Analyzing Graham Cox's Analysis
by Stephen Skinner
The Indy Squadron has used its “Instant Start” system for easy, quick game initiation for many years. Instant Start was introduced to the Fits Society in the fall of 2017 via my article of the same name in Aerodome 176.
My original article made three specific claims:
- Instant start is quicker than “Quick Start,”
- Instant Start assures that the flights will start closer together in altitude, and
- In most cases, Instant Start prohibits the pre-game identification of aces.
Rather than withholding comment to permit play-testing to proceed without bias, Aerodrome immediately published a follow-up article in the next issue (#177, Spring 2018) that discouraged the adoption of Instant Start before any significant society-wide testing period could occur.
Authored by Graham Cox, “Instant Start? An Analysis” contained numerous logical inconsistencies. The biggest and most puzzling inconsistency was Graham’s dismissal of his own research which demonstrated that Instant Start was indeed faster, started the flights closer together and preserved limited intelligence exactly as advertised. Let’s examine each of Graham’s findings...
Instant Start claimed to start flights closer together in altitude. Again, Graham’s math demonstrates this to be indisputable. “Quick Start rules will generate an average starting altitude difference of 369’ between the two flights. With the Instant Start rules, the average will be a difference of 352."
Instant Start claimed to better conceal the number of modifiers (aces) on each side. Yet again, Graham’s research proved this to be true when he wrote, “Instant Start rules do have the advantage of concealing the number of modifiers more often. Under the Quick Start rules the number of modifiers is disclosed 33% of the time, whereas under Instant Start that figure will be between 9% and 13%.”
Graham then finishes his analysis by saying, “My personal preference would be to keep Quick Start” (pg 19, paragraph 1, sentence 1). So when we summarize Graham’s analysis, it essentially claims:
- Yes, Instant Start is faster
- Yes, it better conceals ace identities
- Yes, it starts opposing flights closer together in altitude
- No, you shouldn’t use it
The mathematical accuracy of Graham’s analysis was impeccable. The logic of his conclusion is a bit mystifying.
His logic failed further when it departed from the original claims made by the article he was reviewing and instead began assessing the likelihood of each system to start both flights at precisely the same altitude. But Graham’s analysis had already demonstrated that Instant Start clearly places the starting altitude of flights closer together than Quick Start. So a new metric placing a higher value on perfectly identical starting altitudes was arbitrarily inserted, making it seem as if his article's conclusions had already been drawn regardless of what this own data demonstrated.
Graham is clearly one of the game’s great players, but his article should not have been published so soon. It was a premature judgment that discouraged society-wide play testing before it could begin.
If your group prefers Quick Start, by all means use it. But Instant Start should have been given a fair chance. It is a simpler method of game initiation, it is faster, it starts flights closer together in altitude and it conceals ace modifiers far better.
Don't take my word for it. Take Graham's.
Camel ace 2LT Demetrius Hall (Stephen, 13/5) is dead and his two wingmen were fortunate to escape after running into the a Seimens Schuckert DIV (Bob) and the Fokker DVII 185 of LTN Milan Sova (Stephen Dale, 15/3) over the front lines in September 1918.
The only bright spot for the British occurred on the first game turn when Hall's Camel 130 latched onto the tail of Sova's Fokker DVII and stayed there for the entire game (literally). Sova was pilot hit but luckily suffered only a non-fatal light wound in his left leg. Sova was perhaps spared by Hall's two misses and multiple gun jams which never allowed the Englishman to fire two guns at the same time.
Sova (Stephen Dale) managed to put 15 slugs into (Ethan's) Camel and one into the pilot, scoring a light wound from which the Camel pilot would recover. Sova also scored 17 hits in a Camel flown by Dory's rookie pilot, including four engine hits. Dory flew well but was also plagued with missed shots at important junctures of the fight.
But it was Bob's rookie Schuckert pilot who swung the fight in favor of the Germans when he put 8 bullets into Hall's Camel, one of which scored a critical abdominal wound. Hall landed successfully in British lines but died in the hospital. Ethan's pilot survived his wound and Dory successfully escaped. Bob's Schuckert pilot scored a big victory on his first mission, while LTN Milan Sova survived his leg wound to remain the top pilot on Stephen Dale's roster.
February 19 Gaming Report
Five players (Dory, Ethan, Bob, Stephen, Stephen Dale) played four games on Saturday, February 19, 2022 at Nelson Skinner's home in Lewisville. Thanks to Nelson and Sharon for a great spread of hot dogs, bratwurst, chips and dip, nachos with queso dip and salsa, warm gooey cake, soft drinks and much more (see slide show above).
2LT Whitey Blanksmanship (Stephen Dale, 1/2, SPAD VII) and Jean Fabio (Ethan, 6/5, SPAD XIII) dominated Game 1 by downing two German balloons in a battle set in May 1918. German defenses were largely ineffective and Blanksmanship won the credit for both balloon kills.
Bob's continuing efforts to generate an American pilot failed yet again in Game 2 when his rookie Nieuport 28 flyer was shot down by the Pfalz DXII of German ace LTN Walter Strahle (Stephen, 27/6). The Nieuport suffered critical wing hit #11 which added two additional points of wing damage, after which Strahle fired a six-hit tail burst that sent him down. The American pilots of Bob and Stephen Dale had just flamed a German balloon, and Bob's dead pilot was given credit for the kill.
Game 3 was the Camel fight in the previous story ("Camel Flight Battered by Bob, Stephen Dale").
Ethan's SPAD ace, Jean Fabio (7/5, Armistice Day 2011 winner), made his second appearance of the night in Game 4, teaming up with LT Marlo Sandifer (Stephen, 11/4) in SPAD XIII's. The Allied duo flamed two German balloons but once again, Ethan's pilot lost both cuts and walked away empty handed. UNT Lucious Wolfcraft (Stephen Dale, 9/0, awesome pilot name) led a strong defensive effort that put 5 hits into Sandifer's SPAD engine. Sandifer was fortunate to escape the combat using his SPAD's top speed, and all other combatants safely escaped.
Book Review: British Aircraft of World War I by Lee Chapman
There is no shortage of books pertaining to "British Aircraft of World War I," or German aircraft, etc., etc. But Lee Chapman's recent release from Key Publishing is a rare treat due to it's size and approach.
The 128-page soft cover tome is laid out horizontally. It actually has the look and feel of a miniature coffee table book. The layout offers the reader an eye-pleasing, wide perspective of the book's many color photos. Yet it remains easy to read, small enough to travel and enjoyable enough to be a page turner for World War I aviation enthusiasts.
Interestingly, of the 200 or so excellent color photographs included in this book, not a single one is a period photo from the 1914-1918 era. The author has chosen to use 100% modern color photos and it is this nuance that sets his book apart from the many offerings in this field of study. The photography is superb, containing numerous modern replications of period photos such as modern pilots wearing WWI pilot's gear and so forth.
Using this modern photography as a backdrop, "British Aircraft of World War I" examines the surviving replicas, originals and restoration projects currently underway for various British types around the world. The history of each type is covered in solid fashion and includes fighters, bombers and recon aircraft for a well-rounded look at the Royal Flying Corps' equipment. Priced at a very reasonable $30 US, this book is a great addition to any bookshelf and a useful tool for Dawn Patrol players across North America.