I have always enjoyed playing games focused around WW1 Air Combat. There are many games that have come and gone that provide some great dog fighting rules. Wings of War is one of the more current set of rules on the market. I picked this game up when it first came out and all we had were cards to represent our planes. Then they started to release painted planes to go with the game. Once they did that the game was a smash hit at the local shop I play at. The owner could not keep them in stock. Over time the excitement around Wings of War drifted away. I have played my fair share of this game and always felt like it was missing something. For me the rules were too watered down and it was just a fun filler game, like Monopoly. I then placed Wings of War in the closet with the other WW1 air combat games that I have enjoyed over the years.
Then recently my interest for WW1 air combat resurfaced. My buddy Jerry has been doing some WW2 air combat games that reignited my interest. My original intentions was to convert Richthofen's War over to a miniatures game. It would not be that hard with the Wings of War planes all I needed to do was get a hex mat and teach people how to play. Then a mutual friend of Jerry's and I mentioned that I should look at Blue Max/Canvas Eagles. This is a free set of rules to download and they use 1/72 model airplanes. So I was reading rules and getting ready to start building bases so I could use my Wings of War planes and everything came to a sudden stop. Last week when I walked into the games shop I saw some new games sitting on the front table. The title of on one of the those boxes was "Blue Max" and it had picture of WW1 planes.
I purchased it immediately. The game is being put out by Stratelibri and is the second edition. My buddies and I played it yesterday without any optional rules and had fun. Just the basic rules were a nice step up from Wings of Glory. Being familiar with Blue Max/Canvas Eagle I could see the similarities with the rules. It would be safe to say when expansions come out for this game more rules will come out adding to this games complexity. I feel some of the optional are a must for this game after you have learned the basic mechanics. There are many optional rules but three of them are important; Altitude, Fuel and Ammo. The reason I feel they are important rules is so that the game has a forced ending. In yesterdays game it was down to just two planes and the game was not coming to an end. That was one of the issues I had with Wings of War, just two planes drifting around on the table. Using the Fuel and Ammo (Lewis Gun on Bristol F.2B) optional rules creates a resource that needs to be managed and can cause the game to have a forced ending. The Altitude rules are important for combat and in air collisions. If you are not using the Altitude optional rule then there are no in air collisions. Also Altitude will make it harder to shot at other plans. These were just some of our observations from yesterdays game.
So what is next for me with this game. Lets face it, I am a modeler before a gamer. This game uses cardboard punch outs played on a board, it is a board game. That needs to change if it is going to continue to capture my attention. When Wings of Glory first came out with cards I was finding planes to use instead of cards. Then once they started to release painted plans I started to buy them. For me this game needs to be played on a larger board or mat, I am ordering a Hotz mat. It also will need planes, guess I found a use for my Wings of Glory planes. I also started to collect 1/72 model planes to build and paint. If the future expansions don't add to the games complexity then I will go back to Blue Mar/ Canvas Eagles. For right now this is a fun game and is available for purchase at my local shop. So I will be making bases for my Wings of Glory planes, ordering a mat and playing Blue Max.