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Wings Over Flanders Fields  Between Heaven & Hell II  by OBD Software  The Fairey Swordfish 'Stringbag' was as far removed from ...

Wings Over Flanders Fields Between Heaven & Hell II by OBD (Old Brown Dog) Software Wings Over Flanders Fields Between Heaven & Hell II by OBD (Old Brown Dog) Software

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Airwar




Wings Over Flanders Fields

 Between Heaven & Hell II 

by

OBD Software






 The Fairey Swordfish 'Stringbag' was as far removed from most World War II 400mph aircraft as it was from World War I planes. Yet, compared to planes in 1916 it was a marvel of engineering. What possessed those intrepid flyers to get up in those far from magnificent flying machines? Showing my age on that one. Parachutes that had been invented before the war, and worked just fine, were not allowed in plane cockpits for fear that the pilot would jump out to save his life and thereby lose the machine. So, many pilots kept revolvers handy to shoot themselves if their planes caught on fire. The ever present chance of shooting your own propeller off, or having a wing just decide to no longer be attached to the rest of the plane, was always in their minds. The soldiers in the trenches looked at the pilots as pampered pets who knew nothing of the 'real' war. However, if you look at the faces of the pilots that lasted in combat you will see a marked change. Their faces become lined and take on what looks like the pallor of death. In their eyes you can almost see them say to you "yes, I will be dead soon", almost in a glad sort of way. I believe it was Eddie Rickenbacker who, when taken up in his first flight, was asked if he saw any 'Huns'. He answered "no". The pilot answered their were more than a few in the sky with them. "Beware the Hun in the Sun", became a poster's cry. In reality the pilots had to beware everything, even their own mounts. To become an Ace was truly an act of intense bravery and tremendous luck. The Aces' names during and right after the war were more famous than most sport stars. This is the time and place  that OBD Software has chosen to take us: in the skies of France during the First World war. 




 I am the absolutely last person who should be writing this review. I bought into the original Over Flanders Field right at the start, and I have purchased every add-on or upgrade ever published. If you are a WWI airplane junkie you should already have this game, nothing else needs to be said. Of course, I must respect the usual forms of writing a review, so let us see what the game actually comes with, and why if you have not upgraded to Between Heaven & Hell II, you should immediately. This is a small synopsis of the game as it now stands on their website:


"OBD is proud to bring you our unashamedly single-player WW1 flight simulator : WOFF BH&H II.  What many are now saying is the most immersive flight simulator available for World War One, be absorbed into the WW1 Air War more than ever before.  Superb features.  The videos may look great but there are 100s of fantastic unseen features or improvements over our previous generations of WOFF.   From the visuals in the cockpit to AI, the superb Campaign engine, some of the best looking scenery and more you will discover yourself:  All whilst keeping performance at a similar level or better than previous versions.   Please see the “NEW Features” button just below to read more. Each one of over 80 FLYABLE aircraft now has cockpit vibrations, including vibration affected instrument needles and more, animated pilots intelligently look around for immersive flights and much more. WOFF BH&H II now includes a fresh Albatros D.II model, much improved 3 x S.E.5 series and 3 x Albatros D.III series aircraft, quality improvements to many others including all aircraft from the B.E.2c series, B.E.12 series and the R.E.8 and many more. (HD= home defence) Also includes over 35 main menu music tracks - favourites from previous WOFF’s plus 3 brand new stunning music tracks especially created by the musician Matt Milne for WOFF BH&H II. Immerse yourself in one of over 500 historically accurate fighter and bomber squadrons,  located in the historically correct location with the correct aircraft (over 80 flyable) of the time, anywhere along the Western front during WW1, or defend England from Gotha and Zeppelin raids! Spanning the period from 1915 through to the Armistice in November 1918 with front-lines that move as they did, there is no other combat flight simulator that can bring you the accuracy and feel of being a WW1 pilot, with all of the dangers associated with it!  Staying alive is your number one priority, and that of the AI pilots too."




 So, a few things stick out. First, it is single player only (Shock, gasp, wheeze, and catch your breath). Second, the word immersion. If you can find another simulation that gives you the immersion this does I will eat my flying scarf and goggles. Third, the absence of the name 'Snoopy'. This is a high fidelity simulation. You, however, will not need to start your engines and prime your plane for a half hour before you even take off (although those sims do scratch an itch at times). Even still, this is a simulation. A flightstick and rudders are essential. The goggles and the scarf I wear when playing it are optional. No Mikey, you cannot play the game with a mouse. 




