Rick Lacy Scores 3rd RBF Title
Bob Meister Carries Banner for Germans
Stephen Dale's Albatros Pilot Awarded Medal
The 27th Red Baron Fight was held on April 2, 2016 at the Wyndham West Indianapolis as part of Dawn Patrol activities at the Whosyercon gaming convention.
Rick Lacy scored his third win in the spring classic, out-dueling German opponent Bob Meister and British wingman George Henion in a bloody and controversial victory.
British, all Sopwith Camels 130 hp
Dory Odo (CPT George Graham, 6/0)
Ethan Skinner (Luke Charleston, 6/0)
Rick Lacy (LT Neville Higham, 17/9)
George Henion (LT Chad Fox, 14/2)
Stephen Skinner (VZFW Gerald Holzhauser, 7/2, red Fokker Dr I)
Bob Meister (Fokker DrI)
A. J. Meister (Edward Steel, 3/0, Albatros DVa)
Stephen Dale Skinner (Milan Sova, 10/2, Albatros DVa)
Game creator Mike Carr once said that the top level Dawn Patrol players have the ability to recognize critical moments in the game. Nearly an hour later in real time (Turn 5), with almost no shooting having occurred on either side, Ethan recognized one of those moments and the result was the biggest controversy of the game.
Two Camels had already moved to the far side of the board. Two Germans had already moved as well. Ethan flew his top Sopwith Camel pilot to the attack, knowing that half of the enemy planes had already moved and were therefore unable to fight, and that he still had one wingman moving after him (Rick). The movement order was staggered to the advantage of the British with one German (Bob) moving after Ethan, then the last Camel (Rick), then the last German (Stephen, who rolled snake eyes). The moment to break the stalemate was at hand.
His wingmen thought otherwise, however, with Rick moving to the opposite side of the board with two other Brits as part of a pre-planned strategy to wait for the lagging Albatrosses to get above 5,000 feet before engaging (the Albs were at about 4,700 feet at the time).
Ethan's Camel pilot was stranded against all four Germans. He was quickly double attacked and remained on the defensive until his best pilot was killed several turns later. Ultimately the British had given up an easy 70 points (kill + hit factors scored), a wingman, and an early lead to A. J. and Stephen Dale's Albatros flyers in exchange for preserving their divide and delay strategy... a strategy that ultimately worked, but at a price that would continue to rise (see Rick's comments below for his view of the same action).
The British flight deteriorated further in Turn 9, when Dory's pilot was also isolated and killed. Although the other Camels were still idle and climbing some 15 squares away, she had an opportunity to move toward them but moved backward instead. The result was a double attack by the DrI's of Stephen and Bob scoring nine hit factors.
The remaining Camels flew to Dory's rescue but her fate was already sealed. Her top Camel pilot crashed and died moments later. Meanwhile, George and Rick's Camels double-attacked Stephen's red Triplane and inflicted the same 5/6 engine critical that had taken Dory out. Stephen was able to land safely in German lines. Kill points went to Rick, the only pilot who had scored engine hits on Stephen's plane that turn.
Bob's Triplane and A. J's Albatros were still in fighting condition but the mission was nearly five hours old and another game beckoned. They won numbers and escaped.
Rick and George claimed two of the top three spots. They stretched their limited ammo supply, made effective and precise attacks, and their strategy worked to perfection (although their wingmen would argue the point). Despite starting the game with only 25 ammo points per gun, George and Rick scored 52 and 46 points respectively on shooting alone. Additionally, Rick was the only British player to score a solo kill, giving him a total score of 91 points.
Bob was the only German in the top three, scoring 85 points and coming within a die roll of getting his first RBF title. He lost this year's classic by one of the closest margins in game history (see RBF records). Stephen Dale managed a fourth place finish in an Albatros, scored a shared kill over Ethan's Camel, survived a wound and an emergency landing, and was awarded the Austro-Hungarian Silver Military Medal 1st class for his efforts.
Rick Lacy (LT Neville Higham, 17/9) 91 points
Bob Meister (Fokker DrI) 85
George Henion (LT Chad Fox, 14/2) 73
Stephen Dale (Milan Sova, 10/2, Alb DVa) 63
Stephen Skinner (VZ Gerald Holzhauser, 7/2, red Dr I) 56
A. J. Meister (Edward Steel, 3/0, Albatros DVa) 55
Ethan Skinner (Luke Charleston, 6/0) 24
Dory Odo (CPT George Graham, 6/0) 18
Rick went first or second on turns 1, 2, and 3. On turn 4 I was able to dive into the fight and take a top shot at Stephen in the red Tripe, which I promptly missed. Then, I went first or second in turns 5, 6, 7, and 8. The only way I was going to contribute to this fight in those turns was to come down and let myself get shot up, which would do neither me nor my side any good at all, so I kept dancing around at the edge of the performance envelope of the Albs.
