11/11/2017 at 17:53 #76043
Over the past few months I’ve run some CY6! games for local friends. This past Wednesday night was my most ambitious to date. Eight players flew fighters and I flew the bombers, 29 airplane models in all. It was a hand full, but the more experienced players coached the new guys and we all had fun.
I call the scenario Hankow Jingbao: Air Raid on Hankow. Set in 1938, after the loss of Shanghai and Nanking and the destruction of the pre-war Chinese Air Force, at a time when the Soviet Union had sent several groups of Volunteer pilots to hold the line while a new cohort of Chinese airmen trained to fly new Russian aircraft. In this game, Soviet Volunteers engaged raiders of the IJNAF over the Chinese provisional capital Hankow.
A squadron of 11 G3M2 Model 21 Nell bombers in four flights (3 + 3 + 3 + 2), escorted by eight A5M4 Claude fighters in three flights (3 + 3 + 2) made up the raiding force. The five defending players had two X two-plane flights of I-16 Type 10 and three X two-plane flights of I-15 Bis. The leader of the Japanese bomber squadron was a Veteran, experience 2, and so were the leaders of the three flights of Claudes. All other pilots were rated experience 1.
This 1938 game played very differently from our previous one, which had been set in late 1942 at Guadalcanal. The Nell was a formidable bomber in 1938. All the 1938 fighters were fragile and slow with Robustness 0 and Max Speed 3. The Nells were armed with 3 X .30 LMGs in two dorsal and one ventral turrets and had Robustness 1. The Russian fighters had 4 LMGs each, the Claudes had only 2 LMGs. The Nells stood up well to damage, while the LMGs tore up the fighters and the bomber defensive fire proved to be quite dangerous for the Russians
My old Simtac ‘Blue Skies/White Clouds’ 4′ X 6′ mat is covered by 35 X 47 30mm hexes, which is big enough for a standard CY6! scenario map, 30 X 45 hexes. At one end of the mat I laid out a 10 X 18 hex area as the target, Hankow city. Japanese bombers would score victory points by dropping bombs on the city without any specific targeting, in a typical terror-bombing raid.
I started the bombers at altitude 5, speed 2, in a V-of-Vees formation 25 hexes from the city. I allowed the Japanese fighter players to set up wherever they pleased, in V formation, no farther forward than the lead Nell. They chose to start at altitude 6, speed 2 to allow formation keeping, with one flight of 3 Claudes on the right of the bombers and two flights, 5 fighters on the left. (One flight of Claudes is missing from this photo.)
I allowed the Russian players to set up anywhere, no farther forward than the edge of Hankow city. They chose to set up at altitude 6, speed 3, since there was no advantage for them to keep formation, with the three flights of I-15s spread from the extreme Russian right to the middle of the game mat and the two flights of I-16s one in front of the other on their extreme left.
The Japanese formations stretched nearly from one side of the mat to the other. I would have liked more open space on the flanks, but 19 Japanese planes in line abreast took up a lot of space. 25 hexes initially seperated the opponents, who closed the gap at the rate of 5 hexes per turn. The Russian players avoided the center of the bomber formation and headed instead for the flanks and the Claudes. With some maneuvering for position, it was turn 6 before the fighters opened fire. I wanted to allow room and time for maneuver, but maybe I should have started the two sides closer together, because we only got in three turns of actual combat before we had to call the game, due to the late hour on a work night.
First blood was drawn on the right of the Japanese formation on turn 6, where the four I-16s immediately shot down a Claude and put engine damage on a Nell. However, one I-16 ran out of ammunition on that pass.
On turn 7 the out-of-ammunition I-16 dove and turned for home. The damaged Nell failed its crew check, jettisoned bombs and turned for home. The two remaining Claudes got revenge, shooting down an I-16. A second Nell took engine damage, so did a Claude, and an I-16 took an airframe hit from bomber defensive fire. Brutal. On turn 8 the second damaged Nell aborted. Both damaged fighters power-dived out of the fight. The remaining I-16 took a shot at another Nell and ran out of ammunition (!), but missed all the bomber’s vital spots. All three surviving I-16s were now on their way home, two out-of-ammo and one damaged, while one escorting Claude remained on station. Final score: one each Claude and I-16 destroyed, one each Claude and I-16 damaged, two Nells damaged and aborted their missions. I’d call it a win on points for the I-16s, but most of the bomber formation continued on course, so the Claudes accomplished their mission.
