Saturday, 3 November 2018

Never has so much been owed...

John has been busy painting a load of Raiden 6mm aircraft and was keen to put on a game. We used the Pz8 hex based air combat rules (one sheet of A4, so a proper set of rules). Being a grizzled veteran of many flight sims, radio controlled aircraft models, and also having been fortunate enough to (briefly) fly real biplane and monoplane prop aircraft, I'm always a bit dubious about the two dimensional flying games. irl it feels like wrestling with a powered sailing dinghy in three dimensions, not quite the same as putting a toy aeroplane on a stick.

But, I shall reserve judgement.

Tim and I got to be the wicked Germans, a finger four of Bf 109s led by no less than Adolf Galland, escorting a lonely He 111 to bomb somewhere in merry England. Jerry and Graham got flights of Spitfires and Hurricanes respectively.

Here is the mighty Luftwaffe. My two 109s are closest to the camera. The little dice are altitude markers (each pip being 3000 feet!).

The RAF. Three Spitfires and two Hurricanes. Very unfairly the Spitfires had a  higher ceiling than our 109s, but we were somewhat faster than the Hurricanes. 

Off we went, the Heinkel at altitude 2 and our two sections at altitude 3. 

My wingman (yellow nose) keep excellent close formation. One slight problem we came across was that the hexes were a bit small, particularly having separate altitude markers.

Ooer, this isn't looking too good. We should maybe have flown a bit further ahead as the Hurricanes just flew right past us and attacked the Heinkel. Galland has managed to get on the tail of one, but the other survived my double head on pass and duly shot the He 111 down in a single attack! 

Retribution is swift as I manage an Immelman to get on the tail of the impudent Hurricane, and knock great big bits out of it. The table is getting a bit cluttered  with dice and activation markers at this point. 

The Spitfires now put in an appearance, again I loop and turn my way our of trouble but my wingman isn't so lucky. We were all starting to get the hang of the flying and tailing system by now, which worked surprisingly well. Turning in level flight is quite restricted, so being able to pull a half loop (ideally preceded by a dive) is really very handy. The game does have a certain amount of energy management (altitude for speed and vice versa), not as much as I'd like, but not as little as I feared. The extra movement point gives the 109s a big manouverability advantage over the Hurricanes.

While my wingman limps off, I am surrounded by the entire RAF in a buzzing dogfight. Fortunately(?) only the one on my tail is low enough to engage.

Gallands flight comes to the rescue and downs the Hurricane on my tail. The table is now a complete mess of markers and some of them are getting knocked over.

My wingman goes down to one of the Spitfires though. The dice are their respective combat dice... it uses an opposed dice combat system, with suitably amusing DBA-like variability, but you can't go far wrong with a point blank shot from the rear then rolling 6 vs 1.

At this point the melee breaks up a bit as planes zoom off to regain some altitude and sort themselves out. With two planes down each (including the vital He 111) we call it a day.

That was actually very enjoyable, and once we got the hang of 'flying' a certain degree of tactical subtlety became apparent. Jerry is very good at hex games and outflew us all, but I think we all got an inkling of what being able to think a couple of turns ahead might look like. The tailing system is simple but effective, and the energy management aspects are OK.   

So, another outing is lined up soon, but this time we'll use bigger (Hexon) hexes to avoid the clutter. I think none of us had appreciated that the combat is played out at pretty close quarters so the hexes need a certain amount of elbow room. 

If anyone is interested in these rules, they are part of the Pz8 rules compendium, which sadly you'll have to hunt around the Interweb for as Mr Pz8 doesn't seem to have his website any more.


  1. A fine report accompanied by magnificent photographs worthy of inclusion in Signal magazine.

    1. I'm not sure Signal is in the business of writing up shattering German defeats! They could probably manage a few posed shots of Galland grinning besides his BF 109 though.

  2. Thanks for the heads up for Pz8 Rules ;)