Rookies talk about strategy, Grognards about Logistics
This is a (brief) review of the solo version when you’re defending Britain against Luftwaffe.
A large Box, filled with colourful countersheets, two maps (but only one is used at once), 3 rule books (one for each version), a lot of cards, and some reference sheets.
Map is unmounted, colourful, pretty and functional with some useful tracks and tables. Size is large but not huge (and you don’t need more space).
Counters are gorgeous. Planes are colourful with silhouettes from above (with historical designation of units, Squadron or Geschwader, and easily readable Combat and Bombing/Strafing Values) and markers are very representative of their function.
There are five types of Cards in Lion version : Target (which represent all possible targets of German raids), Raid Events (which can disrupt any "perfect plan" and allow to really live the raids), Day Events (which are an elegant treatment of course of time), Force (which display size of the Raids and type of German Planes) and Radar Crippled one (I wish you never have to use it). All are functional.
Rule Book is very well organized. Rules are clear, well written with clear examples and Designer’s notes. You will even find a compendium of Raid and Day Events Cards which give all precisions needed. An extended example of play of one turn could be useful but seems unnecessary. You will find an introductory scenario (one-day, Prelude to Eagle Day), 2 scenarios (respectively from 11 August and 27 August) and the Campaign Game (from 11 August to Sealion or Elimination of one of the two air forces, which ever occurs first). For grognards, you will find at last some very interesting advanced rules (which, I think, must be used), and one optional rule for Night Raids (I have never used).
Reference Sheets are well designed and, eventually, used intuitively.
Sequence of play is articulated by "Raid Days", divided in 4 phases : Daily Preparation, Raids, Airfield Operations and Calendar Update, with Raids Phase being the core of the game.
During Daily Preparation Phase, after repairing (or not) damages from previous Raid day, a die roll will decide of the day’s weather. Sunny days are praised by the Luftwaffe but clouds are RAF best’s allies (because clouds may disrupt German raids and hamper bombing but lower Britain detection, so some players will disagree)...
Southeast England is divided in 3 regions and (if your radars are not crippled) you will have some clues about region of next German raid.
Now, British player must take one of the difficult decisions of the game, taking off some Squadrons to patrolling (and where) or keep them on ground...
There is now a Raid Phase, of random duration.
A card drawn will choose the target of the raid, and British Player rolls a die, with some modificators (the more radar station near the target, the more Gruppen in the raid and the more inland is the target will give a lot of bonus to this roll, for example). Detection is divided in two criterias, Intelligence and Warning. Sometimes, British player will know exactly the composition of the raid but, more often, he will know only the number of Gruppen, this is Intelligence. Early Warning allows British player to muster his Squadrons and often, you will regret to have kept your fighters on the ground... Of course, you will also regret to have intercepted a raid when sky will be filled by Me-109...You don’t have to intercept a raid, but, each raid with Bombers you don’t intercept will give 1 VP to the German player...
It’s now time to fight. Interception is resolved in two phases, one Hunter Interception where Me 109 and RAF Fighters will dogfight. Then, in Squadron Interception, British survivors will attack Bomber Gruppen and their Close Escort Fighters. Some Events Cards could give some thrill, by removing, just before interception, some valuable planes to one (or both) player.
Surviving Bomber Gruppen will now bomb the target, inflicting some damages on Airfields, Aircraft Industries or Radar Stations.
Luftwaffe gains VP by bombing Target (from 0 to 3 VP) and by destroying RAF Squadrons (2 VP for a Heavy Loss and 1 VP for a Light Loss).
RAF gains VP by destroying German Gruppen (2 VP for a Heavy Loss and 1 VP for a Light Loss).
Card events will also show a number which simulates clock advance. Sometimes, all your squadrons will have taken off and one (or more) German raid will come again, so you will just have to see bombs falling…
During Airfield Operations Phase, each player will refit his planes (based on the number of two-hours phases of rest).
At the end of each day, there is a Calendar Update Phase, to gains some replacements (of plane and, only for the RAF of pilots) and reinforcements (RAF must pay 2 or 3 VP by reinforcing Squadron). Number of replacements is based on the number of days between Raids, depending on a card drawn.
The full campaign will take about 6 hours of playing time.
This is game with a lot of fun but this is an HISTORICAL one. I can affirm that, if you are sending your Squadrons by little packets, Luftwaffe will down them at fast pace.
Meanwhile I think if he doesn’t make big mistakes, it’s difficult for RAF solo-player to lose. But you will have to make hard choices, you will be (often) surprised and you can really live Battle of Britain, so I recommend this game for every fan of Aerial wargames and all people interested by this historical subject.
They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
Nice review - thanks for posting!
I agree it's hard to lose.
The other Euro guy
This is essentially the same review (by the same reviewer) as was posted three months earlier...
Lion versus Eagle, Hugh versus Hermann
...unless I am missing something?