New Member Guide
This section is intended to help a new member understanding what Master Arms is and what can be expected from us, and what we expect from you.
- 1 Overview
- 2 The Journey
- 2.1 Standalone or Steam?
- 2.2 Get a full fidelity DCS aircraft
- 2.3 Pick a pilot callsign
- 2.4 Getting setup
- 2.5 Schedule an intro flight
- 2.6 Start practicing
- 2.7 Participate in missions
What is Master Arms and how can I join?
Master Arms is a Swedish community for DCS enthusiasts. We have the ambition to fly in a serious manner, with realistic procedures, without ever losing sight of the importance of having fun together. Most of Master Arms' members are Swedish, but we regularly have foreign people joining us on missions as guests to established members. When this happens, we often speak English during briefings. In the sim, we use SRS (a radio simulation program) to simulate comms between flights and agencies like AWACS and tower. All these comms are in English.
If you are interested in flying with us, the first step is to join our Discord and say hello in the #membership channel. Please note that we remove all non-members from the Discord server every now and then, which means you will eventually be kicked out if you don't write in the #membership channel.
- Join Discord and write a short presentation of yourself in the channel called #membership
- Register an account on the website
Most of us are around 25-45 years old. But it doesn't matter if you are younger (within reason) or older. You can be a beginner or an experienced DCS pilot. As long you share our passion for serious flying, you have a willingness to learn, and you are socially compatible with us, you're welcome!
What do I need?
- A PC powerful enough to run DCS relatively smoothly in multiplayer.
- Some kind of HOTAS, or at the very least a joystick with a built-in analog throttle.
- Some kind of head tracking. It can be TrackIR or similar (TrackHat, DelanClip, Monkey King Puck, TrackHat etc), a VR headset, or even a webcam based solution.
- A headset/microphone.
- A humble attitude and willingness to learn.
Standalone or Steam?
We generally recommend using the Standalone version. Even many of our users who use Steam for all other games, tend to use the Standalone version for DCS. The benefits are small but significant. Standalone lets you select any version/patch of the game you want, instead of being limited to the latest OB and Stable builds. Also, discounts and new releases tend to arrive to Standalone before they're available on Steam. Even if it's generally just a day or two, it can be frustrating to wait while everyone else is having fun on a newly released map or trying out a new aircraft. Finally, when you buy games through Steam, 30% goes to Valve's cut. This is money that could have gone to the DCS developers Eagle Dynamics, who surely need them more. Help out and keep our hobby going! If you already have invested in aircraft on Steam, but now want to use Standalone instead, you can transfer them to your Standalone account (not the other way around though).
Get a full fidelity DCS aircraft
What aircraft are you guys flying?
We don't strictly require you to fly a certain type of aircraft. But the way it works is that when we are running missions, there are a number of slots available for members to join the event. These slots have different aircraft types. In other words, in a particular mission, there might be 12 Hornet slots and 4 Viper slots, but no M-2000 slots. The event organizer decides this. In general, the most popular aircraft types in Master Arms will give you the smoothest ride, as you can get a lot of help, and there are always slots available for them in missions.
In an approximate order of popularity (it varies quite a bit though), these are the aircraft commonly flown in Master Arms missions:
- F/A-18C Hornet
- F-16C Viper
- AJS 37 Viggen
- A-10C Warthog (the new version)
- AH-64D Apache
- F-14B Tomcat
- UH-1H Huey
Regardless which aircraft you pick, we recommend you to initially stick with one. It's better to master one type than to dabble with four.
Which aircraft should I get?
Here follows a brief summary of what to expect from the different types:
- F/A-18C Hornet - This is a very versatile multirole fighter. It can do almost everything reasonably well. It has a large array of available air-to-ground weapons and is a solid air-to-air fighter in both the visual and beyond-visual-range arena. Most notably, it flies off the carrier. Carrier ops is quite challenging, but also very fun, and something we do a lot in Master Arms! If you have no idea which aircraft to choose, and you're okay with a modern fighter with quite a bit of "pressing computer buttons" this is probably the safest bet. It's in early access, but at least near-complete. Also, you will need the Supercarrier module since we fly these birds off the boat. ED sometimes have bundle deals though.
- F-16C Viper - Shares more or less the same mission set as the Hornet. If you want a multirole fighter, but you are not interested in landing on a boat, the Viper might be worth considering! Be prepared that the F-16 is in early access. The air-to-air parts work quite well, and the air-to-ground part is starting to look really nice, but it's not as mature in development as the Hornet. This is the best choice if you want a multirole fighter but carrier ops isn't your cup of tea.
- AJS 37 Viggen - This is one of our favorite jets. Partly because it's a Swedish design, but also since we have devs in the group, and it's a joy to fly! Be advised though that it's a niche aircraft. It's designed to fly low and fast, attack a ground/sea target and fly home. It's not a dogfighter, and it misses some of the systems that can be found in more modern jets, like datalink and aerial refueling capability.
- A-10C Warthog - This is a pure close-air-support aircraft. It's very complete in terms of systems implementaton. If you are okay with a very slow aircraft and quite a bit of button pressing, this is a beautiful aircraft if you like carrying a virtually unlimited air-to-ground loadout and hunting tanks. Be sure to get the newest version of it (i.e the "A-10C II Tank Killer" module), rather than the A-10C or A-10A modules.
