Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Table Air Combat: Pacific Furball (Wildcats vs Zeros)

I played this scenario from the A6M-2 Zero set yesterday, which features two flights of F4F-4 Wildcats intercepting two flights of A6M-2 Zeros, which are attempting to break through to the far end of the playing area. The scenario is a bit odd as it is based on one from the SBD-3 Dauntless set, so includes a reference to dive bombers which doesn't match the victory conditions. It doesn't make much of a difference, however, and gives an effective end point for the scenario as soon as a Zero crosses the finishing line.

I won't attempt to disentangle the dogfight that resulted which, as you can see from the movement and combat plot that I made as I went along, lived up to the scenario title. The dogfight split into two independent actions with the Lead Zeros of 'A' Flight also separating from the Wing element at the end of the game. The Zero 'B' Flight had it's Lead element shot down in Turn 4 by both Wildcats of 'B' Flight, after they pulled off an immaculate formation Immelman turn for a zero deflection shot. This sent the Zero spiralling down in flames with two consecutive damage rolls.

The remaining Zero element of 'B' Flight was hotly pursued by the Wildcat 'B' Flight but managed to escape as the attention of the USN pilots was distracted by the Zero wing element of 'A' Flight as it raced to the 18' objective line. They eventually managed to damage the Zero element but too late, as it crossed over the line in Turn 8 to finish the scenario. The Wildcats of 'A' Flight also failed to catch the Zero 'A' Flight lead element, which attempted to escape to the left, but did inflict some damage on it in the penultimate turn of the game.

The final result of the dogfight was one Zero shot down, two damaged and one successfully evading for no damage to the Wildcats. The scenario victory conditions didn't really cover this outcome so, as one of the Zeros had crossed the finishing line, they were given a narrow win. However, in reality and had the game continued, the Japanese would probably have lost at least one more aircraft, for no loss to the Americans, which would have given the game to the USN. The victory conditions were not really realistic in this respect.

This was a good game but I did get bogged down in logging the turns, so it slowed down and even had to be stopped and restarted at one point. The end plot does look a lot like the post-combat sketches that you see in real after action reports, however, so it is a realistic game in that respect. The scenario didn't really work that well but the basic idea is sound, giving an exciting game with lots of twists and turns. I played it solo but I'm sure it would be much faster with two or more players, especially without writing everything down.

One thing cropped up during the game - how to resolve Initiative with odd numbers of aircraft. In the rules this is resolved by moving one element first, to even the numbers, then rolling a dice to see which side moves next. This is fine with the four element example in the rules manual where, depending on the roll, one element moves followed by two of the other side, followed by the last element. I ended up with three elements aside, which makes it difficult to determine the order in which they should move. I fudged it several times but I need to think this through for the next game.

I enjoyed this game but next time I will keep the paperwork to a minimum!


  1. errr ... wow! that last picture says more than a thousand words I think!

  2. Love the plotting on the paper!

    When I play the game, I basically ignore the initiative rules and replace them with some nods to pilot skill a la Check Your Six.

  3. Nice report! Writing everything down like that is a very cool way to do an AAR, shows the mistakes and the successes. I like it!

  4. It is very interesting to do and very helpful when trying to put it all back together afterwards...but it does end up looking like spaghetti!

  5. Thank for the initiative idea...nice tip to use pilot initiative instead. I was thinking of just getting the elements to roll off using a D6 then adding a +/-1 factor for ace / green experience levels, with most being just regulars with no change to the roll.