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Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942» Forums » Variants

Subject: Dogfight 3D Expansion sample game rss

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Philip Sabin
United Kingdom
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A few months ago, I posted in the files section of this site a complete tactical variant called DOGFIGHT for use with the Wing Leader components. I have just posted a further small file of supplementary rules which expand the 3D element of the playing area, and add to the manoeuvre options available. I just played a couple of scenarios with these supplementary rules, and I detail one of them here to complement the two sample games which I posted earlier. (I describe the other new scenario on the companion BGG website for Wing Leader: Supremacy.) Please download and browse through the main DOGFIGHT rules to understand what is going on.

The key representational change from the previous sample games is that inverting the aircraft picture no longer signifies that the flight has been hit or is low on ammo. Instead, inverted counters denote occupation of new ‘far left’ or ‘far right’ blocks, on either side of the three blocks already overlaid within each 2x2 box. This increased lateral playing area allows diving fighters to weave sharply right or left, shifting 2 blocks sideways and perhaps reversing direction, at the cost of moving just 1 block diagonally ahead.

For this sample game, I chose to simulate an episode from the Pacific carrier battles of 1942. A squadron of 15 TBD Devastators is flying just above the waves, escorted by two flights each of 4 Wildcat fighters. The Japanese intercept with one chutai of Zeros, composed of three shotai each of 3 aircraft. The lower than usual number of aircraft per flight reflects the high relative quality of the Japanese pilots and planes at this early date. Both sides’ fighters will be allowed to deploy up to altitude level 7. Since the light Devastators are much more vulnerable than medium bombers, the Japanese player agrees to give the USN a handicap of 2, meaning that the Zeros must inflict at least 3 more hits than they receive in order to win.

On a die roll of 5, there is low cloud between altitude levels 4 and 7, which is a blow for the escorts since it will cloak the approach of the interceptors. The Wildcats are forced to deploy below the cloud base, so they set up in generic covering positions just above and behind the Devastators. On a die roll of 2, the Zeros appear not from ahead as usual, but from behind, and they deploy in the upper part of the cloud ready to dive down at their discretion. (The reduction of their own situational awareness is reflected in the rule that fighters may neither attack nor reverse heading on a turn spent partly in cloud.)

As in my previous sample games, the following pictures use two counters per flight, one showing its position and orientation at the start of the turn and the other showing it at the end of the turn. I have again added coloured graphics to show what happens in the 3 successive phases of each turn. Japanese moves in the Interceptor Phase are shown in BLACK, the backward shifts of all fighters in the Bomber Phase are shown in WHITE, and USN moves in the Escort Phase are shown in RED. In the game itself, the bombers remain in the centre of the map while all fighters on both sides are shifted back one block in each Bomber Phase, but to avoid confusion, the pictures show the Devastators moving forward instead. (A minor tweak in the Expansion rules is that all bombers now occupy column O-P, to give more space behind them for fighters to manoeuvre.)

On turn 1, most of the Zeros pursue through the upper clouds, while one flight descends to the lower part of the cloud deck ready to pop out when appropriate. The Wildcats, alerted by glimpses of the enemy through gaps in the cloud, decide to turn one flight back as a rearguard while the other flight maintains its covering position above and to the left of the Devastators.

On turn 2, both sides stick to their existing tactics as the range gradually closes.

On turn 3, the higher Zeros prepare to dive, while the Wildcat rearguard turns back forward now that the Zeros have passed overhead.

On turn 4, two Japanese shotai swoop rapidly down out of the clouds and orient themselves ready to engage the Americans. The third shotai remains in reserve in the lower cloud deck. The trailing Wildcats race forwards to threaten the Japanese from behind, while the leading Wildcats turn sharply left into the new far left block (as indicated by the inverted counter). This reduces the risk to the fighters themselves, but leaves the Devastators horribly exposed.

On turn 5, one shotai duly swoops on the Devastators, but fails to score on a roll of 2. The other Zeros weave left to cover the attackers. The leading Wildcats complete their 360 degree turn while the trailing Wildcats slowly close the range to the enemy (the inability to dive and zoom at these wavetop altitudes being sadly missed).

On turn 6, the Japanese maintain the attack and hit one Devastator on a roll of 4. The covering shotai accelerates forward to evade the peril from the Wildcats bracketing it on either side, while the highest Zeros weave to the far left and prepare to dive out of the cloud to the rescue. The Wildcats themselves accelerate forward to maintain the pressure and eventually catch up with the beleaguered TBDs.

On turn 7, the Japanese roll a 1 and so score no more hits on the Devastators for the moment. The highest Zeros consider using the new ability to weave sharply right, but since this would still expose them to the trailing Wildcats, they instead weave just one block right and descend two blocks to cover the attacking shotai. The intervening Zeros turn back left to face their pursuers head-on, but the Wildcats bypass them and focus on pursuing the other Japanese flights.

On turn 8, the leading two Japanese shotai decide to continue their attack despite the threat from behind, and they are rewarded by downing another Devastator on a roll of 4. Meanwhile the other Zeros complete a 360 degree turn and threaten the Wildcats’ own tails. One Wildcat flight turns back left to face the threat, while the other flight descends to attack, choosing to weave down against the covering Zeros rather than being sandwiched by them if it succours the Devastators more directly. On a roll of 2, no hits are achieved.

On turn 9, the leading Zeros exploit their continued immunity with a roll of 6, hitting two more TBDs but running low on ammo and having one of their own aircraft hit by the Devastator’s puny rear guns. Having now achieved the 3 hit margin needed for game victory, the Japanese could break off the engagement, but with two shotai still active they decide to risk staying in hopes of increasing their victory margin. The trailing Zeros launch a head-on attack on the approaching Wildcats, but flash past on a roll of 1, with the Wildcats turning left in pursuit. The other Zeros turn back right to draw their own pursuers away from the Devastators, but the Wildcats hang doggedly on their tails and on an ideal roll of 5 they hit another Zero while retaining enough ammo for continued engagement. With the scores back level and just one shotai left to face both Wildcat flights, it looks as if the Japanese decision not to break off while ahead may have been mistaken...

On turn 10, as the survivors of the two damaged shotai break away, the remaining shotai accelerates forward ready to exploit the window of opportunity to attack the Devastators while the Wildcats are out of position. The US fighters scramble to recover, but it will take a couple of precious turns for them to regain a covering position on the TBDs.

On turn 11, the Zeros dive down on the Devastators and on a roll of 6 they hit two more of them, albeit at the cost of losing yet another Zero to the defensive guns. The Wildcats are still much too far back to counterattack, and on turn 12 the remaining Zeros break formation, thereby ending the game.

As happened historically, the Devastators have been savaged, losing 6 of their 15 aircraft. The Zeros have paid a heavy price, with a third of their own aircraft being hit, but they have still won a narrow game victory by 6 points to 5.

This sample game showcased only sporadically the provisions of the new 3D Expansion, partly because the low altitude reduced the scope for diving manoeuvres like those demonstrated in my other new game report on the Wing Leader: Supremacy site. However, I recommend that players integrate the Expansion into their scenarios as a simple way of adding further depth to the game. Now that Wing Leader: Blitz has been published, there are even more of Lee’s beautiful aircraft counters to use for the early war period!
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Thank you for your continued effort to make one of my favorite games even better!
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