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Bloody April, 1917: Air War Over Arras, France» Forums » General

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Dave C
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I am new to wargames in general and after a bit of research and the reviews of

Tom H
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I will probably dive in with this game.

Quick question: how do you manage all those counters?? How do you store them and easily access them for different scenarios?

Or is lengthy counter-finding and setup part of the process?

Thanks for any insights.
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Hello!

Welcome to wargaming. You picked a real donnybrook.

In terms of counters there are lots of ways you can handle it.

For me, I used 2 Plano 3701 tackle cases. You can find them online at a variety of resellers for under $10.

I have 1 each for DLS & RFC units.

Each slot contains one complete Squadron/Jasta. I have separate slots for ground units ,etc.

Really, once you get playing you're going to find the best way for you.

I did setup on Scenario 7 (small scenario) in about 10 minutes.

There are a lot of counters, but you'll find that it's not so much moving them to the table, it's managing them on the map.

A good tweezer can really help you out there. Here's a thread that might help http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/838369/tweezers

Get in there and have fun. Most wargame rules are more bark than bite and this one is no exception. 10 turns or so and you'll be moving and drifting like a pro.
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Christopher O
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August222 wrote:
I am new to wargames in general and after a bit of research and the reviews of

Tom H
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I will probably dive in with this game.

Quick question: how do you manage all those counters?? How do you store them and easily access them for different scenarios?

Or is lengthy counter-finding and setup part of the process?

Thanks for any insights.


Hi Augustus...

First up, I laud your enthusiasm for the game, it is a very good one in my opinion, but I don't think it's a great game to jump into with if it's your first wargame. That said, the first real wargame I bought was Squad Leader, and a lot of people would say that wouldn't be a good one to start with, either. 25+ years on, I'm still loving wargames.

So, if you're dead-set on playing this as your first wargame, please be patient. Wargames have a learning curve, and depending on your inclination, that learning curve can be steep, or not too bad at all.

Different people have different ways of managing counters. Some people are extremely methodical about it, sorting each squadron into a separate small plastic baggie, while others are less so, putting, say, all the British planes into one bag, and all the Germans into another.

Generally speaking, the more effort you put into organizing your counters, the less time you will need to take to find them when you need them.

You will note when you buy the game that it comes with a small number of roughly 1.5" x 2" plastic bags. You can use these, or you can go to a dollar store and buy smaller or larger bags.

Alternatively, what many people do for wargames is buy "counter trays", which you can get from GMT at roughly $1.80 per tray:

http://www.gmtgames.com/p-173-counter-trays-10.aspx

Chessex also sells counter-trays:

http://www.chessex.com/Dice/countertray.htm

Some people might remove the Bloody April insert (or fold it flat) and insert counter trays.

How do you organize the counters themselves? That's up to you.

Here's how I did it. Currently I'm using plastic bags, but you may wish to approach it differently...

1 bag for what I call "Map counters" - everything that is used every game on the map. The game turn counter, the weather counters, sun angle counters, wind speed/direction counters, etc. You will discover that in wargames there are often a handful of counters which are "irreplaceable" in that there are only one counter included in the whole counterset - for example, if you lost a TtC counter, you could replace it - the game turn marker has no replacement. You want to be extra careful with this bag.

2 bags for Dummy and Undetected Flights, one each for German and British.

3 bags for TtC counters, one for deck and low, one for medium and one for high and very high. It helps to sort them and keep them separate for easy access while playing.

1 bag for "Flight Status" markers -dogfights, take off, landing, turn, climb, etc. etc.

2 bags for Archie and Ground targets, one each for German and British.

Then, depending on your inclination, you can have a bag for each squadron and its pilots, or one bag for a range of squadron numbers, etc, or just put all the German planes in one bag and all the British in another (this approach would give many veteran wargamers fits).

At the moment, I just punch out the counters from the sheet as I need them and then put them in new bags for a squadron as needed.

