Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Target Locked On Mission Debrief


I played a couple of games of Target Locked On yesterday, each with a single F-16 armed with four AIM-9 Sidewinders against a single MiG-29 with two AA-9's and two AA-11's, so that I could try out the missile rules for IR and R weapon systems. In both games, I set up the basic Patrol scenario from the rules, the objective being to shoot down the opposing fighter or to force it from the airspace. I don't have any miniatures with me at the moment as I'm away on holiday, so I used cardboard counters from Paper Forge which did the job effectively. I also pinched some of my daughters little ceramic craft tiles to track the speed and fuel.

In the first game I made the mistake of starting the aircraft at half speed, which meant that they struggled to gain enough energy to make manoeuvres without falling into a stall. They also burned up tank loads of fuel in acceleration moves and in tight turns to get on each others tails. The F-16, call sign Canine Two, was rated as an Ace so had the edge in reaction and skill checks, managing to get within gun range on a couple of occasions, but with impossible odds for a shot due to the negative modifiers. In the end the MiG-29 pilot, rated as experienced, ran out of fuel and was forced off the table without having fired a shot.

In the second game the Soviet MiG-29 pilot, call sign Alpha One, managed to shoot down the F-16 after a twisting dogfight using a single AA-9 at near to minimum range. I started this scenario with both aircraft at higher speeds so that there was more energy to manoeuvre and also less change of burning up too much fuel. The F-16 did get a partial target lock on the MiG-29 but yet again failed a skill check to fire any AIM-9's, subsequently overshooting the MiG to offer up an easy target. The MiG converted a partial lock to a full lock and fired, achieving a hit and three damage dice including a critical, so the F-16 didn't stand a chance despite some last minute evasive actions. The pilot also failed his eject roll so his day didn't end very well.


The rules worked well and the games were really good fun but there are a couple of things that stood out as problems. I really liked the fuel management system and the speed tracker on the aircraft record sheets. I also thought the initiative system was very effective, giving a clear and logical result. The templates for movement also worked well and made tracking speed loss and fuel usage very straightforward. However....

1. Guns are useless against anything with a more than average TARGET rating. This is fair enough as I'm sure it's very difficult to hit a MiG-29 in a turning dogfight at high speed.

2. To make an Attack you need  pilot skill check but, if you fail that, then the activation is over straight away, leaving you to complete any remaining movement points in a straight line.

This means that you can attack at the start of an activation, fail, and then have to fly in a straight line right into your enemy's gun sights.

3. You get a free first move each turn, which doesn't need a skill check, but every manoeuvre afterwards gets a -1 dice modifier. However, it is not clear if the free move includes attack rolls?

4. Is a straight and level forward move (Level Flight)  a manoeuvre?. It's not listed as such in the Manoeuvre Types table, so does it count as a manoeuvre for the free manoeuvre rule or not?

The biggest issue I have is with the failed attack roll and subsequent straight and level flight.

I think I will EITHER remove the requirement for a Pilot Skill check for attacks OR more likely, remove the 'activation ends' rule, replacing it with 'attack ends' so that no more attacks can be made that turn but manoeuvres can still continue to be made up to the current speed rate.

This would fix the flying in a straight line thing, which reminds me of the Sprog failed manoeuvre rule in Bag the Hun, but which only applies to manoeuvres in those rules and not firing. I will run a few more games to see if this modification fixes things or just makes the rules too wonky. I don't like fiddling with rules mechanisms but this one really stands out as not making sense, given the skill levels and training of the pilots and the illogical outcome of straight, level flight after a failed missile launch or gun run. It's the last thing I'd do if I screwed up in a high speed dogfight.


  1. Your proposed change makes sense to me - have you tried emailing Rory Crabb about it?

  2. I had a few questions about things myself:

  3. Hi Colin,

    Yes I emailed Rory and he's replied, so I'll post an update asap.

  4. Hi Chris,

    Yes I read your AAR and think you ran into some of the issues that I did. I think they will be resolved in the 2nd edition.



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