Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blowing up Russians to the music of Queen

Harriers roaring down the valley

I'd been working on this game for a little while and I'm glad to say it went down very well at Hobocon.  The game itself was identical to BUT LEGALLY DISTINCT from Andy Chambers old Games Workshop game "Bomberz ova da Sulpha Riva". This was essentially the Dambusters, but with Space Orks as the RAF and Imperials as the Germans. It's a good, solid, albeit very simple game, that involves gambling on the results of two dice rolls each turn and moving your fighter accordingly. But for uncomplicated fun, I think its hard to beat.  The game can accomodate 1-5 players and lasts between twenty and twenty five minutes. 

Crash! A Harrier collides with an electricity pylon

In my version, the players took on the roles of pilots in 266 Squadron flying Harrier jumpjets against the Russian hordes poring across the North German plain. The Soviet players picked six cards from a hard of twelve and assigned two to each sector.  These cards remained hidden until the Soviet player revealed them or the RAF player flew over them.  The defences were Shilka AA batteries, SAM sites and AA guns, which one needed to be moving fast to avoid, and Electricity Pylon, which one needed to be moving slowly to avoid. The Soviet player also had some Hind helicopters, which were mechanically similar to the Harriers. 

Hokum I know, but it made for an enjoyable game. 

This made up most of the musical accompaniment

It must be said that when I arrived at the convention the game had a different name that made mention of the 3rd Shock Army and a bunch of other Cold War references that no-one quite understood. I had however brought along a CD player and some Queen CDs (mainly because Mrs. Kinch had tidied, nay hidden, my Clash stuff) and these turned out to be very popular. The two albums were Jazz and A Night at the Opera, both of which are fairly in period for 1979. 

I discovered that accosting random players with "Would you like to play a game about blowing up Russians to the music of Queen?" was a much easier sell than "Would you like to play a game about trying to conduct airstrikes on the 3rd Shock armies artillery reserve?"

Our gallant lads

I managed to run the game seven times over the course of five and a half hours. Our initial crew were Wing Commander Fatzington, Flight Officer Gundam, Flight Lt. Douglas and Air Marshall Du Gourmand. 

Keep it together Gundam!

These gallant lads managed to scrape a win despite, ahem, rugged individualism and nothing approaching team work. This was mainly due to Fatzington rolling dice that were subsequently burned at the stake for suspected witchcraft. 

Having cut down one Hind (seen going down in flames in the back ground) 

Flight Lt. Ash was the highest scoring lady ace of the day.  The Harriers could only move in the clear hexes on the table, so most of what you see in on the board is set dressing and is just there to indicate to the players the "railway" that they have to travel down.  In the original game, the Orks had to blow up Imperial bridges, but I had two 2SU mobile artillery pieces that served as objectives and they did fine. 

A big nasty furball

On the whole, I think the game was a success. From the point of view of quick playtime and number of players that actually played it, it certainly was. It looked nice and the mechanics held up despite Games Workshop removing the free PDF from their website a month before the game.  This did mean that I had to cobble a rulesheet together from memory, but it was none the worse for it. 

Magniminous in victory as always

It did mean that Fatzington returned to the game when he discovered that Ash had beaten his high score. Though truth be told, the top ranking Ace of the day was Billy, who played the game solo against me and brought such shabby Nazi tricks as tactics and concentration of effort to the game. It was observed that the game was actually easier without a group of players that had to be co-ordinated. The music was also a definite draw. 

Perhaps a later iteration of the game will involve a jukebox element - each target that the players blow up, they can change the song on the CD player from a previously approved selection of Blondie, the Clash, Queen, Abba, etc. 


  1. As clever as a chap with two heads and twice as much fun. I would have preferred blowing up the Russkies to the strains of the Clash (Ivan meets GI Joe, natch) but Queen is kulturny enough.
    I'm not surprised your players had fun.

    1. I'll be damned. A Clash song that I'd never heard.

      Thanks Mike.

  2. Looks like fun was had. Maybe even some joy and forgetfulness.

  3. Just a spot of joy and a touch of forgetfulness.

  4. In preparation for attending Hobocon before realising that I wasn't going to be able I snagged the PDF from the GW website. I can't access my hosting right now, but I can email it across to you if you like.