Down in Flames ...
After four years, the Down In Flames tournament still
maintains its popularity, even while up against other excellent
events. This year we had a record total of 32 entrants, a significant
increase from last year owing to the event's move from Saturday
morning to Friday evening. As Down In Flames is fairly
low on the complexity scale, there were significant conflicts
between other Saturday mornings fare, so the move was enacted.
I'm happy to see that the decision was the right one!
those unfamiliar with the game, Down In Flames is a series
of World War II aerial combat card games published by GMT. There
are two aspects to the game, the dogfight and the campaign. The
former is quick-playing (a dogfight can be completed in under
30 minutes) where the latter is much more involved and can take
several hours to complete. Given the time
constraints of the WBC format, the Down In Flames tournament
was limited to a series of dogfights.
The tournament format was pretty straightforward. In the first
round, participants were required to complete two dogfights against
three different opponents. During the two dogfights in each pairing,
participants were required to fly Axis aircraft in one and Allied
aircraft in the other. Aircraft options were predefined, allowing
players to select balanced elements (pairs of pilots and wingmen)
from a set of five. Once an element was selected, it could no
longer be used during the course of the round.
The first round was limited to roughly two and a half hours.
The eight players who scored the most points in kills and damaged
enemy aircraft advanced to the second round. This following round
ran similarly to the first, but only two player pairings were
required and the aircraft selections included more powerful options.
The two highest scoring players from this round advanced to the
final, where the hottest aircraft were available. After all,
only the best pilots get to fly the best aircraft!
Although the tournament went smoothly, there were two complaints
regarding playtime. In order to keep the length of the
tournament within a reasonable period, some players did not get
a chance to finish their third match, and had to tally the points
they had accrued up to that time. After running the event for
four years, I still maintain that quick play and a heads-up attitude
should be rewarded.
Among all the participants
who played their best, two in particular bear mention. The first
is Dave Fox, who garners this year's "Ace of Aces"
award. This was the first time that Dave participated in the
tournament and unless I'm mistaken, the first time he really
played the game. Given that, Dave still managed to accrue an
astounding 80 points in his first round! Sadly, he had to drop
out of the tournament (making me the top seed going into the
second round). In addition to Dave, I have to
credit Andy Lewis with his amazing and well-deserved tournament
win. Andy came into the second round as the third seed, and managed
to make mincemeat of my aircraft as well as all those who followed.
Thanks to all the participants, and I hope to meet you in
the skies next year!
Alas, Mike informs us that he will not be the GM for this
event next year. The good news is that Chris Janiec and Mike
Lam will combine efforts to co-GM this favorite offering in 2003.