Sunday, 4 August 2019

Battle of France - Match 2

We continued with Battle of France matches and the other night at Nunawading Wargames Assoc. played a CAP-on-CAP battle. A pair of Bf-109Es were matched against a pair of MS-406s. The game was played on a new mat with smaller hexes than my old one, allowing for a lot more movement that actually occurred, the reasons for which will become apparent.
The French Armée de l’Air aircraft were crewed by one Green and one Skilled pilot (let’s call him Etienne for ease of narrative). The Luftwaffe fighters were both crewed by Green pilots. The reason I kept the German skill levels low was because I know how to play the game, while Mark (my opponent) was learning the system, so by giving him a better pilot it enabled him to make second and adjustable moves.

We didn’t use the spotting rules and assumed each had seen the other side from the start of the encounter.

The two flights headed straight towards each other. Both started at altitude 4 and speed 3. The 109s climbed immediately to Alt-6and reduced speed to 2. It looked like they were going to make head-on passes, however the 109’s in attempting to anticipate the 406s future course decided to turn just before the two flights passes. Etienne pilot then adjusted his turn to enable him to shoot at one of the 109s, getting a Lucky Hit and causing an engine fire. So, one 109 was reduced to flying at Speed 1 and right from the start the things didn’t look so good for the Luftwaffe. However, in order to take that shot the 406 left itself open to return fire from the other 109, which hit and did airframe damage reducing Agility to 1.

The next couple of turns saw both flights turning for contrary purposes. The damaged 109 sought to turn and dive away for the table edge in order to make a getaway, escorted by its wingman. The 406’s sought to bleed of speed and altitude to catch the damaged 109 and finish it off before it could get away. Both sides were able to shoot at each other’s undamaged aircraft in various turns but Robust rolls were made and while neither side caused any further damage there would have been a lot of bodywork needed back at their respective airfields later on.

With just a couple of turns left to go before the damaged 109 could escape Etienne managed to pull in behind it so he could fire. He knew he was taking a chance though as he’s placed himself directly in front of the other 109. Still, the shot was taken at Close range, the Robust test was made and failed spectacularly helped along by the column shift from the range, and the damaged 109 broke up in the air (this was to demonstrate the rules: if the roll was made the aircraft would still have been destroyed as per the Lucky Hit-Engine Critical result). However, the other 109 then let got with a burst at Point Blank, achieved a column shift, and Etienne also failed his Robust test by a wide margin, his 406 being destroyed.


So at that point the other two pilots decided to head for home and the day was a draw.
One of the things that I tried for the second time here was a modified damage system. Using the weapon fit-outs and damage values as per the rules, I derived a Firepower value to be used instead of rolling all those dice. This was modified by another d6 roll that would decrease, not change or increase column shifts for aircraft that achieved a hit. The end result is that we only needed to roll d6 during the game. We could roll the hit and damage in one go (two dice one colour and the third in another), reducing the number of dice rolls and calculations and causing the game to play a little faster and smoother. Whilst I’m sure that there are plenty of players who like lots of dice rolling, that’s a personal preference. We’ve found this mod didn’t take anything away from the game and still used lucky hits, damage and critical damage which all provide very colourful nuances which give CY6 a lot of flavour.
A good time was had by all, some more people at the club got to see CY6 in action, and I discussed using adaptor-plugs so some of the guys with WoW models could attach them to my stands in future games.

I plan to continue with Battle of France games for a while, hopefully getting enough people together to run some larger encounters with full flights of fighters and multiple bombers on each side. Additionally, work on my solo-play engine stalled (ha!) while I was away with work and doing another project for the kids. I still plan to finish that off asap, test it, then seek others willing to give it a go and offer feedback so it can be refined.


Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Making a Stand

The decision was made – I needed new stands. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the AiM resin stands but they were too large for my purposes. I wanted to play out the scenarios in the CY6 campaign books but they all indicated really large tables. They seemed might they might better fit 1/300 scale models, but I was pretty happy with the 1/200 models from AiM and had even bought the odd WoW piece on eBay. What size to make the stands though?

