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"Why Aerial Wargames Suck " Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2018 10:04 p.m. PST

"A bit of a clickbait title, but this is a genre which I feel has seen very few good rule sets. Contrast this to the plethora of decent WW2/modern platoon+ level rules, for example.

Perhaps there is something about aerial wargames that does not adapt well to wargaming (I feel age of sail also suffers from this). I'll highlight a few issues.

First, it's not like we have a lot of good rules to choose from. Most rules are simply rebadged mechanics from the 1970s. Check Your Six is a good example of this. It's more polished than its ancestors, but still has unwieldy mechanics (add firepower dice – say 8 x d6, total them up, then consult a chart, roll 2d6 and add modifiers, to see final damage – just so clunky). And it has written orders, ffs. This is aerial dogfights, not 1970s Napoleonics brigade level wargames. I want to move model Mustangs around making pew pew noises, not be writing C12+H1 or whatever. Bag the Hun at least tries to be different with card activation, but has the usual 101 different mechanics and chaos of a Lardies ruleset. Also, planes moving double speed because they are in formation or at a higher altitude just feels wrong. I know it's meant to show the tactical advantage, but a Spitfire moving twice as far as a 109 in a game turn because it is in formation is just… jarring…"
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KSmyth16 Jan 2018 10:10 p.m. PST

Ah, he's never played in one of my games.

Lion in the Stars16 Jan 2018 11:38 p.m. PST

Air War C21 is good for BVR missiles, lacks a little in the WVR dogfight. But I don't think you can do player-as-flight/squadron-leader dogfights.

I'd suspect that Downtown (player as Commander, Air Group or equivalent in Vietnam) is more the level of game he wants to play. Build your strike packages, dodge the flak and SAMs (or kill them, depending on the year), bomb targets, send a recon plane through for Damage Assessment.

Whirlwind17 Jan 2018 3:20 a.m. PST

If you want to try something radically different, then you could have a look at these: link

For full disclosure, these aren't my cup of tea, I disagree whole-heartedly with the designer on many things…but, I think to be fair to the guy, he is thinking thoughts along the lines you mention

Ghecko17 Jan 2018 3:44 a.m. PST

Need to check out the Jet Combat rules at

Vigilant17 Jan 2018 4:29 a.m. PST

Not quite sure what he wants, but it doesn't sound like any air combat game I would want to play. I've played many of the games he mentions and dislikes, and I agree with some of his views. I found many of the early board games over complex and not much of a reflection of flying, let alone combat (I'm a former pilot with 450 hours flying time). Of the more recent games I've played I find Check Your 6 and Jet Age to be a good balance between realistic flying and game play. The charts work really well and do not add any more time to the game than any other set of rules. I suppose it depends on the size of your gaming group as to what type of game you can run, but that isn't a fault of the rules.

Dave Crowell17 Jan 2018 6:52 a.m. PST

Why this blog sucks: I couldn't even finish reading it, that much white text on black background made my eyes hurt. Please guys, if you want your stuff read *black* text on a light background. No fancy backgrounds, no light text.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Jan 2018 9:17 a.m. PST

There are a few genres/periods that, in my mind, are trapped in command levels. Napoleonics, for example. To many gamers, if you don't deploy skirmishers, and show battalions in individual formations, it is *not* Napoleonics. But that severely limits the size of game you can play. Salamanca? Forget about it, unless you have 20 players and a 30 foot table.

For air games, it is doing the dog fighting that defines the genre. At east for me. And that's why I never play aerial games any more – they are inevitably more accounting than action. And when you take altitude out entirely, it's just flying boats.

Tracking a variable like energy and having to "spend" it in fighting seems like a sound idea. But without the maneuvers, there's nothing interesting left to the game.

GGouveia17 Jan 2018 2:16 p.m. PST

Bag the Hun to me is the best system so far for the chaos of dogfighting. It's more the man then the machine. Pilot initiative is what wins dogfights. Height advantage as well as formation discipline with your wingman is simulated the best I feel by Bag the Hun 2.

GGouveia17 Jan 2018 4:21 p.m. PST

I also dislike plotted movements so all those type of dogfighting games seem unrealistic to me. The game then becomes a guessing game as to what your opponent will do next. At least that part of the article I agree with.

khanscom17 Jan 2018 6:55 p.m. PST

"Sturmovik Commander" was fun when we tried a 1940- based game-- not a great amount of bookkeeping during the game, and the campaign elements generated a number of interesting (and unbalanced) scenarios.

Lion in the Stars18 Jan 2018 12:00 a.m. PST

The game then becomes a guessing game as to what your opponent will do next

Funny, that seems to be exactly what real dogfighting is about!

GGouveia18 Jan 2018 12:06 a.m. PST

Not really. If you are tailing it is not a guessing game. Gawd. Rookies.

Wolfhag18 Jan 2018 7:11 a.m. PST

Interesting comments.

Here is my take on air combat and what I'd like to see:
Split Second Timing: Representing how a better pilot can get inside a poor pilot's Decision Loop is hard to do using initiative determination and activations. It's a timing issue. Having game turns greater than a few seconds make this harder to realistically portray.

Initiative: This should be about Situational Awareness and detecting the enemy first. Personally, I like some type of abstracted way for a formation that spots the enemy first to perform some type of tactical maneuvering to position themselves to "jump" the enemy formation. This includes maneuvering in with the sun to their back. Each turn of "tactical maneuvering" can position the formation with the initiative further into the enemy 6 o'clock but they may get spotted. After the enemy formation spots their attackers the models are put on the table. The more successful the formation with the initiative has the further on the enemy 6 o'clock and closer range they will start. Then the dog fighting begins.

About 80% of the pilots shot down never saw their opponent. There needs to be some way to portray a pilot being blind in his rear aspect when attempting to fire unless he has a wingman attached.

Movement and Maneuvering: You almost really need to have some type of impulse movement. Any type of IGOUGO really puts the entire fight out of sequence.

Energy and Altitude: Energy is hard to realistically portray but you need it. Altitude can be abstracted in bands like CY6.

Gunfire and Damage: Historically you needed to be on their tail at close range to hit. Deflection shooting was normally a lucky hit. Aircraft do not magically fall out of the air after a certain number of points of damage. I like a system where after a certain amount of hits you roll for a critical. The plane goes down with one or more critical hits, not accumulated damage.

If you look at air combat and the number of kills versus sorties it was very low. If an air combat game were historically accurate I doubt if it would be much fun. Many scenarios would be jumping an enemy formation out of the sun, shooting down tail-end Charlie and then diving or zooming out of reach. If you don't have an advantage don't fight, disengage. Boring.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2018 11:00 a.m. PST

Quite interesting my friend.


CalypsoCommando18 Jan 2018 3:19 p.m. PST

Wolfhag; I agree with some of your comments but "80% of the pilots shot down never saw their opponent." Sure, but is that what you want to play in a one on one dogfight game?? You must love naval games with submarines ambushing unescorted convoys…

SBminisguy18 Jan 2018 4:04 p.m. PST

I'd love to see a set of aerial wargames rules made with someone with fresh eyes, who build a game based around their philosophy of air combat, rather than building it in imitation of an Avalon Hill game they played back in '82.

It's called Mustangs and Messerschmitts, probably the most "accurate" dogfighting game out there -- hits many of the boxes on his check list except for not being complex. However, since it uses 1/72 scale models mounted on wheeled, articulated altitude poles it puts off the more…casual…gamers.


BattlerBritain18 Jan 2018 4:21 p.m. PST

I like Wolfhags comments.

I think an important part of an airgame is flowing movement. If two planes are chasing each other any loss of speed is bad so the game mechanics must reflect the aircraft's speed loss when performing an action, eg turning or climbing. Then it's up to the player to use the aircraft's performance advantages to either get in a position to shoot or avoid being shot.

And shooting with critical hits I think is the best. Fighting Wings or CY6 have about the best. I like the different dice in CY6 but use a modified mechanism to generate Critical hits.

I also use a Disadvantaged, Normal, Advantaged movement order from old Air War days.

One game mechanic I liked from Mustangs was the importance of a wingman. If you had a plane that fired at another the firing plane automatically lost sight of all other planes except the one they were shooting at, unless they had a wingman nearby when they could keep sight of up to 6 planes I think it was.

Some good stuff.

Wolfhag18 Jan 2018 4:56 p.m. PST

The remark I made was more about most games having total Situational Awareness by the player to respond the threats coming in on a blind spot while pursuing a target. Once engaged you give up a lot of your SA, that's why you need a wingman. I do like stalking sub video games though. I used to hunt in the Everglades, you had to sneak up on your prey, no sitting in a tree perch.

