Into the Wild Blue Yonder (Part Six): Operations and Progressive Campaigns

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Besides the seven Land campaigns described last time, Wild Blue Yonder includes two Operations, three Progressive campaigns, and a solitaire campaign.

Operations include one or more missions, often with a fixed order of battle.  They can be played as stand-alone campaigns, and also replace one of the “regular” missions when called for in a Land Campaign.

Into the Wild Blue Yonder (Part Five): Land Campaigns

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In order to distinguish the traditional Down in Flames campaigns that first appeared in Rise of the Luftwaffe from later systems such as the Operations that debuted in Eighth Air Force, the Carrier Campaigns of Zero!, and the progressive Guadalcanal campaign of Corsairs & Hellcats, we’re calling them “Land Campaigns.”  Fully half of the campaigns in Wild Blue Yonder (7 of 13) are of this type, and every one has at least two stages to enhance variety.  Each features a set number of randomly-determined historical Missions in which players select Resources to support assigned Mission aircraft.  The outcome of each Mission does not affect later Missions.

Into the Wild Blue Yonder: Campaign Rules, Part 2

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This time I’ll address how strike missions have changed in WBY, which is where the most notable differences from the previous rules are.  Most of the changes have one or two main purposes.

Over the years, many players have noted that the Bomber most definitely does not “always get through,” and even less frequently gets home.  This is particularly true for early war Medium Bombers with their feeble Turret Support ratings.  So a number of changes have been made to make bombers at least a little more survivable.

Into the Wild Blue Yonder: Campaign Rules, Part 1

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The Zero! and Corsairs & Hellcats rules with errata incorporated also formed the basis for the Campaign Rules in WBY.  Unlike the Dogfight Rules, though, there have been a lot of changes.  In this article, I’ll describe some of general application.

Sequence of Play

The Campaign Sequence of Play adds two steps, but like the Dogfight Rules “additions,” these aren’t really anything you haven’t seen before.  The first step is now a Search Step, which incorporates the procedure for Night Fighters searching “at the beginning of their turns.”  Obviously, you skip this step unless it’s a Fighter’s turn in a night mission.  Bringing up the rear is a Final Step, which is unique in that it occurs only once per Game-Turn, after all Player-Turns are complete.  Here, too, nothing “new” happens; it provides sequencing for all those pesky mechanisms like formation aircraft disengagement and bombing, Area Flak, and Fuel Disengagement that occur “at the end of the turn.”

Sections

Rules for 3-plane Sections have been added to more accurately show how most air forces fought at the beginning of the war.  It’s a tricky balancing act to ensure that having 50% more aircraft in a flight is actually NOT an advantage in most circumstances.  The gist of the rule is that the Leader-Wingman mechanism remains unchanged, but a Section’s Wingman draws one ADDITIONAL card when attacking a Formation and one LESS when attacked by an enemy Fighter.  Rather than removing an aircraft card when an aircraft is shot down, the Section marker is removed instead to transform the Section into a regular Element.  So in essence, the Section will perform a little better against Medium and Heavy Bombers, but will take heavier losses from enemy Fighters.

For simplicity and ease of play, the Section rules apply only where one side flies in 3-plane sections while the other flies in pairs.  This is the case in the Battle of Britain and Barbarossa campaigns in WBY.  Malta is proving difficult; if anyone knows when the British and Italians switched to 2-plane tactical units there, please e-mail this information and your sources to me directly.

Special Ratings

Three new Special Ratings applicable only in campaigns have been added.

Dive Brakes – While simple, just rating the Ju88 for Dive Bombing rather than Saturation Bombing gave it an advantage against a wide range of targets which it didn’t deserve.  Changing to a Dive Brakes Special Rating allows us to restrict the Dive Bombing ability to only realistic circumstances.

Oblique Guns – This rating may be used by Night Fighters equipped with Schrãge Musik or similar installations to attack bombers with a smaller mini-hand but without a Burst limit and against a reduced Turret Defense.  Turret Fighters are also given this rating.

Slow – A handful of Fighters and Light Bombers use a value less than the default of 6 for their Speed when calculating mission duration.  When the number of campaigns with a special rule for this grew, it became easier to include it as a new Special Rating instead.

Loaded Aircraft

As a visual cue so you don’t have to remember which Action cards you can’t play while loaded, those cards will now have a symbol on them to remind you.

Also, now that each side has a larger deck, much of the reason to deny loaded Leaders their hands of cards until they need them is gone.  Leaders loaded with ordnance will draw initial hands at the beginning of the game like everyone else, but with a catch:  you place their hands face down under the aircraft cards without looking at them!  As a disincentive to turn fighter-bombers into fighters (“Hey, I’ve got the Ace Pilot/Fuel Tank killer combo!”), you can neither look at the cards nor discard until you’re attacked or drop or jettison your weapons.

Skilled Aircrews

All skills now benefit Wingmen as well as Leaders, and five skills have been added or enhanced:

Combat Vision – Now, if either the Leader or a Wingman in an Element or Section has this skill, you get the hand redraw benefit.  The thinking here is that if a Wingman spots the enemy early, he very quickly draws his Leader’s attention and the Leader would be able to act accordingly.  Also, this skill increases the Night Combat rating by +1 during a night mission.

Leadership – This new skill gives all aircraft present of the same type as the pilot’s a favorable row shift when disengaging.  It also allows an additional Element to be scheduled for entry on the same Turn in the large 8th Air Force missions.  These benefits represent the abilities of pilots who showed themselves capable of leading large formations in superior fashion (e.g., Blakeslee or Lützow)

Nerves of Steel – May now apply to Fighter-Bomber and Light Bomber pilots as well as Medium and Heavy Bomber crews.

Radar Operator – Similar to Combat Vision but only useful at night, this new skill increases the Night Combat rating by +1.

Veteran – Long used in “Big Missions” and by Mike Lam in his contests at conventions, this new skill allows the pilot to treat any single card played as either a Barrel Roll or a Tight Turn once during each mission – sort of a poor man’s version of the Ace Pilot skill.

In a campaign, all Fighter types will have a generic Veteran pilot available, even if no named pilots are listed for that type.  Bombers also frequently will have generic skilled crews available rather than just specific named bomber crews.

Next time I’ll address the changes to the Campaign rules from those previously published, which are rather more extensive.


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Into the Wild Blue Yonder (Part Two): Dogfight Rules and Action Decks

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As alluded to in the last article, there are no changes to the basic dogfighting rules from those that have grown familiar in the last 20+ years, just additions.  The Zero! rules with errata incorporated formed the basis.  A few concepts introduced in C3i magazine and Squadron Pack #1 have been included, as have the rules for jets, but the mechanics remain exactly the same.

The only significant change is the introduction of four new types of Action card:

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

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When it comes to shilling, not only am I not in the same league as Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, I don’t even play the same sport!  But despite the lack of news, there has been substantial progress on Wild Blue Yonder  during the past few years.  A major proportion of the project has been designing and testing the campaigns to ensure that the right mix of aircraft cards is included in the game.  That process is far enough along that we can now show you a final list of the aircraft that will be included.