 This is the very long list of the planes that are in Between Heaven & Hell II:

German Aircraft:


Albatros D.I                                 

Albatros D.II

Albatros D.III (early)

Albatros D.III OAW

Albatros D.III

Albatros D.V

Albatros D.V (Later)

Albatros D.Va

Albatros D.Va 200 PS

Aviatik BI

Aviatik BII

Aviatik C.I

Aviatik C.I trainer (x2)

D.F.W. C.V

Fokker D.II

Fokker D.III

Fokker DR.I

Fokker D.VI

Fokker D.VII OAW

Fokker D.VII

Fokker D.VIIF

Fokker E.I

Fokker E.II

Fokker E.III

Fokker E.IV  (Twin gun)

Fokker E.V  (mono-wing)

Gotha G.IV bomber

Halberstadt D.II

Halberstadt D.III (Argus Engine)

Hannover CL.III

Pfalz A.I  2 seater

Pfalz E.III

Pfalz D.IIIa

Roland C.II

Rumpler C.IV

Zeppelin R Type (AI only)

Zeppelin P Type (AI only)




Allied Aircraft:


Breguet 14 A.2

Bristol Scout type D

Bristol Fighter F.2b

Caudron G.4

D.H.2

D.H.2 Early

D.H.4

D.H.5

F.E.2.b

Morane "Parasol" Type L 2 Seater 

Nieuport 10

Nieuport 12

Nieuport 11

Nieuport 16

Nieuport 17 Lewis gun 

Nieuport 17 Vickers gun 

Nieuport 17 Bis  (2 guns)  

Nieuport 23 Vickers gun  

Nieuport 23 Lewis gun  

Nieuport 24 Bis Lewis gun  

Nieuport 24 Bis  

Nieuport 24 Lewis gun  

Nieuport 24 Vickers gun  

Nieuport 27 Lewis gun  

Nieuport 27 Vickers gun  

Nieuport 28  

R.A.F. B.E.12     

R.A.F. B.E.12 HD     

R.A.F. B.E.2c Early     

R.A.F. B.E.2c     

R.A.F. B.E.2c HD     

R.A.F. B.E.2c trainer (x2) 

R.A.F. R.E.8     

R.A.F. S.E.5  (Early,150HP)

R.A.F. S.E.5a    

R.A.F. S.E.5a Viper    

Sopwith Camel

Sopwith Camel - Bentley 

Sopwith Pup 

Sopwith Snipe 

Sopwith Strutter B1 

Sopwith Strutter A2 

Sopwith Tripe 

Sopwith Tripe (RNAS twin vickers)

Spad VII 

Spad XIII


 I would like to post the updates to the game that BH&H II gives you, but I do not have enough room on the page. You will just have to read it for yourself on the link below.


 You can in the game play both Quick Scenarios and Quick Combat, but the heart of the game has always been playing a Campaign. In the Campaign you will see just how hard it was to survive to fight again in the skies over France.




 The simulation is a tinkerer's dream. You have so many decisions you can make in the different Workshops screens.




 So, you have Single Player, and with that comes no need to have an internet connection, or to fly with a group of twelve-year old kids.  Immersion, Immersion, and even more Immersion (okay I stole it from Danton). You have the ability to adjust settings to get the simulation to play just the way you want it to on your older or super new fangled computer. Then you have 'The Planes, The Planes' (once again stolen). One thing that WOFF does not have is experimental or planes that had just come off the drawing board. These birds were all used, and some of them for most of the war. My favorite year to play is 1915. This really taxes your skill to get kills. You have wing-warping instead of actual control surfaces. For the newbie, I would suggest playing in 1918. The planes are effectively how you would fly in WWII, but still rudimentary. Of course, the later years have that many more chances to run into enemies also. If I was to give any advice to a newbie, I would say pick up a book on the WWI Airwar, and commit to memory what the different pilots said. You have no radios, so continually search the skies. Also before you get into a furball learn your plane's idiosyncrasies. Meaning, find out what maneuvers you can and cannot pull off before the wings rip off. If you dive into this game straight from a WWII sim hell bent for leather, all you will end up as is a smoking hole in the ground. 




