Part 3: Pregame 1955 - Islam is the FlightPregame 1955 - Islam is the Flight
Before we get started, I mentioned difficulty levels briefly in the OP. One of the things I like about this game is that difficulty mostly influences AI behavior, and the regular mechanics adjusted by it cut both ways. The higher the difficulty, the more aggressive the AI will be about choosing good starting cities, expanding its territory, and fine-tuning their routes in response to competition. This can backfire on them though, as the AI prioritizes passengers over profits and can be lured into bankrupting itself by operating at a loss to steal your customers.
Speaking of, the lower the difficulty the more slowly that customers will react to changes in the market. Theyll possess a degree brand loyalty which keeps them from all jumping ship at once. This inertia makes it easier to defend your own holdings, but also slows down any attempts to break into enemy markets. Well be playing on Turbo for this scenario to get a nice middle ground.
Anyway, on to the game.
Air-Ran won out at the polls, so well be getting our start with getting feet off the ground in the Middle East. The AIs counter-picks provided a chance to use some of the runner-ups. Every potential hub has its own default name for an airline. Tehran's was the boundlessly creative "Iranian". For some reason, Moscows is Siberia.
Each of our rivals go before us in the turn order. This will give their agents the initiative when it comes to grabbing deals, but also lets us choose our actions in response to theirs. Though we take all our actions in order, the turn is resolved simultaneously after everyone has moved.
Air Murica opens by laying some groundwork for inter-regional flights, bidding for slots in Mexico City and London, and digs into their home base by buying a Hotel in New York. The AI will often hold off on opening any routes for a few turns while they get their footing.
Air Marx plays a similar but more close-reaching opening. They bid in Athens, Zurich, and Cairo, and secure a Hotel in Moscow. Buying business in your hub cities is a common move, since it means theyll provide their benefits to all your flights in that region.
You may notice that these two started with quite different supplies of cash. An airlines starting assets are influenced by their home city. There may also be a random factor in there as well, but Ive never paid close enough attention to be sure.
Con-Air wastes no time launching their first route from Singapore to Fukuoka. They bid in Osaka and Sydney, and follow the trend of buying local hotels.
This brings things over to us.
Every campaign begins with one of our agents greeting us and reiterating the goal of the game - dominate the industry in 20 years. Theyll also inform us of our lose condition, if we remain in the red for a full year we go bankrupt.
This unskippable text helps introduce something I like about the UI - All text scrolling in Aerobiz can be sped up by holding any direction on the D-Pad. This lets you swiftly fast-forward through any message youd like with zero risk of accidentally making any important choices. Its a nice touch.
Can you feel the Aero-Zeal?
Lets get to business!
We begin with some modest Aero-holdings. We dont have a lot of lot of slots, or planes to fill them with, but thats not much of an obstacle to us. The airports out here are fairly small and demand for travel is low, so we dont need all that much property to saturate the market. Those 820 Million dollars sitting in the company account can get us all the things well need to break out of here and start growing.
Time to take a look at what we have.
A fine batch of executives.
And an adequate home base. The airport is rather small, but we have enough of it to service what flights we could set up this round. We could also easily max out our share of it to provoke some construction, which should finish by the time we need any new slots. Four out of a possible 6 businesses also isnt bad. Those are an Arts Pavillion, a Shuttle Bus, a Hotel, and a Commuter Airline. Any one of them could make a fair addition to our portfolio.
So where could we fly to?
Heres what we have already.
In a turn of good fortune, Irans foreign relations arent all that bad. That blue hesitant-brofist is what Ill call neutral. Its only one step down from from the teal handshake of friendly that we have in the homeland. Negotiations in friendly cities take only one turn, neutral cities need two. On the far end of the scale, outright hostile cities take a full year to settle a deal.
Baghdad has stats close to Tehrans and is practically on our doorstep. Tashkent has the best economy and tourism ratings in the whole middle east. Its on par with midrange cities in Europe and America. Islamabad is far less impressive but still has a high tourism rating for the region. Routes to these cities could get us started on bringing in the Aero-Bucks.
Here are our local options for expansion.
Karachi is a mirror of Islamabad, another map dot that may be worth a flight or two but nothing to write home about. New Delhis mostly unimpressive, but as a potential hub for our competitors we should keep an eye on it. Bombay and Calcutta are more of the same, potentially useful but also a ways out.
On to our options for branching out.
Over in Africa Cairo is a mere 1250 miles away, closer than most of our local cities, and stands out as the best city in the region. Tunis is farther out at 2310 miles, but would be notably less expensive to set up shop in.
Our nearest link to Europe is Moscow at 1560 miles, but flying there would mean plunging face-first into the heart of Air-Marxs territory. Wed be directly competing with them on every euro-route we make. Rome isnt much farther out at 2120 miles, and would do more to set our routes apart from those of the Russians. Berlin is also pretty near at 2180 miles, while being closer to the middle of the Euro-region as a whole.
Going east isnt so easy. The closest we can get is Bangkok at 3370 miles, then Beijing at 3500. Once were over that hump, either is a decent base of operations.
Now, lets take a look at our fleet.
Not so great. At least they have engines and wings.
Were sitting on a handful of early Russian-made passenger planes. Fortunately, our current foreign relations are good enough that were not refused access to any vendors right now. Well have free reign to scour the market for whatever suits us.
Russian planes are cheap, small, and short-range. For most purposes, theyre worse than western aircraft from a given year. The Tupolev 104 in particular, with its godawful fuel efficiency is something you only use if you have no other choice. However, as a third world airline we have a niche perfectly suited to the Ilyushin 14. Though tiny and short-range, the IL14 has the best efficiency ratings of any plane on the market right now.
Its perfect for hops between small cities whod never generate enough customers to fill any larger planes.
Western planes are at the other end of the spectrum. American planes are huge sky-whales that can fly whole villages to any corner of the world you wish, as long as you can keep their operating costs fed. Theyre great mainliners for flights between big cities and inter-regional flights where theres enough demand to fill them. European companies like Vickers tend towards smaller economy-sized planes for when you need to run a short route and refuse to buy from communists.
With all that out of the way, its time plan our opening moves. How shall we proceed with our first year of play?
With no existing connections to manage, the only question on the table is where and when we start. And what to send and how often to fly and how much to charge and what's the deal with the food...
Airport-Time is Airline-Money. Where do we barge in, and where do we back off? Do we shore up local travel options or start laying foundations for new hubs?
Everyone else bought a hotel on their first turn. Do we fall into line or break the trend? Theres not a lot of business in our home region, but buying the right ones could help make up for the low quality of our cities.
Our fleet is small, young, and must some mix of Vodka and Dog-Oil for how much fuel those Tupolevs burn, but we have the whole worlds market to buy from.
Vote on our policies for 1955, and while youre at it, Name our agents!