Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Grand Day Out with the Fleet

By a lucky twist of fate, krimso had the same week off from work that I did. We got together and decided to take our recent Aeronef efforts out for a spin.

Argentina teaches Britain to tango

krimso had recently finished some Argentine ships as documented on his blog here and I had made some additions to my British fleet as documented here.

Full Disclosure: Both of us have a spotty history with Aeronef. I painted a few British and German 'nefs about a decade ago (maybe 2006?). I played one small game with krimso, had a luke warm reaction, and pretty much got swept up into a whirlwind of other projects. About couple years ago I played a game at the GZG-ECC and there were things I liked but again, not overwhelmed.

So what's the problem? Those damn miniatures from Brigade Models! Curse you Brigade and your wild cake eating, 'nef casting ways!

Aeronef is a very basic game. All ships have generic gun dice with a uniform range of 30cm. Roll a "6" and you get a hit and a reroll for that die. Combined movement and fire proceed in speed order from slowest to fastest.

Once more into the breach, giving Aeronef a try....

On the left: the splendor, the might, the awesomeness that is Britain (played by me):

The British fleet consists of what I have painted to date: (1) Exeter (class 2M), (1) Rawalpindi (class 3M), (1) Osprey (class 5M), (3) Cossack (class 5M), and (4) Steadfast (class 5M).

And on the right: a ragtag fleet of Argentine "vessels" (played by that other guy)

krimso had been painting the Argentinian half of the Brazil/Argentina Starter Pack. On the field were: (1) Buenos Ares (class 2M), (1) Patagonia (class 3M), (3) Mendoza (class 4M), and (3) Rosales (class 5M). 

So a relatively small game with mostly small ships, but hopefully enough to give the rules another go.

Britain moved toward engagement in a loose order, hoping that would be a more responsive posture.

Argentina advanced in a much tighter formation:

As Argentina moved through the skies, there appeared to be a concentration of larger ships to one side:

So Britain decided to shift forces to port, hoping to quickly pick off some of the lighter Rosales class ships with an overwhelming show of force:

Unfortunately, Argentina's large ships focused on the smaller British vessels on the to the starboard side of the front and drew first blood. Unbeknownst to Argentina, focusing fire on the smaller ships left the larger HMS Delhi (Rawalpindi class) untouched. All part of the plan (the British admiral laughs and wrings his hands maniacally!)

In the early stages the Argentine fleet delivers withering fire; krimso often rolled four or five 6s on roughly ten d6. Below, the first casualty was British - I believe the ever steady HMS Zulu (Cossack class). Sirs, we salute you!

Meanwhile the might of Britain was stymied at every turn! Several times Britain hurled ten dice and was denied a single 6! 

But as the battle became a swirling mass, Argentina's luck began to falter and Britain, while not stellar, began to provide a "statistically acceptable performance". Britain also caught on to the fact that Britain's ships were faster but going fast had me shooting last. I slowed way down, shot sooner, and started chipping away at Argentina (we played damage was not inflicted until the end of the turn UNLESS the ship was destroyed - then it was immediately out - not sure that's right but that's how we played it.)

Agentina took out the HMS Delhi, Britain took down a Mendoza and a Rosales, and the mighty HMS Exeter was left untouched.

It was shortly after this that we called the game. the Buenos Ares and the Patagonia were very beat up, while the HMS Exeter and several of the Steadfast class vessels were untouched. I believe it was declared a marginal British victory.


Both krimso and I found the slow lead up to combat in the beginning and the swirling slugfest at the end a bit tedious. The middle third of the game with jockeying for position with pot shots across the bow was more interesting. 

krimso was also frustrated that ships of similar class had markedly different performance. That leaves us between a rock and a hard place - using the plain vanilla classes is in the basic Aeronef or trying to improve the proto point system created by Matt Hartley (available on the WGVSF yahoo group). The point system does produce some oddities, as it doesn't include torpedoes in the point cost, but does include bombs. Bombs had no influence on this basic game but did put krimso's ships at a dissadvantage - his ships had bombs (ineffectively spent points) which mine did not include.

We ended the day with krimso wanting to do a Full Thrust variant (more detailed, individual guns) while I would like to get improvement through house rules for two reason - there is some seeds in here I really enjoy, and I also own the rules and miniatures for Wessex's companion land game Land Ironclads. I'm keen on a combined game! One of the common house rules I see on the web is to add a close range, either half or one third of full range, and to either hit on a 5 & a 6, only sixes reroll, or 5s an 6s reroll but only 6s yield a hit.

So for me, the pros and cons of Aeronef are:
  • PROS
    • I like the "fist full of dice" approach. It's low key.
    • I like the simple ship displays and simple order writing (just note speed, no plotting a path)
    • National flavor provided by Brigade Models
    • Altitude is not in the game, and I think that's fine. Though I do really like it in "Cover Your 6", so maybe I will change my mind on this...
    • A chance to play with Brigade's 'nefs
  • CON
    • First pass point system written several years ago with no further revision - idiosyncratic results. Yeah, I know it's a draft but I really like point systems.
    • Haven't quite figured out the relationship between construction points and the point system. There may be no relationship. One or both may be a bit wonky. I'd like to see it revised.
    • There is often a disconnect between how a model looks and it's effectiveness. 


  1. Nice write-up Martin. I'd have to say that despite the concerns we have about the rules it was great fun to get the nefs out and play some. I feel that the Aeronef rules are ok. I do like the simplicity to some extent but would enjoy tweaking things. I see utilizing the movement and order writing rules with some adaptations to the combat system. Primarily, as noted above, I'd like to see the guns modeled on the ships be represented in the ship displays and use range bands for firing (ala FT).

    1. I would like to try it once more with only the short range house rule, perhaps point calculations without bombs, or play a scenario where bombs are relevant. Aeronef really is a scenario based ruleset, not point based, and we ought to give one a go. A head on smash was a good starting place but time to move on. I feel individual guns ala FT will slow things down too much and will be playing a space game just using "something else". Though it could be well argued when we play FT we are really playing a naval game dressed up with space ships (at least in cinematic).