No, I would not want a boring air combat game but implementing some of the "boring" stuff into a game could work. I really do like the minutia of the differences between 1:1 aircraft combat and the ability to use your strengths against their weaknesses. However, I'd also like something that would simulate a tour of duty campaign type game and be a squadron or wing commander. There would be more of a role-playing aspect to the pilots that build experience mission by mission.

As a squadron versus squadron game but mostly abstract all of the hex by hex movement and maneuvering. Formations are jumped and a combat round takes place.

Winners and losers can elect to disengage after a combat round. Planes with enough speed and energy can "boom and zoom" up one altitude level and not be followed unless an enemy spends a few combat rounds climbing. In the next combat round, they can select a new target and try it again.

Combat rounds would be similar to "Down in Flames" or "Bloody April" games by GMT. If a P47 gets into a turning fight with a 109 in a few rounds the 109 may be on his tail. Pilot differences would matter more about the outcome than aircraft performance. If that 109 tries to dive away he better not let that P-47 latch onto him.

I envision in a combat round the disadvantaged aircraft selecting a maneuver to perform and the advantaged aircraft selecting a maneuver to counter it. Neutral aircraft select their tactic/maneuver after advantaged and disadvantaged. So a tight turn could be countered with a hi-low yo-yo by an aircraft with less turning ability. Comparing the differences in maneuvers selected, pilot differences and a die roll could determine changing advantage and firing positions. I want to keep it quick but still have some of the flavor of air combat.

So the general idea of the game would be to have an operational area map that attackers would ingress and defenders intercept or patrol. Parts of the Battle of Britain would be a good scenario.

So yes, sometimes tail-end Charlie gets shot down and everyone ends up going home if they choose to. However, everyone else lives to fight another day. You'd get multiple missions fought in a gaming session.

I'm sure there is something out there like that already.

I've played most of the 1:1 air combat games and playtested Canvas Falcons sold by Clash of Arms games. I kind of lost interest when in a 3 hour game with 6 players my two aircraft fired a total of 6 times. It was IGOUGO and I waited 10-20 minutes for my turn to do something. A few players were still fighting with their planes having a serious critical hit or trailing smoke and why not. It just ended up being a buzz kill for me. However, it is a great group and I enjoyed the social aspect and learning from people with more knowledge than me.


Lion in the Stars18 Jan 2018 8:55 p.m. PST

You must love naval games with submarines ambushing unescorted convoys…

I played that 1:1, it's rather more exciting than you'd think. Mostly because we always assumed someone in the convoy had some form of ASW capability, like a helo deck.

Obviously more 'interesting' when you're after a carrier group, but convoys are just as important.

Not really. If you are tailing it is not a guessing game. Gawd. Rookies.

Meh, I'm used to playing games like Ace Combat, where you're almost never close enough to the targets to see how their controls are moving. Maybe a factor in guns-only games, but not missiles.

GGouveia19 Jan 2018 7:41 a.m. PST

To each their own, it's all about what you the player like. I prefer Bag the Hun2 as for me it scratches all the boxes plus it can be played solitaire.

Wolfhag19 Jan 2018 2:06 p.m. PST

Yes, it's the strategy involved in stalking the enemy. It's the same thing using a Tactical Maneuvering Grid like here:

Using the TMG the defender can still have a chance to detect the enemy far enough away to turn into the attack or take evasive action. You don't have to worry about scenario setups.

I like TFL BtH ammo usage measuring bursts in seconds. I'm not sure why this is not used in more games. I take it a step further to determine hits.

Example: A P-51 with 6x .50cal MG could put out about 48 rounds per second. A 2-second burst would be roughly 100 rounds. Rather than figuring a to hit number with modifiers I figure the % chance of each round hitting. Then I do a single decimal 1-100 roll on a binomial table that will give the number of hits. Depending on the ammo and target every X number of hits is a potential critical. At the end of the mission, you can count the number of holes in your aircraft. There is enough research info out there to pretty well recreate historic outcomes. Gunnery and damage is an area I like more detail.

Rather than the minutia of movement, adversaries select maneuvers and specific tactics. These are countered and the results are determined by aircraft and pilot differences. It's an abstraction I could deal with.