If you were to use countertrays, you would sort similarly, but since each compartment can generally hold fewer counters than a 1.5" x 2" bag, you would organize slightly differently.

Most wargamers punch out all the counters at once and bag them immediately. I usually punch them as they are necessary, unless a game needs all of them all at once.

Good luck with the game. Since this is your first wargame, I recommend trying to find a player who has played this game before (ideally locally) and try to play it face-to-face or by VASSAL.

VASSAL? That's a whole other thread. Someone you contact to play this game can help to get you set up with that.
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Ty Snouffer
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medlinke wrote:
Hello!
For me, I used 2 Plano 3701 tackle cases. You can find them online at a variety of resellers for under $10.


I was able to fit al the components in the supplied baggies:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/853851/how-best-to-organize-...

However, since I mostly play via VASSAL I'm not suer how well this helps set up.

Will those two Plano containers fit in the BA box along with everything else?

Since I love the game so much, I've been thinking about trying an upgraded storage solution but only if everything fits.
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I used four of the GMT counter trays. After removing the cardboard insert from the box, and only covering two of the trays (I stacked them so that the top tray covers the bottom tray and acts as a lid), everything still fits into the original box.

I've got two trays for RFC, one for DLS, and one for all the "general" counters. Each squadron and Jasta gets it's own slot in the counter trays.

The Plano boxes don't fit back into the original box, they'd have to be stored/carried separately.

I'll disagree a little bit with Christopher regarding choosing Bloody April as your first wargame; in my experience, it's the theme, more than the mechanics, that will hold your interest in wargaming. I've tried my hand at a number of war games (ASL, World at War, No Retreat), but BA is the first one that really "STUCK" for me, and that's in large part due to the WW1 air theme.
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Dave C
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medlinke wrote:
I did setup on Scenario 7 (small scenario) in about 10 minutes.

There are a lot of counters, but you'll find that it's not so much moving them to the table, it's managing them on the map.

A good tweezer can really help you out there. Here's a thread that might help http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/838369/tweezers


That sounds acceptable for a small scenario. Thanks for the tweezer heads up...

Kozure wrote:
Here's how I did it. Currently I'm using plastic bags, but you may wish to approach it differently...

1 bag for what I call "Map counters" - everything that is used every game on the map. The game turn counter, the weather counters, sun angle counters, wind speed/direction counters, etc. You will discover that in wargames there are often a handful of counters which are "irreplaceable" in that there are only one counter included in the whole counterset - for example, if you lost a TtC counter, you could replace it - the game turn marker has no replacement. You want to be extra careful with this bag.

2 bags for Dummy and Undetected Flights, one each for German and British.

3 bags for TtC counters, one for deck and low, one for medium and one for high and very high. It helps to sort them and keep them separate for easy access while playing.

1 bag for "Flight Status" markers -dogfights, take off, landing, turn, climb, etc. etc.

2 bags for Archie and Ground targets, one each for German and British.

Then, depending on your inclination, you can have a bag for each squadron and its pilots, or one bag for a range of squadron numbers, etc, or just put all the German planes in one bag and all the British in another (this approach would give many veteran wargamers fits).

At the moment, I just punch out the counters from the sheet as I need them and then put them in new bags for a squadron as needed.


Thanks for this rundown. This was one of my known unknowns. I am a component-bagger by birth, so the possible bagging systems will not be too alien.

And you answered a question I meant to ask--you can punch as you go. Good to know.

jardeon wrote:
I used four of the GMT counter trays. After removing the cardboard insert from the box, and only covering two of the trays (I stacked them so that the top tray covers the bottom tray and acts as a lid), everything still fits into the original box.

I've got two trays for RFC, one for DLS, and one for all the "general" counters. Each squadron and Jasta gets it's own slot in the counter trays.

The Plano boxes don't fit back into the original box, they'd have to be stored/carried separately.