On the left of the bomber formation, the action developed more slowly. The players on that side of the game were more experienced and mostly held fire while their six I-15 Bis and 5 Claudes jockeyed for advantage. A few shots were taken and missed. Bombers made several hits on Russian fighters, but no damage resulted.
On turn 8, things looked verrrry interestink. The I-15s had all dropped to altitude 4, to attack the Nells from underneath, where defensive fire would be weaker. The Claudes followed them down, caught two of the I-15s trailing behind, and put engine damage on one. The other four I-15s were clustered right behind the left-hand Nells, thumbs twitching on their trigger buttons…but I wrong-footed them. I saw them coming and climbed the bomber formation to altitude 6, leaving the I-15s two levels lower and out of range. Climbing away from an attack is my favorite dodge, they never expect you to climb.
Here’s what the Japanese left looked like at end of game. The white hex marked ‘A’ marks where an I-15 and a Claude, both in that hex, have been removed to the side. Note that two I-15s are also co-habiting a hex, but haven’t been taken off. Nobody collided (whew).
And then we called the game. Too bad, because there was a lot of play left on the left, but time waits for no one.
The players left chattering about the game. I’ve been told I can bring CY6! back to the Basement, and hope to do that, maybe after the holidays.
- This topic was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by zippyfusenet.
You'll shoot your eye out, kid!12/11/2017 at 13:03 #76077
Great report and it looks superb too. I like CY6 for smaller dogfight games but you have your work cut out for you with so many planes and players, so we’ll done for keeping it all in hand. I would use BTH for a game this size as it handles formations and multiple players really well. Thanks for posting! I’m looking forward to your next one😊
http://jimswargamesworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/17/01/2018 at 20:55 #82055
My CY6 group meets about twice a month and regularly plays full-size CY6 scenario book games with multiple players (4-6, rarely 7-8). Typical scenarios have 8-9 fighters per side plus 6, 8, or 9 bombers. To keep so many planes in operation at a decent game pace, there are some helpful tricks you can use.
We try to assign each player a single 2-ship, 3-ship or 4-ship flight of fighters. Formations eventually break down to individual planes anyway, but one player per leader/wingman group tends to prevent the game from suffering excessive coordination or fragmentation. Extensive play has convinced me that 4 planes is the practical maximum for an experienced player, 2 or 3 planes is the ideal to keep the game moving and still provide players with some longevity, and that inexperienced players are best off with a 2 plane formation.
Move the bombers as non-player planes. They can’t maneuver as well as fighters and have to move first anyway, so there is no reason whatever to plot their moves. When we started, we agonized over who was going to control the bombers, and sometimes had a player who controlled nothing else. We soon noticed that except in very rare special scenarios, bomber formations operate just fine on autopilot, and within the first dozen games we just stopped plotting bomber moves altogether. Now we just have volunteers from the bomber’s side move all the bombers first in whichever way they deem appropriate that turn. Nobody is “stuck” playing bombers, they tend to maintain formation because it’s just easier, and the “boring” planes are divided up fairly.
You can determine the general length of a scenario in turns by the distance of the bombers from the exit edge. Nearly all bombers cruise at speed 2, so the number of hexes between the bomber starting position and the exit edge sets the minimum game duration in turns. Add 2-3 turns for fragile bombers and 4-8 turns for tough bombers, to account for damaged stragglers and aborting bombers that turn back. Most official scenarios tend to start the lead bombers 30 hexes from the exit edge, so they are normally 16-20 turns long, and more like 18-22 turns with R3 or R4 bombers.
I still go back and forth about the right starting separation. For randomly generated scenarios I settled on a rule of thumb that the lead plane of each flight had to be at least 8 hexes from the nearest enemy, but counting each TAL lower as one hex of separation and each TAL higher as 1/2 hex of separation.
- This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by fathom.
