Saturday, 18 February 2012

Spandau And Lewis - Playtest

Last night was the regularly scheduled meeting of the Gong Garage Gamers, and we decided to give my 'in development' WW1 air-combat rules 'Spandau and Lewis' another outing, using the Tumbling Dice planes I featured in an earlier post.

The scenario was simple - both sides had three scouts and a pair of two-seaters. They started at opposite ends of the table, with an objective at their opponent's end. The aim was to score points by flying one of both two-seaters over the objective, and getting them home. Points were also scored for shooting down enemy aircraft.

Here are the British:

Three SE5a and two RE8. 

And here are the Germans:

Two Halberstadt CLIIs being escorted by a couple of Albatros DVs and the ubiquitous Fokker Dr1

Crew quality was determined randomly. Both sides had a mix of experienced and inexperienced pilots, but the Germans had one veteran flying an Albatros DV. The table included a scattering of clouds.

The British plan seemed to be to stick together and push down the table as fast as possible. As the Germans I decided to adopt a similar approach, but hung the veteran Albatros back to  cover the objective.

There was an inevitable flurry of activity when the two groups of planes met in the centre of the table:

This initial exchange saw the Fokker Dr1 emerge from a cloud straight into the guns of two SE5s, with fatal results. Otherwise a small amount of damage was inflicted for little loss.

The Germans pushed on to the objective pursued by a couple of SE5a's, whilst the British used the other SE5a to escort the RE8s to their objective. At that point the German veteran pounced, shooting down an RE8:

He then moved on to the other RE8, getting into the perfect tail-shot position:

It looked to be all over for the British ... except that the Albatros failed to score a single hit, whilst the inexperienced observer scored a single hit on the Albatros - killing the pilot. Damn!

The RE8 now continued unmolested to the objective, and we'll not mention it again.

Meanwhile at the other end of the table the Germans were racing for the objective, pursued by the British scouts. The single remaining German scout tried to cover their tails. This bit got so exciting that I forgot to take any pictures ...

The Albatros shot down an over-confident SE5a, but they lost a Halberstadt in return. The other Halberstadt made the objective, but was closely pursued by the remaining Se5a as it turned for home. The Albatros managed to shoot that down as well, but not before it had critically damaged the Halberstadt. The remaining SE5a had now worked its was back across the table and met the Halbertstadt limping home, with inevitable results:

With no two-seaters left, I conceded the game.

The game was good fun, but I had some outrageous bad luck. Losing the Dr1 was careless, it's true, but losing my veteran Albatros pilot to a lucky shot wasn't. Towards the end I lost initiative rolls several times in a row, which gave the British an advantage in tracking down and destroying my two-seaters. Also any benefit I gained from having twin guns on my scouts was lost by their failure to score much in the way of damage.

This was the first time we had tried clouds in 'Spandau and Lewis', and they worked fairly well, although I'd possibly make them smaller next time. I'll try them a couple more times before adding them to the current draft of the rules though.

If you are interested in trying out 'Spandau and Lewis', you can download a copy of the current draft here:

The rules are designed for 1/300th scale planes or smaller, but should adapt for other scales OK if you up the distances. They have minimal bookkeeping, no written movement and no special paraphernalia or card-decks. It is intended that a player run several planes; these are not rules for 'traditional' one-on-one dogfights. I hope that they are both simple and playable.

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