Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nuts! - On a New Table

I'm think I'm actually going Nuts!  Jil and I played a game a couple of months ago on his new bombed out town table and I totally forgot to post it.  All this stuff is home made by Jil (Herrodadog) and we are having a blast playing on it.  Some of these pics aren't so good, I'll try to really watch that in the future.  I'm about to take my new Tommies and Yanks for a spin tomorrow morning.
My German MG section (blurry at bottom left) at the top of the watch tower let's go on Jil's advancing Russkies.  It doesn't take long to get him pinned pretty good.
Several of his Comrades go down and the others head for cover.
More German riflemen sniping away at the scattered Russians.
The Russian squad ducked back in cover deciding how best to get out of this mess.  I love the trees.  Man these pictures are horrible!
A couple of blocks away, my German NCO and some of his hooligans open fire on some Russkies commanded by Nick that stick their noses out too far from the large reddish building across the way.
A Russian goes OOF and the others are convinced to get their heads down quickly.
Back over in Jil's world his Russians are still getting hammered.  Something must be done about that darned MG-42 in the tower, FAST!  There is nothing worse than an MG-42 with a clear field of fire..
Nick decides to try to shoot it out with my lads but gets the worst of the exchange.  My NCO is outgunning these BA rifles with his MP and they can't get the Maxim into action.
While my MG-42 is out of ammo, Jil starts to extract some revenge on my riflemen.
Now with a couple of SMG's in that building I won't be able to have my way anymore.
Nick decides that it is time to try a sneaky flank attack.
Nick sends a section to the right also.
And he's still getting pounded in the building.  That grizzled old veteran German NCO knows his business.
My MG-42 is back in action which means a tough afternoon for those Russians who just occupied the building across the street.
Jil decides it is time to bring up his own MG section but it is slow going with all the lead coming his way.
My German NCO is still dealing out destruction and he has yet to lose a single man.
The Russians still need to find a solution to my MG-42 section if they want to get anywhere today.  They may possibly have found it as Nick's sniper makes it to the top of the building and takes a peek.
The sniper misses!  But he makes the MG section duck back which is almost as good at the moment.
The sniper's fire attracts the attention of the alert German NCO who ends his hopes of glory with a well placed burst.
Nick's sniper did not die completely in vain.  The few moments that he forced my MG section to duck back gave Jil the opportunity he needed to get a drop on them.  When my gunner tried to resume shooting he was picked off from across the street by a wiley Russkie SMG'er.
My NCO's section is surgically taking Nick's center apart.  It is a charnel house in there now.
After the destruction of my MG section, the German resistance opposite of Jil is all but over now.
One of Jil's Russkies tries to bravely rush the building with a grenade to finish off the stunned and wounded Germans, but he fumbles the grenade!  Damned bad luck but at least his laddie goes prone and lives.
Jil is about to establish his MG section in the upper story of the building.  The Russkies have been taking heavy losses but it lookslike they are about to wrap up the German left.
Nicks Russians have given up on fighting from the building and are looking for a way to move around the flank.
Oh damn!  Now I get a bit of bad luck and a predator shows up out of thin air to vanquish one of my hold outs on the left.  Oh well, I guess you can't have all this shooting and killing and not expect to have a Predator or two show up for some hunting action.
Yep, it figures.  My boy lost the - from behind melee with the Preddie.
A couple of Nick's flanking Russians steady their nerves, ready a grenade, and rush my NCO's position!
But they lose their nerve real quick when the shooting starts!  They are actually darned lucky and survive.  They duck back and catch their breath.
Remember our hero with the fumbled grenade attack?  His luck ran out about now.  He goes OOF.
My NCO heads over to recover a hunkered down rifleman in the center.  Now his force is even stronger.
Nick has another go at trying a grenade assault but this time he gets whacked.

At this point the Russians decided to pull back and regroup for another try later.  While they managed to kill off about 5 German troopers on the left, the German right under the direction of that crafty NCO was rock solid.  The Russkies had already sustained pretty heavy casualties and needed a break.

