Bomber – an update

We playtested the Bomber game using the Dambusters raid as a scenario.  It was quite clear that the Flak rules are extremely nasty at low level, and that flying at low level is precarious.  Even though the next game will be flown at a higher altitude I have revised the rules to reduce the damage inflicted.   It would be useful to keep all players in tbe game!

The rules for flying were deemed to be too complex for chaps operating on post-Christmas hangovers, so they too have been simplified.  So has bombing.

I hope to post some more information about this game in the run-up to Christmas.

Meanwhile, festive felicitations to all.

A comparison of scale

While painting buildings for a 1944 Dutch town setting I am amazed at the different interpretations of scale by different manufacturers for 6mm battles.

This photo’ shows a couple of Total Battle Miniatures three storey houses against a Timecast version of the same.  TBM claim that their buildings are exagerrated in the vertical scale.



I think that Timecast is far closer to 1/200 than 1/300, even if the average 6mm (1/300 or 1/285)  model soldier could enter their doorways without stooping.

Bomber – the Wargame. Part 2

I thought it may be of interest to publish the draft rules that we will be using.  After drafting the rules I found the booklet shown in the header photograph, and was very pleased to find that the technical specs for a Lancaster matched very well with my own performance estimates.  The booklet is very useful for extra information on such things as take-off and landing speeds and – something I had not previously considered – which engines also power which subsidiary functions like gun turret hydraulics.  This in itself has added an element to my game.

And so to the draft rules:

BOMBER – Draft rules.

Designer’s Note:  Regardless of the apparent detail in these rules, it is intended to be competitive fun in the spirit of “one for all, and every man for himself”.  I have been surprised how close my first draft was to the real capabilities of the aircraft.


Each aircraft crew member has an ability level based on his training, natural skill and equipment efficiency.  These have been randomised, but every equivalent aircraft has the same total score.  Pilots cannot have the lowest ability rating.  Nobody’s ability can fall below level 1.

These abilities will be used to determine performance against problems.  Abilities may be reduced as the game progresses.  Generally you must roll below your ability to perform a task.  The exception is trying to fly higher or faster.

 Game Scales. (For reality checks)

The game is played on a 6cm hexagon grid.  Each hexagon is approximately 4 miles from side to side for strategic purposes, but for tactical engagements and bombing this is somewhat telescoped.

One turn is 10 minutes.

One altitude level is approximately 2,500 feet.  A Lancaster will normally cruise at and bomb from around level 6-8 (15-20,000 ft).  Maximum height is 11 (27,500 ft).

Flying higher will reduce vulnerability to Flak, but may make you more of a target for night fighters and will consume more fuel.  For aerial combat the difference between levels is assumed to be reduced to around 500 feet relative to the target.

One speed level is around 25 mph.  A Lancaster will normally cruise around level 6-7 (real = 160-170mph), but the maximum speed is 11 (real = 270 mph).

The minimum (stalling) speed is 4. (real =118 mph).

One fuel unit is 10 gallons.

Flak Guns have a range of 3 hexagons.  In reality the range is around 19,000 m level (3 hexagons) or 9,500 m vertical (12 altitude levels).  In the game the range for calculating shooting is the total of hexagons + altitude, but only up to 3 hexagons horizontal.

JU88 night fighters have a speed of between 5 and 12 hexagons (200 – 480 kph) and a maximum ceiling of 13 (9,250 m).

Combat ranges between fighters and bombers have been stretched, as the minimum space between models at the strategic scale is 4 miles.  Opening fire with a Browning .303” gun at 7,000 yards in the dark would be fairly pointless.  All combat between fighters and bombers is carried out at a range of 1 hexagon.

Aircraft will move in a randomised sequence determined by the draw of a card or a chit.

Flying a Lancaster bomber.

The Lancaster bomber can fly at a height between 1 and 11 (2,500 – 27,500 ft) and a speed between 4 and 11 (100mph-275mph).  If the speed is below 4 it will require a pilot ability roll to pull out of the uncontrolled dive.   The height is shown by one or two blue dice on the right side of the base.  The speed is shown by one or two red dice on the left side of the base.  At the start of each turn, the player may try to change either speed or altitude by one point up or down.

First declare the intention.  Roll a D6 and add or subtract the pilot ability level as desired.  If the result is higher than the factor to be increased then that factor is increased by one.  If the result is lower than the factor to be decreased then that factor is decreased by one.  Note that there is no trade-off of height for speed, to keep it simple.


A Bomber may turn by 60 degrees after each forward move of one hexagon.  The maximum number of turns in one move is equal to the ability of the navigator.  The minimum number of turns allowed in one move is one.  After damage to the aircraft it may be necessary to move two hexagons forwards before each turn.

Potential Collisions

An aircraft may pass through a hexagon containing another aircraft.  No aircraft may occupy the same hexagon as another aircraft at the end of the turn.  The aircraft that arrived last must reduce speed or turn away to complete its move.

After moving, the player deducts the total of the current altitude and speed from his fuel tally on the log sheet, also marking the heading, height and speed.

The cards

 At the end of each turn after the first aircraft reaches the enemy coast the umpire will draw a “Gremlin” card and advise the relevant player(s) of the consequences.

Damage cards are drawn when an aircraft suffers hits or if the Gremlin card indicates a systems failure.  Damage must be noted on the pilot’s log.

FLAK Batteries

FLAK takes priority over other combat.   At the end of its move each aircraft must dice for damage from all FLAK batteries within 3 hexagons.   Roll 2D6.  Subtract 1 for each hexagon of range and 1 for each level of altitude.  The result is the number of damage cards dealt to the player.  Damage is inflicted in the sequence of the cards dealt.

Night Fighters.

