Monday, May 31, 2010

The Buring Blue

By: Joe Steadman -

One of the highest rated wargames at is Lee Brimmicombe-Wood’s game of the Air War over Vietnam called Downtown: Air War Over Hanoi, 1965-1972. I really enjoy Downtown and find the theme intriguing so I was very excited to get my copy of The Burning Blue by the same game designer and publisher. Like many other wargamers I really have a strong preference for games that cover World War Two. The Burning Blue is a new operational air warfare wargame that simulates the epic air battles over Southern England from July to December 1940. Starting with the air battles over the Channel and ending with the large fighter-bomber offensives and devastating assaults on London, Mr. Brimmicombe-Wood’s game pits the Luftwaffe against the Royal Air Force and its air defense system. Have you ever seen an old war movie that shows some old generals and flight controllers in some R.A.F. bunker staring at a huge map as orderlies push little models of planes around with long sticks? This is the game that recreates that.
Game Play:
This game really reminds me of Downtown in many ways. The first being the totally unique ways in which each player must play his side of the game. The British player must order his fighter squadrons to scramble as the enemy raids form up on radar. You can either send them to intercept the raids or order them to patrol over vital possible targets. Shooting down planes is important but cohesion and breaking up enemy formations is what really counts. As the Luftwaffe player you must design attack plans that will best take into consideration the British defenses. In doing this you have many options. You can do things like ordering close fighter support for your bombers or putting together a group of Me109s to clear the sky ahead of your bomber formations. Stukas, decoy raids, and the elite Dornier bomber are all part of the game and the options are endless.
The Burning Blue is beautiful. The box art is compelling. The three sheets of counters are high class, and the no-nonsense, detailed-packed paper map works well. The game also includes a full deck of detection cards, two huge fold out reference charts, a full color squadron tote board, two raid displays, a log sheet booklet, a 48 page scenario book including five self-standing scenarios, a 40 page well laid out rule book, and the classic GMT dice and baggies. There is a Cyberboard gamebox for The Burning Blue available and I am pretty sure a VASSEL module is in the works for players who wish to play by e-mail.
You can tell a lot of research and help from veteran pilots of the Battle of Britain went into the making of The Burning Blue. This may sound corny, but playing this game has given me a whole new insight into this important World War Two battle. The game rates a well deserved “high” on the GMT game scale on the back of the box and believe me it is not a “learn in twenty minutes game” with things like balloons, ACK-ACK, pursuing, dogfights, stragglers, radar, and even head winds to consider but; if you are willing to invest some time into learning the game and can get a committed opponent the game is a real jewel. Mark my words; this is going to be a popular game.

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