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This is definitely the same game, but it's substantially different, and better! Please add anything I've overlooked.
70 Differences between TAL 1991 and TAL 2012
Airbase points are now SO points.
Pilots can gain experience from missions and get promoted to better stats. You can promote a pilot at the start of your campaign for SO points.
You no longer get a set number of A-10s or AH-64s (4 &0, 2 & 4, 0 & 8). Now you get SO points at the start of your mission and you buy all of your AC, including scouts, with those points in whatever combination you like.
You roll for scout success while target-bound, so you don't know if you'll get any extra loiter time until planning is all over.
AH-1s and AV-8Bs are no longer bought as extras for a single mission with a fixed loadout. You buy them with SO points and load them with munitions points like any other aircraft.
A-10s are no longer generic, you can now buy and use A-10As and A-10Cs.
AH-64s are similarly split into AH-64As and AH-64Ds with different stats and costs.
You can now add a F-16 Fighting Falcon to your squadron. These are pretty good and very affordable.
You can now include an AC-130 gunship to your squadron. These are amazing, but probably too expensive.
You can add RQ-1 and MQ-1 Predators to your squadron. These aren't cheap, but they make all your pilots Fast and have Link capability.
Scouts no longer affect the WP you can carry to the target, instead they increase loiter time and reduce stress, depending on the roll.
Loiter time is now 5 turns instead of 10, increased by a successful scout roll or risking Bingo Fuel…
You can spend extra turns over the target, but you end up with a Bingo +6 or Bingo +10 counter and accumulate more stress on the pilot.
You can now carry fuel tanks (they take WP but have no munitions cost) to increase loiter time.
The "Roll for initiative, Monkey-boy!" system is gone, replaced with the "Fast pilots, Enemy units, Slow pilots" sequence. This lets you plan a little better, but decidedly gives the enemy an advantage unless you *pay*.
Cover now only prevents standoff attacks, it doesn't modify the die rolls at all.
Enemy units might now move out of cover. Fools.
There is a die roll for who goes into cover where instead of a list of conditions.
Troop Quality is gone. Gone from the Moving to Cover procedure, the AC hit system, the Initiative system, and the battalion advancing system. All enemy troops are the same quality, unless you count campaign special rules.
Friendly battalions are gone. They aren't on the board, they don't strike at the enemy battalions. The enemy battalions are still there.
AC are now explicitly at Hight or Low altitude. High trips Pop-ups. Low has more limited LOS and can't fly through ridges without a roll.
Pop ups can now appear in any hex on the board. So someone going High to avoid a ridge on the right can introduce trouble for someone way over on the left.
Ridge Evasion: if you fly over a ridge hex side at low altitude, you get to make a scary roll and put a lot of stress on your pilots. This is unpleasant, but it adds some sense of three dimensions.
The hit system is new. Its more streamlined than the old system, and more evocative, too. We're still pulling chits in red and yellow, which is good, but you don't need a decoder ring.
Enemy fire now does the same damage at any range it can hit.
There are more numbers on the weapons counters (and some more on target counters, etc), but this eliminates tables. Tables are bad. The weapons counters are starting to look a little like ASL armor counters, with 6-8 facts on them (out of 9 total possible), but in practice they counters are easy to understand and the elimination of tables is well worth it. (Those numbers presume that you consider the H & L one piece of information; if you think of them as two then counters have 7-9 bits of info out of a total of 10 possible. But you'd still be counting "VB" as one piece of info…)
The damage effects on aircraft are better. They're nastier and more flavorful.
Weapons counters now have a munitions cost separate from Weight Points. You pay one SO per 10 munitions points, but Stingers, iron bombs, and the smaller rocket pods have no munition points cost (thought they still have WP, of course). This makes for interesting choices.
Target "armor classes" are gone. No more, Hard, Soft, Infantry Truck. Tanks are -2 to hit, Trucks are +2, and one table lookup is entirely eliminated from the game!
Enemy counters now include buildings. Buildings can't move to cover!
Rockeyes now attack every unit in the hex at full strength, no more -3 for secondary targets. On the other hand, they have a higher to-hit roll for everyone.
The areas are now hexes, but are still a 3-4-3 pattern with the same adjacency.
Aircraft have more restrictions on movement which make it seem more like flight. Helicopters can hover in the middle of a hex, but if they want to move they have to move to a hex edge first, then into the hex their facing. Jets always face a hex side. You can turn freely when entering a new hex to any side except the one you entered by. I was worried about this one, but in play it works great.
Going home Winchester is now safe, at least for Air-to-air weapons. If you get bounced by MiGs on the way home you either get stress or pay a SO to avoid losing a scout or UAV. There's no point in keeping a sidewinder handy, and this is different from the real world.
The Pave Penny pod is gone. You can buy GBUs and the pod is automatic (I guess, since it's unmentioned). Since I never see a photo of an A-10 without the pod anymore, maybe it's just standard equipment now.
If the enemy gets too close you lose SO points each day. This is very bad. Very realistic, very nice sense of pressure.
If you have to pay SO points, say for an enemy battalion in the Friendly Rear area, and you cannot pay those points, the campaign ends in failure. Ouch.
Shaken status and pilot stress in general is streamlined.
Damage to AC persistent until you pay SO to repair it. You had to pay Airbase Points in old TAL, but this is different. You can fly the aircraft damaged if you like...
