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"Modern Dogfight using Lacquered Coffins (Modified)" Topic

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1,344 hits since 19 Apr 2017
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Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Apr 2017 6:05 a.m. PST


Okay, standby for something a little bit different, something I've been meaning to get to for quite some time, and something we're going to have to step back in time for. Here's the deal: my intent for this massive Imagi-Nation-type alternate history was always to have a bunch of ground fights, but also some air to air fighting, and perhaps even some naval fighting. If you're reading this I'm sure you're aware of the eighty-four (84) battle reports for ground fights I've posted for Cuba Libre. Now it's time for some air fights.

I just bought a new set of air rules called "Lacquered Coffins," a set of WWII rules that (as always) I've modified a bit to suit my purposes in order to use for 'modern' aircraft (can you still call F-4s and MiG-21s modern?). My changes are thus:

-I play solo, so I need to mix it up. Rather than IGO-UGO, I'm using cards (one card per aircraft, with the aircraft tied to a particular card) for activation. So I do the mandatory move for every aircraft, then move to cards.

-I shortened the range for guns (6, Long Range 8), gave them 2D6.

-I made missiles minimum range 5, good out to 12, Long range 16, 4D6. I gave each aircraft four missiles. I know F-4s can carry more than four missiles, so if you like it better, think of it as four shots of two missiles ;) I also am not currently differentiating between IR and radar missiles, I'm just getting into some new rules and want some quick, fun games.

-I added deflection as modifiers, side and front quarter -2 (the game already has head-on and tail, which is assumed).

-I can't remember if this is in the book or not, but when a plane is going down I have the pilot make a test to bail out.

-I'm using a hexboard with 1/600 minis, so 1" in the rules equals one hex.

Everything else is as written.

This is an even up, 4 vs 4 matchup, which I plan to do a few times while I learn these new rules, before getting into various force sizes and initial deployments. All of these will be straight up fighter duels; perhaps someday I'll branch out into other stuff, but that's what interests me right now. I'm not sure how many fights I'll play out for the War of Liberation; I'm hoping for around ten, but it could be more (if I'm really enjoying myself) or less (if I run out of planes/pilots). Right now I'll be simply referring to these guys by callsign, i.e., Boxcar 01. As they prove themselves (by surviving!) I'll become more invested and begin to actually start naming them and getting into personalia.


The board, north is up. I'm using a hexboard from the old game "Flight Leader" (you can actually see the name in the bottom right corner). CLA Air Force in the southwest (bottom left) corner, Castro Air Force in the northeast (top right). I'm using the relatively new set, "Lacquered Coffins," modified slightly. The airplanes are 1/600; the CLA flight consists of F-4 Phantoms from PicoArmor, the Castro flight consists of MiG-21s from Tumbling Dice.


Hopefully it isn't too off-putting, but in an effort to make it more clear to readers, I'm now photo-shopping the pics and putting in identifiers (1-4) for the aircraft and brushing in trails to show maneuvers.

To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:

The fight was a lot of fun; it flows well, mixing things up with the cards for activation worked like a champ, and everything made sense. It took a bit longer than I'd like; yeah, that's always the case with new rules, but I gotta tell ya, I don't think that factored in a lot, as the mechanisms were very familiar. I think more of the time is spent with the maneuvering, then manipulating the dice for altitude, speed, and missiles, which is a little bit of a pain in the butt, but worth it. Let me know what you think of me doing the batreps with the blue and red trails and black numbers (I'm already writing the next fight up the same way).

Next fight up in this series is the second flight, Blackjack 01-04, on another vanilla fighter sweep, taking on four Castro-regime MiG-21s, though I should be posting batrep number five of Operation Rush Delivery first.


Defender1 Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 6:49 a.m. PST

Jack you are living the dream of gaming all the time.

Allen5720 Apr 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

Good looking game. I like your flight stands. Where did you get them?

MiniPatton20 Apr 2017 9:40 a.m. PST

The flight stands look like Legos to me.

Weasel20 Apr 2017 9:44 a.m. PST

Very cool, thanks for sharing!

M C MonkeyDew20 Apr 2017 10:45 a.m. PST

Nice one Just Jack! Now I miss my copy of Flight Leader : (



Mako11 Inactive Member20 Apr 2017 10:53 a.m. PST

Looks like fun!

Love your use of the hex map, and the guy in the parachute.

Thanks for sharing your report and photos.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Apr 2017 11:32 a.m. PST

Wow, thanks guys, I appreciate it! How come my ground batreps don't draw this much attention? ;)

And Ben's got it, the "flightstands" are just Legos, which I bought direct online so I could order just the parts I wanted.


boggler20 Apr 2017 1:45 p.m. PST

Great always!


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Apr 2017 6:27 p.m. PST

Thanks Jim!


Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2017 5:07 a.m. PST

Good to see you branching out! Now try SAGA! Have not heard of the rules? Have your tried Bag the Hun? For activation I swiped the system from the star wars game. Roll 2d6 with modifiers for skill/altitude. Then move from lowest to highest. then shoot from highest to lowest. Works great for solo.


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member23 Apr 2017 6:57 p.m. PST

Hey buddy, thanks! Yeah, I played a fair few dogfights, but keep searching for the "perfect" rules. I've played quite a few Bag The Hun fights, and it's my usual standby, and Lacquered Coffins have a lot of similarities.

