A.J. Meister Scores 1st Title in Dominating Day
A. J. Meister had played Dawn Patrol since 2014 without scoring a tournament win or a single confirmed aerial victory. But all that changed at the Indy Squadron's traditional New Year's Day gaming at the Meister's home on January 1, 2022, when A. J. not only won the 8th annual Whosyercon Open but shot down three enemy airplanes throughout the day as well.
Rick Lacy devised a fun mixture of aircraft for the Open, the second of three games played.
Bob Meister, Fokker DVI
Stephen Skinner, Pfalz DXII
A. J. Meister, Fokker DVII 200 hp
Chris Burlingame, Sopwith Camel 110 hp
Ethan Skinner, SPAD XIII
Rick Lacy, Sopwith Dolphin
The first turn was exciting when all three Allies attacked Bob's Fokker DVI. Stephen's Pfalz fired head-on at Chris' Camel but the English pilot would not be dissuaded from pressing his attack on the Fokker. Bob breathed a small sigh of relief when Rick's Dolphin missed, but Chris and Ethan combined for nearly a dozen hit factors into Bob's Fokker, which sustained a jammed rudder and banked helplessly out of the fight.
But Chris paid dearly when both remaining Germans (A. J. and Stephen) returned fire. A. J. hit from the top while Stephen's Pfalz scored 8 uncontested head-on hits, setting the engine of Chris' Camel on fire. The Camel sideslipped desperately but could not extinguish the flames. Chris' pilot died and A. J. would win the post-game cut for credit although tourney points were split evenly with Stephen's Pfalz pilot.
Rick and Ethan wisely turned the tables by dragging the fight away from Bob's still-banking Fokker, keeping the battle two against two. Both Allied pilots scored heavily against Stephen's Pfalz, which was absorbing tremendous punishment. Stephen was finally able to latch onto the tail of Ethan's SPAD and stay there for four turns, missing twice as the faster SPAD pulled away.
Bob got back to the fringe of the fight but was unable to decisively affect the game. Frustrated with his inability to score and the scattered nature of the fight, Ethan took his damaged SPAD home safely. Saddled with five critical hits and a fuel tank leak, Stephen gambled heavily on his last shot and fired on Rick from 50 feet, knowing that the lack of compression in his fuel tank would take him out of contention immediately after. He scored 5 hits on Rick and escaped the battle. Bob soon left the fight as well but pilot Peter Wagner (6/2) crashed his thrice critically hit airplane at his home field. He survived this crash, just as he survived an equally unsuccessful landing on his first-ever mission. The Vegas over-under on his long term survival remains guarded.
Rick finished as the highest scoring Allied pilot and would have been a contender for his second Whosyercon title but for a string of unlucky missed shots in early in the game. Thanks to Stephen's final shot on Rick's Dolphin, he and A. J. had scored precisely the same number of hit factors and split the game's only confirmed kill. The two Germans were set to be named co-champions until Stephen crashed his Pfalz DXII on landing. Not only did he crash, but it was crash #4 (tail up), meaning that the plane was not in immediately flyable condition. So instead of 15 survival points, Stephen got 10 and A. J. became the 2021 Whosyercon Open champion.
New Year's Day Gaming Report
The Indy Squadron played a total of three games on January 1, 2022. The first was a random mission which resulted in a lopsided matchup set on November 1, 1917. Stephen, Chris and A. J. were assigned 150 hp Sopwith Camels led by Stephen ace, CPT Purvis Leiter (51/31). They were opposed by Bob, Rick and Ethan flew a pair of Pfalz DIII's and an Albatros DIII.
LTN Stephen Jaeger (Bob, 2/0) was downed in No Man's Land, shot and then captured for the duration after being badly damaged by A. J.'s Camel. This turned out to be the first confirmed and credited kill of A. J.'s Dawn Patrol career. Ethan's rookie Albatros pilot flew remarkably well in support while Chris survived his first-ever Dawn Patrol mission in a Pfalz.
The second game of the night was the 2021 Whosyercon Open, described in the lead story of this issue.
The third and final game featured A. J. in a Viper-powered SE 5a, Stephen flew 2LT Demetrius Hall (13/6) in a Camel 150 and Bob flew a SPAD XVII. The Germans flew a Fokker DVII 185 (Rick), a Fokker DVIII (Ethan) and a Seimens-Schuckert DIV (Chris). Rick's DVII was eliminated from the game on the second turn when Stephen's tail shot forced him into a bank that took an eternity to fix. When Chris's Schuckert finally scored a 7-hit burst into A. J.'s SE 5a on the game's 10th turn, it was the first damage that A. J. had taken in any game all day long. Bob's luck was just the opposite. He fired a total of eight times over the course of all three of the day's games, scoring only twice.
The game's only kill occurred when Otto Hoffman's Fokker DVIII (Ethan, 5/0) had its wings shot away by Stephen's Camel ace. And oddly, the day ended with no pilot hits being scored by either side. Chris was a great addition to the day's activities, and his vast gaming experience made him a solid wingman and an immediate threat in the game.
This home was built in 1907 so the room and the atmosphere should be perfect for Dawn Patrol. An upstairs bedroom at Stephen Skinner's house in central Indiana has been converted into a World War I study and game room.
Original World War 1 and World War 2 firearms are displayed on every wall, including an authentic Lee Enfield .303 rifle manufactured in 1917 as well as an assortment of Russian Mosin Nagant and M-44 paratrooper carbines from the mid-20th century.
Original aviation art work decorates every wall as well. The south wall features a painting of England's famed Black Flight, signed by Sopwith Triplane ace Mel Alexander. The west wall holds a painting that depicts US ace George Vaughn's first kill of an eventual thirteen, as his SE 5a downs a German Pfalz behind enemy lines. Original art featuring balloon buster Frank Luke and autographed prints from British aces L. H. Rochford and W. Mck. Thomson are also displayed in addition to various magazines and posters dating to back to the war era.
The south wall will hold a library of over 300 books on the First World War, while gaming supplies are stored on shelves behind the doorway. A curio cabinet displays authentic World War I binoculars, pilot's goggles and various artifacts that Skinner discovered during his archeological work on the battlefields of France.
The walls are papered in a heavy gold and purple pattern favored by Edwardian era decorators and the light fixtures have been replaced to replicate that of either a 1917 home or a bunker underneath the trenches in France. The antique gaming table should accommodate 4-6 players in comfort, although larger gatherings may require a more spacious venue. But for more intimate settings and smaller games, this may be one of the most appropriate specialty venues we've enjoyed since Dory's Dawn Patrol Basement in Brownsburg, Indiana in the late 1980's.
The 1917 Room is open for Dawn Patrol and we hope to hold our first games there by spring.