Air War Campaign Plans

Evan and I have been playing quite a few Air War games recently. They are quick to set up I suppose and you can fit a couple of small games into an evening so they suit our purposes well.

Often we try out a small combat just to see how the rules (a Victor Frankenstien like creation that has pulled in bits for everywhere) will handle a given situation. Evan has just finished painting up some 1/600th Me262 so we have been trying them.

The first game saw three Me 262 taking on a box of four B17s, they are hard hitting planes and their 30mm cannon will certainly make a mess of anything that they can hit.

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As always the defensive fire of the B17s should not be under estimated. Getting this balance right has taken quitea few games and we are still not sure if it has been achieved to everyone’s satisfaction yet.

 

The second games was to try out something that we had both read of: Bf109s trying to keep US fighters off ME262s as the try to gain speed and alititude. Of the three that took off one exited the table with the other two turning back with damage. However the cost to the attacking Americans was heavy.

Sadly I took no pictures of that game; I find that 1/600th aircraft don’t photo too well with my limited skills and equipment.

 

Evan and I have talked about a campaign game for the new year. Hopefully it will be a crude approximation of the diofferent approaches to air combat the Germans and US took. The German player is trying to get 30 kills for his Ace pilot where as the US player has to get 30 kills for his entire squadron (who will start with no Ace pilots). The game will be played in groups of three games US versus generic German force, German versus generic US force then a head to head against both squadrons. I’ll post more details of the campaign system when I have written them.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

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Update, mid July- a smorgasboard of Airwar gamers, Airshows, the RSI and Afghanistan.

Been a while since I’ve posted anything and as such I’ve got a bit behind on things. As such this will be a bit of a whistle stop tour of what I’ve been up to.

Firstly I have played a trio of air war games:

A rather nice little skirmish set in the period of the fall of Singapore. The games was played with Bill's newly acquired models.

A rather nice little skirmish set in the period of the fall of Singapore. The games was played with Bill’s newly acquired models.

We enjoyed the game so much we had a second go of it using the same models the following week.

We enjoyed the game so much we had a second go of it using the same models the following week.

The following week I put on a Korean Airwar game, with 8 MIG15s trying to shoot down 3 B29s with a small fighter escort.

The following week I put on a Korean Airwar game, with 8 MIG15s trying to shoot down 3 B29s with a small fighter escort.

In a previous blog post I showcased my Decima Mas force. I couldn’t wait to get them on to the table so I came up with a quick scenario set in the final months of the war in Italy. Evan and I played the game a couple of weeks ago using NUTS! as usual.

Evan's Shermans approach the RSI held village.

Evan’s Shermans approach the RSI held village.

I try to reinforce with two freesh squads of Decima Mas troops. It was to be in vain as Evan's textbook tactics gave him a convincing win.

I try to reinforce with two freesh squads of Decima Mas troops. It was to be in vain as Evan’s textbook tactics gave him a convincing win.

I also managed to fit in a family day out to the Waddington Airshow. It was a great day out- the first Airshow I’d been long to since I was a child. Lots to see there- more than you can really manage in a day. Great to see the flying displays, the Battle of Britain Memorial flight was a stirring as ever, especially with a Dambusters anniversary flypast too. The Vulcan was there displaying, as majestic and powerful as I remember from at least two decades ago, the other military fast jets were a favourite of mine. For some reason the aerobatic displays left me a little unimpressed, although the technical skills on display were very impressive.

The Battle of Britain Memorial flight.

The Battle of Britain Memorial flight.

The mighty Vulcan.

The mighty Vulcan.

A Vietnam era Huey on ground display.

A Vietnam era Huey on ground display.

There seemed to be less aircraft on ground display than the last show I went to and the USAF were completely absent. I guess the reason lies with operational commitments and the changing nature of airforce inventories since 1992… There were also far more ‘family friendly’ activities at Waddington than at prior shows.

Moving back to gaming; playtesting has begun in earnest for the modern rule modifications I am working on.