My naval gaming site: http://admiralty.ixtraneous.net
My land gaming site: http://stavka.ixtraneous.net
South Bay Aces (CY6 group): https://sites.google.com/site/southbayaces/18/01/2018 at 02:44 #82075
Have yet to buy the rules but I really enjoy reading your AAR’s18/01/2018 at 17:31 #82115
Thanx for the attaboys guys, I like the encouragement.
Jim, my opinion is that CY6! works very well for big games, provided your players know the rules. I have been interested in Bag The Hun since I bought the first edition. The obstacle I ran into was that printing and constructing the components needed for play, especially the card decks, exceeded my level of craftiness. If I could buy some card decks ready-made, I’d try playing a game.
I was introduced recently to part of BTH. An intrepid GM at a convention this past fall offered a CY6! game without written orders. He had grafted the BTH card-activation mechanic into CY6! in place of the normal written CY6! order logs. When a flight’s ‘move’ card turned up, the player could choose any legal move from the CY6! maneuver sheet, making appropriate speed and altitude adjustments, with pilot skill checks as necessary. When a flight’s ‘fire’ card came up, the player could target and resolve shots per the CY6! mechanics. It made for a very different game.
In normal CY6!, I find that the order and movement phases of the game turn move pretty fast, even in large games with many players and aircraft. This is because all players write their orders at the same time. Experienced players can usually do this quickly, without a lot of dithering. Then, most turns, several players execute their movement at the same time. Usually they do whatever they have plotted, sometimes they make an adjustment. It all goes quickly, and then everyone has fun swearing at the predicaments they’ve wound up in.
Where CY6! slows down is in the fire phase. Every shot requires 1) a to-hit dice roll, after figuring the value needed 2) if successful, choose the correct damage dice, roll and total the damage 3) the defender figures his ‘to save’ value and rolls on the Robustness table, this may result in a Lucky Hit requiring further dice rolls to resolve. Some GMs add optional rules with another dice roll when a fighter runs out of ammunition. In big games, once the sides have engaged, there tend to be a lot of shots taken every turn, because the players get target-fixated and line up on their quarries while over-looking the planes that are lining up on them. Most turns, 1/3 to 1/2 of the fighters will take shots, and there are often 3 or 4 bombers shooting back. Then there may be flak to resolve. Then there may be air-to-ground bombing or strafing. It all takes much longer to work out than the orders and movement. The saving grace is that hits come often and damage is either a clean miss or brutal, so there’s tension on every shot and frequent dramatic results.
With the BTH card activation, on the other hand, the movement part of the game turn takes much longer, while the shooting is faster. This is because the formations activate one at a time when their cards come up, and the player must then take some time to figure out his move. You can’t plan too much in advance, because you can’t tell before your card turns which enemy formations will already have moved and which not. So you have to evaluate the situation *right then*, and dithering ensues.
On the other hand, there just aren’t as many shots taken under BTH card activation, because the ‘fire’ cards often turn up at unfavorable times. One may appear when no target is in range. If you line up a shot on an enemy formation that hasn’t moved yet, it likely won’t be there any more by the time your fire card appears. Or, since fire is not simultaneous, you can line up a shot, but get shot down yourself before you get a chance to fire. Consequently there are a lot fewer shots taken than in straight CY6!
I suppose straight Bag The Hun has different move and shoot mechanics that may harmonize better with the card-draw activation engine. Overall, I thought it was interesting. Fun, in a different way. I’d be happy to play BTH some more, if I could get the card decks and other components.
- This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by zippyfusenet.
You'll shoot your eye out, kid!19/01/2018 at 02:16 #82138
fathom, I structure my CY6! games much as you do. My players are comfortable running two or three fighters each. I’ve offered players four fighters a couple of times, but they’ve turned me down. I think I could handle four, but I flatter myself that I’m an above-average player…on a good day.
The scenario books are fascinating. I collect them all, but I haven’t run any of the book scenarios. I never know how many players will turn up for a game, so I design flexible scenarios where I can add or take away an element or two from each side, and still keep the game balanced and fair to the players. I set up the models and stands and fill out all the logsheets beforehand, so that the game gets off to a fast and smooth start. If fewer players show up, I take some of the models off the table.