We just played a game today with the Tommies vs. the Germans vs. the Zeds.  I'll try to post soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

LTL Dad's EZ Wings of War Campaign Rules

LTL Dad’s EZ Wings of War Campaign Rules

The first time I played Wings of War with my friend Jil I was immediately hooked beyond return. It is a simple game system but I was very impressed with the content. The game designer definitely knows his stuff and the capabilities of the aircraft are very well represented in a way that keeps the game easy, fast paced, and fun to play. Wings of War provides a brilliant mix of reasonable authenticity within a playable game. Imagine that! Aircraft, and old military aircraft in particular is something that I do know quite a bit about. I’ve been keeping these babies flying for most of my adult life. As an added bonus the miniatures come pre-painted and are a pure pleasure to look at.

That being said, as I became more familiar with the game I was just itching for a little bit more. I noticed that players would push their little airplanes and pilots to the limit with reckless abandon. To its credit, the vanilla game does have scenarios to play, and the WW2 set puts the thought of campaigning in the players head, but there was no hard and fast way to bring unusual and unpredictable situations to the game. Time for some imagination!

So we started tracking the exploits of our pilots and their victims in a sort of pseudo campaign. Right away I noticed that the players started thinking much more carefully when one of their beloved pilots with a couple of kills was on the line. It was a good start but then the cheesy stuff started to emerge. Things like when a good pilot was in trouble the player would just blast off the edge of the table to save his skin. While this might be what the pilot would do, it would not normally be so easy to disengage so we had to set up some conditions to make it trickier. The idea for a full blown campaign system was born. In short order we started to test play a campaign system that could be relied upon to provide a consistent method to simulate the administrative side of the air campaign. There were three main things I wanted to achieve.

First, I wanted to have a system for monitoring squadron assets. In real life it was always about the machines. Pilots were relatively plentiful most of the time, but the planes were hard to come by, especially for the Germans. I finally decided on a ‘reputation’ system to use as a currency for acquiring replacement machines. During the war the best squadrons and pilots always got the best machines. Simple!

Second, it was essential to make the players commit their assets without knowing what they would be up against. This would create fog of war and force the players to deal with all kinds of situations, be they fair or unfair, mundane or unusual. This would make it exciting and force the player to make a lot of tough decisions.

Last of all, it had to be EZ and fun! This is what makes me love Wings of War so much and whatever we did to enhance the game with a campaign system could not be allowed to break the game.

Here is our attempt at a simple means to bring a little more strategy to our Wings of War games.

Preparation and Notes:

For a full flavored campaign it is very helpful to have a fair number of planes, of varied type, available for each side. We currently have all three sets from the WoW WWI series at our disposal. If you have less or more than this you can simply decrease or increase the number of possible assigned missions for each day to your own taste. These campaign rules are scaled to around 15 or more planes in the squadron.

Random generation is a big part of this campaign. I have outlined some methods here, but of course you can simply use your own methods as you see fit. I frequently just stack my airplane boxes in groups, and roll a die to select a group, then roll again to see which planes from that group etc.. Remember, it is all about quick and easy!

You will quickly notice that there is nothing “fair” about these campaign rules as far as numbers go. There will be times that you are hopelessly matched against overwhelming odds in really bad situations. Sometimes you will have enough opportunity to extract yourself from a bad situation but other times you may be forced to fight. This is not an oversight, it is by design. The successful pilots were patient hunters and guys with a lot of luck.

Up to this point we have been playing these campaigns against an “NPC” player. The campaign belongs to one player and the other player (NPC Player) makes the secret random generations and provides the brain behind the enemy planes on the table top. We have been considering how to wage these campaigns with more than one “active” player but there are some obvious issues with it. If I have any future thoughts as to how this may be done I’ll post it on my blog.
If anyone else out there figures out something please by all means share it with us!

All you need is the WoW game, know how to play it, some minis (optional), some D6 and your ready to roll.