I'd also have a rating for Pilot Aggressiveness and Luck too. To use "Luck" the player rolls and he can get a bonus modifier for being lucky or a penalty for being unlucky. Each time you try using Luck you get a modifier towards unlucky, your Luck eventually runs out!

That's what I like but I'm normally in the minority.


acctingman186919 Jan 2018 2:09 p.m. PST

I'm waiting for an aerial game that handles flights vs flights or squadrons vs squadrons.

Nothing out there does this, at least as far as I know.

EnclavedMicrostate19 Jan 2018 3:51 p.m. PST

Giving Wings at War a shoutout for avoiding excessive record-keeping (there's usually only about 4 stats to keep track of, of which 3 are permanent effects like damage, ammo and pilot rating), keeping it simple (virtually every roll is 1D6 or 1D3), few tables (the Korea entry has only 3 different scenarios for gunfire) and simple movement.

My only criticism is that there is a lot of luck in it. I played a game tonight where 4 bombers (so 50% of the enemy target) died from AA fire because of bad bombing rolls.

GGouveia19 Jan 2018 3:52 p.m. PST

Acctingman BTH2 does Flight vs Flight or 16 vs 16 as well.

stephen m20 Jan 2018 7:47 a.m. PST

If you guys are looking for realistic flight models then the best out there are by JD Webster. Air Superiority/The Speed of Heat for Korea to modern and Over the Reich/Achtung Spitfire/Whistling Death/Buffalo Wings and the upcoming Wings of the Motherland for WWII (and probably SCW) are THE rules. These are paper hex and counter games which can easily be adapted to miniatures.

For energy they use a simple system which compares deceleration points (generated by maneuvers, climbing, etc.) to acceleration points (generated by excess engine thrust and diving) to produce a change in aircraft speed. I found almost all players "got" the system in the first game or two.

Unlike M&M your turn ability is not some arbitrary fixed value but varies with altitude, aircraft design, structural strength, and how hard YOU want to turn. You can usually turn pretty hard but the drag produced can be greater than your engine's excess thrust. So you either slow down or back off the turn rate. All this is true to real world physics not arbitrary limits imposed by game designers without a handle on physics. Also unlike a lot of games mentioned altitude has a real effect. Add in most of the features mentioned above such as a method to determine initial start positions based on "hunting", crew quality effects on initiative and performance and the initiative effects of position and I think those of you truly interested in an ACCURATE game would appreciate these titles.

Myself, I was very heavily into AS decades ago and have only just started back into gaming in the last year. At the end is a link to another modern air combat game I personally unfamiliar with but written by a couple of the guys heavily involved with AS back in the day. The link is my reply to stands for using miniatures in air gaming. My post is (was?) the last one showing the use of antennas (to give height relative to other planes on the table not absolute height) and a relatively simple design for holding the mini. I was using 1/300 (285, 6 mm) aircraft.

Stephen (Madman)


Wolfhag20 Jan 2018 12:11 p.m. PST

I agree the Fighting Wings is the most accurate. I was part of the playtesting team for the WWI version, Canvas Falcons. I programmed a spreadsheet that handles the energy and speed computations, altitude changes, etc. They came up with the TMG that adds an extra dimension to the game. Personally, I'd like to convert the turning system into a degrees per second value to determine when to face.

It is a bit of a learning curve and initially, the game can take awhile to play. It is not a game to introduce new players to at a convention.


stephen m20 Jan 2018 2:10 p.m. PST


I was working on a WWI version of AS back around 1990. I was researching for it when I stumbled upon RC planes which was another interest back when I first got into gaming in the early '70s. I have been into RC planes full time until a couple years ago. My now 14 year old son got into gaming and it all came back. Luckily I kept most everything, including mass quantities of lead. I was a playtester for JDs modern games and am listed as such in TSoH. At the time I was not as much into WWII but managed to win a free copy of OtR by winning one of his inaugural tournaments in his hometown of Ann Arbour back in the day. I have been avoiding getting back into air gaming as I was way too involved to sustain it at the previous level again (constant Origins tournament play for nearly a decade). But old habits die hard.

