For the playtest we used planes that were historically in service in the late-1916/early-1917 time period:
Allied = 2 x Nieuport 17 scouts flown by Brian (silver plane) and myself (camo)
Central Powers = 1 x Albatross DIII scout and 1 x LFG Roland CII observation aircraft flown by, respectively, Frederick and Kevin
Kevin's Roland was tasked to photograph a point on the Allied lines, escorted by the Albatross. The two French planes were set to intercept.
Some of the optional or new rules we are thinking of using are as follows:
- Blind spot - two seater-aircraft have a blind spot to their immediate rear where their tail masks the fire of their observer's gun
- Deflection - planes firing from and into another plane's front/rear arcs have no deflection, and score +1 damage
- Limited Ammo (thanks, Frederick!) - Planes and observers have a limited and variable number of shots
- Shoot the real thing - all measurements are made from post to post, not the stands
(Note: click on the photos for larger images.)
Brian turned around to pursue Kevin's observation plane. Frederick Immelmanned to change direction and try and bear on my own Nieuport. Meanwhile, the German observer managed to snap a photo of the target on the ground.
The Roland banked left to head back to its own lines. Brian's maneuverable Nieuport turned tighter, to bring its guns to bear.
A real furball ensued as three planes seemed to converge upon the same spot in the air. Frederick in his Albatross hammered my Nieuport with twin Spandaus. Brian, Kevin and I were busy avoiding mid-air collisions.
The action shifted east. Brian tailed Kevin, while Frederick flipped around and I gave him a quick burst.
Kevin flew the Roland east, jinking left and right to try and avoid Brian's shots.
I let Frederick go, turning towards the 2-seater. This was a grave mistake. Frederick turned back upon my Nieuport and set it on fire with a well-aimed burst.
Brian, for his part, managed to stick on Kevin's tail and shot the Roland out of the sky before it could cross the German lines.
My lighter Nieuport couldn't stand up to Frederick's close-range fire, and fell in flames onto No-Man's Land.
Brian, having succeeded in stopping Kevin's observer from getting away with vital information, turned west to preserve himself. Kevin's observer had managed to set Brian's plane on fire before he fell, but Brian retained control and the fire went out before too much damage was caused. Through canny maneuver, Brian managed to stay out of Frederick's gunsight, and made it safely to the Allied lines.
With the rules we tested, the players tried to use historical tactics, firing from their enemy's six-o'clock, at very close range. Long-range deflection shots were much less in evidence this night, as opposed to the game we had over Christmas break.
Some further discussion is required. For example, a couple of different campaign systems have been offered to track aircraft availability and generate scenarios. However, I'm looking forward to starting something up in the next few weeks.