Great information. I will probably try out the trays and see how they work.

Quote:
I'll disagree a little bit with Christopher regarding choosing Bloody April as your first wargame; in my experience, it's the theme, more than the mechanics, that will hold your interest in wargaming. I've tried my hand at a number of war games (ASL, World at War, No Retreat), but BA is the first one that really "STUCK" for me, and that's in large part due to the WW1 air theme.


I'm a sucker for theme. And though my father was a veteran of the pacific in WWII (4th Marine Division) and an armchair historian (I inherited his extensive library), his experiences and stories, though great and inspiring, have never pushed me into those particular themes/examples of wargames.

And I teach Xenophon and Herodotus at the college level, but for some reason I am not drawn to all the great wargames treating antiquity.

There is something about WWI air combat that both inspires and terrifies me. Not sure what it is. And this particular GMT product will allow for solo play and seems to have high-quality components. So it looks, at this point, like a good match.

Thanks everyone for the great responses.
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John Di Ponio
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I have to admire your courage for jumping into this one being a noob to wargames. Talke a piece at a time!!!

As far as storage, like others before me have stated, Plano boxes work great!
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Storage:

Punch out as few as possible in your first mission, and bag them. Adding more counter in your next mission and you soon will have an idea on how to store them.

Follow the example (Play book) with real counters a couple of times first.

Finally:

Remember this not a computer game or chess. Making errors does not break the game. Do not be afraid to make it more simple if you want. It your game after all.

The most important; HAVE FUN!
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Dave C
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JohnnyD wrote:
I have to admire your courage for jumping into this one being a noob to wargames. Talke a piece at a time!!!

As far as storage, like others before me have stated, Plano boxes work great!


I have to admit, the unboxing videos and reviews are the first time I have ever felt the twinge of intimidation regarding a game.

My copy of Bloody April (the book) is showing up today--I'm looking forward to the read and I'm thinking it will provide a bit more courage...

And Plano boxes are definately a possibility.
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Dave C
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eker wrote:
Storage:

Punch out as few as possible in your first mission, and bag them. Adding more counter in your next mission and you soon will have an idea on how to store them.

Follow the example (Play book) with real counters a couple of times first.

Finally:

Remember this not a computer game or chess. Making errors does not break the game. Do not be afraid to make it more simple if you want. It your game after all.

The most important; HAVE FUN!


If I were not already sold, these two comments would get me there: punch as you go, and the game is bendable, not breakable. Fantastic.

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Augustus,

Welcome to the world of wargaming.

Take your time, enjoy the history and challenge, and make lots of friends! Don't be stressed to ask questions too. A lot of help out there.

Be careful though, once you start wargaming, it's hard to stop.

Tom
 
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eker wrote:
Storage:

Remember this not a computer game or chess. Making errors does not break the game. Do not be afraid to make it more simple if you want. It your game after all.



This is a very important aspect, so don't lose sight of it. Terry has designed what he calls a 'sandbox' game. It is meant to be flexible, to allow you to set up scenarios how you want rather than just sticking to what's in the box, but that flexibility isn't limited to the scenarios.

It can be tempting when designing a game to throw in everything you know about what happened, but the downside is it can become over-burdened with chrome for the average player. Similarly some compromises get made with how events are modelled in order to make the game flow more easily. If you want to tinker with the rules to make them more 'realistic' for your tastes, or conversely simplify things for a more streamlined experience then by all means go for it. That's the beauty of these games compared to the 'black box' of a computer game.
 
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eric magill
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You might check out VASSAL too. It's a program that allows you to play a board game on your pc. You still need an opponent or play solitaire but you don't need to worry about something or someone messing up board or losing pieces.
I agree with other comments this is a difficult game for a newbie. Its still a great game, though! Just a learning curve and may not appeal to everyone. If haven't already, you can download manual from gmt website so you can see what you are getting into. If u like what you see, take the plunge but keep it small at first.
 
