Thursday, April 1, 2010

Check Your 6! Review

Check Your 6! is a popular set of rules for refighting World War II dogfights published by Skirmish Campaigns.

Let me start off by disclosing that my copy was a review copy sent to me by my friend Mark Fastoso, who designed the Flying Tigers mini-campaign included in the core rules as well as the Guadalcanal: Cactus Air Force expansion book.

The fundamental design principle in Check Your 6! is that it's the man who counts most, not the aircraft, so the game emphasizes the effect of pilot quality more than the attributes of the planes, although it doesn't ignore those characteristics, either.

Pilots are rated, in increasing order of effectiveness, green, skilled, veteran or ace. Better pilot quality provides at least a three-fold advantage.

Most importantly, the less-effective pilots are forced to move before the better pilots, for an obvious edge to the better men. In addition, the difference in pilot quality (green is 0, skilled is +1, veteran is +2 and ace is +3) becomes a combat modifier, both offensively and defensively. Finally, better quality pilots can modify their planned moves, which plays into the initiative advantage mentioned earlier.

The other interesting concept in Check Your 6! is that dogfights generally took place within a fairly restricted amount of airspace, with planes that left that box basically removing themselves from the fight. This sounds historically plausible and it's a good rule to keep scenarios well bounded.

The basic game mechanics are pretty straightforward, with planes plotting their moves ona hex grid from a menu of options depending upon agility and speed. Planes roll 2 d6 to hit, modified for geometry, pilot skill, distance and other factors. Once hit, damage is determined by rolling dice based on the type of weapon firing. Each machine gan, for example, rolls a D6 while each cannon rolls a D10. Finally, the toughness of the target may allow it to make a saving roll that cancels the damage.

It all moves smoothly and quickly enough that novice players can easily handle 3-4 aircraft each and experienced players can control dozens. Some of the scenarios are quite large, with 20+ aircraft.

There's a minimum of special equipment required. Special stands can be purchased to track speed and altitude, but because each is tracked on a 1-6 scale you can also use dice instead.

I like the rules because they're easily adapted for use with my aircraft from Axis & Allies Miniatures, but it also makes a good convention game. Like many other recent wargames, the Check Your 6! books are also interesting histories in their own right, illustrating many little-known aspects of World War II in the air.

Overall I highly recommend these rules.

1 comment:

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