Saturday, 7 April 2018

Target Locked On Mission Two Debrief

I played another Patrol meeting engagement scenario this afternoon, this time with an experienced Soviet MiG-21 Fishbed pilot against a similarly experienced USAF F-104 Starfighter pilot, the former aircraft flown by the sprog with muggins flying the latter. We began by rolling for altitude, with the F-104 hedge hopping at Level 1 and the MiG-21 at Level 3, both flying at Speed 30. I was hoping that some gunnery would be involved in order to test run the +1 modifiers that I have added to the To Hit roll.

In Turn 1 the Starfighter pulled up to Altitude 2 and then moved forward 26cm, rolling successfully for a Partial Lock On to the MiG. The MiG dropped down to Level 2, picking up speed then moved forward 34cm, but failing his Lock On roll.

In Turn 2 the Starfighter won the initiative again, barrel rolled then moved forward 22cm. An attempt at a Full Lock On was unsuccessful. The MiG-21 pilot also barrel rolled to try to break the partial Lock On but failed his roll. He then attempted a Lock On to the F-104 but failed this too. Not discouraged by this he then moved forward 30cm, as required by the failed barrel roll manoeuvre.

In Turn 3, the MiG pilot won the initiative, pulled off a hard turn for his free manoeuvre but failed to throw off the Starfighter's missile lock. However, he followed this with a successful Partial Lock On. To finish his activation, he attempted to fire his cannons just outside close range, passing the Pilot Skill check but failing his D6 'To Hit' roll (4-1 = 3 needing a 5+), none of the +1 modifiers coming into play.

Now in front of the F-104, the MiG pilot attempted to barrel roll out of the way but failed (again) leading to a forward move of 28cm and a potential head on collision!

The F-104 Starfighter pilot rolled a successful Pilot Skill check to avoid a smash up, which was just as well as the MiG-21 pilot failed his, followed by a tight left turn in an attempt to get behind the MiG. This dropped the F-104's speed down to within one point of a stall, so the pilot attempted to accelerate to gain some energy but failed his Skill Check and flew straight ahead 16cm instead.

In Turn 4 the MiG-21 pilot won the initiative again, pulled off a nifty Immelmann then failed to follow up with a tight left turn, resulting in a forward move of 22cm. The Immelmann also failed to break the  Partial Lock On, although this wasn't too significant as the F-104 was heading the wrong way to fire anyway.

The F-104 pilot accelerated for his free manoeuvre but then failed his Pilot Skill check for a three point left turn, which then forced him to fly off the edge of the table! There were only a couple of turns of fuel left in his tanks anyway, after the various climbs and turns he managed to pull off, so it was not a surprise that he scarpered before Bingo!

An easy one point victory for the MiG-21!

''Da Da Da! Check out the funky moves, Comrades''


This was another good game and the sprog really enjoyed beating his dad (again). He's sharp at maths so quickly spotted the difficult gunnery numbers, although he only failed to hit by a couple of pips. He suggested, off his own bat, that there should be a +1 modifier for attacking a slow moving target, which I thought was a good idea. I suggested that anything flying at less than 15cm would be about right, only to realise that this was about stall speed for bog standard fighters anyway!

I thought that the high number of failed Pilot Skill checks killed the action in some turns and prevented the game from progressing in a realistic way, given that both pilots were experienced and should have been able to manage better. I suggested that the Pilot Skill rolls could be adjusted by one pip, which would still give even experienced pilots a challenge, once -1 modifiers for successive manoeuvring are taken into account.

As it stands, an experienced (4+) pilot has a 50% chance of not screwing things up, which in most cases is dropped to 33% due to a manoeuvre of some sort. For a Rookie or Conscript (5+) this means a base chance of 33% dropping down to 20% if they manoeuvre more than the one 'free' attempt, let alone when they try to shoot something. This seems a bit tight even for inexperienced pilots and would make it very frustrating for the players concerned.

So, here are a couple of suggested, tentative rules tweak that I will try out in the re-match against the sprog tomorrow;

1. +1 for gun attacks against slower targets (less than or equal to half maximum speed)

2. Adjusted Pilot Skill: Conscript / Rookie (4+), Experienced (3+), Ace (2+)

I don't think this will unbalance things too much and may well make the game flow a bit better?

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