After last week’s play test of my rules adapted for 1940 I invested in a copy of “Bag the Hun” from Too Fat Lardies.
A quick perusal of the rule book this afternoon shows how close many of Nick Skinner’s rules are to my own independently designed systems. I created my rules through detailed reference to the RAF Lancaster pilot’s handbook and descriptions in Len Deighton’s eponymous novel.
The first big difference is that I have divided speed and altitude into 12 bands instead of 6. I also allocate “ability” levels to each crew member, reflecting their skill, training and equipment functionality. Thus, as equipment gets damaged the user’s ability level drops.
One of my innovations is the “Gremlin” card which is dealt once each move (I use “player move” to differentiate from “turn”, which is a change of heading.). The Gremlins are random equipment failures, changes in meteorological conditions, and anything else that can disrupt the player’s game, but are not all bad.
Some years ago I created a wargame based around Len Deighton’s novel “Bomber”, depicting a raid by Lancaster bombers over Germany 1943. I have been revising and tweaking the rules over the past few months, but do not have a definitive ruleset yet. It is intended to be a multi-player game for a large table, in which each player controls three or four Lancasters and one JU88 night fighter. The object is to complete the mission, inflict maximum damage and minimise your own damage to crew and aircraft.
In my latest campaign I need to depict a bombing raid by the Luftwaffe on a French town/city in 1940. The Germans have two bomber squadrons – to use the English equivalent – and two escorting fighter squadrons. The French have one defending fighter squadron.
I decided to play through the rules, adapting where necessary for aircraft specifications, and to annotate the game for rule codification. It was not entirely successful.
What did I learn from this?
First, do not lay a thick blanket under your gaming cloth to protect the dining table. It makes the planes go all wobbly on their bases and topple over, often with a domino effect. Hence accompanying photographs show them temporarily stuck to MDF hexagons.
Second, and especially if you are occupying the family dining table, don’t start a game that can’t be completed within three days!
Third, a multi-player game where each player has four models is unlikely to be manageable with one player controlling sixty, especially if every move is documented.
Fourth, rules written for a scenario where every aircraft is following the same general route indicated by pathfinder flares, but essentially operating on their own at night do not translate well to a daylight raid in an era where tight formations were the normal operational method. Having a table only 35”/89cm wide does not help with manoeuvring the flights of three or four aircraft.
Fifth, because the rules are written around the varying abilities of each aircrew member, radar guided night fighters with a crew of three don’t translate to single-seat fighters where one man does everything. (In my original game the “abilities” of each aircraft crew added up to the same total.)
I had to adapt everything as new situations occurred and gave up the game after three days, before the second wave of bombers had reached the target. However, I had worked a system of formation flying and fighter interception, as well as enjoying the bombing. In my game the actual bombing is done with tiddly-winks. After each bomb-load is dropped, the score is counted and the winks replaced by smoke markers, which obstruct the subsequent bombing efforts.
Scoring is adaptable for each game, but for this one I set the points as follows:
Marshalling yard 30 points, other railway 12 points, industrial 18 points, residential 6 points, open country -6 points, church or hospital -30 points. These scores were to allow for division where a wink landed across two or three different hexagon types.
For example: If a wink landed across the intersection between the cathedral, the rail yard and a residential area, the score would be (30/3)+(-30/3)+(6/3) or 10-10+2 =2.
One bomber managed to hit the cathedral with one of his five bombs, two fell on the hospital, one in a street and one in the fields outside the town. A score of 6-30-60-6: -90! The best score was two on the marshalling yard and engine sheds, two residential and one factory for 81 points.
I have been taken off weeding for the time being, although the job is far from finished.
My new task is bramble-hacking. We achieved this last week, before I put my back out.
But there is plenty more to go.
The ultimate aim is to get between the fences with a brush cutter and take it down to ground level and then,if possible, dig out all the roots. Unfortunately wild nature seems to make better use of its time than humans who prefer wargaming.
After several days on the painting table I am declaring these models sufficient for a solo game.
They are far from perfect, and incomplete (with most lacking tail and fuselage markings). However, top down they are just about fit for purpose and they have provided useful experience in painting German crosses and allied roundels.
I need these models for a game in my World War Two campaign game, and I am using the opportunity to resume play-testing and documentation of my rules for a bomber game set in 1943, and to see if the rules are transferrable to 1940.