sorry for not announcing in time that this year's Phoenix Con was to be home for Crimson Skies yet again.
But it did happen (both the Con and CS) so here's the flight report, which has also been posted on boardgamegeek.com, of course.
This flight report has also been published in German!
Dieser Flugbericht wurde auch auf Deutsch veröffentlicht!
Despite the ongoing pandemic, we were still able to host this year's Phoenix Con at the end of October. Of course, fewer people than usual attended, but safety first! Hopefully, next year everything will be back to normal.
The Phoenix Con did see some air action yet again, although it was only a single sortie instead of several skirmishes. But for this sortie I had prepared a scenario called Attack on Signal Hill.
The scenario is available at https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/211442/scenario-attack-signal-hill, but here's a quick rundown:
A flight group of saboteurs have snuck past the Los Angeles patrols and are preparing for an attack run on the oilfield of Signal Hill.
Both saboteurs and defenders have six planes at their disposal, but the defenders arrive in waves on the battlefield: their second flight starts on turn 3, their third flight on turn 5.
The saboteurs score 15 points for shooting down an enemy plane as well as for destroying one of the ten oil rigs.
The defenders score only 10 points for downing hostile aircraft, but 20 points for each oil rig they can save.
For the sake of easy playability oil rigs use the damage template of Zeppelin main guns and have a BTH of 4.
Pilots from the scenario are slightly better than regular ones, but only marginally. Again, we skipped Special Characteristics to make it easier for the casual flyer. Rockets on the other hand simply had to be used for the scenario.
Main Flight Book
We started the game with two players on each side, with one more player per side joining later on.
After plane assignment and armament (which consisted of quite some drill rockets on the attackers' side) we set up the first batch of planes and started the game.
The saboteurs tactic from the onset was straightforward: line up with the nearest oil rigs and try to reach them as fast as possible to get a few early hits in before the defenders can intercept them.
They did and some of the drill rockets even found their mark at maximum range. Those were therefore very likely to gnaw deeply into the trestle structure of the oil rigs in the following rounds.
The defenders were of course trying to deter the attackers by launching flares and sonic rockets. But maneuvering through the obstacles still cost them at least a turn, if not two, to properly get the attackers into their sights.
The following picture shows the situation at the end of turn 5 when all planes had finally entered the combat area.
The saboteurs were fielding: Aguila (Devastator mini) and Cazador (Vampire mini), Kingfisher (Defender mini) and Seraph (Coyote mini), Peacemaker and Rifleman (Kestrel mini).
The defenders were fielding: Avenger and Fury, Bloodhawk and Nemesis (Raven mini), Firebrand and Firestorm (Brigand mini).
The next picture shows the havoc the saboteurs were wreaking on the oilfield. Notice the small metal tokens that replaced four of the destroyed rigs.
Of course, focusing almost exclusively on the ground targets led to some of the saboteurs getting more than a broadside of return fire from the defenders. Thus the fate of the first two attackers was sealed in turns 6 and 8, when a fuel tank explosion took out the Rifleman and a destroyed engine the Peacemaker.
The defenders were unrelenting and two more enemy planes crashed shortly thereafter: another fuel tank explosion took out the Aguila in turn 9 and a destroyed engine on the Cazador left the saboteurs with only Kingfisher and Seraph.
With a little help from the aforementioned drill rockets, supported by several magnesium rounds and a last strafing run by their two remaining planes, the saboteurs still managed to destroy three more drilling rigs for a grand total of seven.
Damaged and outnumbered Kingfisher and Seraph finally tried to make their retreat, but to no avail:
Firebrand and Firestorm combined their firepower to shoot the Kingfisher to pieces and destroyed its engine in turn 13.
The Seraph got a little further, but all escape routes were blocked by the defenders' planes and flak rockets. Needless to say that the Seraph made its final descent in turn 16 with a destroyed engine.
All attacker planes were lost, two from fuel tank explosions, four from destroyed engines. But take note that most of them took a heavy beating before going down. Here's an exemplay record sheet (Cazador):
The defender's planes fared way better: Firebrand, Firestorm and Avenger only had a few scratches, while the Fury evaded enemy fire entirely. Nemesis and Bloodhawk on the other hand suffered significant internal damage and were barely airworthy at the end of the fight. One more solid hit could have very well been the end of either one!
Also, two of the three remaining oil rigs were heavily damaged and probably would have collapsed under another strafing run.
From an attacker pilot's view this mission may look like disaster, due to having lost all planes without scoring any kills on their own. But let's have a look at the strategic outcome by calculating the point totals:
- The saboteurs destroyed 7 oil rigs at 15 points each granting them 105 points.
- The defenders shot down all 6 attackers at 10 points each and saved 3 oil rigs at 20 points each, bringing their score to 120 points.
This is in fact just a marginal victory for the defenders; just one more oil rig destroyed or a defender plane down and the saboteurs would have reached an insurmountable draw.
IMHO, trying to concentrate on the immobile targets to land a few early hits with magnesium and drill rockets was a sound tactic for the saboteurs' initial turns. Maybe two or even four planes should have been dedicated to occupy the defenders in dogfights after a few turns. Not only would this have bettered the chances for survival of the attackers, but it would also have opened up an opportunity to garner points from defeating a light defender plane.
I'll try to replay the scenario sometime in the future, but if you get the chance to try it out, I would certainly welcome any feedback
Crimson Skies will definitely be part of next year's convention again, but hopefully the lockdown will be over in spring, so we can have a few more dogfights before that!
This report has also been posted at https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2539566/crimson-skies-phoenix-con-2020!
Feel free to head over there and give the report a thumbs up, if you like it