Fighter Elements

Using Wing Pairs

By MXSavant 08/24/05

There are two essential types of fighter combat in a game like Silent Death. The first is when the ships face off against each other, arrayed in orderly rows or blocks as they close in. The second is when they “mix it up” – a “furball” – in the parlance of fighter pilots. From a tactical perspective, maintaining some kind of order among your forces is a key to winning.

This is because the most important thing for a player to do in any wargame game is to concentrate firepower. When you’re in the early phases of the game and all your ships are pointed in more or less the same direction (usually toward the bad guys) that is when they are capable of doing the most damage.

Unfortunately, the other player’s ships are likewise pointed in your direction.

To phrase the problem a little differently, the longer you have more of your guns pointed at your opponent, the better your chances are of doing significant damage. One way to accomplish this is to use your fighters in pairs. This is a tactic that developed in the later phases of World War I, but was refined to a near-science during World War Junior. The idea is fairly simple. Two fighters work as a team (called an “element”) consisting of a leader and a wingman. The leader does the fighting, and the wingman keeps attackers off the wingman’s tail. In Silent Death the goal is slightly different, because if a wingman drops back or turns around to engage someone going after the leader, it disperses the element’s firepower.

I have found that wing pairs are most successful if they attack together as a unit. Most SD players don’t use their fighters as a unit, but as individuals. So what you have to do is use one element to attack a single fighter. Two ships against one. You stand a better chance of doing more damage and knocking that fighter out of the battle. Yes, if both sides are flying the same number of ships there will be about half of your opponent’s ships unengaged. But chances are by the next turn you will have more operational ships, and that advantage will only grow if you stick with this tactic.

Wing pairs are easier to manage once the two sides become entangled. Since most inexperienced or unsophisticated players aren’t careful to try and concentrate their fire in the furball phase, the player who can keep wing pairs intact at this point has an even greater advantage.

When you pair up your ships, try to keep the piloting skills consistent within a pair. Don’t put a pilot skill of 5 with a pilot skill of 9. If the lesser wingman blows a tight turn, the element looses cohesion and effectiveness. At the same time, don’t be afraid to change partners during a fight. Damaged ships can pair up, as can two ships who happen to be in the right place at the right time. Basically, you can reduce this to a rule of thumb: Any ship you target should have at least two ships firing at it.

Good hunting.