Analysing the Falcon Gunship

Falcon Gunships

Falcon Gunships – Awesome Looking Models!

The poor falcon gunship.

It was one of the first models I bought after getting the starter set for my UCM force. The A-10 “warthog” is still an extremely popular airplane, and the ability to field two miniguns of that size on an orbit-capable light dropship is amazing! So how good is it? Well, to be honest, it’s not amazing.

It’s first issue, is that’ it’s a support option. While that means you can “add” them to just about any battlegroup, it also means it competes against the Ferrum, the Rapier, and the Longbow.

And for it’s points cost, I would argue it’s outcompeted by all three. Now I love the work Dave has done with the DZC rules, and I agree with his aims, but I disagree in this case with the implementation of the “crunch” of this unit.

The falcon gives you amazing alpha-strike. Aside from the scimitar and the laser pointer (and the doom fridge) it’s a great way to get an impressive alpha strike. It’s also airborne (can move 24″ to redeploy, or 12″ and fire) and a reach of 24″ is nothing to sneeze at in DZC! The falcon has at it’s disposal a single E 11 strike, with 3+ acc, range is inf/12″. That is some tasty alpha-strike.

The downsides are obvious – you have to move your flyer squad to within 12″ of your vehicular target in order to unload your vengeance. When you do bring the rain (of lead), it’s a single shot at 3+. Now, 3+ is a decent accuracy, but at the same time this makes it pretty risky. You need a 5+ to hit skimmers, and spammable ground based AA in the game are skimmers. At 5+ to hit, and 50 points a pop, you need to weather the reaction fire with a lot of points of falcons to wipe out the opposition.

Now Dave has said in many cases that AA in DZC needs to annihilate air targets. And I agree utterly. Falcons that are subject to AA fire, should explode in fireballs! However, at the same time, a high ROF ground targeting gunship designed to strafe tanks that gets in close to the enemy before they can react (or weathers the storm, see my longbow article) should tear chunks out of lightly armoured anti-air units.

Here’s some analysis of the falcon’s capability vs other support options –

4 Falcons – Cost 192pts

4 Longbows + Ravens – Cost 180pts

1 Ferrum – Cost 160pts

3 Rapiers + Condor – Cost 166pts

I personally consider taking down buildings, to be a “strong point” of the Falcon.

Falcon against building
result percentage
0 0.921%
1 2.449%
2 7.703%
3 16.521%
4 21.858%
5 21.631%
6 17.278%
7 8.177%
8 3.463%

Rapiers against building
result percentage
0 0.738%
1 3.157%
2 8.335%
3 13.603%
4 17.357%
5 18.217%
6 15.33%
7 10.841%
8 6.78%
9 3.275%
10 1.543%
11 0.597%
12 0.169%
13 0.038%
14 0.019%

Raven Missiles against building
result percentage
0 4.859%
1 9.832%
2 18.879%
3 22.224%
4 21.259%
5 13.059%
6 7.228%
7 2.255%
8 0.406%

Longbows against building
result percentage
0 4.649%
2 10.083%
4 19.814%
6 22.354%
8 22.091%
10 13.269%
12 5.862%
14 1.267%
16 0.612%

But that’s not all, these have to be added together!

Longbows + Raven Missiles!
result percentage
0 0.137%
1 0.434%
2 1.044%
3 1.867%
4 3.193%
5 4.627%
6 6.549%
7 7.948%
8 9.669%
9 10.018%
10 10.681%
11 9.562%
12 9.06%
13 7.08%
14 6.02%
15 4.185%
16 3.244%
17 2.005%
18 1.379%
19 0.703%
20 0.388%
21 0.14%
22 0.053%
23 0.011%
24 0.002%

So, unsurprisingly, missile pods + longbows are a better, cheaper option to demolish a building!

Falcon Damage Points vs A8 skimmer
result percentage
0 28.663%
1 17.008%
2 28.788%
3 11.603%
4 9.639%
5 2.461%
6 1.463%
7 0.264%
8 0.11%
Longbow + Raven Missiles Damage Points vs A8 skimmer
result percentage
0 12.496%
1 18.752%
2 24.21%
3 19.87%
4 13.4%
5 7.002%
6 3.026%
7 0.964%
8 0.235%
9 0.042%
10 0.005%
11 0.0%
12 0.0%
Rapier Damage Points vs A8 skimmer
result percentage
0 34.824%
1 39.55%
2 18.496%
3 5.98%
4 1.05%
5 0.098%
6 0.002%

Once again, damage from the longbow is higher, and the falcon if anything is biased by the fact it’s getting more “double” hits, and most AA targets only have one damage point!

