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Ironclads and Ether Flyers» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A hidden gem in aeronaval warfare wargame rules rss

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Paolo Marchiodi
Italy
Bolzano
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What we are going to talk about is a set of rules that for me was a real surprise. I would rather call it a hidden and maybe almost forgotten gem. “Ironclads and Ether Flyers – Aeronaval Warfare in the 19th Century”, in just a few words, is a game about naval and air fighting in a Steampunk Victorian world. For who is familiar with the theme, it is directly connected with the stories of Space 1889, where the great powers of the world, reached the planet Mars with odd technologies and began a sort of colonial race, like it was in the real Victorian era in Africa.
This ruleset takes just part from what is known from Space 1889, and specifically the existence of a material called “liftwood” that allows to build flying ships and machines. This fact gives a whole new dimension to naval encounters in the pre-ww1 world. In this game, in contrast to the Space 1889 ambiance, engagements are staged on earth and there is quite no mention of martian and outer world encounters, focusing more on almost real wars and engagements, apart from the possibility of having fliers in the own forces.

Components and box:
Right, it is not a box, but it is a set of rules of about 110 pages that give you rules of play, scenarios, campaigns and with some real nice illustrations a good immersion in this tense Victorian age.

Theme and subject:
As just said it all plays in a pre world war one era, where the great nations of the world struggle for dominance. The presence of the new material called liftwood, gives the possibility to use flying dreadnoughts and fortresses, but even without them, when the player limits himself to play only with ordinary ships, the feeling of the era is very catchy.

Overall mechanics and mode of play:
It is what we call a ordinary miniature wargame, where the players move their own miniatures (from what sort whatsoever, personally I use self made counters), measure distances (in cables),
and shot with them, all of that ruled out with dices and tables. I am just at the beginning, but the system seems to be very well balanced and with a lot of love for the details in the different equipments and weaponry that every unit can have, with their power and weaknesses. The engagements can reach from ship vs ship combats, to greater encounters.

Conclusion:
In my opinion “Ironclads and Ether Flyers” is a sort of wonder-box, a multi-functional work-tool that once read through opens to the players a whole new world. Apart of the good rules for naval engagements, what fascinated me from the beginning on, was the lots of material that was given to work with. To made an example, in the rules you will find a lot of national fleets (actually from the great powers to the smallest country.) This all, full of more or less credible and often quite realistic stats of the Victorian age fleets. Just to be clear, you can search for a specific nation, in my case Italy, and you will find the stats for all the different ship classes in service during that era for this country. So you get real “brickstones” to build your own scenarios and campaigns, and just need to ad some home made paper counter, a sheet of paper, a pencil and a lot of imagination.
What really stood out for me was the possibility to create my own units. In the rules you will find an entire section that will teach you to project, design and test your own units. Would it be a torpedo boat, a dreadnought, a submarine or a flying leviathan, you can put together what you want. It is really something great and special, and in my opinion it's a uniqueness that I didn't found in any other game. Step by step you can calculate the stats, comprehensive of the size (in the scale to the real counterpart), mass, every sort of armament and even the estimated cost in pounds (!).
So, what else it's to say. Just give it a try. You will find the pdf on many sites that sell wargame rules or rpg complements. For a few dollars you will get a real guide to a complete new world of wargaming. Ironclads and Ether Flyer is far from being only another simple miniature wargame.
With a little bit of fantasy and imagination, and the inclination of every wargamer to get taken away by a fascinating theme, this bunch of pages can be a very good start to exciting games or even own creations.

P.S.: For the “Dystopian Wars” gamers out there: give this ruleset a try.
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Tom H
Australia
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I love Space 1889 and these rules. A shame to see GDW disappear.

Great review - thanks.
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Andrew Walters
United States
Hercules
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You can buy PDFs of most of the products, thankfully.
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Andrew Franke
United States
Elkton
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tomster wrote:
I love Space 1889 and these rules. A shame to see GDW disappear.

Great review - thanks.

You can buy almost all of these products in print or PDF from one source or another.
The pdf for this is Ironclads and Ether Flyers at DriveThruRPG for $5.95 prining and binding it will cost about 10 bucks.
 
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