Game 1 for this week has been played. This was the PSC/Richard Borg “Battle of Britain”. We played the first scenario “Kanalkampf”. The game only has four turns and the designers say that it should take 1-2 hours for experienced players. Well, we were “straight out of the box” players and it took almost four hours. This is in no way a criticism. The game mechanisms are simple, once you know what you are doing.
There are a huge amount of game cards and tokens to manipulate, so apart from the game board (about 70x50cm), or the larger game mat that we used (106 x 86cm), you have to find room for eight control mats about 35 x 17cm each, half a dozen piles of counters and somewhere to roll the dice. A table about half the size of Canada will suffice!
As for the game mechanisms, they are very much in the Richard Borg style, as in “card driven options, then chuck x number of dice and what you roll is what you score”. Each side has cubic dice with 3 of their own symbol, 1 enemy symbol and 2 blanks.
The German player has 7 “Flights”, each of initially 6 squadrons. Each is dealt a mission card (from a hand of 10) to bomb an airfield, a radar station or a city. It is impossible to cross the English coast without being detected by radar, unless you have destroyed the radar station. If detected the British player may choose to intercept with an entire flight (he has 12 flights of 3 squadrons) or to wait and “dogfight”. But he can only make 5 attacks each turn, so someone will usually get through, only to be attacked again next turn.
I started by concentrating on the two radar stations in my hand of cards, but was intercepted (Total defending flight value vs total attacking flight value) and only destroyed one of them. Those flights that got through (I only had 5 achievable targets*) were attacked by dog fights where you play off one squadron at a time until one side has nobody left. In both forms of combat you have a 1/2 chance of damaging the enemy, a 1/3 chance of no effect and a 1/6 chance of “friendly fire” adding to the enemy’s roll.
*When you have only 1 flight in Norway and 6 in France, and 5 of your 10 possible missions are Newcastle, Glasgow, Middlesborough, Preston and Creswell radar (N. of Newcastle) there is not a lot you can do about it!
I managed to knock out the Worth radar station in Dorset, and one airfield, but the first thing the British player can do next turn is repair them or replace lost aircraft. German aircraft are out for good. New aircraft and new missions are available, but downed Germans count for the British final score.
Anyway, after the four turns I had with my seven flights achieved three mission successes and two aborted missions. The game ended with one radar station out, one city (Newcastle) damaged and one fighter ace to my credit. My British opponent counted three fighter aces, two aborted missions and innumerable downed German squadrons. The score was; Germans 15, British “too many to count”.
I nearly obliterated Nottingham but when I got there he had shot down all my Heinkels and Dorniers and left me with 4 squadrons of ME109s with no bombing ability!
I’ll hammer him next time! Iron crosses all round in place of this foray’s wooden ones. This is a game to play again when I get the chance.