Bombs Away! Target for Today hits right on target! Board Game Review.
Target for Today Bombers Over the Reich 1942 to 1945 Board Game Review. Publisher: Legion War Games Game Designer: Steve Dixon & Bob Best Price $80.00
Passed Inspection: High quality attractive and functional components, superb narrative experience, simulates five aircrafts – B24s and B17s – with amazing detail. Very easy to learn. Excellent tutorial.
Failed Basic: Some Axis aircrafts such as the Me210 are a little too common; number of tables may intimidate some gamers, a few more role playing elements could be added to the bomber crew if the players want a more exacting level of immersion such as crew starting skills and home airfield.
2017 has been a great year for B17 Flying Fortress themed games. Armchair General has already reviewed the excellent “B17 Flying Fortress Leader:” by DVG Games and Lock N’ Load Publishing has released their “A Wing and a Prayer”. While both of those games focus on leading squadrons of bombers, a new take on an Avalon Hill classic puts the player fully in charge of one B17 or B24 and that plane’s crew.
“Target for Today” is the much anticipated update of the classic Avalon Hill game “B17, Queen of the Skies” which was designed by Glen Frank. While utilizing a similar design system, “Target for Today” expands the game to include more aircrafts and a widened time period scope. It also organizes the tables in a more convenient way.
“Target for Today” is a solitaire game which simulates the decisions made by the captain and crew of either a Flying Fortress model B17F, B17G, YB-40 or a B24 Liberator models D or J. Each plane has an individual control board and special rules for components such as special turrets. The YB-40 is especially interesting from a gaming perspective as this plane is the “gunship” or “escort” version of the B17 which housed upwards of 18 machine guns! While the YB-40 was considered a failed design, it still makes for an interesting gaming experience.
The Roy Grinnell artwork on the box of both a B17G and a B24 is, quite simply, stunning. Upon opening the box, the player will find tons of goodness! Included in the box is an 11” x 17” battle board, 232 counters, 5 cards for the bombers you can pilot, a 44 page rule book, a 32 page book of charts, target books, aircraft flight manuals, 5 11” x 17” crew boards which show the stations and crew positions for each bomber plus 10 play aids. An updated rule book and FAQs are available on-line.
While all the goodies packed in the box seem intimidating upon first glance, the game is actually very easy to learn and play. The rules are designed to easily and logically walk you through the game. Once you get the flow of the game turns, it’s really just die rolls and chart reading. The game can be played as standalone missions, campaign playing or even multi-player flying!
First you pick the year you will be starting your campaign. Then you pick the type of bomber you wish to fly. After naming both your bomber and your crew members and assigning those boys to their appropriate positions on the plane, you are ready to fly!
Tables walk the player through all aspects of the mission from take off to either a safe landing back at your airfield or, perhaps, a more somber end to your crew.
Since the focus of “Target for Today” is the operations of one bomber, you follow orders and try to carry them out. Target tables list your ‘target for today’ based upon the time period and whether you are flying in the 8th or 15th Air Force. Full tables walk you through what units you are flying for. For example, my B17F named “Why Worry?” is flying for the 8th Air Force, 1st Air Division, 2nd Bomb Wing, 389th Bomb Group, 567 Bomb Squadron.
A table of what base you are flying out of based upon your Bomb Squadron would have been nice.
The crews start out pretty much all the same but as they shoot down enemy planes and complete more missions gain additional skills. I think an interesting optional add on would be to assign the starting crew members with beginner skills and then assign their positions based upon these skills – this would deepen the role playing element.
After creating your bomber and crew, the target is assigned. The distance to the target is based upon zones. For each zone to the target, the player rolls for weather and cloud cover. The weather over your airfield and from previous zones can influence the weather for additional zones. In addition, the weather can influence your planes meeting up with friendly fighters (the “little friends”), enemy fighters, whether you maintain your position in the bomber formation, etc. My second mission in my campaign was scrubbed owing to bad weather over the target!
While traveling to and from the target, you may meet up with enemy fighters. These fighters include the ubiquitous Bf 109 (or Me 109), Fw190, Me110, Me210, Me410 and, as the years progress, rocket and jet fighters such as the Me262 and the Me163! Each enemy plane is rated for endurance which is a factor of fuel and ammo capacity as well as pilot quality. I had one Me109 piloted by an Ace come at me three times trying to shred my aircraft! The “Battle Board” which shows your bomber in the middle is marked off by possible enemy aircraft positions. It becomes very nail biting when you have planes coming in from 12 O’clock high, 1:30 Low, 6 O’clock level and then have one diving on you from the vertical position. As the planes attack, you have to assign your gunners to fire on them and determine the quantity of their fire power. Spraying bullets may help hit a bogey but can also jam up the guns and use up your ammo faster.
Complete tables spin the narrative of how many aircrafts are intercepted by your fighter escorts if you have any (until the P51 became operational, you lose your little friends when you fly deeper in to German territory), what damage you do to the enemy planes and, if you shoot one down, does the pilot bail out, flak damage to your aircraft, crew wounds, fires, even frostbite is accounted for if your heaters go out.
This game has it all for those wanting to experience the nail biting terror that the heroes who flew in the 8th and 15th Air Forces went through. An average mission can be played in as little as one hour but I had one mission last for three hours as everything seemed to go wrong. I must have attracted gremlins!
Those who don’t like dice rolling created narratives may not appreciate this game but, if you want random events in a board game, you either roll dice or draw cards. If you don’t like it, go play a computer game.
While the game is nearly perfect, I think a few more additional tables would be helpful. A “Time Between Missions” table would be nice so that you can keep track of how many missions you fly in a month. Also I found that the frequency of fighter attack was a little too great but then again who wants to fly a game based so on reality that it becomes boring? Also, the frequency of encountering some rare planes such as the Me210 and the Me262 seems a little too great.
None-the-less, even with these few minor quibbles, “Target for Today” is a fantastic game which spins a rich narrative of World War 2 bomber missions. Two sequels have been released – “B29 Superfortress” which covers bomber operations in the Pacific and “Hell Over Korea” which adds the Korean conflict to the B29 game.
I can’t wait to fly all of them!
Armchair General Rating: 95 %
Solitaire Rating: 5 (1 to 5 with 1 being Poor and 5 being Perfect for Solo)
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!