The root of Air RB's problems and a suggestion on how to address it

Air RB has been neglected for many years in a mechanical sense. New planes have been added with interesting capabilities, but the maps and objectives have been largely unchanged for eons.

There are two main “camps” in the Air RB playerbase: fighter mains and objective-oriented folk. Neither of these camps is bad, though both can and do harbor some awfully selfish people, as all games do.

For many years, whenever attackers and bombers were somewhat useful, the way the objectives were set up meant it came at the expense of the fighters’ ability to have their fun. In response to (somewhat justified) complaining, nonfighter capability to decide games was reduced. But in usual snail fashion they balanced with a sledgehammer instead of a chisel, resulting in most attackers and bombers being near-worthless in Air RB today unless the fighters are careless enough to let them be effective.

It does not need to be this way. Helping one side does not need to mean harming the others.

What I have seen for a long time as the root of the problem, even more basal than things like maps, ground unit locations, airfield locations, midmap/airbase/minibase AAA, airspawn locations, airspawn heights, and match timers is the objective setup itself.

The fighters finishing their job triggers “no active players left on enemy team” which bleeds all tickets to zero and auto-ends the round. It will do so regardless of attacker and bomber contributions to the round, effectively rendering them “deadweight clogging up fighter slots on the team” unless they happened to kill particularly careless enemy fighter pilots in headons or with gunners.

Likewise, when all ground units are destroyed, the match ends since the ticket value of all ground units is the entire team’s ticket bar, depriving fighters of some utility.

And finally, on the few maps where this option is still even available anymore, “airbase destroyed” also bleeds all tickets to zero regardless of the ground or air situations, making fighters and CAS irrelevant that round.

I firmly believe the real problem is the ability of each objective to end rounds all by itself. Any attempts to make nonfighters useful invariably take from the fighters, leading to the two camps snarling at each other and little real progress getting done.

So, why not start with upending that, so that now there is room to improve bomber, attacker, and multirole fighter quality of life in the game’s oldest mode without being forced to stomp on fighter mains’ toes? Here’s a loose idea how I’d go about it:

  1. Turn off all autowin bleeds.
  2. Double the ticket count so that killing all ground units bleeds at most 50% of the bar.
  3. Turn off bomb point respawning, add more simultaneous active bases, and have their total ticket value be 50% of the bar.
  4. Have the total value of all player and AI attacker aircraft be worth 50% of the ticket bar.

Now, this will create occasional situations where a team has been wiped out but still wins the day because they created an irrecoverable ticket advantage before dying. And some fighter mains will have a problem with that - calling it “skill-less” and “autowin AI” and “how dare some bot farmer or spacebar warrior matters more to match outcome than muh PvP and skill!”

The only response I can say to such people: “It’s not all about you, buddy.”

Bombers and attackers are the missing flavor the mode has seen be slowly bled away for years now. Altering the ticket structure will NOT be a cure-all, but rather an enabler for real change. Now that CAS matters to every game outcome without making bombers and fighters worthless, it would become worth the devs’ time to add more interesting objectives for CAS to perform on Air maps, such as blowing up radar stations for example.

I am a player who enjoys all kinds of planes, tanks, and ships. I want to see as many of them be useful and practical as possible. Reforming Air RB will take some of the pressure off of Combined Ground, Combined Naval, and Simulator EC, by helping stem the flood of displaced CAS to the first two and displaced bombers to the latter.

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Imho your overall post hits some valid points - but imho you mix here some things up.

  1. Iirc the introduction of the F-4 Phantom in March 2020 (with insane payload) was the beginning of the end - just 2 months later in May 2020 (Starfighter update) respawning bases were introduced - making classic base bombing useless as the win condition “Enemy airfield destroyed” vanished.

  2. In addition gaijin realized that the low skill floor to kill bases (getting to and killing the airfield was the real challenge) is attractive for non-pilots to gain SL and RP whilst playing Air RB. So they gave rookies a reason to flood Air RB as they could gain profits - even if shot down immediately after their base kill.

  3. So now across all BRs we see untrained pilots doing useless (regarding the match result) base bombing - and dedicated (fighter) pilots farm these players. The match result (at least for props) depends highly on how many PvE players are allocated to which team - in combination with the 16 vs 16 chaos match results became more and more a random event.

So in order to give bombers and strike fighters a reason to be used - nothing will change as long bases are respawning and the win condition “airfield destroyed” is not reinstated.

