|Hitler and members of the OKH.|
For starters, this means that any “drama” associated with the German invasion actually occurs in the game turns following the initial landings; hence, instead of worrying about the fate of his first-wave invasion forces, the German player will usually find himself mainly concerned with the turn-by-turn success of his reinforcing “follow-up” waves in reaching England. Available German sealift is limited and, to add the the German player's worries, it is vulnerable both to British air attacks and, more importantly, to the vagaries of Channel weather (more on this, later). Thus, SEELÖWE is not so much concerned with illustrating the possible challenges that the Germans might encounter in gaining a lodgment on the southern coast of England, as it is in simulating the Germans’ problems building-up and then expanding their beachheads once the first landings had actually come ashore. This makes a certain amount of sense, viewed strictly from a design standpoint, because the early German follow-up operations represent, for both sides, the most critical phase of Hitler’s plan: after all, it would be during this relatively short time period that the German invasion force would be most vulnerable to a British counterattack. Not surprisingly then, the German problems actually simulated in the game are primarily those concerned with expanding and linking-up the initial beachheads as quickly as possible, followed by the seizure of useable ports, and then by the rapid build-up of the combat forces necessary for a future major push into the English interior. In contrast, the British challenges presented in SEELÖWE are essentially those of containing and limiting the build-up of German forces in the south, and then of assembling and transporting British units into positions from which they could launch attacks against the Nazi invaders.
|Britsh Home Guard, London, 1940.|
|British Defiant Squadron.|
|German Wehrmacht infantry assault Gruppe.|
The air rules in SEELÖWE are quite unusual. Unlike the air subroutines in other operational-level SPI games in which air units may be assigned to perform one of several different tasks, in this game, air power really has only one mission: to deny mobility to key enemy units by disrupting them through air strikes. That is to say: the effect of air attacks, when successful, is to reduce the movement allowance of affected enemy combat units to only one hex per movement phase. And because the British player possesses very few powerful combat units to start with, German air attacks tend to seriously retard the Commonwealth player’s ability to assemble the forces necessary for a credible counterattack against the invasion beachheads. The powerful British 1st Motorized Infantry Division, for example, will probably be attacked on every game turn that the Luftwaffe can fly. The Germans, on the other hand, have air-related problems of their own: as noted previously, the RAF can, and usually will, attack sea-borne follow-up waves, rather than the German units that are already ashore, in an effort to delay or turn back the German player’s seaborne reinforcements before they can actually land in England. Also, it should be noted that, although there are no provisions for counter-air attacks in SEELÖWE, air missions nonetheless still carry with them a certain amount of risk for the attacker: every time an air attack is conducted (whatever the odds), the phasing player takes a chance on losing one of his air units. Moreover, the likelihood of such losses double from 16% to 33% whenever air missions are conducted at “extended” rather than at normal range.
|Britsh Home Guard prepare defenses.|
The winner of SEELÖWE is determined both by the number of German-controlled British ports, and by the ratio of (supplied or unsupplied, but not isolated) German versus British combat strength points present in England at the end of the game. By way of example: German control of eight ports with a one-to-one or better ratio of combat strength points is good enough for a Substantive German Victory; ten controlled ports, and a two-to-one or better ratio of German to British combat factors, on the other hand, is the minimum requirement necessary to give the German player a Decisive win.
|German Junkers Stuka.|
A PERSONAL OBSERVATION
|HMS Nelson battleship, flagship of |
Home Fleet Commander Admiral Forbes.
First, there is the real versus the potential scope of the game. What I mean by this is that, although much of southern England is depicted on the map sheet, very little of the playing area will actually see much, if any, action in the course of a typical game. In point of fact, quite a lot of the map surface seems to serve little purpose other than to display terrain over which the British army must trudge during its determined, but usually painfully-slow march to the coast. The problem, for both players, is that while the Germans can benefit from driving inland — capturing part or all of Greater London, for example — given the game’s victory conditions, there really is no reason for the Wehrmacht to do so. Thus, the opportunity presented in the game for either side to experiment with unorthodox or creative tactics is really quite limited. In short, there is seldom much chance for truly clever play in SEELÖWE; once the Germans grab the ports they need for at least a Substantive Victory, they can simply turn their attention to building up their forces and methodically pushing inland, while picking off the odd British unit or two whenever the opportunity presents itself.
|Winston Churchill during The Battle of Britain.|
|RAF C-I-C, Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding|
|Luftwaffe leader Hermann Goering|
speaking to German fighter pilots, 1940.
|Humber armored vehicle, Yorkshire.|
- Time Scale: 2 days per game turn
- Map Scale: 5 miles per hex
- Unit Size: regiment/brigade/division
- Unit Types: armor/panzer, mechanized infantry, amphibious armor, infantry, mountain infantry, motorized infantry, partisan, parachute infantry, airlanding, air unit, supply, and information counters
- Number of Players: two
- Complexity: average
- Solitaire Suitability: high
- Average Playing Time: 2-3 + hours (depending on scenario)
- One 23” x 28” hexagonal grid Map Sheet (with Turn Record/Reinforcement Track, Scenario OOB Set Up Locations, German Invasion Boxes, and German and British Available Units Holding Boxes incorporated)
- 200 ½” cardboard Counters
- One 6” x 11½ ” accordion-fold Rules Booklet
- Two 6¾” x 6¾” combined Combat Results and Air Attack Tables
- One 6¾” x 9½” combined Terrain and Supply Effects Chart
- One 8½” x 11” back-printed combined Player Notes, Designer’s Notes and Errata Sheet
- One small six-sided Die
- One SPI 12” x 15” x 1” flat 24 compartment plastic Game Box (with clear compartment tray covers) and clear plastic game cover with Title Sheet
These titles are recommended for those readers interested in further historical background.