How do you feel about CF? He has his own site and it looks tempting. JD really nailed the balance between simulation and playability with AS and his WWII series. My efforts were to use his system but back date it to WWI to about the SCW era. I have a lot of research and programs supporting it still. The hardest part was integrating specific airfoil and design characteristics to accurately reflect what different planes could really accomplish. Luckily with all the modern reproductions, especially with period motors or ones of similar performance, you can now verify with pilots if your efforts match reality. I still see many glorified characteristics on certain planes which when you look at the cold hard facts are not borne out. What is tougher to model (and for some designer to represent) are flight characteristics which are significantly better than their contemporaries in very specific conditions which were probably interpreted "in the day" as unobtainium. As an example the Fokker D.VIIf could "hang on it's prop". Not true but it could generate nearly it's weight in thrust under certain conditions. Combine that with a wing design which has a stall which is very gentle, straight forward (inherent washout in the airfoil progression) and with the thick large radius thin ply covered nose very easily detected by the pilots and you have a plane which is much easier to fly at and maintain at the stall.

I think the idea of avoiding air gaming as it was/is all consuming for me is for naught. Note that my RC plane collection includes one F-16, 4 flyable WWI types and another dozen WWI kits and short kits in boxes!

Wolfhag20 Jan 2018 6:44 p.m. PST

I met JD about 20 years ago at a convention he spoke at. He said the altitude/climb rules were tweaked or altitude gain would be too slow. He said the gunfire rules, especially deflection shooting, were very generous. He said if he created a real-life historic simulation it would be too boring as hardly anyone would be shot down.

I've had the good fortune to meet people like Gabreski, Jim Swett, Jeff Deblanc, Alex Vraicu, Bud Anderson, and many others. I also met some German 109 pilots that flew in the BoB. They all agreed it was the pilot and his aggressiveness that mattered more than the plane.

Regarding CF, I think he got it right. There is no other WWI a/c game that has the detail on all aspects. It is very chart heavy though. I think it took him about 12-13 years of working on it. However, it is a very unforgiving system. Make a single mistake and you are low on airspeed and out of position – as it should be. If you purchase it you won't regret it. He also has a strategic module like Bloody April. He has 47 pages of charts (yes, 47), the rulebook is 89 pages and another book with 11 pages of combat charts. The ADC cards look pretty muck AS and OtR. He uses the Py movement system too. If you don't play it you'll get a lot of good ideas and an education too.

I think he did a good job on modeling the vertical flight characteristics at least as well as JD did. I liked using the SE5 against an Albatros zooming up and down and cutting him off with a burst.

I like modeling those little differences between aircraft, like different stall characteristics which you can use to make a stall turn whipping around quickly and forcing the attacker to overshoot.

It sounds like we are both on the same page as far as what we like.

I think McLaddie is into the RC like you are too.


Sailor Steve21 Jan 2018 6:57 a.m. PST

>Unlike M&M your turn ability is not some arbitrary fixed value but varies with altitude, aircraft design, structural strength, and how hard YOU want to turn. You can usually turn pretty hard but the drag produced can be greater than your engine's excess thrust. So you either slow down or back off the turn rate. All this is true to real world physics not arbitrary limits imposed by game designers without a handle on physics.

As a player of the M&M system for more than 40 years now, and as someone who watched the design process first-hand, I think I can safely say that M&M does all that. Turn rates do vary with aircraft type. We experimented with variable turn rates by altitude for awhile, but found it too complicated for the average player. Turn rates do vary with speed, and drag is certainly a major factor. Some aircraft will even slow down in a full dive if pushed too hard. As for physics, Rocky not only "had a handle" on that, but aerodynamics as well, so much so that he spent some time consulting for the Air Force on the performance of Soviet aircraft.

Also unlike a lot of games mentioned altitude has a real effect.

M&M is the only game I'm aware of in which altitude differences are actually represented, rather than abstracted. The guy above usually has the advantage, as he can choose to fight or not. If he does dive on his enemy he gains the other advantage – speed. Of course he may pick up enough speed to hurt his turn rate, but then he has the option to climb again. "Boom and zoom". The thing I like the most about the system is that all this is represented physically. Rather than write down what you are doing you can actually watch it happen.

I've never played a two-dimensional (i.e. tabletop) game that came close. On the other hand, everyone wants something different out of their gaming experience. With M&M you can't run a squadron, or even a flight. The idea there is to be a pilot in the cockpit.

stephen m21 Jan 2018 7:49 a.m. PST

Py movement?

Sailor Steve21 Jan 2018 8:03 a.m. PST

Py movement?