Campaign Turn Sequence:

1. Receive number of assignments from HQ (Roll 1D6, divide by 2 and round up)
These missions are mandatory!
First roll 1D6. Divide by 2 and round up to get number of assigned missions for the day.

Example: So for instance, if you roll a 5, divided by two, would be 2.5. Then round up to 3. So there would be 3 planned missions this day.

2. Mission Assignment
Now for each mission generated above, Roll 2D6 and determine results on chart below.
2 - 3 Strafing Mission
4 - 6 Reconnaissance
7 - 10 Patrol
11 - 12 Balloon Busting

At this time you may now assign as many additional patrol missions as you like, and that you have pilots and machines for.  These are "hunting missions" without orders from HQ on your own initiative.

3. Pilot Assignment
Now the player must assign his pilots to the assigned missions and any additional "hunting missions". I recommend limiting each flight to a maximum of 6 planes for both the player and the NPC player to keep the games manageable.  Once you are comfortable with everything it is entirely possible to remove the minimum or maximum requirement of how many pilots that can be assigned to each of these missions.  Once these assignments are made, they cannot be altered until the next day. Also at this time reserve pilots may be assigned to your home airfield in case a scramble mission comes up this turn. If there are no pilots left at the airfield then scramble missions cannot be performed and will automatically fail.

Example: I have 12 pilots and planes available this day. I received 3 assignments from HQ and rolled 2 patrols and 1 recon mission. I decide to send three planes on each mission and I leave 3 planes at the airfield in case of a scramble mission.

4. Play first assigned mission. (Important! The following items must be performed in this sequence!)

a.  First roll 1D6 and on a 1 – 3 no target is found and it is a dry run, on a 4 - 6 continue to next step.

b. Choose which edge of the table will be your “home” edge. This is the edge where your planes will start. This will also be where you will have to run to if you decide you need to quit the fight!  Place your planes with their stands at the edge of the table now.

c. If this is a strafing, recon, or balloon busting mission then place the target objective approximately 12” from the opposite table edge. If your table is big enough then you might place it a bit further from the edge to improve maneuvering room.

d. Generate the enemy forces. First roll 1D6 and on a 1 – 3 no target is found and it is a dry run. If the enemy is encountered, then use some random method to generate their force. As I mentioned earlier, I usually just stack planes into groups of around six planes. Then I roll to see which group, then which plane in that group. You get the drift. The only thing that is important is that you don’t know what is coming until all the mission parameters and assignments are made.

e. Roll a die or some other random method to determine which table edge the enemy enters from. If it is a long edge, then roll again to see what section of that edge they come in at. Please note that no matter which edge the “NPC” enemy starts at, his “home” edge for fleeing purposes will always be the edge opposite of the players “home” edge.

f. If the enemy enters from the same edge as you do then both players roll 1D6 and the highest roll wins. The winner “gets the drop” on the enemy and gets to reposition his planes starting position on the edge of the table after the “surprised” player places his. He can also point them as desired. In case of a tied die roll, re-roll until someone wins. “Getting the drop” simulates one side achieving surprise by flying out of the sun or clouds etc.. Or possibly even that the enemy had been drinking heavily the night before!

g. Play the mission! Play as you normally do with or without any advanced rules as desired. If at any time a player wants to flee the combat, he must leave at the “home” edge selected at the start of the mission. The “NPC” enemy always leaves at the opposite side. Any planes that leave a non-home table edge are lost and considered KIA.

5. Record Mission Results (Points are cumulative)

Mission Success or Failure (+1 or -1 Rep Pt.) Did you destroy your target? (strafing or balloon) Perform successful reconnaissance? (recon) Did you control the table? (patrol or scramble)

Mission Success or Failure vs. one side with superior numbers (+1 or -1 Rep Pt. per difference in aircraft quantity) They don’t scare you!

Confirmed Kill or Loss (+1 or -1 Rep Pt. per machine Lost) One more enemy bought the farm!

Celebrated Kill (+1 or -1 Rep Pt. for each kill that the pilot had to his record) This can be the BIG payday or a really bad day for your squadron!

Fleeing the Mission (-1 Rep Pt. if you flee from equal or smaller enemy otherwise no penalty) Run away and fight another day!

I like to keep detailed records on swoofy leader boards. Some of these items are necessary to run this campaign, and some details are just window dressing. Here are some sample records.

Here is the squadron summary board. Here I record the number of each type of mission flown. The number of times the mission objective (Obj.) was successful. The number of kills the entire squadron has. The number of losses the squadron has. Finally, the current tally of Rep points the squadron has. The current number of rep points is derived from successful objectives (same as missions) + kills – losses. In the example below this player has only flown patrols but all other missions would tally across otherwise. Also, if a pilot with kills goes KIA his kills stay in the squadron records.
I also record what day of the campaign and machine status on this record.

Here is a leader board for fighter pilots.  Name, kills, their status and aircraft is all recorded here.  Once a new machine becomes available I simply reset the pilot to ready unless it is a crash or wound survivor.  Then I would put what day he will return.  While waiting for him to return, his machine (if it has been replaced) can be flown by a replacement pilot until he returns.

 A similar board for the two-seater guys:

And finally, I like to make individual tracking boards for pilots who have scored kills and are hopefully on their way to becoming an ace:

6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until all assigned missions are completed then move on to step 7.

7. Check for Possible Scramble Mission.   (Roll 2D6 and check for any doubles)

If the die comes up doubles then there is an unplanned scramble mission.  The scramble mission is played as in steps 4 and 5 in all respects.  This includes the possibility of a “dry run” and setting up the objectives that the enemy must achieve for success. 

(If doubles, then roll 1D6 and check for mission type.)

Die Roll    Mission Type
1          Protect the airfield!
2 – 3    Bombers/strafers have been spotted crossing the front, go get them!
4 – 5    Enemy reconnaissance spotted crossing the front.
6          Defend your balloon!

8. Record and Check for new machine acquisitions and status of injured or downed pilots/crew.
When you have lost a machine you can replace it if you have a positive number of rep points, up to that number of rep points.  So if you lose two machines and have only one rep point available you can only request one new machine until you gain more rep.  It takes two full days of down time before you can get a new machine.  It takes one day to beg, borrow and steal it.  Then it is brought in at night and it takes the next full day to prep it for squadron use.  The new machine will be ready to go on the third day.
If a crew member is wounded or a pilot goes down in a crash, there is still a small chance they might survive.  Roll a 1D6 for each applicable case and on a 6 he survives.  Roll 1D6 again and if it is a 1 -3 they are ready to go back in the line on the third day.  If it is a 4 – 6 then they will be back on the tenth day.  The only time you should bother with this is if it happens to be a valuable member with kills to his credit.  If their machine is replaced before they return a generic “green” pilot can fly until they return and take over.
That’s it, time for the next day!

Optional:  I record which enemy pilots score kills so that they can represent superior pilots during the campaign.

If you would like a .pdf version of these rules, or have comments, suggestions, or found some obvious error, email me at:

1. Receive number of assignments from HQ (Roll 1D6, divide by 2 and round up)
2. Mission Assignment  (Roll 2d6 to get result)
2 - 3 Strafing Mission
4 - 6 Reconnaissance
7 - 10 Patrol
11 - 12 Balloon Busting
Assign any additional freelance "hunting missions".
3. Pilot Assignment - Assign pilots, these may not be changed until the next day. Assign pilots to "hunting missions" at this time also.
4. Play one of your missions.
a.  Roll 1D6, on a 1 - 3 it is a dry run, on a 4 - 6 then continue to next step.
b.  Player chooses "home" edge.
c.  Place objectives if any.
d.  Generate "NPC" forces.  Generate the NPC force by your favorite random method up to a maximum of six planes.  Both quantity and type should be random.
e.  Randomly decide which edge the NPC enters from.
f.  If NPC enters same edge as player then both roll 1D6 and high die wins and gets to reposition and change facing of planes.
g.  Play mission.  NPC home edge is opposite of player.  Both players must flee to home edge.

