Storm Above the Reich is a solo game (it can be played 2-players cooperatively, but why would you?) where you are leading a squadron of German Luftwaffe fighters against B-24 bombers who are attempting to bomb their targets. In the 1943 seasons, this is in the Mediterranean theater of operations while 1944 will have you over Germany.
The game was designed by Jeremy White and Mark Aasted with artwork by Antonis Karidis, Mark Simonitch and Jeremy White. It was published in 2021 by GMT Games.
The game is played over one or more seasons as part of a campaign. You are the leader of a German Air Force (Luftwaffe) squadron (staffel) who are defending Germany (or somewhere in the Mediterranean Theater to start with) against the relentless American bombing with B-24 bombers making their runs over German territory.
Your staffel consists of 18 pilots and for each mission, you will be choosing a number of your pilots (in addition to any support fighters) to go and try to shoot down as many bombers as you can.
You can play a mini-campaign of only one season (6-10 missions depending on the season) or you can an even longer campaign (though I think, if you don’t make the “don’t lose” victory point level at the end of the season, it ends anyway?).
When setting up a mission, the first thing you do is roll to see what map you’re playing on and whether you are facing inbound bombers, bombers over the target (in which case you have to deal with flak too) or outbound bombers.
You then roll to see how many Operations Points that you can spend on fighters and other fun stuff (like rockets!). Roll again to see if there are any escorts (so far I haven’t faced any in two missions).
You then set up the map and check the Situation Book for whether any bombers are already damaged (or maybe even destroyed!) and how many Tactical Points you have to spend (on maneuvering and such) during the mission.
You will also be rolling to determine if there is sun and where it will be (this can affect how many hits you take if you come at them with the sun behind you) as well as how many turns the mission will last.
Once you have the mission set up, the mission begins!
This will be an After Action Report (AAR) for both the first and second missions, mainly because the second mission was so short (and bad!).
For the first mission, the fighters were scrambled too late to intercept the bombers as they approached their target. Instead, we were hitting them on their way home (Outbound).
I had 4 Operation Points (OP) so I chose my four expert pilots (for the beginning season, you have four expert pilots to start). This wasn’t necessarily good but it turned out ok.
Ahrens and Clausen came at the bombers from the Nose (Front) position, up high. I had everybody coming in High because I didn’t realize that High can be a dangerous position to come from as far as taking damage, though you can do a lot of damage too!
Oesau came from the left flank and Knoken from the Tail.
I spent a couple of turns getting them into position, and then the attack began.
The first part of attacking is deciding whether each plane is climbing or diving, and whether they are rolling as well. This will determine where they end up after the attack.
Everybody was climbing in the first attack.
Three of the fighters decided to concentrate on the lead bomber in the third element while Knoken went after the Tail of his own bomber.
Clausen rolled first and hit the Wing of the lead bomber.
The Wing hit required a roll of a 10 (on a 10-sided die) to destroy the bomber with the one shot.
And it did!
The bomber was destroyed and the other two fighters still had to draw a card for the attack because they could be damaged as well. Clausen also took a hit to his own fighter while destroying the bomber.
After the attacks, as the fighters fly through, they are subject to “Continuing Fire.” This can cause a number of different outcomes and possibly one or more additional hits.
Oesau took a hit as well during Continuing Fire. Clausen’s hit was on his wing and he also took another hit during Continuing Fire. Oesau had a hit to his fuel line.
Knoken attacked the tail of his bomber and hit without getting hit himself. It did some moderate damage.
When the planes come around, they end up in the Recover box of the position dictated by their maneuver (“Climb” ends up in the “High” box of the position opposite where they were, “Dive” ends up in the “Low” box. Rolling can then make you turn left or right).
At the beginning of each turn, a fighter can move one box, following the arrows (and maybe spending a Tactical Point to do something else). However, wounded fighters can’t move. Later in the turn, the Recovery step makes it so you roll to see whether the hit was serious or trivial.
Of Clausen’s two hits, the Wing hit sent him to the “Fate” box to await final resolution. Oesau’s Fuel hit also sent him to the Fate box.
Only two fighters left! But one destroyed bomber.
The fighters came around for another pass.
On Turn 7, both fighters attacked again, attempting to end up on Turn 9 coming out of the sun.
