I finally managed to squeeze a game with another human being! It was very much a last-minute thing. Late Friday night, my friend called said he had some time Sunday afternoon. I thought, OK, lets have a fantasy battle, but I was swamped with various activities Saturday, so I had no time to come up with any army lists. So today, I whipped out AirWar: C21 and some jets and we had two games. I don't have very large tables at home, so we used centimeters rather than inches for movement and weapon ranges. Sorry, no pictures, but I don't think it would have been all that exciting. They were practice games; not part of the Gambusian campaign.
For the first game, I took an Israeli C-7 Kfir, and he took a Saab Gripen. Once again, it sort of felt like I was playing for the first time. It was pretty fast. His first shot was an AIM-120 radar-guided missile at me. It missed. I tried to get around him, buy using a barrel roll and turn but failed and was turned in a very comprising position. He didn't have to do much maneuvering to get in a second second shot. He failed to lock on to me, but he rolled a natural 10 to hit me. BOOM! He rolled a 12 damage and I was blown to bits.
In the second game, we took two of each of the same jets. This time, one of my Kfirs managed to hit one of his Gripens with a Python 4 IR missile, but I only scored a 1 on damage! The my other plane and his were nose-to-nose and in gun range, but he had the initiative. Rather than using his guns, he fired another AIM-120....poof! My plane took 12 hits. So, I had one left. One the next turn, he managed to get back around me at least enough to let loose another of those radar guided missiles, whereas I couldn't launch one of my missiles at him. Once again, he couldn't lock onto me, but his missile still scored a hit! I took more than half damage. From then on, I did my best to try to avoid him and fly home. I managed to avoid him for three turns, but on the fourth, he had a clear shot lined up on my tail. Just for fun he used a Sidewinder missile. It finished me off no problem.
Some things that we questioned. First, its not clear when you launch a missile and when it hits. There is an implication that in the first phase you lock on the target and the second it hits the target. We were playing that both happens on the same phase. Does it matter? I would think it would matter particularly for any sort of radar-guided missiles. I am not sure. It could be that I overlooked this rule one way or another in the rule book. The second issue is about movement. Do we use full movement each phase or only half the movement each phase? I argued that you use full movement each phase because each phase has a prep segment. My friend felt that only half movement should be used because any loss of speed would be more effective in the second phase. He thought that speed penalties imposed by a doing special maneuvers really didn't have much of an effect on things when you could pretty regain them in the following phase. For the previous issue, the fiddly turning template, my friend thought of a novel solution. He suggested gluing a small circle at the bottom of the bases with the different turn radii on them (see previous link on bases for 1/600 planes). Since the planes are on magnets, you can turn the plane in the direction you want to go. I'll give it a try. It may not be perfect, but it might be better than the turning template I now use. Meanwhile, I still plan to order a hex mat to play on. Even if I don't use the mat for C21, there are other air combat rules that I want to test out and can use it for those.
I still think AirWar: C21 2nd ed. is a very good set of rules. However, I would make a few modifications. First, I would reorganize it some. It seems like I have to do a lot of hunting to find the rules. Second, I'd give more examples. There are some, but they are sort of brief, and only cover certain things. I would have a section where the authors run through a sample game, illustrating the various aspects, even those that might seem rather simple. I'm sure that would add more to the cost of the rule set, but it might be worth it.
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