Friday, 30 December 2011

Air Strike!

Picture by Daryl Joyce
Air strikes are pretty devastating and should be able to remove most alien threats short of a Time War Dalek army. By far the easiest way to play them is to have the objective of the game to rescue a heroic character from the monsters and then to get clear before the bombs destroy the baddies.

However if you want to play the whole thing out you can use these rules.

Basic Rules

For a 1970s style air strike using ordinary ‘iron bombs’, like the one that destroyed the Krynoid in Seeds of Doom, use these rules. The type of aircraft is not important. In The Hand of Fear, for example, the aircraft were scripted as Tornadoes, but shown as Harriers on their approach and Buccaneers afterwards.

U.N.I.T. mobile HQ by An Evil Giraffe
If aircraft are available they need to be called in by the senior UNIT officer on the heroic side (‘Greyhound Leader’). To make contact with the aircraft a dice roll is required:

5 or 6 if using a radio in a backpack or Land Rover
4, 5 or 6 if using the UNIT mobile HQ (‘Trap One’)

Keep rolling until radio contact is made. Once radio contact is made it can be lost again due to interference, bad weather or alien related meteorological phenomena. Roll a dice every turn and on a 6 contact is lost and you need to roll again to re-establish it.

If the aircraft are circling nearby waiting to be called in, they arrive the turn after they are contacted. They must then try to find the target. Roll a dice and on a 5 or 6 low cloud or poor visibility has prevented this and they will need to circle round and try again in 2 turns. The aircraft will not bomb if there are friendly forces or civilians within 20 inches of the designated target.

Picture by Daryl Joyce
Aircraft will carry between 2 and 8 bombs. They will drop them in pairs and can make several passes. Only one aircraft a turn can bomb.

Bombs are powerful, but relatively inaccurate. Each bomb dropped will miss the target by (d6 - 1) x 3 inches. Determine the direction it misses by by spinning a pencil. Bombs have a blast radius of 6 inches. They cause d6 hits and within 1 inch these are at STR 6 decreasing to STR 2 at 6 inches. e.g. if you roll a ‘2’ for the miss distance the bomb inflicts d6 STR 4 hits on the intended target.

Figures may get a ‘saving throw’ from these hits. They save on a 5 or 6 if lying down, 4, 5 or 6 if hiding in ‘soft cover’ (e.g. in a building) and on a 3,4,5 or 6 if in ‘hard cover’ (e.g. a trench). If in some sort of bunker then the bomb damage is inflicted on the bunker instead and if it is destroyed then the figures inside are hit. An ordinary concrete bunker is DEF 6. A state-of-the-art steel bunker or alien spaceship may be DEF 8.

The World War Two V1 'flying bomb' which appeared in The Time Monster is an unguided missile and ‘misses’ like an iron bomb. 


More accurate, but less powerful, than bombs are air to ground rockets, such as the one fired from a helicopter that destroyed the first Viperox battle droid in Dreamland.

They hit on a 5 or a 6 (hovering helicopters can 'aim'), are STR 6 and have 4" blast radius. Rockets that miss land 1d6" inches away in a random direction. They are usually fired from pods containing 24 rockets.

Maximum range is 100" and minimum range 24".

Modern Rules

Military technology has moved on in the last 30 years and air forces now use guided weapons. Bombs still go ‘boom’ like they used to, but are more accurate and can be delivered by guided missiles as well as aircraft, such as the Harpoon missile which destroyed Downing Street in World War Three.

The miss distance for guided weapons is d6 -1 inches. Attacks can be ordered by radio still, but also by computer link, including by Hacking. Guided missiles can’t orbit waiting to be called in like aircraft and so there will always be a delay before one arrives. If the roll for the miss distance is ‘6’ then the missile has malfunctioned and does not arrive at all.

Drones and Attack Helicopters 

Drones, such as the ones deployed against the radicalised Zygons in The Zygon Invasion, fly slowly and can be deployed on the table as models. They can fly in 6 inch diameter circles to hold position. Drones carry two missiles that have the power of rockets but hit on a 3,4,5 or 6. They scatter if they miss. The drone can fly away as soon as the missiles are launched.

Modern attack helicopters, such as the Apache, carry eight such missiles. The 1970s equivalent, the Lynx AH1, also carries eight similar missiles, but has to remain within line-of-sight of the target after firing.

Shooting at aircraft

This can only be done by weapons that can fire bursts, although you only roll once, and is done at a range of 25 inches. (Assume Daleks lasers have this range when, as Churchill's Ironsides, they shoot at German planes).

Shooting is at -1. Most aircraft are DEF 5, but modern attack helicopters are DEF 6. They have 2 hits, but damaged aircraft will return to base rather than continuing to attack.

Anti-aircraft guns, like the 40mm Bofurs seen in The Sea Devils, have a range of 50 inches, hit on a 4+ at ground targets, fire bursts and are STR 4. Similar weapons are fitted to some armoured cars, such as the Fox seen briefly in Aliens of London, but these can’t shoot at aircraft. Most armoured vehicles have a HMG instead to defend against air attack.

Surface to Air Missiles

Slightly more effective are Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) as used by UNIT in Planet of the Dead. There are two stages to shooting down an aerial target with a missile: first the target must be tracked by the SAM's radar, then the missile must intercept (hit) it. 1970s missiles such as the RAF Bloodhound (used in Mind of Evil as the Thunderbolt missile) can only attack targets that are at high altitude, but modern missiles can attack any target on the table.

Tracking is normally achieved on a roll of 2+ with -1 for targets that are low, fast or small. If the target knows that it is being tracked it may try to jam the radar signal on a 4+ if it has suitable technology. If successfully tracked a missile may be fired, but the tracking must continue if the missile is to hit. The track can be broken by the further jamming, the target moving out of sight, even if only briefly, or the radar being destroyed.

Twenty First century U.N.I.T have Stinger shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, such as the one used by Bonnie to bring down the Doctor's plane in The Zygon Inversion. These track on a 4+ but as they are heat-seeking can only be fired at things which have an engine.

If a missile has a nuclear warhead, such as in Claws of Axos, the missile will automatically destroy the target. For missiles with conventional warheads the target gets a saving throw of less than or equal to their AGI. For aircraft, count a civilian plane as AGI 1, drones, WWII fighters and helicopters as AGI 2 and jet fighters as AGI 3. If being attacked by a 1970s missile subtract 2 from the dice roll. The warhead of the missile is STR 6 and does d6 Hits damage.

Type 45 Destroyer HMS Dragon (MOD)
SAMs may be used against alien spacecraft such as the missiles, possibly fired from a Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer, used against the Vinvocci salvage ship in The End of Time. Alien warships will probably be able to jam the missile's radar, but if not the size of a spaceship will make tracking automatic. To ensure destruction of large targets missiles will probably need to be fired in salvos. The Type 45 can fired 16 missiles simultaneously and carries 48. It's 1970s equivalent, the Type 42, can only fire two at a time.

Aircraft may also fire missiles at aerial targets, the process being very similar. If an aircraft is on the targets tail following it, then tracking is automatic. If the target tries to shake the attacking aircraft off a dogfight develops: roll AGI versus AGI to see who wins.

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