Homefront Wargame Center

…supporting our hobby!

Archive for the ‘Hypoth. Games A-Z’ Category

Hypothetical wargames and consims

New Hornet Leader Campaign: Libya 2011

Posted by Denny Koch on March 8, 2011

In view of the current events in Libya, DVG published a new Campaign for Hornet Leader – Carrier Air Operations: Libya 2011. In this scenario, the US sends a carrier task force to aid the anti-Gadhafi revolutionary forces in their conflict with the loyalist forces.

You can download the Campaign for free from the DVG website (PDF, 234 KB).

Posted in Hypoth. Games A-Z, Leader Series, News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Hornet Leader – Carrier Air Operations (DVG)

Posted by Denny Koch on February 3, 2011

Game: Hornet Leader – Carrier Air Operations

Publisher: DVG
Published in: 2010
Designer: Dan Verssen
Era and Topic: Contemporary / Historical and Hypothetical / Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground warfare
Components: 330 Full Color Cards, 2 Full Color Counter Sheets (352 counters), 8 Full Color Campaign Sheets (Libya 1986, WWIII North Atlantic 1986, Iraq 1991, Israel Defense 2003, North Korea 2007, Taiwan Defense 2008, Russia 2012, Iran 2014), 11″x17″ Mounted Tactical Sheet, Full Color Player Aid Sheets
Game Type: Mixed: Board, counters, card-driven

HFC Game-O-Meter: D

Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 9.5
Rules: 7
Replay Value:

Overall Rating: 9

PRO Awesome presentation; excellent production quality; heavy box crammed with cool stuff; historical and hypothetical scenarios; solitaire game which can be played as 2-player cooperative game; tough decision-making; interesting mix of tactical and operational gameplay; large variant of aircraft; world-wide missions; various adaptable difficulty-levels for beginners up to experts; Navy and Marines variants; lots of “chrome” adds to the atmosphere; rulebook includes background information about weapons and friendly aircraft…
CONTRA …but no information or design notes about enemy units; no hints about coop gameplay included in the rulebook; service years and aircraft type should have been printed on the counters for easy reference; only one log sheet in the game box


We are big fans of Thunderbolt Apache Leader (GMT), so we were looking forward to Dan Verssen’s Hornet Leader – Carrier Air Operations, the latest game in DVG’s Leader Series.

Believe it or not, the "Solitaire game" Hornet Leader is one of the best cooperative wargames ever!

We are also notorious for our special interest in cooperative games, so we were really delighted when we discovered that Hornet Leader (HL) isn’t only an excellent solitaire game but also a very challenging 2-player cooperative game experience which requires much teamwork, planning, and tough decision-making.

In Hornet Leader, you are in command of a Navy aircraft squadron, stationed on an aircraft carrier. The game is scenario based and offers historical and hypothetical contemporary scenarios ranging from Libya 1986, Iraq: Operation Desert Storm 1991, Israel Defense 2003, North Korea 2007, Taiwan Defense 2008 up to WWIII North Atlantic 1986, Taiwan Defense 2008, Russia 2012 or Iran 2014.

Scenarios (“Campaigns“) come in various difficulty levels, ranging from introductory to expert. You can also “tweak” all scenarios if you want them to be easier or more challenging by adding “advantages” or “disadvantages”. In addition, you can choose to play each scenario as an US Navy or US Marines squadron which means that you have different aircraft at your disposal (because Marines carriers are smaller and operate closer to the shoreline) and different rules regarding the target zones of your attacks. You can also play each Campaign as a short, medium, or long campaign, depending on how much playing time you have at your disposal. Combined with the fact that you face different enemies each time you play the scenario, this system ensures a very high replay value.

There are different types of mission, you don't destroy targets day in, day out - sometimes, you also fly Search & Rescue Missions or protect your own fleet

The main objective of the game is to fly “Missions” where you destroy enemy ground units, for example tanks and convoys, stationary installations (Radar stations, factories) or fight enemy fighter squadrons or fleets. There is a large variety of available targets which have different special traits as well as variable numbers of protective ground units and/or fighters. Some are easy to destroy, some are tough nuts. Some can be destroyed in addition to a primary mission as a secondary target. Each destroyed target is worth a certain number of Victory Points, so you have to pick your targets carefully.

