Saturday 20 October 2007

duel in the dark

"Duel in the Dark" is the first game designed by Friedeman de Pedro and is released by his company Pilot Games in Europe and by Z-Man Games in the US. The game is set-up during World War II and is a conflict simulation where British bomber pilots focus on destroying a German target city, being attacked meanwhile by German fighter squadrons or different ground defense units. It's not the usual aerial combat game though, as to a greater extent it's about planning ahead, guessing what your opponent has in mind and being good at bluffing - offering a lot of tactical and operational possibilites, including just a good bunch of situational luck but NO resolutional luck (= rolling dice) at all.

The artwork has been well-done and supports the theme nearly perfect. The big board showing a part of Britain and whole Germany is out of thick cardboard, and also the different defense object markers are fine. What is stunning though are the cardboard planes and clouds, which are mounted on clear plastic sticks on small bases - you also can vary the flight height. This all together creates a great atmosphere.

At the beginning of the game the weather situation (clouds, fog, thunderstorms, moon and wind) is set, being visible for both players. After that the British player secretly defines the route for his bomber pilots to a target city in Germany - this route can't be changed later on. The German player now places his 40 ground defense units (and four German fighter squadrons) the way he thinks to most efficiently defeat the British raid - therefor of course he has to guess which city might be attacked. Then the combat itself gets started, as the British player now reveals his route for the bomber fleet hex by hex, additionally having another plane to try to bluff the German player. The main task of the German player is to use his four planes to fight the British Bomber as often as possible, what is not to easy as the route and the target city are unknown to him. For each resolution of combat (also for flying into hexes with ground defense objects) victory points are distributed, which finally (after the British bomber fleet has finished its route and returned to Britain) define the winner.

For me "Duel in the Dark" brings a great fresh feel in the gaming genre - an original idea realised in a fantastic way. The rules are not too complex, despite offering enough strategic possibilities. The period one game lasts is about an hour - leaving it up to the players whether to change sides (or play one more setting) or not. I really like the atmosphere of the game, as well as the need of "reading" your opponent to be successful or the general potential of bluffing. Not to forget the need to do some good planning at the first phase of the game... Overall a really great, medium weighted "Euro-War-Game" I definitely don't want to miss anymore.

World War 2 air combat game depicting the nighttime air raids of British bombers hitting German cities.

As the head of the British Bomber Command, you plan the attacks on Germany in order to undermine the morale of the civilian population. Or as a General of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), you defend using your ace squadrons and organizing an effective civil defense.
The gameboard enables you to set up countless variations of these historic events. You play as many nights as you wish - each night takes 30-45 minutes to resolve.

Immerse yourself in the strategic and tactical thinking needed to survive in those dark times.
Gameplay allows for easy entry into the action with some advanced rules for the hearty wargamer. The game rules include weather conditions, full moon/new moon bonuses and penalties, clouds and thunderclouds, fog, flak, searchlights, balloon barriers, target markers, and much more.

The British player secretly plots the course of the bomber while the Mosquito acts as escort or decoy. The German player tries to figure out where the bomber is going, making sure to efficiently use the fuel to get as many hits on the bomber as possible.

1-2 players, 45 min
author: friedemann de pedro
publisher: pilot games (germany), z-man games (united states)
category: war game

duel in the dark - homepage (rules, faq, gallery, example of play,...)
duel in the dark @

buy the game online @ or


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