Steve Duke
United States
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Austin Boardgame Bash was the site for two Wings of Glory demo games recently. Pictures coming shortly!

ABB was in its second year as a con and had grown significantly since year one when the organizer hoped for about 60 attendees and what he got was more than 100. This year, he was ready for a further increase and attendance reached about 230, which was a good-sized convention.

As the title of the convention says, this con is about boardgames. But Wings of Glory fits that niche between board game, card game, and miniatures game, so the organizer (Jonathan Grabert) was excited to support the demos from the moment I first contacted him. The fact that I could run up to 14 people per game was also enticing.
This, then, was not your typical wargame crowd for sure but I was very pleased with both the participating in the demos, and the amount of folks who stopped by or posted something later that they wished they had played WoG.

Everyone was very nice at this convention and by far the majority of people who played WoG with me had never played it before. Most had never heard of it either but that was about to change. I appreciated the large number of folks who took a chance away from their comfort zone to try WoG. Without exception, everyone had a good time with the game.

It was a very positive experience for me and I look forward to next year. The participants were very attentive as they learned the rules and, as usual, they were up and flying in no time.

First up for the late afternoon demo session 1 was a World War Two scenario that I had used at Texicon two weeks before, focusing on the Battle of Britain. I had completed several German bombers and was very proud of them along with the details I printed off from the great Aerodrome site (an amazing resource of items and collection of dedicated folks who love the game). But wanting to showcase the new Ares planes was a main goal.

Also, I’d told Jonathon that folks could cycle in and out of the game any time they wanted, they were not required to stay the whole time or be there at the start of the game, we could get them into the game whenever they showed up.
So I opted for an Olympics-themed game, where two players form a team, and would represent their country of choice by flying that country’s airplanes. While not historical, it turned out to work great especially with new players cycling in, and we had a lot of fun with it.

For the first round, we had four teams of two planes each. Team Germany flew two ME 109s. Team USA took the two P40s from the new set. Team Great Britain took two Spitfires. Team Italy took the two new Re 2001s, the coolest-looking planes in this series imo.

We were playing with clouds and the clouds did drift periodically. Besides adding some aesthetics, they offered cover to planes who needed it and were an interesting addition to the scenario that I will keep doing in the future. At least one plane that was badly hit headed to the cloud to try and escape for awhile.

Kevin who formerly lived in Australia and took a lot of great close-ups of the game, was on his very first game. He took right to it and was successful, flying beyond what I thought was reasonable damage. By the time he was finally dropped, others had lost two planes and it turned out he didn’t have that much damage after all. Note all the 0s in the damage pile for him, once Kevin was finally shot down.

Rather than a play by play report, I will just capture some highlights.
Following the two man team game, we played individual dogfights. New planes added were the Yak, the early Wildcat, and the Japanese Ki 61.

Poor Tom who is a local Austin gamer and a fine fellow, had the distinction of being shot down 3 times during the game.

This fellow wanted the Wildcat but took an early war one armed with only 4 machineguns. In a big throw-down against heavily armed later war planes, he could not give as well as he received and he went down fairly quickly. Generally, head on passes are not good for either plane but you want to at least have an equal punch in the exchange.

If you can’t do that, it is best to try and maneuver away from an exchange and come in from the flank. It takes a lot longer and requires good flying skills to do that, and most pilots I’ve seen opt for the easy ‘at least I get a shot’ decision. In this flyer’s case, his poor Wildcat caught fire and then exploded.

From the WW2 Olympics-themed melee, we rolled right into a WW 1 Balloon buster scenario. Several new folks joined who had come by the first game, so we had a mix at the table of about half brand new players and half who had played the previous demo or another game. After quickly explaining the rules and setting up the game, we kicked off this scenario.

The German side had 3 balloons up that they were trying to defend or get to the ground before the Allied side could destroy them.

The defenders had 3 ground guns that they emplaced, 2 A-type machineguns and a B gun, along with 2 Albatross DIIIs. A third aircraft was off map to come in as a random reinforcement.
For the Allies, they all had little Nieuports with 2 of them armed with rockets. Each rocket-armed airplane had an escort Nieuport to accompany it to the target.

The Allies pressed their attacks very well and it was a race against time to see if they could get within range of their rockets before the balloons had been safely lowered to the ground. Fortunately for them, some confusion with the German recovery teams left the balloons aloft too long and gave the Allies the chances they were looking for.
The German escort was not effective in screening the balloons or buying time for them to be recovered safely as the Nieuports engaged the Germans on the way in, but were able to target two of the three balloons with rockets. The German side was hampered as one of the flyers had to depart to attend an appointment for an online game (?!), leaving his wingman to have to fly both planes. This is difficult but not impossible and try as we did, we could convince no onlookers to step in for the German side. Perhaps they could read the tea leaves as they say? 

Sadly, the balloons explosion can also damage planes that are nearby and the Allies had a plane taken down due to damage from the exploding airbag. It kind of reminds me of that old Cold War nuclear hand grenade thing we used to have. As soon as you threw it, you were already within the burst radius of it! That’s what happened with our Allied planes as several took damage and one took it all the way to the ground.
So with two of three balloons destroyed and only one recovered, while both Albatrosses were also shot down. Allied plane losses were just one plane shot down and two lightly damaged, we called this a decisive Allied victory.

Both sessions had been great successes with more than ¾ of all players new to the game. Folks asked to play more but it had been a long and fun day and it was time to pack up and return home for the evening.
Quite a few people asked about where they could get the game and commented on how much they liked the ease and speed of play, and how quickly they got into their first game. It remains one of my favorite points about this system. It is so easy to get into it and you can add more rules to add details and realism as you see fit. With or without the added items, the game is hugely fun and would be a great party game for folks who don’t normally enjoy games.
WoG certainly bridged a unique gap at Austin Boardgame Bash and was the only game of its type that I saw being played. As happened at Texicon, we had true mix at our table for both games. Younger, older, male, female, hardcore wargamer and causal boardgamer. Several parents were convinced that they needed to get it for their kids to play. And all left with a smile on their face.
I greatly appreciate Jonathan giving me time slots to run these demos and for his enthusiastic support. I look forward to this growing convention next year!
Ares has a winner with this game series and I look forward to the next installment of airplanes to add to the excitement.
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