Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thunderbolts from the Sky

This morning I tried out another dogfight using my experimental dogfight rules. This time, 2 P-47 Thunderbolts were pitted against 2 ME-109s. I intended to give them different ratings. The P-47s were supposed to have better defense (greater chance to succeed on saving rolls) while the 109s were going to be more nimble (more on that in a bit). As it turns out, I forgot to apply these rules.

Anyway, here is the initial set-up.

And here is my revised movement template, made from a piece of cardstock. I decided not to use the Ace of Aces template (my version is here but there is a really nice one on boardgamegeek). This template features 3 speeds (slow, medium, fast) and 5 maneuvers (straight, slip, lazy turn, hard turn, or bank). I took inspiration from Crimson Skies and allow planes to attempt an even tighter turn. They need to make on a Quality roll with success allowing the plane to turn an extra 60 degrees. The Me-109s were supposed to have better Quality, permitting them to turn better.

Throughout the game, I rolled very poorly for both sides, as shown in this attack by one of the 109s.

 A swirling air battle ensued. I chose the maneuvers for the Americans and then randomly rolled the speed for the Germans. Based on that speed, I would pick the most logical maneuver. If multiple maneuvers were possible, I rolled randomly to pick. This process generally worked well, although on one occasion, one of the 109s (bottom) made a verrrry wide turn. This allowed one of the P-47s to get on the tail of the other 109.

Finally a hit!

But the 109 turned the tide with a tight turn and some good gunnery.

The damaged American tried to flee, pursued by the enemy. The other American came to the rescue.

The damaged Thunderbolt made it off the board (I assumed he escaped into some clouds). The second American has a bead on a 109 but the other has made it back!

The damaged 109 makes a spiffy tight turn to shake the pursuit.

But the American pulls an Immelman. Both 109s turn on him, rake him with shot, and send him down in flames. However, he responds by destroying the damaged German.


  • Germans lose 1 fighter.
  • Americans lose 1 fighter and have 1 damaged fighter flee the dogfight.
Overall German victory as a P-47 Thunderbolt fell from the sky. 

In addition, it was an enjoyable game. For me, picking maneuvers from a template provides a nice feel for aerial combat. I've tried more abstract rules or rules that involved alternate movement with each plane having x number of movement points. Neither felt right to me. For solo play, I always shied away from simultaneous movement based on maneuver selections because I assumed it could not be done properly with random movement. I think that my experiments have proved my assumption wrong so I will continue on this path.

The major "flaw" with these solo rules is that I don't think I can run battles with a lot of aircraft. 2 vs. 2 works fine but I don't know if I can handle more planes by myself. That, however, is why I am planning an air battle scale rules set, where 2-3 planes will represent a squadron.


  1. Have you looked at my 'Spandau and Lewis' WW1 air rules? I'm not sure how well they'd adapt to WWII, but they give a good game and I've managed six planes a side solo without too much trouble. If nothing else there may be mechanisms you can poach. They are available to download in the "Free Stuff' section of my blog.and there's a few posts on the blog about them as well.

    I love your terrain board, by the way, and the planes on counters are growing on me as well, although I'd still be inclined to five them a few mm of altitude just for the look of things.

  2. Thanks! I am quite pleased with the board myself. I am still considering basing and was thinking of raising the planes a bit. Another idea was to put them on thick, clear bases. However, for now I'm probably just going to stick with the counters out of laziness (I have what I need in the house).

    I looked at Spandau and Lewis and was planning a trial. I decided to experiment with a movement template first, which I think has been successful. I like the piloting roll determining how much of a turn a plane can do.

    1. I use clear bases (from Litko) for my planes and they look very nice.