Sunday, 9 August 2020

HOTT 52 - Week 32 - Eldar vs Khorne

 For this week's HOTT game I decided to get out my Epic 40K armies again, and fight a battle between some Eldar and  the Chaos army of Khorne.

The Eldar defended with grav-tanks and bikes (riders) on their left, their infantry (hordes) and some Dreadnaughts (blades) in the centre and their Avatar and some Aspect Warriors (behemoth and warband) on the right. They were commanded by a Warlock (magician).

Khorne's left consisted of Bloodletters and Chaos-Hounds in the woods on their left, cultists sneaking past the volcano on their right and their Demon Prince commander (hero) leading Land-Raiders and a war-engine in the centre (knights and behemoth). Off table a powerful demon waited to be summoned (god).
Khorne advanced, looking to clear the terrain and then halt before their demon arrived. But the Eldar went for an active, aggressive defence, pushing forward their grav tanks and bikes to threaten the right flank. Their warlock stepped forward to concentrate her psychic attacks on the Khorne commander and encourage an advance.
The mighty Tower of Skulls drove off an attack by Falcon grav-tanks.
Khorne drove forward in the centre. The Eldar Warlock destroyed a Land-Raider.
As the Bloodletters and Chaos Hounds emerged from the woods, the Eldar advanced off their hill to attack them.
Meanwhile their Dreadnoughts faced the surviving Land-Raider.
The Dreadnoughts lost. 

Throughout this time the Warlock was attempting psychic attacks on the Chaos commander, but to no avail.
The surviving Dreadnoughts destroyed the second Land-Raider ...
... but were in turn destroyed by the Demon Prince.
On the Eldar right the Aspect Warriors and Avatar attacked the Bloodletters ...
... flanked them, and destroyed them. All three elements of Khorne troops.
This left Khorne only 2AP from breaking, although the Eldar army was close to a morale collapse as well. With the odds slightly in his favour the Demon Prince attacked the Warlock; a win would give Khorne the victory, whilst a loss would only hasten what was increasingly looking like the inevitable.
The inevitable was hastened, as the combat odds were not reflected in the die rolls.
So the Eldar picked upa win in what was a close game; the Eldar were only a couple of elements from breaking themselves, having suffered losses early in the game. Khore were unlucky with the collapse of the troops on their right, and also in not getting their god onto the table. When they did roll a '6' they were already too committed to spend the PIPs on anything other than keeping up the momentum of their attack..

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Saturday Afternoon Dogfight

 With more time to spare, it being the weekend and all, I set up a larger game of  'Spandau and Lewis' in order to see how my small changes to the gunnery system worked, and was more than pleased by the results. This game saw eight planes on the table - four Bristol F2Bs, against three Albatros DIIIs and a single Fokker Triplane. I gave both side one ace and one novice pilot/crew.

Two F2bs started in the centre of the table, with the other aircraft appearing in pairs at random points around the edge.

In fact the four German planes came in from roughly the same point.
Both groups of planes swung around to the left, looking for an opening.

(Apologies for the quality of some of these early photos; I had the wrong lens on)
(Mind you. It takes great close-ups)

(Really nice)
As they circled the rear-gunner in the lead F2b scored a lucky hit on an Albatros and saw it drop out of the fight, its engine on fire.
Only a couple of turn in, and the Germans were on the back-foot and a plane down.
The British made the most of the numerical advantage, hemming in German planes where they could. The Germans struggled to bring their guns to bear without exposing themselves to fire.
The German ace locked onto the tail of his British counterpart, but failed to score any significant damage before the British crew shook him off.
The Fokker Dr1 was suffering especially badly, having taken damage from an early burst. The British pilots kept it sorely pressed, despite its significant advantage in mobility.
A reversal of fortunes saw the British ace crew tail the German ace, but again little significant damage occurred.
The Dr1 fought desperately in an attempt to break free of the British around it.
The German ace found himself sorely pressed as well.
A head-on pass saw the German ace's guns jam. In fact there were several gun jams in the game, but with two seperate guns on their planes the British could, with a little manoeuvre, keep fighting with one whilst they cleared the jam in the other.
The German's novice pilot had fought well early in the action, but damage to his plane left him disorientated. He departed the fight and disappeared somewhere over no-man's land. The wreckage was never found.
At the same time the rear-gunner on an F2b finally finished off the Triplane.
The Germans now had one plane left - their ace - and he had four Bristol Fighters gunning for him and a gun-jam to clear. The position was hopeless so he made a run for home, closely followed by the British. He managed to clear the jam as the British closed in, and opted to turn and fight his way off rather than simply be shot down from the rear as he ran for it. A burst damaged the British aces' plane, but a shot from another F2b ended the German's career.

The British had shot down three German planes, each of three F2bs accounting for one. Only the novice crew failed to score a kill, but it was, in fact, their dogged pursuit of the German novice that had contributed to his leaving the fight, so they could almost claim him. The Germans had scored a few decent hits on one British plane, but otherwise the F2bs were relatively unharmed, aside from some jammed guns. 

I felt that the gunnery factors worked quite well, but will try some more tests. I may simplify gun jams as well. At the moment clearing a jam requires remembering what a plane did earlier in the turn, and I have to confess I couldn't always remember. I may scrap the idea of it being a roll to repair and simply assume it knocks out the gun for one turn but with a test to see if the jam is permanent.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Lunchtime Dogfight

When I wrote 'Spandau and Lewis' I deliberately kept the gunnery simple - twin-guns and single-guns was the extent of it. I didn't want to mess around with the subtleties of drum vs belt ammo, or overwing vs synchronised. One set I used to play even factored in the difference between synchronised and interrupted guns (the former was slightly more efficient).

