I introduced Sheer to more joys of wargaming, with a game of Flight Leader. Peleg, who had played this once before, a long, long, time ago, joined in, and I let them form a team with their four Harriers up against my four MiGs. In case you hadn’t already gathered, Flight Leader is a game about modern jet combat. It’s at the lower end of complexity, designed by Gary Morgan and published by the sadly now defunct Avalon Hill. It has one of my favorite maps. Yes, the terrain has absolutely no effect in most games, unless you intend flying too close to the ground. But it is still a nice map.
The challenge in this type of game is rendering a three dimensional event in two dimensions. And having the players understand what is going on. For example, Peleg said that he was much more at home because it was his second game. However, Sheer seemed to struggle at first, but did certainly get the hang of things as the game progressed.
We played the basic game which as the advantage of being accessible. It also has the disadvantage of only dealing with gun and machine gym combat. Since that requires the firing jet to be in an adjacent hex (only) to its target, and at no more than one level of altitude difference, it is much harder than it would be if we had used missiles. In other words, the basic game is hard! I tried to compensate by keeping my four planes in a static formation, so that Team Shpeleg would find it easier. They didn’t take the hint until I had shot one of their aircraft down. Then they understood, and promptly shot down two of mine.
The game has one major weakness: it is too easy for a player whose jet is being pursued, to circle round and end up tailing his former pursuer. This is because movement is staggered according to initiative, and is not simultaneous. There is an optional rule (or two) that solves this, but you need to play the advanced game with it, and it does – of course – slow play down.
We had to call the game due to time constraints, agreeing on an honorable draw. I doubt we will play it again, but as we briefly discussed on the night, part of developing your gaming experience is going through such games to know what it is you do not like. We all enjoyed it, though, and had many laughs. Especially when it came to killing each other! Great fun. I so would like to try out the advanced game.