Miniature Wargaming: Wings of Glory World War I and World War II Starter Sets - Game Review
Richard Martin reviews Ares Games relaunched aerial combat game.
Wings of Glory World War I and World War II Starter Sets Game Review. Publisher: Ares Games Price $50.00 - World War II, $20.00 - World War I
Ares Games of Italy has re-launched the much vaunted Wings of War lines of World War I and World War II miniature airplanes which have been released in the USA by Fantasy Flight Games. Now known as Wings of Glory, this wonderful system for mini airplane combat has hit the store shelves at full speed and is better than ever!
For those unfamiliar with the Wings of Glory/Wings of War system, the game features fully painted and assembled mini airplanes (bombers, fighters, destroyers and even observation balloons) which the players set on a table and then use a simultaneous movement system hoping to shoot down their opponents. The game system can be learned in 5 minutes at the basic level and even the advanced rules (altitude, tailing, critical hits, etc.) can be picked up in less than 15 minutes by almost anyone.
The World War II basic set includes 4 full color fighters while the World War I basic “Duel Packs” include two fighters. Each box includes rules, damage cards and chits, bases for the planes, measuring sticks for determining range, maneuver cards and air plane data cards.
Each of the major combatants involved in World War I and World War II are well represented by fully painted miniature airplanes. For the World War I set, the scale is 1:144 while for the World War II set, the scale is 1:200. The World War II starter set includes P-40 Warhawk, the Russian Yak-1, the Japanese Kawasaki Ki-61 and the Italian Re. 2001 Falco. The miniatures are beautiful - especially the Ki-61. The P-40 included is in the colors of the Free French. A Flying Tiger painted P-40 is available in a booster set as are different paint schemes for all the other planes. Other new World War II minis which have been released include the German He111 bomber and the American B-25 Mitchell as well as the Me 110, Beaufighter, Falco and the Sea Gladiator. Older planes which were released under the Wings of War line and are fully compatible include the Spitfire, Hurricane, Wild Cat, Zero, Ju87 Stuka and the Me109 amongst others.
The World War I Duel Sets feature two planes each. One set comes with a beautifully painted Albatros D.VA and a Spad XIII while the other set comes with a Fokker Dr.I and a Sopwith Camel. The Fokker Dr.I is painted in the green and red color schemes of one of the Red Baron, Manfred Von Richthofen’s, triplanes! The Sopwith Camel is in the color scheme of Roy Brown’s plane which he used during his duel against Richthofen in which Richthofen was shot down. This sets up the players for a classic air duel.
The game play is simple and there are only slight differences between the World War I and World War II sets. The players pick the airplanes they wish to fly. Each airplane is rated for speed and maneuverability, weapon power, climb and diving rates, altitude ceiling and hull points. The speed and maneuverability are assigned to each plane as a letter A, B, C, etc. and each letter corresponds to a maneuver card deck. The clear base of each airplane miniature is marked with an arrow right in the center of the base. To fly the plane, the player lays the planes maneuver card in front of the plane miniature. Each maneuver deck has cards for flying straight, side slipping left and right, turns, climbing, diving, Immelmanns, etc. For the WWI game, the planes are limited to one speed setting for WWII, most maneuvers can be performed at either normal speed or high speed. The players move the base of their airplane miniature so that the arrow on the bottom of the base lines up with the arrow on the card. It’s that simple – no need for hex maps. The game can be played on a card table! Also, there are no “turns” per say – all maneuver cards are played at the same time so the feel is much more like a real dogfight.
When an enemy airplane is within range of the guns or cannons of the player’s fighter, the range is measured to see if the firing is at short or long range and then damage counters (for the WWII game) or damage cards (for the WWI game) are drawn to see if a hit occurs. The damage counters are color-coded based upon the types of guns used by the player’s airplane. Some planes use 30 caliber guns, others 50 caliber guns and others use 20mm cannons, or even more powerful weapons. The player being attacked draws a number of tokens of the specified color, and then if the numbers on the back of the tokens are greater than zero, subtracts that number from the hull points of his or her own fighter plane. When the amount of damage is equal to the hull points of the plane, the plane is shot down. If there is special damage such as fire, engine hits, pilot hits, etc., the player being shot at has to take this damage in to account. Fire, for example, can be deadly. When a fire token is drawn, the player must draw damage counters each turn up to six turns and take that much damage to his or her plane. For the WWI game, damage card ratings are based upon whether the airplane uses 1 30 cal. Machine gun or two 30 cal. machine guns, or whether the fire unit is a ground based flak gun.
The great thing about the way that damage system works is that the player who shot at the target may not know how much damage he actually did to his target. The player who took the damage may tell the other player that “… you see a few pieces flying off my plane…” or “… you see a huge hole which was blown in my rudder…” or even “I just blew up!” This adds greatly to the fog of battle.
These are all a player really needs to know to fly and fight! The basic rules are contained within less than 8 pages. The game has advanced and optional rules which include altitude (the stands are in four parts and each part represents 1 level of altitude – therefore, a plane miniature setting on 2 stands is 2 levels below an airplane on 4 stands), climb and dive rates, bombing, campaigns and pilot experience, flak and more.
Ares Games has released additional sets of individual air planes for both the World War I and the World War II version of the games. These new releases will be covered in a separate review.
As it stands now, Wings of Glory is the pinnacle of user friendly World War I and II aviation games. While games such as Fighting Wings offer much more detail, the learning curve is much greater and may not appeal to the casual flyer.
So pilots, grab your gear and hit the sky for some classic aviation action!
About the Author
Richard Martin has written film and game reviews for over 20 years and has been playing war games and RPGs since the days of Ogre and Basic Dungeons and Dragons. Additionally, he writes screenplays, games and works in the legal profession. (Don’t tell anyone but Richard prefers writing games and movies to law work any day.)