Worked up a final playtest this week that was played at Lard Island. It was a bit experimental because I wanted to know how big a game we could squeeze into a two hour slot. The game was set against the background of the Coral Sea campaign, and pitched a Japanese air strike against a US Yorktown class carrier, with a weakened escort of just four destroyers. The bulk of the US air strength was off on a simultaneous raid on the IJN fleet so the US players were left with a relatively light CAP. The relative strengths were as follows:
IJN Soryu attack force:
9 x Zero fighters
18 x Val dive bombers
6 x Kate Torpedo planes
USS Numnutz force
4 x Douglas SBD Dauntless on anti-torpedo plane patrol
4 x F4F-3 wildcats airborne on combat air patrol.
4 x large escort destroyers.
8 x F4F-3 on deck scramble.
The Japanese plan of attack was to split their dive bombers into two groups of 9. The first group was briefed to attack the destroyer escorts and suppress flak whilst the second group went for the carrier. The overall commander would come in last with the torpedo bomberts to deliver the coup de grace. The three shotai of zeros were to fly top cover.
Using radar, the USS Numnutz directed the patrolling aircraft onto the incoming japs, and the game started with the dauntlesses spotting the dive bombers. The SBD's, deployed in two pairs, climbed boldly to the rescue, but before they were able to make an impact the zeros, boasting three junior aces in the 9 aircraft deployed, exerted their superior influence and two of the scout planes were taken out (one exploding and the other suffering catastrophic structural failure from which the crew were unable to bail out.
Making use of whatever bonus cards they could, the Vals closed in on the closest escort destroyer, and although one was lost to flak, the ship suffered a near miss which proved sufficient to buckle her hull and she was forced to come to a halt.
In the meantime the Numnutz had put her head to the wind and launched 8 wildcats into the fray. These began mixing it with the Vals, but the interfering zeros protected the dive bombers well. Another destroyer was attacked by the Vals, but without effect and flak claimed another victim.
By now the skies were a swirling melee. The mainly veteran japanese crews holding their formations well amidst US attempts to break them up.
At this point time caught up with us and we ended the game. Reading back it may seem that we didn't get that far, but considering we spent time explaining various aspects of the new rules the consensus was that we had achieved a good deal.
So now it's final edits, adding examples, final artwork and we're done.