The Speed of Heat (Air Power system) by JD Webster

Run-through/Play-through of game rules and mechanics

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The Speed of Heat (Air Power system) by JD Webster

Postby Lucky Luke » Mon Jan 25, 2016 4:50 am

The Speed of Heat air combat game is sadly the last one in a line started with Air Superiority (GDW), it's air-to ground expansion Air Strike and some supplements covering the Middle East air battles, Desert Falcon and Eagle of the Gulf.
Speed of Heat is covering the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, with plenty of military hardware and aircraft data sheets and quite a number of other tables.

The game scale is one aircraft/SAM battery/ground unit platoon/ship per counter, hexes are 1/3 mile wide, flight levels are 1000 ft thick and time is 12-15 seconds per turn.

The Air power system is, in my opinion, a game system that bring the 3rd dimension in a plane's movement with a simple but clever trick...
Simply put, the speed points (called Flight Points) are not only used to 'walk' across the board map (using Horizontal Flight Points=HFPs) but a plane can 'change' its altitude using Vertical Flight Points(VFPs) that don't move the plane on the map board but modify its height level. A plane flying straight and level will have only HFPs to spend during its game turn, while a nearly-vertical climbing plane will have almost all its Flight Points as Vertical and maybe one HFP at most: this plane is zooming upwards like a rocket, with its nose pointing straight up at the sky.
It is not a complex trick, it is more logic than a knight's move in a chess game...!
Turning is done cross-referencing the actual speed with the height level; a specific table gives a number. This number is the number of Flight Point that have to be expended before a 30 degree turn could be executed by the plane. Alike turning flight, to perform some special maneuvers as a roll, a vertical roll or a slide the plane must expend one or more FP before doing its aerobatics.

The movement order is ranked by initiative position:
1- stalled/departed planes (cannot attack or do a normal move)
2- engaged planes trying to outflying a missile (cannot attack)
3- disadvantaged planes (in front of an enemy plane who is following them)
4- neutral planes (all the planes not in the 3 or 5 situation)
5- planes with enemy sighted planes in front of them
6-unsighted planes
7-uncontacted (no radar contact) planes

if more than a plane is sharing the same initiative position a die roll will brerak the ties.

You cannot kill a target that you don't see...the visual sighting is resolved rolling a d10 for any unsighted plane and if you roll equal or under its 'visibility' value you see it. There are some modifiers to the die roll as there are situations able to influence the sighting attempt;to say a couple of them, if a plane is sporting a camouflage paint scheme and is flying low the die roll gets a +1 modifier (a 10% reduction) but a silver-metal aircraft gets a -2 modifier because it will stand out on the terrain background. The DRMs are set by electronic aids, number of planes searching and so on...

All the sighting and the maneuvering will bring you into attack your target: gun and air-to-ground attacks are done during movement but the air-to-air missiles have an own phase at the end of the turn.
Guns have a range up to 2 hexes (actually 3 or 4 when strafing) but every missile depicted have a variable range related with the target aspect.
The missiles are flown after their target using a "cruel" proportional system: let's say you are at speed 6 (600 knots about 690 mph) and a missile is launched a mile behind your plane (3 hexes) . The missile is speeding at 18 flight points ( about Mach 2,7 )
Now, if you see the missile, you can "engage" the missile...the speed are compared and we have 18:6 or a 3:1 ratio. The plane move one point and the missile three and so on until the missile hits or you maneuver out of the seeker field of view. If the plane didn't engage the missile move first!
Every missile can achieve a 'direct' or a 'proximity' hit due to the warhead's fragments with lessened effects.
A damage table determines the effect of the damage on the aircraft.

The intrepid aviators could have to go low and dirty themselves going air-to-mud. The ground environment is a harsh one, bristling with AAA guns, SAM missiles and ground units'barrage.
Ground attack aircraft have to weave between hills following the less exposed path to approach to the target, or flying high hoping that the onboard ECM will spoof the incoming enemy fire....

The Speed of Heat ruleset can be used with more modern planes 'porting' the Data cards of the Air Superiority series and some other were published in the Air Power newsletter.

After all these years since its publishing in 1992 the game is still enjoyable and if you are an aviation buff it is worth a try !

Example of play :


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