The game is an interesting mix of card game with a game board (“Tactical Display Sheet”) and counter system. Aircraft are represented by cards (and counters while flying a mission), their weapons are counters. Random events and the composition of enemy forces are determined by card draw, the main target is represented by a card, but you fight ground forces and enemy aircraft which are randomly drawn counters on the Tactical Display Sheet.

Coop gameplay isn’t much different from solitaire gameplay, except that each player commands their own aircraft. But you plan and fly your missions together (which requires much coordination and teamwork to be successful). This variant works great and is really challenging, so if you know another Hornet Leader player in your area, you should give it a try together. To be honest, in our opinion, Hornet Leader is one of the best cooperative wargames ever published

After intensive Hornet Leader sessions, we have to admit that we became enthusiastic HL fans. This is a very good game, it’s demanding, it’s very variable, it’s challenging, and it’s just fun to play. But more about that later…

Game components and graphic presentation

The heavy gamebox is crammed with cool stuff

Hornet Leader is a game with a very high heft factor: the heavy box is crammed with high quality components such as a mounted (!) map-board, various counter-sheets, card-packs, a full-color rulebook and more. This big gamebox isn’t a bluff package (like what you probably know from some other game publishers, big boxes filled with little stuff and much cardboard), here you get a heavy box full of cool stuff for your money.

The overall production quality is very good. The counters are of a thick, sturdy quality and with a nice glossy coating which gives them a very attractive look and a great feel. It’s not a problem to punch the counters from the counter sheets, they are accurately pre-cut without being too loose (so that they would fall out of their counter sheets during shipping).

The full-color cards are also of a very high quality and glossy. The artworks are really cool and add much chrome to the game. There are various types of cards – Aircraft, Target cards, and Event cards.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Historical Games A-Z, Hypoth. Games A-Z, Leader Series, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Review: Thunderbolt / Apache Leader (GMT)

Posted by Denny Koch on December 1, 2010

Game: Thunderbolt / Apache Leader: Joint Attack Weapons System

Publisher: GMT Games
Published in: 1991
Designer: Dan Verssen
Era and Topic: Contemporary / Close Air Support combat / Aircraft and attack helicopters
Components: 110 full-color two-sided cards, 300 full-color two-sided counters, one 22×17” full-color combat display, one 10-sided die, 20-page rulebook, Sector Map, Pilot / Crew experience log, aircraft & pilot damage chart
Game Type: Solitaire or coop / card-driven / counters

HFC Game-O-Meter: C

Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 7
Rules: 7
Replay Value: 9.5

Overall Rating: 9

PRO Can be played solitaire or in cooperative team-play, rules contain background information about CAS warfare, high replayability, various difficulty levels, tactical and strategical level, challenging and tough decision-making required, resource management, clever combat system
CONTRA Rules somewhat cumbersome here and there


Planning, calculating, and conducting CAS missions together is challenging and fun!

We love cooperative games! We enjoy the card game Space Hulk – Death Angel, we love cooperative board games like Arkham Horror or video games like Too Human or Borderlands on Xbox 360. Thunderbolt / Apache Leader isn’t a cooperative team-game in the first place, it is primarily a solitaire game, but it offers variants for cooperative team play, so one weekend we decided to give the game a try… together!

We own a number of solitaire wargames, for example the Ambush series, London’s Burning, B-17, Carrier, Patton’s Best, even SASL (Solitaire ASL) which are designed to be played by one player “against the game system” or Paper AI. Fortunately, many of these games can be played by two players as well who team up against the enemy. And some of these games even offer specific rules or instructions for playing the game cooperatively. A great example is the modern air combat simulation “Thunderbolt / Apache Leader” by Dan Verssen.

This review doesn’t only deal with the coop variant but is a general in-depth review of the game. So if you are a dedicated (or involuntary) solitaire gamer, this review is also for YOU. In addition, we will tell you something about flying cooperatively (which works excellent, btw!), so if you are a fan of wargames supporting team-play, read on!

What is Thunderbolt / Apache Leader?

Thunderbolt / Apache Leader (TAL) is a wargame depicting modern tactical air combat, utilizing a combination of card- and counter-based mechanics and a combination of tactical and strategical planning and gameplay. It was published by GMT Games in 1991 and is part of the “Air Leader series”. Since players have to conduct a good deal of math calculation and consulting of several tables, the game is definitely not a “light wargame”, but effectively a consim with medium complexity.

