Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 1
Amount of time to play: 30-45 min per mission
Age requirements: 12+
Set-up time: 15 min (if you have not assembled your squadron)
Israeli Air Force Leader puts you in command of the Israeli Air Force. You must choose and arm your squadrons and pilots to fly selected real and hypothetical campaigns from 1948 to 2020.
Israeli Air Force Leader is the newest addition to the Air Leader series. It uses many of the same rules as the other games in this series. But it has its own unique feel and some new mechanics.
If you are unfamiliar with the series or its gameplay, you can read my overview and review of Hornet Leader. The rest of this post is going to discuss the new elements added in Israeli Air Force Leader.
The most obvious difference is the location and timing of the campaign. This game is set in the Middle East and spans from 1948 to 2020. That is not a typo. The game has a made up scenario set in the future.
You can now buy Pilot Skills for SO points. Each pilot can have up to two skills. They are tied to a specific pilot and gives that pilot a special bonus. Some bonuses are ongoing and others may only be used once per mission or campaign. For example, Quick Hands gives the pilot +1 on AtG rolls against a Target.
Escalation cards are drawn if you attack a target with the Escalation keyword. They are always bad for you, but if you can destroy these targets they are worth extra VPs and offer other campaign bonuses.
Some Targets move the Invasion counter. It represents the nations around Israel attacking via the ground. As it moves things get harder and harder for you going forward. The Invasion negatively effects your SOs, Pilot Stress and more. It can even lose you the game.
This game has Approach counters. These were introduced in Phantom Leader and so they are not brand new. They determine the arcs and approaches where Sites can attack (and be attacked).
Israeli Air Force Leader is another fun aerial combat board game for solitaire play. It is similar to the others games in the Leader series but has a few new wrinkles you can try.
The components in this game are very good. The chits are thick and durable too. The art is not the prettiest but is very functional. And the rulebook is well-organized with lots of examples.
The Pilot Skills are my favorite new element. They add even more customization to the game and most re very useful. You could even add these to the other Leader games, but I am not sure if they will beak the other games’ balance.
It is also cool how the campaigns stretch over such a long period. The early campaigns are very realistic. You are flying planes with no air to air missiles. And the 2020 campaign supposes that Israel’s neighbors are ready to take them off the map. You must do your best to keep the invaders at bay.
If you enjoy the Leader series, Israeli Air Force Leader is another great addition to play. If you do not own any of them this game is a nice one to start with. It and Thunderbolt Apache Leader are my favorites.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 5 out of 6
Luck 5 out of 6
Player Interaction N/A
Replay Value 5 out of 6
Complexity 4 out of 6
Fun 5 out of 6
Overall 5 out of 6