Saturday, January 12, 2013

Review of Eindekker

In order to get away from my computer, at least for a little bit, I ordered some games that I can play solo. I had an opportunity to try one of these games, Eindekker, last week.

Eindekker, by Minden Games, is a solo game of aerial combat over the trenches of France during World War I. The player takes on the role of a famous German ace patrolling in a Fokker E.III Eindecker during 1915.

The game represents a period of 7 days. Each day, your pilot flies a mission, choosing one of three options. You can choose the safer patrol over friendly territory, extend your patrol over the trench lines, or fly low over the trenches to support your army. More dangerous missions earn more victory points. Note that there are no missions over enemy territory. During 1915, the German command prohibited its pilots to fly the Eindekkers over enemy territory because they did not want their fancy new gun synchronizers to fall into enemy hands. Thus, the game design emulates this historical nuance while serving to simplify the game.

Your mission will last a maximum of 10 turns. If you have not made it back to base by turn 10, you run out of gas and must crash land. Each turn you roll a random event, which could be an encounter with enemy aircraft, anti-aircraft fire, or some other miscellaneous happenstances. If you encounter an enemy, combat will be resolved via a series of dice rolls.

If you make it back to base, you record your victory points for the day. You get points for damaging or destroying aircraft as well as for each turn spent engaged in your mission (not including time to and from the mission zone). You lose points for damage to your aircraft. The goal is to see how many VPs you can wrack up during the 7 days. Obviously, if your pilot is KIA then you lose the game!

I have run one mission so far and enjoyed the game. It is simple and quick, yet replicates the excitement of going on patrol. The main drawback is that actual combat is abstracted into a few dice rolls. Therefore, the player really has no decisions to make during a dogfight. The main decisions occur when selecting a mission and determining when to turn home. For example, in my first game I took some damage in the first turn before I even reached the mission zone. Should I risk combat with a damaged plane and press on or play it safe and head home? (I risked it, and it paid off). Nevertheless, the lack of decisions may make this game tedious in the long run. For now, however, I like it and plan to play some more.

Rating: 4/5

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