Jonathan "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
"By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe."
This review will be concentrating on whats new in Fire From the Sky expansion, as the basic mechanics of flight and such have been covered extensively in reviews of the base game: Wings of War: The Dawn of World War II.
Fire in the Sky is an obvious draw to those who love WWII air warfare and military history. In terms of fighters, you get a whole new batch of historically accurate WWII planes to take to the skies with on your table. For me this is a great thing, we have new planes with new paint schemes and they are all accurate for the time period. The main reason I bought the Wings of War: Eagles of the Reich Squadron Pack and the Wings of War: Flying Legend Squadron Pack was to have more 109's and Spitfires in different colors. The extra maneuver decks were an added bonus. In the game, the new planes use a series of new maneuver decks but arent all that really different from the first games.
The obvious new components in this expansion are the inclusion of dive bombers, who can now go into a steep dive to put their bombs on target. The further use of this is the Ju-87 Stuka's themselves. They have an option that allows them to go STRAIGHT down on top of a target to bomb it. This takes some of the guess work out of the bombs path in the level bombing rules. The dive bombers also have the ability to shoot backwards as they all have a rear gunner. The forward and back firing of both the long and close range is only 1 'A' chit per shot. This makes it hard to even shoot down a pursuing fighter but can be fixed (read on).
Another new addition to this game is the use of AA guns, that use special 'D' damage chits.These damages go all the way up to the double digits 18 being the highest. So now it is possible on a draw to completely destroy your plane without having to draw the special damage explosion chit.
There is one plane in this game who uses the new 'D' damage grouping in the air. The Bell P-39 Airacobra, which historically had a 37mm cannon firing through its nose. In the game, one thing is for sure, you do not want that nut cracker of a cannon firing on you at close range in combat.
The dive bombers themselves come with 2 'I' decks, but we have yet to use them. We ran a Battle of Britain scenario last night and just had the 5 Stuka's fly in formation on a cardboard card, and they moved forward one full card every turn. This worked better for us both historically and game wise. Most of the time, bombers would be keeping with their formation, not doing a whole lot of juking and moving around, unless they were unfortunate enough to get separated from the group. Of course there is the problem of the math, you cant field 5 Stukas on the table doing their own thing, with only 2 'I' decks, nor would it be really accurate either. The flying them in a 'V' formation also helps the issue of their weak guns. It hurts to try and attack 5 Stuka's from the rear, when all of them have you in range. As oppose to only playing with 1 or 2 dive bombers and not really having a fighting chance. Again this made it better historically as well.
Overall the game adds some interesting rules and planes that allow you to open up some real escort missions and scenarios but the bottom line for some people, would be that its just the same thing with some added rules.
Is this game for/worth it to you? Only you can answer that but I'll try to help you along. For me personally it is worth it, as are all the Squadron packs just because Im a huge fan of WWII Air Warfare and even though the new P-39 is flying around with a maneuver deck just like the planes in the first game. Its fun. I love seeing the new planes, as to me they are different.
To others they may not be anything more than a card with a different maneuver deck which would honestly make this expansion no different from the base game, with the exception of the the dive bombers and AA guns. And that might make its price tag a bit hefty just for those 2 things.
Personally I hope to see the WWII side of this series continue, I cannot wait until B-17's, B-24's, mid-late 109's and early-mid, Fw-190's start showing up. Those and the wonderful Il-2 Sturmovik.
Ahhh IL2.. whatever happened to Storm of War boohoo