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Battle of Britain
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
Sir Winston Churchill. From his speech to the House of Commons on August 20, 1940 as the Battle of Britain peaked.

Sir Winston Churchill contrasted Britain's struggle at the opening of World War II to the Great War. He asserted that a primary difference was that in this war the fronts were everywhere, with trenches dug in the towns and in the streets. But he directed special gratitude to the men in the air.

The Battle of Britain was one of the most decisive struggles in the twentieth century. TalonSoft's latest wargame recreates the strategic aspects of the struggle, modeling intricate details such as each aircraft and radar installation.

The action is centered over central England, around the industry and airfields surrounding London. At the focus of the game are the best known aircraft of that conflict: Spitfires, Bf-109s, and FW-190s. But the famous German bombers, the He-111s and the Ju-87 Stukas, are also present in numbers.

The longest campaign in BoB lasts six months. The full historical campaign is set in three months in 1940. I thought it was very cool that the game designers included a six-month hypothetical campaign which postulates that Hitler didn't commit himself to Operation Barbarossa against Russia and instead decided to continue the struggle to defeat Britain.

Whose Side Are You On?

The decision as to which side you will play determines the gameplay. The Germans offense has their work cut out for them. If you play on this side you get to choose targets and plan the raids and monitor recon info. Once your orders are set the game is handed over to the British player (or the AI.)

The British defense is less strategically oriented, and as a result less interesting to play. The British side is relegated to monitoring fatigue levels and rotating squadrons to the rear for rest. If you are motivated and feel you can anticipate the German assault, you can also shuffle anti-aircraft guns about.

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Opening Screen

The German game is won when sufficient damage is inflicted on the British air force or industrial capacity, or when civilian morale falls sufficiently low. German objectives are time limited, or else the British win by default.

Luftwaffe Planning Screen

The German battle makes a pretty good game, and there are mechanisms in place that nicely ease the learning curve. Initially the most you have to do is choose a primary target and the AI will manage the raids. As you become more comfortable with the interface and dynamics, you can tweak the raids to your hearts content.

The tactical dimension comes into force when you get more involved in planning raids. You can plan waves such that the defenders are distracted from your actual target, or force them to split their forces in three or four directions. You can use feints and diversions, and of course you can even plan night time raids.

The British game is somewhat less interesting, in part because there is less to do, but secondarily because having less to do you will notice that the graphics aren't that great. So if you are no longer deeply involved in the tactical game, what will keep your interest?

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Last Updated July 22nd, 1999

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