 The simulation is a labor of love for the OBD Software crew. It is their attempt to give the computer pilot the closest thing they can to being a pilot in the Great War. You can actually see the ground war taking place and the lines move throughout the conflict. The planes are an absolute joy to just fly and take in the sights. I am still in awe with what the OBD Software crew have been able to do, starting with an over twenty-year old program to start working with. Visually the simulation is stunning, incredibly even more so than it was.


Robert

Wings Over Flanders Fields Between Heaven & Hell II:

Features of the game, along with BH&H II updates:



Skies Above The Reich by   GMT Games    "Against twenty Russians trying to shoot you down or even twe...

Skies Above The Reich by GMT Games Skies Above The Reich by GMT Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Airwar



by










  "Against twenty Russians trying to shoot you down or even twenty Spitfires, it can be exciting, even fun. But curve in towards forty Fortresses and all your past sins flash before your eyes" ("Fips" Phillips 200+ victories).

 This is only one of the myriad of quotes from various German fighter pilots about the fear that engulfed them facing the Flying Fortresses. The USAF decided that daylight bombing would allow precision attacks on German industry. This also meant that that the Luftwaffe was able to throw everything they had at the American bombers. This sets the stage for GMT's new game, Skies Above the Reich.


One of the Map Boards

 The first thing you notice when it is delivered is that it's in a large 3" box that weighs a good deal. Upon opening, you find it contains a cornucopia of gaming goodness. The box is filled to the brim with booklets and charts and two mounted maps. It is a solitaire game that can also be two player (both playing the Germans). Played as a single player game, you are in command of a Staffel of German fighters trying to stop your country from being bombed to dust. The game starts in 1942 and ends in 1945. 


A collage of all four Map Boards



  Where to begin with this Santa sized box of wargaming? Let us list what you actually get:
Boards: 22x34, 17x22 (both double sided)
Pursuit Maps: 2 @ 8.5x11 (double sided)
Roster & Log Pad: 8.5x11
Stickers: 8.5x11 sheet
Blocks: 50 black, 12 blue
Cards: 24 Nose, 24 Tail, 16 Oblique, 32 Continuing Fire
Countersheets: 1 @ 1 inch counters, 1 @ 5/8 counters
O Map Panel: 8.5x22
Player Aids: 1 @ 11x25, 2 @ 11x17
Rule Book
Advanced Rule Book
Situation Manual
Two Dice (ten sided, one red, one black)



Some action from the game

 This is the sequence of play for a mission:

Move - Fighters enter, exit or move from one box on the periphery 
   of the Formation Map to another.
Return - Fighters shift from a Return Box to a High/Low Position  
   Box, or from an Evasive Return to a Return Box.
Escort - Skip this phase unless escort markers are present, or arrive
   this turn.
Recovery - Check each fighter to determine if the hit is trivial or 
   severe.
Blast & Flak  - Fire rockets, drop bombs, and Ju88/ME410 may 
   fire cannon; then, if Near Target, check for flak. 
Cohesion  - Check each element for cohesion.
Attack  - Skip this phase unless one or more fighters are in an
   Approach Box. There are several steps to this phase.


Another GMT picture of game play

 As mentioned, the game also comes with advanced rules for you to delve into. The base game is about your fighters trying to knock down Flying Fortresses or just knock them out of the formation. The Advanced Game is where your fighters will attempt to destroy bombers that have been knocked out of formation. The game uses four maps to show the difference in the Flying Fortress formations during the years of World War II. Map 1 is the easiest to deal with and shows how the Allies experimented with bomber formations. Map 4 comes into play after Flying Fortresses were equipped with 'chin turrets'. Until this time the favorite attack of Luftwaffe fighters on these bombers was to attack straight at their noses. The chin turret made these attacks much more dangerous for the German fighters.


