I’m probably one of the few people that actually enjoys playing SPAAs in Ground RB, at least those active on the forums from what I’ve read. Anyway first I wanted to state that I feel that the SPAAs are in a good spot now with regards to how they can cope with air-threats, a bit about that first:
CAS absolutely has the upper hand (this is true to real warfare) but in order for a CAS pilot to dominate in War Thunder, he must actually put effort into his work. Low skill CAS players are food for SACLOS SAMs with IRST, or even IR seeker SAMs. I see SPAAs getting kills many times each match, eliminating the cheeky or lower skilled CAS players with relative ease. Strela, Ozelot, these kinds of things. They are always getting kills. When I play 2S6 or Pantsir I am looking at almost confirmed 2 kills per match, be it drone/heli/jet. These are the “low hanging fruit” kills. I said in another thread that Pantsir “feels OP” (especially vs Attack Drones) but this is balance because if you put little effort into your CAS run, you deserve to be eliminated by little effort from the SPAA player.
Planes, flown well, can win a match. This is important to say because a well-flown fast mover at top tier can walk circles around any reasonably well operated SPAA/SAM with ease. The important thing to note here is that the CAS player is putting a LOT of effort into flying as good as he is, and he deserves some kills for that. I respect that. I don’t like playing planes but I respect that. I was in a match today with 2S6 and I camped in my spot till the end of the match, our team got completely steamrolled and 2 jets where up doing some low passes under my radar. I knew they were sneaking about, one did a recon pass with Afterburner at about 100M over the treetop to sniff me out. He flew well, behind me, came up over the tree at last moment and readied his attack run but I killed him with the 30MMs because. Two of these jets did the same thing, but I killed them both and survived the mission.
What am I trying to say?
playing SPAA is 70% situational/environmental awareness and 30% being able to accurately lead your SACLOS missile. With IR seekers, it’s 90% awareness.
I am seeing SPAA players sitting in the spawn and getting deleted by tanks / planes who immediately know where they are because they’er ALWAYS in the spawn. I can have a game where I’ll get 5+ air kills because I’m camping like an absolutely terrible person on the edge of the map using the terrain to position my search radar so I have the best coverage while using my PTSD of being sniped by tanks to choose my spot just right. Choosing your spot is a HUGE component in SPAA work.
If a jet sees my launch (with the new alert system good CAS players always know what to do) he will do a manuver to try and lose my missile, and if he succeeds - he did well. I disengage him and seek cover. I do not sit in the spawn like a huge bus with a rotating target on the roof.
Choosing WHEN to engage and when NOT to engage is a huge component. Success probability analysis when IDing your target - if you feel he’s a good pilot and the terrain doesn’t work in your favour (cover, etc) then you do not engage. if you get killed by this player and he managed to avoid your SAM he deserves the kill because that is skilful flying.
Another HUGE aspect of Air Defence that the game unfortunately doesn’t reward is Denial. with your search radar on, or choosing to paint the jet with your tracker so he KNOWS you’re tracking him, make him panic, and maybe he wont commit to his attack pass. CAS players that survive at top tier with SAM spam know what they’re doing - and they can’t strafe while avoiding a SAM/search radar.
I consider it a WIN when I have made the CAS aircraft DROP his target and go evasive. Because I have potentially saved teammates from instant-death and made this CAS guy work for his gameplay. Unfortunately the game absolutely doesn’t reward this because it would be impossible to reward effectively without abuse, but it is what it is. I know when I made the difference to my team when I prevented that attacker from committing, or made that heli drop below the hill/treeline. he can’t shoot my team while he’s staying alive from my SAM. That is good work, too.
I don’t enjoy aircraft. Not really. I find it less interesting than ground vehicles. do I want a ground only mode? not really because the airborne threat vector is something I like about it. Is it perfect right now? absolutely not.
I feel the solution to this “CAS vs TO mode” argument isn’t removing CAS from Ground Battles, but that Gaijin gives the BR ratings, loadouts and SPAWN COSTS of aircraft a bit of an overhaul. I’d like to see aircraft costs for clean planes (no suspended weapons) or planes with A2A only, come down, while guided / high yield bombs go up. This encourages more CAP (yes, people like to bring this up) gameplay and this is fun for me. I enjoyed watching our team’s Su-27 chase the F-16 while I took care of the guy on his tail. It’s team work lol
I would like to see large diameter bombs (2000-3000LBS+) removed from ground realistic Battles and instead place more emphasis on precision weapons that require a bit more effort to use to get the big kills. I would also like to see the drop bomb pip removed from THIRD PERSON in REALISTIC BATTLES because this is highly cheese gameplay when your F-4 has basically a small nuclear arsenal worth of bombs with his pip from third person having unlimited situational awareness (he’s in the sky…). Simulator is nice, I guess, but I prefer realistic battles because the wait times are lower.
Lastly I want to say that CAS has counter right now (read above) in my eyes it’s OK but the problem is the game doesn’t FORCE each time to have an allotted amount of SPAAs up at any time. I spawn SAM from the start of the match, use the tank time to get into a nice position and then I feed on unsuspecting CAS players. If I die, he put effort into finding me and that’s fine. He outplayed me. I get 2+ kills almost always when playing 2S6/Pantsir. Drones/Helis especially.
There is no real solution here. Maybe somethign that means players have to have “classes” filled before a fight can occur? like, 2 SPAAs minimum on each team? This is not really workable because of waiting times. So the team that has no SPAA is CAS food. While the team that spawns an angry Pantsir from the start makes the other team’s CAS, SAM food. Extreme to extreme. No middle ground.
I love this game, I really do. I have so many positive things to say about it. I can’t stop playing it. :D. But I feel there needs to be some Ground SPECIFIC balance for aircraft. BRs / Loadout costs need to be adjusted to change the gameplay a bit. Some weapons need to be removed. I’m looking at you, S-250 rockets of which the Su-25k can carry 8 of them, and aiming is absolutely optional.
As a ground only player (mostly). I think CAS enjoyers can meet me in the middle and compromise, no? Some tuning to the costs of spawning certain loadouts and removal of some meta-joke weapons (S-250, 2000LBS+ bombs).
Thanks for reading. My fingers are now sore from typing this. Goodnight!
Snail always wins