5. Record Mission Results - See text.
6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until all assigned missions are completed then move on to step 7.
7. Check for Possible Scramble Mission.   (Roll 2D6 and check for any doubles)
If doubles, Roll 1D6 and check for mission type below and play as steps 4 and 5.
Die Roll    Mission Type
1          Protect the airfield!
2 – 3    Bombers/strafers have been spotted crossing the front, go get them!
4 – 5    Enemy reconnaissance spotted crossing the front.
6          Defend your balloon!
8. Record and Check for new machine acquisitions and status of injured or downed pilots/crew.

© 2010 LTL Dad – You may print, copy, fold, tear, use, not use, curse, mutilate, enjoy or gripe about this work in any way you like.  You may NOT use it for commercial purposes as it is a free works for the gaming community.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wings of War - Campaign Leader and Stat Boards

I'm trying out the new leader board system for our WoW campaigns.  I'm not too sure how this will work out on the blog but we shall see.  This is how we are planning to track the games.  Here is the current situation from Jil's German campaign we just started.
First is the daily status board which tracks information for the entire Jasta.  It runs a tally on types of missions flown, how many times the objective was met, how many kills and losses were score/incurred, and of course the squadron reputation.  In addition, it also tracks the current day and availability of new machines if any.

Next comes the leader board for the fighter pilots.  Keeps track of kills and availability of machines.  Pilots are dime a dozen, it's the machines that are gold.
The two seater board showing status and availability of those unsung heroes.  Since we decided to put the recon planes under player control this became necessary.
Ok, I'm probably being ridiculous, but I love to track the successful pilots to see what they've done and how far they go.  Jentsch is the only pilot with a kill so far and you can quickly see that his victim was an RE8 flown by Ferguson/Fry and that it was scored during a patrol mission.  Once a pilot becomes an ace, his newly acquired special attributes will be recorded here also.

While play testing the campaign we have evolved a lot of aspects but the record keeping is actually a lot of the fun in my opinion.  I think this is the only game I've ever said that about! 

