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Subject: Fast and Furious Fun rss

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Ryan Gritter
United States
Des Moines
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A lot has been written about this game already in its various incarnations (Famous Aces, Watch Your Back, Burning Drachens, etc.) but I would simply like to put in my 2 cents regarding the Miniature variant.

The components:
As already mentioned in earlier comments/reviews, the components of the game are excellent. The cardboard pieces are colorful and thick, the cards are well-designed if not a bit small (awkward to shuffle, in my opinion), and the planes themselves are fabulous - individual wing supports are colored, the camo patterns are vibrant, and the wing markings are accurate. The planes are fairly sturdy for being plastic, but I'll certainly be careful with them. The mini's definitely add a level of interest by the tactile, three-dimensional quality they possess. They take a good card-based game and turn it into something really special. An added bonus is that you get the card with the plane on it too in case you want to incorporate it into one of the base sets.

It's also worth noting that the level of quality for miniatures has been increasing over the last few years with games like Axis & Allies Minis and now WoW setting a high standard for future sets. Even games with mass amounts of miniature plastic figures like Memoir '44 and Tide of Iron have shown steady improvement over original plastic fantastics like the original Axis & Allies or Risk (numbers, not mini's, I know, but still improved).

The game:
The gameplay is quick and elegant like a spiraling, climbing, swooping dance of death that is over almost as quickly as it starts. A one-on-one game typically lasts about a half an hour (depending on the size of the playing surface and optional rules used). Players choose three cards from their maneuver deck for each turn which are then revealed simultaneously one by one. During the ensuing movement guns are fired when the planes are in range (calculated by a simple ruler device) and damage determined by card draw from the damage deck. Optional rules for altitude, advanced damage, and tailing make the game even better. House rules for aces, limited ammo, and a host of other scenarios are widely available on the internet and add yet another level of complexity and fun (depending on your definition of "fun" )

The evaluation:
The game is fast and fun. If that's what you want from a game then you'll probably like it. It's not overly complicated nor realistic, but it plays fast and it has a nice feel to it. Some of the optional/house rules can add "realism" but ultimately your plane can only do what the cards in its maneuver deck will let it do. Which brings me to one possible drawback I see in the game: any planes which use the same maneuver deck are essentially the same. Yes, there are differences regarding the amount of damage they inflict (A or B decks) or the amount of damage they can absorb (my planes only vary by 3 points at the most), but the fact remains that every plane which uses a "C" maneuver deck essentially moves the same as every other plane that uses a "C" maneuver deck. The altitude rule helps somewhat, but most fighters are typically within 1 or 2 points of each other in this regard too. This isn't a dealbreaker for me, as I still enjoy the game, but I can see a point where I might not be inclined to buy a new mini if it has the same maneuver deck as a plane I already have.

Another issue I have with the game is the way it's distributed. I had to order online from Canada to get the Deluxe Set - which is really a miniature starter set. Otherwise I would have had to buy a base game (Famous Aces or Burning Drachens) and then buy the miniatures on top of that. Thanks to the Deluxe set I now have all the components I need to play the game plus a set of rules in French. The rules can be downloaded in English - EXCEPT for the scenarios and the ground attack/bombing rules. With a little searching on the internet, it's possible to find most of these items as well, but the point is that I'm doing a lot of work (international phone calls, extensive color printing, plus a fair amount of computer time)to play a game which should be more accessible. I'm not sure how this business strategy works, but it seems like a mistake to not market an English version of the Deluxe mini game.

With all that said, I'm a fan of the game. I think you have to work around some of the marketing decisions of the company, but the mini set is great fun. I have a personal bias toward historical aviation anyway so I'm probably a bit of a sucker for the game as it is. I plan on buying the other box sets of the game just so I can see how some of the other planes handle (different maneuver decks) and take in some of the rules I might be missing as well as a few scenarios. If you're interested in the game, it may be worthwhile (and certainly cheaper) to buy a box set and see if you like the mechanics of the game first before investing in the mini's. At around 10 bucks each they're not terribly expensive, but they can add up fast and just a few will effectively double the price of the game. In my opion though, it's well worth it.

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