In our first Action Point covering Wild Blue Yonder: The Air War in Europe, 1940-1944, we examined the Aircraft card anatomy and talked about Relative Position. We will follow up the discussion here by taking a look at how a dogfight works and how cards are played. First off though, we will look at the different type of cards.
There are two types of cards in Wild Blue Yonder; Attack cards and Response cards. I will now talk a little about how these different type of cards can be used.
The Attack cards are red and are used by players to either inflict damage to an enemy Leader or Wingman, or to alter your Position or Altitude in relation to your enemy. Attacks can only be initiated by the Active player. As you can see from the picture above, there are many specific Attack cards. The Attack cards that can be played in order to change your Altitude or Position include Maneuver, Half Loop, Scissors, Vertical Roll, Full Throttle and Clouds. Once a player has played any form of Attack cards to change their Altitude or Position, they can then follow that attack up with the play of a card such as In My Sights or Out of the Sun to attempt to do damage to their enemy. If you read our first Action Point, you will know that you need to make sure that your aircraft has enough Bursts to play the appropriate card, either by using its Burst capacity shown on the aircraft card or due to Advantage or Tailing, which offers additional Bursts. Players will play Attack cards and then the opposing player has an opportunity to play a Response card which will counter that attack and allow them to avoid taking damage. But, Response cards can be played to avoid an attack but also can be used by the attacking player to try and stick with the enemy aircraft and see that attack through.
Response cards are blue and will be used by players that are being attacked to attempt to avoid that attack. You will notice under the word RESPONSE in the text box at the bottom of the card are listed the cards that can be avoided by playing this card. For example, the Response card Tight Turn can be used to counter In My Sights, Tight Turn and Maneuver. The great thing though is that your attacker can then counter the card you just played to counter his attack! One of my favorite, and most hated cards, is Ace Pilot as it acts somewhat like a wild card as it can respond to any card.
I want to now show you a simple example of a dogfight. This will not be an entire turn but will simply take you through an attempted attack and the associated response and counter responses.
For this example, we will use the picture to the right that shows a Bf109F flying at Low Altitude in the Position of Tailing the enemy Hurricane also at Low Altitude. You will also notice that the Hurricane has sustained 3 damage and has been flipped to its reduced side with lesser statistics and only 3 additional Hits away from being shot down and destroyed. In this example, the Bf109F, which has no printed Burst value on its Aircraft card, will have 3 Bursts due to its Position. I will now take you through a round as the Bf109F attempts to attack the Hurricane.
The first card that is played by the attacking player is a 1 Burst In My Sights to initiate the attack. The play of this card will leave 2 other Bursts that can be used by the attacking player to play additional Attack cards if and when this card is either successful or is countered by the defending player.
One of the things that I really like about Wild Blue Yonder is that there are choices in how you respond to cards that are played against you. As you will see in this example, the defending player can decide to not counter this shot, and simply absorb the 1 Hit that will be inflicted. Why would they do this? Well, the 1 Hit will not outright kill them and end the game and the attacking player could be leading with this low value Attack card because they either have no other Attack cards in their hand or because they have a more powerful 2 or 3 Hit card waiting in the wings hoping that the defending player will waste their limited hand of cards avoiding this lower valued damage and then make their follow-up attack more likely to hit and do damage.
The defending player then plays a Response card titled Tight Turn, which is able to counter In My Sights (remember the cards that can be countered by the play of the card are listed in the box underneath the word RESPONSE). For the moment, the defending player has been successful and now the attacking player must decide if they wish to push the matter and counter the Tight Turn card that has just been played. In our example, the attacker wants to press the issue as he has several other Attack cards in his hand that he wishes to play and he also has a few Response cards he can burn. In response to Tight Turn, he decides to play his Tight Turn Response card.
The defending player decides to give this one up, not playing another Response card and simply taking the 1 Hit. Even though he will take a Hit, he still can absorb more damage as he will now have 4 total Hits out of a possible 6 until he will be shot down. Or at least that is what he wants the attacker to think
The attacker then decides to utilize his remaining 2 Bursts to play a more powerful Attack card to bring this dogfight to a swift conclusion and end the game in victory. He plays In My Sights which requires 2 Bursts to play and will do 3 Hits if the attack is successful.
The defending player looks dejected as they have 3 remaining cards in their hand but do not have any Response cards that can counter In My Sights. They will simply take the 3 Hits and will be shot down.
I really enjoyed the dogfighting in Wild Blue Yonder and the back and forth, counter vs. counter nature of the design. My only concern with the game is that it is a card game and sometimes the cards are just not in your favor. If you don’t have a favorable draw, then there is not much you can do for that turn. You will simply have to discard cards and hope to draw better cards to replace what you have thrown away. I really liked the Hand Management aspect of the game as well as you want to make sure you have a good balance of Attack cards and Response cards, including cards that can give you Advantage by changing your Altitude or your Position as this will give you more Bursts and the ability to play more Attack cards during your turn. I always feel better when I have at least one Ace Pilot Response card in my hand as it will get me out of any jam.
I hope that you enjoyed our look at Wild Blue Yonder from GMT Games. We sure enjoyed playing the game and rattled off 4 games last Saturday in about an hour. That is one of the best parts of the game, that it plays quickly and you can get several plays in at a time.