Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Dakka! Dakka! Dakka!

To the young wargamer today, the title of this post might lead them to believe that it was about some sort of Ork Fighter Bomber for Warhammer 40K.

Well sorry to disappoint them.

Those of us "older" wargamers and film buffs will know it's that immortal line uttered by Robert Shaw in the classic 1969 film "The Battle of Britain" where he is trying to teach the rookie Pilot how to stay alive during the impending battle.(due to  YouTube rules you'll have to click on the link to go to YouTube)

Regular readers will know how keen I am on the Wings of War game (now known as Wings of Glory produced by Ares Games ) but this has always been the WW1 version of the game, I had never played the WW2 version. Given the new starter set for the WW2 Wings of  Glory is about £50 I have been swithering as to the affordability of it given that I'm still keen to pick up the WW1 models.

However, an alternative system which has just been released in the last couple of months by Wizards of the Coast (WotC) is their Axis and Allies Angels 20 game

Now there will be some of you who will go "Wizards of the Coast? Bah humbug - it'll just be another card game like Magic the Whatchamacallit or role playing game like Dungeons and Doldrums".

Now, fortunately from my point of view I play/ have played both "Magic the Gathering" and "Dungeons and Dragons" and enjoyed them both so the fact that Angels 20 is produced by WotC wasn't cause for alarm. And their WW2 sea battles and WW2 land battles versions have been incredibly popular, although admittedly I hadn't played any of these.

Plus the models for Angels 20 are pre-painted. So that was another reason to be interested. 

The starter set normally retails for about £25 but can be had on Amazon for a lot less than this, so last week Alan and I started down another slippery slope with our first game.

Flt. Lt. Rupert Chumley-Brown in his Spitfire leading his
spiffing good mate, Flt. Lt. Horace Plumpington in his Hurricane head on to meet the Hun.

As you will note from the picture the game is played on a hex map. The starter set comes with 2 map sheets that can be butted together to form a decent sized playing area. Each type of plane has a stat card which contains all of the essential information the pilot needs to fly his kite.

So looking at the card above Rupert (who is an Ace) and his Spitfire cost 46 points . At normal speed he can move a minimum of 2 hexes and a maximum of 4 hexes and at high speed can move 5 hexes. At Range 1 he rolls 6d6 (that's code for 6 x 6 sided dice) to attack, Range 2, 4d6 and at Range 3, 2d6. Rupert's Spit can take a total of 3 hits before hitting the deck and a hit is scored if his armour damage score of 3 is equalled or exceeded when fired upon by an enemy aircraft. However, if the Vital score of 6 is scored in one attack then catastrophic damage is caused and Rupert is a goner. When a plane has 1 hit point left then it is deemed to be crippled and that is bad news.

Then you have the bonus scores that can be added to 2d6 whenever Rupert wants to attempt a "difficult manoeuvre", the bonus to be added dependant on whether the manoeuvre is a type of Turn, Roll, Climb or Dive.

Finally, there are a couple of Special Abilities which Rupert can use during the game.

Here Come The Hun!

Alan was flying as Jerry while I took the good old Brits!

Each player at the start of the turn rolls for Initiative. The player with the highest score gets to move second and will always move one of his planes last - a very important advantage when you are trying to get on an opponent's tail. First player moves one of his planes, then the Second Player moves one of his planes and so on until all planes have been moved as long as the Player who won initiative moves the last plane in the turn.

During the plane's movement it can attempt to make 1 "difficult manoeuvre" per turn (some Aces can attempt 2 such manoeuvres). At normal speed the score to equal or exceed with 2d6 and adding the plane's relevant bonus is 10 and at high speed the score to equal is 13. Failure to get that score and the plane will normally just fly straight ahead into the next hex.

Once all planes have moved then the First player can attack with any of his aircraft that has a valid target (usually within 3 hexes of the front of the aircraft, although the Me110 can fire up to 4 hexes away) and under the basic rules both planes have to be at the same altitude (there are 6 altitude bands and there are  numbers appearing on the base of each plane which designate the altitude the plane is flying at and you simply swivel the plane round so that the front of the plane is above the relevant number).

I won the initiative for the first turn, so Alan moved one of his planes first. It wasn't long before we were all in amongst each other and Alan, being Alan, decides he was going to try and fly Emil in his Me109E into Rupert..

If 2 planes fly into the same hex and are at the same altitude then a collision may occur. Both players roll a d6 and if both roll a "1" (or if the plane's pilot is a rookie then "1" or "2") then a collision occurs and BOOM! So we both rolled our dice, I rolled the black one....

The "Eye of Sauron" rolled by Alan is a "1"

So thankfully no collision but the sky was getting crowded as we both tried to manoeuvre our kites into a good firing position.

Then Horace takes a 2 hex range burst at Friedrich in the Me109F and scores 1 hit!

You can just see the red hit counter under Friedrich's tail. Don't ask what Alan's Ace is trying to do!

Alan then gets an attack on Rupert at range 1 but approaching from 10 o'clock needs "6's" to score damage.

And misses!!