I usually design the scenario around a bomber formation. As the GM I always run the bombers. Although bomber maneuver is restricted by the requirement that they keep in formation, so that I only have to plot for the formation leader, it’s still possible to take some evasive action. Then there’s the challenge of shooting at attacking fighters, and plotting for any cripples to drop out of formation and head home without stalling and crashing. Overall, it’s easier to control a dozen bombers than two or three fighters, so running the bombers leaves me with enough bandwidth to GM the game. I can fly fighters in some other GM’s game at a convention.
Regarding the length of a game…there are 20 lines on a standard CY6! order logsheet, but I’ve never used more than 12 of them. After two or three game turns spent on approach and five or six turns of serious fighting, most of the fighters and some or all of the bombers are always shot down, damaged and running for home, or out of ammunition and likewise heading for home. The few dazed survivors have always been willing to call a decision, usually by game turn 8, or turn 12 at the latest. I see the same thing in convention games. The Hankow game above would have finished in another three or four turns. We only had 2 1/2 hours of play time on a Wednesday night. We could have finished in another hour, or in four hours tops.
Since I design my own scenarios, I’ve given some thought to initial setup. Most aircraft weapons in CY6! have a range of 10 hexes, although they may not be effective at that range. I like to start the planes so that it’s at least two or three turns before anyone can get into shooting range. I do this for two reasons: 1) I want to give new players a couple of turns to practice writing and executing orders and 2) I want to encourage maneuver. So with planes that fly at speed 2 in formation, I start the sides 15 or 20 hexes apart. I set the bombers up myself, in a historical formation some reasonable distance from the target, usually at altitude 5, so I can dive when I choose and my escorts can still be one level above the bombers. I tell the escorts to set up at any altitude and facing they like, within some close distance to the bombers. I tell the interceptors to set up at any altitude and facing, no closer than some specified distance to any of the raiders. This gives the players some control over their initial setup, which I think is a good thing. The players usually start their fighters at altitude 6. And so it begins. Plot your turn 1 moves…
I encourage maneuver, but it’s rare for my players to do much. I tell them, “The first rule of gun fighting is DON’T GET SHOT!”, and “In this game, if you let people shoot at you, you WILL get shot.”, but they generally head straight for the closest hostile plane to attack it, without considering who might shoot at them. This makes for a fast, decisive game, as noted above.
I think I’m an above average player because I *do* maneuver. I try to set up a shot where I won’t take any fire myself. I will take the long way around to a better position for an attack – there’s no rush, there are 20 lines on the logsheet. I will evade an attack if I can, rather than grit my teeth and turn into it for an exchange of fire. Dogfighting is a last resort. One reason I like CY6! is that it integrates vertical maneuver better than most rulesets I’ve tried. I love to dodge in the vertical. The first time I do it in a game, I generally catch my opponent flat-footed and put a “WHAT WAS THAT?” expression on his face. After they see me do it, the other players often catch on and start diving and climbing themselves. I love it. It’s an airwar game, then.
You'll shoot your eye out, kid!23/01/2018 at 02:49 #82498
If it helps: you can find pre-printed turn record sheets for each fighter my group has played (and many I’ve yet to play with) on the South Bay Aces site (URL in my signature below). Most of these are 1942-44 Pacific War and 1940 France/BoB. Print as many as you like. Keep a few hundred of those around there’s no need to fill out sheets to prep for a game. 🙂
The blank turn record is unfortunately not a fillable PDF, because I haven’t dedicated enough time to figuring out the technology to make one.
Our group was having trouble remembering all the rules and controlling more than 2 planes until I got us to play twice a month for a while. Practice makes perfect (well, better anyway…). In the beginning we also had a lot less maneuver; now everybody is so wiley it’s tough to line up a shot. Most games are 16-20 turns. It also helped that we played a few campaigns with personal pilots – each of us had a pilot who participated in every mission, and gained skill by getting hits and surviving missions. Players tend to get a lot cagier when there’s some time invested in nurturing a pilot. After a while, players stopped “parking” in the rear zone of a bomber formation where all the tailguns focused on them, and making a lot more deflection passes from angles with fewer guns that shoot back.
