November 2018 saw us recognize the end of the so-called "War to End All Wars." World War I ended 100 years ago, and as we do every November, we memorialized this with a Wings of Glory slugfest. Held at our new haunt, the aptly named Tea & Victory, we took over the largest table and transported ourselves back to late October/early November 2018.
Leading the Allies in the initial onslaught was none other than the intrepid aviator, Snoopy (no, seriously...Steve Kastensmidt provided a model of Snoopy on a doghouse which flew very similar to a Sopwith Camel). The Jasta of fighters on the German side was a mixed-bag of hastily thrown together pilots striving to protect a bomber on a critical mission. At one point, we had 13 players each controlling a single aircraft jinking about the skies striving to down their opponents. About mid-way thru, we had a mock demonstration of the Navy's Blue Angels when six aircraft where in such close proximity that it took both umpires a few minutes to sort out the maneuvers, all somehow accomplished without a collision! By the end of the evening, around 2200, four aircraft on each side had been shot out of the sky, but with the fighters tangling with one another the bomber made it thru to it's target unscathed.
During the game, we paused to remember the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of soldiers who sacrificed themselves for their nations. A toast was proposed, glasses were raised, comments made...but in the end, the fighting resumed.
Joe L. writes,
9 November saw our intrepid wargamers battling in the skies over Flanders in remembrance of the 99th anniversary of the battle. Using the Wings of Glory rule set and models, with a few home-grown rules for limited ammunition, fuel, and injuries thrown in, we saw one British Squadron of Sopwith Camels take on an opposing German Squadron flying Fokker Dr I's.
Battle was quick and bloody, with two aircraft being splashed on some of the initial shots. More maneuvering and more damage later saw three British aircraft and two German aircraft shot down before both sides retired to lick their wounds, repair their aircraft, and return another day. That being said, Andy somehow managed to avoid being shot down, although one of his two aircraft was riddled with holes.
Wings of Glory is produced by Ares Games. Each player typically controls a single aircraft. The rules are simple, with three levels of play, plus optional rules. The World War I "Duel Pack" is all you need to get into the game with the rules and basic accessories. There are currently 42 different models of aircraft to choose from, and they span the length of the war. Fun, easy to learn, a lot longer to master, with no two games ever being the same.
In July, at our monthly game night, Rob hosted a game of Check Your Six! at Asgard, in central Houston. Rob sums up what happened.
"This was a play test of my Marianas Turkey Shoot scenario over Guam for Historicon the following week. Check You Six! Rules. Great game, minor Japanese win but they had six Zekes against four Hellcats.
Game was all about the Japanese landing their bombers safely. First wave cut to shreds by Hellcats, massive fur ball over Orote Field. Lots of AAA and some friendly fire. Zekes got the bonus objective (SOC Seagull).
Will be interesting to see played again with full sides of eight Hellcats and Zekes. I can throw in ResCap Corsairs if too many Hellcats go down early."
The April 2017 game night offered me a chance to run a Check Your 6! scenario I wrote several years ago and never got the chance to play test. It stars Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and many other classic childrens' books. Roald was a RAF fighter ace, scoring five confirmed victories over Vichy French and German aircraft in the Greek and Levant theaters in the Middle East in 1941. The Gremlins is a book he wrote in cooperation with Walt Disney in 1943.
January game night was held at Black Labrador and featured The Marianas Turkey Shoot, the greatest air battle in history. Scenario was based on the morning intercepts of the first raid sent by Ozawa to the Saipan invasion fleet. New guest Gunnar and Andy played US naval aviation with Matthew who faced his father Larry, and Barry who flew for the Japanese.
The Sons of Nippon were on a bomber escort mission, guarding a flight of four Judys with their four Zekes. TF58 fighter direction vectored three sections of Navy Hellcats and the fight was on! Scenario specific rules were a favorable tail wind for the Japanese bombers which gave them a free first move, and some of the US Navy planes had been in action prior to the scenario start and already had their First Fire box checked.
Eighteen-year-old French farm boy Luc Courleciel glanced up into the clouded Pas dé Calais sky and what he was about to witness would forever shape his destiny...
From his perch atop a windmill he could see north to the two open fields and the brooding defense stations they contained. One, a listening outpost, the other, an anti-airship tower. Both part of a string of stations along this stretch of the French countryside, paralleling the Channel coast..
Luc could clearly see, silhouetted against the backdrop of a large white cloud, a trio of French Vaillante class destroyers, floating gracefully above and between the two defense stations. He could hear the drone of their engines even from this distance. They seemed so loud to him, and in that same instant he realized he was hearing more than the engines of just three flying warships...
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