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Paint Jobs and Firing Arcs.

S Updated
Paint Jobs and Firing Arcs.
There Will Be Games

I'm consigning games through a "local" game shop and had $60 in store credit so far, so I'm filling gaps in my Wings of War/Glory collection. That may be a surprise for some of you -- I have over 40 planes currently so there isn't a lot of point to purchasing any more. The most I’ve ever played with is 25. But I like to have pairs of each model so that anyone picking a particular plane to play can have a wingman, a dogfight concept since Boelcke established the fundamental rules of air combat early in World War I. The store where I'm generating the credit doesn't carry GMT, which has the heavy-hitters on my wish list at the moment, so planes it is, a guilty pleasure of mine. It could be drugs or women, so no one is complaining.

I selected three. I got a second Aviatik, another Fokker D.VII which is likely the best all-around fighter in the game, and a second Sopwith Snipe. I already have two Snipes, so it's actually my third, but the two I have are duplicates, the result of a really oddball trade that I think I made with someone here on F:At. I had none and got two identical copies in the same trade. So this third one is my second paint job. I'm still looking for a new home for one of the dupes.

I build kits, where I put four pegs, the plane base, and all the associated cards into a single 3x4 bag. Grab a plane, grab a bag, you're set. To make it easier to find the bag that matches your plane I make sure the card with the image of the plane on it is on the outside of the pack. Given how small some of the writing is and the clear bases allowing visual clutter to bleed through this is really useful prep work, especially when I'm managing a dozen kids finding their stuff.

I'll just point out that once your plane collection becomes large this sort of filing system is almost a requirement for successful gaming. I kept the decks in a single box for a while with the stands and pegs separate, but once I got up to about 15 planes the time and effort to find a matching deck, a matching base, and the plane got to be a hassle right when people were getting fired up to play. It also made it tough afterwards when a card got mis-filed, because you needed to go through every single deck to find where it made its escape to. With the individual bags I can limit the search field by quarantining the decks used during cleanup. Each player throws what they have into their bag and those bags go into a separate quarantine location for the trip home. The next time I'm sitting in front of the TV I pull those decks and run the maneuver letters and count cards to verify. If something got switched (which is much more common in 20 player games where other people are help you move your planes) I can limit what other decks I need to search to just those that are in quarantine.

To make things even easier to find I put a plane card on both sides of the kits when I can. For most of the models I have a second copy of the card, taken from the original Wings of War booster packs or the original Wings of War game boxes. The original card game had most of the current paint jobs in it. So both sides of most kit bags show a plane card face-out -- super-easy to find the matching kit that way.

So last night I'm thumbing through my extra-plane decks to find matches for my three new planes. Looking a little more leisurely this time, it became apparent to me how many paint jobs they have that they still haven't published on models, most for the more popular (i.e., more historically important) planes from the war. I had thought they were running out, something pressing them to publish less prominent aircraft. But there are four or five unused Albatross D.Va paint jobs alone, and one of them is a damn sharp rendition in browns. Presumably they have a complete design of it to put onto a three dimensional model, and I really wish they'd publish more of the more popular planes from the war instead of trying to put out three of every vehicle that flew. Fielding a dozen Albatrosses against a dozen Spads all in different paint jobs would be really bad-ass, a proper rendition of the Flying Circus look and feel that made the phrase in the first place. Instead we're getting flying boats now, which granted are curious to look at, but I've never seen one anywhere but unpurchased on a store shelf.

And to expand the complaint further I think Ares is making a mistake with their World War II materials even more by going too deep into the different aircraft and nationalities that flew during the war. I think they would have been better off focusing on a couple of key battles, (Battle of Britain in particular, and Midway would have been a good choice in the Pacific) printing multiple Spits and ‘Canes even if it was just a matter of secondary markings, and multiple 109s, 111s, 87s and 88s. I think it would have focused the game better and painted a more coherent picture. Round 2 could have focused on later war battles, with four or six paints for each model instead of three of each. Three is truly an odd number, given the wingman concept. Don't know why they go with three, especially since model setup likely is a fair chunk of their fixed costs.

Granted, there are decals that people are applying in the aftermarket to WWII planes to accomplish this, because World War II did not see the broad array of paint jobs that World War I did. But Ares is publishing planes that aren't getting a lot of traction, because they have Greek markings or Russian markings or the like and don't make a lot of sense mixed with Western Front aircraft. If they were releasing four Eastern Front paint jobs for the Hurricane (the Russians just plastered stars over top of the lend-lease paint jobs coming to them so these too would be minor variants on a theme) it would make more sense.

Id be curious to know how many people are buying particular planes because they're pretty, how many because they maneuver and shoot well, and how many because they make sense historically with other planes. That's a question open to anyone caring to answer, because I may be applying a personal bias that doesn't make much difference to everyone else. But as it stands the WWII version of the game doesn't seem to attract the attention that the WWI version does. It's tough to sell Yaks in Ares' bigger markets. They'd do better to have a dozen P-51s instead, and if they were flying beside a dozen B-17s all the better.


There Will Be Games
John "Sagrilarus" Edwards (He/Him)
Associate Writer

John aka Sagrilarus is an old boardgame player. He has no qualifications to write on the subject, and will issue a stern denial of his articles' contents on short notice if pressed.

Articles by Sagrilarus

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Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #210634 14 Sep 2015 13:18
I tend to agree with you, that it's dumb to put super niche planes in the game first without seeing to a good variety of the basics. On the other hand, perhaps a lot of their buyers have no interest in the history, so they don't care that WWI and WWII air combat wasn't between 36 different types of aircraft at a time... so they wouldn't buy these paint jobs? It'd be interesting to know which strategy would be more successful. You'd think the different paint jobs would be pretty low cost, no need to create the new models.
Mr. White's Avatar
Mr. White replied the topic: #210641 14 Sep 2015 13:47
Awesome game!

When I was buying these up, I basically went based on looks and paint scheme. No thought was given to shooting or maneuvering. I wanted the flying circus to be as varied and colorful as possible and the allies to be as similar as possible.

However, when the few cases where I was looking at buying duplicates of the same model (because, yes, some like to flying them in pairs) I'd still either look for the 2nd boldest paint job (central) or for the allies the less loud of the remaining options.

I liked the way the olive green v rainbow clash looked on the table.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #210652 14 Sep 2015 15:33
As best I can tell you're buying for pretty, you're buying for best-playing, or you're buying for history. Most likely it's some degree or another of each. I'm helping a guy opening a new store set up his initial stock, and that's where my thoughts congealed once I spent the time to think it through.

But yes, the paint jobs matter a lot. I think there's a fair amount of players out there that would buy ten of the same model if there were ten good paint jobs for it, and they could likely Kickstart sets of four, six or eight and have the money in-hand before producing them.
the_jake_1973's Avatar
the_jake_1973 replied the topic: #210663 14 Sep 2015 16:32
If people are into painting their own a/c, here is a site that sells 1/144 scale models: WWI aircraft
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #210680 14 Sep 2015 20:39
I do wish they'd put out more paint jobs of the popular planes.

So what are the top WWI planes in this game? I don't get to play it as much as I'd like and never with experienced players.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #210688 14 Sep 2015 22:22
For the Germans the Fokker D.VII is the best flyer game-wise, and the Fokker Dr.I is really pretty and turns a very tight corner. Those are likely the first picks. The Albatros D.Va was a great early war plane, really changed the game for both sides. And super pretty paint jobs on it. I have a bunch of them including a couple that are hard to find now.

For the Allies the Sopwith Camel is likely the plane of choice, flies well game-wise, plenty of hit points. Paint jobs aren't as pretty (the Allied paint jobs in general aren't as pretty. But! I have a Hanriot that is very pretty, flies very well, and is downright lucky. I've played it three or four times now and all I pull is zero-point damage cards with it. The Sopwith Snipe is maneuverable as hell which makes it worth playing just for that.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #211202 23 Sep 2015 16:21
And today I put in an order for two BF.110 twin engine fighters to fill out my Battle of Britain set. I now have four planes for each side.

Remember how I said the old paint jobs are hard to find? Well for World War II major planes are simply unavailable now, and the word I got back from the publisher was that when Ares rose from the ashes of Nexus there was plenty of the more popular planes still in inventories in stores and in distributors. So they started print runs of the less commonly known aircraft, plus some of the later war planes that are well known. A late model Spitfire, the P-51, etc., and the good news is that they also ran some of the twin engine fighter-bombers that Germany used earlier in the war. Some of them are left over. Good news.

Given that Ares is a small company trying to wrestle four "big" games (Wings 1, Wings 2, Sails of Glory and War of the Ring) their demand backlog is starting to stretch to years instead of months.

Last night I got the opportunity to play the World War II version of the game briefly, and forgot how much I enjoyed it. Much more heads-down, much more focused. I didn't enjoy some of its mechanical foibles (pegs that don't grip, bases that are hard to pick up, damage chits with side-flash that is difficult to trim and difficult to play with untrimmed . . . I believe my official definition of "fiddly" is "shit that don't work when it should") but the action on the table was very engaging. I have aftermarket pegs that I can put into play now, I have mats that will make picking up the beveled bases easier, and I'm looking into getting damage cards made so that I can skip the chits entirely. At that point I think the game will be a complete pleasure to play.

So with store credit burning a hole in my pocket, over $100 worth right now, I sprung for a matching pair of 110s so that my two 109s have something to cover. This means 8 people doing Battle of Britain up right, with Spits, Hurricanes, BF.109s and BF.110s all in the hunt. Should be a good time the next time we have a session.

Mr. White's Avatar
Mr. White replied the topic: #211204 23 Sep 2015 16:45
We played a WWII Battle of Britain scenario. We house-ruled that after a certain number of turns (I think maybe it was 8?) the Axis planes had to start making 'gas rolls' to see if they had to start heading off the south eastern side of the map. It put a sense of urgency on their side.
SuperflyPete's Avatar
SuperflyPete replied the topic: #211206 23 Sep 2015 18:48
I didn't even know they had WW2 planes. Now I'm interested. I need to see how it plays though.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #211213 23 Sep 2015 21:20

Mr. White wrote: We played a WWII Battle of Britain scenario. We house-ruled that after a certain number of turns (I think maybe it was 8?) the Axis planes had to start making 'gas rolls' to see if they had to start heading off the south eastern side of the map. It put a sense of urgency on their side.

We generally play with fuel rules. We set a certain number of chits aside and pull one away each turn. You need to be off your end of the board before they run out. We do ammunition rules with cards, another thing you can't do with chits. I need those cards.

Both fuel and ammunition are ways to differentiate different planes. The WW2 version does it with the more varied damage categories, which makes sense as the planes were more different in that war.