I won’t bury the lede here: Skies Above Britain comprises some of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in recent memory and if you have any affinity for air war or solitaire designs then it’s a must have.
Building upon a system that debuted with Skies Above the Reich, the designers Jerry White and Gina Willis have pivoted to the Battle of Britain. Taking the role of a squadron commander, you are tasked with guiding your Spitfires or Hurricanes in intercepting and downing the Luftwaffe bomber raids in the summer and autumn of 1940. This task will not be easy. While the bomber formations of the Luftwaffe are not as lethal as the B-17 boxes, the hounding escorts of Bf-109s and Bf-110s will make life difficult for your pilots.
The game is chock full of gut wrenching decisions that will put your pilot’s lives on the line. Meeting success is a high bar and the pitfalls of failure are many. The design is an adroit balance between luck and planning as you seek to best positions your squadron to strike bombers and tangle with escorts. A deft hand is required as weather, unseen escorts and fuel shortages can easily hamper you.
The life of an RAF pilot is a violent existence. Even if you are careful, you will lose pilots and the attrition will take its toll. The game captures the spirit of an underdog force, taking to the skies to face a powerful enemy.
As with the previous entries in the series, the rulebook incrementally teaches the game in a common sense and natural fashion. If you are literate and patient, the sequence of play will come in no time.
Equal parts RPG and squadron commander simulator, Skies Above Britain is a fantastic solitaire design that more than lives up to the hype.