This is a collage of the Advanced Game Map Boards


 These types of games have a bit of a double-edged sword to them. You actually play with named units/counters instead of just 'pilot A' or Bf109_, fill in the blank. So, you are bound to get attached to the different pilots. At least I do in a game like this. In Wargames I do not get attached to divisions or corps, but in games with individual soldiers etc, I do, especially if I am playing a campaign and have to husband them through different battles. You will have some of your pilots get lucky to survive numerous battles only to fall at the last minute or just when you thought they had made it safely through another B-17 formation. 



Counters

1" Counters

 The rulebook is fifty-eight pages long, but don't let that scare you. It is written in large letters and every page has an illustration or two on it. The rules are very well done and hold the player's hand while teaching the game to them. The rulebook, situation manual, and the player's aids are very easy to read and absolutely full of play examples. The map boards are also very well done and 'clean'. There is a lot of information on them, but it is not jumbled up or seem too close to each other. The components just seem to be very well thought out, along with being very well done visually. Even the artwork on the box is excellent. Some of the counters are 1", so these are easy on old eyes. The counters are done to the standard of the rest of the game. I have older GMT games that were nicely done, but this game blows them away as far as visually and component wise.


Front of the Card Decks


Rear of the Card Decks


 Game play is very easy to get into. After your first mission, you will probably only have to glance at the rulebook every now and again. The game is set up so that you play out campaigns. Each campaign is a season. You can play campaigns of one season or up to seven. You will use the Mission Set-Up Table to start the campaign and to set-up each mission. Then you will use the Situation Manual to set-up each mission. You will either roll die or us the Staffel Commands to determine various things about the mission such as sun position etc. So with this game you get the best of both worlds. It is a deep game with a lot of options and heavy thinking for the player, but it also plays quickly and cleanly. The game's use of a die roll for Mission Type and Operations Points helps to keep the player always guessing and thinking. Do you add armor or cannon to your Staffels planes, or do you try to have your auxiliary planes drop bombs on the Fortress Box? The availability of escorts for the Fortresses also increases dramatically with time.  To give you an idea of how tough the war becomes, we will use this example. In 1942 you are given six Experten (Aces) for your Staffel. In late 1944 you are given eight green pilots to start with. Your pilots that survive and are lucky also get to grow through the game. A pilot earns Experte Skill points from successful missions. These can then be used to buy, at a cost of five per, skills such as timing, aim, luck, and break anywhere. On the other hand, your green pilots are penalized by one of these three: erratic, panic, and zeal. You can spend three Experte Skill points to remove the penalty during the game. The game also uses four decks of cards. Three of these are for different attacks: Nose, Tail, and Oblique. The fourth one is for Continuing Fire. These are as well done as the rest of the game. The cards are easy to interpret and there is little actual reading to be done on them. The game has blocks, that you have to sticker, to represent your Staffel's planes and auxiliaries. One thing about the game, you do have to keep a written log. You have to fill in a 'Pilot Roster' log, and a 'Staffel Log'. I am not really a big fan of these. However, I understand why you have to, and I admit that it does give you a sense of filling out the paperwork of a Staffel leader after each mission. There is so much in this game that I am only touching on a few points, and I feel as if I am only scratching the surface. I have been waiting for this game for a long time. It is a hackneyed expression, but in this case is very true.



Log Book

Situation Manual

1/2 of the Turn Record Track and Fate Boxes

Stickered Plane Blocks



 This is an excerpt from the rulebook:
" Although a staffel was likely to conduct hundreds of “missions” in any of the Seasons depicted in this game, scrambling into the air more than once a day when the action was particularly desperate, Skies Above the Reich condenses that action in order to present an impression of that bloody history. Here we reduce the life
(and probable death) of a staffel into a game box.
We only present a part of that “life.” A staffel would have endured a variety of missions, not just bomberbusting attacks like those depicted here. We kindly ask the player to suspend disbelief just a little and forget about missions to intercept enemy escorts or missions to protect ground-attack bombers, or other mission
types that would have occupied your staffel from time to time. For those enthusiasts who demand to see the eroding effects those missions would have had on his staffel, they are welcome to partake of the Staffel Erosion Table. You can find it on the back of this Rule Book. It is intended to be used after tallying points at the
conclusion of each Mission, but if you choose to use it for your campaign, know this: it will make your campaign harder. The Luftwaffe lost the war, the ceiling over the Reich caved in, and over the course of a prolonged campaign the results of the Staffel Erosion Table makes that fact clear."

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