AiM models were fine on the aerials, but there was no gimbal with which to indicate the attitude and pitch of the plane. Given that was a visual aspect of Canvas Eagles that I quite enjoyed it was something that I wanted to add to our games. The second consideration was that the three inch stands were too big for single engine aircraft at 1/200 scale.

The BRS aircraft that Santa handed out at Christmas time have of course their own stands. Those come in at 1.5 inches and were a good fit for the model size. Playing around with some hex sheets that I printed out on A4 and playing with numbers to determine the approximate area available on a 6x4 or 8x4 foot table came next. It was pretty clear that I needed to have smaller stands so that it was easier to play out scenarios on a just a couple of standard boards.

Model sizes were a limit to how small a stand I could use. Two engine bomber models measured about 10x10cm size, so 1-1.5 inch stands really too small. BRS had compensated for that with the larger stand into which their regular one is inserted, which is a natty idea. Those larger bases were 2 and a bit x 3 inches, which was greater than the average that I wanted. Something that was in-between the two BRS base sizes was something that I thought of aiming for.

I considered for a while the idea of using BRS stands for all models. The drawbacks there were that while I could put a Litko dial on them to indicate altitude bands I couldn’t stack them up to visually represent those changes. I’d also need to create a connector for the top of the stand with a magnet on it so the AiM models could be easily attached. I figured if I could replicate the rod-top connector for the BRS bombers that could do the job, but it would all be pretty top-heavy considering the weight and diameter of the stand and the weight of the gimbal. I still really wanted a gimbal of some sort!

At that point I vaguely remembered seeing a gimbal magnet somewhere on the web, and after a bit of searching across various sites and found the GSW magnets on offer. Gimbal problem was solved.

I went back to working out how to have that visual representation of altitude differences. Attaching a metal aerial to a stand that was less than 3 inches seemed to leave a construct that was at too great a risk of toppling over unless I had a fairly decent gauge of steel sheet attached to it. That option seemed it would be expensive to make, especially considering the need for so many cuts and the need to make them precisely enough to fit under the Litko bases.

I’d seen the BwanaJoe page that used a gimbal attached to one of the Wings of War pegs. The concept was good, but those little pegs seemed a little vertically anaemic, so I’d need something a little more impressive. Acrylic rods are available from Litko, so I decided to try using magnets to connect them but with larger rods that would represent multiple altitude levels. We’d tried that at the club with the aerials, using one graduation to represent two altitude levels and it seemed to work fine. So back to the Litko site and I ordered some 40mm rods, some 15mm rods, and 2 inch wide 3mm acrylichexagonal stands. A local magnet store made 4x2mm rare earth disc with 434g pull. Those magnets fit the rods nicely, and the also provided enough pull to hold everything together quite firmly.

With the gimbals from GSW and the rods, bases and disc magnets everything was set.

Only after I had a good look at the bases from Litko did I realise that I hadn’t asked for them to be drilled, so did it myself with a 3/16” bit. That was too tight a fit for the rods, so I tried a 5mm bit, but that was marginally too large. In the end I used the 5mm bit to drill halfway through the bases so that the rods sat within the base without going all the way through. I also drilled into the top of some of the short rods to create a cavity into which the ball bearings from the gimbals were glued.

I marked the discs (magnets) so that each rod had a top and a bottom so that the gimbal portion would always sit on top of a rod or on the base.

I had problems filing the acrylic rods square at the end, so some of the combinations were a little wonky. It was only later that I worked out that laying the rod flat on a piece of galvanised iron sheet and using a rectangular file, rotating the rod regularly, produced the best outcome.

The end result is a base which holds the model well, doesn’t have a centre of balance that’s too high, and combined with the dials on the lowest rod can give a fair impression of altitude differences. The gimbals worked brilliantly, which gives it was one of the features I was really after: the ability to be able to see at a glance which aircraft was performing what sort of manoeuvre and turn.

In between the stands I was working on some fighters and bombers for the French l’Armée de l'Air, so have combined the two for the first pictures of both.




POSTSCRIPT: Since putting them together I’ve shown them to the proprietor of the House of War in Ringwood, Victoria. He’s interested in working out a commercial production method, so eventually people who’d like to purchase them made can do so. But for those of you who don’t want to wait you could give this a go yourself for fairly reasonable outlays and without too much effort.