One thing in Check Your Six that I have noticed players have notoriously problems with is formation flying. V- or Vick-formations seem to be especially difficult to master. This post is intended to give couple of pointers that will hopefully make this task a bit easier.
First, let’s start with the rule itself. In CY6, airplanes can fly in formations and usually start in formations at the beginning of the game. The rule is actually quite simple – every formation has a formation leader and one or more wingmen. When in formation, only the move for the leader needs to be plotted. Once the leader is moved, the wingmen can use any turn manoeuvre turn available for their speed to move into the area defined as formation area. It’s starts at the hex where flight leader ends up and stretches in a diamond shape area six hexes deep and thirteen hexes wide (see quick reference sheet available at Check Your Six Yahoo user group for picture).
The difficulty of keeping a vic formation occurs when the leader makes a turn and especially if it’s a sharp turn. This means almost inevitably that one of the wingmen falls out of formation. The reason for it is quite simple – in the turn when leader makes the turn, all airplanes are flying at the same speed.
Picture above shows a formation of Hurricanes. In Turn 1 all airplanes fly straight forward with speed 3. In turn 2, the leader makes a left turn. There are four possible manoeuvres and all of them will force wingman W2 to select a manoeuvre that, while keeping it in formation, will place it in very difficult position if he’s to keep formation in turn 3. The wingman W1, while mostly being able to stick in formation for at least another turn, will also have no choice but to get out of it’s assigned position in turn 2.
In real life, keeping the V formation was a difficult task in itself and because of that the formation was abandoned in favour of much more flexible rote formation. The difficulty with V formation is well represented in CY6, but it is not impossible to keep it within the constraints of this ruleset. To be able to do that you need however to plan one turn ahead and take advantage of the rule that allows wingmen to fly with speed one factor higher or lower than that of formation leader.
The situation in this picture is pretty much the same as in the first one. The only difference is that wingman W2 reduced his speed to 2 after first turn, while wingman W1 increased his speed to 4. The effect of this is apparent for anyone with manoeuvre chart for Hurricanes. For example, if the flight leader chooses to make turn L33, both of his wingmen will be able to stay in position. L32 and L34 will be a bit more difficult, but both wingmen will be able to keep up and get back into position in next turn. L35 is still problematic and if it’s necessary I’d consider announcing breaking formation at the start of turn 2.
Variations are also possible. For example if leader chooses L34, then probably the most optimal speed adjustment for wingmen is an increase to 4 for W2, while W1 stays at 3. This will give you a possibility for making an ‘overlap’ resulting in a switch of positions between W1 and W2, which in itself is historically incorrect, but which makes restoring proper V-formation in turn 3 quite easy to achieve.