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Subject: The biggest WoW game in the World, Sunday 21 January 2007. rss

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Dick Ruck
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Crabro was my first own-design stunt kite, named after a genus of black and yellow stinging insect in the UK
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On Sunday 21 January 2007, 21 gamers got together for a full day of gaming in Saltdean Scout Hut. Saltdean is about five miles East of Brighton, on the South Coast of England, UK.

At 3.00pm we pushed together four tables for a massive Wings of War game. We arranged 33 planes around its perimeter, ably flown by 21 pilots roughly split into two sides. For simplicity let us refer to the Allies as the Blues, and the Central Empires as the Reds. After a brief outline of the rules, battle commenced.


The start of the game.

There was far too much action to report by one person, so let some of the pilots tell their own stories...

Tim Riley (Rooftrouser) flew for the Blues:
I found myself on the extreme right hand side of the Blues' left flank, secure in the knowledge that my flight of two Sopwiths ("Tripehound" and Snipe) were covered on the left by Flight Lieutenant "Ace" Ackroyd in a Nieuport or two. Initially the Sopwiths headed straight at the Reds' line with a series of long straight manoeuvres, eager to join the fray as soon as possible. The flight to my left weaved a little, checking the aeroplanes' controls but also went pretty much straight at 'em in the Nelson spirit.

After that, for a while it becomes something of a blur as the planes circled in a tight little dance of doom, often so close as to overlap. I seemed to have Flt Ltnt Ackroyd in my sights a great deal more than the Reds but nevertheless scored some shots on target. Before long both Rooftrouser's kites were smoking, trailing wires and bits of fabric and riddled with holes. Luckily though, after some heavy hits early on, they then received a succession of glancing blows and near misses. With very little left to give, they flew on.

At this point, let's say that Captain "Corky" Rooftrouser, heroic aviator, ahem, didn't exactly cover himself in glory. Perhaps because his goggles were covered in oil and glycol from his stricken engine, he sent his nimble Snipe off in entirely the wrong direction. To put it another way, despite the fact that a complete extra wing would seem to be enough to make the difference clear, I got my Sopwiths mixed up at the planning stage. When I came to match up the letters on the cards I found the Snipe was moving away from the nearby battle and streaking off towards the right flank.

Happily the state-of-the-art Snipe can turn on a sixpence but this momentary lapse turned my attention to what was happening on the other flank... Which was in fact Dick Ruck (Crabro), little Le Rhone screaming at full chat, pelting towards us. With his usual generosity, he was shouting, above the wind in the rigging wires, something that sounded like "I knew you wouldn't want me to keep all these Fokkers to myself". He was going full tilt as though the whole of the German air force was on his tail. It turned but that this was because he had the whole of the German air force on his tail.

For a little while I was hors de combat as a result of Crabro's presence on the left flank. Flt Ltnt Ackroyd took charge of the whole squadron temporarily and made a better job of sorting out the Sopwiths than I had. As a result, when I returned to flying duties we were still in the air. Not for long however: The Tripehound couldn't take any more and plummeted into no-man's land in a tangle of broken wings.

As the Snipe staggered on in its death throes, Flt Ltnt Ackroyd took unexpected action. With a cry of "Sorry, I've got to go. Take over my 'plane" he leaped over the side of the cockpit. Possibly he had forgotten as a result of battle fatigue that the parachutes of the day were too bulky to fit in his little kite. Maybe he thought the churned up mud below was soft enough to survive a drop of 2,000 feet...

Anyway as luck would have it Rooftrouser's crate began its death plunge at about the same time and he desperately hurled himself from one cockpit to the other...

The Reds were not having any of this however and refused to fight on, reasoning that if the pilot of the only remaining Blue plane had baled out then they had already won a famous victory. One by one they returned to their airfields and packed up, no doubt thinking of a well earned schnapps.

The battered Nieuport flew on, already pointing at the Allied lines. I like to think that, blipping the throttle to keep the shattered engine alive, he dipped low over the trenches and managed a landing behind the lines to a hero's welcome from the Tommies before heading back to the lonely officer's mess where, as the eerie notes of the last post died away, he raised a glass to his fallen comrades. Or something like that...

...but others might just say - we lost. :-(

Helen Payne (MaOldie) flew for the Reds:
With devilish cunning I flew two trusty Fokker planes simultaneously, choosing them for their bright paintwork rather than their aerial abilities. One was a pretty yellow and the other red and white stripes. Not for me confusion over which plane was which. Oh, they looked so fine skimming through the clouds!

Despite tail damage both of these worthy machines survived until the battle was nearly through, then gallantly the the Fokker Marine (that is the pretty yellow one) intercepted a deadly shot from a dastardly Blue and spiralled out of the sky.

The battles were loud and intense. Sharp turning power enabled Stripey to survive, inflicting damage on that last remaining plane before flying off for the victory photograph. It must be said the Blues fought well... but the day was ours.


Mid-way through the game.

