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"Hornet Leader: Carrier Operations" from DVG

By Aaron Skinner
Published: May 12, 2011
Hornet Leader Carrier Operations DVG
Hornet Leader Carrier Operations DVG game

Product: The F/A-18 Hornet has become almost the only aircraft seen on U.S. Navy carriers in recent years and fulfills virtually every mission profile. The aircraft, especially in its ground attack role, is the core of Hornet Leader, a solitaire tactical game.

Components include 330 color cards, 352 double-sided counters, an 11- x 17-inch tactical sheet (board), eight campaign sheets, and a player aid sheet. The artwork on the cards and counters is first rate.

All of the paper components have a plastic coating that should make them more durable for years of trouble-free play.

The instruction book is comprehensive, leaving players with few questions about rules or game mechanics.

Gameplay: Although Hornet Leader has tactical elements at its heart, it is, like its Vietnam War-era predecessor Phantom Leader, a resource management game.

Although has tactical elements at its heart, it is, like its Vietnam War-era predecessor , a resource management game.

As the leader of a U.S. Navy or Marine squadron, you pick pilots and aircraft best suited to completing a series of missions within a campaign. You have to balance experience with aircraft type and role.

There is a choice of U.S. Navy and Marine aircraft from the A-6 to the F-35, but the F/A-18 is the core subject and the seven campaigns cover the Hornet’s operational lifespan. While one is 1991’s Desert Storm, the rest are speculative, focusing on the world hot spots including Iran, North Korea, and Libya.

After selecting campaign and length, the player chooses pilots, and then randomly selects a mission or missions from the deck.

Enemy air and ground units are randomly drawn from a box based on information from the mission card.


Pilots can advance in experience to improve their skills, and mission success or failure affects the number and type of missions or weapons available.


The rules are fairly easy to follow, although there is a steep initial learning curve. But once you are familiar with the flow of the game, it’s easy to keep playing.

Marketing: Hornet Leader is a quality product with easy gameplay and lots of replay appeal for air-combat and wargame enthusiasts, as well as gamers interested in resource management simulations.

is a quality product with easy gameplay and lots of replay appeal for air-combat and wargame enthusiasts, as well as gamers interested in resource management simulations.


There’s not a lot here to terrify newcomers and the depth of the experience and randomness make the game worth keeping around for slow nights or quiet weekends. I still love playing Phantom Leader six months after opening the box and Hornet Leader looks to be even more involving and interesting.


Play up Hornet Leader’s topical campaigns and modern setting with models or posters of modern naval jets. If you sell models as well as games, keep a copy near the register to attract attention.


I love the fact that it is a solitaire game so I have something besides video games to play when I’m home alone or on the road.

VITAL STATS
Product: Hornet Leader: Carrier Operations
Publisher: Dan Verssen Games
Stock No.: 32033
MSRP: $89.99
Availability: Contact your favorite game distributor

BOTTOM LINE
Solitaire gameplay
Variety keeps it interesting
Sharp presentation