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Subject: Best World War I air combat game ever. Components lack a little, unfortunately rss

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Mauricio de Souza Fonseca
Brazil
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This is my review of WINGS (Excalibre edition)

November 5th, 2011

Let me start saying that WINGS is, ahands up, the best World War air combat game I've ever played. To make it clear, the only ones I knew besided this were RICHTHOFEN'S WAR (incredible simply and unrealistic)and KNIGHTS OF THE AIR (boring as hell). WINGS is so superior to both of them, that probably they will collect dust in my shelf. Of course, for a fast and fun game with somebody who is not such an air combat afficionado, RICHTHOFEN'S WAR will be easier to teach and faster to play. About combat games that don't include altitude rules in it, I refuse to comment. Sorry, I don't even get close to them.

And there's a reason WINGS is so good: the designer. S. Craig Taylor is the same designer of AIR FORCE/DAUNTLESS, the best World War II combat game system available for a long period of time, until the appearance of the remarkably complex (but highly realistic) FIGHTING WINGS series by J.D. Webster.

The game is divided in:

a.Basic Game (where the plaens only do banks, turns and slips), b.Advanced Game (now the planes can skid, do Immelmmans half rolls, loops and even corkedscrew).
c. Advanced Rules: these are intended to add realism and complexity to the game
d.Duel game: the game advise do play it only when all the complex rules are well learned.
e. Mass Game: to simulate combat between large formations.

Using the Basic Game, you'll be ready and running very soon, mainly if you already know AIR FORCE. But, that was my first surprise: this system, with little modifications, sounds better and more coehesive to me than AIR FORCE!

So, you can add complexity at a reasonable pace and with little headache. But I think the maximum planes to be plotted by one single player should be three.

COMPONENTS

THE FLAWS:

I usually find game components to be beautiful and practical. In WINGS, (Excalibre edition), for the first time I was really negatively "shocked" by some components. Let´s go:

a. Aircraft Data Card: Unbeliavable and unecessary small type font. Gosh, one would need magnifying glass to read it. Unexcusable cheap. Again, unbeliavable. Besides that, they are badly printed (weak ink).

b. Mapboard: a key element to any BOARD GAME, this one is ludicrous. Ok, I get that they are separeted in three parts, but they come in the box all messed up, need time to put in straight in a table. Very weak. A dissapointment.

c. Scenarios: as in AIR FORCE, scenarios provided are weak, very random, never satisfactory explained, Yes, there are suggestions of "points per side", and which types of planes against each other, but never a thing as clear as "Three Sopwith Camels against four Fokkers Dr.I, each entering hex number...., with banking attitude......, speed..., based on the events..." No, absolutely nothing like this. In this aspect, the FIGHTING WINGS series demolishes this game and also AIR FORCE.

d. Most game nowadays simply gave up giving some copies of aircraft sheets, so the first thing to do is make copies. Ok, can live with that...

THE GOOD:

a. Love the aircraft counters. even if they are pictured/drawn showing their lateral view, it's a beautiful artwork.
b. Game tables: wide and clearly printed.

FINAL CONCLUSION:

Other than some complains against game components and lack of scenarios clearly explained, the game system is solid and fun,




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Martin Gallo
United States
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Do yourself a favor and get the Yaquinto version - MUCH better components.
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Genghis Ahn
United States
San Clemente
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Some of my ATFs for air combat:

WWI

1. Wings of War, simple and not having to use hexes is a huge plus as are the awesome minis. Also, like the random fire cards for results.
2. Aerodrome, very simple hex based game, but the wooden cockpit with the bullet shells are terrific and the flight stands are just great and work in any scale and for other air combat games as well.

WWII
1. Blue Sky series, but you really need to know how to fly your aircraft within the flight envelope and air combat tactics. Time scale is 1.5 seconds so knowing how to use energy profile and air combat tactics like the Thatch Weave, Yo Yos, split S. A big plus is no hexes. You actually must fly your aircraft. Not completely sure about the latest version, when compared to the other rule sets. But the new flight stands are interesting, especially if you don't have any from any other air combat flight stands.
2. Check Your 6, very fun and easy combining the ease of play with air combat tactics. I like to call this the Close Action of air combat games. Downside for me is the hexes but it has enough manuever options to make up for it.
3. Down in Flames, an abstract card game but a heck of a lot of fun and very fast to play. The GMT and DVG versions are very different and each has its pros and cons.
4. Duel in the Dark, very fun to play and great components and expansions
5. Dogfight, AWESOME components, wooden board and great minis. The game is not all that great but using the components with other rules makes this well worth the cost.
6. Air Force/Dauntless, like these alot but it is a lot of work to play. Very cool color coded charts. Mustangs/expansion is of the same ilk.
7. B-17/expansions/pimpage, solitare version of Patton's Best for aircraft. Quick and fun. You really feel invested in your aircraft and crewman.

These all work even BETTER if you play a campaign where you have a pilot.

Also, I like Luftwaffe as a stragetic planning bombing campaign game. Have The Burning Blue but have not had a chance to break it out.
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George Nickols
United States
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martimer wrote:
Do yourself a favor and get the Yaquinto version - MUCH better components.


Better than Blue Max ? I doubt it.
 
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Martin Gallo
United States
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gnickols wrote:
martimer wrote:
Do yourself a favor and get the Yaquinto version - MUCH better components.


Better than Blue Max ? I doubt it.
I was comparing the Yaquinto edition to the Ecalibre edition.

Also irrelevant is that I prefer Wings to Blue Max. Blue Max is fun if you are looking for a fast playing game at a convention or for a kids game but that is just this man's opinion.
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Bartow Riggs
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Wings is infinitely better than Blue Max.

Edit: Or Wings of War.
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