torsdag 2. februar 2012

Tally Ho!

Finally, an opportunity to playtest Bag the Hun 2 Lite: Battle of Britain presented itself! Packing all the required components, I drove over to one of my friends and played a simple scenario. This was a test of both the scenario and the revised "Lite" rules and game aids.

The scenario was set early in the morning, with the sun coming out of the upper left side of the hexes. Playing the Luftwaffe, Tor set up the red bogeys while I played the RAF with the blue bogeys.
The Do17z is starting the game with a damaged engine and trying to exit the far edge of the table.

Six Luftwaffe bogeys make up three rottes on the far end of the table. One of these rottes is made up out of dummies (the image is wrong, the red bogeys were rearranged into three rottes before game start).
Six RAF bogeys make up two Vics heading to locate and intercept the bomber. One of the Vics have lost a man due to "engine trouble" before game start, this formation has a dummy marker to complete the Vic.

On a bright, sunny morning over the green fields of south east England, five Hurricanes head east to locate and shoot down a Dornier that got separated from its squadron during a dawn raid. It should be a milk run. Unknown to the RAF pilots, however, the bomber is not alone - watch out for the "Hun in the Sun"...

After a rules introduction, the first turn went so smoothly that I forgot to take pictures! At the start of turn 3, we decided to auto-reveal the bomber and dummy bomber as chasing and spotting them turned out to be very hard for the RAF. In future versions of the scenario, the bomber will start revealed in the middle of the table.

The Dornier made a beeline for the table edge, with Red Section trying to catch up. Suddenly the radio crackled to life, as two Me109Es were spotted just before passing the section. "We've got company, boys!" Blue Section responded by going into an easy left turn, positioning it to intercept the just spotted German fighters. Gelb Rotte moved to retain its position in the sun and remained undetected by the RAF fighters.

"Red Leader to Red Two. Blue Section will handle enemy fighters. Stay on my wing - we are going for the bomber. Tally Ho!" As red section firewalled the throttle, they fell in on the Do17zs tail. Red leader opened up on the bomber, damaging one of its wings just as tracers shot over his canopy from the bogeys on his tail.
Meanwhile, the Grün Rotte leader called "Indianer!" over the radio and in a series of sharp turns got onto Blue Leader's tail. Realizing he was outmatched, Blue Leader pulled into a loop to shake the pursuers - unfortuneately, the only planes he managed to loose were his wingmen. Loosing sight of their leader, they moved straight ahead.

Red Leader panicked and overshot the bomber, while cannon fire from the tailing bogeys poured into his and his wingman's aircraft. Sparks and glass flew everywhere as the canopy and cockpit of Red Leader exploded around him, miraculously leaving him unhurt. As the tracers caught up with Red Two, smoke began to pour from its engine. The Dornier front gunner opened fire on the Hurricanes, only to have the machine gun jam.
In desperation, Blue Leader managed to complete his loop while the experienced Grün Rotte leader easily stayed on his tail and fired long bursts of accurate cannon fire into the Hurricane. A ruptured fuel line caused a fine mist to trail the aircraft as Blue Leader's luck finally ran out. Wounded by machine gun fire, the strain of the sustained gees from the loop became too much for him and he blacked out. Slumped over the stick, his unconcious body forced the plane into a diving turn.

Blue Leader's plane remained in its wobbling dive while Blue 2 belatedly attempted to engage the Huns. A hard turn moved him around the Germans. Grün Schwarm calmly let go of its prey and pulled into an extremely tight turn with slats deployed, turning the tables on Blue 2.
As Blue 3 moved to relieve the battered Red Section, things looked very bleak for the RAF fighters. The Dornier had gotten away. Blue Leader was dead or dying, his aircraft damaged and heading for the ground. Blue 2 was completely outclassed by the German veteran Rottenfürer of Grün Rotte, and barring a miracle it would only be a question of time before he was shot down too. Red Section was chased by an as-yet unseen enemy, which mercilessly poured cannon fire into their Hurricanes. Red 2's engine could seize at any moment, and Red Leader's aircraft was limping home with a shattered cockpit - easy prey.
Expecting the rookie pilot in Blue 3 to single-handedly get the RAF back into the fight against four able Luftwaffe pilots seemed a tall order. Yes, things looked very bleak for the RAF pilots - very bleak indeed!

At this point, we called the game due to time. A thoroughly enjoyable scrap! The game aids and revised Bag the Hun Lite: Battle of Britain-rules made the flow very smooth, despite Tor never having seen or read the rules before and this being only the second game of Bag the Hun i have ever played.

Tor is a delight to game with, and has extensive experience with both a multitude of board games and designing his own games. This made his feedback on the "Lite" rules invaluable. Several suggestions were recorded, many of them detailing the design of the game aids.

All in all, this game gave me both more input to refine the "Lite" version of BtH even further as well as the motivation to do so. Bag the Hun 2 seems to me fundamentally right in its mechanics, probabilities and feel, though as they stand I found them pretty hard to game with.
The difference between my first game (using the regular BtH2 rules) and this game (using BtH2 Lite: BoB) was enormous - the first game was very difficult to play at all, while in the second game the self-made game aids and revised shooting and damage mechanisms made playing the game a breeze.
 It would feel fabulous if my version and game aids can make this excellent game accesible to the more, er, casual crowd of miniature wargamers - and I will as previously suggested by Laffe certainly make sure to contact the game designers with this in mind once I feel game testing and refining of the "Lite" rules is complete.

Now I feel like I can safely invest some more time into the project, though the "Lite" rules certainly seem more than good enough to get some more games in as they currently stand.

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