In turn 9, while chasing Dory for a good chance at a kill, Bob and Stephen did a top/bottom sandwich, which in turn allowed George and myself to dive in for a top/bottom sandwich on Stephen – which turned out to be the winning moment, as I was lucky enough to get the kill on the Baron, while Bob got the kill on Dory.
Having finally gotten the tactical situation we desired (not to mention finally get an initiative roll under an 8) with the two Albs split off and unable to regroup/form up, George and I were able to get effective shots for the next 4 turns, doubling in almost every turn. A. J. finally dove for ground rather than be a kill, while I managed to hit Stephen Dale’s pilot with a light wound and jam his rudder in a straight, taking him out of the fight. That left only Bob, and he began his attempt to evade by diving, allowing the 2 remaining Camels to shoot from tail and bottom (with Rick taking the bottom shot resulting in my 3rd missed shot of the game). Bob won initiative next turn and got away.
Stephen Dale commented after the game that I left Ethan hanging out to dry – which I don’t think I did at all, considering the only thing I could have done was allow myself to get double or triple teamed in the hope I guessed right enough to allow Ethan to box up while under cards. So frankly, I would disagree with his assessment of the tactical situation (it would have been better for Ethan to have waited just a bit more before committing and getting stuck in a bad situation) – but I can see why he thought so based on the way the game turned out without knowing the factors behind how movement occurred.
And I also want to mention the stellar play of my wingmen – George who stuck to the plan with me, Ethan who played maybe the best game I have ever seen him play but ran into bad numbers (more MY bad numbers than his), and Dory, who played a great game and stuck to plan also but took a 6/5 engine crit from Bob to put her out of the game. Kudo’s also to Stephen Dale for thinking outside the box to bring up a good pilot rather than a rookie.
Stephen Wins 2nd Straight Whosyercon Open
By Rick Lacy
I wanted to make this one interesting, but not use the standard Camel 150 vs D-VII 185 that often seems to come up. So, I opted for a late war bout with 2 of the best planes in the game – four SSW D-IV vs three French SPAD XVII's. The Germans were Stephen Dale, Stephen, Ethan, and Bob while the Allies were George, Rick, and A. J. I was expecting action and this one delivered, with shots flying first turn and not stopping.
The fight started at 4700 and climbed as high as 6200 mid game, but the Germans (who were all plagued with bad initiative, especially Bob) started diving away to escape the mounting damage on their planes. Stephen's commentary on the game is below:
I told everyone at the table that this was the time to win this game. The Open is a new event and we take winning it for granted. But in another 5 or 10 years these early records will still stand but the game will be much more popular and harder to win.
The game featured hot rods on both sides. George's SPAD was hammered early by the Schuckerts of Ethan and Stephen Dale. Ethan continued his attack the next turn by tailing successfully. By this time George had 26 hits in his SPAD and escaped combat, after which his pilot died while crash landing at his home airfield. There were no kill points awarded.
Rick's SPAD then tailed Stephen Dale's Schuckert, inflicting two critical hits and rendering his plane useless. So after only three turns, the game was down to three Germans and two remaining Frenchmen.
The last two SPAD's, A. J. and Rick, rolled high and chose to split up rather than form a defensive box. Ethan and Bob's Schuckerts chased A. J's SPAD and hit him hard, but A. J. used a wingover maneuver to lose them both on the following turn.
His celebration didn't last long. My Schuckert pilot caught up to him and spent the next three of the next four turns firing on him from the tail. A. J. overdove his SPAD while attempting to escape and ripped the wings off his airplane. The game judge consulted the Kill Confirmation Chart and awarded the kill, which went to me as a solo since my wingman, Bob, missed his shot at the moment of truth.
I know that Ethan's Schuckert pilot did not survive the mission but I'm not sure why.
In the end, the win went to Stephen, who edged out Rick mostly because he was shooting well, while Rick was trying to escape with 9 hits in his right wing. It was really fun to have high performance planes matched up like that.
