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Subject: Who Designed this a German Sympathizer? rss

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Mike Foley
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Let me start by saying for a game published 32 years ago this is a pretty impressive game. Back in the day, this was well ahead of some of the other games on the market, and is a lot more strategic than the lame Axis & Allies dicefest.

However, if you look beyond the lovely accuracy that they created with all the squadrons and historical accounts of the Battle of Britain; this game is like putting your hand in a meat slicer and expecting it not to get shredded. If this was what the Brits would have faced in reality... we'd be likely living in a Nazi state today.

Since many others have reviewed this game by now, let me state my purpose of this review. The more recent revised release of this game RAF: The Battle of Britain 1940 by Decision Games features two other game variants, but is very pricey. I couldn't find one with shipping that didn't run at least $90.00. Since I figured I'd be mostly playing this solo... I chose to look into getting a copy of the original RAF game; which is much more available. I realized after playing this several times that the reason for that availability is that this game is flawed!

The basics of how to play the game are very easy to figure out and after you play several days it goes much faster. You'll often forget to flip a counter or do something out of sequence inevitably -- so it's tough to play this very quickly. It's a game you'll want to set on a table and play a number of days and then break and come back to it. It's great for that and you won't lose your place at all as long as nothing disturbs the numerous tokens on the playmate.

Yeah, yeah... to those few out there that want to play or should I say study this game for hours on end (One guy on here stated he's won the game like 1 in about 16 plays on average... talk about a glutton for punishment... this is not a fast play game!) you can take the position that as a solo game this should be tough. Because most solo games will inevitably not be able to outwit the experienced player. That's partly true with this game, but the absolute amount of randomness in this game is impossible to predict or overcome!

For example: No matter how many squadrons you throw at a couple German Bombers and an Escort it can randomly result in a disaster on the chart. Not realistic! Plus Random Events can skew the effectiveness you might have had with wearing down the Germans to only run into a mid-day total RELIEF of their planes!(And it can happen more than once a day!) No matter how much you protect your Radar systems you roll a random dice all the time to determine the coming forces and often can't react in time with an effective defense.

So, let's say you can definitely get familiar with the best strategy to take. But after investing hours in the game it can be blown apart on several bad rolls and unfortunate events. Playing as the Brits and expecting to win in this game is like playing the Germans in Axis & Allies and expecting to win. You can, but you need to defy the odds!

The game has some nice boosts in it too, that aid the Germans in a historical manner. However, they really don't even need them to crush your peppered forces, so they may never even come into play for you. One of the major changes in the battle was the bomber losses sustained by the Germans which forced changes in their tactics to protect their bombers. The other is the sudden switch by Hitler to start bombing major cities after the Brits inadvertently bombed civilian sites on the mainland. The historical change made it a major change in the Battle and took pressure off the Brit airfields. The problem is to trigger that in this game, or to get the German bombing priorities changed is completely random. DID YOU GET IT YET? Welcome to RISK... you have to hope you get the right rolls to trigger the power down switches in this game. When you do it's beatable and more realistic too.

Otherwise, expect to beat your head against the wall with this game.

I've tinkered with a few things that make it more enjoyable and help contend with the randomness.

1. When Brit Squadrons intercept bombers & close escorts roll 2 dice and choose one. (The Combat Results table is fine for facing Me 109s, but Spitfires and Hurricanes should shred German bomber squadrons... yet in this game unless you throw 4+ squadrons at a Bomber good luck eliminating it!)

2. The Bombing Table is nuts... the Heavy H result should not be 1d6 +1. Roll a few 6's and the game is over as if the Germans had invented a nuclear bomb! I usually roll 1-2-3-4=3 damage and 5-6= 4 damage. (It's more akin to the law of averages.

When using the Night Raids option, the above change generally keeps the game competitive as well. I also allow the Blenheims the use of rolling two dice as well on the combat table and choosing one. They barely can hit anything and this gives them a chance to actually do something every now and then rather then wasting your life rolling dice for naught.

3. The game comes with 2 blank cards for each deck, I'm presently trying to come up with a solution to help trigger the Terror Strategy of bombing cities and taking pressure off the British Airfields.
The Event deck has a few tricks to cause the German bombing to switch... but it's far too random to coincide with the historical outcome. You want the chance of the bombing Terror to come into play if the Brits have frustrated the Germans to switch their tactics... uncertain what is the best way to incorporate it other than using those blank cards to just call for a dice roll on the German Target Table when they're drawn. It could be done at the end of a turn if chosen by the player, merely as a way to have more chances to get the Target Priority table changed up more often. (Dice games require more dice rolls to even out the randomness. But if you only roll to change targets about 3 or 4 times a game you can get stuck in a bad situation and you're just wasting your time. The other features in the game actually will help the Germans if it goes bad for them.)


