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Target Locked On! - New modern air combat wargame rules by Rory Crabb

Well, 2016 was not really the wargaming haven I was looking for, but with any luck I can turn that around in 2017.

One of the things I actually hope to do a bit more of is modern air combat games.

 It must have been 2011 when I last played a game of this nature, for I remember showing my Wife's family in Japan the blog post I made on the painted planes, as wargaming is not a common hobby in Japan.

 Back then I was playing Airwar C21, and I liked the rules, but I never really did much about them.

 Fast track to 2016, and in September a new set of rules called 'Target Locked On! was released, and I asked a question about the rules on TMP, but never did much about it.

image a direct link from the authors blog: https://rorycrabb.wordpress.com/target-locked-on/

 I also recently asked Mr Crabb a question on Facebook about the rules, but ended up buying the rules before a reply came in.

I was surprised at how simple the rules were, yet how much 'flavour' for modern combat came out in the rules.

 So, here is my initial review of the game, with hopefully a simple game play review to follow:

The game is designed for 1/300 or 1/600 miniatures, and can be played in a 4' x 4' area. As my planes have magnets on them for use on flight stands, I am thinking of using a white board as the playing surface so that I can save a bit of room.

The game uses d6, and this includes using some as altitude markers to help with game play.

There are only a few stats/characteristics for each aircraft which cover how they handle. One thing I do like is that each plane has a Fuel rating, which means games will be limited in how long combatants can remain during a game.

Game play is easy, and divided in to three phases: Reaction; which determines who moves first, Activation; each plane performs actions or actions in order according to the Reaction, and Morale:
rather than letting players fight to the bitter end, this phase determines if a pilot will continue the battle or not.

When activated, each pilot is allowed one manoeuvre without needing to make a pilot skill check. A player can then attempt to push the pilot by making pilot skill checks. Once a check has failed, then that particular pilot's turn ends and the next pilot is activated.

Manoeuvres in the game are limited to a handful compared to modern fighter combat, but it wouldn't be too hard to add extra manoeuvres, or treat the ones in the rules as some of those employed by today's pilots.

Combat is a d6 roll with modifiers vs a target number, and includes the used of countermeansures.

Included in the game are also rules for ground attacks and weather conditions, as well as a number of scenarios.

Pilots are ranked from Rookie to Ace, and have a point system for game purposes accordingly, as do the planes themselves.  Normally I am against point systems for games, but this one isn't the type you would be able to min-max as it actually works to have players using less planes rather than put together a massive unbeatable force.

For example, an F-16 with an Ace pilot will cost a player 140 points, which could be half of your points for a game. This seems fair enough to me, as it lets players put a lead plane and wingman for smaller games, and Flights for slightly larger point value games.

The initial number of planes covered in the rule book might be seem a bit limited -  there are US, UK, Russian and French planes listed, but there is already a free download on the Author's web side that includes more planes.

 And... if you ask very nicely, Mr Crabb may even come up with some stats for the planes you need stats for. I am hoping for some Chinese and Japanese stats for the 'what if' game I came up with back in 2011.

At the back of the rules are the record sheets for your planes, and the quick reference sheet. With both of these being used during game play, I feel confident that you wouldn't need to look in the rule book too much after a game or two.

What the game doesn't include are rules for solo or campaign play.

This isn't too much of a problem, as the reaction and morale rules are perfect for solo play - one just needs to play each plane one at a time and work out the results.

As for campaign play, it wouldn't be too hard to come up with a promotion system for Rookies to advance to Aces, or a system for resting pilots and making repairs for damage aircraft.

This concludes my initial review of the rules.

I intend to play a patrol scenario with two planes aside as a secondary review very soon.

           Buy the rules on Wargames Vault

           The Author's web site with downloads

          A page on Air to Air tactics

         A page on fighter formations

         And this page lets you view each Nation's order of battle, plane stats and markings: link


Clint said...

I have heard of them but not tried them.

Simon Quinton said...

Sounds good look forward to part 2. Like the white board idea as well brilliant!