Game Preview: Nightfighter

It looks like the next air combat game to come from designer Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, who previously brought us Downtown (GMT, 2004) and The Burning Blue (GMT, 2005), will be Nightfighter, focusing on, well, air combat at night in World War II:

Nightfighter will recreate the tactics of night fighting, from the ‘cat’s eye’ fighting of the London night blitz to the Mosquito intruder operations at the end of the war. Scenarios include Freya AN interception in the Dunaja dark fighting zones, Himmelbett zones, the introduction of AI radar, Wilde Sau and Zahme Sau tactics. The evolution of electronic systems and countermeasures is modelled, including the use of ‘Airborne Cigar’, ‘Window’ and ‘Serrate’.

Most interesting to me is the use of one player as an “umpire” to simulate the uncertainty of locating attacking forces at night, sort of a “single blind” situation. Lee Brimmicombe-Wood’s prior two games both featured one player pre-plotting an attacking air raid that, while not “on rails,” was restricted in its ability to alter course once the defender engaged. Both sides still had plenty of decision points in those games, regardless of any tactical restrictions.

Nightfighter seems to move the attacking force even more strongly into an automated mode, with the umpire more of a moderator than a player, raising the question of how much fun the game will be for the umpire player.

Discussion by playtesters over at the ConsimWorld Nightfighter topic suggest that the game is enjoyable for the umpire, owing in part to the umpire’s omniscient view of the battle. Depending on game length, it might be feasible to play one and run one in an evening’s gaming. I can see myself enjoying running a bomber stream even without many decision points, if only because I can make droning bomber noises and fake cockpit chatter while my erstwhile opponent sweats out the details of the raid . . .

Nightfighter playtest map detail from

The graphics, even in their playtest state as above, taken from the Nightfighter site, look great. Not that we spoiled gamers have come to expect anything less from Lee Brimmicombe-Wood.

Doesn’t sound solitaire friendly, but then anything with hidden movement/placement seldom is. With luck there will be a VASSAL module produced shortly after this game comes out to facilitate online/PBeM play, as we had with both Downtown and The Burning Blue.

Some of the playtest materials that have been posted bear a GMT logo, so it’s likely Nightfighter will be offered there first. I’m looking forward to this one and will pre-order as soon as it’s on any company’s pre-order list.

1 thought on “Game Preview: Nightfighter”

  1. I’ll buy it because I find the technology/electronic warfare angle fascinating, but it’s unlikely to see play before a lot more Downtown and Burning Blue (not to mention Elusive Victory).


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.