Tactical Air War is a very competitive multiplayer environment for IL-2 multiplayer and a server that has had a long history with the IL-2 series. It’s complex campaign based scenarios are ones that continue to attract attention of the very best pilots and squadrons in the community. Oh… and a few average pilots like myself too! Here are some of my thoughts on flying on IL-2’s most challenging multiplayer server.
The air war is on
Tactical Air War runs in a series of campaigns that take place at different points in the air war with the campaign finishing up a Battle of Moscow over the last few days and just starting on a Stalingrad scenario today. There was a lot of early war aircraft such as the Bf109E-7 and I-16 out there which is always great to see. The campaign progresses in time and adds more advanced aircraft as the various phases play out.
There are a number of factors that feature into a TAW campaign with pilots on the server having a direct impact on the movement of the front line, the capture of cities and airbases, and the transfer of supplies to and from the front.
TAW works quite unlike other IL-2 servers as you need to have created a user account on their website. During each campaign you pick a side and your pilot is then assigned to fly that team for the duration of the campaign. You also have some personal stats and aircraft are assigned to you.
The TAW website also provides a lot of information. The current status of the frontline, which cities and airbases are under threat, what aircraft you have right now, and even descriptions of the percentage damage on various targets and some very cleverly put together recon photos.
The folks that run TAW clearly have thought this out and iterated on the system that runs their campaigns for a long time now – but you do have to use the website to get the most out of it. Not a bad thing (a tablet or a second screen can easily handle this) but it makes me wish even more that IL-2 could display recon photos at some point in the future.
It pays to fly as a team
TAW is a server that attracts a lot of dedicated IL-2 flyers and that brings with them squadrons and team organizations. This is not a server where a lone wolf will typically do well (although they exist and, yes, some of them do well) and certainly not for me.
I teamed up with indie developer Jon Coughlin who is currently putting together Roger Meatball (he’s also a huge IL-2 fan) and a few other folks for a number of flights on TAW. Our specialty seems to be dive bombing in IL-2’s and so that’s what we’ve been doing on and off for the last few weeks.
The Pe-2 is a great aircraft with a flexible approach to attacking targets. Ground strafing is not its specialty but with a UBS and ShKAS machine gun it can certainly do it. Better is its level bombing and dive bombing capabilities which the aircraft excels at.
Check out Jon’s recent dive bombing runs in the video below. You can see me bombing stuff (and getting shot down) in the distance on a couple of these.
In our missions over the last few weeks we’ve been hammering away at some of the same targets. Primarily the enemy airbase at Simonkovo but we’ve traveled elsewhere.
TAW has no “GPS” plane icon on the map so navigation is essential and using radio beacons helps (when returning to base).
Flak is intense on this server as well and set to a high level so approaching targets in numbers and using complex approach patterns to throw off the gunners is also essential. Sometimes this works and other times it doesn’t but don’t approach any target thinking that the flak is just for show. No. These guys will hit you!
When the flak doesn’t get you the enemy fighter opposition might. I traded blows with a few Bf109s in our last missions and managed to escape only some of the time.
Challenging but engrossing
TAW is an interesting server. Make that very interesting! Though it may be challenging its also a fun approach to IL-2 multiplayer with persistent battles being fought over the course of days and being waged back and forth across the same battle spaces.
Currently the Red team has won 2 rounds and the Blue team has managed to win 1 round. It’s anyone’s game right now and that’s pretty exciting.
The persistence of it and the fact that even a small victory, as a relatively average pilot, can help contribute to turning the tide makes this a lot of fun to participate in. When you’re not on the server still is live and the battle continues. When you come back you may be facing a very different situation and its dramatic and serious at all times.
It can be stressful but it has that engrossing feeling that lets you dig into things. You can plan your flights and execute the plan and hope things go well (they almost never do).
My recommendation to anyone is to get in there and give the server a try despite the reputation. You need to register online but after that its relatively easy to get in there. Bring some friends if you can and enjoy being a part of a developing air combat battle where every action has consequences.
If you die or get captured you will have to wait some time to get back on. So take your pilot’s life seriously but go and have fun with it. When your multiplayer session comes to a planned or unplanned end you can always hop on a more casual server after – but there’s something far deeper and more interesting when it comes to something that has consequence to it. That makes for some satisfying gameplay!