I tried a similar activation system to what you described, but it really bogged down for me as I ended up having to do a whole lot of paperwork to try and keep it straight. You know how us Marines are…


Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 2:47 p.m. PST


You are baiting me, no fair. If you do it correctly there is no paperwork. Write out 13 boxes on a scrap piece of paper ( oh the fun I could be having with this!)and label them 2-14. Get out 8 counters and label then GG 1 through 4 and BG 1-4. Everytime you roll up your good guy pilots and bad guy pilots put the appropriate marker in the appropriate box. You can count to 14 right? ( sorry almost made it!)


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member25 Apr 2017 10:53 a.m. PST

Well, I'm sure I wasn't doing it correctly, but I also had about 20 aircraft on the board.

1. I got a white board and markers and wrote down each aircraft type, call sign, altitude, pilot skill, and status. I needed some sort of roster as the aircraft type, its altitude, pilot skill, and status (damaged or not) were all modifiers that played into the activation process.

2. Each turn I conducted a series of seemingly endless rolls to determine the order of activation. Each aircraft got a D6 roll +/- its modifiers, to determine its place in the order of activation. Invariably there were tons of ties using a D6; there were simple tie breakers (a fighter beats a bomber, a good fighter beats a damaged fighter), but lots of others required another roll. Making 20 separate D6 rolls, figuring out the modifiers, checking for and working out ties, took up quite a bit of my precious time. Even moving to a D10 didn't significantly alter the number of ties per turn that had to be figured out/re-rolled.

3. I would write the numbers for activation on the white board, then check it to make sure I'd gotten it correct. More time…

4. I would then activate the aircraft in order, lowest to highest, then shoot highest to lowest. This was kind of cool, and the mechanic worked better with a D6 for activation order as it kept things closer, which meant a Rookie actually had a slight chance to take on an Ace; using a D10 meant that was pretty much impossible, and thereby not very much fun.

In any case, I played a couple games then gave up on it as too much work. I generally use my pared down version of Bag the Hun, and now I'm getting into Lacquered Coffins, which has its similarities (activation is not one of them, however, though I'm using a very simplified version). What I'm still missing is that activation differentiation (not just firing and maneuvers) between different pilot classes. It's a tough one, and, for me, one that even Bag the Hun wasn't very satisfying.


NKL AeroTom26 Apr 2017 3:09 a.m. PST

Interesting point about the wanting different activation based on pilot quality. I wonder if you could allow better quality pilots to always activate first, regardless of whose turn it is.

Say everyone does their mandatory moves (both sides), and then aircraft do their maneuvers starting with the best quality pilots, and ending with the lowest quality. Players could roll off if they both have pilots of the same quality to see who gets to activate whose first.

For example, both players do their mandatory moves, then player A has an ace pilot so he maneuvers first, player A also has 2 good pilots and they go next, then both players have average quality pilots so they roll off player B wins and all his average pilots go next, etc.

The rigid turn structure in Lacquered Coffins is one thing I would be interested in experimenting with. IGo UGo doesn't really suit the chaos and dynamics of air combat! :)

Only issue I can see with this is that the player with the best pilots will always be going first – it will make higher quality pilots even more potent and mean they would be more expensive in the points system – would require some play-testing to balance nicely.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member26 Apr 2017 10:09 a.m. PST


I think letting better pilots activate first works most of the time, but not all the time, as there are definitely occasions where the Ace would want the Rookie to move first, in order to line up a better shot on him. I mean, what you're trying to model is the better pilot's increased skill and situational awareness being put into practice, which should mean the Ace gets to pick whether to go first or last, or anywhere in the middle, though I don't know how you could model that without making him incredibly powerful.

Having said that, I think your idea of Aces-Veterans-Average-Rookies activating makes the best sense. And when you get ties, look to other issues such as altitude, power, and damage to decide, with die rolls only happening when all of the above are equal. I.e., both aircraft are Aces at alt5/spd6 and undamaged; if not equal, the one undamaged/higher/with more speed (probably in that order) goes first.

The only problem for me, as you pointed out, is that there's no randomness at all, and I worry about reaching a breakaway point (i.e., there's no way an Average pilot could ever defeat an Ace). What I'm looking for is a randomization that's weighted more to the better pilot. Just cant' figure it out though ;)


Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2017 3:18 p.m. PST

20 aircraft wouldn't work; as you say it would take too much time. How about 3 cards ( or chips) per ace, 2 per avg and 1 per rookie and you draw them allowing each plane to move once. Then an ace should have three times the chance to move before the rookie ( or choose to move last.).


NKL AeroTom27 Apr 2017 1:09 a.m. PST

I've been thinking about this at work, and I don't think its preferable to active second in lacquered coffins – provided both aircraft make simultaneous mandatory moves – aircraft can do so much damage, and can almost always turn to face a target, that its usually beneficial to move (and attack) before an enemy. Only when Igo Ugo mandatory moves come in can it be beneficial to move second – usually its whoever can hook around behind the enemy first after the merge that starts to do the significant damage.

We will try a game with activation based on quality and see how it goes, it will certainly make pilot quality more important by an order of magnitude!

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member27 Apr 2017 4:31 a.m. PST

Joe – That is almost exactly what I was as thinking, and put in the notes for my second batrep.

Tom – I agree with you wholeheartedly wants they make the merge, but prior to that there is certainly some advantage to going last. Even after the merge, after a couple turns of furballing with planes getting hit and pilots bunging their tests (keeping them straight and level, carrying them out of the fight), sometimes there are some opportunities to take advantage of by activating last. I look forward to hearing how your play tests go.


Wolfhag27 Apr 2017 8:00 p.m. PST

Just Jack,
You are a war gaming animal! I'm not worthy!


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member28 Apr 2017 7:55 a.m. PST

I do what I can ;)


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