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Posted on Dec 4, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Defending the Reich – Game Review (PC)

By Mike Tomlin

The R&D Option allows the player to spend command points on research and development on ground and air countermeasures, doctrine and bombing accuracy. Whether these will bear fruit is subject to a die roll by the computer, but R&D is an important aspect of the game. Due to the low tactical and technological starting base, without across the board improvements in each of these areas victory is impossible. Details of the weather and visibility etc. for the night ahead are provided by the weather forecast option.

Campaign Map So many targets, so little time

The target status option shows a simple spreadsheet listing all target cities, detailing size in acres, current percentage of damage, and flak levels. Obviously the bigger more important targets have higher flak levels. Data can be resorted by clicking on column headers, and cities selected will be highlighted on the map on the main screen. This information will be where you start deciding your targets for the night.


The airfield status option is similar, listing German airfields, and showing percentage status and whether or not currently occupied by night-fighter squadrons – very useful in planning bombing routes

The unit status option is key and provides another spreadsheet listing every squadron currently operational and at a players command, with up to date detailed information on each. All data can be resorted by column as required. This is one of the key areas of information in the game and must be studied carefully. Choices can be made here regarding increasing effectiveness, adding replacement aircraft/crews, Upgrading aircraft types where available that turn, and most important of all changing squadron status –i.e. alert, training or rest. Squadrons who are repeatedly sent out regardless of deteriorating morale and effectiveness will perform badly and suffer greater losses. Careful selection of rest and training periods will pay dividends, but the bombing offensive must still be maintained at all costs

Then there are plan raids. A small help screen is provided here, detailing the various steps for creating a raid, involving selecting targets, routes, mission type and squadrons. Each raid created cost two command points, thus limiting the number of raids possible in a single turn. The types of mission are key; main force is a bombing raid with bomber squadrons plus some pathfinders; Spoof is a decoy mission employing mosquito squadrons, to try and divert enemy night fighters from the main force missions; intruder is a mosquito raid aimed at suppressing a particular enemy airfield; night fighter is a fighter incursion again aimed at a particular enemy airfield where your fighters will patrol ready to pick off any enemy located – British night fighter squadrons are not immediately available in the game. At indeterminate times, bomber command may be tasked by Churchill with attacking a particular target. This is a request, and can be ignored, but such action will result in losing victory points. When all the raids have been created selecting the exit planning phase icon allows battle to commence.

The tactics employed in planning raids is the crux of the game for the British player. Spoof raids are an important way of diverting enemy fighters, but once located by the Germans the message goes out that high numbers of mosquitoes have been found, and that this is not the main force. Spoofs can use a variety of tactics, such as planning widely divergent routes and targets from the Main Force, or by running them down similar routes but at different times to suck German fighters into the air and use up valuable fuel/time. A tactic favored by the computer, is to run a spoof mission down the same route as the main bomber force, but very fractionally ahead, to confuse defending directors. Radar circles on the map indicate boundaries of raid detection.

Timing of raids is critical, and there is great potential for being creative with tactics. However these need to be varied constantly to be successful. To achieve victory, the British player needs to destroy an average of 350 acres per turn, while not using up the bomber force. Different aircraft types have range and payload variations, and the further the target the less bombs can be carried. Going for the near target all the time will not win the war. Technological and tactical advances from R&D will help improve efficiency, and morale will be subject to losses, successes and other factors. Careful management of squadron resources is essential and much time needs to be spent in this area.

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