Hints and Tips

If you are surfing the internet trying to learn how to survive in Aces High, you are off on the right foot! Many players try to learn the game just by flying in the arena. While it is possible to learn this way, it is a longer and harder road to follow for what is already going to be a challenging journey. There is a wealth of information available that can make learning the game much easier.

On-line Air Combat Simulators are generally tough games to learn and there is just too much stuff to learn all at once. That brings me to my first tip:


1. Focus on learning one or two things at a time.

There is just no way to learn everything at once. Pick something to focus on for a flight and consider it a victory if you do it right. Focus on this for a few flights until it you have it down. It may be something you can do off-line such as landing on a carrier. It may be successfully executing a merge, even if you don't survive the fight. Not losing sight of an enemy during your fight, using Situation Awareness to make the right estimate of what is happening, and making it through a fight (surviving or not) without blacking out or stalling are all things that require focus and concentration and are just some of the things you need to learn. Initially, focusing on one or two things will mean you don't pay as much attention to the enemy or tactics and you will die a lot. Learning these lessons well, though, will pay big benefits in the future as your repertoire of maneuvers and tactics increases.


2. Make a book and read, read, read.

My first on-line flight simulation was Air Warrior. When I started playing Air Warrior, I visited lots of web-sites and read lots of stuff. It wasn't long until I tried to go back to a web-site to re-read something and found the web-site was gone. This was the beginning of my Air Warrior books and, ultimately, my participation with this web-site. I started printing things that I thought I might want to keep. I put them into a 3 ring binder, started grouping them by subject, and pretty soon I had a good collection of stuff. Information on tactics, the planes, and lot of other stuff found its way into it. This notebook became my "bathroom reader" as well as a fixture on my computer desk. I have continued this practice right up to the present. I read a write-up on something that I want to learn or improve on, then go to the arena and try it. After the flight, I re-read the article and see what I have done right and what I have done wrong. This is also useful when reviewing films, which brings me to my next tip....


3. Film your flights.

Films are an invaluable tool for learning this game. Wonder what you did wrong? Go back and watch the film! Wonder how you managed to stay on that guy's 6? Go back and watch the film. While you are trying to learn a certain tactic or maneuver, review the film immediately after your flight so you can critique it while it is still fresh in your memory. Make a mental note of things you would do differently and fix those things next flight. Don't give in to the temptation to delete the films where you were shot down before you watch them! After you have watched your film, decide whether it is worth keeping for future reference or delete it. You might want to think of some type of naming or filing convention for your films so you can look them up easily in the future. It is also useful to exchange films if the person you were fighting happened to also film it. It's often worth asking.


4. Pick a plane and learn it well.

This is similar to focusing on one thing at a time. Some planes are better for learning than others but the truly critical thing is to find a plane you like and fly it as much as possible while you learn. Each plane does just about everything a little different from every other plane. It is difficult enough to learn maneuvers and tactics without having to constantly learn new flight characteristics. A word of caution, though - don't decide you like a plane because of the reputation it had during WW2.


5. Don't worry about your score.....ever!

Scores mean very little to most serious players. After all, the amount of time spent playing varies greatly between players. Some of the best players can only spend a few hours a month playing and consequently have low scores while some of the least skilled players seem to be able to spend all day every day and have high scores based solely on volume. If you want to track your progress, track your kill ratio or sortie ratio. A pure kill ratio is based on the total number of kills vs. the total number of deaths, ditches, captures, and bails. A sortie ratio is similar but is the number of kills vs. the total number of missions to include crashes, ditches, bails and landings. Your first major goal could be a 1:1 kill or sortie ratio!


6. Don't join a squad just because you are invited.

There are lots of squads in Aces High. Some have been around a long time, some have not. Almost all of them are willing to take new people. You are the hot commodity, not the invite to the squad. You can afford to look around and find a squad that suits you. Look at web-sites, fly a few squad nights with them as a guest, and in general get to know how they operate and what they offer. If it suits you, then you can join. You are not going to insult anybody by politely telling them you would like to get to know an arena and squad before you join up. For a bit more information on this subject, see my write-up on Selecting a Squad.


7. Watch and learn.

You can learn a lot from watching how other players approach the game. There are also web-sites where people put films of their favorite fights. These films can teach you a lot, too! Try to identify merges, maneuvers, tactics, etc used in the fight and how they helped win the battle.


8. Ask for help.

The folks in Aces High are, in general, a great bunch of people. Most are willing to help you out if you just ask. Try to ask intelligent questions that you are truly unclear about, though. Continually asking questions that are answered clearly in the help file or on this site will get you a "RTFM" (Read the Fine Manual).


9. Read the message boards.

Check the Aces High Message Board as often as possible. There is a wealth of information discussed on a daily basis. Information regarding tactics, plane performance, strategy, flight models and much more can be found in discussions between players of all skill levels. You can also find (or ask for) help on setting up various controllers, getting your VOX to work, or solving a multitude of other technical problems that may arise in today's world of varied systems. To really become a part of the community, you need to make a habit of reading the message board.


10. Visit other web-sites.

There are lots of web-sites out there with information on squads, tactics, planes and anything else you can think of. While the goal of this web-site is to collect as much information as possible in one place, We only have time to scratch the surface of what is available.


11. Don't get discouraged.

You are going to get shot down a lot while learning any on-line air combat game. In fact, to learn many of the things you need to know, you will have to intentionally put yourself in a position where it is likely that you will be shot down! It is not like the normal flight simulator where the AI is predictable and the odds are stacked your way. This game requires a lot of knowledge in order to be successful but it is well worth it. You'll be hooked the first time you shoot another plane down. Good Luck!