Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

More Portable Air Wargames Development

I have been doing a bit more messing around with Bob Cordery's Portable Air Wargame from his Developing the Portable Wargame book.

For these next games, there were three areas I wanted to look at: turn sequence, "energy" as combination of altitude and speed and gunnery.  The challenge would be to introduce more realism without upping the level of complexity more than a smidgeon.  In particular, book-keeping has to be not increased passed the level that already exists within the game.

The scenario I have used for all of these games is another one taken from the Achtung! Spitfire boardgame.  This one features a trio of Hurricanes that have bounced a larger formation of Bf110Cs.

The Forces:

RAF: 3 x Hurricane Is
Luftwaffe: 6 x Bf110Cs.

The first thing I looked at for the scenario was the flight characteristics of the two aircraft compared to the vanilla totals in the rules.  In the original rules, single-engine fighters are much better than twin-engine fighters.  However, the actual Bf110 had certain advantages over the Hurricane: it was faster, and arguably better armed.  The Hurricane was much better at turning, it had a very low wing-loading (usually the best indicator).

So for experimental purposes, I re-did the statlines thus:

Bf110 SPEED: 6 DAMAGE: 4 ARMAMENT: Front-Firing 2d6 (red), 2d6 (green); Rear-Firing 1d6 (green)
Hurricane SPEED: 6 DAMAGE: 4 ARMAMENT: Front-Firing 4d6 (green)

The red and green dice are to modify damage.  A red die represents 2 cannons, and a '6' means 2 damage points are scored rather than 1.  This greatly increases the chance of doing some severe damage for cannon-armed aircraft.

At the time of the combat, the Hurricanes were moving much faster and had a height advantage.  To account for this, I gave the Hurricanes 3 energy points to expend and automatically had the first turn.

First Combat:

The Hurricanes (bottom-right) closing in fast behind the Bf110s (left)

The 110s

And the pursuing Hurricanes

The Hurricanes expend some of that extra energy and close-in fast to shooting range

"He who gets in close shoots them down" - Sailor Malan

The 110s break hard and turn towards the incoming interceptors
Something was bothering me soon after this, so I abandoned it.  I think it was rolling for the turn sequence.  The 110s had got the next turn and were thus able to immediately close back in on the Hurricanes.  I couldn't find any way of rationalizing this.  So I decided to reload and not roll for turn but follow a straightforward IGOUGO sequence, with the bouncing Hurricanes moving first,

Second Battle:
Once again, with feeling.

Naturally, the first turn plays out pretty much the same

The 110s turn and face

Much better this time: the Hurricanes get in amongst the 110s

Some 110s are in a position to trade shots

As the flanking 110s break hard to try and get into position (left)

The Hurricane leader is clinging hard to the tail of his target

The leading rotte of 110s are in trouble (bottom) but the remainder of the 110s are getting back into position (centre)

The first Bf110 goes down (bottom-right)

The furball continues, the Bf110 leader perhaps surprisingly has suffered only a little damage

The Hurricanes choose honour over, some might say, sense and they make their next pass head-on into the 110s (centre) - "a bold move" in the face of the 110s cannons...

The 110s make a pass then break, considering that they are not in the best position to engage

And it is throttles down for safety

The Hurricanes pursue...

Some good shooting by Hurricane 3 shoots down another 110

The rear 110s are not in a good position...

But they keep their speed up and keep on going...

The Hurricanes are not giving up, but their tenacity is outstripping their accuracy...

The 110 leader escapes the Hurricane leader

The 110s clear the map.
So, more good games - quick, but full of excitement.  The changes seemed to work quite well and make good sense without introducing complexity.  I have been most pleased with the rules for cannon and the rules for energy. I have separately explored the idea of aircraft being able to gain energy by abstractly simulating climbing and it worked...okay.  It hasn't thus far made that much difference though, so I am unsure whether it needs to be adopted.  The IGOUGO does work better I think for air-focused games, but would probably not change the ground rules to go with it: i.e. if playing with aircraft over a land battle, keep on rolling for initiative.

One area that I am interested in exploring is manoeuvring.  I am thinking of changing the turning circle of some aircraft so they have to go two hexes straight before changing facing.  I am also thinking of not charging aircraft for the changing of face, which would enlarge turning circles.  This seems possible without complicating matters too much.  It is changing speed and altitude that really add complexity in air combat games, hence my desire to avoid at all costs.

Anyway, more on this soon.


  1. Some very nice ideas there and I agree the IGOUGO makes much more sense for the stand alone air rules. Looking forward to more ideas and updates in due course.

    1. Thanks Steve, hoping to take this to the air again in the next few days.

  2. Another excellent battle report and suggestions for improvements to the rules. Thanks for doing all this developmental work; you are turning my simple rules into a proper set of stand-alone ruled.

    All the best,


    1. Thanks Bob. I am still looking forward to developing these a little further in the coming weeks.

  3. Replies
    1. Yes, I have been pleased with progress so far. Looking to continue work on these in September.