I don't understand the term.

Wolfhag21 Jan 2018 4:51 p.m. PST

Here it is: link

It makes determination of vertical and horizontal movement easier, including altitude gain.


Sailor Steve21 Jan 2018 10:36 p.m. PST

Thanks for clarifying.

No, M&M doesn't have anything like that. The rear wheel of the trolley is 4" in circumference, so any plane can move up or down a maximum of 4" for each roll of the wheel. Two of the stats for each plane are Climb Rate and Zoom. Climb is how many inches a plane may clime in a game turn (5 seconds, divided into 3 impulses when in combat) without losing any speed. Zoom climb is how many increments of inches can be climbed after that, vs speed lost.

For instance, an Albatros D.III (late version, 180 HP) has a climb of 7 and a zoom of 6. He can climb 7 inches every turn without losing any speed. on the 8th inch he loses a speed point. After that he loses another speed point for every 6 inches he climbs. Since his turn schedule is E/15 the tightest he can ever turn is schedule E (defined by a set of holes into which pins are placed limiting the tiller mounted to the rear wheel, and a vertical maneuver takes 15 inches. If he does a chandelle upward he loses 15" plus 3" designated speed loss for turning. It's all assessed at the end of the turn, so if he started at his max speed of 13 (rolls of the wheel) he loses 18", assuming he does no other turning. The first 7" are used by his engine, leaving 11" still to be accounted for. Dividing this by 6" zoom climb means he loses two speed points and on the next turn is going speed 11. The free climb is absolute, but the zoom may be rounded up or down, and in this case it's considered okay to climb another 4" for a total of 22" and still be going speed 11.

If the same Albatros turns flat or two impulses he doesn't lose anything, but if he turns flat for all three impulses he loses 9" and a speed point.

If he does a wingover, diving and turning for one impulse, he loses 3" for turning but gains a speed point anyway, as his dive acceleration is 4. If he should turn and dive for the whole turn he loses 9" and 1 speed point, but picks up 4 for diving, for a total gain of 3 points. If he started at his max speed he is now going faster than that and no longer has free climb, and his engine will not negate any inches lost. His turn rate may also be wider, depending on what the Speed vs Turn Chart says.

I hope that's not too much information for one bite, but I'll be glad to answer any questions.

Sailor Steve21 Jan 2018 10:41 p.m. PST

Oh, and one more thing. As SBminisguy said, the most common model scale is 1/72, and they are large enough to put kill markings on, so we commonly use 1/72 scale models. Because of the limitations in the tracking of the stands the actual game scales vary. WW1 is just shy of 1/200, 1930s is short of 1/400, WW2, Korea and early Arab-Israeli are just this side of 1/800 and Modern Jets are about 1/1000. The models are for looks only, and have nothing to do with the actual game scales.

Wolfhag23 Jan 2018 7:25 a.m. PST

What I like the best about the Py Table is that by knowing how far away a target is and the height above or below will enable you to select the climb or dive attitude to get your guns on it.

I've only played M&M twice at conventions. I admit I'm a sucker for data cards as it's easy to see the altitude your aircraft performance is going to be superior.


SgtPrylo08 Feb 2018 12:42 p.m. PST

Odd that I haven't seen Canvas Eagles mentioned here. The modded Blue Max rules are my go-to for WW1 aerial combat. I use 1/144th Wings of War aircraft (mostly) to fit a on a good sized table. I model altitude with telescoping stands. Movement is simultaneous, and a tailing aircraft has an advantage in that the pilot being tailed must provide a card to his opponent once he's plotted his moves.

I have a picture on the front page of our club Facebook group here:

Yes, the banked turns make a difference. That gives you some indication of what an opponent will do, as a plane that made a right turn (for example) can't make a left turn in his next move. He can only continue right or go straight.

We enjoy the rules, so I guess that's the key factor here for us.

deephorse14 Feb 2018 4:29 p.m. PST

Yay, Canvas Eagles finally gets a mention! I won't make any claim that it's the definitive simulation of WWI aerial combat, but it's a lot of fun. And fun is why I play wargames, sod the hyper-realism.

