In April of 1941 the Mediterranean sky was filled with an armada of German and Italian transport aircraft, tasked with carrying supplies to the once mighty Panzer Armee Afrika, now trapped in Tunisia. Allied control of the sea meant that they could not be supplied by ship, and as the Fuhrer had decreed that Africa must be held supplies had to get through.
Therefore the Luftwaffe concentrated all available German and Italian heavy transport aircraft, including almost all of the surviving six engined ME323 Giants. in Southern Italy and Sicily. At first the transports got through and delivered a respectable amount of troops, supplies and even fuel, However when, by the end of March. the Allies turned their attention to the airlift things soon changed. Forced by the enemy patrols to fly in huge escorted formations the heavily laden transports found themselves the centre of a hornets nest of allied fighters. Even allied bombers got in on the act!
Despite their escort's best efforts, and both the German and Italian
fighters fought, with desperate courage to
protect their vulnerable charges, they were cut from the sky. By the end of April the
shattered transport fleet could no longer sustain the mission and
the exhausted remnants of Panzer Armee Afrika ignored the Fuhrers orders to
fight to the last man and the last bullet and surrendered.
Our game takes place in the desperate days of April when the Axis transports
filled the skies, The players take control of pairs of allied
fighters, or a trio or bombers. ,which are attacking a small portion of thc German Armada. Are they good enough to evade the enemy fighters and get the all-important transports? Can they destroy enough of the lumbering Ju 52's, corpulent SM X2's and enormous Me323s starve the veteran German and Italian troops into surrender? Or will they crash and burn into the shark infested waters below? That's up to the participants in our little game, only they can lead the attackers to victory or defeat.
This game is our first attempt to showcase our main passion in wargames, aerial warfare. As dedicated" Airheads" we have been playing aircraft based games for a long time, since the Seventies in Fatman's case. In the past while we have considered running an air combat game the complexity of most rule sets that recreate this type of warfare has discouraged us. The Blue Skies" rules by John Stannoch have changed all this. Designed to allow experienced players to control up to twelve aircraft they let complete novices control a couple of planes after only a few minutes instruction.
So, who are the "Blues Bears"? We are a small disorganisation centred on
the lunatics running today's game, Kevin "Dinky" Shand (The small hyper one) and Neil "Fatman" McDougall (The big fat hairy one). In 1992 we
began to put on a simple participation game, at a local club visitor nights and open days.
No one was more surprised than us when the game was a success. Since then we have dedicated our lives (That part not spent
working, raising families and drinking too much) to taking a series of games on the road. In recent years we have been invited to take our games to an ever expanding circle of shows. While the shows have got bigger our games have stayed the same. The Blues Bears consists of only two of us (Though we now have an Honorary Bear Phil "Other One" Gray, the big fat not so hairy one, who helps us run the games at shows) and, as our modelling skills are best described as limited, our games have tended towards the cheap and cheerful end of the market. The philosophy behind our games is to show that with a little effort and a good idea anyone can put on a game with which to promote their club, favourite period or even just the hobby in general, After all, if geeks like us can do it, surely normal people can?
To keep scenery as simple as possible, basing it on dyed sheets or curtains
scrounged from rag bins. We make the buildings from sheet balsa whilst defensive
positions are usually commercial models from a number of sources. Add some trees,
lichen, sisal string grass and cork rocks and scatter some boxes barrels and oil drums etc.
and you have terrain suitable for most games. Thc main reason for this simple scenery is
that a curtain can be folded up in a carrier bag while the rest of the scenery and
the other pieces fit in a standard metal toolbox. This means that at a pinch one of us
can transport it to venues even using public transport. Obviously this game is
even simpler, the scenery is an old bed sheer dyed blue and the required hex
grid drawn on.
We use models from several manufacturers, usually from
our own collection; most are used as designed but as we have the use of "
RU Weird figure conversion service" (One of us runs it!) we do customise
some of them. Bring and Buy stalls, car boot sales etc supply the vehicles, some
of which we also customise. The rules are usually are own which we produce for
the displays. One particular aspect of our rules is the inclusion of
"Wandering Monsters"! These are events or forces not covered in the basic
plot. which can appear at any point during the game. These can be helpful, a
passing airstrike for instance, or trouble, enemy reinforcements, or in some special
circumstances both, an airstrike that thinks all troops in an area are enemy!
Blues Bears have always had a distinct outlook on our hobby. We believe that while wargames should be realistic simulations of warfare, they should also be entertaining, after all they are war-games and are supposed to be fun. To that end all our games are all public participation, the players commanding small units with pre-determined objectives. During the game players concentrate on what they want their forces to do while we deal with any play mechanisms. To add to the fun element of the game players might have conflicting objectives, even when they are on the same side.
Further confusion for the players is caused by the random events we insert into the game. These can be amusing; helpful; dangerous or just
distracting. In the end, we hope that we have achieved what we always set out to do - create a game that balances realism and a historical background playability and good fun. We aim to have our players leave the game smiling, even if they got shot to ribbons, an all too common result.
Blues Bears; 101 Woodmill Crescent; Dunfermline; Fife; KY11 4AJ, Bluesbears@CS.com
We are always open to suggestions and general enquiries or even just a friendly line or two.
Return to Show Report Return to What's New Return to Random Shorts