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Don Glewwe

Okay, there are some similarities, definitely – but some really big differences too: The kill zones are similar in some ways but not others. A martial artist has a large variety of options within the kill zone (hands/arms/feet/legs can go in different directions without changing the rest of the stance or position on the terrain); whereas a fighter pilot with cannon/MGs has to manoeuvre the plane to move the kill zone onto the target – a kill zone which is actually quite narrow compared to the movements of the aircraft (And even the size of the aircraft).

First: My use of ‘kill zone’ was a poor choice to describe the combat area – perhaps what I use in my rules is better = engagement area?  This is best defined as effective weapon range, and so encompasses the entire 3d area within that radius – not just the cone of fire for an aircraft’s guns.

Second: The stance (ie: body position, incl limbs) of a martial artist restricts/determines the direction and type of attacks that can be made in a manner similar to how the ‘stance’ of an aircraft creates restrictions/boundaries a fighter pilot is limited by.  While the options available to a martial artist may indeed be greater as granted by those imposed limitations and the time/space values for the actions of the martial artist are much smaller (perhaps by a factor of 100?), the same range of limitation values apply equally to the opponent and so have no relevance to the similarity of the two genres (land and air).

My point is that the stance of the martial artist is not determined/displayed/controlled in most/all games (I’m thinking RPGs are the best example of the most detailed hand-to-hand rules and none of them -to my knowledge- cover arm/leg/body positioning) without much impact on the acceptance of the game as a means to play those events.  What a fighter pilot does in the way of thinking/decision-making is similar, and so I wonder if it would be possible to use similar gaming mechanics (eg: RPG-type combat) to play aerial combat.


Fighters cannot usually stay within each other’s kill zones. They are either doing a fast head-on-pass, or a chase, or a fleeting deflection shot. This makes position important in a way not true of “duel” games* as aircraft will be moving into and out of kill zones very quickly (not in proportion to martial arts’ fights, where two combatants can stay in the kill zone as long as they like as long as they can evade or take the punishment; no target fighter would choose to do this).

Again: My bad for using a poor label for the engagement area.  Using the intended definition (as above) the difference cited for land v air encounters doesn’t exist, since the idea that two combatants can stay in the kill zone[engagement area] as long as they like as long as they can evade or take the punishment applies equally to martial artists and fighter pilots.  If you were a pilot within 500′ of Werner Voss’ triplane you were only a “Hey, Presto!” away from taking fire.  Granted he was exceptional, but even everyday pilots could be expected to put their sights on a target within that range (or double that for WW2 era?) within the course of a ‘turn’.  How well and how easily was a matter of their skill and the aircraft capability – both matters of modifiers as far as gaming is concerned?  Exactly the sort of thing RPG/skirmish land games handle as a matter of course.


Air combat games are often skirmish game sized [3-20 figs]. I think your idea has most merit in an air “duel” game [1 v 1 or 1 v 2], if you are prepared to abstract the rest of the battle and the “stance” (attitude) of the aircraft is such a vital determinant of future position it will be very difficult to abstract much more than games do already.

I may very well be misunderstanding the above.  If stance is important in duel games, it seems that existing air combat games would be put into that category since they detail/display/control the ‘stance’ of the aircraft to a much greater degree than most (all?) land duel games (if the latter do so at all) rather than assign a game type (duel or skirmish) based on the number of figures involved.


To make an air combat skirmish game as I propose, it needs simply to use the ‘position’ emphasis that land combat games use -ie: position/location detailed to within combat range only.  Figures are moved generally around the battlefield, and when within the ‘engagement area’ of one or more other figures combat takes place.  What happens in the fast-and-furious flurry of action is not detailed or displayed by the figures themselves (and most importantly: not controlled by the players), but is resolved/tracked abstractly via stats and dice rolls.

Again: the time/space for action/reaction within an engagement area differs by (perhaps) a factor of 100 between the two, but that doesn’t seem to me to be a deal-breaker when it comes to pinching the ideas of land games and using them in the air.


…I think it will break down when there are more than a few aircraft per side, where position can’t be ignored…

Misunderstanding on my part again.  I don’t see how more aircraft are a hindrance to the idea.  I’m guessing it’s to do with the term ‘position’, which I take to mean as it (generally) does in land games: location detailed to within combat range (maybe ~10′ or so at most?).  For an air game this would be as much as 100 times as much – so location detailed to within 1000′.  Since they (aircraft) are always on the move as well as changing direction (within an engagement area, anyway, just like their land counterparts) not plunking the model down in a particular spot with a particular facing at a random moment in time seems like an okay thing to do (just as it -displaying a particular stance- isn’t done in land games).


That’s most likely too much blather for one sitting, so I’ll let it go for now.


PS- two important things genre-wise: For the purposes of my exploration, ‘land’ means hand-to-hand (not missile weapons) and ‘air’ means the first 30 years when the weapons(guns) and speeds of aircraft create a viable meaning of an ‘engagement area’ – jets and missiles are a whole different can o’ worms!


PPS – Just to bring over the relevant stuff from the other thread, I think it may be valuable to post this again:

 BTW, none of this is to suggest that there couldn’t be a very good game that doesn’t require (relatively) accurate plotting of aircraft position: just that I at least find it much harder to intuit what that game might look like.

My reply: Take a look at these (esp. entries for 13 and 21 May for multiple pics):  http://www.thewargameswebsite.com/forums/topic/100-years-ago/