The rapier is obviously functioning suboptimally (much better results for A7 skimmers, BTW, where it performs alright), but as it’s not a flyer and is A10 it’s unlikely to be troubled by AA units.

The result is that the only scenario where the falcon will pay off, is against non-skimming enemy heavies that don’t have anti-aircraft cover. Unfortunately the PHR and UCM have the longer reach on their AA than the falcon’s range, meaning it WILL take fire to get into range. Using smoke on enemy AA weapons means you might survive (or they will choose not to fire) to get into position to shoot another unit, but even then the damage is lacklustre compared to the cost of having enough longbows (in position no less) to ensure two hits on enemy AA units!

Now, even assuming there’s no AA. There’s no skimmers. You are using falcons in their element – alpha strike on defenseless A10 single damage point, and A9 multi damage point units – what is the result going to be?

Unfortunately the following:

Falcons vs A10 single hit units
result percentage
0 20.322%
1 39.143%
2 29.433%
3 9.963%
4 1.139%
Falcons vs A9 multi hit units
result percentage
0 9.149%
1 15.968%
2 24.056%
3 20.22%
4 17.073%
5 8.348%
6 3.837%
7 1.007%
8 0.342%

Yep, a 20% and 10% chance that your falcon will do no damage! For a 192pt unit, that’s not great! There’s twice the chance of them doing no damage, than there is them the chance of killing 3 or more units worth of damage. Now imagine you have that opportunity with the doom fridge’s 8 drones, or the cheaper(!) four longbows + ravens.

Actually, why imagine it. Let’s run the numbers on the longbows + ravens!

Longbow + Raven Missiles Damage Points vs A10 single damage point
result percentage
0 16.949%
1 34.532%
2 29.913%
3 13.857%
4 3.955%
5 0.713%
6 0.076%
7 0.004%

Significantly better (assuming you have LOS from a scout). And this isn’t by any means the longbow’s most productive use!

So, I’ve just trashed an awesome unit and amazing models’ in game capabilities. This is why you don’t see them fielded often (hell, I’m going to just for the cool model, but in my heart of hearts I’ll resent it for every game it “under” performs for it’s points value).

Now with an E11 inaccurate weapon, pricing is HARD! It’s very much a steep curve of effectiveness, where at a certain cost the risk quickly becomes worthwhile. And to be honest, having something cheap but with low probability for pay-off is frustrating for both players. The owning player has to deal with all the times they spring their traps, and nothing happens, and their opponents have to deal with all the times they get the crazy rolling required to actually deal damage.

There are many three broad solutions I see for this unit:

1. Improve accuracy to 2+ at least, which will help it hit pesky skimmers, and improve it’s odds of hitting all ground targets. Potentially give it missile pods as an “option” as well (better to make it standard, but the model is already made). However it still probably needs a further point reduction.

2. Improve it’s anti-skimmer capability. Consider giving it limited “AA” capability, or just a special rule that negates the skimmer’s difficulty to hit. TBH, the gun doesn’t look like it “couldn’t” be used against other loitering flyers. Perhaps AA with no reaction fire? If so, E11 isn’t appropriate. Given this weapon is kin to the AA gun on the rapier, the ‘simplest’ option is to give it both fire modes with x2 shots (still no reaction fire) and give it focus 1 on the high powered shot to represent “calibrating” the rounds converging on the target. It’s hard to model “focused” shots (I will in the future!) but this should allow it to act as an anti-dropship/anti-armour role with varying effectiveness depending on the target. And TBH, I think that would be a good role. This will necessitate a point increase or dropping accuracy to 4+.

3. Improve reliability/anti-skimmer. The fact is, against two of four races, it’s almost ludicrous to pick the Falcon, even if it was good under ideal conditions. It’s simply not effective against skimmers. E11 to my mind, is a mighty high bar to set for the gatling guns. I’d suggest that giving it a special rule “strafing fire”, which negates skimmer’s accuracy penalty (watch footage of these guns on “spooky” planes in practise, an agile light vehicle, even one hovering, is still going to get hit sooner rather than later by a steam of lead that can be actively guided by the tracer rounds), and bump it up to 3 shots at E 10, or 3 shots at 2+ accuracy and E9 perhaps.

Option 1 will improve it’s numbers marginally, but means balancing the unit on a knife’s edge to prevent spammability.

Option 2 will re-factor the falcon to a tank and dropship/gunship hunter, also capable of hosing infantry. I quite like this idea.

Option 3 is “safer”, in that it removes it’s ability to hunt dropships and gunships.

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One thought on “Analysing the Falcon Gunship

  1. Pingback: Suggestions for DZC v1.2 | Dropzone Commander AU

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