Check Your Six

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This week was a chance to play a game I haven’t played before – Check Your 6! – a game of aircraft combat. The original game is I think for the first half of the 20th century, but there is a Jet Age expansion which brings things into the second half of the 20th century.

The game is played with small aircraft models, I think the ones we were using were about 1:600. The game is played on a hex map, and all movement is hex based. Each aircraft has a height, facing and speed. We had time for two games, both set in the late 1960s playing scenarios from the airwar over Egypt and Israel.

There were five players. I got to take control of two Israeli Mirage 3s. Each aircraft has a choice of flight paths it can take each turn, which is based on its speed and governed by a control sheet which lays out all the options.

With a maximum speed of eight, flying straight ahead is easy. There are also two types of turn – shown by the light grey flight paths and the dark grey flight paths. The darker grey ones are considered extreme turns and can be harder to perform.

Much like in Full Thrust, each player writes down their turn orders for each of their aircraft, and then everyone makes their moves. Green pilots tend to move before skilled pilots, who go before veteran pilots.

There are some choices you can make before actually moving. For example, more skilled pilots can change their movement choice by one or two positions (e.g., an extreme left turn could be changed to a less extreme left turn). You also have the options of using after burners (increase your speed by two, but it also makes you easy to hit by heat seeking missiles).

For the first scenario, we had four Israeli Mirages defending an airfield that they had ‘liberated’ from Egypt. Egypt was sending an Ilyushin II-28 bomber against the airfield, and it was in theory defended by four Mig-19s. We had to try and destroy the bomber before it was able to bomb ‘our’ airfield.

Two Mirages taking off from the airfield, which is also protected by an AA battery

I started the game just having taken off from the airfield, so was at height 1 and speed 1. I used afterburners to help climb up to altitude 3 and gain some speed. My other team member was coming on from the West, and soon made contact with the Migs and the Ilyushin.

Two of the Migs were coming in at high speed and altitude, flying way overhead and not achieving much, allowing some long range cannon fire against the bomber from the Mirages. At this range they missed, but two more Migs were coming onto the board as well.

With the second pair of Mirages making contact with the Ilyushin, this left the two pairs of Migs facing in my direction. My plan was to head around behind the bomber and use heat seeking missiles on it, but it quickly turned out to be not necessary. The bomber (which was still unprotected by the Migs) was taken down on turn four by one of the other Mirages.

The following turn, the Migs had finally managed to get into a position where they could attack our Mirages (a turn too late…), and took down one of us, though the pilot ejected.

The following two, there was a near collision between one Mirage and a Mig-19. The Mig-19 almost crashed, but heroically recovered, gaining a skill level. The Mirage pilot blacked out, plus his jet was on fire. Fortunately, next turn he managed to recover without crashing.

I’d come around and was now heading back towards the airfield, with two Migs one my tail. I wanted to get within range of the AA battery to bring that into play against the Migs, though in the end it was easier just to accelerate and fly home. We’d defended the airfield from the bomber, so our mission was done.

In the end, the Israelies got 8 points and the Egyptians 4, so it was an Israeli victory.

The game turned out to be a lot more in depth than I’d expected. There are a lot of things taken into account. Position of the sun is important, since you can’t fire heat seeking missiles towards the sun (well, you can, but they tend to not spot their intended target). There are special manouevres for immelmans, split-s turns and various other things. Firing missiles up has a better chance to hit, because the missiles find it easier to lock on against a background of the sky rather than the ground.

However, it’s not too hard to play. The basic movement rules are similar to what I’ve come across before. There was a lot of shooting, and not much hitting, but when things got hit they tended to die. Plus the models looked nice.

The game (which lasted 7 turns) took less than two hours. It probably helped that we had two players on both side writing instructions. So we decided to have a second game.

A year before the Six Day War which the above scenario was from, an Israeli spotter plane was being pestered by some Egyptian Migs, so Mirages were sent up to defend it. The spotter plane was limited to speed 1, altitude 1, so couldn’t do much other than slowly move off the board.

This game was slightly different in that the Israelis were equipped with radar homing missiles. More effective than heat seekers, they could attack from the front and sides (heat seekers are only useful from the rear), but they weren’t that reliable at this stage. They had a 40% chance of simply failing.

The radar based missiles allowed me to get a lock onto a target early on, but I had to maintain the lock (by keeping the target within front line of sight) until the following turn. Unfortunately, my target made a turn that I wasn’t expecting and managed to break the lock.

This game turned into far more of a straight dog fight, with the Migs mostly ignoring the spotter plane (which was their target) and engaging the Mirages. I got a second chance at getting a missile lock, but again had to wait until the following turn to fire. This time I was far enough away that keeping the lock was easy. I fired, but missed.

Two of the other Mirages both found themselves facing a single Mig. One fired a heat seeker and the other fired its cannons. Both hit and destroyed the single Mig, allowing them both to claim a kill. So the Israeli air force claimed two kills, to the Egyptian zero.

Samuel Penn

1 Response

  1. 1/600 tumbling dice figures.

    Flight deck decals.

    Strictly the mirages should also be silver, but in camo I can use them for the Falklands and the October war