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  • #96967
    Phil Gray
    Participant

    … of recent GMT boardgame releases aimed at air gamers.

    First up is Lee Brimmicombe-Wood’s Wing Leader:

    http://www.airbattle.co.uk/

    The site above introduces the concept – as the name implies this is not a flight-sim game. Counters usually represent squadrons, which may or may not be formed into wings, or they may, sometimes, represent flights. Air combat doctrine, the presence or absence of radio nets and GCI radar, squadron training levels and expert pilots are all represented, as are the gamut of things you can stick on a plane (Air to Air rockets, Air to Ground Rockets, Gun pods, heavy cannon, gyroscopic gunsights etc.)

    The game models situational awareness, units are either alerted to the presence of the enemy or not – those that are not alerted are more likely to be bounced by the enemy  – with a Tally system, each unit can attempt to achieve a tally on an enemy (things like range, radios, position to the sun, experience, weather and such have an impact on the chance of success). Each unit can hold only one tally at at a time.

    Air combats tend to be fairly quick, not because the participants are shot down but because (especially with fighters) they cease to act as a formation and so become ineffective in their attacks – losing my cohesion is the usual reason why my fighters leave for home. Sure, you may lose one or two planes (whether as stragglers or actual losses) on the way but after two combats your normal pilots are left wondering where the rest of the squadron got to… Bomber formations are less susceptible to this, tending to plod on regardless as their comrades fall out of formation or disappear from view, but become less effective in their mission when they do.

    The core game is split into Early WW2 (Victories) and Late (Supremacy) with common rules, and distinct but compatible Aircraft Data Cards and counters, with an early war expansion (Blitz) released (with a Barbarossa Kiev campaign built in), a late war expansion (Eagles) on pre-order (with a Rabaul campaign planned) and a third early war expansion on the cards.

    Those with long memories will remember Mike Spick’s approach to air games, where the game surface was a cross-section of airspace – planes (he used 1/72 scale models) were depicted in side view and movement on one axis was vertical the other horizontal? Well the game board for Wing Leader does exactly that.

    The counter mix includes weather elements (cloud, rain, haze, contrails) as well as surface targets (flak, logistics, troops, buildings, various ship types). There a slew of scenarios available and I’ve barely scratched their surface so far but am looking forward to delving deeper soon.

     

    Also from GMT is Skies Above The Reich

    https://www.gmtgames.com/p-571-skies-above-the-reich.aspx

    This pits the player(s)* as the Luftwaffe fighter staffeln against the gathering strength of the 8th Air Force.  A sort of B17-Queen of the Skies in reverse.  If you’ve ever wondered what it might have been like to be on the other side in that, or while watching Memphis Belle (or Twelve O’Clock High) then this game is definitely for you.

    You’re a Staffelkapitan assigning pilots to missions against the Amis, using whatever resources are at hand to try and put holes in those bomber formations.

    You can play as stand-alone games, selecting the period you’re fighting in (late 1942 to early 1945), which in turn influences the nature of the bomber formation you’re up against, as well as its fighter escort (if any) and the nature of the units and equipment available to support your core force of 109s (like aerial bombing, gun pods, rockets, FW190s, Zerstorer, 262s).

    You have a pool of Tactical Points you can expend to help improve your situation (get to a better position faster say) and you have a time limit to work too as well.  While this is all randomly determined if you have enough experience on hand you can choose to expend that to ‘fix’ random results to be the one you want.

    So once you’re on the game board its up to you to select the approach vectors your pilots will take (low, level, high – nose, tail or flank) and try to knock the Amis out of the sky. Each pilot can choose to be press their attack or peel off early (which affects how quickly you can get back in the fight), you select your break away manouevre as you approach the formation and hope that your momentum puts you on the fringe of the enemy fire curtain when you’re done. The attacking pass is a mutual affair, either the bomber, fighter neither or both can take hits, and then the fighter may be subject to continuing fire as it passes through the rest of the bombers.

    The escorts, when present, appear on the board and then act to block approaches to the bombers – if your pilots get too close to the escorts then the escorts will take an active interest in them and this, while not always actively unhealthy for your pilots, usually results in their being left too far behind the bombers to get back in the game.

    The basic game measures victory by knocking B17s out of formation or destroying them, and pilot experience by the same or by taking down escorts or surviving critical damage to their fighter) – pilots can use experience to lose bad habits learned in training and acquire better ones.

    The advanced game measures victory solely by destroyed B17s, and allows your pilots to pursue stragglers.

    The games I’ve played so far of Skies, even when we’ve put up a maximum effort, have been chaotic – escorts sitting in the most profitable spots to attack from, frustrating – having a Schwarm bounced and taken out of the game, reducing your force by half is not fun, and intensely exciting – the final pair of fighters zeroing in on the tail end charlie, already ragged from previous passes but somehow still in formation, and finally watching him drop back and down… and the missions in between where the staffel made no headway but still lost pilots..

    * co-operative play allows for two Staffel Kapitanen to take part, but in the event of a loss the lower scoring Kapitan is demoted, in the event of a win only the higher scoring one is recognised and rewarded

     

    Sand, not oil, in the gears of the world.

    #97002
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    Thanx for the detailed reviews. I’ve had my eye on both of these titles. Been resisting, ‘cuz I have no regular boardgame opponents…but you make them look verrry tempting……

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #97065
    madman
    Participant

    Lee is a very talented individual. I met him, decades ago when we were all addicted to Air Superiority. I am not sure about interest in the scale of this game, the flight simulator as a paper computer, a la AS, is more my style. Where do you fellows hail from? I am just north of Toronto and always looking for air game enthusiasts.

    #97071
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    I’m in Cincinnati, Stephen. Maybe you can come visit Dayton for the next Oxleycon/Check Your 6! Con in June 2019. Make a weekend of it and visit the USAF Museum at Wright-Pat.

    If you Facebook, you might consider joining the Aerial Wargames group. The 1484 members add entertainment to my newsfeed.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/aerialwargames/

    There’s a member locator map. Not everyone has updated his location, but I see a couple within an easy drive of Toronto.

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=12aTTAgw8XSG-CYt1EsLxSEGfwYzvc0pX&ll=45.2915626863189%2C-92.8977996187499&z=5

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by zippyfusenet.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #97230
    madman
    Participant

    I have been to Dayton a couple times. Last about 2008 for a WWI rally. It included flying replicas, ground based reenactors, historians, restorers (mostly motors), artists, RC enthusiasts (which was what drew me at the time), flight sim enthusiasts and I am sure I am forgetting some others. It is/was a yearly or bi yearly event called the Dayton Dawn Patrol. My then 9 year old son and I attended. He was into RC planes but my younger son is the one who got me back into gaming. The other time I visited was early ’90s on the way back from an Origins. A group of us from the Toronto area were very heavily into the modern air combat game/paper simulation Air Superiority over about a decade long period.

    So when you mention CY6, which I have played a few times, it makes me think of the old saying about skating penguins. Basically taking a 3D environment and playing it as a 2D “game” with the effects of the third dimension ignored or reduced to such a level as to be mere cartoonish. It would be acceptable if I could find opponents in the area who would be interested in starting out with CY6, or any of the other 2D games and “graduating” to the closer physics of AS, or JDs WWII series. There is an even more accurate but no less playable modern air combat game “Birds of Prey” which I haven’t gotten yet as no opponents so no need for the game. I have also found a couple WWI games (my favorite era) with similar levels of detail. But alas I am determined not to buy things I cannot play. I have also played a couple games of Wings of Glory (or whatever the WWI version is called) which is an even more watered down game and it just makes me wish for more.

    That is one of the reasons I decided not to get back into AS et all, just the disappointment of so close. That along with the level of play and intensity would (could?) become as all encompassing as in the past.

    If you would be so kind as to enquire on your board for players from the Toronto area interested in playing the Fighting Wings, Speed of Heat or similar level of detail WWI air games it would be greatly appreciated. There is an on line presence but the only replies I received for interest in the GTA petered out when pushed for getting together.

    As to a visit to Dayton I have let my passport lapse and it is costing something between $100 and $200 to renew so adding that to the other costs of a game weekend makes the proposition very poor. However, if you find yourself wanting to travel up here we have a few (6 or so) game and minis weekends where we could push the tin around.

    #97234
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    The Dawn Patrol fly-in + WWI rendesvouz at the USAF Museum still happens every year. I’ve dropped in on it a couple of times. I enjoy watching the replica ragwings buzz around.

    I’m surprised that you think of Check Your 6! as a 2D game. The standard version has altitude rules. CY6! is more of a game than a flight simulation, which suits me, but may not please everyone.

    If you post here details of your next planned game weekend, I’ll make them known on FB Aerial Wargames. It’s possible I could visit Toronto some day. I’ll let you know when and if.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #97241
    madman
    Participant

     I’m surprised that you think of Check Your 6! as a 2D game. The standard version has altitude rules. CY6! is more of a game than a flight simulation, which suits me, but may not please everyone.

    Disclosure. I have played CY6 twice at a couple of cons. We played very late war once and very early war once. I do not have the rules, charts or any QRS sheets so precise details are as I remember them and may be off. I played Air Superiority (AS) heavily, multiple times a week for years, at a competitive level. I only played Over the Reich (WWII air combat game by the same designer as AS, JD Webster) a couple times and both OtR and AS were decades ago.

    Altitude in CY6 is so “telescoped” as to be cartoonish. You can go from sea level to max altitude in at most 6 turns and usually 2 or 3. This would mean a time scale of 5 to 10 minutes per turn for the fastest climbing planes of WWII. Based on the horizontal aspect of the game I assume the game scale is 50 to 100 meters per inch (or did it use hexes?) and about 10 seconds per turn. I understand this is a game and even JD stated his vertical effect was telescoped by about a factor of 3 to make climbs and dives quicker and keep the pace of the game going. If CY6 was kept as is but the vertical scale was changed from 6(?) levels to say 20 or so (say one level per 1000 feet) then the effects of climbing or diving would be much closer in tune with the rest of the game and I don’t think playability would suffer greatly. Perhaps this is an official or unofficial mod to the game I have not seen. Although the effects of climbing or diving, on other performance characteristics, are incorporated in a way I was uncomfortable with at first glance, the game effect is not bad.

     If you post here details of your next planned game weekend, I’ll make them known on FB Aerial Wargames. It’s possible I could visit Toronto some day. I’ll let you know when and if.

    I do not run any events anymore. But the game community is quite strong in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) primarily board games but also board and miniature wargames. There is effectively a convention (usually small but a couple pretty big ones) every month locally or within an hour or two drive at most. There are also a couple dedicated miniatures conventions, Hot Lead in the spring and Council Fires in the fall. Most conventions are quite happy to have miniatures games going on. There are also non convention meetings many of which feature or will accomodate miniature games. Many hobby shops incorporate game areas in their venues (unheard of back in the day). I do not participate at them as most seem oriented to pushing single system “events” on a regular basis such as Magic, Warhammer, etc. as a way to move store stock. A few do host local game clubs on a monthly basis but they seem to be pushed to weeknight time slots which does not work for me.

    You are always welcome to come up and if you would let gamers close to me on your FB (facebook I assume) group know I am looking for opponents it would be appreciated. Thank you.

    #97258
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    Altitude in CY6 is so “telescoped” as to be cartoonish. You can go from sea level to max altitude in at most 6 turns and usually 2 or 3. 

    I don’t mean to argue with you Stephen, but I think you’re mis-remembering CY6! What you’ve described is the altitude system in the Mustangs boardgame and its Air Pirates miniatures adaptation, which give altitude a sketchy treatment.

    In CY6!, the sky is divided into 10 Combat Altitude Bands, each about 4,000 feet. Each CAB is divided into 6 Tactical Altitude Levels, about 667 feet per TAL. Diving is limited to 3 TAL per turn (and you may not be able to pull out of a steep dive), climbing to 2 TAL per turn (which will cost at least 2 speed, or as much as 6 speed in a tight turn, not that you’re likely to have 6 speed). Most games are played inside a single CAB, and a plane that climbs above TAL 6 or dives below TAL 1 leaves the game. However, I GMed a dive-bombing scenario a few weeks ago that ran across 3 full CAB.

    One of the things I like about CY6! is that, for a not-too-complex wargame, it represents altitude well and allows me to make meaningful use of the vertical every game turn.

    It’s perfectly fine if you prefer a different rule set, I just wanted to clarify.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #97262
    madman
    Participant

    So it seems based on your description and images of the data cards online I was playing CY6 and we were limited to the 6 TALs at our CAB during the games I played. Going beyond was never shown as an option or mentioned. Well that sounds a lot better.

    I don’t see anything on the data cards about how the different CABs would affect aircraft performance though. Certain aircraft had very different characteristics at different altitudes. As an example the Typhoon was amazing at low level but the thick wing made it a dog at altitude where it’s drag held it back relative to other planes. Note these altitude variable differences were more marked when compared with other contemporary planes than against their own performances. A small plus or minus here or there for one vs the other adds up a swaps back and forth changing things quite drastically.

    Now to find opponents to play!

     

    #97263
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    I don’t see anything on the data cards about how the different CABs would affect aircraft performance 

    Curiouser and curiouser. I’ve never used ‘data cards’ to play CY6! There’s a table of aircraft statistics in the rule book, and the stats are transferred to a log sheet for play, the same log sheet the players use to write their orders. Air Pirates/Mustangs does, however, use data cards, and does not differentiate performance by altitude.