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eric magill
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Let me preface by saying bloody april is probably my favorite ww1 airplane game pending a few more plays. If you are a newbie there are others you might at least consider but they are different. Wings of war, blue max, dawn patrol amongst others. They are simpler to play but scale is much different as you are micromanaging individual planes not a whole section of the front. Never felt right to me though. Taking minutes to repeoduce split second decisions. Wings over France is a lesser known solitaire game where you manage the day to day missions of a sopwith pup squadron. The production quality sucks and you are best joining the yahoo group and printing and making your own counters (there arent too many) after you buy the game. The encounters are too frequent but can be toned down by getting rid of the positive modifiers. Takes awhile to play because of lots and lots of die rolls but it creates great narrative. True fog of war. You never know what you may encounter on a mission. Because you use the same pilots you get attached to them until they go down in flames. This is also probably my biggest criticism of bloody April. There is no day to day campaign game. At any rate, I like them both. Bloody April makes me feel like I am part of something bigger and plays quicker. They scratch different itches.
 
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fishboy73 wrote:
Because you use the same pilots you get attached to them until they go down in flames. This is also probably my biggest criticism of bloody April. There is no day to day campaign game. At any rate, I like them both. Bloody April makes me feel like I am part of something bigger and plays quicker. They scratch different itches.


I thought Bloody April has individual named pilots. There is no campaign mode where that attachment develops?
 
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August222 wrote:
fishboy73 wrote:
Because you use the same pilots you get attached to them until they go down in flames. This is also probably my biggest criticism of bloody April. There is no day to day campaign game. At any rate, I like them both. Bloody April makes me feel like I am part of something bigger and plays quicker. They scratch different itches.


I thought Bloody April has individual named pilots. There is no campaign mode where that attachment develops?


You're right on both counts. There are individual pilots, but there is no day by day campaign mode. The scenarios that are called campaigns take place over a single day I believe.

It would interesting to try to string several days together but . . .

1) That would take a looooooooooooong time to play.
2) You'd need a lot more pilots since they tend to have a short life span
 
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eric magill
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Also, too be fair, I would add that wings over france is ahistorical in a few ways. You have attached two seaters. Historically these would have been in separate squadrons. This doesn't affect gameplay though. It allows photo recon, bombing, artillery coordination missions. From what I've read and played of bloody April though, historically most of these type missions (photo recon, artillery coordination, bombing) didn't have close escorts. There weren't enough fighters to go around. Instead the fighters were used in offensive patrols in the same vincinity as the two seater type missions to clear the skies of enemy fighters. Bloody April recreates this well and shows how it didn't always work. Wings over France is strictly solitaire. If you want to play buddies go bloody April. If you want historical authenticity and to see big picture go bloody April. Both create good narrative. If you want a fun but somewhat ahistorical day to day squadron campaign with absolute fog of war go wings over France. Like I said, they scratch different itches.
 
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fishboy73 wrote:
Also, too be fair, I would add that wings over france is ahistorical in a few ways. You have attached two seaters. Historically these would have been in separate squadrons. This doesn't affect gameplay though. It allows photo recon, bombing, artillery coordination missions. From what I've read and played of bloody April though, historically most of these type missions (photo recon, artillery coordination, bombing) didn't have close escorts. There weren't enough fighters to go around. Instead the fighters were used in offensive patrols in the same vincinity as the two seater type missions to clear the skies of enemy fighters. Bloody April recreates this well and shows how it didn't always work. Wings over France is strictly solitaire. If you want to play buddies go bloody April. If you want historical authenticity and to see big picture go bloody April. Both create good narrative. If you want a fun but somewhat ahistorical day to day squadron campaign with absolute fog of war go wings over France. Like I said, they scratch different itches.


Thanks for the insight. As long as I get a little narrative, I am happy.

