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Subject: A long report from a first play. rss

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Mike Windsor
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This was my first effort at In Clouds of Glory. I made my own scenario, and went to it.

Scenario Name: No Experience Necessary
Date: Late October, 1917
Place: Western Front, British sector.
Weather: A layer of thick clouds. Clear above with little wind.

Situation: Each side has received a number of replacements in a quiet sector of the front. The respective squadron commanders send "the new guys" to get some flying time behind their own lines. Both sides become lost above the clouds and end up over the front, but on the wrong sides of the line.

Starting Positions: The British start within 10 Move Units of one corner of the playing surface. Each plane starts at altitude 30 - 1d6. The Germans start within 10 Move Units of the opposite corner of the playing surface. Each plane starts at altitude 20 - 1d6. This variance accounts for the rookie pilots unsuccessfully trying to keep formation. All planes may be on the heading and speed of their choosing, up to top speed.

Game Length: 10 turns. If an airplane is threatening the rear arc of another airplane, the game will continue for one more turn.

Victory Conditions: A player may win a Real Victory and a Moral Victory.

Note: An airplane may voluntarily dive into the clouds or exit the map at any time. Once exited, an aircraft cannot re-join the fight.

Real Victory:
2 points for each enemy airplane destroyed
1 point for each enemy airplane forced home

Moral Victory:
5 points for destroying or forcing home an enemy airplane
3 points for returning to friendly territory
1 point for successfully shooting an enemy aircraft (limit 1 point per friendly airplane)
-3 points for being wounded (per person unless the aircraft is also destroyed)
-5 points for each friendly aircraft destroyed

Note: The Moral Victory is a way of encouraging players not to "throw away" their pilots. It is possible for one side to win a Real Victory while the other side wins a Moral Victory. These victory conditions should also give players something to discuss and argue over until their next game.

***************
Game Report:

British Pilots:
Michael Lamb: (Sopwith Camel) A: 14, Fly: 14, G: 14, Fort: 11, L: 10, Re-rolls: 1 (tape)
James St. Cyr: (Sopwith Camel) A: 16, Fly: 11, G: 15, Fort: 11, L: 11, Re-rolls: 1
P.T. Aires: (Bristol F.2B pilot) A: 14, Fly: 13, G: 12, Fort: 8, L: 10, Re-rolls: 1
Peter McGill: (Bristol F.2B observer) A: 15, Fly: 13, G: 17, Fort: 13, L: 13, Re-rolls: 1

German Pilots:
Rudolph Getz: (Albatros DIII) A: 15, Fly: 18, G: 13, Fort: 12, L: 13, Re-rolls: 1 (wh/y)
Bernard Lodz: (Albatros DIII) A: 12, Fly: 12, G: 12, Fort: 9, L: 11, Re-rolls: 1 (pr/gr)

***************
Turn 1:
Getz flying DIII at 180mph has 18 MU. Straight, climbs 4 and levels. Speed now 150.
Aires in F.2B turns in a long right "O" turn straight toward map edge.
St Cyr SC flies straight but dives 2 MU. Speed 190.
Lamb SC flies straight and dives 4 MU. Speed 200.
Lodz DIII makes a left "F" turn and then flies straight.

Notes: I did the initiative order exactly backwards. All of these maneuvers seem to be above the threshold for making a test roll. Not sure how to deal with a plane that wants to make a gradual climb or dive. I assume I don't use a turn template for that. The British Camels are trying to get in front of the Bristol. The Germans have split up; Getz is climbing, and Lodz is trying to head off the Bristol.

Turn 2:
Getz has lowest initiative and moves first. Since he has height advantage so he accelerates and flies level.
Lamb continues a slow descent gaining speed to 220.
Lodz makes a slow "P" turn toward the Bristol.
St Cyr makes a left "F" turn, flies straight, and banks right. (I count 7 Energy Units lost: 1 for the left "F" turn, 4 for the left bank to make the turn, and 2 to bank about 180 degrees back to the right.)
Aires flies straight and level.