But the games of the past few weeks have suggested to me that observer guns - usually a single drum-fed gun on a pintle mount, are probably too effective, being the same as a single fixed forward-firing machine-gun. The problem was that I didn't want to downgrade them too much, and there's only so much granularity on offer in the game.

However pondering it this morning I came up with an idea. My solution was to make use of the mechanism I use for gun jams of rolling one different coloured dice when shooting. When a plane fires it gets, as its base, one red dice and one white dice, needing a 5+ to hit if a single gun and a 4+ if a twin gun. The red dice is a possible jam if a 1 is scored. Bonuses add more white dice. Penalties subtract white dice. But you always roll that red dice.

I decided that I could class guns as fixed (which will generally be the pilot's gun, if any) and pivot (observer guns). I calculate the number of dice firing as normal, but the scores to hit vary:

Twin Fixed - 4+ on any dice scores a hit
Single Fixed - 5+ on any dice scores a hit
Twin Pivot - 4+ on the red dice scores a hit. Other dice hit on a 6
Single Pivot - 5+ on the red dice scores a hit. Other dice hit on a 6

(A twin pivot is little better than a single. From reading a few accounts, they didn't seem to be that popular with cews, who would remove them and just use single guns. You got more firepower, it's true, but it was heavier to swing around in the slipstream of a moving plane)

Put another way:

Fixed Gun White Dice or any Red Dice: 5+ to hit (4+ if twin)
Pivot Gun White Dice: 6 to hit

This lunchtime I put it to the test with a straight dogfight between a couple of Bristol Fighters and a couple of Albatros DIIIs. This gave me all three main types of gun (twin guns for the Germans, and a single pilot gun plus observer gun for the British), but on lanes that were relatively evenly matched. The Bristols have all-round firing, and are faster, but the Germans have more power to recover from manoeuvres and greater firepower to the front.

Inevitably the fight started with a head-on pass.
The Germans failed to turn as tightly as the British, and found themselves with no targets. The Bristols always had a target, albeit with their less- effective observer gund most of the time. The Germans took a few hits but also ended up with a gun jam on one of their planes.
The Bristols initially chased after the German that could still shoot, safe in the knowledge that his companion wouldn't be able to support him. But eventually the fight split into two, with a Bristol pursuing each German machine. With one machine unable to fight, the Germans had got badly out of position, and the British were soon all over them.

The German with a working gun was chased all over the bord, but steadily shot to pieces by the Bristol's single Vickers gun, and eventually crashed.
The other German failed to clear his jam - unable to fly straight because of a close pursuit he only had a 1 in 6 chance each turn of clearing it. But the pursuing Bristol couldn't shoot straight, and the Albatros escaped serious damage. Eventually, with time running out, the Albatros ran for home. The Bristols got in one last ineffective burst before the German escaped.
The observers did score hits in this game, but they didn't feel so deadly. Their firing is annoying, and might score the odd point of damage, but it's the front-firing guns you want to avoid. More importantly there's less of a feeling of equality of firepower between a fighter's armament and the defensive guns of a two-seater. I might run this again with a couple more planes on each side, before trying some games with proper two-seaters and see how they fare.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Spandaus On A Thursday

There was some discussion on our club's Facebook page about wearing masks at our meetings. Most people seemed to be in favour of it. Looks like I was the only one to follow through. 

Anyway, it was the debut of this bold purple one which my daughter made for me yesterday.
Leaving aside the masks, Geoff and I played a couple of games of 'Spandau and Lewis'. The first was the Louis Strange scenario I put together last week, where an Avro 504 with  lashed-up machine gun takes on a rifle-armed German two-seater. I played the RFC and Geoff the German.
Geoff brough his Aviatik in on the target as I managed to get in a couple of shots. He chose to hold off on taking the photo he needed in order to evade and get a few shots back.
The German plan was to loop back over the village and take the photo on the run for home. I brought the Avro round as quickly as I could to line up a shot as the Germans were preoccupied.
I inflicted damage on Geoff's plane, but couldn't turn back fast enough to move in for a third attack as he left the area of the target.
Geoff flew at top speed for his baseline, and I managed one last burst before he fled to safety. It score no damage, and the Germans escaped with their photo.
The second game was my Australians Over Sinai scenario, with an AFC Martinsyde and BE2 taking on two Fokker EIIIs in order to cover the escape of some BE2 bombers.
A head-on pass saw the Martinsyde inflict some damage on one of the EIIIs
As the EIII and Martinsyde passed, the BE2 took a shot as well, but failed to score any hits.
The Martinsyde turned slowly back into the fight, whilst the EIIIs turned sharply onto the tail of the BE2. A single burst from the damaged EIII disabled its engine, forcing it to land in enemy territory.
With an Australian plane down,  all the EIIs had to do for a win was exit one plane off the Australian edge to chase the bombers. This they did with ease, as Geoff was unable to steer the lumbering Martinsyde around in time.
There were three other game on the go this evening. Caesar and Daniel played Lasalle 2.
Peter and Dave also played Lasalle 2.
And Bryan and Colin played Flames of War.
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