Rupert, however, showing true flying ability gets into Emil's 8o'clock arc

Dakka! Dakka! Dakka! A hit!

Realising they were up against a top notch pilot, the Jerries do the dastardly thing and pick on Horace in his Hurri

Boo Hiss! The Jerries manage to scratch Horace's paintwork.

Rupert tries to break up the Party by targeting Friedrich, who is continuing to tail Horace in his Hurri

But leaves himself exposed to sneaky Emil to get in a close range burst

Friedrich's relentless pursuit of Horace in his Hurri leads Rupert to risk all to try and save his mate 

And Friedrich, already on 2 hits is a Goner!! Pip! Pip! Rupert!

But by concentrating on Friedrich, Rupert for a split second forgets to check the skies for Emil, but too late!

"Cripes! Jerry has got me! Bail out and hope the chute works!"

By this time Horace and his Hurri were also in a crippled state and a crippled Hurri is no match for a sneaky Hun.

Typical Jerry overkill scoring 6 hits when only 3 were required!

"Bail out Horace!"

So a lucky win to Alan in the first game. However, rather than try and prove it was no fluke, he made way for his lad Josef, and those of you who have read about our Saga/ Blood Bowl or any other games that involves dice will know that when Josef rolls dice, he takes no prisoners.

Josef, elected to take the Brits this time, leaving me with the dastardly Huns. Instead of the Me109F, I took another Me109E and we set to the skies. However, before I knew it, Josef's Spit managed to get on the tail of my Ace. 

With, 1 damage point already, I expected to have a crippled kite at the end of the attack. However, a Me109E only has a score of 5 for it's vital score, so Josef, being Josef rolls 6 dice needing 4's....

And scores a total of 6 hits blowing the Me109 out of the sky!

"Gott in Himmel!"
(The camera wobble was due to me shaking my head in disbelief at Josef's jammy rolling")

Josef then swooped in for the kill against the other Me109

"Achtung Spitfeuer!"

And the result was alas inevitable....

Scratch another Hun.

The game with Josef lasted, I think about 4 turns, I was too dazed too remember the actual total.

So a couple of entertaining games. Okay, it may not appeal to the purist but the fact that all you need is the starter set and you can literally start playing as soon as you open the box is a major plus point for me (although the fact that it uses dice means it doesn't get a maximum 10 out of 10 score).

As you can hopefully see from the pictures the models are not bad at all. The game is marketed as a "collectible" game in that the initial set has 31 different planes, representing, British, American, Russian, French, German, Japanese, Finnish and Chinese aircraft and the additional planes can be bought in "boosters" containing 3 random models so there is always the possibility of ending up with a model you already have. But then you can always trade it for one you don't have or build up that squadron of Hurricanes!

The Me110 model is, however, only available in the starter set and all the stat cards are in the starter set, not in the boosters. There is already a market on EBay for single models if you want to be specific about the planes you need.

I liked the game a lot. The rules were pretty simple to follow and once we got the hang of what the different manoeuvres would do to the position of the plane then it did become very tactical. There are suggested scenarios for the Battle of Britain and also a scenario generator to play 1 of 6 different scenarios. Advanced rules make it possible to fire at aircraft 1 altitude band below or above you, and to get bonuses to your attacks and manoeuvres depending on how you position your plane on it's stand. It also introduces weather rules and fairly simple rules for ack-ack.

Further sets will no doubt be released and which will introduce more aircraft types (the word on the street is that the next set will be Pacific themed) and if it follows the usual WotC format you can probably expect 3 different sets in a year.

So definitely sliding down another slippery slope.......

(It was not all bad news that night, I whupped Alan's butt at Wings of War!)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Shot Down In Flames

Although most Wargamers will tell you that they play their games for the enjoyment and camaraderie that comes with being with like minded folk, deep down we all want to WIN!

Apparently, when I was a little boy, I was a terrible loser and that I would go into a terrible huff if I didn't win whatever game I was involved in at that time. Now I have no recollection of such behaviour (probably blanked it out of my sub-conscious psyche) and it's probably just as well that I don't act like that now - honest I don't! - as those of you who have visited these ramblings before will have learnt that my record at winning games is not very good.

Now it is always a pleasure to bring new players to the wargames table or teach old players a game that they hadn't played before. Of course, one of the Golden Rules about teaching anyone a new game is not to do it in such a way that they get totally hammered by the person doing the teaching as this will inevitably discourage the new player and they won't want to play the game again.

Knowing the rules of a game better than your opponent is usually one way of getting a win and so it is almost inevitable that when teaching a game to a new player, unfamiliar with the rules mechanics etc that the teacher will usually end up just winning  the game and no more and that would be fine as the new player will be left encouraged by his almost successful outing and will want to come back for more.

So last Friday, after a long absence, I actually had the time to go up to Kirriemuir Wargames Club. My old mate, Kev, had posted on the club forum that he was taking Wings Of War WW1 along for a game as he was hoping to teach a few of the other guys how to play, although Kev would be the first to admit he had only played it once before himself so he was as much a "new player" as the other guys. So, says I, I'll come along and teach the lads the rules.

