Saturday, April 23, 2016

Air Raid Rules Experiment

After the Battle of Haines City, I expressed my dissatisfaction with my air battle rules. Specifically, units could not stack in a space. As a result, my bombers ended up remaining stationary while the fighter squadrons dueled. I would think that the bombers should continue to approach their targets, running the gauntlet of the dogfights swirling around them.

During the past week (when I wasn't playing Four Against Darkness), I jotted down some ideas for new air battle rules. This morning I did a test battle using a few squadrons per side.

Rules Description
Attacking units are classified as bombers, escorts (fighters that remain in the same space as the bombers) and free-roaming fighters. All defenders are considered free-roaming fighters.

The game turn sequence is simple:

  1. Activation/Movement (attackers first then defenders)
  2. Combat (simultaneous)

Bombers and their escorts automatically activation and move 1 space. Free-roaming fighters must roll for activation to move (using the Song of Blades and Heroes methodology); each successful activation allows them to move 1 space.

After movement, enemy aircraft in the same space engage in combat. Aircraft adjacent to a combat lend support (like DBA). Combat follows this sequence:

  1. Dogfights (fighters vs. fighters)
  2. Attack Bombers
  3. Anti-Aircraft Fire (if over cities)
  4. Bombing
Combat is resolved with opposed die rolls. Losing fighter squadrons are driven off (i.e. retreat) and may suffer damage while losing bombers suffer varying degrees of damage.

Today's experiment focused on activation/movement and dogfights/bomber combats. I don't have rules yet for phases 3-4 of the combat rules.

I liked how the movement rules worked. The bombers moved inexorably towards their target while the defenders frantically tried to intercept them. There were times when the roaming fighters failed activation and ended up sitting in the same space. I could justify it by saying that they were unable to spot the enemy so they were circling around while they tried to get a bearing.

I was less pleased with combat. If you read the battle report, you'll notice that there were only 2 "hits" during the entire game. In most cases, the result was "driven off." It felt more like a shoving match than air combat. I'm toying with the idea of making combat a bit bloodier.

Overall, the attackers were very successful in this scenario. Most interceptors failed to get through the escorts to the bombers. I think some randomness may have skewed the results so more experimentation is needed.

Edit: One other note - These rules were designed for a 6 x 6 grid with squares large enough to fit multiple squadrons. Because my air battle board features smaller spaces, I may need to rethink the spatial relationships. I may allow 2 spaces per move and combat occurs when adjacent.

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