Over the Khalkin River: a CHECK YOUR 6! game

A Japanese Air Patrol meets a Soviet bombing mission with fighter escort, using the miniature rules WATCH YOUR SIX! at the recent NOVAG Game day. Victory went to the Japanese this time, with the bomber shot down and the Soviets fled.WATCH YOUR SIX! Plays a lot like SPI’s old SNIPER game mixed with GDW’s excellent old BLUE MAX game. Every turn you mark your aircraft sheets with changes in speed, maneuvering, and altitude for the upcoming turn. Turns are then executed in an initiative order based upon the experience level of the pilots flying the planes. Altitude and speed changes are not hidden, and done in the open at the start of the turn– this is tracked using the handy altitude/speed indicators built into the airplane bases.

In “Over the Khalkin River” we played a scenario at the opening of the 1939 conflict between the Soviet Red Army in Mongolia and the Imperial Japanese Army.  The Khalkin Gol campaign was a stunning failure for Japanese military ambitions Westward, and contributed greatly to the strategic decision to attack British and American Far East Asian possessions.  Khalkin Gol is one of those forgotten battles by the West; perhaps if the German General staff had done their homework and studied this battle they would not have been so eager to take on the Red Army two years later.

In the air, however, the Japanese gave as well as they got on many occasions.  In this game, the Japanese planes (Kates?) run by my son Garrett and I shot down the I-153 Soviet biplane bomber.  The two escorting I-16s managed to outmaneuver the Japanese (due to the initiative bonus of higher skill; thus, they went first) and dive out of combat.  A victory of sorts!

I liked the Check Your 6! ruleset and the simple mechanics of the flight stand (although a couple of these had loose indicator arrows and would show false readings after being handled a bit).  The pre-plotting bit works well for small numbers of planes, although I predict that coordinating a larger group of players (say 10 plus planes a side) might get a little tiresome.   The maneuver charts worked very well and were intuitive.  In general, the game gave a pretty good feel for the air combat of the era and we enjoyed playing it.


Check Your 6! Instructional Video: