Monday, 7 January 2013

Fokker Fodder

Well, there's no point in making some model planes if I don't try them out, so I set up a game of 'Spandau and Lewis' this evening. I could gave finished painting the bombers but, hey, I spent all weekend painting and modelling; it was time to get some dice out.

Some of the painting and modelling can be seen HERE and HERE.

The scenario was simple. A flight of four BE2s were on a mission. They had to fly down the table to a particular point, turn around, and come back. Three individual Fokker EIIIs were placed at random points on the table edge. They were competing to shoot down the most BE2s - I reasoned that the BE2s scored a moral victory if any survived or if they shot down a Fokker.

The stats for the planes are:

BE2C - Speed 4, Maneuver D, Hits 5, 1 Gun in Tail Arc

Fokker EIII - Speed 5, Maneuver C, Hits 5, 1 Gun in Nose Arc

As you can see, the BE2s are at a real disadvantage - they are slower, less agile, and have to let the Fokkers get behind them before they can shoot at them.

I experimented with some rule changes. One was a couple of slight changes to how initiative is worked out - one making it more intuitive (lower numbers go first) and the other adding a finer gradation of maneuver types by changing the way tie-breaks are handled (which I'll write up after more testing). The other change was a very experimental system for spotting, which still needs some work.

With the spotting rules in play, no aircraft was aware of the others. To this end they were forced to fly at a fixed speed of 3 with no more than a single 45 degree turn. The BE2s flew and spotted in a formation. The Fokkers had to each spot the British planes. Once an enemy was spotted the plane, or planes, moved normally.

The BE2s plodded slowly down the table, whilst the Fokkers cruised in a menacing way. One of them soon spotted the British formation, and moved swiftly along its flank to get behind it. Just as it was turning into position the British spotted one of the other Fokkers, and the game was on!

A Fokker swept in on the British formation:

It stuck to its target as the BE2s milled about in panic, and quickly downed it. All those rear-firing guns left a few bullet-holes though.

A second Fokker had isolated one of the BE2s, and was doggedly pursuing it. It was soon down to its last hit, but poor die-rolling meant that the Fokker couldn't finish it off.

Meanwhile the third Fokker had still not spotted the British, and was still cruising around looking for the fight:

Back to the chase. The BE2 briefly evaded the Fokker, but it had neither the speed or agility to do it for long. A single, short-range, burst finished it off. The chase had drawn the Fokker well away from the main fight, though, and it took no further part in the game.

Meanwhile the two surviving BE2s had completed the mission and were heading for home. The cruising Fokker had finally spotted them, and the British found themselves under attack from both sides.

 The third Fokker fired its first shot of the game, instantly killing the pilot of a BE2. All three Fokkers had a kill now. Who would get the last BE2?

The chase was on. The BE2 took a couple of hits, one of which killed the observer. With no way of fighting back it really was a race to see if it could reach the board edge before it was downed.

With no gun, and just one hit left, it made it.

So the game ended with one badly damaged BE2 getting home, and three Fokker pilots each with a kill. Welcome to France, 1916 ...

I need to work on the spotting rules, but the basics are there. The new initiative changes worked well, though, making for a smoother game. However it will take a few more games to check the maneuver gradation part of it.

This is my 200th blog post!


  1. I really like the direction this game is taking. I am a long time player of "Hostile Aircraft" and "Von Richtofen's War", but there are a lot of times you just want a quick game with no book-keeping, and it looks like you have one in the works. I will try this out sometime this week.

    BTW, your planes look great. I carved a few dozen in 1/300 scale several years ago. but 1/600...Wow!

    1. Thanks. There is some bookkeeping, of course, in that you have to track hits and ammo for each plane, but it's not very arduous and you can run seven planes (like I did) on a single A5 sheet of paper. Initiative can be tracked on paper or with small dice next to the planes.

      The aim of the rules was to eliminate plotted moves, but still make movement and maneuver a little unpredictable. The compromise is that a lot of what makes air games fun for some people is lost - altitude and fiddly technical details. But they work for me, and I shall keep poking at them on and off.


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