26th Edition of Armistice Tourney Unlike Any Ever Seen
Michael Morgan dominated a field of champions while Rick defended his squadron title, Stephen set a new record with eight Victory Medals, Kevin returned to the fold, Dory made a record-setting 26th appearance and Ethan passed out at 2,000 feet.
All in the same game.
The Indy Squadron's Armistice Day Fits Tournament was held at Saltire Games in Indianapolis on Saturday, November 8th, and produced the wildest and most unpredictable result of any ever held. The sides stacked up like this:
Camel 130 - Ethan Skinner
SPAD XIII - Rick Lacy
SPAD XIII - Dory Oda
Fokker D7 160 h/c - Kevin Richeson
Fokker D7 160 h/c - Michael Morgan
Fokker D6 - Stephen Skinner
It was surprising to see the Allied players turn down a 130 hp Camel and an SE 5a to opt for SPADs, but perhaps their excellent initiative rolls in the first four turns saved them. Kevin moved first on the first three game turns, while Stephen fared little better.
The Allies made the most of their first round advantage, scoring 8 hits into Kevin's D7 and 8 more into Stephen's D6. Trapped inside the tourney box, Kevin maneuvered his Fokker desperately but couldn't avoid being riddled with Allied bullets. Michael's D7 latched onto the tail of Ethan's Camel and began tailing him. Ethan chose a Falling Leaf maneuver, which was clever enough to lose Michael's tail but left him several hundred feet below the climbing dogfight and unable to catch up.
Still, sharp shooting and constant attacking from Dory and Rick kept the Germans on the ropes. Stephen had two engine hits and ten more spread through his wings. Kevin's condition was even worse, with an unbelievable 13 hits in the rear fuselage of his Fokker.
This led to a series of pivotal turns that shaped the rest of the game. The first occurred when Dory's SPAD took multiple attacks from Michael's D7, causing her engine to smoke. On Turn 5, Stephen finally mustered some offense and had a choice between either a point-blank-range shot on Ethan's lower Camel, or a 150 foot shot on Dory's smoking SPAD. He chose the latter, knowing that the German cause may be lost entirely if they couldn't knock an opponent out of the fight quickly.
Stephen fired and severely damaged Dory's crippled SPAD, and (after pumping three more hit factors into Kevin) she immediately escaped the game rather than face certain doom and deprive her wingmen of any chance at the Armistice Day title. Although she was not scored as a victory for either of her attackers, her escape was the first sign that the German team may have hope.
This left the tournament as a 2-on-2 contest. Ethan's Camel had lost altitude and was being hit hard by Michael's D7. Rick was still on the attack but had lost the initiative that had served him so well early in the game. Stephen's D7 had taken significant damage but had two working guns and no critical hits. He lined up for a shot on Ethan, scored six hits, and then tailed him into the next turn.
Firing again, Stephen scored five more rounds into Ethan's Camel and gave his pilot a light wound. Rick's SPAD fired on Stephen's Camel, scoring only one engine hit but dumping four bullets into his left wing. This put Stephen in serious trouble as well with a total of 9 left wing hits, although he somehow escaped critical damage.
Michael threw caution to the wind and closed in for repeated point blank range shots on Ethan, whose Camel was nearing destruction. For his part, Ethan fought tenaciously and helped Rick on several turns by double-attacking the same target, but his Camel had taken so much critical damage that it was no longer capable of safely escaping the fight.
Rick and Ethan finally dove away in opposite directions, with both Germans following Ethan's crippled Sopwith. Michael and Stephen both fired and hit, with Michael inflicting another light wound on Ethan. The Sopwith pilot passed out and crashed to his death, becoming the only fatality of the tournament and ending the game.
The final tally showed how dominant Michael really was, scoring 70 points on hit factors alone. He won the Armistice Day Fits Tournament handily, but the squadron title defaulted to the highest scoring eligible player since Michael had not gamed with the squadron in 2014. For the first time in the tourney's 26-year history, there was a dead tie for the squadron championship title. Rick and Stephen tied for second place with 81 points and were named co-champions based on the precedent set in RBF VI in 1995.
Michael was a good sport who flew a brilliant game and etched his name in the Indy Squadron record books as well as the Armistice Day Hall of Fame. He also took home the champagne bottle, signed by all players present, as the winner's traditional trophy. Kevin actually flew as well as anyone can fly when they roll highest for initiative nearly every turn. Sometimes you just have those days and there's nothing you can do to change a dice roll.
Rick flew a great mission and would have won the whole thing if his 50-foot bottom shot on Kevin had scored even a single rear fuselage hit. He becomes the first Victory Medal winner since 2006 to successfully defend his title. And he did it on shooting alone, with no kills scored. Rick was awarded his second Indy Squadron Victory Medal and is pictured with it above (a second Victory Medal will be ordered for Stephen soon).
Stephen may have won the whole thing as well but suffered a similar fate when he missed three straight shots - two of them on Ethan's battered Camel in the game's last, crucial stages. Still, his half of the claim over Ethan was enough to manage a tie for second and a record-setting 8th Indy Squadron championship.
Ethan's good flying gave Rick a legitimate shot at winning late in the game, doubling Rick's attacks against a single target on several occasions. And Dory's timely escape gave the Allies a real chance, rather than giving away a 30-point bonus to any German who might have shot her down.
The 26th Armistice Day Tourney adds a bizarre new chapter to the squadron history books and we will probably never see another quite like it. The final scores are listed below:
Michael Morgan Fokker DVII 160 h/c 103
Rick Lacy SPAD XIII 81
Stephen Skinner Fokker DVI 81
Dory Oda SPAD XIII 30
Kevin Richeson Fokker DVII 160 h/c 21
Ethan Skinner Camel 130 12