Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Battle Over Britain: Minden Games - Solitaire Rule Modifications

Sgt. Hill, RAF, kept his eyes open for enemy fighters, the first waves signaling yet another attack. His effort was not wasted; soon, a cloud of Kraut warplanes appeared in the distance.

A few minutes later, chaos exploded around him as planes on both sides were punctured by lead pouring from machine guns,  and smoke and flame filled the once calm sky. 

It was no surprise when he spotted the ME109e coming in 9 o'clock high.

Calmly, Hill pulled up into a steep climb and watched the German fighter dive below him - Hill attempted to roll and dive after it, but the Spitfire wasn't agile enough to maneuver into position for a clean shot at the enemy. 

I know nothing of air to air combat, unless you count watching Top Gun, and it probably shows in the narrative above. However, I've played this game three times now, and each has been quite enjoyable despite this.

Battle over Britain is a small, fast-play (15 minutes or less), wargame from Minden Games - you get the rulebook, counter sheet, hit/damage table and a "dogfight display." The game is for 1-2 players and requires a d6 and a standard deck of 52 cards (and the two jokers to play solitaire).

The rules are fairly straight forward and took more time to read than the first two games I played! In addition to the core rules, there are a handful of optional rules,  a "scenario" generator, a campaign game, solitaire rules including a role-playing option.

In a two player game, each player is dealt a number of cards equal to their Speed rating. Hands are replenished after each round.

One of the keys to the game is having the Advantage (which generally represents altitude. Except when it doesn't). If you have it, you can shoot (maybe), but if not, you can't. The playing cards determine your position on the dogfight display, and the suits determine Advantage.

The plane with Advantage going into a turn plays their card second - clearly this gives them, wait for it, some advantage as they know their opponent's position on the display and can play a card to steal the advantage and get an attack, or at least thwart the enemy and prevent damage to themselves.

Now, as written, in solitaire play, the German plane simply uses the top card from the deck for their card. This works well enough, and I played the first two games this way, but it doesn't reflect any sense that they have an advantage. 

So, I decided to draw two cards, and choose the one that gives the best option. Yes, I could probably draw up to the max number of cards(defined by the speed attribute of the plane) and play the best, but so far, 2 seems to work.

 I rank the cards best to worst as follows:

  • Advantage with possible attack (best)
  • Advantage, no attack
  • Advantage, Head On (both sides fire)
    • Use this if has same or more damage points remaining than British, otherwise No Advantage or Disadvantage without a possible enemy attack is better.
  • No advantage for either side
  • Disadvantage, but no enemy attack possible
  • Disadvantage, enemy attack possible (worst)

The goal, is of course, to give the enemy the best position to win, and to make my life that much more difficult.

I found the decisions for my own cards interesting enough, but by no means taxing. In the last game, due to the cards I had been dealt, the choice was almost always between 5 similarly bad options. I should have used the "yank the stick" option, but forgot all about it (you can discard a number of cards, draw one and you have to play that one regardless). My strategy went from trying to win, to trying to run out the deck and reach a draw.

The solitaire rules also suggest that Germans always take a shot when possible, and that they don't run out of ammo.

All well and good, but I like to roll dice and draw cards and such, so I decided they sure as hell could run out of ammo and would make their decision to fire based on the following:

For a resolution number of:

4+ - always shoot because damage to the enemy is guaranteed.
3 - shoot 75% of the time
2 - shoot 50% of the time
1 - shoot 25% of the time

The Me109 had the advantage often in the third game, but couldn't capitalize on it - either not being able to shoot at all or only having a 25% chance (and then not firing) until turn 8, when he had a resolution of 1 and rolled 16%. 

The tinny sound of bullets perforating metal echoed in Sgt. Hill's ears as his Spitfire was riddled with holes by the German pilot. 

His die roll to hit was a 5, so he scored 2 points of damage against my Spitfire.

The plane still handled well, whatever damage had been done, Sgt. Hill could still fight. Not that he had any choice.

For two more turns the dogfight raged and then:

Feverishly, he worked the stick, trying to get the enemy into his site, but it was for naught. A flash of flame erupted from the engine, and the Spitfire exploded in a horrific fireball; so ended Sgt. Hill's brief career.

The first two games ended in less than 10 minutes, the last took 15 minutes, which is probably on the long end of things. 

The game has a very small footprint, 8.5" x 5.5", and is perfect for getting in some gaming on a lunch break without a big setup/tear down. 

I also have the Solitaire Module, which includes additional planes, and some expansion of the solo system, but I have yet to give them more than a cursory reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment