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  Storm Above the Reich by GMT Games  In the last part of the decade before The Second World War, in-line engines for fighters were all the ...

Storm Above the Reich by GMT Games Storm Above the Reich by GMT Games

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Focke-Wulf 190

 Storm Above the Reich


GMT Games

 In the last part of the decade before The Second World War, in-line engines for fighters were all the rage. Before this was a time when the bomber could definitely 'get through'. Some of the bombers were actually faster than the fighters that were supposed to intercept them. Some of the countries that were soon to be embroiled in the war were still flying biplanes! At roughly the same time, the English Spitfire and German BF109 were being developed. These two designs were to revolutionize fighter aircraft. The one thing both had in common was that they were powered by in-line motors. These depended on a water-cooled radiator to keep the engine running at a safe speed. The only problem with an in-line aircraft engine is that one nick from the smallest caliber bullet on the water-cooling system leads to catastrophic failure very quickly. This would be analogous to your car's engine and the antifreeze. On the other hand, radial engines are usually air cooled; both types also use oil, for the most part. At the time, bombers were almost universally equipped with radial engines for the sheer power that they produce. The only problem with radial engines is the drag that they produce on the airframe. As a plus, radial engines can sustain a lot more damage and still fly compared to an in-line engine. All of the countries soon to be embroiled in the war were working on how to fit a radial engine to a fighter and still get excellent speed and maneuverability. The P-47 Thunderbolt or 'Jug' for Juggernaut is one that comes to mind for the Allies. In Germany Kurt Tank, a designer for Focke-Wulf, came up with the FW 190. When it appeared over European skies in 1941, the Allies were shocked to say the least. Its nickname of 'Wurger' or Shrike, also called the 'Butcher Bird', pretty much sums up how Allied pilots who had to fly against it felt. The amount of armament a FW190 was able to carry was also a leap ahead in the war. Even some of the early ones were able to carry four 20mm cannon MG 151/20E and two 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns. This was when a good number of other airplanes were carrying two-four machine guns. The Butcher Bird was very soon living up to its name. It was also able to carry even more normal and some exotic armaments, but at a loss of speed and maneuverability. Storm Above the Reich is a solitaire game, with a two-player version built in (cooperative), of you taking charge of a Staffel of FW190s attempting to defend the skies above Europe against Allied bombers and their escorts. This is the write up from GMT Games:

"Storm Above the Reich is a solitaire game depicting a Luftwaffe squadron of Fw190s struggling to deter and destroy the relentless daylight raids over Germany during World War Two. The player’s individual aircraft, each represented by a stickered block, must confront the mighty “combat box” formation of the United States Army Air Force, a deadly terrain of B-24 Liberator heavy bombers. Like its counterpart, Skies Above the Reich, the game is a broad strokes depiction that presents the arc of the desperate air war. Stretching from late 1942 to early 1945, Storm Above the Reich follows that trajectory in a series of missions strung together to make a campaign. Each mission will take a half hour or more to play, while a campaign can last anywhere between 6 to 60 missions."

  This is what comes with the game:

one 17” x 22” map board (double sided)

one 22” x 34” map board (double sided)

one 8.5” x 22” off-map display panel

one 8.5” x 11” pad: Pilot Roster & Staffel Log (double sided)

two countersheets (one sheet of 1” counters; one sheet of 5/8” counters)

60 blocks

one sticker sheet

96 attack and continuing fire cards

four bi-fold player aids (11” x 17”, double sided)

one pursuit map (8.5” x 11”, double sided)

one interception map (8.5” x 11”, double sided)

one rule book

one situation manual

one advanced rule book

two 10-sided dice

 For those of you who have played Skies Above the Reich it will be a simple process to just jump into a Basic Game play through of this game. It is only when you get into the Advanced Game Rules and the Optional Rules will you need to read up on things. The Advanced Game Rules add one more part to the game; this is Vectoring. Vectoring is your flight from your airbase to the formation you are trying to intercept. When you are dealing with the 'Friction' of war it becomes obvious how much could happen between those times. Planes could develop engine trouble etc., or you could be set upon by enemy planes. This is a list of what could happen:

Escort - run into enemy fighters
Garble - a radio transmission to you is garbled
Malfunction - one of your fighters returns to base
Radio - you can either be rerouted or rendezvous with other fighters
Straggler - if you are playing the Advanced Game Rules you intercept a bomber that has been damaged
Weather - affects you in different ways

 This is what GMT Games says about Vectoring etc.:

"In Storm, you also get an expanded set of advanced rules that stretches a Mission to include the vector to the bomber formation where your fighters may themselves be intercepted by United States escort fighters. Will you devote some of your fighters to tackle American escort, leaving others equipped to attack the bombers? Will your Sturm 190s be able to fight their way through to the bombers or did you leave them vulnerable? And for those who already own Skies Above the Reich, in Storm you’ll find new Experte skills and green penalties, aft firing rockets for those Sturm 190s, as well as a feature exclusive to that fearsome machine – the “Aggressive Attitude” that augments its Determined Mode capabilities. Finally, the B-24 will be seen in Storm Above the Reich to fly a greater variety of formation patterns than in Skies, reflecting the USAAF’s experimentation with that heavy bomber."

