Before we delve into this, I’d just like to give a huge shout out to Randy from Legion Wargames. If you haven’t been on their website go and look around, because their games are unique in their subject matter, but obviously lovingly produced as well.
B-29 Superfortress is a solitaire game that’s produced by Legion Wargames, and is designed by Steve Dixon and Shawn Rife. B-29 is a simulation of the bombing raids that were conducted over Japan at the latter end of World War II in the Pacific. If you’ve ever played games like B-17: Queen of the Skies, or Silent Victory – By Consim Press, then you’ll have a good feel for this style of game. For those who haven’t, B-29 is a game that takes you along for the ride. There are really not a whole lot of decisions to be made in the game, you do a lot of dice rolling and consultation of charts to see the results of what happens. These games might not be for everyone because of that, but as a historical exercise, and a roleplaying style simulation, they work very well. That being said, B-29 offers enough decision making during combat to keep you engaged.
The contents of the box are a couple of counter sheets, which are extremely well made, a rule book, a chart book, and a tactical display as well as a crew position display. There’s dice in the game and a few log sheets for the individual missions as well as a campaign. You’ll need to make copies of these before you start flying.
The game plays by first naming your Bomber (and your crewmembers for the hardcore), to make it all a bit more personal. You then proceed to roll on tables and charts for mission targets, take off, navigation, and inflight random events [there’s a lot of these; Superfortresses were at times very unreliable and prone to mechanical problems in flight]. You’ll have to roll to get in formation, rendezvous with fighter escorts, and make your way to the target, fending off enemy fighters and dropping your payload. And then you have to do it all again on the way home.
This game prides itself, and rightly so, with it’s attention to detail. Remember, this is an historical simulation, and as such the beauty of the game reveals itself in the innumerable outcomes on the manifold charts and tables. Each of which affects the mission and the safety of the crew in unique ways.
As I’ve said before, the amount of enjoyment you will get out of these type games is directly proportional to the amount of investment you put in to the cast and crew of your bomber. So before you start your first mission spend some time thinking up a nick name for your B-29. Then name the members of your crew. With that done, the simulation will be significantly more personal, and when your cockpit depressurizes at high altitude and everybody gets frostbite, you’ll feel an extra weight of tension as you follow emergency procedures.
One last time: this is a simulation. B-29s typically didn’t see a lot of enemy fighter action. So you won’t see as many enemies as you would typically encounter in B-17, or Silent Victory. That’s fine, because of the deep navigation rules that keep you engaged during turns with no combat. On my first mission, I flew across 12 zones and only had one actual enemy combat. That being said, my crew was attacked by no less than 3 enemy planes all at once!
The combat was realistically difficult. Shooting defensively is very hard. But fighters also can have a relatively hard time hitting you. My waist gunner managed to fend off one attack and the other two fighters missed. So that felt great. Alas, when it came to the bombing run the real action hit. I wasn’t expecting the flak to be as bad as it was, but my radio operator was wounded and it tore up the outside of the plane pretty badly. So there’s enough out there to keep the game engaging and not just a flight simulator, but it’s not nearly as much as other games.
All in all, this is a great simulation game. And the stories it can tell are actually very enjoyable. The higher survivability of your crew means that there’s an even greater attachment level, which in turn increases the tension in fights, because I care that much more about these guys who have been flying for so long with me.
For those interested, Steve Dixon is also developing a new game called Target for Today, which is a European Theatre of Operations version [basically a more detailed and deeper version of B-17] which I’m most excited for and have on preorder!