Luke Moscrop (lucmoscrop) flew for the Blues:
I found myself between the fire of two of the Reds who just happened to be flukily turning my way. So I received two shots. Picked up the first damage card and it was a '5' - damn! Then the next damage card - another '5'. My plane can take 12 damage so I think some fancy flying and outmanoeuvring will get me back into the fight, but I make a bit of a mistake as I turn into another of the Reds' planes. One more hit. I pick up another damage card...can I survive..? No it is another '5' and I am dead.

As my comrades commiserate with me, I am left wondering how extraordinarily unlucky I am to have received such heavy 'hits'. About 3 minutes later I decide to just have a peek at the damage cards only to find that they hadn't been shuffled by Mike (who was one of the Red team). All the '5's were on top, followed by the 4's, 3's, 2's, 1's and finally after what seemed about 50 cards, the very much loved '0' damage cards. Thanks to Mike who was telling me to draw from this pile!

Although it was nice of him to let me fly one of his planes - a sticky Messerschmitt which had already received heavy casualties. One more hit and I draw from a different damage card pile... a '5' ...AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!

James Payne (Waaru) flew for the Blues:
My two planes began on the flank and soon found themselves in the thick of the early action. One plane was shot out of the sky barely after take-off and only managed five manoeuvres before the plane crashed into the ground in a ball of fire and smoke. The second pilot (obviously noting the fate of his compatriot) avoided the brunt of the flak for quite a while and gunned down two Red planes and landed a few hits on two more. Sadly the second plane took one more hit than the rickety wooden frame could cope with and was shot down just as the Blue reinforcements appeared on the horizon

Shame I died but good fun anyway.

Peter Appleton (pappleton) flew for the Reds:
At the start of the Wings of War on the Red team I joined up with a wingman and we must have posed a fearsome sight because not one Blue plane came near us. Every turn the wingman said "This way, let's get them". But by the time we arrived the plane had either been shot down or was surrounded by fellow Reds.

We made our way to the next sector just in time to see Crabro as the sole surviving Blue in our Sector being chased by five Reds and he protested "Where did you come from?" So in the spirit of fair play we flew on, but the Blues had been decimated everywhere. Eventually we flew home for dinner with pristine aircraft and full magazines.

I didn't fire a shot but I did survive, so I edged into the surviving pilots photo. A hero lives but once, a coward lives a thousand times and gets his face in the team photo.

Tony Ackroyd (1000rpm) flew for the Blues:
It was soon not looking very good for the Blues, when the right flank crumbled seemingly without Red losses and a whole wing of the Reds began to tear into the brave Blues...

For my little section of the battle we managed to down 3 Reds for only 2 losses, but both our remaining planes were in terrible condition when 10 more came flying out of the sun.

At that point I had to make a coward's exit from the game due to an ill wife, but hopefully someone can complete the story...

Tony Bellringer (Tulfa) flew for the Blues:
Confession - I was one of the Blues on that right wing.

'Twas not for lack of trying I can assure you. I must have got about 6 hits on one of the Reds, and my wingwoman about the same, but he was still flying. Darn those damage cards!

Dick Ruck (Crabro) flew for the Blues:
My trusty planes too suffered under the relentless hail of lead streaming from the guns of the Reds. One plane quickly succumbed. The other struggled on and I gallantly (!) ran away from five Reds towards the help of my comrades. Help was unfortunately unavailable as Rooftrouser had his own problems to deal with! So in a final act of desperation I flew an Immelman back into the midst of my enemy, hoping to take one with me. Weaving left, slipping right I avoided the deadly hail from the leading Reds. Lining up my sights on a weakened Red, I fired a deadly stream of bullets... I wish! My guns jammed and within seconds I was a spiralling towards the fields below.


So there we are, 21 pilots, 33 planes and a win for the Reds in the biggest Wings of War game in the World to date.


The lineup of pilots.

Thanks to all those who submitted their sector reports, brought their Wings of War games and to the pilots who took part: Tony Ackroyd, Pete Appleton, Tony Bellringer, Mike Bliss, Steve Cox, Martin Devereux, Debs Dennis, Rob Fletcher, Howard Goble, Terry Gough, Ron Hollman, Paul Johnson, Luke Moscrop, Chris Nicholls, Helen Payne, James Payne, Nick Pitman, Tim Riley, Dick Ruck, Colin Sykes and Andy York.
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Alex Rockwell
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I'm pretty sre that World of Warcraft is a bigger WoW game than this: 8 million people >> 21!

hehe
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I've never seen a flying hogfish. I saw one gliding once, but never flying, not actually flying.
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Sounds impressive - I had hopes of running a large game at a con' in Scotland at the end of last year, but I was in the middle of moving house. Still hoping to get it up and running sometime soon.

How did it play with 21? Was there much confusion or did it all work out OK?
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Dick Ruck
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Re: The biggest WoW game in the World, Sunday 21 January 200
flyinghogfish wrote:
How did it play with 21? Was there much confusion or did it all work out OK?


I found it was just very similar to playing a two player, four plane game, but with more opportunity to fire and be fired upon! Everyone was very respectful of the damage deck ownership problem, and tended to play in groups until they dispatched their enemies and needed to cross into the adjacent 'sector'.