In the game, the player commands single A-10 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. In addition, he can use AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and AV-8B Harrier vertical takeoff fighter aircraft as support. The game is scenario-based and takes place in various cold-war and contemporary hot spots all over the world: Operation Desert Storm Iraq, Korea, Germany, Russia, Libya. The focus lies on air-to-ground combat, but in the course of a campaign, players can also possibly face opposing air units in air-to-air combat.

Operation Desert Storm in full progress

The objective differs with each campaign. Basically, players have to defend their air base and destroy opposing ground forces before they overrun the base. Enemy ground forces consist of various different unit types, for example SAM sites, Anti-Air-vehicles, heavy armored tanks, infantry, APC, or non-armored trucks. In addition, friendly ground forces (AFV and Mechanized battalions) engage the enemy ground forces, but the player’s main task is to provide air support and to soften the ground targets before the friendly ground forces encounter the enemy.

Players can choose between various types of munition for their aircraft. There are three types of attacks, cannon attacks with board cannons, strike attacks with various rocket types (rocket pot, cluster bombs, Mk.82-84), or stand-off attacks with laser-guided missiles (Hellfire, Maverick). A focus lies on resource management; players have only a restricted contingent of “Air base points” with which they have to “pay” aircraft, pilots, and ammunition for each of the daily missions. So you cannot simply put all the cool stuff into your jets and helicopters – you have to plan carefully and in advance if you want to fly and fight another day.


AH-64 "Apache" attack helicopter card

Players also have control over different pilots (jets) or crews (helicopters) with various skills and special abilities. Pilots are humans, though, and suffer from stress during flight missions. Choosing the right pilot for the right task is another challenge of the game. Pilots can get lost or end the day in sick bay or shaken, so they cannot fly the next day. Optional fatigue and experience rules add even more realism to pilot management.

The map (“Combat Display“) is a sheet printed with several tables, turn record tracks, and terrain space which consists of randomly placed terrain cards. You see the combat area from high above – from an aircraft’s perspective. There are two types of combat resolutions each day – a primary (mandatory) mission which is resolved tactically in aircraft vs. single units of ground vehicles, infantry, or enemy aircraft, and a secondary (optional) mission which is resolved strategically by comparing attack and defense strength, troop quality, and several other scenario-specific modifiers.

All in all, Thunderbolt / Apache Leader is a quite simulative game with lots of mathematic calculations and cross-referencing of combat and effect tables. This sounds very technical and dry, but in fact the game accurately portrays air warfare from the perspective of a squadron leader which feels very cool and authentic.

Graphic presentation and production quality

TAL depicts modern air warfare, so the overall game design corresponds with the topic.

The box art shows photos of the A-10, the AH-64, and infantry soldiers during Operation Desert Storm. The box contains a paper map sheet, several additional displays (a sector sheet and the air base sheet), log sheets for pilot fatigue, counters for several game effects, enemy ground units, friendly ground units, ammunition types, combat results. There are several card decks – double-sided aircraft and pilot cards as well as draw decks for random events. Campaigns and combat conditions are also printed on small cards. The design is somewhat technical and abstract, but all in all, the game looks modern.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Games A-Z, Historical Games A-Z, Hypoth. Games A-Z, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

HFC OFP: Elite SP Missions

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on July 26, 2010


Download the mission files to your computer; don’t unzip them but simply drag-and-drop them to your Action Replay memory card. Copy them to your Xbox console, start the game and create the identity “HFC” (without the quotation marks). All our missions can be played with this profile. Our suggestion is to play the missions on the “Veteran” difficulty level.

In addition, download the Mission Briefings to your computer. They are  PDF files and should pe printed out or at least read before playing a scenario because they give valuable background and intelligence information about the missions. This will not only greatly enhance your gaming experience but will make sure that you actually can play the missions since the information is necessary to play them, so don’t start playing without reading the briefings first!

Feedback on the missions is very welcome so post your comments and suggestions and tell us your experience with these missions!

You can also find reviews of HFC missions at the Missions Depot of the OFP Editing Center, so check ’em out:

HFC Mini Campaign #1 Name Mission Description Ingame Date File Download
HFC Mission Code # Debates Are Over Now! In this early stages of the conflict, roused by russian territorial claims on an island group, politicians try to avoid a war by negotiations. But in fact war has already begun…
HFC_SP_1a Deadly Shadows A NATO commando conducts a “black operation”, disguised as resistance forces, to sabotage Russian SCUD launchers. Dec/3/1980 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_1b Stand Fast! The Russians take revenge and attack a resistance fort which they believe to be responsible for the sabotage act. Jan/10/1981 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC Mini Campaign #2 Name Mission Description Ingame Date File Download
HFC Mission Code # A House Divided The Russian invasion is progressing. Still, Nogova island is “a house divided”, because neither side has managed to get control over the entire island yet.
HFC_SP_2a No Bridge Too Far The Russians try to cross a bridge which connects the Western NATO control sector with the Eastern control sector. Aug/10/1982 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_2b Island Blockade NATO managed to capture a small island north of the Nogova Main Island and started building a base. Russian units try to stop them from fortifying this base and simultaneously, to free a small village under Russian siege. Aug/10/1982 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_2c It’s Raining Men Russians managed to control large parts of Western Nogova, but rumours speak about a planned NATO counterattack in order to re-capture a town of strategical importance to both sides… May/10/1983 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_2d Eagle’s Day NATO is planning an air strike on the Russian base now erected on the small Northern island. May/11/1983 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC Mini Campaign #3 Name Mission Description Ingame Date File Download
HFC Mission Code # Revolt Against Piece 4 years have passed since the Russians invaded the islands. The islands are now under communist government and civilian life returned to normal. Merely some local resistance groups who call themselves the “Freedom Alliance” still oppose to the new government.
HFC_SP_3a Watching Wings A Russian commander on Everon asks HQ for fuel and supply trucks. Escort the convoy through quiet and peaceful Everon… Aug/6/1984 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_3b Take’em By Surprise Russian Intelligence suspects Freedom Alliance hideouts on a small isle north of Kolgujev and they send in Spetznaz special forces to deal with the suspected leaders and NATO military trainers who hide there… Oct/8/1984 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC Battle Study #1 Name Mission Description Ingame Date File Download
HFC Mission # Cassino Battle Study A rocky cliff with a ruin on top serves as a fortified Russian base on Nogova. Nobody knows that NATO decided to take back the island… this battle study allows you to experience this combat from 3 different perspectives!
HFC_SP_4a Little Mt. Cassino Russian units are doing a routine job on the rocky hill, expecting their 5-day leave in a few days… Mar/5/1982 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_4b Cassino Assault Resistance infantry on their way to re-take the hill, supported by resistance air units and NATO armor! Mar/5/1982 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_4c Bombing Raid on Mt. Cassino Resistance can offer nothing but some old biplanes, but these can still do a lot of damage… Mar/5/1982 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC Single Missions Name Mission Description Ingame Date File Download
HFC_SP_5a One Shot Kill A high-ranking Russian general is expected to join a conference on Nogova – a perfect opportunity for NATO to eliminate him in a “black operation” done by a lone commando… May/3/1986 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)
HFC_SP_6a Lazy Evening Pilots of a Russian helicopter squad are enjoying their lazy routine job on an airfield somewhere in a quiet region of Malden… until they get a message from HQ… July/9/1983 XBox Save File
Mission Briefing (pdf)

Posted in Games A-Z, Hypoth. Games A-Z, OFP Elite, PC / console games | Leave a Comment »

OFP: Elite Custom Missions

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on July 26, 2010

Check out our Single Player Missions!

In this section we present HFC missions for Operation Flashpoint: Elite (XBox), created with the mission editor.

Our scenarios are extensively playtested and optimized and in addition, each mission is explained in detail in a HFC mission briefing file (PDF). Scenario files can be downloaded with Action Replay (AR) directly from the HFC server.

Make sure to download the appropriate mission briefings as well and read them before playing a scenario!

<<<—- If you played one of our missions, leave us feedback in the comments section!

General information about our mission design

There are two different sorts of HFC missions:

– Single Player Missions
– Multi Player Missions (none published yet; feel free to make your own missions and send them to us!)