- F-14B Tomcat - The Top Gun icon! This is a much older aircraft than the Hornet and the Viper and requires more of the pilot in terms of flying the thing. There's no fly-by-wire helping you here, and the HUD is very minimalistic. Most importantly, it's a two-man crew aircraft. While it's possible to fly it alone using an AI RIO, it's just not the same thing as flying together with another human crewman. In general, it's much harder to become proficient in this aircraft than the single-seat jets, as it requires you to schedule your flying with a partner. On the other hand, it will be a very rewarding experience if you make it happen! The F-14 does air-to-air extremely well and is quite capable in the air-to-ground role. It also flies off the carrier, which adds to the fun! You will need the Supercarrier as well.
- AH-64D Apache - Doesn't get much more brutal than an Apache gunship. Just like with the Tomcat, it really shines when you are a two-man crew. Also be prepared that the AH-64D is in early development. Some parts work quite well, but it's still limited in many systems. Helicopters are sometimes included in our missions, but not always. Some of our pilots learn a jet as well, in order to be able to always participate.
- UH-1H Huey - Our favorite helicopter! If rotary wing is your thing, and you don't necessarily need to shoot missiles and bomb stuff, look no further than the Huey. It's an incredibly well simulated helicopter that have received praise from real-world pilots for its accuracy to the real thing. Just like with the Apache, it's worth mentioning that helicopters are not always included in our missions.
- L-39C Albatross - This aircraft doesn't get featured in missions that often, but deserves mentioning as it's a beatifully simulated aircraft, and has a quite a few hard core fans in Master Arms using it during training flights and flying aerobatics in formation. The fact that this is one of the few jets that is somewhat reasonable to get to fly in real life, makes it quite interesting!
- F-5E - Just like with the Albatross, this is not an aircraft commonly seen in missions. But if you want a bare bones old school aircraft for training basic aviation, but also want som thrust when you need it, the F-5 is the perfect choice!
What terrains should I get?
- We recommend buying the Syria and the Persian Gulf maps. Quite a few of our missions are flown on those, especially Syria right now. You don't need any other terrain (except Caucasus, which is free and included in the base game).
What about the Supercarrier?
- Yes. If you plan to fly Hornet or Tomcat, you will need the Supercarrier. It's unfortunately not in a very good state at this point. But the fact that it lets us spawn lots of aircraft on the deck saves a lot of time, making it worth it.
Pick a pilot callsign
- If you have callsign/nickname from before, you can most likely go ahead and use it. See exceptions below!
- If you don't have a callsign, you can make one up, or even better, just use your first name for now and let us know that you would like to receive suggestions on callsigns. We would LOVE to help you out, coming up with a cool and fun callsign after you have started flying with us. Probably based on some shenanigans in your flying. Unlike the real military, in Master Arms you can always refuse these suggestions if you don't like them, and ask for another one. In the end, you are free to be called whatever you want. It's up to you to decide.
- Callsigns that you should avoid include:
- A callsign already used by a Master Arms member (at least core members, i.e the people who are actively flying). Just look in the Discord member list.
- A callsign from the Top Gun movie (Maverick, Goose, Ice Man, Slider, Cougar, Merlin, Viper, Jester).
- A callsign that is excessively cool/badass sounding. Don't be Demon, Hell Fury, Killer, Predator etc. It easily gets a little silly. Feel free to ask us if you are uncertain.
- A callsign that is very offensive or political.
- Contact us by signing up on the forum and joining the Discord, like described above.
- Then make sure all the necessary software (DCS, SRS and Teamspeak) is installed and configured. Follow the guide called Technical_Checklist. Please, follow this guide carefully, and don't skip any steps, as that will take unecessary time from other people when it's time to fly.
- Ask us on Discord for advice on how to setup your joystick and throttle bindings.
Schedule an intro flight
- Your first flight with Master Arms will be with one other member (one of our IPs or "instructor pilots", which is nothing more fancy than a senior member that likes to help people out) that will welcome you aboard and help you out getting started. During the flight, he will make sure you get to learn the basics of how we fly in the community, and make sure your tech stuff (like SRS) is working as intended.
- To schedule an intro flight, you should contact Bankler on Discord.
- After your intro flight, your IP might have given you some pointers or advice on what to start looking into. In general, the things that most new-comers need to practice are landing patterns (like the overhead break, and/or CASE 1 recovery if you're flying a Navy jet), formation flying and aerial refueling.
- If you're unsure about what to practice, you can take a look in the Aircraft Syllabi section.
- You are free to use the Master Arms training server, which is online 24/7.
- Also feel free to ask people to join you in your training sessions and help you out or just provide some company. Many times, people are more than happy to join you if just advertise you're in.
- Every Tuesday, we are hosting training events that you can sign up for. Sometimes it's just an open airfield with a manned tower and you can practice whatever you want. Sometimes there's a certain theme for the evening, like overhead breaks or formation flying. These events are posted on the website. To sign-up, you need to be logged in, and specify what aircraft you plan to fly in the form.
Participate in missions
- When you feel reasonably comfortable in your jet, you are free to sign up for Thursday missions (same signup process as Tuesday trainings).
- How long you should wait before joining missions is up to you. Some new-comers are ready right away! Others feel they new a couple of weeks of practice before they are ready.
- Don't be too hard on yourself here. You don't need to be an expert by any means to participate. It's not uncommon that new-comers feel anxious and wait too long. Don't be shy! We will be patient with you and understand that lots of stuff will be new.
- The things we EXPECT from you at this point is that:
- You can take off and land in the intended way for the jet you're flying. For instance, being on-speed with the Hornet, or using flare and aerodynamical braking for the Viper.
- Using the aircraft systems to navigate, finding your way to waypoints and back to base.
- Basic knowledge of the aircraft's most commonly used air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons.
- The most basic Comms, like checking in to a channel.