One of the reasons for choosing Bag the Hun (BtH) as the rule system is that it uses a card deck for turn sequence meaning it’s ideally suited to solo play.
In the case of the scenario of a attack on a combat box of B-17s there’s not much choice in terms of actions:
- The B-17s will fly straight and level in formation and shoot at any available target that comes into range.
- The FW 190s will close in on the B-17s and try and shoot at any available target once they are in range.
Given the very restricted nature of this scenario there will be a number of cards that are normally included that we can discount:
- Bogeys: This encounter takes place between two large formations within visual range so there will be no unspotted aircraft to represent.
- Altitude bonus: This encounter takes place within one altitude band so there will never be a formation at a higher altitude.
- Bail out: This is a one-off encounter so there is no need to track crew survival.
- The Blank card: The purpose of this card is to mark scenario specific events and, in this case, there are none.
In BtH cards for movement and shooting are allocated on a formation basis: one each for each formation. Normally formations are considered to be in the region of three or four aircraft but in this scenario we have two special case formations – the B-17 combat box and the FW 190 Sturmgruppe – both of 12 aircraft. Let’s look at these individually:
B-17 Combat Box
Whilst the combat box consists of four flights of three aircraft, the 12 aircraft formation is the be-all-and-end-all of the B-17s – so much so that forcing an aircraft out of formation (Herausschuss) was the primary goal of the FW 190s. So, in this scenario, the box will never break down into individual flights meaning only one formation move card is needed.
When it comes to shooting, the B-17s don’t have any pilot controlled guns so they don’t need a formation shoot card. The B-17s will therefore be entirely reliant on air gunner cards which are allocated at the rate of one per four aircraft (rounded up). With a starting compliment of 12 aircraft that gives three air gunner cards.
Normally each side would receive a formation bonus move card but, as the B-17s are size six aircraft they cannot use this card so it won’t be included.
FW 190 Sturmgruppe
The Sturmgruppe would approach the combat box in a single line abreast formation before, as late as possible, breaking up to attack the individual flights of the combat box. As the basic formation of the Luftwaffe was the four aircraft Schwarm three formation move cards are needed. Following the formation rules in BtH this means the Sturmgruppe can move as a single formation on Schwarm one’s move card and ignore Schwarm two and three’s move cards until such time as they choose to break formation. (This break formation could be handled with a scenario specific card but this keeps it simple and gives the FW 190s the edge in terms of tactical manoeuvrability which is appropriate.)
As the FW 190 has pilot controlled guns, each formation will need a shoot card meaning three formation shoot cards are needed – matching the move cards.
There will be one formation move card for the FW 190s.
Whilst this may well be adjusted later based on experience, the starting card deck will be:
- B-17 combat box move
- B-17 gunners fire
- B-17 gunners fire
- B-17 gunners fire
- FW 190 Schwarm one move
- FW 190 Schwarm one fire
- FW 190 Schwarm two move
- FW 190 Schwarm two fire
- FW 190 Schwarm three move
- FW 190 Schwarm three fire
- FW 190 formation bonus move
As a thought exercise this seems right: the FW 190s have the tactical advantage in terms of manoeuvrability but the B-17s will still get plenty of chances to return fire. (The way the rules work, it will only be a shot at a single FW 190 with each card but, with the combined bonuses granted by the interlocking fields of fire of a combat box, it’s got a very good chance of doing serious damage.)