Wargame Wednesday – Time to Climb?


Courtesy BGG

Bloody April: Air War over Arras France, 1917 is an operational-level game of air warfare over Arras France in WWI. I really like the subject matter, but have a hard time getting my head wrapped around the Time to Climb (TtC) mechanic.

As defined in Rule 1.3 Glossary of Game Terms, Time to Climb (TtC) is “A term used as a compilation of an aeroplanes rate of climb and the amount of time needed to climb to a new altitude band.”  Thus, TtC relates both the performance of an aeroplane (climb/dive rates) as well as the location (current altitude).

For comparing different aeroplanes, I find the TtC system elegant. A slow climber takes longer time (i.e. more turns) to climb. Once you understand that you are looking performance using time it becomes easy to see how different aircraft compare. However, it is the location aspect that I find more difficult to grasp.

For instance, a British FE2b has a TtC of 3D for the Deck Altitude. This means it takes 3 turns to climb to Low+0 or 4,000 ft. On the other side, a German Albatross D.III has a TtC of 1D meaning it takes only 1 turn to climb to the same altitude. Simple and elegant way of comparing rate of climb.

But what if both aeroplanes are at Low+4? Intuitively, they appear to be at the “same” altitude, but the TtC for the FE2b is 8L whereas the Albatross D.III is 5L. Thus, the FE2b is 4/8ths of the way to the next level, or altitude 7,000ft. The Albatross is 4/5ths of the way up, or altitude 8,800 ft (see the Time to Climb Conversion Tables at the end of the Rule Book). I find myself constantly consulting the TtC Conversion Tables as I try to figure out what altitude my aeroplanes are actually at.

Could the TtC be done away with and aircraft rated with a rate of climb instead? The designer’s notes give us no insight into why the TtC mechanic is used.

To be clear, I really like Bloody April,  and I find parts of the TtC mechanic elegant. But I have to wonder if the designer was stretching for something new (in this case, the whole TtC mechanic) when the simple Rate of Climb approach may have worked with less confusion.


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