Wings of War Campaign- Jil's Jasta Weekend Patrol

This weekend we continued Jil's WoW German campaign while up at the game meet at the University.  We continue to play test the campaign system and are looking for bugs.  So far, I'd say that we both really like playing this game campaign style as it cuts way down on the normally reckless behavior of players who do not have consequences for their actions.  It is a very simple home brew system but it manages to bring sane play, surprise and unpredictability to the games and that was the mission.  I think we are accomplishing it nicely.
After that disaster mission where Jil lost two Fokker DR.Is he really needed to get something good going to restore the reputation of his squadron.  The squadrons with the best records and reputations always got the best machines and pilots.
At the beginning of the day Jil received his orders and he drew two patrol missions and one recon escort mission.  He assigned which pilots and machines would be flying each mission as well as who was staying at home that day.  On his first patrol mission he had three Albatross fighters out hunting and they ran into a slightly numerically superior force of SPADs and Camels.  (randomly generated) He spotted them at a distance and he decided that the possible rep point gain for this mission was not worth the risk against these top enemy fighters.  He decided to run away and leave that rep point on the table and hope for better pickings later in the day.
Which brings us to the second patrol mission which turned out to be quite interesting.  On this mission he was flying along and ran into a large flight of RE8 and Nieuports that were flying at a similar speed and heading of his patrol.  For whatever reason, be it clouds, sun etc.. the two opposing flights did not notice each other until they were almost wing to wing!  Jil's three Albies are on the far end.
The opposing flights look over and see each other and the fighters all start peeling off to engage.  This was quite interesting because even though the allied flight was twice the strength, it was stretched out and this gave some tactical possibilities to the Germans.  Jil decided to stick around and see what he could pick off before my fighters concentrated.
Two of my Nieuports immediately engage and trade some shots with the closing Germans but I have a problem with Nungesser on the other side of my flight.  The Nieuport is not a very fast plane so I decide to do an Immelman turn and circle around behind the RE8s.  I'm steadily getting those two seaters into a defensible formation.
Swapping lead in a tight fly by.
My RE8 two seaters are finding their formation and they fly steady on to get clear of the threat.  My N.17 and N.23 nearly collide while flying past the German flight.
Things are spreading out; time for some decision making.  It is going to be difficult for me to get my fighters concentrated before Jil gets a chance to do some damage to someone.  The good news is that my RE8s are pretty safe in that close formation.
Nungesser's N.17 speeding towards his comrades.
My RE8s are wasting no time getting out of the area.  I love these things!  Their so big and they have a tail gunner.  One by itself is vulnerable, but if you have several, then they are very tough to attack.
Back at the fight, Jentsch and Lufbery have quickly turned it around and are playing chicken.  Unfortunately for me, Lufbery gets hammered hard and is already effectively out of the fight.  But Jil does not know this yet.  I also really messed up here and assigned a wrong maneuver card to the N.23 in the top right corner so he is moving even further away from the fight!
My RE8s are just about clear now.
I finally get all my planes headed in the right direction!  Fortunately for me, Jil also made a couple of bad blunders while maneuvering and he missed a great opportunity to finish Lufbery.
Lufbery (center) starts limping away while Nungesser and Kibanov come to guard him.
Jil is not finished yet however.  Udet is hot on the trail so I turn Nungesser back to engage.
As Udet and Nungesser pass each other they let fly with a barrage from their guns.  It happens again!  I get hammered and Udet comes off light.  Now I have two planes that are critically damaged.  It is time to stop messing around and to run for it.
Lufbery is not looking back and limping away.  Kibanov is watching his back but Nungesser is now far behind with a hungry Udet on the prowl.  Jil has had another snafu with his card assignments which has delayed the arrival of his other two Albies.
Here is every pilots worst nightmare.  All alone and Udet closing on your damaged machine.  I really thought for sure that Nungesser was finished.  He should have been because I made a very stupid mistake going back solo to tangle with the German flight.  Miraculously no damage was done and Jil's horrible luck continues.
Lufbery looks like he will get away with his damaged crate.  Kibanov has swung his N.23 back to try to help Nungesser escape in his damaged crate.  And the Germans are finally getting organized.  Booooooo!
Udet is still on Nungesser's tail but now he has to worry about Kibanov's N.23 closing fast on his right.  Who is going to chicken out first?
I guess Jil just couldn't believe that I would keep flying straight with Nunny and he misjudges and turns away.  After an non-effective first salvo against Udet, Kibanov's guns are jammed!
The German Albatross D.V fighters are just too fast for my Nieuports.  I decide that I'd rather go down shooting with Nunny than to be tailed and slaughtered helplessly.  So here we go!  Let's gang up on Udet before his boys get here.
But the crafty devil slips through, dealing out damage while not receiving much in return.
For a moment the flights separate, I need to make a decision fast.  Since Nunny is headed back home at the moment, I choose to run that way.  Kibanov will attempt to follow and re-join the flight.  We have a house rule that when you run it has to make sense.  You cannot just take a fast cheesy exit from the table side for convenience, it must be either in the direction of the mission or where you came from.
And here they go!  Zoooooooooooooooooooooooom!  It looks like mice running for cover when the lights come on!  So now what will Jil do?
Remember these guys?  They are long gone.
And so is Nunny, he had a really nice head start and he will get away.
Kibanov's N.23 will re-join the flight.

This mission was a success for the Germans, and they will get a rep point for successfully damaging two Allied crates and clearing the area, plus a bonus rep point for doing it while vastly outnumbered.  However, it could have been a really great success.  Jil was just a hair away from downing two planes against vastly superior numbers.  If he could have pulled that off he would have gotten rep points for each crate shot down, plus one for mission success, plus an additional for the numerical odds bonus.

As we have gotten more play testing in on the campaign system we have settled in on some concepts that seem to work out pretty well.  I may post the campaign rules in case anyone is interested in doing something similar.  It makes WoW into more of a strategy game and I really like the nail biting decision making.