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8th Air Force 2nd Edition by Fortress Games    When viewing the newsreels and photos of what was left of Germany after the bombing campaign,...

8th Air Force 2nd Edition by Fortress Games 8th Air Force 2nd Edition by Fortress Games

8th Air Force 2nd Edition by Fortress Games

8th Air Force 2nd Edition by Fortress Games

8th Air Force 2nd Edition


Fortress Games

 When viewing the newsreels and photos of what was left of Germany after the bombing campaign, it is hard to believe anyone was alive, let alone living in those wastelands. A few of the bombing missions against German cities had a much higher death toll than the atom bombs on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Let us be honest though, the Germans were desperately working on aircraft and munitions that would do the same to us. London itself was bombed pretty badly during the blitz. The Allied aircrews who flew and fought over Germany had some of the highest rates of casualties on our side during the war. The flak from the German defenses filled the air around the bombers. The German fighter pilots who had to go up against the US bomber formations also had a short life span. Shooting down an Allied four engine bomber was worth four points, while shooting down an Allied fighter was worth only one (this was in their calculations that added up to their various medals). So, this game is about putting you in command of the 8th Air Force. You are tasked with destroying the German ability to manufacture weapons and move them. At times, you will also need to help the Allied ground formations in their battle toward Berlin. Historically, in the beginning of the daylight campaign, the Allied losses were staggering. Early in the campaign the fighter escorts that you have available have very short ranges. This changes as time goes by, with  the new fighter aircraft that will help you in your task. Might I suggest a watching/rewatching of the movie Twelve O'clock High before or during your game time.

Back of the box

 This is what comes with the game:

 The game comes with the 28″ x 22″ mounted gameboard, 2 player aids (the calendar/bombing campaigns aid shown below), 18-page rules manual loaded front to back with examples, 2 dice, and 290 laser-cut thick, sturdy game counters representing almost 150 USAAF and Luftwaffe Groups/Gruppen, plus plenty of reinforcing squadrons, and dozens of strategic and tactical targets.

 This is what Fortress Games says about the game:

"In 1943, the US Army Air Force (USAAF) began a strategic bombing campaign with a small but growing number of aircraft. By 1945 it had, for all practical purposes, swept the German air force (Luftwaffe) from the skies, and was bombing targets throughout the shrinking Third Reich almost with impunity. But getting to that point was no easy task…

You, as commander, 8th Air Force, have a very full plate! Early on, ensure victory in the Battle of the Atlantic by bombing submarine bases in western France, then support the eventual Allied invasion of occupied France by bombing railroads and river crossings throughout France and western Germany. Failure in these critical bombing campaigns is not acceptable. Long-term, you’ll need to pulverize Germany’s aircraft factories and oil facilities to reduce the Luftwaffe’s aircraft production and support and win the war by blasting Germany’s heavy industry. There will be more challenges along the way, from providing heavy support for the D-Day invasion and Normandy breakout, to suppressing the demoralizing V1 and V2 attacks on England, to assisting your Soviet ally by attacking German army staging areas in the east. In the meantime, the Luftwaffe is developing advanced jet and rocket technology that may tip the tide of the air war if you have not crippled their industrial capacity."


Mounted map board

  I was surprised to find that the game has a mounted map. It follows the gaming industry trend, but I was not expecting one from a new, smaller company. The map is somewhat different, as the view is from Great Britain south toward the European Continent. So, finding the different areas to bomb is a little confusing at first. It is an area movement map. As you can see, from above the map takes a minimalist approach instead of being arty (although there is a nice piece of artwork at the bottom). All in all, it is a nicely done map that once you get yourself oriented it is a breeze to play on. The Rulebook is nineteen pages long. It also is a bit different than normal. The front and back pages are not only card stock but also laminated. This gives them another point in the plus column. The Rulebook is in full color and the pages look like magazine pages, but they are definitely thicker than them. There are two single sided player aid cards that are in full color and are made of card stock. Most of the pages are very easy to read and well-spaced. The Calendar portion of one page is a bit busy, but the Rulebook explains exactly what you are looking at. Now we come to the counters. There is a small sheet that explains that these are laser cut and need to be cleaned off with a moist towel or rag. This allows them to be thicker and denser according to the sheet. They do seem to be. I have dealt with these counters before and take the time to clean them. It is definitely worth your while. There are roughly two and a half sheets of large 5/8" sized counters. The counters a very well done. They have a nice top-down view of all the different planes on them. The game management counters information is large enough to read in low light. The whole ensemble has great production values. My hat is off to Fortress Games.

Page from the Rulebook

 The game has you leading the entire daylight bombing campaign against Europe from Great Britain. So, this is from a strategic viewpoint instead of the single plane or squadron games we have seen recently. You have a chance to get some help from the RAF Lancasters night bombing each turn. 

 This is what Fortress Games has on the first page of the rules:

"This game is designed to be learned this way:

  1. Skim over the directions;
  2. Set up the game;
  3. Play, following "The Turn" section which walks you through the Turn phase by phase.
  4. Lots of examples throughout will help you"

 I find the above funny and excellent at the same time. A game company who knows how we actually learn a game and sets the rules up accordingly. Of course, this takes away the hour or so of complete stumbling that we do searching through rules. 

 So, how does it actually play, and does it live up to its designer's ideas? While it is not as immersive as some games can be it does have many good points. The rules look like they have been streamlined (it is, after all, the second edition). With this game the play is the thing and not a lengthy setup time or delving through rules to find the one you might have missed. The game also comes with some optional rules for people who like to bend history a bit. One allows the Germans to get a group of ME163 fighters. The other one, which is more plausible, is that the Germans get jet aircraft earlier in the war. This might seem like a game breaker, but you have a die roll to see if the USA's own jets make an early appearance. The rules are simple and so is the setup, but the game is far from easy or a 'light' wargame. There is a lot of thinking that has to go on in a player's mind. You have to figure out a way to hurt the German war effort without destroying your 8th Air Force in the process. The player is also given "Bombing Campaigns" which are orders from SHAEF to assist the ground war or take out the V1s for example. You have to decide on how to use your replacements (in this game called 'Refits' and 'manufactures'). Do not forget to assist in the Bombing Campaigns or you could find yourself out of a job. As an example of the game's depth, there are four ways to lose the game and only one way to win. Once you scratch the surface of this game you will find it much larger and deeper than the box it comes in. Everyone knows good things come in small packages and this game is a prime example. The game has been compared to AHs Luftwaffe which should make most grognards ears perk up. Unfortunately, I have to admit in 57 years of wargaming I never played it or owned it. I have heard it whispered about in hushed tones now and again. So, that is something to think about.

Missions detail

 Thank you, Fortress Games, for allowing me to review this game. While my own tastes go toward less abstracted games, this one plays well and gives you the feel of the bomber campaign. The added optional rules for adding more German and actual Allied jets puts a new spin on the historical campaign. To anyone who is interested in the 8th Air Force's bombing campaign or just wants a good solitaire gaming experience, I can highly recommend this game. They also have a game about the 20th Air Force and Superfortresses over Japan.


Fortress Games:

Fortress Games – The Art of Wargames (

8th Air Force:

8th Air Force, Second Edition! – Fortress Games (