Various results to your planes in the game

 The box is a big hefty thing. It is one of the four inch GMT Games boxes and it has some weight to it. It is filled to the brim with game components. The weight is mostly because of the two mounted maps. The maps are, as is the norm with GMT Games, a sight to behold. Even though they are mostly B-24 Liberators in different configurations the style is very nice. I also have an affinity for B-24s, so I might be prejudice. At first glance they might look 'busy' to the player's eye. However, having most of the tracks and information charts on the maps does speed up gaming, at least to me. You do not have to worry about having to find room for tons of tracking sheets along with the maps. The counters come in two sizes 5/8" and 1". The 1" counters for some reason look even bigger than other games I have seen 1" counters in. The blocks are used for the representation of the different airplanes in your flight. They are all the same size and do not have any jagged pieces coming off them. The cards are extremely well done and as a bonus are the same exact ones used in Skies Above the Reich. This might come in handy if you own the first game and have a wee accident. The Players Aids are all of rigid cardboard and have large print on them and are in full color. The game comes with two Rulebooks. The first one is sixty pages long and is in full color with very large print. The next one is the Advanced Rulebook and is thirty-six pages long. It is printed in the exact same manner as the other Rulebook. Taken as one piece at a time they are very well done by themselves. When you spread out the whole ensemble you just want to say thank you GMT Games. 

The four different maps

 For the neophytes to the game series, please do not be alarmed. Even if you have never played the first game you will be in the air in no time. By the amount of components and size of the Rulebooks you think you would be reading for a good long time before playing. This is not the case at all. The Basic game is very easy to get a handle on. The length of the game and the complexity naturally go up if you start using the Advanced and Optional Rules. In the Basic Game you are just trying to use your Staffel and its armaments to knock the bombers out of formation. In the Advanced Game you get the chance to try and gain more points and actually shoot down a lone bomber. If you do happen to own both games there are rules to combine both together. You can even have a Staffel of half BF109s and the other half FW190s. 

Pursuit maps of the single bombers

 The one thing about this game is that you have more of a choice of what extra munitions, called attachments in the game, you can add to your FW 190s. Of course, the more that you turn them into flying tanks the more they will fly like them. These are the planes you can purchase to add to help your Staffel in the sky:

MC202 - One of the best Italian fighters of the war.
BF110 - Two engine heavy fighter.
JU88 - Originally a medium bomber. It was also used as a heavy fighter along with everything else but a float plane.
IAR 80 - Romanian fighter.
Me 163 - The only mass produced rocket fighter in the world. In reality as dangerous to its pilots as the enemy.

 With the addition of Skies Above the Reich these two planes can be added to the mix:


 The attachments that you are allowed to use on your FW190s:


 The cable was pretty much what hung from balloons used in defense against air attacks. Starting in 1944 you can also arm half of your Staffel as 'Sturm 190s' this is short for Sturmböcke (battering ram). These FW190s will automatically be equipped with armor and cannon. You can also equip rearward firing cannons to your FW190s instead of forward firing ones.

Play Example

 How does it play, you ask? It is just as engrossing and fun as its older brother. One German ace describes the BF109 as a rapier, and the FW190 as a cutlass. The Germans were well aware how difficult it was to take down a B-17 or B-24 in formation truly was. It was perceived as being four times as hard as shooting down another fighter. You as the player will soon learn the same lesson. As great as the game is when only playing one mission, the Campaign game is where it really shines, and you will have to learn to think ahead. It does you no good if you have taken out four bombers, but your Staffel is almost all shot up, or down and you have wounded pilots. Your job is to get in there and do the job while still weighing the life of your pilots against success. Every action on your part does have a consequence for good or bad. 


 Thank you, GMT Games for letting me review another of your excellent titles. This is a wonderful new game in this series. If you liked the first game then you will really like this one, with the additions that have been made to the rules. 


Storm Above the Reich:

GMT Games - Storm Above the Reich

GMT Games:

GMT Games

Skies Above the Reich my review:

Skies Above The Reich by GMT Games - A Wargamers Needful Things