But imagine the efforts of gaijin and the blowback of PvE players if they would do this: It would require that base and af health had to be balanced very carefully in order to avoid 2 - 4 minute matches (like in the past) and it would limit the bombing opportunities (to gain SL/RP) for a hell of players - if i watch replays of BR 10.3 and higher almost entire lobbies carries bombs / rockets and kill each other on their way to bases…

So seeing your proposal as a whole: a pure fighter player will reject it due the missing TDM mode and the guy happy to bomb bases will reject it due to the missing base respawn.

Long-term players (able and willing to play PvP and PvE) will appreciate it, but imho they are in the minority. Before i forget it: As soon as multiple runs are necessary to kill the enemy airfield - this won’t work as long as jets can be farmed on their runway due to ineffective/useless af aaa at higher tiers…

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The whole bombing thing is so stupid, removing respawns and just creating another frustrating element to the game and making grinding that much harder.

I dont know if you have been away for a while because ive never seen you in this forum before, i think much has changed. Even AI kill and bleed tickets if left alone

Oh I am aware of the “gremlin script” where AI kill each other.

What I am referring to is how the objectives override each other, and how they do not encourage teamwork as a result.

The issue I see is not that PvE can’t win games, nor that PvP isn’t winning games, it’s that the two cannot properly stack together to win a game and thus encourage fighter and nonfighter players to work together.

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You hit the nail on the head regarding how the two “camps” for PvP and PvE are mutually opposed and will never get along.

Part of why I think they don’t get along is because the objectives are “one or the other” where only one gets the “glory” of winning the round. Since fighter mains tend to outnumber nonfighter mains, largest amount of screaming wins, hence you have a fighter playground like now.

The mode is rotten to its very foundation. That’s why I suggest making no objective able to any longer end rounds on its own, thereby forcing the two camps to work together. After all, they work together in any real battle that isn’t a strict air domination sense (like Battle of Britain).

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Why should they work together, many CAS only use ARB to spade and are not intrested in objectives

Because since in real operations each played their part towards the common goal of winning the engagement. Fighters securing the airspace didn’t suddenly render the attackers’ or bombers’ job irrelevant, it enabled them to do their jobs. Currently ingame, attackers mopping up the ground units fast means fighters don’t get to do much, and fighters clearing the air means anything attackers or bombers did was meaningless.

Hence I see the constant infighting between fighter main and nonfighter main camps as awfully petty, mutually self-destructive, and harmful to the future of the game overall.

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This is what we need in GRB more fighters

  • Yes - from a player perspective if he expects more than point and click.
  • No - from gaijin’s perspective as they satisfy the overwhelming masses which are used to play CoD etc. are exactly looking for this kind of game play.

Seeing the development of Air RB in the last 3-5 years, the mode became Air RB+, basically all changes made skill less important, the MM and BR setting policy is “engagement optimized” and suited to satisfy the average player, but not long term players.

And the numbers of players increased constantly.

A few years ago you were happy if you got 1 or 2 kills whilst flying German 109s (as US teams get totally outclimbed) and if you were able to kill one or 2 out of the hordes of J2M2 and Ki-84s at your six whilst flying a P-51 for the US - and getting chased for 1 hour like on Wake Island.

Today - all go low and enjoy headon orgies…

Yes and no. Imho it is more a fight for grind for most players.

  • As long as PvE players play Air RB just for the sake of grind (so without enjoying the here and now) as they are on a journey to somewhere else, nothing will change.

  • So the low skill floor to get SL/RP with base bombing is luring a hell of players into battles which serve just the purpose of being prey for PvP players…

  • And the PvP players see wt as it is: A plain shooter. So there is nothing wrong with being " kill driven".

From my perspective “real” team play is very rare - at the end of the day wt is a contest of kills / being on top of the scoreboard, so you compete with enemies in blue, at least from a holistic pov. So most people see team play not as a desired goal. Maybe as a tool to get more kills/points, you see this just by the ever increasing number of kill steals or team kills…

You’re missing my point.

The objectives in and of themselves are not the root of the problem.

It’s the fact that just a single one of the three is enough to auto-end the round that is.

Most of the time, fighters clean up the enemy team and tickets auto-bleed to zero. Any non-fighters simply do what they can manage, but the reality is that your team’s fighters won in spite of you using a non-fighter, since any input on your objective is rendered near-irrelevant by activation of the fighter TDM auto-end ticket bleed.