There are three models of HFC missions:

– Single Mission
– Mini Campaign
– Battle Study

Each mission – Single Player or Multiplayer – belongs to one of three categories:

  • Single Missions deal with a single topic and once you complete the mission, this mission is over. A single mission isn’t connected to other missions; it’s a standalone mission that deals with a specific objective.
  • Mini Campaigns are missions which belong to each other because they tell an overall story. Since the Xbox Mission Editor doesn’t allow to create real campaigns (as the PC editor does), we are trying to tell a longer story by connecting a number of single missions. By playing them in the designated order, you actually have the feeling of being part of a larger battle where more happens than just what you experience in one single mission alone.
  • Battle Studies are two or more missions that describe the same battle situation. Each mission belonging to a Battle Study has the same outline, the same units, the same objectives, the same date and weather etc.., but allows you to see the battle from different perspectives. For example, you may play e.g. the „Cassino Battle Study“. Here the story deals with a Resistance attack against a rocky hill the Russians are using as a lookout tower. This Battle Study consists of three missions and all of them are identical thematically – except that in one mission, you are part of the Russian defense on the rock, trying to hold the position against Camels from above and an infantry assault from the base of the hill; in the next mission you are one of the soldiers trying to capture the rock and take out the Russians and in the last one , you are a Sopwith Camel Squadron Leader who tries to help his fellows assaulting the rock below him by bombing the Russian defense positions.

Click to check out our Single Player missions!

You are cordially invited to send us your own OFP:Elite custom missions (by email); they are already zipped and can be mailed as an email attachment.

Please include a mission briefing, following our guidelines pointed out in this article.

Recommended reading: Missions, briefings, and how to tell a story, our HFC mission article with some notes, background information and explanations

Posted in Games A-Z, Hypoth. Games A-Z, OFP Elite, PC / console games | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Missions, Briefings and how to tell a story

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on July 20, 2010

The story of Operation Flashpoint: Elite is the same as in the original OFP game for the PC . It deals with a major crisis in the Soviet Union where politicians don’t agree with Michael Gorbatschovs „Perestroika“ philosophy. This overall situation is responsible for Moscow losing control over her military forces located near a group of islands and these forces (or rather their leaders) are supposed to be in touch with those in the Kreml who try to stop Perestroika and who want to take over the power from Gorbatschov. These soldiers are commanded by a General Guba and they are not portrayed like normal Russian units but more like a band of terrorists using strong military equipment and killing civilians in order to break their will. General Guba is actually preparing for an atomic strike against the West and so the story is about stopping this madman and his forces.

So, Operation Flashpoint is part of the hypothetical milsims because its story is about NATO vs. Russian units and the story is actually an interesting one, although it’s not the typical NATO vs. Warsaw Pact story told by other hypothetical wargames, since the islands are fictional.

Custom missions on XBox

After playing through the Cold War Crisis Campaign of OFP: Elite we started designing our own missions using the great mission editor included in this game, but we decided that these missions shouldn’t be unrelated to any storyline. The story told in the Cold War Crisis Campaign and the Resistance Campaign (these are the two big campaigns which are part of the game – Red Hammer campaign was not included in the Xbox version, alas) is about the above mentioned Russian units not obeying to Moscow anymore and acting on their own. Since the game allows total freedom in designing custom missions, we also wanted to tell a story with our self-made missions and therefore we portrayed a situation closer to regular hypothetical NATO vs. WP scenarios.

The mission editor allows dates from 1980 until 1989 and so we have 9 years as a timeline for a story which is told by custom missions and mission briefings. The background story is an attack of regular WP forces on NATO protected islands „somewhere“ (since the islands are fictional there’s no need to locate them in a certain region – we consider them to be located near a WP influence zone in the “real world”) as the start for a war which was believed to be actually possible for many years.

So there’s no role for General Guba as the leader of some disobeying forces, but this General is part of a story in which he is obeying orders directly from Moscow and the Russians are considered regular troops, convinced  by their propaganda that they are liberating people enslaved by capitalist forces. NATO, on the other hand, is responding to this attack according to their own principles and ideology.

Yes, it IS possible to transfer a complex command system to the XBox controller

We started to tell this story with some missions which are available for download here on our website. Generally, our missions belong to  one of three models: Single Missions, Mini Campaigns and Battle Studies (see explanation here).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Games A-Z, Hypoth. Games A-Z, OFP Elite, PC / console games | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »