I played a Dr.I for the first time in a long time last night at the monthly Wings of Glory night. Fourth Mondays, game store in Annapolis. See you there. I used to love the Dr.I. The maneuverability is remarkable, and on a small table it's a great fly. The Dr.I is the Jack Dempsey of WWI airplanes. You heard it here first.
Lately I've been playing late war planes with a little more oomph to them, the Hanriot, the Bristol F.2B, the D.VII. These planes have some zoomy-zoom and still have a solid dose of maneuverability. You can chase somebody if you get the chance and duck out of tough spots. You have options.
The Dr.I is a late war plane sure, and let's face it -- it turns on a wing tip. But damn it's slow. At one point a guy in a Bristol just drove away from me, his sights set on an Aviatik in front of him and well aware that he didn't need to worry about me pressing the attack from behind. His tail gunner took the opportunity to refill his tea cup from the pot wedged between the two cockpits. He lifted it to me and nodded as they pulled away. I wasn't a threat. I even tried an overdive and, frankly, it only moves DR.Is about four inches. The plane doesn't even fall fast. It's really pitiful.
So, it became obvious that if I wanted to participate with these faster planes I needed to sit in the middle of the field and act more or less like a fixed gun mount, using the Fokker's super-tight non-steep right turn cards to get guns pointed in the right direction as enemies approached. Kind of like playing Loopin' Louie but you're the airplane, not the chickens. Keep spinning, keep firing.
At one point with my new-found approach I needed to turn a 180, and naturally reached for the Immelman card. Great idea! I use them all the time!
But let's face it, Immelman's take longer to complete than just turning right in this plane! Two hard-right cards make for a 180 turn. More or less you do a pirouette on your right wing tip. It's super tight and only takes two cards instead of the Immelman's three. So it became clear to me that the Immelman card in the Dr.I deck is just a tease. It calls out to you because you've used it with so many other planes, but when you thumb through your deck and find it with its teeny-tiny-little-line in front of the backwards arrow you almost don't want to put it down on the table for fear of mockery from the other players flying the big-boy planes. "Dude, how do you play a card and not go anywhere? That violates some law of physics." Sure you can shoot as big as the rest of them, but you better get your timing right on that three-card Immelman maneuver because your target is gonna be gone one card later!
After using it just once and having a 50 year-old woman at the table say "your Immelman is smaller than mine" I set it to one side. Lothar's bright yellow paint job lost it's luster right quick. My son asked me why the card wasn't in my deck a few turns later and I told him to take it from me so I wouldn't be tempted to play it again.
But it's a pretty card. It has a train track going into a tunnel on it, so I can use it for scenarios where planes are supposed to destroy a train as it crosses the landscape. But as it stands I have no intention of using it to turn my Dr.I around. It's pointless, and a little embarrassing.