Right now there is no reason from a dev perspective to give nonfighters anything more interesting to do, because the fighter TDM autowin bleed will override it most matches anyway (unless someone hides on their runway or in orbit).

I do remember back in the day on one of the old Essen maps repeatedly ending the match within a couple of minutes in a prop bomber because I would just flank and bomb the airfield. I did this until the fighter mains figured out what I had been doing and started intercepting me. That night I made my Me-264 the most important aircraft in the match.

Killing ground units doesn’t net any meaningful rewards and leave you open to fighters. Noone wants to ground pound in Air RB because it isn’t worth your time. That is beside the fact that there is no interesting gameplay because most of the targets are static positions, they are highlighted on the map and in view, and the convoys barely fire back with AA fire. No danger, no invigorating gameplay. Taking 6 Mavericks in an F-16C just means you wasted 2 pylons because 6 Mavericks won’t net you the same rewards as an air to air kill, let alone 2. Ground RB is where people go to bomb because it is much more interesting searching for targets and being rewarded for destroying them. Along with the actual damage models being present, it is much more interesting gameplay as well because you can use stealth, which is not really an option in Air RB with the markers.

Destroying bases slow you down and leaves you vulnerable to fighters, but gives absolutely massive rewards for the little effort isually put into it. This has caused 11.3 to become a shitshow with F-4S players that have a PD radar that shows them chaff doesn’t effect those radar styles chaffing in order to avoid radar missiles from MTI and PD systems. All the while actual strikers can’t even make it to bases, and as we discussed above ground striking isn’t worth the effort put into it. In low tier, ground strikers get an airspawn much closer to objectives and are faster than bombers so they get there first most of the time and destroy the usefulness of bombers in the only mode they actually do anything useful for rewards. The only level bombers people in ground rb give two shits about is the Pe-8 and Lancasters with the large bombs.

Going air to air requires knowledge of weapons/airframes to be successful. PVP is the basis of the mode now, not much to say there.

I mean, the incentive for them to change it really isn’t present with Ground RB. Most people do ground strike there. If you got rid of the “no hostile players left on the enemy team” ticket bleed it would just prolong the games for no real reason.

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Right now with how uninspired the objectives are, yes there is “no reason” to remove the “no active players left on enemy team” auto-end ticket bleed.

But, crucially on damn near every map these days, every ground unit counts towards the ticket levels, which used to not be the case where only hard things like (Light) Pillboxes & Tanks did.

As long as each objective is so much as able to end games wholly on its own, there is no incentive for the devs to make CAS & Bombing objectives more interesting, more skillful, more varied by map, or add new objectives to either of those categories.

The fighter TDM bleed is crowding out the other two for the most part unless someone runs or hides excessively. The current mode doesn’t even have the framework needed to evolve into something better because the three objectives which should work together currently compete against one another. There is no room to begin adding improvements currently of any real value.

I don’t want to interfere with fighter mains’ fun - I fly fighters plenty myself, too. I just want to see them doing their jobs not automatically prevent everyone else from doing theirs. And vice versa for those flying attackers and bombers.

For instance, say a standard game has 7200 tickets.

  • 72 ground units worth 50 tickets each (3600 total)

  • 16 player aircraft + 9 AI attacker aircraft, 144 tickets each (3600 total)

  • 10 bombing targets, 360 tickets each (3600 total)

To prevent games being “left hanging,” the additional objective of extra vehicles appearing 20min into a match would be kept and reinstated on all maps, worth 2400 tickets total. It’d be called “sever enemy supply lines” or something.

As I said already, the above is merely a framework for further improvement. The current somewhat boring CAS and Bombing objectives can be gradually replaced with ones requiring more skill input now that reason to invest dev effort into such things actually exists.

Fighter mains must recognize they’re (probably unintentionally) strangling the mode to death and back off enough to let it grow into something better.

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Imho i was just not clear enough. If you see my two previous posts together, this was my core message:

  1. Air RB is flooded with new players - unable or unwilling to invest time in learning how the game works. The current SL/RP gains for killing bases allows players to research whole tech trees without having any clue about aerial warfare, tactics and strategy.

  2. WT is nothing more than a plain shooter with a massive grind challenge. As in all shooters, mainly kills are decisive. Game objectives are there to enforce engagements and to give some people the illusion that they can influence the outcome of a PvP (=shooter) game with PvE actions.

