You’ll laugh, you’ll cry… you’ll throw your dice across the room!
Eindekker, designed by Bob Flood and published by Minden Games, is a throwback to an older generation of games. On the surface, there are few decisions, tons of dice-chucking, and a lot of time spend referencing tables and charts. It’s old school, but I love it.
The thing that Eindekker does, that many games can’t manage, is that it builds a narrative. Your pilot goes about his business, patrolling the skies, sometimes having days chock full of action, and sometimes encountering nothing but clouds. It really gives me the feeling of life as a pilot in World War I – a lot of routine flights peppered with nail-biting tension.
The game takes place over a week in 1915, when the “Fokker Scourge” struck fear into the hearts of the Allied pilots in their inferior planes. Each day your pilot flies up to ten turns of events, making sure to return home at the end of the day before running out of fuel or being shot down. You’ll either be on a combat patrol, trench patrol, or trench support mission, each one subtly different.
Each turn involves rolling two dice, checking the event chart, and dealing with the results. Rolled events only occur if certain conditions are met, like where your plane is on the battlefield, if you’ve taken damage previously, or what sort of mission you’re on. Some of them give a choice, such as heading into enemy territory to chase a damaged bomber, others like combats or antiaircraft fire often just happen. Most of the time no event occurs, in which case you’ll typically earn victory points based on your daily mission.
Combat is more dice rolling, with the only decision being to stay or flee. It’s pretty tense, though, and even when the enemy is trying to get away, you get a rush of desperation as you hope to knock him from the sky with your final barrage. Dogfights that last more than one round also prevent you from performing your daily mission, so you might cut bait and flee straight away.
This game gives me a visceral response that is rare nowadays. Even my “boring” flights keep me wary, as I know I could be hit at any moment, and I’m getting desperate to rack up more victory points before the week runs out. A lot of the choices you make are of the push-your-luck variety. For example, I took an engine hit halfway through a day. A second engine hit would bring my plane down and possibly end my campaign. I had lost the whole previous day due to bad weather, and was falling behind in victory points. Hoping to sneak out a little more VP, I kept flying, and ended up taking another engine hit on the last turn of the day, losing the game. I startled my cat shouting about that loss.
This is the sort of game I can see people either loving or hating. The low amount of control and the constant dice rolling will turn off a lot of people. On the plus side, if you think you’ll like it, you probably will.
I found it helpful to get three colors of dice. That way I could throw a single handful to get my combat roll, the enemy’s combat roll, and the damage roll for whichever side needed it. I also created an Excel sheet that pre-rolled my 7 mission selection and 70 event rolls (it randomized each time I printed it out, and also doubled as my flight log and VP tracker). These two things sped up the process and removed some of the tedium of all those rolls.
I got Eindekker as a PnP from Minden, and it was well worth the money. This has been among the highest fun-to-dollar ratio I’ve had. I like that I can adjust the game to suit my needs. There are various optional rules to pick and choose from, and I’ve modified the components to better suit my needs. I can actually play the whole game with a pencil and a one-page sheet I’ve made – no rulebook, counters, or other components. It’s got event results, tracking info, reference charts, everything. There’s even a random number matrix on the back so I can take it on the road and not need dice!
I’m planning to put up a few detailed session reports soon, and hope to help others discover what has quickly become one of my favorite gaming experiences. It creates stories you can tell and laugh about. If you’ve got a decent imagination and like a bit of narrative mixed in with your gaming, you should have fun with Eindekker.