Stephen Skinner, SSW DIV 91 points
Rick Lacy, SPAD XVII 67
Bob Meister, SSW DIV 51
Stephen Dale, SSW DIV 31
Ethan Skinner, SSW DIV 22
A. J. Meister, SPAD XVII 20
George Henion, SPAD XVII 12
Whosyercon Game Report
By Rick Lacy
We scheduled 4 games for this year’s WhosyerCon – 2 on Friday, 2 on Saturday. Friday’s games included a Western Front fighter game and an Italian Front Fighter game. Saturday’s first game was the 3rd WhosyerCon open and the second was the annual Red Baron Fight. Action from the first 3 games is detailed below:
Game 1 – Western Front, June 1 1918 (Front, Low)
3 French Spad XIII (Rick Lacy, Bob Meister, AJ Meister) squared off against three Skinners (Stephen, Stephen Dale, Ethan) and George Henion in Pfalz D-IIIa and 1 Pfalz DrI. This game started at 2000 ft and began climbing as the two sides went back and forth exchanging bad initiative numbers. By the 7th turn, the fight had climbed to 4200 ft and Ethan was out of the fight as a kill (Rick wins cut with Bob) and the other Pfalz planes were scattering and escaping. All in all, a good warm up mission.
Game 2 – Italian Front, April 1 1918 (Front, Med)
This six player game saw 3 British Camel 130s face off against 3 AH Berg D-I 185s. This game saw little substantial action, lasted 6 turns, and broke up relatively quickly. I don’t believe anyone got a kill in this game. I will say it was surprising even – I thought the Camels would win handily, but the Bergs gave as good or better than they got for the most part.
We also had two pick up missions on Friday. The first saw a rather uneventful Western Front fighter combat with British Camel 130s and a mixed bag of Germans. The fight took place at the bottom edge of a cloud bank and there was some dodging in and out of the clouds briefly until everyone decided to end the game and play another. Nothing really of note in this one.
The second pick up was actually designed by Stephen Dale as a birthday mission. As such, he decided he wanted to have a German balloon attack, and further decided he wanted to have the balloon defended by Bristols. Sides rolled up with Stephen Dale, Ethan, and George attacking while Stephen and Rick defended.
Both Bristol crews up were minimum 8 mission, and the Allies also had the advantage of having ground defenses. And in a lucky roll, the balloon initial altitude was 300 ft. So per standard Indy Squadron starting position for balloon missions, the balloon was placed and the Germans started at the far edge of the board at low altitude.
In keeping with his recent run of luck, Rick rolled highest (AGAIN) and climbed away. George and Ethan advanced toward the balloon while Stephen Dale dove to the deck to prevent AA from hitting him. Stephen came down to within 200 ft of the ground off SD’s left side about 700 ft away.
The next turn saw something completely new for the Indy Squadron. We have a house rule that allows a 2 Seat observer to fire in defense of his own plane on one incoming opponent (see house rule here) and Stephen moved prior to SD, placing himself about 800 ft diagonally from SD – which allowed SD, in a BRILLIANT move (no joke, it really was inspired) to bank into a bottom shot rather than drive straight into it – negating the observer defense head-on shot which would normally have happened. So, even with his twin rear guns, Stephen scored minimal damage on a side shot.
Rick, meanwhile, still plagued by bad initiative, hovered far above the German planes. Next turn saw George and Ethan move in for 100 ft balloon shots and Stephen Dale come in for a 300 ft shot (best he could get to). The Germans scored a measly 5 hits on the balloon, but that was enough to down it and flame it. The kill went to Ethan.
The AA hit Ethan pretty hard on the way in, and the machine guns that hit did the same to George, so it was not a cakewalk, but neither took enough damage to put them down. Next thing that happened was George banked away but for some reason turned his plane as if to offer a box. Ethan, moving next, moved in to box – exactly what George feared would happen. The main saving grace to it was that Ethan was 300 ft higher than George, so any potential HO attack would be somewhat muted by distance.
Rick moved 3rd this turn (amazingly), and promptly dove in to bottom shot George and set himself up for a long range HO at Ethan. (Player note – had I opted to go the other way around, I would have gotten a long bottom shot at Ethan and a 100 ft HO on George, but I didn’t think that would be at all chivalrous, so I opted for the better attack for my pilot). Then, Stephen Dale, watching this develop (but I think misunderstanding the distance factor) and knowing Ethan had damage from AA, decided to help his wingman out by diving into the stack beneath George and Rick with a 50 ft tail on Rick, knowing full well he was offering a point blank HO to Rick’s observer. Stephen came in and attached Ethan from the top and George with his observer.
So, Rick fired his 50 ft HO at SD and hit for 8 hf while his pilot hit George for 5. Stephen Dale scored 6 HF into Rick’s plane, and managed to avoid both pilot chances and any engine criticals. Next turn the Germans won initiative and the game was over as they fled victorious.