Battleshed Diaries

Saturday 20 June 2015

I fly close to my man, aim well and then of course he falls down

After a week or so of work and family commitments having the audacity to interrupt my tabletop gaming time I have at last assuaged my withdrawal symptoms with my first game of Wings of Glory. 

Of course, my fellow gaming mates will no doubt will take great delight in reminding me that I have so easily bought into 'yet another system'. To be fair, it's the first new system of the year so I'm not doing too bad!

So why Wings of Glory? And why the world war one edition? Well to answer the first question, because I simply fancied a new game that was set in a different arena to the ground based battlefield so an aerial combat game was one option. As for the second question, pure nostalgia! And it's a period I haven't gamed before. And to seal the deal, the planes are pre-painted.

Wings of Glory, (originally Wings of War), and now published by Ares games, simulates air combat in the 20th century using model airplanes on 1/144 scale and are made of pre-painted pewter and plastic. There are two systems covering both world wars.

I opted for the WW1 'Albatross Duel ' starter set containing the Albatros D.Va for the Central Powers and the Spad XIII for the Allies. This starter set contained the two models, flight stands with game stats, altitude stands, Airplane cards, Manoeuvre, Damage and Special cards, 40 x counters, 2 x measuring rulers, 2 x airplane consoles and, of course, the Rulebook (Basic/Standard rules). All for around £24 and ready to play straight from the box!

Albatros D.Va
The set arrived whilst I was away travelling with work, so I was eager for the un-boxing at my local club, where one of the regulars volunteered to help me test it out. I was quite impressed with the two miniatures - both were detailed and brightly painted. As I have negligible knowledge of warplanes I can't account for their accuracy, but they look fantastic! 

Playing the game - basic rules

The only preparation I'd had for our first game was a video tutorial by Talk Wargaming  on YouTube, which was very useful for getting a quick run-through of the basic rules and game concept. So once we'd set up our 'console' for the basic rules - which can be flipped over when using the standard rules - and placed our planes on the transparent movement base, it was chocks away!

Each plane has its own manoeuvre and damage card deck, denoted by a letter on the movement base and the plane card. For my Spad I used manoeuvre deck 'A' and Damage deck 'A'. The Albatros D.Va used manoeuvre decks 'B' and damage deck 'A'. The planes also have a number indicating their damage resistance.  When this is equalled or beaten by accumulated damage cards its curtains for the pilot.

Each turn is composed of four phases: a planning phase, followed by three action phases. Each action phase is further divided into a movement step and a firing step. Players perform these steps simultaneously.

The Planning phase

In the planning phase the players choose three cards from their manoeuvre decks which are placed down in the manoeuvre slots on their console. This is where the players plan in advance all the manoeuvres they will perform in this turn. In some respects, this is similar to X-Wing, where manoeuvres are pre-planned and only revealed to the other players when activated. Except there are three cards to plan for and lots of options to consider from the manoeuvre deck!

These include special manoeuvres, such as stalling, representing steep flying which can't be used consecutively. You can also plan the Immelmann turn which enables you to reverse the direction of flight, leading to some real fancy flying!

The Basic Console: Blue manoeuvre cards bottom, Pilot card top left, Damage cards top centre

The Action phase - manoeuvre

With the planning done, the players then simultaneously manoeuvre their planes by revealing the first manoeuvre card on their console. The card is placed in front of his aeroplane base so that the start of the movement arrow on the card matches the black line in front of base. Then the aeroplane base is placed on top of the manoeuvre card (hence why its transparent) so that the black arrowhead at the rear of the plane base matches the manoeuvre arrowhead on the card. Simple!

The Action phase - firing

Once the players have completed their first manoeuvre, they check to see if the enemy plane is within range and their firing arc, indicated on the aeroplane base. This is done using the supplied measuring sticks, which has a marker indicating short and long range. If any part of the stick can reach an enemy base then it's a hit. A damage card is taken from the Damage deck, two if it's at short range.

Now this is where it gets interesting!

If you take a hit you take a note of the firepower number on the damage card and then place it face down on your console - only you know how much damage you have taken, so your opponent will not know whether your plane has taken no damage from the attack or whether the enemy plane is only holding up by a wing and a prayer!

If neither plane has reached its Damage Resistance, action steps two and three are performed and then it's back to the Planning phase. It's as simple as that!

Initial Thoughts

What becomes quickly evident with Wings of Glory is that it's all about the manoeuvring - which is pretty much how it should be. The basic rules are simple and fun and we were having an 'ace' time dog-fighting with our wee world war one era planes within minutes of the un-boxing.

The nearest system I have played to compare with Wings of Glory is X-Wing, but only because they both are 'play from the box' systems and appear, initially at least, to have a similar manoeuvring mechanic. But they are not the same. Wings of Glory, even from just this first game, plays faster as the manoeuvring is simultaneous, the rules are simpler and there is no points system or initiative order.

WG is probably best played with two or more players, or two players with at least two planes, otherwise there is probably a propensity towards a lot of cagey manoeuvring but little firing! So for me, from what I have gleaned so far, is that WG is a great, fast club game whereas X-Wing is more your squad-building tournament system. 

Of course, there's a lot more to the game than the basic rules. The standard rules start to introduce special damages which can have your plane or pilot suffering all sorts of debilitating damage, such as trying to plan manoeuvres with a broken rudder where you cannot choose manoeuvres from either the left or right. You might even suffer a jammed rudder, leave a smoke trial or have a fire onboard!

Optional rules for Aiming and Tailing are also included, along with four varied introductory scenarios such as Wings Over Cambrai where a fighter is equipped with bombs to attack ground positions indicated by a Trench Card.

This first demonstration game was immense fun. So much so I quickly ordered up the Wings of Glory Rules and Accessories pack which includes rules for Altitude, anti-aircraft guns, rockets and balloons! 

I've also ordered up two more planes, the Fokker Dr.I and the Bristol F.2B fighter. I'm keen to try out tall those extended rules, particularly adding the altitude dimension, so another game is being arranged for next week. AAR incoming!

I fly close to my man, aim well and then of course he falls down.

-- Captain Oswald Boelcke



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