Monday, August 03, 2009

Review of RAF by Decision Games

I picked up a copy of RAF by Decision Games. It is the DG remake of the old West End Games solitaire Battle of Britain game. In the original, you played the RAF and defended Britain against the Nazi bombers. The system uses cards to generate the targets and composition of the raids. You try position your fighters to maximize their chance of intercepting and shooting down the bombers. It is a battle of attrition where you try to outlast the Luftwaffe and postpone Operation Sea Lion.

The new game includes the original solitaire game as well as a Luftwaffe solitaire game and a two player version. The components are very nice. Big 5/8" counters depicting all of the British Squadrons and Luftwaffe Gruppen involved in the battle. There are two maps included with the game, one for the RAF and 2 player versions and one for the Luftwaffe version. The maps are nice, but are more functional than artistic. They include lots of tables, which makes playing the game a bit easier. There are several sheets of play aids, as well as a BoB article from S&T (which included at least two glaring errors... sigh). There is also one rulebook for each game, which is kind of cool.

I played the introductory scenario Sunday morning. I found the rules pretty easy to read and understand. The game includes some interesting mechanics, such as the combat resolution process and the way it handles limited intelligence. I was able to play the introductory scenario in about an hour, and that was while I was trying to make sure that I was correctly following the rules. The game was a minor German victory, caused by a couple of bad intercepts on my part. The game is tough. You really need to manage your squadrons well so the Germans don't slip through. The cards add a nice random element and prevent the game from being too chess like.

In summary, I thought the game was pretty cool. I'm going to try to play the 2nd scenario, which covers a week's worth of combat. The intro scenario was only a single day's raids. Once I do that, I'll switch sides and try the Luftwaffe game. I think the game will have a decent replay value due to the card mechanics. I'm looking forward to playing around with it a bit more.

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