Alright, so that's my take on this game... it's been fun but far too frustrating to pull out and hope to win the lottery with it. The Brits pulled off a spectacular victory, but this game lacks the ineptitude that Goring and Hitler exhibited and bull dozes you just when you thought you had a shot at winning it.

Verdict, FLAWED but fun enough to fix with house rules.
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James Young
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Fair enough, I can understand the frustration brought out through the random events that can occur (patrolling sqns land, German relief). The introduction of house rules, however, I often find difficult for many solo games as I am wary of skewing the mechanics of the game when I am simply no game designer myself. One would have thought that playtesting would have ironed out most of these foibles.
Anyhoo, the only time I have 'won' this game was to use my own house rule of permanently eliminating a German squadron when it is eliminated (ie not returned to the replacement track) in recognition that for virtually all downed German airmen in the BoB: "Fur Sie, ist der Krieg vorbei."
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Stuart Williams
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I know the frustration - I can not ever seem to win this, and the occasional comments of people that you can win if you use the same tactics as the real RAF doesn't work for me. Big Wing or facing all radar or airfield attacks, it doesn't seem to make a difference.
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Simon Blackwell
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Because this is a solitaire game there inevitably is a randomness in it. The designer in my opinion has done a pretty good job.

As you say you can win but you must defy the odds. If it was easy especially once a player has grasped certain tactics and certain don't ever do this even if it seems like a good idea at the time you would end up winning it with no real sense of achievement and more likely than not stop playing the game. The very fact that its so hard to win is for me the ultimate challenge. Even when you are having a few days good results suddenly everything can turn on its head and hit you like a 1000 decibel Jericho Trumpet ringing in your ears.

German Relief and Land Patrolling Sqdns are the most annoying events that really can turn your whole strategy for the day into a Christiano Ronaldo's ego sized pile of doo-doo. For me that's why I love this game. Infact I like it so much I tend to make it even harder on myself using those blank cards as random deck shuffles to stop me card counting as well as other penalties.
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Simon Blackwell
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sowilliams wrote:
I know the frustration - I can not ever seem to win this, and the occasional comments of people that you can win if you use the same tactics as the real RAF doesn't work for me. Big Wing or facing all radar or airfield attacks, it doesn't seem to make a difference.


Big Wing is really something of a luxury only really possible if you have a lot of reinforcement Sqdn's or are fortunate to have a light on a sector that lots of Sqdn's can reach and gamble on it being the only one of the day.
BUT
protecting your RDF first and foremost and airfields secondly wherever possible certainly is a worthwhile tactic. Sure it doesn't always work (Stanley Baldwin's assertion that "The Bomber always gets through is very apt in this game) but the implications of losing an RDF "eyes" for detection without attempting to protect it aren't even worth thinking about.
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Clint Pewtress
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I played the original, but haven’t touched it since the new version was released... very much worth it’s price, IMO.
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Mike Foley
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Clint... I didn't study the rules on the revised game and figure out if it had resolved some of the frustration of the original game. Sounds like you've gladly moved on with the new version.

Lots to like about this game, it's just off a bit when you want the "good guys" to win. And don't mind the challenge as a solo game it can't overcome your experience on it's random traps. Just annoying to get half way into a game and be totally hosed with some bad rolls and events. (Especially with the ALL OUT attacks a few days in a row and a German RELIEF... pow you can't over come it.)
 
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Mike Foley
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Simon, seeing that you live in England, it seems like you're a Battle of Britain aficionado... and this game certainly seems to do a really good job portraying the desperate situation your country faced. Have you tried the revised game? Wondering if there is a distinct change that could be used in this version that would just alleviate some of the frustration without undoing the design. Considering what was the state of game design back in the mid 1980's I can't believe I hadn't heard how good this one was ... but the US market often is egocentric!
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Simon Blackwell
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Hi mike, I actually don't have the revised game. Almost every one who does move to it claims its a better game. That may be the case, I couldn't comment although the solitaire version will still inevitably have that element of randomness. I think the designer has done the best he can with both versions to tie the way things evolve albeit it randomly to historical events that actually happened.

I echo your frustration with German Relief and my own bugbear Patrolling Sqdn's Lane but that's what keeps me on my toes.

There are a few reasons I never got the new game, but mainly was that, like the original it didn't have some of the aspects in the real campaign that I would have liked to have been reflected, namely some of the "forgotten" Sqdn's (Boulton Paul Defiant's and the Italians etc etc etc) and some of the "what if" scenario's although I fully understand it as both versions only cover the southern part of the country and adding extra chrome would make the rules more fiddly and less quick play. This is another plus for the game, the rules are short enough to pick up very quickly.

