Airfix Battles – oldie models, new games

Though Mission Command has been taking up a lot of my 2015, what with launch of the alpha version, another little project was offered to me by that kind Mr Birch at Modiphius Entertainment. Airfix Battles!

Airfix! Certainly a name to conjure with for those of us of a certain age. Like most wargamers of my vintage, I was brought up on those 1/72 and 1/76 scale figures and models. I’m not ashamed to say that I still have a few trays of Airfix Napoleonic Line Infantry that I can use alongside the more conventional lead stuff acquired over the years. It was only at my last house move that I decided to ditch a swathe of 40+ year old Airfix plastic – huge numbers of ACW and Napoleonic soldiers consigned to a skip :(. But enough of reminiscences.

Nick Fallon and Chris Birch asked me to give them a hand with ‘One War’ as Airfix Battles was initially labelled. My credentials were mostly as a WW2 buff – I’d introduced them to Mission Command earlier, so I wasn’t an entirely unknown quantity – so I was brought in to help out with historical details in the first instance. I found the project very interesting and a great contrast with Mission Command. The latter has focused very much on detailed simulation, whereas Airfix Battles is all about playability. Yes, theme has to be accurate and the ‘feel’ of the game is vital. However, the Airfix Battles Introductory Set has to do what it says on the tin – introduce newbies to the wargaming hobby, specifically WW2 land battles, while also appeal to the, ahem, older fan. Players have to be up and having fun within minutes.

After a few weeks of tinkering and developing, I was honoured to be asked to co-design the system with Nick and Chris. How could I refuse?

To be entirely fair the Airfix Battles system had been at least sketched out by the time I got involved. It’s a D6 system based on squared maps with only 1 Unit – primarily infantry and vehicles – allowed per square. Movement and shooting are configured on the basis of squares, where a more complex board wargame might use hexes, and a tabletop game would use tape measures. It uses Unit cards to describe the troops themselves. In the first set these cover stuff you’d see in a late war Normandy game – Shermans, Panzer IVs, basic infantry squads, MG sections, snipers and the like.

Players take actions with their troops by playing Command Cards from a limited hand. Actions are what you would expect – primarily about moving and firing – but we have interesting and fun combinations with additions to movement points and variations to firing, so that the unexpected can easily crop up and challenge the unprepared. IMHO the system does a good job of representing ‘fire and movement’. Keeping the enemies’ heads down really pays, especially if you’re aiming to assault a dug in squad!

Airfix Battles has preconfigured small scenarios to teach the rules gradually. More experienced players can dive into larger fare and design their own forces, as each Unit has a points value dependent on its weapons, abilities, and importantly its ‘War Dice value’, a number that must be rolled to succeed when the Unit fires or rallies. You can play with a single player on each side, or with 2 or more players per side taking team decisions. There’s also a solo play mechanism.

The Intro Set will come with counters for those who don’t already have Airfix models. But it’s really time to break out the old Airfix collection, base up those WW2 infantry, re-paint those Panzer IVs, and declare ‘Panzer Marsch!’

6 Responses to “Airfix Battles – oldie models, new games”

  1. 1 rodgertherebel January 5, 2016 at 21:11

    What is the basing for this system? Very keen to dig out my old Airfix troops and start getting them ready for the release.

    • 2 benthamfish January 6, 2016 at 10:01

      Hi Rodger
      The Airfix Battles Introductory Set uses squared maps (boards, if you like!). There’s no recommended basing system yet. Each squad of 10 men goes on a single square, and losses are taken at the individual man level. So basing such that you can remove an individual figure from 10 would be appropriate. I’ve based mine in 3s and 2s with some 1s for change.
      The game also comes with cardboard counters for those who don’t have minis handy.

      • 3 rodgertherebel January 6, 2016 at 20:36

        Thanks Alan. Really appreciate the response. Looking forward to giving them a go, just like in the late 60’s!

  2. 4 Pete Maller January 6, 2016 at 17:11

    Do you know why was the decision made to only have American allied troops in the introductory set?

    • 5 benthamfish January 6, 2016 at 18:01

      Hi Pete
      No, I’m afraid I don’t know why definitively. I suspect it was a “start somewhere” decision, with a limit on the number of cards we can have in the intro set. However, we’re currently designing some bonus cards with cool British stuff on them.

      • 6 Pete Maller January 7, 2016 at 08:31

        Alan, thanks for your reply. It seems an odd place to start to me – Airifx having recently brought out a set of late war British infantry figures that are perfect for the Normandy campaign. I am of a similar vintage to the previous poster, though I was playing in the early ‘sevs, and perhaps I have an old fashioned idea of Airfix being a British company. (Translation: there are more than enough games that portray WW2 as America vs. Germany and it would have been nice is this one had been different!). Have no doubt that I will be pre-ordering though – it looks to be very a very well thought out system! 🙂 I particularly like the use of a grid, play is faster and there are no problems with elastic tape measures! Cheers, Pete.

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