Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Blood Red Skies - First Sortie

High over Kent, a pair of Spitfires are directed onto a pair of 109s on a Frei Jagd. Both pairs consist of an Experienced pilot with a Rookie wingman, and are closing at the same altitude, head on. “Tally Ho!”

Initially both sides grab altitude but neither gain an advantage. 

Then as the range drops the Spitfire leader decides to try and outmanoeuvre his opponent, and succeeds in dropping the lead 109s status to neutral. The Brit’s wingman has a chance to shoot at the lead 109 but declines as this would result in a straight exchange of fire and instead moves to get a better position. 

The lead 109 tries scissors on to the lead Spitfire but the British pilot counters and remains in the advantaged position. The second 109 tries to cover the tail of his now vulnerable flight leader, but doesn’t quite manage to get into position. The lead Brit seizes the chance and burns his advantage to brake hard and drops in behind the lead 109 in a tailing position, immediately reducing the German to a disadvantaged position. Eight .303 Browning’s spit fire but no hits are caused. Both 109s desperately twist and turn, and the Spitfires try and stay with them. This continues for several long seconds with neither side gaining a significant advantage or viable shooting chance. Then a burst of MG fire comes close to the second 109, only a deft flick roll saves him, but in doing so he becomes detached from his leader, who is again disadvantaged, and now out on his own. 

Lead Spitfire lines him up, and this time rakes the 109 from tail to cockpit, and the Messerschmitt suddenly rolls into a vertical dive, never to recover. 

The remaining Luftwaffe pilot decides to run for it, and the Spitfires are suddenly the only planes around.

The surprising thing is that pretty much sums up the game we just had using the basic Blood Red Skies rules. What really impressed me was the sheer narrative energy the rules generate. It really did feel as though every decision counted and that fight to gain advantage. Freed from all the charts and order writing we got to play a fast and quite exciting game - which is just what air combat should be.

Couple of caveats – we were only playing the basic rules and we only had a pair of planes each as we wanted to start small. This is partly so we can get a better grasp and partly because we could only scrape together a few planes at short notice (and yes the 109s are not Emils but it was all we had at the time) The planes in the pics are 1:144 scale and on magnetic gimbal mounts, which are rather a nice idea we pinched from playing Wings Of War and are pretty good for marking advantage status in the same way as the "official" bases.

Tally Ho!

Grab for altitude

Closing pass

Throwing the kites around

Killing shot

I’m going to avoid the hyperbole and just say I was rather impressed at both the fluidity and the execution of BRS. There’s a very good feel to the game unlike anything I’ve played on a tabletop for WW2 dogfighting. The way each action can change the all-important advantage status is really something – make a mistake and let the opposition get behind you and you better have either a competent wingman or a lot of luck.  

I'm not sure how it will play with six planes or more a side, but I don't think there is anything in there that will inherently change the game plays - which is, as I say, quite good so far. I think Andy Chambers deserves a pat on the back and if Warlord manage to deliver this without too much faffing and don't bloat it, it could be setting the standard for some time to come. 

We did have a couple of questions about the rules, but its early days and I'm sure some clarifications will follow.

So Tally Ho!

Thanks to Paul Davison acting as opponent \ Guinea Pig. I happen to know a certain Geordie is painting up some ore planes so between us we can try a six v six "soon"

1 comment:

  1. Good write up. I feel the excitement stirring, especially after viewing Dunkirk. I think I will dig out Battle of Britain and watch it tonight. Tally-ho!