Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Battle of Britain and Civil Air Patrol

I see that it has been over a year since I last made a new post to this blog. While I had such good intentions of working last winter on catching up on my backlog of post that I wanted to share on my gaming life once again got in the way.

Last January I became the Aerospace Education Officer (AEO) for the local Civil Air Patrol squadron. From high school through my college years I was a member of CAP both as a cadet (for those of you who know about CAP I received both the Mitchell and Earhart awards), and then a senior member. For I number of years now I have been an Aerospace Education Member, but when the local squadron changed their meeting nights I was able to attend. I found that they needed an AEO, and with my background in CAP, science and education they were excited to have me. So instead of spending 2017 gaming I worked on lesson plans, building science equipment, and teaching classes on rocketry, hydraulics, astronomy, and aviation. It's been a lot of fun; I have a large group (31 cadets currently), of very intelligent, well behaved cadets who are interested in learning what I am teaching. Certainly different than teaching in the public schools - more like homeschooling my daughter, Maggie Reitz-Wells.

Of course I have had the chance to use games in the program. This past summer I built a simulation of the Battle of Britain. I started with Avalon Hill's classic London Burning. While this is primarily a solo game, I have found that solo games are easier to adapt to large groups than a game designed for multiple players. By the time I was done the game was able to accommodate 28 players. 

The game is composed of two parts, a strategic board of southern Britain (based on the original AH board), with 2-inch hexes, and a tactical air combat board with 4-inch hexes.  The boards are of felt with features painted on, and defensive installations (Chain Home stations, AA emplacements and barrage balloons), made of paper for a 3D effect.  The aircraft are also paper models of Spitfires, Hurricanes, ME 109's, and HE 111's. 

Each side was commanded by an air marshal. The German air marshal's task was to pick the bombing targets and assign aircraft for each mission - a mix of bombers and fighters. He then handed the target selection over to his navigation officer who plotted the course, being careful to avoid AA batteries and keep the flight as short as possible. The British air marshal decided which of his squadrons would be on patrol or standby and at which airbase. The British defense minister controlled the placement of defensive installations and handle the budget for repairs of civilian targets and aircraft.

The British defenses where composed of six squadrons. Each squadron was commanded by a cadet who's job was to intercept the attacking German aircraft. One released by their air marshal they needed to plot their intercept course, decide if they would wait for support, and then whether they would attack bombers or fighters. 

The German pilots represented both bombers and fighters. The cadets controlling the bombers needed to decide their formation to best defend each other, while the fighter pilots needed to decide if they would intercept fighters or defend bombers. 

I began the evening with a brief overview of the Battle of Britain, but used situations during the simulation to point out actual historical events. It made the lesson much more fun. As it so happened this class occurred on the night before the release of Dunkirk; a nice tie-in.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Deluxe Avalon Hill's Midway

While I may not have been doing a lot of gaming this past year, I was keeping busy. I had a number of game related projects to keep me busy during last winter through early spring. One was to reduce my huge collection of games to a more manageable size; between giving games to family and friends, donating and selling, I am down to about a quarter of what it was last January. Another goal was to refrain from purchasing any new games with the exception of expansions to games I really enjoy and already own (not an easy goal, but one I was able accomplish in-spite of attending Origins.) Finally I looked at the games I really love and chose ones I thought needed a make-over like I had previously done with Victory In the Pacific, and Liftoff!.

One of the games that fell into this category was Avalon Hill's classic Midway. When I start redoing a game I try to keep the enlarged board to the same size as my other redone games. That way they fit on my game table and I can use the Plexiglas sheets I already have. So the battle board is 24" X 48". The spaces on the board were made so that I could use Topside Minis wonderful full color wooden ship counters.The only problem is that two of the ships for the Japanese force weren't part of their ship collection, but after contacting them about the project Topside quickly produced them for me.

The search boards are 11" X 17" and laminated. The spaces are 1/2" inch squares - much like the original game. Rather than have counters the same size as the originals with the difficulty of reading them and picking them up on the board, I went with 1/2" cubes for tasks forces. So now instead of placing a stack on ships on a square of the search board, they are grouped by task forces - only one counter is moved. Shielding each search board is a task force board. 

The tasks force boards are metal sheeting covered with laminated artwork. A number of task force boxes and handy game tables are on them. Wooden counter with magnets on the back represent each ship in the game. The metal sheets are mounted on wood with removable legs for storage.

For the aircraft I made cards for each aircraft carrier (again laminated). The aircraft markers are 1" wooden squares. Easy to move around the ship cards to show their ready conditions, and then placed on the battle board for combat.

In addition I made a pad of record sheets, a storage box for counters, reprinted the rules, and made a custom game box.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I'm Back! + New Board For Operation: Starfleet Command

Sorry to all of you who have been looking for this blog over the past year. I know a lot of you have been trying to contact me through various means including Boardgamegeek. Due to family difficulties which are of no importance or concern to anyone - certainly not on a blog - I took the blog down. But now it is back up, so the various gaming files are once again available. 

For those of you who have been asking about my Operation: Starfleet Command game; yes it is still a work in progress. Here is the link to my latest version of the board. I have combined the construction area of the Battleboard with the main game board by moving the space docks to it. I am working on a new Battleboard which will be smaller than the original. I'll post it as soon as I have it ready.

