I am an Air Sim player who often sees players asking for help in matches, and while I try to give some help whenever I can, some questions get brought up quite often and I felt that there isn’t a good place for players to learn the in’s and out’s of the most mechanically complex mode in the game: Air Sim.
I want this to be a topic that players can post their guides or ask about sim mode in.
I will start off with pings and radio messages
In Sim, we are all pretty much blind to each other’s presence. We don’t know where anyone else is, where they are going, or where the enemies are… and it’s a big map. Therefore, the use of pings and radio messages is essential for making sure that we can all function properly.
Follow Me: This is used in Sim to alert allies of your location and prompt nearby allies to do the same. If you are having trouble IDing another aircraft, use this, and if a nearby ally pings this, open the map to see where they are and answer with this. Follow Me is probably the most used radio message in Sim because it is used for so many things.
Cover me: Use this radio message if someone is taking hostile actions against you. If that someone is an ally, they will see it and back off, and if you or an ally is willing and able to help out, pinging this is an invitation to join in.
Clicking on the Map: Most often, players click on the map to declare the target that they are going after. It is in good taste to wait until you are within a couple of minutes from that location before you claim a target. If someone pings a location and you are very close and intend on hitting it, ping Follow Me and say something in chat (work it out with them). Also, if someone pings a target and dies, or doesn’t hit it within a reasonable amount of time, its free game.
Sometimes, players will use this ping when they die to warn others or as part of something that they are discussing in chat.
Air Alert: There isn’t an etiquette for this tool in Sim quite yet, but from what I have seen, its use case is for players to point out air targets and also give a rough location for them.
Now for the thing that makes Sim so much more difficult than Realistic: Identifying targets
It is very easy to accidentally shoot allies in Sim and most players really want to avoid that. There are a number of ways to do this and those methods vary with the tech level that you are playing with.
AI gunner method: If you are playing a bomber or a heavy fighter with turrets, your AI gunners will attack enemies that are flying fairly close. Also, if you are attacking a bomber, (and it isn’t quite obvious that it flies for the other team) you can figure out whether they are an enemy by seeing if they start shooting at you. Sometimes, if you are a bomber, you can suppress your gunners and get your enemies to fly off by switching to the gunner camera.
Flyby method: This is probably the most dangerous (to you). If you get close enough to an ally, a blue mark comes up. This is typically well within gun range and if the other player knows that you are an enemy with enough time to line up a shot, you will probably die. This is not a method I would suggest unless you really have to, but this is something people will do to you, so don’t shoot at everyone who tries to head-on you.
Silhouette method: This is the most likely to give false positives and accidental friendly fire incidents, so be careful. Basically, this is looking for planes that are shaped like enemy planes. Aircraft like the A-10 and MiG-21 are easy to recognize and are unique to a side, but some others are spread out across both sides, like the F-104 and F-5.
Radar method: If its available to you, radar is the best way to identify targets. Remember that its 2 bars for friendlies and 1 for enemies… and PDV, MTI, and IRST do not have IFF.
Here my text to this topic from the old forum:
Communication is fundamentally important in Sim - more so than in any other game mode - especially to prevent blue-on-blue situations (team kills) because of lack of markers and info available in AB and RB modes.
Air to Air:
Ping the location of an unidentified target on the map by clicking on the location of the unknown contact on the map window, if you want to ask your team if it’s a friendly plane.
Always check the map if you hear a location pinged (see 1), and if the ping was at your position, immediately send “Follow me” using radio commands. This will mark your position on the map and the “pinger” knows it’s a friendly.
If a ping doesn’t result in a response of a friendly (as in 2), do not necessarily assume it’s an enemy! Maybe the friendly just missed it, is occuppied with something else, or doesn’t know how to respond. So probably additional means to get a clear ID of an enemy is neccessary (visual ID, more pings,…)
If equipped with an IFF system, use it! Please note however that some radar modes (e.g. ACM) may not have the same IFF capability as the SRC mode, and thus is still able to lock friendlies as targets even if the aircraft is equipped with IFF. So you may need to switch betwen SRC and ACM modes often to verify target’s identity. Be especially careful with the ACM Mode, as it will automatically lock any target it detects, also friendlies!
Be careful in “merged” situations! If Blues and Reds are close together, it’s easily possible for a radar or a missile to shift lock and track something else - potentially a friendly - instead. So careful firing into “furballs” - or better avoid this and wait until contacts separate clearly again.
If getting engaged, and not knowing if the attacker is an enemy or friend, send “Cover me” as radio command! If it’s a Blue targeting you, he will realize he’s targeting another blue. And if it’s a Red, the “Cover me” call will alert friendlies in the area that you are in a defensive position and may need assistance!
Air to Ground:
- It’s helpful to mark the mission target / base or ground forces you’re planning to attack, so other aircraft in the vicinity don’t go for the same target and know there are friendlies to be expected over those targets.
Best combine this with a quick “Follow me” radio call, so the other players see on the map where you are and where you intend to attack, and thus can better decide what to do about it.
Marking a target doesn’t mean you “own” it, and bombing a base someone else has marked isn’t “kill stealing”: If a player marks a target, but you’re actually closer, you’re not expected to disengage! But as described in 7), best mark the target also yourself, together with a “cover me”, so the player who marked first realises you’re closer and it makes more sense that you attack.
Always be friendly and understanding! Not everybody likes to play the game as you yourself deem best (or is capable or equipped to do so), and there’s nothing wrong about that. You’re entitled to your opinion, but that does not mean this opinion is the right one or generally applicable one. Others may have their differing opinions as well, and those are not necessarily wrong…
Try to help and give tips! We all learn, and we all profit from having understanding teachers among our ranks. This also applies to the Red team - nothing wrong to help them out with gameplay tips as well, as we all benefit from this as a community. It’s a game: Reds are not really the Enemy, they’re just the opponent…
Disclaimer: These points are not necessarily correct, nor are they probably all relevant points! They’re what I observe and try to live by when playing Sim. So please discuss if you see something differenly or would like to add your own ideas and observations about Sim etiquette!