Call it for artistic drive or pure silliness on the part of the owner of this blog, but for quite long time I had a wish to write an after action report in narrative style, rather than a dry description of the moves, dice rolls and game mechanics. I finally did it in post “Battles over Albert Canal” and I have to say that I’m a little surprised over how hard it was. Still, some people enjoyed my first attempt at “writer’s career”, so I may do it again sometime.
However, for the sake of consistency, I do feel that I need to post a more traditional AAR of that game. So, what did really happened that day? Scenario for the game was taken from "Over The Channel - Battle of Britain" scenario book for Check Your Six. It’s called “Impossible Mission” and considering the real historical events it is based upon, it’s a very appropriate title. Six Fairey Battles escorted by two Vic- formations of Hurricanes attempt to bomb a bridge over Albert Canal. German side has six Me-109:s on patrol and the bridge itself is protected by light anti-aircraft artillery.
In our game, L. controlled German fighters, while F. and W. took control of escorting Hurricanes. I took charge of five apparently doomed Battles (we lost one in pre-game event check). At the start of the game, German fighters were spread over the table in three rote-formations, so British plan was to take advantage of that fact, get to the bridge as quickly as possible and then get out of Dodge.
Naturally, Battles were like the big magnet for Me-109, which started to close on them from three different directions. Hurricanes hastened to meet them and leader of W’s fighter formation managed to score hits on leader of one of German rotes in a head on attack. Unfortunately, the German pilot managed to return the favor – so one fighter on each side was out of the fight. Remaining fighters of those formations tangled with each other for the rest of the game, but none of the sides managed to score any hits.
Another German rote closed on the bombers from the opposite side, initially bypassing F’s Hurricanes. F. managed his planes in skillful manner and managed to place them in tailing position behind the Messerschmitts. L. disregarded the danger and pressed on his attack on the Battles. His effort was rewarded and one of Battles went down immediately, after a critical hit was scored by the leader of the German flight. His joy was however rather short-lived, since in subsequent turn his leader was shot down by the Hurricanes and wingman’s airplane suffered engine damage from a well-aimed burst from a Lewis machine-gun of leading Battle. He tried to escape, but was finished off by F’s Hurricanes in subsequent turn. Unfortunately, two of victorious British fighters expended their ammunition and were forced to head for home.
As the Battles got close to the bridge, last German rote caught up with them. Leader of this flight was the best pilot in the air that day and it showed – his opening salvo resulted in one Battle immediately shot down (once again, critical hits from the 20mm cannons), while a subsequent burst scored damaging hits on another Battle. Fortunately, he didn’t manage to do more damage before passing behind the British bombers and encountering remaining Hurricanes. Three surviving bombers reached the bridge and unaffected by ineffective AA fire, dropped their bomb load on the bridge. One of those was a direct hit, severely damaging the target.
Then “the freak event” of the day occurred – L. attempted to extract his fighters from the chaotic fighter furball behind the bombers (four planes in a single hex) and attempted an Immelman with two of his Me-109. Since both planes made same maneuver, they ended up yet another time in same hex and this time they collided with each other. Both planes managed to stay in the air, but with bombers reaching their target and only a single German plan in fighting condition we decided to call it a day.
End result was a brilliant British victory – bridge severly damaged, 2 German fighters shot down, while three other were damaged. Price for that victory was paid by two downed Battles. Point total for the scenario was 24 points for RAF and 8 points for Luftwaffe. Campaign total after the game is 54 points for RAF against 27 for Luftwaffe.
Historical background for this scenario can be found here.
Finally, a couple of words regariding the "Check Your Six" ruleset - to put it bluntly, it is without a doubt my current absolute favorite ruleset in all categories. It is easy to learn, very intuitive and immensly fun to play. However, there is an apparent upper limit of number of airplanes that a single player can handle. Two planes per player is perfect, six is an absolute maximium in my opinion. Also, once multiple airplanes get into same area, things can get rather complicated and tempo of the game slows down significantly. To counter possible confusion, I will in the future use color coding directly on the airplane bases for several aspects of the game.