  3. The only cases in which PvE is able to decide matches right now, are prop BRs below 5.0 (outside Ju 288 black hole) - and this only on certain maps like Tunisia when attacker can win the game in 4 minutes, or if the PvP players were unable to made the “right” decisions (attacking the wrong targets) or if they got outplayed by a more experienced player.

  4. The other exception is when the enemy team is clueless, allowing an experienced player to win by tickets after 25 minutes - even 1 vs 8. But this requires the right balance between PvP and PvE - and an extensive know how of the strengths and weaknesses of all aircraft in the BR range - and the “right” plane choices and playing outside jet BRs.

An example:

In this replay you see me flying a B7A2 - playing 1 vs 9 after 8 minutes on Poland. I killed one cocky Yak, finished a base and played easy prey for them by flying in their plain view - dragging them so high that they had no engine power to catch me. It was pure luck that i crossed long before the flight path of their only bomber, i shot him to pieces before he could drop (ofc he was stolen, flat spinning and burning) , so my ticket win was based on the fact, that my team killed all 3 bases and their time none.

  1. As a summary:
    The objectives - together with the average player skill - are the reason for the current mess. Objectives are way too easy (like bombing respawning bases) and give way too much rewards for the imho limited skill necessary. And ofc the players are grind driven and look for the easiest way.

I fully support your idea of a rework of win objectives to have the 3 ways:

  1. TDM
  2. Ticket win either by killing all tickets or by time
  3. Airfield kill

…to win a match. But imho you project your higher experience level as baseline for all - and this is way too optimistic. You might want to check this post and see that gaijin itself creates boredom with unbalanced map design and also the ai ticket bleed was often discussed in this forum.

All in all gaijin should rethink their reward structure for killing targets. I understand that point and click on stationary ground targets should not give the same rewards than an A2A player kill, but the current reward structure has created lobbies full with fighters attacking bases…

Have a good one!

Would the simplest solution to all of this just be to copy Sim EC into RB?

I mean Air RB at the upper tiers is in such a bad state atm and Gaijin seems unwilling to invest ANY time in game mode development so maybe just copy Sim EC to Air RB and throw it in the events tab.

I dont wanna let the perfect be the enemy of the good here.

Yea there’s better solutions but Gaijin doesn’t seem to be willing to explore any of those solutions.

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The objectives cannot become more complex and varied if there is no framework to build them upon. With how >95% of games being won by enemy team obliteration, there is currently no dev incentive to overhaul the PvE objectives.

I’m not talking about RP/SL value, but ticket value for game-winning purposes. As long as TDM alone is able to auto-end things without input from the other two, there is literally no room to expand the PvE objectives which are the mode’s missing flavor. At least not without bringing back far more of the “bomber/attacker zergrush” nonsense that was and occasionally still is just as awful as TDM auto-ending things in my book.

If this game was meant to be just a PvP slugfest and nothing else, we wouldn’t have player-controlled ground attackers or bombers at all, except the small handful which can play like fighters.

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Tbh - one positive aspect of the current situation is: You know what you get when entering Air RB. And frankly spoken - you saw the disaster when they put Rocky Canyon into prop BRs.

I even fought with my IT P-47 on an EC map (Spain) - 15 minutes flying to potential dots, found 2 264s plus 190 D-12 escort, 7 minutes to equalize his alt/energy advantage, 3 minutes dogfight (from 9k to tree top), got the kill and game ended seconds later…dentist visits make more fun.

As long as there are full lobbies 24/7 nothing will change.
The game is full of flaws and they sell high tier jets like sliced bread.

Again, low player experience, stupid map design/ game mechanics and wrong incentives for low skill tasks like base bombing brought the game play here…

Outright replacing RB Air with RB EC and no enemy markers like in the other two modes? Count me in.

The objective structure of the current mode is the root of the problem. Maps, markers, midmap AAA, position of AI ground units, position of bombing targets, and lack of diversity in PvE objectives are all separate challenges that would need to be solved after reforming the root of the mess.

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And so long as each of the three objectives is capable of ending the game by itself, with PvP TDM having a far easier time of achieving victory than the other two in nearly every case at every BR, it is not possible to change things like stupid map design.

I am not against PvP TDM - I like my fighters. But I also like my nonfighters - and right now either my nonfighters are fighter bait or they are totally irrelevant to match outcome. And the rare cases where they are relevant, they are forced to take away from fighter players’ fun. That is wrong.