    As it happens, in the aircraft statistics tables in the CY6! rule book, aircraft are rated differently for high altitude vs. low/medium altitude performance. Since few games are played across the high/medium altitude divide, only one set of stats is transferred to the log sheet. I realize that high altitude performance vs. low/medium altitude performance is an over-simplification, but it’s twice as much granularity as you’ll find in most simple wargames, so it pleases me.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #97264
    madman
    Participant

    Found this example on the ‘web and matches the layout I played with.

    #97265
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    M’kay, that’s a CY6! log sheet. And apparently pre-printed, rather than filled out in ink or pencil. I guess someone ginned some up. In the rule book, in the aircraft statistics tables, planes are rated for their high altitude vs. medium/low altitude performance, but only one set of stats is usually transferred to a log sheet for a game.

    Mind saying where you found this? Looks like something I could use, if it’s available.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #97266
    madman
    Participant

    Found it here.

    http://wargameinsvergie.blogspot.com/search/label/CY6

    Scroll down a bit it is from a older post. I searched his page using CY6 and this lot came up. Further down there is something similar but in B&W. I wonder if the rules have been updated or these charts are part of one of the scenario books/packs. If I remember correctly the ones we played with were similar. Maybe downloadable from some user group website?

    #97267
    madman
    Participant

    Also note the bottom strip on the left side above showing http://www.skirmishcampaigns.com having them. I did some searching but could find nothing there. Perhaps they were being made available as free too freely?

    #97269
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    Thanks for that. The Skirmish Campaigns site has blank B&W movement chart/logsheets if you follow the CY6! link to the Downloads page.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #97270
    madman
    Participant

    I guess the above is a cut and paste made by the guy with the site. I could have sworn the ones I gamed with had pictures as well. Maybe hopeful thinking.

    #97319
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    By the way, this year’s Dawn Patrol WWI fly-in/rendezvous at the USAF Museum in Dayton Ohio is September 22 – 23. And it’s absolutely free.

    https://www.facebook.com/events/1989188774447539/?active_tab=discussion

     

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by zippyfusenet.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by zippyfusenet.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #97335
    madman
    Participant

    I want to apologize to Phil for completely taking over his excellent review thread of those air combat board games. I hope he is not too annoyed and is deriving some pleasure from Zippy and my back and forths. Please let us know if we are being trying and we will start a new thread. I can understand seeing “a reply” posted to YOUR thread and nowhere is there any discussion of your topic.

     

    Stephen

    #97373
    Phil Gray
    Participant

    Skies makes no mention of altitude as everything is oriented around the bomber stream. In relation to the stream you can be low, level (from the tail or nose aspect only) or high. The key factor in how quickly you complete an attack run and are in position to perform another is whether you press home your attack (determined) or not (evasive) – determined attackers that survive return sooner than evasive attackers. That said, if you’re lucky enough to have friends in 262s (your own staffel are always flying 109s but you can, mission by mission, spend your OPs points to buy friendly flights or upgrades) then they always choose where they come back to.

    Oh, and also in Skies if the escorts are at the Above trailing position then when you check for escort movement they are VERY likely to come and sit in the least opportune spot for you  if not actively seek you out and engage you, which can really screw up your approach runs – especially if they bounce you as the usually outcome there is that by the time yo have disposed of or evaded the little friends the stream has moved so far on that your out of the fight.

    Within Wing Leader height comes into play in two aspects. Firstly, the speed and turn values on the ADC that are used to decide combat differentials are split by height bands, secondly if you’re diving then you gain an on map speed pip – if you’re diving into combat and you opt for a hit and run rather than turning attack then that pip translates into a bonus to your actual speed as stated on your ADC. As the combat resolution uses the differential  between attacker and defender- or primary attacker/ defender where more than one aircraft type is engaged – to determine the range of outcomes you’re rolling for this can have a significant effect.

    Climb rates on the ADCs determine the MP cost on the the map to climb a level (a level is deliberately not defined in the game), unalerted aircraft only have 2 MP (and no reason to be climbing or diving) as they are flying to a given point (or to exit the map) and then circle, trying to tally the opposition, while alerted ones get 3 MP and so can climb or slow climb (if they lack the MPs to climb a level in a turn) as their situation dictates.

    And yes, if you are fielding an Me163 flight their vertical climb rate at full throttle is pretty awesome in comparison to others – but they only get so many turns of powered flight (to be spent at full or half throttle) before they convert to gliding, and a full throttle pass severely impacts their ability to score hits.

     

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Phil Gray.

    Sand, not oil, in the gears of the world.

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