Dogfight over Asch
At Historicon I had played in a one-hour demo of Check Your 6! from Skirmish Campaigns and got a chance to chat with the rules’ authors a bit. I really liked what I saw and picked up a copy, but a busy summer after that prevented me from giving the game a thorough test. So last night Bob, Ken, and I got together to give the game a proper try. I definitely was not disappointed. The game is very well done, with elegant mechanics that capture the essence of pilot’s accounts from WWII but are pretty easy to pick up and fast to play. Lots of very clever ideas in there. The aircraft sheets are well laid out and very easy to use once you get an idea of where everything is located.
I decided to play using my new collection of 1/144th ETO aircraft, so set up a simple scenario based loosely on the German raid on Asch by JG 11 as part of Operation Bodenplatte. The Germans had a pair of FW 190A-8’s down on the deck and a pair of Bf 109K-4 flying top cover. A pair of P-51D’s of the 487th Fighter Squadron were just getting off the runway. In all of the games we played, the Germans had a Green and a Skilled pilot in the FW 190s and a Green and a Veteran pilot in the Bf 109s.
In the first game we played the Americans had one Skilled and one Veteran pilot. I was flying the Mustangs and roared off the runway, trying to decide whether to gain speed or altitude. I ended up splitting the difference, which worked out poorly for me. I ended up head to head with the Bob’s Veteran Bf 109 at close range, lower, and slower. This allowed Bob to fire down at me but I was unable to return fire back up. A hit with the two machine guns and the heavy 30mm cannon from the Veteran Bf 109 shredded the Veteran Mustang. The other Mustang pitched up into an Immelman turn as the Germans whipped by – only to realize that I had just used up all my energy and was now in a stall. The pilot passed the required aircrew check and even popped off a shot but missed and rolled doubles. The Germans FW 190s strafed the airfield and turned out. As the Mustang mushed forward I got off one more long range shot – and promptly rolled doubles for the second time, indicating I was out of ammo. Time to run away!
We set up the scenario again, giving the Americans another Veteran pilot in place of the Skilled one. I played the Mustangs again and this time started off differently, climbing instead of trying to gain speed. The Americans and Germans passed by without and effective head to head fire. The FW 190s went to the deck to strafe the airfield as I maneuvered the Mustangs in the vertical using a couple of Split-S turns. Bob used the high acceleration of the Bf 109K-4 to turn around while maintaining his high speed, but before he could bring the plane around I got off a couple of medium range shots against the two 190s, scoring hits on both. Ken proceeded to roll a 2 and a 3 on 2d6 and both planes smashed into the airfield. Already pointed toward Germany and at high speed, Bob headed for home.
We had time so setup the scenario again. Ken and switched place, so I was now flying the FW 190s. For this final game the players had gotten the hang of the rules, so some of the game concepts really came to the front. The Americans again climbed to start the game, as did the Messerschmidts. The two forces passed by one another with no damage from head to head fire, then turned about for another pass. The less skilled Germans were mostly forced to move first and Ken used the Veteran pilot ability to change his plotted maneuver well, maneuvering for shots on the German planes. The Green FW 190 ended up head to head with a Mustang and both fired, but the difference in crew skill proved critical. The Mustang hit and again a very low roll was made for the damage roll and the FW 190 went down. It looked like we might play all night without once seeing how the rules handle damaged aircraft! Bob had used the turn ability and acceleration of the Me 109 to bring his plane around for another pass, but suddenly found himself targeted by two Mustangs. One hit but Bob’s Veteran Me 109 took airframe damage, losing it’s ability to turn hard and was now pointed the wrong way. The Mustangs stuck on his tail and got another hit the next turn. Again the plane was damaged, but a second damaged result destroys the aircraft. The remaining German aircraft headed for friendly airspace at maximum speed.