Unfortunately, the only hit did no damage, but the bomber they attacked already had 9 damage (10 damage destroys it).
Also unfortunately, both Continuing Fire checks forced the fighters to come back from the Tail position rather than coming out of the sun on one of the flanks.
Each turn, one of the steps is to make a “Cohesion Check” to see if the bomber formation loosens up (or even breaks up). The number of markers (damage markers, proximity, etc) in each element is determined. If you roll equal to or below that number, then the bomber formation loosens (or if already loosened, then it goes “Kaputt”. If already Kaputt, then the most damaged bomber falls out of formation and it becomes Loose again).
This all mainly determines how dangerous it is for your fighters to be flying and attacking. The looser the formation, the less lethal they are to your fighters.
Over a couple of turns, the element that my fighters had been attacking became Kaputt and on Turn 8, the heavily damaged bomber fell.
For a final attack (there were only 9 turns in this mission), both fighters decided to attack the final plane in that element, since the danger was lessened there.
Both fighters go in hard. Ahrens’ guns jam but Knoken is able to force the bomber to fall with a bad hit to the wing!
Knoken also take a hit to his rudder, but it turns out to be superficial.
After the mission, both Clausen and Oesau have to roll on the fate table to see what happened to them.
They could land safely, they could crash, there could be a fire, or they could explode. If either of the last three happen, then there is a chance that they bailed out safely, they might be wounded, or they may not bail out at all.
Both pilots crash and are wounded.
That just means that in subsequent missions, I have to roll a die for them. On a 9 or 10, they can return to duty beginning with that mission.
Final tally: 1 bomber destroyed, 2 fallen with two of my pilots wounded.
Not too bad for a first mission.
I decided to go right into the second mission.
Only two Operations Points! This means that I can choose just two of my pilots (or maybe one pilot and one auxiliary fighter, or one pilot and I arm his plane with rockets or something).
I choose “normal” (i.e. not rookie and not expert) pilots Ehlers and Doppler to hopefully gain some experience and maybe become experts as well!
Oesau returns from the infirmary but Clausen decides that destroying one bomber is good enough and the nurses are cute, so he’ll stay in the hospital.
This mission is over the bombing target, so both the bombers and the fighters have to deal with flak hits as well!
(That’s anti-aircraft fire for those of you who don’t know)
I decide to come in Level rather than High or Low, and that takes a couple of turns to set up.
During those 3 turns, three bombers take 1-damage flak hits.
When fighters are approaching the bomber formation, they can get hit by flak too. Doppler takes a hit to his fuselage while he’s on his approach.
Both fighters come at the same bomber from the same position. This can gain an advantage (lets you avoid one hit to one of your fighters) but also could result in a catastrophic collision!
This time, both fighters get dangerously close to one another so Doppler veers off.
Ehlers goes in to attack, though.
He doesn’t do much damage and he takes 3 hits between his attack and Continuing Fire!
The Wing hit downs him, leaving Doppler (whose flak hit was trivial) to try one more attack in this extremely short mission.
Flak causes one bomber to fall, but Doppler’s one attack doesn’t do much damage. Not only that, he ran out of ammo so even if the mission had been longer, he wouldn’t have been able to do anything.
The mission ends and it’s time to see what happens with Ehlers’ wing hit.
Wing hits can’t be that bad, can they?
Ehlers’ plane exploded.
Did he bail out?
Sadly, no. Maybe he wasn’t able to get out of his cockpit in time.
One bomber fallen and one of my staffel is gone.
That’s not a win.
Thus, the first two (of six) missions in my 1943 campaign of Storm Above the Reich ended with one pilot wounded, one dead, one bomber destroyed and three fallen.
Is that good or bad?
I’m not sure!
For the 1943 Early season, you have to score at least 10 points in six missions or you lose. However, you don’t win unless you score 20.
Right now I’m at 4 VP after 2 missions, so I’m on my way to not losing.
But things have to improve greatly before I will actually “win.”
Keep your eyes peeled for more AARs of the Roy (that’s a good German name, right?) Staffel and we’ll see how it goes!
There is an Advanced Game where you pursue fallen bombers and try to destroy them. In that game, you don’t get any points for Fallen bombers. Instead you have to pursue them and destroy them that way.
Maybe I’ll try that for the next season.
Let me know what you think of these!