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Enemy Coast Ahead: The Dambuster Raid» Forums » Rules

Subject: Reserve Force : Assigning targets. rss

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Thomas Billaud
La roche sur yon
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I would like to postpone the take off of one wave to make it a reserve force and attack the dams dammaged but not breached.

As I understand, all the waves must have an assigned target during the Flight Preparation Segment, even the reserve force. My question is :

So what is the advantege to postpone a wave. There is no tactical advantage. I could see one if I could assign targets knowing the results of the first runs. If not why not send them with the other waves ( and so avoiding the Visibility malus due to late hours) and change the targets via Visual confirmation or wireless call.

Thanks !
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Jeremy (Jerry) White
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Hi Thomas,

My apologies for this very late reply. Been traveling where the internet is spotty (or in places where I am too cheap to secure decent coverage), and then was laid up with an annoying but harmless illness. Happy new year to me.

What is the advantage of delaying a wave? I'm assuming you are playing scenario 10. Well, the delay rule, or "staggered launch" rule as it is called in the rule book [11.5.1], was prompted by two factors. First, the historical organization of an airborne reserve, and second, by the specter of fatigue or mishaps to the crew and erks of 617 squadron. It also gives the player options when devising a plan (yeah, not a great option, but let the player figure that out for himself).

If not forced to stagger the launch by the Flight Prep Sequence, the point of doing so anyway is as you state – to wait and see the results of the other waves. That's precisely what Gibson had in mind when he and the higher-ups sketched out the raid. So...why do you have to assign targets prior to Flight Turn 1? Flying from Point A to Point B was a little more tricky than during peacetime. Had this been a commercial flight from England to somewhere near the Weser, well I could see how a simple course could be drawn out and mileage calculated (and thus, fuel calculated and loaded) could be handled quickly. Even during wartime I could see how routes in and out of Germany could be calculated in advance, and how an array of routes could be made ready for a navigator to choose from. In fact, that's precisely what was done. Each navigator boarded his Lancaster with that menu of plots and trajectories in hand, or at least, practiced.

I suppose there is no harm allowing a player to do what you imply (if I read you correctly). Allow a player to postpone designating a target until the Wave's launch? Sure, seems fine by me. However, I think you will find that time will work against you. The soonest a Wave can reach a target and attack it is Flight Turn 4, reporting results on Flight Turn 5 (wireless). Let's say a reserve wave launches on Turn 5. Will it reach the target before daylight?

I avoided allowing postponement of target designation for two reasons, one practical the other historical.

PRACTICAL: Allowing postponement would add more rules, because the player should only be allowed to designate a target based on knowledge of a dam's breach if Scampton has that knowledge. We could arbitrarily say that this knowledge becomes available automatically during the Wireless Phase following the turn that a breach is visually known to have happened. The automatic nature of this bothers me for historical reasons (see below). To remedy this botheration, we could force the player to perform a wireless action from the Lanc back to Scampton (back to 5 Group, actually), but that means making this a special case in the rules. If instead we make it a standard rule, it potentially means asking the player to handle double the number of wireless actions during the game (once to home base to notify HQ of a breach, and once to Lancs that need a new target). That would also mean two Wireless tables instead of one (for each direction of info flow), or a more elaborate table (separating info flow). Not the end of the world, but I was really trying to keep each table in the game simple.

HISTORICAL: There and back takes time. Flight Turn 4 is the soonest a Lanc can reach a dam. The fear was that to wait four or five hours to launch the reserve invited disaster. And waiting too long could mean Lancs return in daylight (yikes). Even if launching only four or five hours later, after hearing which dams were breached and which were not, those Lancs would be flying over an alerted Germany. Also, there was no guarantee 5 Group HQ would hear from 617 squadron during the night, or would receive clear messages. McCarthy, for example, took hours before remembering to notify 5 Group of his results. Gibson was prompt, but what if his message was garbled or not received? The Wireless Telegraphy table amalgamates communication back and forth into a single dice roll, simplifying what was actually multiple telegraphy actions (at least two, sometimes more if a message was repeated).

Knowing that communication during the raid may not be ideal, the reserve waited with primary targets already plotted, but anticipated new orders while in the air. Thus, the player was asked to follow the same procedure, if for no other reason than to appreciate the limitations on command and control imposed by WW2 communication technology.

So, if you want to defer target assignment for Lancs yet to launch, go for it. Seems fine by me. Just keep in mind that unless you also elaborate the Wireless Action, or invent another game element/rule, you are making info transfer from the battle space back to HQ more perfect than it was historically. Also keep in mind that you make the game a little easier for yourself, which I am also cool with.

I'm sure you salt your food to taste, so why not your games?

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