 
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tsnouffer wrote:
medlinke wrote:
Hello!
For me, I used 2 Plano 3701 tackle cases. You can find them online at a variety of resellers for under $10.


I was able to fit al the components in the supplied baggies:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/853851/how-best-to-organize-...

However, since I mostly play via VASSAL I'm not suer how well this helps set up.

Will those two Plano containers fit in the BA box along with everything else?

Since I love the game so much, I've been thinking about trying an upgraded storage solution but only if everything fits.


I stopped by the Pro Bass Shop to check out the Plano boxes. Glad I didn't order the 3701 online. At 14" length, I don't think they'd fit in my bookcase. I got the 3630. At 11" x 7.25" x 1.75" it seems more bookcaseable and could even fit in a GMT box. Not sure if there would be much room after that though. Maybe room for 1 in the 3" boxes like BA.

Also for game like Red Winter that don't have too many components, the 3620 works well. But on the other hand, that may be overkill since there isn't much to store in the frist place.

Either way, plenty of choices from Plano. The 3620 was $6 at PBS.
 
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Hello, Augustus! Welcome to the wonderful, fascinating world of wargaming! I have been in this hobby for almost 50 years, and it is just as exciting now as when I started!

Bloody April is a one of a kind grand tactical game of WWI air warfare at the flight level. Note that it is not a one on one tactical dogfight game, but rather an operational game where you are sending flights of different models of aircraft out to perform various missions, such as photo recon, artillery cooperation, contact patrols, offensive patrols, and, for the Germans, defensive scrambles. There is differentiation of aircraft types, with different squadrons flying different types, and all the aircraft types flown during the Arras campaign are in the game. The different aircraft types will differ as to armament, speed at various altitude levels, time it takes to climb to a higher altitude, sturdiness to damage, and so on. As such, it is the only game that I know of that is at this scale for the topic covered. And it is truly fascinating, having become one of my all-time favorite games. When you receive Peter Hart's book Bloody April, and start reading it, you will discover that it is like having a 350 page set of Designer/Historical notes for the game, and it will truly pump up your enthusiasm to learn and play the game. I also picked up Hart's other two WWI Air books, Somme Success and Aces Falling. Taken together, they give fairly nice coverage of RFC operations on the Western Front for the whole period 1915 to 1918.

Don't let the seeming complexity of the Bloody April game rules discourage you. Part of the complexity comes from the uniqueness of what the rules are trying to represent. Once you see how the rules hang together, they can be tackled modually as they pop up in the sequence of play. Also, you can start with one of the smaller scenarios that have only a few flights in play on each side, thereby keeping the number of counters to keep track of while learning at a minimum.

I made a comprehensive example of play in VASSAL for one of my VASSAL buddies to help ease him into the rules. It is a full play-through of scenario 7 from the game. If you would like to see it to get an idea as to how the game plays, drop me a line at BGG and I will send you the vlogs. If you have not used VASSAL and would like some guidance as to how to download and use it, drop me a line about that and I will help you.

This is a truly fascinating game, and if you are an enthusiast for WWI Air Warfare, you owe it to yourself to get this game.
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pavobueno wrote:
. . .if you are an enthusiast for WWI Air Warfare, you owe it to yourself to get this game.


And if you're not, Bloody April will turn you into an enthusiast . . .!
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Stephen, thanks for the additional info! I will at some point look into VASSAL. It is going to be a great holiday season, methinks.
 
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tsnouffer wrote:
pavobueno wrote:
. . .if you are an enthusiast for WWI Air Warfare, you owe it to yourself to get this game.


And if you're not, Bloody April will turn you into an enthusiast . . .!


That certainly is the truth of it, Ty! I am probably sounding like too much of a fanboi in all my posts on this game, but it is really fantastic and way cool!
 
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August222 wrote:
Stephen, thanks for the additional info! I will at some point look into VASSAL. It is going to be a great holiday season, methinks.


You are in for a real treat, Augustus!
 
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