Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Hello Rabbit Leader - Battle of Britain boardgame

Although I bought the Battle of Britain boardgame from Plastic Soldier Company back in October I'd only managed one actual game...this was with Eric the Shed towards the end of last year and I was soundly beaten!  So I was pleased to get a chance to give it a second outing this week at Guildford.

Action over the South Coast

My opponent, Anthony, has a preference to play the Brits so I knew there wouldn't be any debate about which side I was going to play!

The game mechanics

The game mechanics are fairy straightforward. Squadrons are organised into Luftflotte or Groups and these comprise 6 German squadrons made up of a mix of fighters and bombers versus RAF squadrons made up of 3 fighters.  The actual composition of each squadron is initially random but can then be adjusted as the game progresses.

The Luftwaffe allocate missions to each squadron; again these are drawn randomly but the German player has some control over where they are allocated.  As German planes reach the British coast and cross a radar marker, the RAF have the option to intercept them.  This can be pretty deadly as the RAF field all 3 fighter squadrons while the Luftwaffe have to put up a random draw of 3 of the 6 cards, which could result in the German bombers being caught in an unwelcome air battle.  The snag for the RAF is that they only have resources to engage in 5 air combats each turn which means inevitably some bombers will get through.

Assuming they survive the initial interception, next turn the Germans can continue to move a further 5 or 10 squares (the RAF only move 3) which does give them the option of reaching far flung targets like Belfast!  The Luftwaffe have 3 target types:  radar stations (which mean they cant be automatically intercepted), airfields (which make them unavailable to the RAF) and cities (which deny the RAF production points).  The RAF can also dogfight with German squadrons but this is fought as a series of one on one fights which means the Germans have the chance to field fighters where available...again there is a 5 combat limit which means the RAF player has to choose carefully where and when to pick his fights.

Assuming that some of the bombers at least have made to their targets they are then able to make a bombing run (and risk ack-ack fire in the process).  Squadrons then return automatically to home but do have to check on losses on the way back depending how much fuel they have used on the way

Go Luftflotte 5!!!!

At the end of the turn the RAF use the available production points to repair damaged radar and airfields and restore damaged aircraft.  The Luftwaffe don't have the luxury of repairing aircraft but do have a much bigger starting stock (apart from the rather weedy Luftflotte 5 who fly out of Norway with a frankly rubbish small mix of bombers and fighters...historically accurate though)

So how did our game go?  I was very lucky in that my initial choice of bombing missions was largely concentrated on the south and east coasts so I was able to knock out a couple of radar stations in turn 1.  Some lucky dice throwing on my part also meant that the RAF took heavy casualties...especially 10 Group covering the South and West.  I had less success around the SE but did manage to knock out a radar station in the North West and avoid too many casualties on Luftflotte 5.  The high amount of damage meant the RAF couldn't repair everything and get planes back in the air and crucially the gap in radar cover meant I was able to pile squadrons through the gaps and bomb Exeter and Swansea. Although these were repaired next turn I was also able to bomb Portsmouth and the Port of London and keep the pressure up on the South coast.  Luftwaffe casualties were mounting this point however and we ran out of time for the final turn but it was looking like a narrow victory for the Luftwaffe.

Each Luftflotte has a management board to organise flights and missions
Back when I first posted about the Battle of Britain game there was a lot of grumbling (including by me) about the quality of the miniatures, the bendiness of the wings etc.  I've straightened out most of the planes which was pretty easy to do and they look good on the table.  They aren't meant to be detailed representations of the the squadrons...the actual plane used has no connection to the composition of the Luftflotte or Group.  Think of them as the counters being pushed around by WRAFs on a map table in a Command Centre somewhere in the South of England while a stoic Wing Commander smokes his pipe and looks on pensively...to that end they work very well.  The only niggle I still have is the size of the stickers used on the bases to denote which Flight and Squadron each one represents...although they are colour coded which helps the writing is tiny which makes it very easy to mix up the flights.  Despite this the game is great fun and well worth looking out for.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the game Alastair, and saving me the hassle of having to read the rules myself!

    Best wishes