagement does not play as big of a deal because of how short the time is. In the mission I have TU-160s on a strike mission I can still set their waypoints and give them launch commands, even in between his turns. The 15m allows "Micromanagement" without the actual management at all times, the advantage of the player playing his turn is less because the time is less. I know that may be hard to understand, but hopefully I worded that okay. I guess it depends on what type of gameplay you want. I like the longer turns of my playthrough with Musurca, it reduced the amount of turns and how many times we switched files whilst giving you an adaptive player. However in my other playthrough I like the 15m because it is much harder to fight a micromanaging player haha! As I have said previously I have no played WEGO and am in no right to speak about my opinions on that. But I will say this, I think it will reduce the players advantage when it is their turn by increasing the amount of time it takes to give commands. Regularly you can give your units real time commands and that gives you a big advantage during your turns. In WEGO you can only give them commands every set interval. Hopefully this helped and hope you guys enjoyed reading this! I definitely want to thank musurca for taking time out of his day to play some PBEM and being the PBEM creator! Also I would like to thank the CMO discord user for being another opponent in my other PBEM game! If you ever get a chance to PBEM with musurca or anybody else I suggest it! It changes your CMO experiences. Anyways thanks for reading hoped you enjoyed my thoughts.
< Message edited by Redmoose -- 2/25/2021 6:29:38 PM >