An Afghanistan game in progress.

An Afghanistan game in progress.

It’s a case of watch this space as I may need some extra playtesters soon….

So there you go, a quick overview of my hobby activities over the last month or so. If anyone wants and more pictures of anything I’ve featured please shout out as I’ve plenty more pictures, especially of the airshow including some very short videos I took on my ancient camera. I’ll have to look into stitching them together to make a mini film I suppose.

Cheers,

Pete.

Testing, Testing- some games in Development.

Most of my gaming energies recently have been devoted to finishing up the modern stats for the 2 Hour Wargame system; at the moment my work if about 90% done, but like the aphorism the last 10% is taking most of the effort…

To prove this my last playtest was a bit of a bust- due to a poor scenario. The one in question was written by me several years ago and had provided a very enjoyable game of ‘Arc of Fire’, how ever just swapping it over to 2HW didn’t work.

Set in the classic World War Three year of 1984 it saw a platoon of West German infantry defend a village against a platoon of Soviet infantry, a platoon of armoured cars and a tank (in this case a PT76), who opened the hostilities with a small mortar barrage.

I think what made the game not play the same is the difference in ground scales between the two systems. Arc of Fire has a stated ground scale of 1″ = 10m, to put that into perspective a grenade can be thrown 2″. The 2HW system doesn’t have a published ground scale but a grenade can be thrown a full 6″… As a result the man portable Anti Tank weapons in a 2HW sized table are much more effective, the BRDM2s didn’t stand a chance. Still it was a learning experience and it provided a good example of how not to do scenarios, that said I do think the scenario idea is still a good one so I will revisit it soon.

Anyway here a few pictures for your edification.

Germans in defence.

Germans in defence.

The attacking Soviets.

The attacking Soviets.

Infantry move up to deal with the defenders.

Infantry move up to deal with the defenders.

General shot of the table.

General shot of the table.

Now on to more successful endeavours: I mentioned in my previous post that we’d be having a Falklands Air War game, Bill turned up with his aircraft and I drafted some missile rules to go with them. As stated last time these are for the heavily modified rule set mainly developed by Evan, I tried to keep the rules simple but give a little flavour for the period, I’d like to think I achieved that as everyone seemed to be having fun as we got through several little air skirmishes in the evening.

A pair of Sea Harriers.

A pair of Sea Harriers.

A brace of Mirages.

A brace of Mirages.

Dogfight in the South Atlantic, Sea Harriers engage Skyhawks.

Dogfight in the South Atlantic, Sea Harriers engage Skyhawks.

Bill’s aircraft were very nicely painted- the bought them off a forum several years back he said.

As the missile rules worked so well, I’ll be painting up my Vietnam aircraft soon to get a few games out of them, though I’ve the odd idea to look at the Cenepa War of 1995….

Evan’s latest addition to the air combat system is to bring in rules to ‘jump’ out of the sun on to unsuspecting aircraft, we had another test of these this Tuesday gone. B26 Marauders, escorted by P40s were jumped by a mixed attacking group of Bf109s and Me110s. Much fast paced action was played out of the table top with successive flights of aircraft trying to get the advantage over the other.

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I think we’ve got the rules pretty much nailed down now, so we can expand on the different theatres we cover, Evan was last seen ordering flights of B17s so hopefully we’ll have some daylight raids over the Reich soon… however I think next weeeks game will be back to 20mm.

Cheers,

Pete.

Tuesday night Air War.

For the past two Tuesdays Evan and I have been indulging in some 1/600th air war action.

From a starter set of Korean rules I picked up years ago Evan has done a lot of work expanding upon the initial basic set, completely rewriting the gunnery side of the combat and adding various morale rules. He has been wanting to test out a couple of rules that he has come up with. Firstly clouds- he made up loads of extra flying stands and nice fluffy white clouds out of felted teddy bear stuffing; also ‘bouncing’ enemy aircraft by appearing out of the sun- a kind of ambush in the sky if you will.