Bullet Holes - this is a new type of damage that doesn't effect the AC's performance at all, but gives additional stress to every pilot who has to fly that plane. I've read of many cases where pilots have had issues with specific aircraft that they feel haven't been repaired properly and which give them problems in flight. It's not usually literally bullet holes, I think they have a special tape for that, but hydraulics that consistently leak and work poorly in the latter parts of a mission, or electronics that work on the ground but fail reliably half-way through a mission. This is a great piece of real life in the middle of the game.
Apaches now have one call sign for the crew, not two.
Enemy battalions now have more interesting effects on the Sector map. In the old version Command battalions increased the odds of forward movement and Support battalions increased the chances of recovery, but now different battalions have different effects on your SO, pilot recovery, loiter time, and XP as well as battalion movement. Very cool. Except that some of them are very, very nasty.
Enemy battalions no longer roll for recovery.
In the old version you drew a fixed number of Assault, Command, and Support battalions. Now each has a VP value (which somewhat corresponds to its toughness) and you draw Assault, Assault, Support, Command until you reach or exceed a particular total. So there's a variable number of battalions, but hopefully a more even toughness to the campaign. Somehow the cards are arranged so you always end up drawing a card that leaves you one short of the necessary total, followed by a last card with a high value.
The cards are thicker. Old TAL cards were 0.28mm thick. The new ones are 0.42mm thick. Write those numbers down, you'll need them.
The counters are thicker. Old TAL counters were 1.4mm thick. The new counters are 2.25mm thick.
The old counters were 1/2" square, the new are 5/8" square.
There are no more "Secondary Missions". You may have multiple missions per day, but they're all played out.
The 7-rocket pod and the 19-rocket pod are now different items!
You don't roll for the composition of enemy battalions anymore, they have a fixed composition. This makes planning easier. It also means you don't get any strange battalions, like armored groups with no tanks.
SO points can buy you "priority R&R" to relieve stress, but it's expensive.
SO points can buy you "tanker priority" to cancel out the WP penalty for distant targets.
Salvage: If you have to pay to replace an aircraft, you can strip it of useful parts first. In practice this means you move all the Lasting Damage counters off the AC you're going to keep onto the one you're going to replace.
You now pay for new pilots and AC in VPs, not Airbase/SO points.
Rocket pod exhaustion works differently. Instead of choosing whether to make a single attack or salvo the whole pod and then determining the die roll needed from that, you make the die roll and that tells you either Miss, Hit but Pod is Expended, or Hit and Pod is Retained. This is nice in that you never end up missing by one or two and wishing you had salvoed, but scary in that you can never be sure which is your last rocket attack. Very neat.
Instead of modifying the LOS rules, ECM pods give you a 40% chance of negating an attack. Again, this makes planning harder in a good way.
Lock-on counters are gone. Standoff attacks are simpler.
Enemy jets are gone. Not in the game. No more Frogfoots.
Helicopters are now organic to some battalions.
There's no more Enemy Air Arrival Check. There are helicopters in the Pop-Up pool instead.
Evasive Skill: some pilots have a point or two of evasion, which lets them reduce and eliminate hits against them.
Super-stressed pilots can be replaced for 1 VP. It must be nice to have that many VP.
Trucks now shoot back. Almost everything does, including storage tanks. Only SPA and SCUD TELs are toothless.
Munitions Shortage is improved, putting a limit on munitions points instead of limiting weapons by name.
Returning damaged no longer gives pilots extra stress. They don't need it.
Pilot names are on the counters instead of aircraft numbers.
AAA Sites are a new type of enemy counter. The attacks are weaker but longer-ranged.
"Mail From Home" is now "Email From Home" and requires an SO point to remove 2 stress from all pilots.
There's a lot less enemy air in general.
Finally, all the pilots appear to be white males. Original TAL had one black (looking) and one female (looking) pilot. This is ironic because in 1991 female pilots couldn't fly in combat, while today they can, have, and have been decorated and written books.
What a great resource, thanks for putting this together!
The movement system, placing aircraft on hex edges or hovering in the middle, really does an elegant job of modeling movement/momentum. It's one of many parts of the new edition that feel right.
Letting the dice decide whether you expend or retain the rockets is another nice solution (I saw a recent draft of the new rulebook online that still had you choosing before you rolled).
Thank you Andrew! Awesome list!
- Last edited Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:21 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:20 pm
Argh! I forgot the big one. Cannons now work.
In 1991 TAL all the cannon hit on a '0', so while it was certainly worth taking a shot if you were out of "real" weapons, but it wasn't something you used in planning. In practice, you never killed anything with the cannon. This is at odds with all the descriptions of real Thunderbolt and Apache actions.
In 2012 TAL the cannon are all better, and in particular the Apache and Thunderbolt cannon are awesome, with the Warthog killing a typical target in one shot 70% of the time. While the A-10 can only kill one target a turn with this awesome weapon, the helicopters and Harrier can hover and blast every target in their hex with a cannon. Suddenly you have something that's as good as real life, that you can plan a mission around. Hovering is tough to do because people you don't finish off shoot at you and it will take two turns to get to the next hex.
These cannons are important weapons that were functionally left out of old TAL, but now they're here in spades.
I had not noticed the missing diversity yet. And neither was I aware of these female combat pilots. That just screams for a Pilot Diversity Expansion Pack, doesn't it? "Killer Chick"!
Also, Dan, please consider female pilots for IAF:
Having just played the Vassal of the 1991 version yesterday to get a feel for this game, this is the perfect thread to edumecate me on what more to expect with the 2012 version.
Many thanks for this detailed list, it helps immensely!
Welceome aboard, Alex. Hope you enjoy the new version.