If I could just step away from the 61-K for a moment- I myself and my squad had a fantastic time in the last campaign. Congratulations all around for a game well played. There are however some changes that I wouldn't mind seeing. Truthfully, I don't expect any of what I write here to make it into TAW (certainly not in time for the next campaign). And with no knowledge of what goes on under the hood, I don't even know how many of my suggested changes are even possible. At the very least I hope what I have to say will provide a good read.
If I can give a theme to this, I would say that the root of my problems with TAW are rooted in the variety of missions. That is to say, there isn't enough of it. These long periods of down time between campaigns may in fact be a blessing, because I'm sorry to say that if TAW could run continuously I would grow tired of the repetition and stop playing. Instead, I return to the other active servers, and after a while, I'm left eagerly awaiting the next campaign. That being said, once I'm in the next campaign, that same tiredness returns a little faster than I would like. If I had to pin it down, I'd say it kicks in around map 4 or 5 because that's when we start to see a very traditional roster of aircraft on both sides. And with regards to aircraft I feel that the progression of the campaign starts to fall off. The point I'm trying to make here is that the first half of TAW manages to stay quite fresh, and that the best way to improve the server would be to extend that freshness as far through the campaign as possible.
Now I think the easiest way to achieve this is to keep just about everything the same and occasionally put a real twist on it. Now I'm not really putting it forward as a suggestion, but it would serve as a good example, and that's night maps. It would be everything you would do normally but with the added difficulty of limited visibility IE the twist. If you think about it, it has exactly the same affect as the rain missions.
Now moving away from a "simple twist," I don't think there is much to be done in the way of airplanes and air combat until more are planes are released. With ground attack however, I think there are some changes and/or additions to be made. First and foremost are the artillery positions that spawn when tanks are making a push. Those from what I can tell are just fortified positions with the tanks removed and the AT guns swapped for artillery. And even if they're not, that's exactly what It feels like. Here I would suggest removing all fortification/bunker objects and replacing them with mobile rocket artillery and/or SPGs. You would still just be flying out to a target area and destroying everything there (like most ground strike missions really), but by not looking like a fortifications it gives the feeling like we're flying a different mission. Oddly enough, that can go a long way. Going past that, The maps need to be sprinkled with wider variety of objectives with an equally wide variety of impacts on the current map. I'm talking about fuel depots, tanks depots, train depots, or whatever people can think of. The important thing is that there is a wide variety of objectives with a wide variety of targets to kill. But most Importantly, encourage a wide variety of weapons. Everything from the machine gun pods on the Ju 87 to the PTABs on the IL-2 1943 need to be useful- and I know that can be really hard when all you really need to solve most of your problems in this game is a really big bomb. As it stands in the last campaign, if I needed to wipe and objective off the map, I would just take and IL-2 with 23mm AP + 6x 100kg bombs, and that could handle just about any and everything (a tribute to the IL-2s versatility I'm sure). But because of that, the experience got very repetitive very quickly.
Next is paths to victory and victory conditions. Now there are four victory conditions for a map that I am aware of. A team can win on a map through destroying a huge number of aircraft, killing a large number of pilots, destroying a huge number of tanks, or kicking the other team off the map entirely. Achieving any of these conditions before the enemy team will effectively win your team the map. These four things are in theory a wide enough variety of win conditions for interesting gameplay. In practice however, destroying the pilot and aircraft reserves of the enemy team are secondary win conditions that only become important if your team is closer to completing those conditions than the tank condition or as a last ditch effort to win before the enemy has destroyed all of your tanks. In addition, the effectiveness of targeting enemy pilot and aircraft reserves wavers greatly depending on how many players on on the enemy team at any given time. If your team outnumbers the enemy 2:1, 3:1, 4:1 you're sure to make steady progress, but it will be a crawl. So from the four conditions we started with, that leaves the tanks and territory. Although the tanks are not strictly a victory condition, they are the most reliable way of taking territory, and atm Russia's only way of taking territory. Once the enemy runs out of their tanks they can still slow you down, but they almost certainly will not be able to reverse the outcome of the map. This makes (on a grand scale) tanks the most important objectives to attack and defend, and from the start of a map, the single reliable path to victory. And while I don't think that will ever change, it should certainly be expanded and/or more fully supplemented by secondary objectives. I suggest the addition of parked aircraft at airfields and maybe a small numbers of ai aircraft (only at times of day with a low player count) that will count toward the aircraft victory condition to help elevate it to the same importance of the tanks. Now from here on out, everything I have to say probably leans a little (or a lot) toward wish full thinking; you've been warned. I think tanks need to be dramatically changed to allow for a second path to victory. Specifically, I would like to see a vastly smaller number of reserve tanks; maybe 100-150 max. just like the current implementation, when a team runs out of tanks, they can no longer push. Every time a tank column makes an attack on a fortified defense it is guarantied to lose a percentage of its force (regardless of the actions of the enemy air force); the percentage being dictated by how damaged the defenses are. However these tanks are being constantly and rapidly replenished by factories and/or train stations. The more damaged a teams factories/train stations become, the slower they replenish tanks. The goal here would be to damage the enemy tank production to the point that it can't keep up with the losses. This would have the advantage of allowing a team to choose to attack the tanks directly as they push (CAS), obliterate tank production (strategic bombing), or some combination of the two, and in that way add in more variety to a map. I also would like to see a new victory condition, "aviation fuel." both teams start with a huge amount of fuel to supply their entire air fleet. A new ground objective would be added; a "fuel depot." as fuel depots are destroyed, the max fuel load for everyone on the team is lowered and lowered until the air force is grounded for lack of fuel (victory for the enemy team). I know the starting amount of fuel can be locked, but I don't know if you can place a limit on it. But hopefully this would add a twist to the second half of a map where a pilot will really have to consider what airfield to take off from, how direct/indirect his flight to the target will be, what weapons he/she will take and how much drag they will add; stuff of that nature. I think that system, or a system like that, could add a real tension to the mid-end of a map. Again these last two items lean toward wish full thinking, and I don't even know if it would work with the tech under the hood.
TAW needs more variety so that it doesn't feel repetitive over an extended period of time.
Thanks for reading the rant. I can't wait for the next campaign. Cheers!