Turn 3:
Lamb ties with Lodz for the lowest initiative, but goes first due to the lower roll. Lamb side slips 4 to the right and loses 4 EU.
Lodz turns toward the Bristol.
St Cyr turns 180 degrees right and levels out, losing 2 EU.
Getz has the height advantage. He can turn to the left and go for the Bristol, dive left and go for Lamb, or wait and see if he can get to the right of everyone (leaving Lodz rather alone). Getz makes a diving right turn toward St Cyr and begins to bank back left. (- 1 EU for the turn +4 EU for the 4 MU dive). Getz will pass on the high odds shot.
Aires slips left and dives very close to Lodz. Aires passes his Luck test easily (1) and avoids a collision. Aires shoots at Lodz (12 Gunnery skill +4 range +1 stable platform -4 both Medium speed and a frontal attack) at a 13. Aires misses (17).

Turn 4:
No one seems to be in an arc that would give an initiative modifier. Low rolls.
Lodz attempts a tight turn but fails his flying skills test miserably, stalling the airplane.
Lamb gained altitude and began a right turn.
Aires dives but decelerates the engine before leveling out an bleeds off the speed just gained. He will need to decide whether to fly off map or turn and fight.
St Cyr ignores Getz and makes a long turn to go after Lodz.
Getz makes a turn to the left.

Turn 5:
Aires makes a left turn and decides to stay in the fight.
St Cyr inverts his airplane and begins a dive.
Getz dives close to St Cyr but passes his luck test with ease. He fires and misses.
Lodz dives to gain speed.
Lamb turns right toward the action.

Turn 6:
Lamb flies straight, unsure what to do.
Aires dives and turns towards Lodz.
Getz dives and begins to climb, but he is facing away from the action.
St Cyr rolls on out through a slight dive.
Lodz makes a half loop and rolls out to face his aggressors. (I have no idea what the EU is supposed to be, so I treated it like a normal turn and roll out.)

At this point, Lamb and Lodz are facing head on, and everyone else is facing off map. Lodz has options and has benefitted from rolling two 10s in a row on his initiative rolls. It seems like it will be hard for most of the planes to get good shots at this point.

Turn 7:
Lodz makes a terrible initiative roll (1) and turns slowly to the right to try and get behind Aires or St Cyr.
Aires makes a tight left turn (passing a flying skill test easily) and behind climbing to get back in the fight. If he had failed the test (a possibility when a 12 or less passed), he would have stalled and been out of the fight for good.
Lamb makes a right turn to try and get into position to head off Lodz next turn.
St Cyr does not have many good options (only an 11 flying skill), so he dives to gain speed and turn to the right. This will put Lodz behind him, but Lodz would need to risk having Aires and Lamb behind him if he follows St Cyr.
Getz levels off and turns left to support Lodz.
All of the airplanes are converging.


Getz is left, Lodz in the middle, Lamb and Aires to the right. St Cyr would be below the photo turning toward Lodz.

Turn 8:
Lodz loses the initiative (again - a roll of 2) and tries to predict where St Cyr will be.
Lamb turns and dives on Lodz narrowly avoiding a collision (Lamb passed on his re-roll).
Aires turns and climbs up behind Lodz.
St Cyr makes a tight right turn and is in front of Lodz.
Getz dives past the fur ball and gains speed.

Sensing his one chance, Lamb fires a full burst at Lodz. Lamb is so close that he cancels out the angle modifier. Lamb has a modified skill of 13, and rolls a 5 for 8 hits. He then rolls a whopping 18 (+8 for the hits) for a 26 on the Damage Table. Lodz's engine is hit and immediately stops. A ruptured fuel line spills fuel over the hot engine and the engine and cockpit burst into flames. Lodz jumps from the plane and the airplane and pilot fall into the clouds. Lamb is unnerved by the explosion, but (barely) passes his fortitude check.


Lamb's kill

Turn 9:
Lodz Albatros tumbles toward the clouds.
Lamb levels off and effectively leaves the action.
Aires has no chance of getting Getz, so he follows Lamb out of the fight.
Getz attempts to dive out of the fight (straight and -4 MU in altitude).
St Cyr turns sharply and dives, but he is too far away for a shot.

Turn 10:
St Cyr dives toward Getz, but Getz easily out runs him.
The fight is over.

***************
Lamb is credited with a confirmed kill.
The British win a Real Victory 2 - 0.
The British return home and claim 15 points of Moral Victory points out of a possible 22.
The Germans found little to cheer them (-2 Moral Victory points). Getz returned home and did fire a burst in anger, but even he admits that his shot was wide. The German commander lectured the men on the difference between feeling lucky, and actually having an advantage. Then he wrote to Lodz's mother.

