Adlerangriff – Manual Real Time Game – onside by Jim Wallman
Adlerangriff was a design session for a manual real time Battle of Britain game run by Jim Wallman at the CLWG Conference in October 2016. Adlerangriff being the German name for the operation that we call the Battle of Britain.
Onside Report of Adlerangriff by Jim Wallman
Following one of ‘those conversations’ with Rob Cooper a few months ago, I drafted out a potential way of running a game about a day in the life of the Battle of Britain but not using computers, and being played in real time – that is one minute of game play represents one minute of game time.
Naturally – this was something I wanted to bring to the CLWG Conference 2016 because there were quite a few design issues I was unsure about and because it is such a good way of stress-testing madcap game design schemes.
The last time we did this was for Andy Grainger’s Battle of Britain megagame in 1990. And even back then we were using two computers (PCW8512) to plot and report on the bomber streams in real time. So, 26 years on, I wanted to replicate at least some of the tension of that experience, but without needing computers to process the game. The new approach has, necessarily, needed a number of compromises in the design. This version uses hexes (provisionally around 15km accross), and game turns rather than clock time. Each game turn represents 10 minutes, and is allowed 10 minutes to play it out, including map resolution and reporting. I won’t go into how fighter command managed itself, or even a campaign history – take a look at this documentary for an excellent rapid (well 2 hours) overview.
Adlerangriff – the Design Session
Each game turn would have to have a rapid update for the RAF players of the estimated location, strength and height of enemy bombers or fighters. RAF Sectors would have a plotting table, and a chart for tracking fighter turnaround / repair.
The Adlerangriff design session was very fruitful. We talked about ways of ensuring the control team can update the situation quickly. Interestingly having talked through all sorts of technoloical approaches – having someone reading out radar / observer corps returns seemed to be the best way of ensuring all the player teams got the required information. Pretty much the same way it was done in 1940!
We looked at the question of open vs closed – it has to be closed.
We looked at team structure – it looks like the optimum for a sector team is 4. Inter-team (and sector to group) communications is done by player visiting other tables – or by using their mobile.
The basic sector team has four roles:
- a commander,
- a map plotter,
- a squadron leader, and
- a communicator.
Still a question mark over the role of the squadron leader. In the original game, there were semi-control roles called ‘squadronaires’ who made tactical descisions around the location and close intercept part of the game. In the new version we felt that this need not be a part of the player role. However there is a task of keeping Control updated very quickly on the suqadron orders each turn. I envisaged a giant display board where control (and the other players) can easily see it where a player from each team posts up squadron large-print orders each turn. Someone suggested hymn-boards :-).
Also different from the original BOB game is the introduction of a German player role, probably at the Luftflotte level. Because the game would be a continual run of 5 hours of the campaign there may be a role for German fighter ops. Particularly where there is a fighter sweep, and also turnaround and maintenance issues. And at the top level planning the missions (though that role loses its importance by about halfway through).
A very good design session – really rounded out these issues and finished up with something that could easily be played out as a club game for about a dozen players. Certainly that would be the next step so far as I’m concerned.
There was several ‘moving parts’ to this design that need to be set in motion to get a sense of how they will work. So – looking forward to a proper run through of Adlerangriff next April at the CLWG Games Weekend – come along and give it a try!