The first scenario we used was a simple one: a pair of newly arrived P38 Lightnings are flying over the Mediterranean looking for a flight of three Ju52s escorted by a pair of Me109s.

I took the role of the attacking P38s, who started the game diving out of the sun to initiate the attack.

A group shot of the forces used in the first game.

A group shot of the forces used in the first game.

A general shot of the table as viewed from the German board edge of exit.

A general shot of the table as viewed from the German board edge of exit.

The Germans enter the table.

The Germans enter the table.

In come the P38 Lightnings aiming for the two defending fighters.

In come the P38 Lightnings aiming for the two defending fighters.

Missing them they decided to go for the Ju52- a big mistake on my part, I was hoping my speed would save me....

Missing them they decided to go for the Ju52- a big mistake on my part, I was hoping my speed would save me….

With one Aircraft down I focus all my energies in trying to get one Ju52 downed.

With one Aircraft down I focus all my energies in trying to get one Ju52 downed.

With one P38 was shot down by the Me109s diving on its tail, the remaining flight leader lines up for a shot on the Ju52s.

With one P38 was shot down by the Me109s diving on its tail, the remaining flight leader lines up for a shot on the Ju52s.

The defensive fire from the three MGs mounted on the backs of the Ju52s was enough to distract my P38 pilot enough that he didn't take the shot. With a big difference in speed I flew straight through the tight formation and was subsequently taken down by the Me109s. Game Over.

The defensive fire from the three MGs mounted on the backs of the Ju52s was enough to distract my P38 pilot enough that he didn’t take the shot. With a big difference in speed I flew straight through the tight formation and was subsequently taken down by the Me109s. Game Over.

One of the defending Me109 pilots was rated ‘Good’ in our rules. Evan mentioned that the top German Ace in the North African theatre was one Hans- Joachim Marseille. I looked him up and found this short but useful wiki entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans-Joachim_Marseille

The rules worked well, how successful your attacks was depends on the skill of your pilot and how much of the table you are trying to cover without being spotted. The clouds are nice too- they act like ‘terrain’ in the sky in a way.

This Tuesday’s game was more or less the same scenario but scaled up. The attacking P38s were doubled to make a quartet and joined by a pair of Beaufighters who started on the board. Three Ju52s provided the targets for the game. The defending Me109s were raised up to three flights of 2 with one pair being allowed to started up sun to ‘bounce’ the Beaufighters on turn one shooting one down. Happily from here on the game went my way, for the loss of the first Beaufighter and a subsequent P38 I shot down all of the Ju52s (supposedly carrying a high ranking General, his staff officers and his loot (would this include a picture of the fallen #Madonna with the big boobies?)). Evan was pleased that is ‘Good’ rated survived the encounter- we really must develop some campaign rules for our Air War battles- Too Fat Lardies’ ‘Squadron Forward’ was mentioned: http://toofatlardies.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=23&products_id=95

Bill watched the second game and seemed particularly enthused by the proceeding and went on to promise us a Falkland air war game next week- so it’s a case of watch this space.

Cheers,

Pete.

Donald Featherstone’s Air War Games

I’ve always thought it’s nice to know the history of where things have come from. Being introduced to gaming in the 1990 through GW, it was only much later I learned of the long list of older gamers who had really paved the way. As such I’ve been trying to build up my own library (mainly through ebay and 2nd hand shops) of the books I missed in my youth.

As I’ve my interest is aviation history has been with me as long as I can remember when I heard this volume was being republished I picked a copy up. Subtitled ‘Wargaming Aerial Warfare 1914- 1975, Revised Edition’ it has been heavily reworked by John Curry. rather than being a single set of rules it is a compendium of ideas that you can slot in as you see fit. It is evident from when it was written that rules didn’t always feature air attacks so there is a fair bit on adding ground attacks to your games. Today it is rare for a game above skirmish level that doesn’t include such rules already built in. Rather than the common aircraft on a stick that you see in practically every game Featherstone here advocated stringing a net or at least a few wires above the table and then suspending the aircraft from them. I don’t know how popular that method was at the time but is certainly hasn’t lasted.