***************
All the rules blunders aside, the game did have a narrative. At the start, both sides maneuvered for an advantage, then each side got some side-angle shots to no effect. At one point, Lamb, an average pilot, is loitering and even considering heading for home. At the end of turn 6, Getz, Aires, and St Cyr are all facing map edges, and could have left to gain their Moral Victory points. In turn 7, Lodz makes his blunder by not diving out of the fight. Lodz had superb initiative rolls (10s) in turns 5 and 6, but in turns 7 and 8, his luck ran out with initiative rolls of 1 and 2. They were fatal for the poorest pilot in the fight. Having the worst situational awareness of all the pilots, Lodz found himself moving first and surrounded (including above and below) by British scouts. If Lamb had missed, Aires still had a shot and was on Lodz's tail. Getz could not do much to help in turn 8, but did not try very hard either. Consider that if Lodz had dived into the clouds, the Germans and British would have been arguing the fairness of a British 6-9 Moral Victory when the Germans only had two planes to earn points for returning home.



Edit: Having just learned how to adjust picture size, I made the photos so you can actually see them.
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Gimle Larsen
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Hi Mike

Great write up.
I like the idea of "moral victory" in non-campaign play to prevent players from sacrificing their pilots. In campaign play people tend to mind the pilot survival over individual mission victory.

An observation on the game balance: The Germans seems to have a very hard mission with 2 vs 3 and a Bristol included. The tail-gunner can be really annoying and will discourage many attack opportunities (especially with a 17 Gunnery skill).

A note on pilot design: You can freely distribute the 3 abilities roll among Awareness, Piloting and Gunnery when making the pilot. You could have made a Awareness 18,Flying 13 and Gunnery 15 pilot out of Getz who would then have been a very good pilot and it would probably have done a lot for balance.

I could be fun to see the mission again but as a summer 1918 version with Fokker D.VIIs instead (and perhaps the german pilots up a notch in quality).




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Mike Windsor
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Quote:
I like the idea of "moral victory" in non-campaign play to prevent players from sacrificing their pilots. In campaign play people tend to mind the pilot survival over individual mission victory.

I first came across the idea in SPI's Patrol!. The designer's notes indicated that once a side's preservation level was exceeded, the most important thing was getting off the map and gaining "moral victory" points. The side that won the "actual victory" would return home, and note that they had met and defeated an enemy patrol. The defeated side would return home, tell how they encountered a much larger force, and take comfort in how many of them made it back alive. The designer's notes stated that the game opened the possibility that one side wins an actual victory, but the other side wins a moral victory, and the players could argue over the merits of their battle. I've always liked the concept. I also liked the idea that anyone could dive out of the fight at any time.

Quote:
A note on pilot design: You can freely distribute the 3 abilities roll among Awareness, Piloting and Gunnery when making the pilot. You could have made a Awareness 18,Flying 13 and Gunnery 15 pilot out of Getz who would then have been a very good pilot and it would probably have done a lot for balance.

That comes from not understanding what attribute is important. whistle

Looking back, I'm struck by the fact that I rarely used any airplane to its limits. Getz especially could have done more with an 18 flying skill.

The whole thing was a lot of fun, and I'm ready to do it again. I may try to preserve the pilots to use them in a campaign game when those rules come out.

Edit: I wanted to add this. I was lulled into thinking that Lamb would miss his shot on Lodz and Aires actually had the better (but longer) tailing shot. Once Lamb hit, the damage roll was really tense! I knew that a roll of 18 had to be good, and I saw that Lamb had knocked out Lodz's engine. Then there was another roll to determine if there was a fire, and I'm thinking that Lodz will need to dive to try and put it out. When Lodz failed that roll, I had to read another entry on the damage chart that I had not read. No little fire, Lodz' cockpit is suddenly engulfed in flames. I was actually a bit shocked to read that.

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Morten Lund
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Great writeup!

I like the smoke/fire effect - and you have done a great job on the paint schemes!

I was hampered the first couple of times I played by not having a good feel for how much you can abuse the planes without them breaking up on you - you'll get the hang of it soon enough.

I really like the moral victory rules too, they add great flavour, and I could see the argument forming

Thanks for sharing!
 
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