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Hi all,

I have only recently heard about this game but once I saw the Nomographs I was hooked! I love innovative game design and simulation of real physics, with "High Frontier" being another game I much admire due to its reduction of rocket science into a simple play aid.

I have also recently become fascinated by jet-age air combat after quite a few hours of flying an F15c in the computer game, "Digital Combat Simulation (DCS) World". However, if this has taught me anything, its that I need to learn how to fly a jet much better as I keep stalling the plane. I am hoping BoP will help teach me this.

With that said, I have a few questions before I take the plunge and order a copy of BoP.

1. I have read that there are lots of errors in the rules and tutorial. Has this been rectified yet, either by replacement or comprehensive errata?

2. Do any of the other components such as the Nomographs and ADCs contain errors? The point about liking games that simulate reality is that the game really does have to achieve this otherwise it loses its appeal.

3. Would I be able to play this solo without having to develop schizophrenia? By this I mean, does it involve secret simultaneous movement plotting?

4. I live in the UK. Is there a way to get around the high shipping costs stated on the web store? I did find one supplier in Spain but the game is currently out of stock.

I look forward to your replies.
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Ethan McKinney
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1. Yes. http://airbattle.com/Birds_of_Prey/Support.html Newer printings have errata incorporated.

2. Nomographs, no. ADC, yes. However, newer printings have corrected ADCs. See the link above for ADC errata. The bulk of it is really, really nit-picky. Seriously, if you care about the exact designation of the MiG-21 in Bulgarian service, you need help worse than the people who created the game.

3. Yes or no. Yes, sometimes. There is plotting, but there's also an initiative order. Essentially, if you're in the same situation of advantage, you plot vs. the other aircraft in the same situation. Then you perform your moves. After they see that, the aircraft in the next better category get to plot.

Fortunately, you can join the online (PBEM) games. Good teaching games are going on all the time.

4. Can't answer that one.
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elbmc1969 wrote:
1. Yes. http://airbattle.com/Birds_of_Prey/Support.html Newer printings have errata incorporated.


Great. Thanks also for the link. I also just read that there may be a second edition with revised rules coming out in the near future, which is both good and bad. Good in that it might streamline the game and clarify some rules; bad in that I now have the added quandary of whether to buy now or hold out for 2nd edition! It's also a pity there is not a "quick play" version with which to try out the rules without too much up front investment to see if I like it.

elbmc1969 wrote:
2. Nomographs, no. ADC, yes. However, newer printings have corrected ADCs. See the link above for ADC errata. The bulk of it is really, really nit-picky. Seriously, if you care about the exact designation of the MiG-21 in Bulgarian service, you need help worse than the people who created the game.


That's good to hear - it was the nomographs I was mainly concerned with.

elbmc1969 wrote:
3. Yes or no. Yes, sometimes. There is plotting, but there's also an initiative order. Essentially, if you're in the same situation of advantage, you plot vs. the other aircraft in the same situation. Then you perform your moves. After they see that, the aircraft in the next better category get to plot.


I can cope with sequential style plotting perfectly fine for solo play, so this is fine.

elbmc1969 wrote:
Fortunately, you can join the online (PBEM) games. Good teaching games are going on all the time.


Another plus!

elbmc1969 wrote:
4. Can't answer that one.


Fair enough. I will contact this Spain supplier and see when they expect to get some copies in.

Thanks for your comments.
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B. Lenting
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IMHO, the best way to learn the game is to participate in a training game on the airbattle yahoo group (https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/airbattle/info). Most of the time, there is somebody willing to teach you the game. It helped me a lot that somebody checked my plots and moves.

Also, with the release of Fighter Sweep there is available an automated opponent for solitaire play (called SOAR). It simulates a rather inexperienced pilot, maneuvering in the horizontal, but at least it is something.

I like the game, but have had moments that I felt like quiting. I can fly an aircraft, but when tactics are involved, it becomes a very difficult game.
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Kris Miller
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For yor question 3, there are now the solitaire play SOAR rules (Simulated Opponent Automation Rules). These let you play solo by simulating opponents that don't have the best training. These rules and some interesting scenarios are found in Birds of Prey: Fighter Sweep.

I've finished SOAR scenarios in a few hours and learned something from each one.

As Ethan said, find an updated tutorial. Everything else works great.

Kris
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Jon Bryon
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I've had BoP since March 2009 and enjoy it very much. Here are my thoughts:

1. I'm not exactly sure what you will receive in terms of incorporated corrections in a new copy of BoP, but the errata are comprehensively documented and I just added them in myself. I was frustrated by the tutorial, but if you go in prepared it will do its job and you will learn the game. The Yahoo group is also excellent at rapidly answering questions and is a great community to participate in.

2. See Ethan's answer.

3. I have played it solo. The base game comes with some B-29s that move prosaically across the map and you can fly an intercept. I believe the latest expansion (Fighter Sweep) comes with rules for ACM solo play (which is what people mean by 'SOAR'). But you can also easily fly aircraft against each other solo if you want using the regular rules.

4. I couldn't find a way, and so it does cost a fortune. Not only is there shipping, you might (like me) get hit for VAT on the way in (adds 20% to the cost, including shipping) and a handling charge from (in my case) Parcel Force (an extra £8). I have seen a copy of Airborne Alert a few years ago at the Orc's Nest in London, so I do know some copies made it into the UK, but I imagine they've all gone now

Jon
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jonbryon wrote:
4. I couldn't find a way, and so it does cost a fortune. Not only is there shipping, you might (like me) get hit for VAT on the way in (adds 20% to the cost, including shipping) and a handling charge from (in my case) Parcel Force (an extra £8). I have seen a copy of Airborne Alert a few years ago at the Orc's Nest in London, so I do know some copies made it into the UK, but I imagine they've all gone now

Jon


The Spanish online store I found it in is this one...

http://www.planetongames.com/birds-prey-combat-p-1485.html?o...

I figured if I can at least source a supplier in Europe I will pay less postage and no import duties or extra tax as it would be in the EU. As far as I'm aware, buying within Eurozone just adds shipping charge onto what the store sells it for. Also the Euro is falling against the Pound at the moment so the exchange rate would be better than in dollars I think.

[EDIT] Actually I think the Euro has recovered a bit but it's still weaker against the Pound than a year ago when I used to travel to Germany a lot.
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Baldrick0712 wrote:
jonbryon wrote:
4. I couldn't find a way, and so it does cost a fortune. Not only is there shipping, you might (like me) get hit for VAT on the way in (adds 20% to the cost, including shipping) and a handling charge from (in my case) Parcel Force (an extra £8). I have seen a copy of Airborne Alert a few years ago at the Orc's Nest in London, so I do know some copies made it into the UK, but I imagine they've all gone now

Jon


The Spanish online store I found it in is this one...

http://www.planetongames.com/birds-prey-combat-p-1485.html?o...

I figured if I can at least source a supplier in Europe I will pay less postage and no import duties or extra tax as it would be in the EU. As far as I'm aware, buying within Eurozone just adds shipping charge onto what the store sells it for. Also the Euro is falling against the Pound at the moment so the exchange rate would be better than in dollars I think.

[EDIT] Actually I think the Euro has recovered a bit but it's still weaker against the Pound than a year ago when I used to travel to Germany a lot.


I just saw their online page (as I want a copy, also) and the game is Out of Stock.
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Baldrick0712 wrote:
jonbryon wrote:
4. I couldn't find a way, and so it does cost a fortune. Not only is there shipping, you might (like me) get hit for VAT on the way in (adds 20% to the cost, including shipping) and a handling charge from (in my case) Parcel Force (an extra £8). I have seen a copy of Airborne Alert a few years ago at the Orc's Nest in London, so I do know some copies made it into the UK, but I imagine they've all gone now

Jon


The Spanish online store I found it in is this one...

http://www.planetongames.com/birds-prey-combat-p-1485.html?o...

I figured if I can at least source a supplier in Europe I will pay less postage and no import duties or extra tax as it would be in the EU. As far as I'm aware, buying within Eurozone just adds shipping charge onto what the store sells it for. Also the Euro is falling against the Pound at the moment so the exchange rate would be better than in dollars I think.

[EDIT] Actually I think the Euro has recovered a bit but it's still weaker against the Pound than a year ago when I used to travel to Germany a lot.


Yeah, you'd avoid all VAT, no handling charge and get reduced shipping.

Is anyone in Europe selling a copy second hand I wonder?
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Lautresault wrote:
I just saw their online page (as I want a copy, also) and the game is Out of Stock.


Out of stock but "Expected Soon". There is still hope

In the meantime I think I will search for stores in Germany and France.
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Ken's on a train from New York to home, and there are a lot of changes going on with the company, so it'll be at least a few days to have any sort of answer. (On buying in Europe.)
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I'd be careful buying from a third part because you might not knew which edition you have. You might get a first printing and have all the errors you are concerned about. You might be able to reach out to the retailer though and ask for a serial number our something.
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Fantasy Encounter in Germany has the standard edition in stock for 76€. Not cheap but maybe cheaper than importing.



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Baldrick0712 wrote:
Lautresault wrote:
I just saw their online page (as I want a copy, also) and the game is Out of Stock.


Out of stock but "Expected Soon". There is still hope

In the meantime I think I will search for stores in Germany and France.




Unfortunately I must say that "Expected Soon" means in a nice way "We had, we sold out, and who knows, perhaps one day, but don't have a lot of hope ".

I know that store very well, as I'm a regular client. The owner is very nice and answers all your questions fast and clear. thumbsup

So, send him a mail, perhaps the publisher still has some copies and he's able to get 1 for you. (He speaks English fluently, I even think he's English, or something...)
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Sadly, I think the price is going to be the biggest hurdle for me. I want the base game plus Airborne Assault for the solo-play rules (SOAR?) and from the US publisher that comes to around £118 due to a huge shipping charge, or around £88 from that German store before shipping is added in (which is an unknown as the store just says international order shipping is handled "individually"). I really do love the idea of this game but it would be the most expensive board game purchase I've ever made, and I've made quite a few in my time that were expensive but came with tonnes of stuff like plastic minis etc. BoP is nice but I am not sure it's nice enough to justify the cost.

I had a dig around in my games cupboard and found an old Avalon Hill air combat game called "Flight Leader" that I have hardly played, so I may give that a go first to see if I get sufficiently bitten by the air combat board game bug enough to want to part with an arm and a leg for BoP. Why does it have to cost so much! I checked out what buying just the rulebook alone would cost from the publisher's site and postage for it was 3 times more than the actual item. Why can't it be shipped by boat? I have ordered games from the US in the past that had very reasonable shipping because they went by boat. They took weeks to arrive but that was no big deal for me.

Thanks for all your help. I think I will hold off buying until the 2nd edition comes out - and see what people think of it. Maybe by then there will be some UK stores stocking it.
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Some renewed hope that I might actually be able to afford this thing! I have investigated use of third party shipping services and some allow international clients to order items from US stores, have them shipped to their US depot, and then the item is shipped onwards to the client from there at reduced cost due to high volume shipments.

Here's one...

http://www.ipsparcel.com/intcust.cfm

Still think it might be better to wait for the rumoured 2nd edition though, which I imagine would be released in 2015, if released at all.
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Baldrick0712 wrote:
I really do love the idea of this game but it would be the most expensive board game purchase I've ever made, and I've made quite a few in my time that were expensive but came with tonnes of stuff like plastic minis etc. BoP is nice but I am not sure it's nice enough to justify the cost.


It does come with a lot of plastic bits and a number of laminated cards, all of which drive the price up.

International shipping charges from the U.S. have skyrocketed in the last few years, mostly driven by national politics. Unfortunately, this has made it very difficult (or even impossible) for many small U.S. companies to continue any meaningful export business.
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Well, it's a great shame Europeans are pretty much priced out of the picture when it comes to purchasing BoP. My fear is that even if I scrape enough together to buy the base game I won't be able to afford all the add-ons, so I will forever have an incomplete system. As much as I love the concept it's looking increasingly like this will remain a novel air combat game for Americans and Americans only.

Maybe a license deal with a European games company could solve the problem. Licensing someone to make the game here would presumably yield some extra royalties for Ad Astra whilst also satisfying demand across the pond.

In the meantime I will have to make do with getting my air combat kicks (in computer sim form) from DCS World Flaming Cliffs 3.
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(From the guy who's name is now on the cover beginning with Fighter Sweep)

Why does it have to cost so much!

Primarily three things:

1. Laminated play aids; these are quite expensive to produce in the smaller volumes generated by Ad Astra, even with Chinese prep.
2. Stacking tiles and tilt blocks; most use them, some don't (by using miniatures). Currently, all get them.
3. Die-cut box miniatures; the print is cheap. The setup, however, is an expensive per-die cost, and the run time generates hourly overhead.

The one mitigating factor in all of this that will take place once Tony, Phil, and I have had all required discussions with the publisher is electronic distribution. This will drive down the cost a fair amount, and remove all need for shipping; players who choose this option, many of them overseas, will then be responsible for items 1 and 3- laminating their own control cards and nomographs and cutting out the box miniatures should they choose to use them. If you require tiles and tilts, that should substantially reduce the shipping and purchase cost from the publisher, although you may find you don't need them (or wish to use other means- I seem to recall some cut paper-facsimiles of the tilt blocks running around as PDFs, and I estimate that if they still exist we can provide them accordingly on demand).
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http://www.adastragames.com/downloads/Red_Blue_4vs4_Origami_...
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Kenneth Ellis
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I believe that's the file, but the link isn't working, Ethan.
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Guess what - despite all my procrastination and whining about the cost (which in fairness is largely due to the shipping charge that gets added on, the game itself being reasonably priced) I ordered BoP Expanded Edition last night. It was from an American wargames store (FRP?) that was offering a small discount, so I could not resist any longer. I just hope it makes it through UK customs without incurring an import tax (from past experience this is pretty much random, sometimes you pay and sometimes you don't).

So, I apologise for all the whining about the cost, and I look forward to receiving my copy by airmail in the next week or two.
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absolutlunatic wrote:
I believe that's the file, but the link isn't working, Ethan.


Probably not uploaded after the server move. I believe that I have it on my other computer and I'll try to post it soon if Ken can't get it back up.
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Good choice, Baldrick. You've taken the first step into a fantastic part of the wargaming community.

And you ordered from a good company. (I know the owners and have worked with them a lot.) You should get pretty prompt service.

That said, I'll be in the UK December 20-28--in case any UK players want a face-to-face game. I will be staying in the Cambridge/Peterborough area.

Cheers,
Kris

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