Reflection about the retardant in the game

Fire retardant is a very effective way of fighting forest fires. The tactics of use are not the same as for water, and although it can be used directly on the fire, retardant is more commonly dropped as a barrier around the fire to contain, delay or direct its progress.

As you can see on the following picture, the ground patern left by retardant release depends a lot on the aircraft, its speed, its tank, the wind, etc…

On tankers equipped with a « constant flow » tank, the release system also allows the selection of a level of retardant coverage that is adapted to the type of vegetation. Depending on the setting, the release computer will control the opening of the doors to achieve the chosen result. The line is also denser and the efficiency better.

This table shows the length of cover for a 1,200-gallon heavy tanker aircraft, in feet.

A longer line is usually required for grass fires. Brush fires, with their heavier fuel, require a more concentrated drop.

I have to use these two elements to decide on the form and effect of the retardant, and the water drops, in the game.

For the moment I think I’ll keep the same geometrical marker for all the aircrafts. Depending on its real capacity, the aircraft will have at its disposal one or more markers that it can put in place in one or more times depending on its real tank type. For example, an S2T may have four markers that it can drop in four times, and a C-130 MAFFS may have eight markers that it can only drop in one time because of the particularity of its tank. So I’m going to have to study each aircraft and each tank and deduce their effect in the game in a way that is believable and consistent. Also, a TBM will have a reduced retardant capacity and will have to make several trips to its base with waiting times, where a DC-6 may have a much longer time on the table.

The size and shape of the marker must also be related to the fire marker so that the fire marker can be stopped by one or two retardant markers.


The retardant doesn’t always have the same effect either, it depends on the level of cover and the strength of the fire. I’ve started to try a system that would take it into consideration but for the moment it doesn’t satisfy me because it requires too many rolls and markers to represent the effectiveness of the drop…

In order to find a marker size that is credible and consistent I am trying to convert to 1/600th the various retardant coverage size data from several aircraft. This allows me to confirm that the size I have in mind corresponds roughly to something credible.

The goal of a game is to put forward the gameplay, so I let myself adapt it so that in the end the size is as playable as possible. I also try to reduce the number of dice rolls to a minimum as I find that you can quickly spend your time doing nothing else! I’ll see if I can integrate specific dice like D3 for some elements if needed.

On retardant I advise you again this very good article by Fred Marsaly (unfortunately only in French) : Le retardant

In this video you will see the effect of the product in a more concrete way:

I also suggest you watch this video which shows the effect of a low-level drop:

Do you have any desires, ideas or can you think of any mistakes to avoid compared to what you have experienced in other games?

4 commentaires sur « Reflection about the retardant in the game »

  1. I have no experience in aerial firefighting or any other firefighting, so I cannot comment from that perspective. I have only watched some YouTube video’s. But from gaming perspective, I would reduce the amount of different markers needed.
    if I look at the tables above, I see 4 different lengths of fire retardant, combined with your suggestion of a standard marker, but different amounts per plane/tank capacity, I would classify every plane into amount of retardant it can drop, and if it is dumped at once or at controlled so you can choose how much is dumped.
    For these classification I would only use a maximum from 4-6 markers.
    So the largest planes could maximum dump 6 markers, a small plane only 1.

    For the effectiveness to the fire, there might be 2 different approaches. first approach would be to asses how effective the drop is, so roll a d6 for every marker, and on a 1(for example) it is blown away, so the marker is removed from play. (creating a hole in the line for the fire to pass)
    the other option would be to look to it from the fire side, and accessing when the fire spreads, if it will be retarded. So rolling a d6 on a 6 it passes the retardant, otherwise it cannot spread past the retardant.

    For the fire itself you would probably run into similar issues with markers. A big forest fire, is different to a grass fire in the field. So there might be 4 different levels of fire possible, depending on the type of material that burns, and how long it burns. So for a grass fire it would start at level 2 and a tree fire at level 4, every turn reducing the level by 1. ( so it will burn itself out every turn) For the spreading you could use something like roll a d6 for all neighboring edges of the current fire, d6+current fire level > 5 is spreading, otherwise it stays in place

    just some different thoughts. I am curious to see how these rules will turn out. If there is some need in playtesting, I am interested.

    Aimé par 1 personne

    1. Hello Gerard-Jan ! Thank you for your remarks !

      On the retardant capacity this is exactly what I had in mind. I just need to find the exact length for this marker because putting the real length of a MAFFS drop at 1/600 it’s about 68cm. This could be the maximum length and divided into 6 markers that makes one marker 11cm. I have the feeling that this is big but I need to test on the table to really know.

      For the efficiency of the fire I initially started with a roll to know the efficiency of the barrier and then a roll to know if the fire goes through or not but that’s too many rolls for me. I find your approach interesting and if you take the option of looking from at the side of the fire it allows you to have a doubt on the effectiveness of the barrier until the moment when the fire will reach it which leaves a little tension if you try to take some advance. I think I could still test both options!

      Your proposal on the progression of the fire is also very interesting and is close to what I have started to write. I have also added the direction of the wind to orient the progress of the fire and ad some bonus to it. I will write an article on this specific part of the rules soon!

      Thanks again for these ideas, it’s easy for me to go in the wrong direction by myself and not realise it and discussing it is the best way to find the best compromise =)!


      1. If the length of the drop is to the same 1/600 scale as the aircraft then that suggests that the ground scale is the same 1/600, meaning not a lot of terrain is going to be on the tabletop. Maybe only a square kilometre or so, not much space for a fast moving aircraft, not even much space for a fast moving fire, I’d have expected the ground scale to be a lot smaller to allow more room for aircraft to manoeuvre and to show more complex terrain and fires.
        This would also get drop templates down to a more practical size..

        Not relevant to this blog post, but I think I’ve found my aircraft shopping list at:

        Aimé par 1 personne

  2. Yes, that’s what I have in mind and it’s not fixed yet because I have to do some tests. I’m playing on a fairly large table but the 1/600 scale sometimes seems very large, which is rather unexpected !

    Yes the pdf is very good, I think the NAFC publishes one every year !


Votre commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:


Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Google

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Google. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Connexion à %s

Créez votre site Web avec
%d blogueurs aiment cette page :