I totally agree about how cumbersome the CY6 firing sequence is. It’s old-fashioned and mechanically heavy, and could probably have been accomplished with a single die roll. There is one little thing I do to streamline it: I give each player a dice cup containing the full set of damage dice for the player’s plane type (d4s, d6s, d10s) in one color, and 2d6 in a different color (black or brass) as the “to hit” dice. These are all thrown together into a dice rolling tray every single shot,and the damage dice are just ignored unless the “hit” dice hit. This at least saves some time fiddling with dice or hunting around for them. I don’t like holding up the game so we can all watch one player shake dice or hunt around for the right dice to roll, so I make it easy to “just roll” and move on.
I’m also very discontented with bomber defensive fire. A big formation of bombers with multiple gun positions is an agony of low-odds shots. This coming Saturday I’ll be playtesting some house rules that treat bomber defensive fire areas as a sort of “flak zone”, to speed up bomber interception missions. I’m looking forward to fighting formations of 12-16 B-17s and B-24s over Europe, and I don’t want the game to devolve into hours of calculations for 72-96 individual gun positions. Yech.
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by fathom.
My naval gaming site: http://admiralty.ixtraneous.net
My land gaming site: http://stavka.ixtraneous.net
South Bay Aces (CY6 group): https://sites.google.com/site/southbayaces/04/02/2018 at 21:11 #83574
Really great write up and a it looks like a beautiful collection of aircraft. Thanks for taking the time to put that all together for us.
Do you have a photo gallery of your aircraft to see them a bit closer up. They look great. Are they 1:300 scale?
I’ve been trying to get a few mates together for CY6! Games but its been hit and miss. Had a small dogfight that was succesful enough but then got Too ambitious for jut starting out. MI need to put some time into proper pre-game prep to make the experience that bit better for my players.05/02/2018 at 00:17 #83578
Fathom. thanks for those turn record sheets. I’ve downloaded them all, I’m sure they’ll come in handy. Your idea of giving each player a full set of to-hit and damage dice sounds like it would speed up the firing sequence, but I’ll have to buy a crap-ton more D4s for my Battle of Britain games. I don’t get that many low-odds shots from my bomber formations, three or four per turn is typical. That’s because my players have enough experience not to fly directly into bomber defensive fire – they look for bomber blind spots and concentrate attacks against the edges of the bomber formation. I don’t know if we’ll ever play enough games to teach them to maneuver against enemy fighters.
You'll shoot your eye out, kid!05/02/2018 at 00:48 #83581
Dave, thanks for your kind words and for giving this thread a bump. I find that my players enjoy my games more when I have the scenario worked out, planes, flight stands and paraphernalia already set up when they arrive, and their log sheets filled out for them.
I don’t have a photo gallery or blog. I’m technically behind the times, I’m not even a good photographer, but I’m working on my skills. Here’s a link to the What’s On Your Painting Desk? thread. On page 7, half-way down the page is a post where I’ve showcased some models I finished in January. Those pix are better than the ones from my game in November.
I’m proud of the planes in that post because I painted them myself. I must admit that I didn’t paint a single model in the Hankow game. I acquired them all from gamers selling their collections, except for the three silver Nells, which I bought from I-94 Hobbies. I describe my collection as ‘6mm scale’. I own a lot of both 1/300 and 1/285 models, but there are also items in scales as big as 1/260 and as small as 1/350. I’m not fussy, especially if I can get decent pre-paints in close to the right scale, like some from Merit and Corgi.
- This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by zippyfusenet.
You'll shoot your eye out, kid!05/02/2018 at 19:03 #83663
Really nice painting work on all those, I had a fair look through the lot. Funny I was just painting RAF Desert Tomahawks today too! Those Raiden ones look like great sculpts. The four Collectair ones I have are a bit hit and miss.
I actually did two flying tigers and I’m doing the other two in RAF desert colours. No decals on any of my planes. I’m just freehanding the details.
I’ll have to have a look at your sheets as well when I get my kids off the computer. Though I won’t be playing much CY6! Anyway, at least not until I can get them to bed at a reasonable hour, or until they want to play daddy’s games with me.
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