Each player has one JU88 night fighter.  The JU88 may be deployed at the player’s discretion, subject to the following:  Roll 1D8 and 2D6.  If the D8<2D6 the aircraft may be deployed.  It is placed on the table edge in occupied territory with an initial speed of 1D8 (minimum 5) and height of 1D8.

JU88 night fighters have a crew of 3.  They fly under the same rules as a Lancaster, but at a speed of 5 – 13 hexagons and an altitude of 1 – 13 hexagons, using a D8 instead of a D6.  If the speed falls below 5 it will require a pilot ability roll to pull out of the uncontrolled dive.

A JU88 starts with 200 fuel points and marks off the tally as for Lancaster bombers.  It must leave the table before running out of fuel.  It may be refuelled and rearmed after 2D6 turns.

Aerial combat

Each aircraft may fire before moving, after moving, or both. When the JU88 has moved within one hexagon of the Lancaster:

Lancaster gunners (depending on angle of attack) roll against their ability.  If 1D6<ability the gunner saw the JU88 approaching and warns the pilot.  The pilot rolls against his ability.  If 1D6<ability, the aircraft may move 1 hexagon in any forward direction and 1 level up or down.

The JU88 has:

4 x 20mm cannon firing directly forwards.  If the target is within 1 hexagon and directly in front of the JU88 and at the same altitude, roll 2D6.  Subtract the die roll for each die from the Pilot ability.  The result is the number of hits.  Take 2 damage cards on the target for each hit.

2 x 20mm cannon firing forwards and upwards.  If the target is within 1 hexagon and directly in front of the JU88 and 1 level higher, roll 1D6.  Subtract the die roll from the Pilot ability.  The result is the number of hits.  Take 2 damage cards on the target for each hit

1 x 7.92 MG firing directly to the rear.  If the target is within 1 hexagon and directly to the rear of the JU88 and 1 level higher, roll 1D6.  Subtract the die roll from the Navigator ability.  The result is the number of hits.  Take 1 damage card on the target for each two hits, rounding down.

FLAK and JU88 Night Fighters.

If a JU88 strays within 3 hexagons of a FLAK position, roll 2D6 for identification.  Subtract the range in hexagons and the altitude.   If the result is positive the FLAK guns have misidentified the aircraft as a Blenheim and open fire, as for Lancaster bombers.

Lancaster Bombers – Combat

May shoot before moving, after moving, or both.  Lancasters are armed with:

Front:  (Bomb Aimer is also Front Gunner.)  2 x .303” MGs.  May fire at targets within one hexagon ahead, to left or right at the same altitude, one level above or one below.  Roll 1D6 and subtract from the gunner’s ability.  Remainder is hits.  Target takes one damage card for each hit.

Mid-Upper: 2 x .303″ MGs.  May fire at any target within the same altitude or one above and one hexagon range, except directly to the rear at the same altitude.  Roll 1D6 and subtract from the gunner’s ability.  Remainder is hits.  Target takes one damage card for each hit.

Tail: 4 x .303″ MGs.  May fire at targets within one hexagon to the rear, to left or right at the same altitude, one level above or one below.  Roll 1D6 and subtract from the gunner’s ability.  Remainder is hits.  Target takes two damage cards for each hit.


When the aircraft is lined up on the target and one move away from overflying it, bombing will take place.  The bomb-aimer rolls 1D6<ability to move the aircraft one hexagon in any direction.  The launch point is the new position of the aircraft, moved back one hexagon for each height level, and forwards for each speed level.

The player now shoots seven tiddlywinks from the launch position. (Each represents two 1000lb bombs).  The umpire adjudicates the fall of bombs, scores the bombing and places fire and smoke markers.  The aircraft is now returned to control of the pilot who must fly straight and level on the next move (for the photographs to be taken).


Landing a Lancaster is achieved by reducing the altitude to 0 and the speed to 100mph (speed 4) at the point at which the aircraft reaches the runway.  Depending on damage sustained this may be easy or very difficult.

A note about the cards.

Anyone who has played Monopoly will be familiar with the concept of Chance cards.  In my game the umpire draws a card at the start of each game turn.  A few of the Gremlin cards may be beneficial, but most will infove a frustration factor.  maybe the predicted weather has changed.  Maybe a vital piece of equipment has failed.  Most of the cards require one specific aircraft to draw a damage card and if that card refers to a system (as opposed to generalised structural damage) the effects are applied.

The Damage cards are drawn either as a result of a Gremiln card or from Flak or anemy shooting.  These range from crew casualties to structural or systems damage.  After damage the aircraft will be harder to fly and perform bombing, shooting, navigation, etc.  These effects are generally indicated by reducing one or more crew abilities, requiring a lower die roll to succeed in any task.



“Bomber” – the wargame. Part 1

I have been preparing for an all-day wargame on 27th December with a group of chums.  We have a table about 16ft x 7ft to play with and almost invariably our games concentrate in about a quarter of the table.

So I have planned a game which will force the players to cover the whole length of the table.  It is based on Len Deighton’s novel “Bomber”.  Players will have to fly one or more Lancaster bombers from their base in England to bomb a German town and return home safely.  The twist is that each player also has the possibility of deploying a night fighter to attack the other players.

I have finished my draft of the rules ready for the playtest next Thursday.  This is an evening game so I am using a shorter table to rduce flying time.  On Thursday we will be bombing dams.  The rules are necessarily quite simple to speed up the game.

The concept is similar to an adventure game in that each aircraft has a crew with different ability levels which they need to roll against for success in shooting, flying, navigating, etc.

The unusual game mechanism is the bombing run, which is done with tiddlywinks to intruduce a bit of skill and fun.  In the main game points will be awarded for hitting factories, railway yards, etc. and deducted for such things as churches and hospitals.

Report on the playtest with some pictures to follow later.