Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Target Locked On Mission Three Debrief


I set up another Patrol scenario this morning, with an experienced Soviet MiG-21 pilot against an experienced RAF Lightning F-2 pilot, which is an unlikely encounter but offered a roughly equal set up to try out the modified pilot skill check base chance of (3+). I rolled for altitude and the Lightning began ALT 3 with the MiG on ALT 4, both at speed 30 to give some room for manoeuvre. The MiG rolled a 1/2 and the Lighning a 1/1 for initiative in the opening moves.

In Turn 1 the MiG-21 moved forward 30cm and rolled for a successful partial Lock On to the Lightning. The Lightning pilot barrel rolled for his free manoeuvre but failed to throw off the missile lock, then moved forward 26cm and finished the activation with an unsuccessful Lock On attempt on the Soviet fighter. Not to be put off, he then attempted to fire a Firestreak AAM but failed the pilot skill check, rolling a useless 1 when he needed a 4+, having already barrel rolled and having a -1 modifier to his 3+ base chance as a result.


In Turn 2 the MiG-21 pilot won the initiative again and immediately barrel rolled left to line up on the Lightning. He then attempted to decelerate with a successful pilot skill check roll of 4, requiring a 4+ to slow down by 8cm to a new lower speed of 18cm. He could have made a gun attack at this point but I have decided that aircraft have to be at the same altitude to do this, so there was no other option but to attempt a Lock On, which duly failed. The two aircraft were now going past each other at arms length but in opposite directions.

The initiative now passed to the Lightning pilot who moved forward 15cm, pulled an Immelmann using his free manoeuvre and climbed up to ALT 4 in the process. This placed the RAF fighter right behind the MiG-21 and, with a final 3cm forward move, inside cannon range but just too close for missiles. An attempt at a Lock On failed, so he followed on to make a gun attack but failed the pilot skill check as well, rolling a 2 when he needed a 4+ having already manoeuvred once in the activation.


In Turn 3 the Lightning pilot won the initiative, rolling a 5/6 against the MiG-21 pilot's 3/3 on 2D6. The Lightning achieved a Partial Lock On for the first action of the turn, rolling 4-1 = 3 and needing a 3+ to be successful. He was still too close to launch an Firestreak AAM, so chose to attack with guns instead. He passed the pilot skill check (3+) with a high roll of 6, so opened fire with both ADEN cannons.

He rolled To Hit twice as the Lightning has two ADEN cannons. The first To Hit roll was 5 on 1D6 with +3 modifiers for close range (+1), rear target aspect (+1) and slow speed (+1), for a total score of 8. The other To Hit roll for the second gun resulted in a 3 on 1D6 and +3 modifiers, for a second successful hit of 6. I had added these positive modifiers to the gun 'To Hit' factors to see if they would make it easier to make a successful guns only attack. They clearly worked!

The modifiers pushed the chances a bit high but, given the RAF pilot's relative position and the advantages it gave him, the end result was not a surprise or unrealistic. In both cases the target roll was the MiG-21's TARGET factor of 5+, so the RAF pilot only just scraped the second To Hit roll. Each gun now rolled 2D6 for damage effect. The first roll of 2/2 did no damage at all but the second of 1/5 inflicted a single point of damage on the MiG-21. The Lightning pilot now made his free manoeuvre, curving away to the left to get out of the MiG-21's way.

The MiG-21 pilot now used his free manoeuvre to pull a wide turn to the left, failing to break the missile lock. This was followed up by an attempt to Lock On to the Lighting but this also failed. In desperation, the MiG pilot decided to fire an AA-8 Aphid AAM without any lock and, much to his surprise pulled off a successful pilot skill check roll of 5, requiring at least a 4+ having already gained a -1 modifier for his prior manoeuvre. If I had not lifted the pilot skill factor to 3+ from 4+ he would only just have scraped this roll.


He now rolled to hit with a single missile against the Lightning's ECM of 3+ but with a +1 EW factor for the AA-8 missile guidance system. The base roll of 5 (+1 for EW) was modified down for having no lock (-1) and having made one prior manoeuvre (-1) to give a final To Hit result of 4. A hit! The AA-8 has 4 damage dice, which were rolled to give 4/6/6/2 which meant three points of damage including two potential critical hits.

In the end, only one of these converted into a critical effect, knocking out one cannon. However, the Lightning was now within one point of being shot down, suffering Major Damage which meant no high G manoeuvres, MAN reduced to 3 per activation, no radar, no ECM and no weapons in operable condition, so a damaged cannon ammunition feed was the last thing on the RAF pilot's mind in the circumstances! I had also forgotten that he could have tried an evasive manoeuvre at this point but I doubt it would have worked anyway?


To cut a long story short, in Turn 4 the MiG-21 won the initiative, pulled round in a wide turn to try to get guns on the Lightning but just couldn't quite get there, then moved forward for the remainder of the activation and flew off the edge of the airspace. The very relieved Lightning pilot decided to follow the MiG-21's example and limped back to RAF Gutersloh at close to stall speed, having failed his morale roll. I decided to see if he made it, by rolling a D6 for a successful crash landing, using the eject roll of 4+ as a base chance. Luckily he rolled a 6 so made a perfect wheels down landing with no need to eject.

The MiG-21 pilot won a second VP and probably some sort of medal!

Feedback

I really enjoyed this game, which zipped along at a fair pace and was finished in about 45 minutes, playing solo. If two players with some rules experience were playing this would have been no more than half an hour or so of game time. The result was fair although the cumulative +1 modifiers for gunfire at close range, rear target aspect and slow target speed made it a bit too easy to hit. I may well ditch the slow target speed modifier as a result. However, the damage dice rolls evened this out and gave a sensible result in the end. The rules tweak to only allow gun attacks at the same altitude was also effective, as it resulted in more realistic 'dogfighting' tactics.

I was much happier with the revised pilot skill factors which I think gave an overall better game with more action but still a level of difficulty that challenged manoeuvres  and attacks. I will be keeping this modified base chances for future games, at least one of which will feature pilots of different skill levels i.e. conscript or rookie* = (4+) / Experienced = (3+) / Ace = (2+). I think this works much better than the original system and prevents repeated failed pilot skill checks which kill the action and end up being frustrating. It still needs more playtesting to make sure it doesn't make it too easy for Aces.

A good game and a solid, fast play set of rules!

(* I have re-named this skill level as 'Trained' because rookie sounded too cheesy)

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