Friday, 9 February 2018

Wild Blue Yonder: Solo play of a mission from the Rommel Attacks land campaign - 3 TURNS TO TARGET

I recently purchased a copy of Wild Blue Yonder, which announces GMT's long belated return to its classic Down in Flames series.

After having a blast playing some dogfights with 3 and 4 other players at the local gaming club, I decided to fool around with the Campaign rules.  Herewith, is my 3rd mission and after setting up what appears to be a fascinating duel, I've decided to serialise each turn of it.

Read on to find out if a British air ace and his wingman can stop a powerful Axis bombing mission from unleashing hell on to the defenders of Tobruk!

Mission 6 of Stage 2 has been drawn: 4 x Stukas are tasked with bombing fortified positions at Tobruk. There are 3 turns to reaching the target, then two more turns to return to base.

The German side secretly selects escort resources, comprising 2 x FW110s and 2 x Italian CR40s.

Opposing them are two Hurricanes, After drawing cards for pilots, the Axis don’t gain anything additional, but the British leader scores veteran and air ace Goodman, allowing associated chits to be placed on his card that convey one-time use advantages.

Here's the set up, sans altitudes and bomb loads:

Due to the light bombers, the Axis elements need to select and declare their altitudes, before the British. After consideration, the Germans opt to have their Stukas at medium altitude, alongside escorting Bf110s. Above them, the Italian CR42s keep watch, intending to gain a card as they dive on any British foolish enough to engage the strike force.

The British decide to come in at medium, hoping to quickly get among the Stukas and blow them out of the sky!

The Axis wins the toss to see who goes first. Not so plain and simple for the Brits after all.

So, here commences TURN ONE.........

ELEMENT #1: The BF110 leader has a good offensive hand… this element goes first. The wingman step is skipped for the first element on Turn 1, so, maintaining altitude, the German leader decides to try and engage the British leader.

The German pilot plays: manoeuvre.
The British response is…….nothing.
The German aircraft is now advantaged over Goodman. He can now deliver up to 2 bursts.
The German pilot attempts another manoeuvre.
Appropriately enough, Goodman plays an Ace Pilot card!
The German has nothing in reply, so is unable to tail the hurricane.
Unfortunately for Fritz, he has no burst cards. The attack is over for now.
He discards and draws.

Here's a snapshot of the above action:

#2: Now, it’s time for the hurricanes to play their turn.

The British wingman targets the Bf110 that is engaged with his leader. Handily, he is able to manoeuvre, but the German aircraft counters with a tight turn.

Altitude step….the British dive, Goodman drawing an additional card. The advantaged Bf110 is having none of it, and discards and draws to follow his prey.

Which is exactly what the cunning Goodman has been hoping for. He puts his aircraft into a Vertical Roll, climbing (discarding a card). The dismayed German pilot can only follow if he discards 3 cards – his entire hand! He decides not to follow.

Goodman smiles in triumph. There’s now nothing standing in his way from engaging his main quarry: the Stukas! Their escorts have evaporated. But his glee is shortlived: he does not have any cards that can improve his position. All he can do is use his single ‘one burst’ attack card. For this reason, he decides to target one of the German wingmen, who can only draw a single defensive card. Goodman lets off a burst, only to see the bullets stream wide of his target as the stuka performs a barrel roll. Curses!

Goodman gets off a burst aiming for the cockpit, but the stuka evades it with a barrel roll!

There nothing for it, but to keep hold of his cards and draw 2 more.

#3: Watching the drama that has just been played out below, the Italian CR42’s decide to kick into action. There is no wingman step as the Italians are along at ‘high’ altitude. They promptly dive, the leader drawing an extra card. With the exception of the Bf110s, all elements are now at medium altitude.

The CR42 leader may have 2 ace pilot cards, and possess the ‘Agile’ ability, but what he needs now is to close with the hurricanes and open fire (with a zero burst rating, the CR42s must improve their position in order to score hits). Foiled! All he can do is discard and draw.

#4 and #5: the Stukas. Intent on their bombing mission, the Stukas are not able to attack enemy aircraft, unless engaged with them. In the Altitude Step, the Stukas dive to ‘Low’ altitude. (I don’t take a card for them as they are not allowed to consult their cards and would only have to discard one in the draw step…not sure if this is correct, but seems logical).

Diving is not only preparation for their approaching bombing run, but allows them to be re-united with their Bf110 escorts.

That concludes Turn 1 of the Mission. No hits by either side!

Stay tuned for the next instalment of ‘Death in Libyan Skies......’ 

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