PilGrim28 Mar 2018 2:11 p.m. PST

Blood Red Skies certainly shakes the tree a bit

MightyHindu06 Apr 2018 3:41 a.m. PST

I think "In Clouds of Glory" is exactly what you want.
No hex fields, full 3D feeling with free height level selection. It's really fun to fly the appropriate maneuvers to get to the rear of the opponent. And the rules can be downloaded for free.

Emilio15 Apr 2018 5:40 a.m. PST

"Example: A P-51 with 6x .50cal MG could put out about 48 rounds per second. A 2-second burst would be roughly 100 rounds. Rather than figuring a to hit number with modifiers I figure the % chance of each round hitting. Then I do a single decimal 1-100 roll on a binomial table that will give the number of hits. Depending on the ammo and target every X number of hits is a potential critical. At the end of the mission, you can count the number of holes in your aircraft. There is enough research info out there to pretty well recreate historic outcomes. Gunnery and damage is an area I like more detail."

Wolfhag, any chance that you may post the binomial table you use for hits? I am very curious about the system.

Lion in the Stars16 Apr 2018 7:12 p.m. PST

I'm waiting for an aerial game that handles flights vs flights or squadrons vs squadrons.

Downtown? It's more concerned about getting the strike package onto the target, though.

stephen m19 Apr 2018 5:43 p.m. PST


Thank you for your input. I'll have to fish around and see if I can muster some opponents first then pick up CF. Getting players in my area and interested in a level beyond Check your 6 is not easy.

MadBob02 May 2018 11:58 a.m. PST

No mention of Aerodrome? IMO the most enjoyable aerial combat game there is.

Wolfhag02 May 2018 1:07 p.m. PST

Here is a file on SlideShare of a binomial table I've been using. It is somewhat modified so does not show totally "scientific" results.



Emilio03 May 2018 9:52 a.m. PST

Thanks Wolfhag.

Calico Bill16 Aug 2018 6:02 p.m. PST

We play Canvas Eagles at the club here. Always a fun and interesting game.😄

Finknottle08 Oct 2018 2:22 p.m. PST

At Historicon '18 I played in an air game put on by the guy who wrote 'Fireball Forward'. Each stand represented a pair or a vic (fighters and bombers) and the board was a large square grid something like 6 x 10. There were only three altitude levels, basically above, equal, and below the bombers. Movement was by square, and not many – 3 being the max, iirc. When in the square with your targets, you rolled for combat results , and then rolled for where your vic ended up. If you were below and separated, that flight could end up leaving the area, whether you wanted them to or not.

I ended up playing a campaign of 3 missions, each mission had around 6 – 12 stands (~18 – 24 bombers), 2 -3 intercepting flights of fighters, and 1 or 2 defending flights. Each mission lasted about 30 min, with the whole campaign over in about an hour and a half. He mentioned a possible 2019 release, after some more play testing to iron out a few small issues that came up.


Pyrate Captain18 Feb 2022 9:35 a.m. PST

My two Pfennigs: The basic problem with war games aloft, and perhaps age of sail as well, is most people don't understand Bernoulli's principal which applies to both.

Despite the ability to sense in three dimensions, we live in a relative two dimensional world, and that skews our ability to work and play in the third dimension. Lift, thrust, weight and drag are the components of a three dimensional world. In a conventional realm those factors alone are complex enough, but adding a weapon to the mix really complicates the equation.

For those that like to buzz across the table or map-board shooting like John Wayne, more power to you. However, the complexities of guiding a wind powered ship or a lift dependent aircraft is the meat of the game, IMHO.

Blutarski20 Feb 2022 8:04 a.m. PST

I have not ever produced a coherent set of miniature air combat games, but I have done a fair amount of study in flight dynamics. Even for a WW1 era flight sim (which simplifies the case by removing variable prop pitch, supercharging issues, and to a degree irrecoverable aerodynamic dive speed thresholds, etc), the complexity of flight dynamics is still staggering.

Apart from the well known precession effects of rotary engines, airfoil design, aileron dimensions, prop pitch, engine output versus altitude played important roles in determining aircraft performance in the air.

One of my pet peeves is the apparent lack of attention paid to roll rate, which plays a significant role in defining aircraft maneuverability.

Rant over. All the minutiae mentioned above notwithstanding, one WW1 tabletop miniatures game I have enjoyed playing is Bruce DeWitt's adaptation of CY6 to WW1 aerial combat. I like it not on grounds of technical detail and complexity, but because historical tactics are effective within the play of the game.



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