My first outing with Wings of War had a predictable result (being a new player) as told many moons ago in my post here but I had enjoyed the game so much that I ended up getting the original set, all 3 expansions ("Watch Your Back", "Burning Drachans" and "Flight of the Giants") as well as the Deluxe version. Of course, typically, just as I was getting into the game, Fantasy Flight Games who had been producing the game under licence announced they were ceasing production. Fortunately, a new company Ares Games have taken over the game system and while they are now branding it as "Wings of Glory", I understand that the old game and models will be compatible with the new game. And they are going to be bringing out models of Bombers! Anyway, I'm digressing, back to the games night.

So, I turned up with my toys and was met at the club by Kev, Neil, Steve and Graeme arrived a wee bit later. Table was quickly set up and I gave the boys a quick run through of the rules.

Wings of War is a delightfully simple game. You pick your plane, you get a deck of manoeuvre cards for that plane and each turn you play 3 of those cards and your plane moves in the direction of the arrow printed on those cards. If you end up with an enemy plane in your firing arc and within a ruler's length of your plane, the target player draws damage cards from the damage deck and when the number of damage points equals the damage rating of the plane, down it goes and, in those days, you didn't have a parachute.

The game gets depth from the special damage that can appear on some of the damage cards, for example jammed rudder, engine damaged, plane on fire, guns jammed and so on. And despite it's simplicity, there are a lot of tactics. Until, you get used to how the cards position your plane at the end of each phase, it can be a challenge to get yourself in just the right position, and of course, that's assuming you put the cards down in the order you intended to...

Plus the game does not use any dice! So clearly, I was going to be at an advantage compared to the others, having more experience of how the manoeuvre deck worked and knowing the types of manoeuvres and distance each plane that was in play was capable of, but remembering the Golden Rule, I was, of course, trying to ensure that when I won the game that I "just won and no more".

So Kev took the Fokker Dr I triplane, obviously fancying himself as the Red Baron, Steve had the Albatross DV, Neil had the Biggles role flying the Sopwith Camel and yours truly, as Reme Roisleyjardin had the Spad XIII.

Although there were 4 of us playing the 6ft x 4ft table we were using was probably a bit on the big side so it took a few turns before we started to getting down to the nitty gritty. But soon I was closing in on the dastardly Kev and his triplane.

Dakka Dakka Dakka!!!

Meanwhile Steve and Neil were floating about in the other side of the table enjoying the view

A couple of more turns and then Kev and I both ended up in each others firing arcs. We each drew 1 damage card, Kev pulling his first then I drew my card.........

Mon Dieu! Mon Derriere est frit!

This was, of course, a deliberate ploy by me to show the others how the damage deck could be lethal and it meant, of course, I could now concentrate on helping the others with the rules as they played out the rest of the game, honest guv!

The guys, to their credit, didn't laugh too loudly. So much for the bloody "Golden Rule"!

A number of my fellow bloggers have, at an opportune moment included a bit of a music video into their post, so it seems only appropriate at this point to bring you a wee bit of AC/DC and their classic tune "Shot Down in Flames" (you'll need to click through to You Tube and then skip the ads)

Some of you may know that the late, great Bon Scott actually hails from Kirriemuir.

The guys continued with the game

Neil in his Sopwith Camel manages to completely fly past Kev's triplane. We soon discovered that Neil had, instead of putting his 3 cards back into his deck for the next turn, been forming a wee discard pile. He thought you had to go through the whole deck before you could use the cards again!

Despite being outnumber 2 to 1, Neil gamely takes on the Huns!

And it wasn't too long before Kev found out that the Triplane doesn't have that high a damage rating

I'm sure that I had scored the first 10 points of damage before going down in flames

Now the sides are even!

A couple of turns later, Neil got Steve's Albatross in his sights and.....

I don't actually know how many "explosion" cards are in the damage deck but I had never seen 2 come out in a game before!

We then discovered how Neil, despite being shot at by two Boche for several turns had managed to avoid destruction

We set up for a second game, this time Kev bowed out and Graeme took over. Before we did that, Graeme showed us some of his work in progress Space Marines that he is working on in order to play some Rogue Trader

Graeme tried to say this was some sort of drill attachment from an old Necromunda figure but we were all pretty convinced it was a mascara brush!

Anyway back to the second game.

Reme's cousin, Pierre Roisleyjardin, seeking revenge on the Boche!

Oh Oh! Biggles is in trouble this time as Steve's Albatross swoops in for the kill!

And then Graeme's Fokker joins in!

But it takes a lucky hit to bring him down!!

And the filthy Boche manage to finish off Pierre as well

All the guys seemed to enjoy the games and looked keen to come back for more, which of course, was what I was hoping to achieve, winning was never a consideration.....yeah right!

A couple of pics from the other games going on, first some 40K mayhem involving Space Marines, Orks, Necrons and Tyranids

And a very nice looking game of "Songs of Drums and Shakos" by Ganesha Games

I think I might go and dig out my old AC/DC albums now.