I want to start this thread for discussion of the campaign system in Falcon 4. I am playing BMS version 4.33.3, but most will apply to all versions of F4. There are differences however, so be aware that not everything will apply if you are flying another version.
For me, the campaign system in this sim is the best one in any sim, ever made, ever. I won't go in to all the reasons why I feel this way in this first post, but you can be sure I will have mentioned it all, again and again, through the course of it. And because of it's awesomeness, it is great to discuss, and to share tactics and strategies. There are many ways to accomplish any goal in the F4 campaign. So feel free to add your thoughts and strategies. When I make threads like these, I continually refine, chop and change. So reading through posts you already have again later might reveal additional or corrected info.
I'd like to touch on theaters, campaigns, mission and package creation and management, victory objectives, running the ground war and more.Campaigns
When you first fire up Falcon 4 and click campaigns, you are presented with three choices. Let's have a look.
The campaigns are, from top to bottom, Tiger Spirit, Rolling Fire and Iron Fortress.
Tiger Spirit (TS) is the easiest one from the Blue perspective. You start fairly close to your objectives, are not completely outnumbered and there is no threat of Russia entering the war on the behalf of your adversary. I recommend this one as a first F4 campaign.
Edit 11/8/17 Having played all of the included campaigns several times, I believe the KTO Iron Fortress campaign is the easiest one and would make the best starter campaign. The ground objective is simply to capture Seoul, and aircraft force ratios are the most manageable.
Rolling Fire (RF) is much larger in scope. Blue has more ground to capture, Red has a much larger force advantage and Russia will enter the war in a few days.
Iron Fortress (IF) is a classic backs-against-the-wall scenario. Blue has been driven back to the Pusan Perimeter and must hold at all costs, and hopefully push back. Note: In BMS IF has been drastically altered in starting state. I have some thoughts on this I'll get to later.
Depending on which version of F4 you fly, and what you have downloaded, more campaigns and theaters will be available. There are many, and feel free to discuss those here. For the purposes of this thread for the time being I will focus on the classic 'standard' Korea campaigns that we've been flying in one form or another for close to twenty years. Getting Started. Configuring Your Campaign
The first thing you should do is decide on your realism and challenge ratings. Realism is set outside of the campaign section. In F4, each sortie you fly in the campaign is graded. Points are awarded based on various factors. These points are used to determine promotions, medals and the resulting aggregate rating affects the performance of your side as a whole in the campaign. So that means the performance of your side's AI is directly linked to your performance in the missions you fly. So it's important to do well if you want to win your campaigns! More on this later.
Challenge rating is set in the same screen in which you choose which campaign you will fly. In the screenshot above you can see I have it set to Veteran. Challenge rating mostly affects force ratios of the two sides. The higher the challenge rating, the more planes each squadron on the enemy side will have, and the fewer yours will have. The same applies to the ground units. I t also affects the skills level of enemy units and aircraft.
Correction: In Falcon BMS 4.33 Challenge Rating does not affect force ratios in the same way. Higher ratings do not result in smaller Blue squadrons.
Edit 10/29/17 For information on how to revert to the traditional effects of challenge rating see this post
Challenge rating is also used as a modifier in the points you score. So combined, the higher your realism and challenge ratings, the more points you will score, the faster you will be promoted, the more medals you will be awarded.
Personally, I feel that F4 is a sim that should be played on 100% realism, but there's no rule, so play it the way you're comfortable. Just be aware that promotions will come slowly at reduced settings.Configuring your Campaign, Clock Paused at Start
Once you've chosen which campaign you will fly, decide on which airbase and squadron you will fly for, then click Commit. You will be taken to the Priorities screen with the clock paused. There are three things to concern yourself with, Target Types, Mission Types and PAKS. Taking some time here to make changes will go along way toward setting the early tone and getting your campaign off to a good start. In any F4 campaign, the first few hours are crucial.
For me, what I want to accomplish early on is this: attrit Red Air, Red air defenses and Red Ground. In the early stages of the campaign you have to decide the best use of your limited assets. Do you want to use your airframes to take out patrol boats and textile mills on the first morning?
Using the sliders in this section we can give targeting guidance for the Air Tasking Order, henceforth known as ATO. The ATO is the list of all fragged missions on your side in the theater. In most cases you will let the computer handle this. But you can get as involved as you want to be, even up to fragging every mission manually. But no one does that. The ATO tends to do a decent job, but I find it is much better to create additional missions myself to fill in gaps I see, to ensure certain targets are hit and generally to give the ATO a helping hand and tailor the mission set to my liking.Mission Types
The Mission Types sliders tell the ATO what types of missions you want it to frag. Shown above are typical opening settings for me. I don't want the ATO wasting airframes hitting ports and factories. There will be time for that later. OCA is rather broad, and includes airbases, CCC sites, radar facilities and more. You can seee I have that slider set to on just a little. I'm OK with some airfield strikes, but in general I don't favor an airfield denial strategy for reasons I'll get in to later in the thread. But shutting down a few early can help significantly.Target Types
The Target Type sliders go hand in hand with the sliders in Mission Types. Again, in the early hours I'm looking to hit Red aircraft, air defenses and ground units. The rest can wait. I also want extensive defensive air. That is critical. The rest can wait until we've won air superiority and removed any direct threat to our ground forces by encroaching Red troops.PAKS
In the PAKS section we are telling the ATO where we want these missions to be sent. In the early hours we should concentrate our power along the front. Later, if things are going well, we will adjust all of these settings to hit different and deeper targets. If you allow the ATO to send aircraft to Pyongyang at 10 AM on the first day in Rolling Fire you are just asking to lose those planes and pilots. You can't win the campaign on the first morning, but you can just about lose it if you aren't careful
In this screenshot you can see an initial setup for Rolling Fire. The PAKS all along the front on each side of the lines are fully on (dark red). A few just behind my lines are barely on (light red, to ensure HAVCAP is fragged for my tankers and airborne command and control flights) and the rest are fully off (white). In this example I don't want to have assets flying CAP in Pusan or Japan. So those are off. Be sure to click on every PAK. Some appear to be off, but are slightly on. They appear white. But if you don't turn them off you will have missions flying deep behind the enemy lines and it's way too early for that.
There are many different ways to play, and this is just the way I do it. Once you are satisfied, click start campaign and you're taken to the main map screen. Pause the clock.