The biggest difference from when the book was first written, 1966, is the number of different scales that model aircraft come in that simply weren’t around those decades ago. The smaller scales allow people to play big air war games on a smallish table rather than having to use a garden or large hall. It is to this end that the heavy revision makes good: expanded notes on the availability of models, and commercial games as well as three mini games added as appendices bring the book up to date. I wouldn’t go as far to say that the book is definitive but the additions certainly make it still relevant. (As something of an aside if the book was reworked to be definitive it would not be Donald Featherstone’s work, as such what revision has been added has been done very sympathetically.) The sections of weather in air games will be making an appearance in my own games and the Fletcher Pratt game certainly requires some more investigating.

Overall a fascinating look back at the history and origins of many sets of rules with enough material in it to be worthwhile today.

Cheers,

Pete.

Air War Gaming Plans.

Monday night is one of my regular game nights, and tonight’s was particularly productive. Firstly Brian, Evan and I ran through a couple of turns of the board game Attack (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/6752/attack) with a view to having a proper, hopefully 4 player, crack at it in a weeks time.

After the quick run through the 3 of us brainstormed some ideas for future games. We have decided to run a SF campaign tying together GZGs Stargrunt and Full Thrust. This means getting a few more 20mm figures and a set of ships for me. Your collected 20mm historicals will fill in as human forces at different tech levels: medieval, black powder, 20th century etc….

In the week Evan sent me the final modifications to his Air War combat system, I intend to adapt it to the post WW2 era. We started playing Air War games with the introductory sets that are put out by Tumbling Dice (http://www.tumblingdiceuk.com/)(http://freespace.virgin.net/candc.russell/default.html), over time these sets have been rewritten so that the only thing that remains is the movement table. I’m a big fan of the rules, and the modifications, as they are fast playing and can cope with a fair few numbers of planes on the board at once. Also as they are not hex based, unlike many other sets, we’ve not had to shell out for a hex map. My plan is to work out stats for the Korean conflict as well as rules for missiles. This should let us play Vietnam and Falklands games as well as any others. In the slightly longer term I’d like to modify the rules further to do a dedicated helicopter air to ground set.

Sticking with the Air War theme… I’ve developed an interest in the obscure ‘Alto Cenepa War’ fought between Ecuador and Peru in 1995. My plan is to develop the short conflict into a board- cum- miniatures game. I may well pick up some more 1/600 aircraft the next show I’m at….

Cheers,

Pete.

Convoy Action.

A fortnight ago I went over to Evan’s house on the other side of town for a game (and a really nice Chilli Con carne it has to be said).

Evan has for the past few year developing a set of convoy action rules, ostensibly for a Med island hopping game our group has been planning, however the idea and rules he has come up with have evolved into a full formed game in it’s own right.

Using 1/3000th ships and 1/600th aircraft you can game an an air attack on the convoy, with the convoy able to have it’s own air cover too. Movement is regulated by a marked cloth using a variable scale to deal with the large distances involved. As the attacking aircraft move through the boxes they are engaged by the different weapon systems carried by the convoy. The attacking player has to plan his route carefully and correspondingly the convoy commander has to allocate his AA assets where he think the likely attack will come from.

In the game I had control of the convoy consisting of 1 aircraft carrier, 2 freighters, 1 oil tanker, 1 AA cruiser and 4 destroyers. Evan attacked with a motley collection of Italian and German aircraft; high level bombers, strafers, torpedo bombers and dive bombers. A bit of everything basically to try out as much of the rules as possible.

I lost one ship sunk, 1 dead in the water and 2 damaged, taking about half of the attacking aircraft out of the sky.

Here are a few pics of the game, the island (also by Evan is the ultimate goal of the convoy and backdrop to the planned campaign).

Cheers,

Pete.