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John D Salt

I’ve managed a single read-through. First impression is that it delivers as advertised: An experiential exercise meant to give ‘players’ a hint/touch of what it was to fly a bombing mission.

As a game it falls far short, imo. It plays out as a game of Snakes and Ladders with the participants only present to draw cards and/or roll dice to serve as cogs in the process to see what happens. As stated: That’s what the thing says it is, so I’ve no complaints in that regard.

This was a criticism I have always levelled at AH’s popular solitaire boardgme, “B-17: Queen of the Skies”. The game pretty well plays itself, with the “player” really acting as dummy and just following the dictates of the rules, with almost no decisions to make. I have a great deal of sympathy with a measure of game quality proposed by Tony Hawkins, which is that a good game gives the players a reasonable frequency of significant decisions to make (so not things with obvious right answers or where there is little impact on the outcome). By this measure, “B-17:QOTS” is an awful game, yet it remains extremely popular.

The point was made on the AH games Facebook group this week that despite the lack of significant player decisions, “B-17:QOTS” is rather a good representation of what it meant to be bomber crew during the combined bomber offensive: your fate rests almost entirely on decisions made by someone else. This may be slightly less true of Bomber Command crews (navigating and bombing independently as part of the bomber stream) that the Mighty Eighth (flying in close formation and bombing by master bomber), but not much. I suspect that wargamers do not often appreciate just how few levers of control tactical commanders often have, but bomber crew seems to offer a fairly extreme case of there being, as WSC put it, “no plan other than to persist”.

If you want a good decision-making game about the bomber offensive, and wish to stick to the “commander’s boots” principle, then I think this would need the players to take roles in the planning staff for whole raids. If anyone does come up with any good ideas for a game of this sort, I’d be very interested to hear them, especially with reference to a game I am failing to design on the British Pacific Fleet’s two raids on the oil refineries at Palembang (the biggest strikes ever delivered by the FAA, but surprisngly little known).

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any “raid level” games at all, but perhaps somebody knows of some…

All the best,