Phantom Leader Naval Strategy

Posted: June 2, 2014 in Gaming, Vietnam War

Phantom Leader is a great game of resource management, character development, historical education and tense, action-packed combat. Most new players will tend to utilise the USAF when having their first few games, thanks to the more easily recognisable planes, such as the Thunderchief, Intruder and Super-Sabre. I think this a good thing, as in my experience the USN campaigns prove to be significantly harder that those featuring the USAF. This is due to several reasons, which I’ll come on to in a moment.

PL cards (front)_PL cards.qxd.qxd

The first piece of strategic advice? Play the USAF campaigns first so that you have some idea of how the game works, what weapons are best for what purpose, and what sort of events you can expect. You will be in a world of hurt if you go for USN first.

So, here are my key tips and strategies for effectively using the USN in Phantom Leader.

Sink your SO Points into the Tanker

The USN gets a lot more leeway with its special weapons than the USAF seems to, especially in later campaigns such as Rolling Thunder and Linebacker. Also their F4s are equipped to carry AIM-9 Sidewinders without any special modifications, which stretches those “pennies” a little further. To counterbalance this, it seems that the USN often has further to travel, as a lot of flight paths can see you spending 2 Weight Points towards extra fuel. Long story short? If you have to give even one weight point over to fuel allowance, and you’re expecting the mission to be anything other than a complete cakewalk, fork out for the tanker. You’ll be glad of it when you’re able to use that weight allowance for some ECMs or Falcons instead.

Sheet Campaing USN Linebacker - Copy

Assign Specialised Roles, and STICK TO THEM

The USAF plans are pretty good at diversifying if necessary. Fighters can do a bit of bombing if you need them to, your interceptors can probably knock out a ground target if you want them to; but this kind of diversity is considerably harder to come by in the USN campaigns. In the USN, you have interceptors, and you have bombers; and there’s very little leeway when trying to make one plane cover for the responsibility of another.

With the USAF you can fly a squadron of Jack-Of-All-Trades and achieve some pretty good results. With the USN, you want to have your Bomber, and you want to have some fighter support for it. Don’t expect the fighter to be able to drop any bombs and don’t expect your bomber to be much use if a gang of MiGs turn up on the horizon. Set your roles and STICK to them.

And, on that note:

c Bandit MiG21

Avoid Dogfights

With a few notable exceptions, the USN pilots are not as good at Air-To-Air combat as their USAF compatriots. Where possible, loads of up some half-decent pilots with Falcons and knock out the MiGs at range. If you don’t, you’ll probably have them harrying you all the way back home again.

Don’t Take the ECM Planes

Those horrible bulbous planes the Navy has? Don’t bother with them. They’ll fill up useless space on your roster, and are nowhere near as useful as the USAF Destroyer. The bonus of making someone a “Fast” pilot is nice, but way too hard to trigger. All they’ll do is float around and attract fire.  Sure they don’t cost to add to a mission, but you need to bear in mind they are a drain on your roster space, and cost you SO points when they need the tanker.  Take another Phantom or Skyhawk instead.

Words: Brad Harmer.  Pictures courtesy of DVG.

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