Bombing Raids are the most complex orders. They resemble Convoys, in terms of their movement, but they also resemble Marches, in terms of their ability to enter a single space of hostile territory. The fly-on component is treated like a Move. Their effects are resolved like Missile Attacks, using Chance Cards. They are also the most flexible and powerful orders, in many ways: they block opposing Manoeuvres in up to 3 spaces, may destroy multiple enemy Units and infrastructure, and they let Air Units spread out.
Note that the following discussion applies to standard Bombers, which can move around the planetary surface and drop bombs on surface grid-spaces – they cannot target orbital locations. Orbital Bombers, by contrast, represent a special technology made available through some Skill Cards; Orbital Bombers may travel to and target orbital locations (see Section 22, Orbital Movement). Beginners are strongly advised to play without Orbital Bombers, removing the relevant Skill Cards from the Skill Deck for their first few games.
Like a Convoy, bombs may be dropped up to two spaces away from the Bomber Unit’s starting position, and the total flight path including the fly-on must not exceed 3, apart from the special case of flying 2 spaces away and returning. Unlike a Convoy, a Bombing Raid is permitted to target a blocked drop-off destination, and may fly through that single bombed space without being obstructed, but it cannot fly through any other blocked spaces.
Each leg of a Bombing Raids enjoys flight path flexibility. When attempting a Bombing Raid, the ordering faction must propose one geographically possible flight path to the original bombing target that complies with distance limits. It is permissible to choose a flight path that deliberately enters hostile territory earlier than the original target, and the bombs may be dropped on that earlier target instead, but the proposed flight corridor must include the original targeted space.
After dropping bombs (at the original or modified drop-off space) the remaining leg of the proposed flight path is treated like a new Move to the original specified fly-on destination from the bombed space, but with a reduced movement budget. The total flight including the fly-on must still satisfy the usual distance limits (a 3-space flight or 2 spaces and return). The fly-on leg can be shortened, if necessary, to avoid an obstruction. If the original order specified a return flight, the Bomber Unit may return, even if it has not visited the original target. The total flight path may not pass through any hostile or blocked space except the one being bombed.
The fly-on component of the Bombing Raid is processed after the bombing is resolved, so opposing Location Cards may be declared after the bombs have been dropped. The fly-on is optional, and any number of Air Units may instead land at the targeted zone if it is not hostile. If the space is merely contested, because it was targeted by an Order, or it contains an opposing Shield or empty Utility with no opposing Units, that is not sufficient to stop the Bomber from landing. A hostile Location Card prevents landing. If the bombs have been released and the fly-on is obstructed and the targeted space is still hostile, the Bomber Unit is destroyed.
Bombing Raids are optional, and the release of bombs is also optional. If bombs are not released, though, the Bombing Raid functions like a Move, and cannot fly over any opposing or blocked space. The ordering faction must propose a flight path that satisfies the original order, including passage through the originally targeted space.
Units on face-up Location Cards may be targeted like any on-map Units, but Units on face-down Location Cards are considered safe from bombing, even if their location can be deduced. If a Card is turned face up to oppose a flight, those Units may be targeted.
If multiple Bomber Units receive a Bombing Order, all flights are conducted along the same flight path, and the bombing destination must be the same for all Bombers. The ordering faction may wait to see what damage is inflicted by each Card before deciding whether to draw the next, but may not target any new spaces on the basis that the points of obstruction have changed.
Bombing Raids cannot be directed at their own space. A Bombing Raid ordered to its own space is invalid, and cannot be interpreted as a 2-space flight that returns to its starting point.