I am very precious about this campaign. A number of German and British aircraft were downed in the parish where I live and I've been interested in the subject from a child when I first saw the lovely Susannah York in the film "Battle of Britain" yelling those immortal words "Don't you yell at me Mr Warwick" I even donated my pocket money to the Wings Appeal and received a personalised letter of thanks from Douglas Bader.

I hardly ever get to play wargames as 2 player games now all my friends have families and live all over the globe so solitaire is the way I tend to go. I am continually tweaking this game with my own house rules on the subject, as well as alternate events and target cards and expanding the period from July to October. This to most I expect would seem more like work than enjoyment but its what get's my Radio Detection Finding going.

July 10th will be my next "live" game playing it one day at a time using the actual weather on the day, logging every combat and every Sqdn's claims and trying against the inevitable to last the summer. My wife's thinks I need committing, little does she know I am planning on sacrificing her soul to the fickle dice gods for some decent d6 rolls.
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Clint Pewtress
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The new version is markedly improved, simply by virtue that squadrons now fly more than once per day through the tote board mechanism, so so they ready, rearm and go back into action. (Dependent on hours between raids). You can “Big Wing” by delaying response til later in the intercept cycle, but that generally lets the Luftwaffe smack their target before you will interecept...

The addition of Luftwaffe solo and 2 player mode is a bonus. As Luftwaffe player it’s easy to know you should concentrate on radar and airfields, but your target directives come from Berlin. When Herman shifts priority to ports and cities you will wring your hands in frustration! (At a convention I played this 2 player.... attendees kept walking by telling me to focus on radar and the RAF... “Don’t you think I KNOW that! Tell the Feldmarschal!)

The new one is pretty slick... I felt the frustration with the original too. If you are a BoB fan, it’s well worth the effort to get ahold of a copy, IMO

Clint


CondorTheMerciless wrote:
Clint... I didn't study the rules on the revised game and figure out if it had resolved some of the frustration of the original game. Sounds like you've gladly moved on with the new version.

Lots to like about this game, it's just off a bit when you want the "good guys" to win. And don't mind the challenge as a solo game it can't overcome your experience on it's random traps. Just annoying to get half way into a game and be totally hosed with some bad rolls and events. (Especially with the ALL OUT attacks a few days in a row and a German RELIEF... pow you can't over come it.)
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Mike Foley
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Simon, funny you mention the movie Battle of Britain, I got it from the library and took another look at it. Finally I was better able to follow the storyline having the more intimate knowledge of how things proceeded thanks to this game. They really left a lot of us "Yanks" mystified as to the subtleties in that movie.
Yet, as I watched it I was amazed that they had that many old planes in flying condition for the movie. Apparently, from a more recent BBC special it seems there are practically only 2-3 Me 109s still in flying condition nowadays.
Having lived there in the actual fly zones you can really appreciate the history that took place there. I wonder if the younger generation can appreciate it? Most of them here in the states know little of WWII when you mention anything in detail of the war. At least some will discover it via war games like this one... hurrah!
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Quote:
27 Spitfires, in various degrees of repair, were found for the film, twelve of which could be made airworthy. Only six Hurricanes where found, three of which were made flyable. The Messerschmitt 109s were all retired from the Spanish Air Force. The production company bought them all, about fifty of them, and put seventeen of them back in flying condition. They are in the movie, flown by Spanish Air Force pilots, and members of the Confederate Air Force. The 32 Heinkels, with crews, were on loan, for free, from the Spanish Air Force, where they still were used for transport and target towing. Two of them were eventually bought by the production company, and flown together with the 17 Messerschmitts to England, for further shooting. The two Junkers 52 were also on loan from the Spanish Air Force.


Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064072/trivia?ref_=ttmi_ql_trv...
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Kev.
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Its the lack of decisions to make to influence the game play and events that is the problem.
Not the Randomness.
As someone once said this is a solo game, but really all you are doing is playing the game for the System - it cant roll its own dice.
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Simon Blackwell
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Its well known amongst the older generation in the UK, but I suspect not so well known even amongst the digital generation.
At the time of production for the film, it was claimed that the air fleet assembled was the 35th largest airforce in the world. 50+ Heinkel 111's, 28 Bf109/Buchon's, 24+ Spitfires and 4 or so Hurricanes, plus a Ju52. All well before the days of CGI/Digital trickery
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Andy Daglish
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Quote:
but this game lacks the ineptitude that Goring and Hitler exhibited
When Hermann arrived on the coast, and ordered much heavier fighter escort, everything suddenly changed for the better. As for Hitler, what should he have done?

Quote:
Boulton Paul Defiant
there were a few crews who did very well, but the engine hadn't had the lavish development enjoyed by the Merlin.

Quote:
the subtleties in that movie
Top Gear's favourite, but its the weirdest mixture of good & careless.

Something I never understood about the game was why British fighter squadrons could not be redistributed to where they were needed most ie. sectors where everything had been shot down, which then provided a safe airway to London. Maybe I got this wrong.
 
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Ben Bosmans
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It was designed by John H. Butterfield.

One of the best solo designers in the history of (war)gaming.

Also known to have designed Ambush!, Voyage of the B.S.M. Pandora, D-Day at Omaha Beach, Operation Jubilee: Dieppe, August 1942, D-Day at Tarawa, Enemy Action: Ardennes, co designed Conflict of Heroes: Eastern Front – Solo Expansion and a bunch of others.

So you are into an up hill battle here . Certainly when attacking an almost 35 year old game that was redesigned just a few years ago.

... Why not play the latest edition ? It is like attacking Einstein on his early work before he published his relativity theory...





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Mike Foley
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Simon, the production of that Battle of Britain film for it's time was topnotch. With my familiarity of the game it was so much easier to understand now, as they didn't blatantly present certain things about the battle well in the film.

Having seen Dunkirk, I'd love to see that movie remade... but with a limited number of flying planes today could they even match some of the shots they were able to get in the previous film.

The extras on Dunkirk showed that Nolan didn't want to impliment very many special effects and the plane shots were extraordinary!!!

Makes me wanna grab those dice and get some random results! Ha ha... so begins the pain again!!!
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Doug Bonforte

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Ridley Scott to direct Battle of Britain 'passion project' movie
Ridley Scott is to direct a second world war film about the Battle of Britain.

The studio 20th Century Fox has lined up Scott to direct the film, which is described as a passion project for the British director in a Deadline report. The film will be written by Matthew Orton, a British screenwriter, who also has a film in production about the attempts to track down the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/apr/04/ridley-scott-to...

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Doug Bonforte

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In sketchier news...Roland Emmerich’s Midway
Emmerich. Yeeesh.

Woody Harrelson & Mandy Moore in talks for Roland Emmerich’s Midway

Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios has acquired the international rights to Midway, to be directed by iconic filmmaker Roland Emmerich (Independence Day franchise, The Day After Tomorrow) from a script by Wes Tooke, and will introduce the film to buyers at Cannes. Deadline is also reporting that Woody Harrelson (Solo: A Star Wars Story) and Mandy Moore (This Is Us) are in negotiations to join what will be an ensemble cast, and that the $100 million dollar movie will lens in Hawaii and Canada.

Based on the true story of the Battle of Midway, a turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II, the film chronicles the heroic and harrowing exploits of the soldiers and aviators who achieved the unbelievable to turn the tide of the war.

Produced by Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment, Midway will be produced by Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser (2012, White House Down, Independence Day: Resurgence), and Mark Gordon (Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, Molly’s Game). The film is in pre-production with principal photography to start August 16.

‎”Roland’s track record and brand as a master of big budget action films is second to none and I’m highly confident ‘Midway’ will make a big splash in the Cannes marketplace,” said Ford.


http://www.comingsoon.net/movies/news/943037-roland-emmerich...
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Chris Stimpson
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I could never come to terms with this game. And I don't have the revised game; my experiences with the original were so bad I couldn't see forking out for another one.

Like one of the other posters, I tried house ruling the game to give the RAF (i.e., the player) more of a chance, but I agree, it's unsatisfactory to do that - if it works, you've basically cheated to win.

Of all the issues other posters have brought up, my biggest concern was with the notion that a squadron was effectively done after one sortie per day. Anyone who knows anything about the Battle knows that some squadrons scrambled several times/day. I don't know whether the LW ever went up more than once a day - probably not. Apparently this has been addressed in the revised game.

Anyhoo, I am quite happy playing The Burning Blue solitaire. Much better simulation and more of a game experience.
 
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Simon Blackwell
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Each to their own. To clarify you can of course do a second sortie per day in the game with the same unit if it did not take any damage, it can scramble fatigued on the ground if your detection rolls hold up.

Burning Blue is fine as a 2 player game that satisfies some. As a solitaire game its doesn't compare to RAF original or the revised version as it wasn't designed as such.

The designer's boasts of interviewing a handful of veterans to give him that extra bit of kudos doesn't necessarily have much to do with making a good game. I really wanted to like Burning Blue but L B-W's hubris was too much for me to stomach
 
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Chris Stimpson
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Yes, you can scramble a squadron twice, but IIRC (years since I’ve played) it will take off fatigued, which probably means it will be out of actionfor several days. Not a realistic simulation nor a useful game tactic.

And re Burning Blue, the amount of research that quite obviously went into this operational game shows up in the verisimilitude of the gaming experience. Not true of RAF as I know it.
 
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