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Subject: War was never this much fun rss

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Joe Saul-Sehy
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Texarkana
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I purchased Duel as soon as I saw it at Origins. I knew from recent information that this type of game would be enjoyed by my son and I. I was surprised to see it so I snatched it up. We've played the game four times. Here is my review:

Overview: Duel in the Dark is a two player game that recreates the late WW2 bombings of Germany by the British. One player takes the Brits and the other the Germans. The British player commands a Mosquito (smaller long range fighter plane) and the German player has four fighters (one with longer range). The British player's goal is to accumulate victory points by bombing cities on the map of Europe. The German player's goal is to score victory points by making the British player's life hell. The game takes between 30 and 60 minutes per night played (players decide how many "nights" to play before beginning the game). Most will take less than 60 minutes. However, you need to set aside that much time because the German player cannot know what city the British player is bombing (if it's Berlin, the game will take longer....if it's a city on the shore, the game will be short). There is only one target city per "night".

Components: Holy cow, Batman! This is easily A#1 with a bullet the best looking game that I've ever seen. Period. The game has clouds on spindles that hover across the board. The planes have altitude also. The bomber, when flying high, is taller than anything. Fog is on the ground, thunderstorms are mixed in with the clouds. The German player has to keep track of fuel (the British player is assumed to have enough fuel to make the bombing run) and has four fuel gauges lined up in front of him to track how his fighters are holding up. Overall, the components, though only cardboard on plastic holders, get an A+ from me because of the creative use of 3D into this board game, which creates a ton of atmosphere for the game and helps with your total immersion into the setting.

The only problem I had with the components: it's nitpicky....I'm going to have to send some cards back that have slices in them. My box was also slightly warped toward the inside...and the nitpickiest thing of all: there was all of this goodness, and they pack the box insert that you need to put together yourself. Yeah...I know...not a big deal. However, because I'd learned the game at Origins I didn't look through the box completely and totally missed the instructions on putting together the inserts. I had no clue what it was (my own fault). However, this is only one game of two I've owned where I had to completely construct the box inserts (the other was Vegas Showdown...a good game with much cheaper components).

Rules: There are TONS of pictures and the rules are clearly laid out. However, does anyone who's a native English speaker read this before it's printed? The rules have some rough spots such as "Mosquitos can blockade airports; this is prevented by balloon barriers. And the Germans can defend their ground defense resources against a possible Mosquito bomb attack." Wow. I get it...kind of. Mosquitos can bomb airports, right? I can't imagine a plane "blockade" of an airport while it's off someplace else. Writing like this makes the rules unnecessarily difficult to understand, although players should be able to muddle through this sentence construction. One good note: there is an example of the game being played at the end of the rules with full graphics. I referred to this several times when learning the rules. This and the graphics were great additions to the rulebook and Z Man and Pilot games should be applauded.

Gameplay: This game does it right. The game has been carefully constructed so players "feel" into the game from the beginning.

1) First, the German players decides which airports his fighters are going to start from. It's conceivable that the British would know where to expect fighters during their mission. It also makes sense for the German player to not know exactly where the British are coming from before laying their defense.

2) The players then flip a weather card. This card shows the entire map and what weather pattern is happening that evening. This single card creates all of the replayability of the game! A city that looks like a great target one evening is a horrible target the next. There is also an indicator of wind direction (the German player will be able to chase easily with the wind and will have trouble going against the wind), indicators for summer (shorter evenings and earlier sunrise meant that long missions became more difficult as the planes were easier to see), the moon (new moon means dark targets harder to spot and full moon makes everyone easier to see), and more and more....the advanced rules even allow for the weather to CHANGE during the evening as well, something we have yet to try because we've had so much fun with the basic game.

3) The British player then programs his/her flight based on the the weather pattern. If you've played Robo Rally you know about programming moves. The Bomber is preprogrammed for the entire game (in the basic game) to fly from a base and then back again, and CANNOT deviate from this flight path. The Mosquito can move two spaces per turn wherever the player chooses.

4) Once the British player has programmed his/her moves, the German player then lays 40 defenses across Germany, based on where they think the British player will fly. Obviously, the British player wouldn't know this information until already flying...too late to change the strategy.

I think that setup is the most fun game setup I've played. When playing as the German I'm looking at the same weather pattern that the British player is, with the HUGE decisions to make with defenses all based on "where is the British player going to fly?"

Once the game begins the Mosquito moves two spaces, the Germans move their spaces, then the bomber moves and victory points are awarded. There are two attractive, easy to use cards that explain the victory points. We leave them standing next to the board all game and they make the process incredibly easy.

Strategy Opportunities: A ton. The Mosquito can feint or go directly for the target. In one game I played as the Germans, the Mosquito dropped target markers all over Hamburg. I rushed all of my fighters to Hamburg, sure that the British player was targetting that town. However, the Bomber then moved in the opposite direction. The wind direction made it impossible for me to catch back up. The bomber easily hit the target and returned safely to England, winning that night for the British.

So where does it fit? Euro? Ameritrash? Wargame? No planes are shot down in this game. Everything is awarded based on "victory points", which are awarded if the German player can end in the square with the bomber, the German defenses end in the square with the bomber, the British Mosquito ends a turn with any German fighters, and when the bomber hits the target. Period. This lack of bloodshed places this game squarely in the "game" category, without being a "wargame." Anyone looking for a simulation of true combat should look elsewhere. This is a guessing game of feints and double feints, and the combat has been simplified to the point that you don't see it.

Overall score: This game is a 9 in my book, and could easily become a 10 in the next few plays. I love the graphics, the pieces, the ease of getting new players into a basic game, the options with the weather....the ability to scale the game based on how much time you have (we played 3 nights yesterday because we had a timeslot of 2.5 hours. How many other games can do that easily?) Despite some bad cards, an insert I had to put together myself, some lumbering rules....I enjoy this title very much. I can recommend this to anyone looking for a light game about World War II or to anyone who likes a two player game and doesn't mind the War theme.
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Brandon Pennington
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Springfield
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Great Review!!!

I am soooo getting this
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Adam Knight
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Domino Man wrote:
However, does anyone who's a native English speaker read this before it's printed?


Black fly in your Chardonnay, anyone?

Fantastic review, though! Thanks for taking the time I am so getting this when it comes out here!
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Zev Shlasinger
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Domino Man wrote:

Rules: There are TONS of pictures and the rules are clearly laid out. However, does anyone who's a native English speaker read this before it's printed?


*** Unfortunately I was the only English speaker working on the rules. And to tell you how many iterations of the rules we went through - no, I won't bore you with that. Suffice to say that some things I let slip because I understood them (having read the rules many, many times); this is what happens when you are too close to the rules.

Domino Man wrote:
The rules have some rough spots such as "Mosquitos can blockade airports; this is prevented by balloon barriers. And the Germans can defend their ground defense resources against a possible Mosquito bomb attack." Wow. I get it...kind of. Mosquitos can bomb airports, right?


******The Mosquito can drop bombs on airports (and other ground defense objects) so balloon barriers help by giving the Germans VPs for each BB in the hex where a bomb is dropped (unless a BB is the target then that one does not give VPs).

I assumed the use of "blockade" was right in its usage here so I did't touch it. And again, I understood what it meant

Domino Man wrote:
One good note: there is an example of the game being played at the end of the rules with full graphics.


*****And yes, I think the example of play that comes with the game should lock in any rules that might be difficult to absorb either by bad sentence construction or just plain new rules to learn.

Thanks for the review.

Zev Shlasinger, President
Z-Man Games, Inc.
www.zmangames.com
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David McLeod
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This sounds like so much fun... Friday is new arrival day at my FLGS, cross my fingers!!!

Thanks for the review!
 
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Zev Shlasinger
United States
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Florida
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supertopona wrote:
always more and more intrigued by this game.. I saw on zman website they postponed the release till august... let's wait...


****We've had so many printing issues - very frustrating. But it is on a boat and should arrive in my warehouse around the week of August 6. Cross fingers indeed!

Zev Shlasinger, President
Z-Man Games, Inc.
www.zmangames.com

 
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Ronster Zero
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This is SO on my list of wanted games.

Thanks for the first person account. It is very much appreciated and only re-enforces my want of this game.
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Tom Sievers
United States
Wauconda
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I bought a copy at Origins, and, even in the brief tryout we gave it that afternoon, I could tell this one's a winner. The components and graphics do a wonderful job creating atmosphere!
 
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Peter M
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This one's been on my radar for awhile now. I'm glad it shaped up so well!
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John Richard
United States
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Wow, this sounds great. This is now definitely on my list for Gen Con!
 
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Matt Boggs
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You don't actually shoot anything down in a game about night time aerial warfare? yuk I had just added this to my wishlist but that makes me want to reconsider.


Thanks for the review, much appreciated.
 
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