World War 1 Dogfighting has always been a favorite of mine (see the galleries at SNV). I think there’s something very romantic about this early period af aerial combat (probably the people who were actually involved disagree), that is not really present in other periods of air-to-air combat.
Last weeked I tried a little boardgame “Wings of War” (published by various labels, here’s the site of Fantasy Flight games that publishes it for the US market). Although some reviews are not very favourable (see reviews and pictures on Boardgame Geek), these have more to do with the mix of components in the gamebox, rather than with the game mechanics themselves.
The gameplay is very smooth. One plane is represented by a little card on the table, indicating on the card it’s vital statistics including a graphical depiction of its firing arc.
During a turn, players lay 3 maneuvring cards face down. Each of these cards displays various maneuvers (sidelslip, turn, Immelman, …), and the mix of cards is different for each type of plane. One by one the cards are revealed, and you can actually use the maneuver cards to reposition your plane on the table. On each card an arrow indicates the starting position and end position of the plane, and the card itself acts as a template to reposition your plane. So no fiddling with rulers, turning templates etc.
After each maneuver, you can shoot other planes within your firing arc and distance, and depending on your stats, you draw a card from 2 different damage decks. This card indicates the amount of damage, but also can list critical damage, which can limit the type of maneuvers you can perform in subsequent turns.
We played 2 scenarios in a single hour. The first scenario was a typical dogfight with 2 planes on each side, and the 2nd scenario was a bombing mission. The rules can be explained in under 10 minutes.
Although some might say the game is a little bit simple, it actually does a good job in capturing the same tactical feel I had in previous WW1 dogfighting games. You have to think about out-maneuvring your opponent, and take shots whenever the opportunity presents itself. Altitude of the planes, however, does not play a role, and that’s the one main point missing!
Although all the planes in the game are represented as cards, it can be played very easily with miniatures, providing you use a base of the correct size.
For those of you who are interested: the rules are available for free from the Fantasy Flight website mentioned above.
A good example of how the game works can be seen on this picture.