Certainly in the area I was playing there was little confusion - it was simply a case of "There's Dick, go get him"

We deliberately avoided trying to get all 21 pilots playing manoeuvre 1, manoeuvre 2 etc. at the same time, as that meant that we would have to play at the pace of the slowest player. Each group of combatants played simultaneous moves, and the players 'dovetailed' into another group's manoeuvres when they flew across to their sector. It worked out fine.

- Dick
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Andrea Angiolino
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Dear Dick,
thanks so much for the idea, the effort, the report. Great indeed! It seems that you had fun, and that's the best part of it!

If you are so kind to assemble an article (even very close to the report here) we can put it on www.wingsofwar.it.

Just let me remind the previous "official" records...

7th-8th of May 2005 - first "Weekend eno-gastro-ludico" ("Wine-food-games Weekend) at Bossolasco (Italy): 13 planes (13 pilots).

22nd of May 2005, "Mucca Games" in Tarquinia (Italy): 22 planes (22 pilots).
http://www.wingsofwar.it/read.asp?id=1269

9 ottobre 2005, "Sulle ali del gioco" ("On the games' wings") at the Italian Air Force Museum of Vigna di Valle (Italy): 25 planes (25 pilots).
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/97554

I hope not to forget anybody...

Thanks again a lot!

Andrea

 
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Constantine von Hoffman
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Re: The biggest WoW game in the World, Sunday 21 January 200
Wow about WOW. And to think I was pleased that the day before your fight for the skies we had 14 in the tourney at Unity Games. I hate to brag but I am now co-owner of this year's Snoopy Cup, awarded to the first person shot down in the tourney.

And let me echo what others have said -- this game really scales up well. There's a lot more chaos with a lot more people but that makes it better. And I don't think a game with 14 takes any longer than a game with four.
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Andrea Angiolino
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Well 14 is a good achievement anyway! And congratulations for the Snoopy cup, those damned damage cards are a nuisance!
 
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Andrea Angiolino
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The Channel Battle raised some chauvinist pride here in Italy. Next try to break the record (but we are not sure at all that they will succeed) will take place the 24th of february, 3 PM local time in Pisa, Italy, at Pisacon 2007:
http://nuke.goblins.net/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid...

Congratulations and thanks again for everything!

Andrea
 
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Paul Boos
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Re: The biggest WoW game in the World, Sunday 21 January 200
Great report - very enjoyable reading. I really am excited at playing this more in 2007. I just finished posting a session report at the opposite end of the spectrum of just 2 players.

My perspective is that as you noted - you have more opportunities to fire and be fired upon and this would be reality in aerial combat as well; where as a pilot vs. pilot would be more of an academic aerial combat manuevering (ACM) engagement. In such a small engagement, you try and be keenly aware of both your and your opponent's flight envelopes. In a large engagement you would mostly stress flying within your envelope.

A small point of divergence, when you don't watch your envelope, you can over stress your aircraft or stall or not be able to pull out of a dive. Andrea (if you check in here again) has any thought been put into simulating this fact in WoW? Even experienced pilots do this in real combat (and sometimes just flying...). It appears that most aerial combat games (or at least the one's I have played) do not try and simulate this; the assumption is that your pilot always flies within the aircraft's envelope. The only misfortune you have is wrong choices within the envelope (and the resulting bullet holes that follow), the lucky shot (one shot and you explode into a fireball), some engine problem (e.g. smoke, oil, or fire) or flight control malfunction (you can't turn right) or the bad luck of your guns jamming. WoW does have items that simulate and force you to stay within your envelope (e.g. straights before and after an Immelman turn). Just curious on the thought processes on this simulation.

 
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Shaz Aris
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pmboos wrote:

A small point of divergence, when you don't watch your envelope, you can over stress your aircraft or stall or not be able to pull out of a dive. Andrea (if you check in here again) has any thought been put into simulating this fact in WoW? Even experienced pilots do this in real combat (and sometimes just flying...). It appears that most aerial combat games (or at least the one's I have played) do not try and simulate this; the assumption is that your pilot always flies within the aircraft's envelope. The only misfortune you have is wrong choices within the envelope (and the resulting bullet holes that follow), the lucky shot (one shot and you explode into a fireball), some engine problem (e.g. smoke, oil, or fire) or flight control malfunction (you can't turn right) or the bad luck of your guns jamming. WoW does have items that simulate and force you to stay within your envelope (e.g. straights before and after an Immelman turn). Just curious on the thought processes on this simulation.



The original Crimson Skies (FASA rather than Wizkids) game had mechanics to simulate overstressing the airframe. While this game is not a 'historical' game (more of an alternate history game), the mechanics seemed to work quite well, with the plane going out of control and taking damage. In fact, to win in crimson skies, you generally HAD to push the envelope, often to much hysterics as your plane spiralled out of control and slammed into and obstruction.

With this particular game, the maneuver decks would seem to preclude 'pushing the envelope' since planes can only fly within those pre-programmed limits given by the games designers.
 
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Andrea Angiolino
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The Saltdean event is today on the main newspaper of Genoa. If anybody wants the pdf, please write me.

Thanks,

Andrea
 
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