In between looking for another job, a DIY list of Biblical proportions, offloading my entire 1/3000th collection, messing about with pieces of wood for my 'Universal Warship' idea, acquiring paints for the North West Frontier and catching up on a lot of reading I have been and gone and done something rather rash....
On the back of a very good initial game at the club a couple of weeks back I have taken the plunge and acquired a starter set and a couple of singles for the new Axis and Allies: Angels 20 WW2 aerial combat game. It is really good fun to play (the game last night especially so!) straight out of the box and indeed, should you wish to do so that would be fine but for me I will need to spend a little time on the models - purely for my own benefit. The aircraft are scaled at 1:100th and whilst the initial release covers 31 fighters or variants there is only a single two man mount - the German Bf 110. There are Spitfire Mk 1s, Hurricanes and Bf 109s so the Battle of Britain is covered rather well and for me that will suffice for the time being. The one thing I will do though will be to give the models a fresh coat of paint as some of the schemes are a little unusual to say the least - the overall dark grey Bf 109 being a case in point. Being a gamer of the Airfix generation I can safely say that the Battle of Britain has long held a fascination for me and so gaming this using models at this kind of level (roughly a flight of 4 aircraft) has a charm all of its own and in truth, I have played a lot of WW2 aerial board games over the years - this is pretty much a board game with models after all. I will see about sourcing some decals for the models just to give them a little more of the 'wow' factor.
The map sheets provided are paper and give a playing area of roughly 9 by 7 hexes which is way too small in my book - we played at the club last night on my Hexon on a 12 by 10 area which was okay for the six aircraft in use - and I cannot see me using them. The game counters are printed on card which is only slighter thicker than paper and so these will be replaced with something a little sturdier. The models are mounted on flying base with a ball and socket type head which means that the aircraft attitude can be accurately represented. The clear plastic hexagonal base is inscribed with numbers 1 to 6 for altitude purposes which can be inked or painted in for clarity (Mr Fox did this with his and very nice they look as well).
Game play is very straightforward and the combat system will be familiar to anybody that has played any of the Axis and Allies miniatures games. Essentially you roll a number of d6 depending on the range, apply any applicable modifiers and need to equal or better the 'armour' or 'vital armour' score of the target to score damage in the case of the first or destroy in the case of the second. The effects of deflection when shooting are taken into consideration which again, adds to the feel of the game.The usual aerobatics so beloved of most aerial gamers are all present and correct and require a successful dice roll using the aircraft ability as a modifier (together with any pilot ability). Initially I was a little uncertain about this but having played the game a couple of times; coupled with some reading on the subject I am now convinced that it adds to the flavour - I suppose a failure could be put down to hesitation on the part of the pilot or perhaps a distraction of some kind - bear in mind the high speed nature of a WW2 aerial dogfight - even during the early years of the war.
I like the initiative approach and so planes moves alternatively but the player moving first also gets to fire first and damage takes effect immediately.
Bombers are represented by tokens (I have no idea if plans are afoot to produce any at some point) and in truth are pretty much just targets as this is designed to be primarily a fighter game. There are also rules for flak, clouds, night fighting and ground control as well as a conversion table for using the models with the Axis and Allies land based game.
So what does it mean for me then? Well, as mentioned I have a long association with anything Battle of Britain related and for WW2 aerial games in general so I guess this was a no-brainer in some respects. It will be nice to paint the models as I have not touched an aircraft kit for years and given that the numbers I shall be using initially are quite small this should not be too onerous - and that is coming from someone who has a pathological dislike of painting!
I have many sets of hex based aerial rules knocking around and so the longevity of this mini project is assured. I do not ever envisage using more than a dozen models on the table at any one time so the numbers will be kept to a reasonable level - my Battle of Britain set up will be 14 models in total - and going forward I could dip into other theatres on a flight of four aircraft as the basis for the set up.
This is certainly not a new period for me - just a variation on a board game theme.