In another timeline, England stands alone in Europe: beaten down but not completely destroyed. The Soviet collapse in 1944 combined with an armistice allows the Germans to rest and refit their armies and deploy back to the west. The Americans have finally decided to declare war on Germany, but it seems to be a somewhat futile gesture, as any attempt to liberate Europe would have to face the full might of the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe.
In 1946, the Amerika Bomber becomes a reality. The German Atomic bomb project is almost complete.
In 1947, the first missions begin against the American Homeland…but the Americans have not thrown in the towel.Newly developed jets supplement their prop-driven air forces, and aircraft carriers sortie to try and catch the Amerika Bombers before they can reach the industry-rich targets of the East coast. It is now time for defending America.
Defending America is a solitaire, tactical level game which places you in command of an actual or experimental interceptor aircraft during a frightening look at what might have been in World War II. Each turn consists of one sortie, during which the player will fly a mission to intercept Amerika Bombers which are enroute to bomb the mainland of the United States. As the player progresses, he may choose to upgrade to even more advanced interceptors in this alternate history game. Defending America is based on the action-packed “Amerika Bomber” game and reverses the situation with the player attempting to stop conventional and atomic bomb attacks on the homeland. It builds a strong narrative around the pilot as you look to earn skills, rise in rank through promotion, receive awards and survive a dangerous year above the Atlantic Ocean and America.
The objective of the game is to conduct numerous sorties in the role of a interceptor pilot and rack up as many bomber kills as possible, with a special emphasis on preparing to stop atomic attacks. Pilots may use the experience gained to improve their odds of success by purchasing skills. Awards and technological advances via use of the technology track help to narrate the player’s eventual goal – to become the “Scourge of the Amerika Bombers” and end the threat to the United States from the air.
The system is packed with rich technical detail based on proposed aircraft designs, but without the complexity to capture the key facets of a hypothetical strategic bombing campaign over America. There are 16 interceptor aircraft to available to pilot (both historical and experimental, USAAF and Navy) and six types of Amerika Bomber to shoot down. The aircraft are:
- P-80, P-80B Shooting Stars
- XP-61, XP-67, XP-81, XP-83
- F-86 Sabre, F-89A Scorpion
- F8F-1, F8F-1B Bearcats
- FJ-1 Fury, FH-1 Phantom
- F7F-3 Tigercat
- F2H-1, F2H-2 Banshee
For each aircraft, you will be using the date of availability, speed, area of operations based on originating base, individual weapon systems, damage, and crew status.
Players are assigned to a land base if USAAF or an aircraft carrier if Navy/Marine, and conduct interception missions from there while Tench Class submarines stand by to provide “lifeguard” duty if required.
Besides the focus on hardware, the human aspect of the war is captured as the Pilot and Crew can improve over time via the acquisition of skills. In addition to having streamlined combat routines to facilitate ease of play, the game includes a major change by the inclusion of the “Technology Track.” This system allows the player to decide which technological advances he wishes the scientists to pursue in order to improve his combat effectiveness. Some are based on survival, some on increased offense – it is a major decision the player must make each month.
Game play moves quickly, following a set sequence of events that are repeated until the end of the game. Once you have your initial pilot along with your assignment, play proceeds by taking off when the enemy bomber force nears, then checking to intercept them before they get a chance to bomb a multitude of targets on the mainland United States. Combat consists of interception from your U.S. carrier or land-based aircraft, depending on where the player is currently located, then intercepting one of six historically modelled (albeit hypothetical) Amerika Bombers. After interception, landing operations occur, with the weather playing a factor again as part of the landing procedure. When the mission is completed, you will ascertain if any awards have been earned or Experience points gained prior to you next sortie. Here you can also spend Experience points if desired to gain skills and may request a new interceptor type if one is available. You will repeat this process by going to your next sortie until shot down and killed, or until the end of March 1948, should you make it through unscathed.
This game is highly accessible to those familiar with the B17: Queen of the Skies system. The game system lends itself very well to capturing the tense feelings of being on a interception mission, and gives a frightening look on “what might have been” had the Allies fared poorly in the war. While Defending Amerika is designed as a solitaire gaming experience, additional options for play are provided for both multi-player cooperative and competitive gaming sessions, and an option to link the game with Amerika Bomber: Evil Queen of the Skies.
Defending America is meant to be a highly playable and interesting solitaire game covering a strategic bombing campaign that never occurred. But it is also a sobering look at what might have happened if World War II had gone differently.
- Complexity: 4 out of 10
- Solitaire Suitability: 10 out of 10
- Time Scale: Weekly turns (individual sorties, 4 per month)
- Map Scale: Abstract
- Unit Scale: Individual aircraft, weapon systems, specific crew members, and ammo rounds
- Players: One (with option for two or more)
- Playing Time: 60-90 minutes
- One Counter Sheet of 9/16″ unit-counters
- Eight Aircraft Display Mats
- Nine Player Aid Cards
- One Combat Display Mat
- One Pilot Awards Display Mat
- One Air Operations Map
- Rules Booklet
- One Logsheet
- Two 6-sided, and one 10-sided die
- Box and Lid
- Designer: Gregory M. Smith
- Artist: Bruce Yearian
- Package Design: Bruce Yearian, Brien Miller
- Project Director: John Kranz