Thanks for your patience. 

For those new to the game, you can find the rules, counters, and extras under the label Operation Star Fleet Command.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Liftoff! Deluxe Update

For those of you who have been following this blog, you know that I made my deluxe version of Fritz Bronner's Liftoff! game sometime ago. Actually, I never really had the game to the point that I was completely happy with it. The look and feel of it was great, but there where still a few things I wanted to add to it; the biggest improvement was to add another player. So finishing it was one of my goals this year.

My first step was to add a fourth player. A big help with this was addition of female characters to the Kerbal Space Program. Now I felt that I could make the Kermans the additional player. I split the science fiction space program off from the Kerbal program (the SF astronauts from the Kerbal equipment). Now the Kerbal equipment has Kebalnauts, and the SF astronauts have pieces of equipment from different television shows and movies. I had the new card sets printed on linen stock as my earlier cards sets were.

You can find the complete set of cards here: 

The game board also needed tweaking - I had found a few mistakes, and I also wanted the year spaces to have both a first and second half since that is usually how we play it. I then had the board professionally printed and laminated.

The board is here: Deluxe Liftoff! Board.

With the addition of the fourth player and the updating of the board, I also needed new markers. These were printed on sticker paper and mounted on wooden tiles.

Liftoff! R&D Markers.

For ease of play I designed play mats. These have spaces for each launch facility, purchased components, and a player's current astronaut corp. These I also had printed and laminated.

Liftoff! Player Mat

Then there where all the little things: a new plastic storage box for all the markers and Lego pieces, dice for each player in matching colors, storage for cards and money, and a custom game box. I already had the money printed, Event and US/USSR card sets, Mission Event book (Failure Tables), and Lego parts.

Other Components

For those of you who have a copy of Liftoff!, feel free to add any and all of these components to tweak your game. One of the reasons that I don't include the files for the Mission Event Book (Failure Tables), is that these are a key component of the game along with the rule book; and since Liftoff! is still available from Mr. Bronner, those of you who want to play the game will need to purchase a copy from him first. A good way to contact him is through Boardgamegeek.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Victory In the Pacific Redo Update

One of the goals I set for myself this year was not to buy any new games (that doesn't count expansions to any of the games that I already own), and to finish working on many of my current game projects. So far I've managed to keep to that promise. Of course not being able to attend Origins or GenCon this year really helped.

Finally finishing my deluxe version of Victory In the Pacific was one of my projects. Yes, I had the counters, Order of Battle cards, and the map mostly to the point that I was happy with them, but not quite. After playing it many times I felt that my deluxe map needed tweaking. The fleet sections just weren't being used enough to justify the space; and while the battle board was a nice idea it took up too much space on the table and the location of the ports and bases was awkward for play. So I removed the fleet spaces from the main board, and replaced them with areas for the ports and bases. The battle board I replaced with a felt covered MDF board with stenciling - works great for play and dice rolling. 

I had the final board printed in one sheet and laminated, got a larger storage box for all the counters, and made a custom box. 

I think it look great.

So one game project finished. 

The redone game board is here.

You can find the files for the counters, information cards, and the original board and battle board here:
Original Board
Counters & Extras

Friday, April 10, 2015

Higher Resolution Game Boards

I have had a number of request for higher resolution files of my Victory In the Pacific and Operation:Starfleet Command game boards. So here they are. Be aware that these are large files and will take a while to download. Also, Operation: Starfleet Command is still a work in progress, which means that I don't recommend investing a lot of money into having it printed since the board is likely to change again. I have just printed it in sections on my printer and taped the parts together.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Operation: Star Fleet Command - Update version 1.3

After a number of plays and feedback from players I have made a few changes to Operation: Star Fleet Command (OSFC). 

The first is to the Federation Order of Appearance. It seems that last one made the Federation too weak at the beginning. So there is a slight increase in forces, but not as much as earlier versions.

There has been a clarification to the Orion Pirates. Only one pirate force may be placed in any one sector. They aren't to be a fleet in themselves.

The biggest change has been to restrict the movement of the Klingon and Romulan forces at the beginning of the game. As the rules were they could invade the Federation on the first turn at full strength and win the game in one or two turns. This didn't really give the feel of tension I wanted the game to have in the first few rounds. In the Star Trek universe the presence of the Organian kept the Klingon and Federation from going to war. It was risky to cross the neutral zone. In OSFC, the premise is that the Organian are gone (used in a number of Star Trek based games, book, and shows to allow a war to happen). The Klingons must test this before committing their forces, so they may only send raiding parties across the boarder at first.  

While the Romulans are not bound by the Organian Peace Treaty their nature is usually depicted as sneaky, thus the cloaking device. As is shown in The Balance of Terror, the Romulans are first testing the cloaking device with a limited attack on Federation space before committing to all out war. So now the Romulan player must first make a successful raid before launching patrols into the Federation.
So far these change seem to make the game more playable; making attacks on Tholian, Gorn, and border territories for economic gain early in the game more inviting. Giving the Federation time to move force to the front. 

Gives these a try and let me know what you think.

I am considering looking into making a page on Board Game Geek for this game. I'll keep you posted.