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Posted on May 19, 2017 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Wings of Glory’s Battle of Britain expansion has taken flight!

Wings of Glory’s Battle of Britain expansion has taken flight!

By Rick Martin

Wings of Glory World War 2 Battle of Britain Starter Set and Squadron Booster Packs Game Review. Publisher: Ares Games Designer: Andrea Angiolino and Pier Giorgio Paglia Prices: Starter: $69.90 Booster: $14.90

Rick Martin

Passed Inspection: Fantastically detailed fully painted customizable aircrafts, new – more comprehensive rules and scenarios, most replay-ability of any game on the market

Failed Basic: Aircraft decals in the boosters are difficult to put on without tearing them.

Wings of Glory is the successor to the extremely successful line of Wings of War World War I and World War II cards and miniatures game which has been available since 2004. While the game started as a card game where each card represented one airplane, anti-aircraft gun or balloon, it has evolved in to a non-collectable, non-randomly packaged, air war game where players could purchase a starter set and then purchase “booster” packs with individual airplanes or even large models of observation balloon and bombers.

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Ares Games new Wings of Glory Battle of Britain Starter Set and associated “Squadron Packs” (booster packs) reprints four 1/200 scale World War II aircrafts which haven’t been available for many years – the Spitfire Mk I, the Hurricane Mk 1, the Bf109 Messerschmitt type E and the Ju87 – B Stuka dive bomber. All are featured in camouflage schemes and markings appropriate to the 1940 Battle of Britain. In addition, as will be discussed, the Squadron Packs feature decal sheets usable for modifying your airplanes.

The Wings of Glory Battle of Britain Starter Set (WGBOB) is actually the third World War 2 starter set to include rules and miniature aircrafts. The first set was issued under the Wings of War moniker and featured a Spitfire Mk 1, a Bf109 E, a Wild Cat Fm1 and a Mitsubishi Zero A6M2. This set was a 2009 Origins Awards Best Historical Miniature Game Rules Winner. Now, sadly, it is long out of print. This was my introduction to Wings of War/Wings of Glory back in the day.

The next World War 2 starter set came out in 2012 after Ares Games regained the American licensing rights to their game design. It was the Wings of Glory World War 2 Starter Set and featured new, re-written and edited rules, components and four additional planes – the American P40, the Russian Yak-1, the Japanese Ki-61 and the Italian Re-2001 Falco.

For both sets, Ares released dozens of different aircrafts which also include both two and four engined bombers such as the He111 and the B17. Aircraft releases cover the Pacific Theater of Operations, the European Theater of Operations, North Africa and the Mediterranean Front and a few planes released for the Russian Front.

While Ares’ World War I Wings of Glory line has featured re-releases of out of print aircrafts, they have been slow to re-release World War II aircrafts – that all changes now with the WGBOB starter set and Squadron Packs.

The WGBOB starter set includes everything a new pilot needs to get a plane in the air. A new rule book provides a complete system of play for basic, intermediate and advanced game play. The rules are logically laid out and now include new rules for campaigns, tracking pilot experience, solitaire rules, air to air and air to ground/ship attacks, Battle of Britain scenarios and more. This rule set is a complete compilation of the evolving rules of Wings of Glory over the years. While being extremely beneficial to a new pilot, even the most experienced Wings of Glory player will want this rule set. It is one of the most visually pleasing and most competently designed game rules books I have ever seen and it sets a new standard for game rule book designs.

Included in the WGBOB starter set are also status counters, bomb drop cards, damage cards, range sticks, targets, anti-aircraft gun tokens, damage tokens and four control boards. Also included are four beautifully painted aircrafts – two Spitfire Mark I planes and two Bf109 E aircrafts as well as their basis and altitude pegs.

In case some are just reading about this game for the first time, I’ll reprint here a brief explanation about game play:

The game play is simple but optional rules increase the realism to whatever level the players agree upon. The basic game can be taught to new players within three or four minutes. 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 WW 2 game, the planes have two speeds – normal or high speed; 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 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 other 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.

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 basic rules are all a player really needs to know to fly and fight! Advanced rules add altitude, pilot skill levels, flak guns, sputtering engines on Spitfires and Hurricanes, etc.

There are a variety of aftermarket goodies put out by fans for the game including realistic, 3D sculpted smoke and flames, special propeller range sticks and other goodies. Extensive fan support and wonderful support by Ares Games, themselves, make this game a “living, breathing” system.

Fan support can be found at: http://www.wingsofwar.org/forums/content.php” as well as on many Facebook support groups.

Ares Games offers articles on the aircrafts and FAQs at: http://www.aresgames.eu/”

In addition to the starter set, Ares has released four more individual aircraft Squadron Packs. Each pack features a fully painted aircraft, altitude pegs, base plus an aircraft data card listing weapon types, weapon arcs, hull points and a maneuver class. For each plane, maneuver cards are included which match the maneuver class of the plane. Also, one of the really great features of these new Squadron Packs are the inclusion of decals for modifying the aircrafts and a full color sheet showing decal applications and camouflage patterns. In addition to all of this, Ares has included special modification cards which can be used to make the game more realistic or give the aircrafts extra modifications, for example, sputtering engines for the British planes (based upon the carburetors in the British engines as opposed to the fuel injectors in the German engines) or drop tanks for the German aircrafts.

My only negative is that the decals are difficult to put on and have a tendency to tear and rip. I put the shark mouth decal on a Stuka and, let’s just say, I was very frustrated. At least Ares was kind enough to give us duplicates of the decals in case of user errors.

Four aircrafts have been released in the squadron packs – Spitfire Mk1, Hurricane Mk 1, Bf109 E and the Stuka Ju87 dive bomber.

Ares has taken the time to improve upon the maneuver cards of the Spitfires – they now have a very nice side slip which the original Wings of War versions didn’t have.

When you add these planes to the already released Me110, Heinkel 111, Beaufighters and other planes, you can have a huge 1940s era battle.

This release is the single most exciting Wings of Glory World War 2 release since the B17s, Lancasters and P51s came out. Here is hoping for more reprints soon – we need more Zero fighters!

All in all, the Battle of Britain starter set and Squadron Packs are an indispensable release for aviation gaming fans!

Armchair General Rating: 99 %
Solitaire Rating: 5 (for some missions or with the solitaire app for Android)

About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

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