Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Dakka! Dakka! Dakka!

To the young wargamer today, the title of this post might lead them to believe that it was about some sort of Ork Fighter Bomber for Warhammer 40K.

Well sorry to disappoint them.

Those of us "older" wargamers and film buffs will know it's that immortal line uttered by Robert Shaw in the classic 1969 film "The Battle of Britain" where he is trying to teach the rookie Pilot how to stay alive during the impending battle. (Edit - in my original post I did put up a clip of the relevant bit of the film but MGM have pulled the clip for copyright reasons!)

Regular readers will know how keen I am on the Wings of War game (now known as Wings of Glory produced by Ares Games ) but this has always been the WW1 version of the game, I had never played the WW2 version. Given the new starter set for the WW2 Wings of  Glory is about £50 I have been swithering as to the affordability of it given that I'm still keen to pick up the WW1 models.

However, an alternative system which has just been released in the last couple of months by Wizards of the Coast (WotC) is their Axis and Allies Angels 20 game

Now there will be some of you who will go "Wizards of the Coast? Bah humbug - it'll just be another card game like Magic the Whatchamacallit or role playing game like Dungeons and Doldrums".

Now, fortunately from my point of view I play/ have played both "Magic the Gathering" and "Dungeons and Dragons" and enjoyed them both so the fact that Angels 20 is produced by WotC wasn't cause for alarm. And their WW2 sea battles and WW2 land battles versions have been incredibly popular, although admittedly I hadn't played any of these.

Plus the models for Angels 20 are pre-painted. So that was another reason to be interested. 

The starter set normally retails for about £25 but can be had on Amazon for a lot less than this, so last week Alan and I started down another slippery slope with our first game.

Flt. Lt. Rupert Chumley-Brown in his Spitfire leading his
spiffing good mate, Flt. Lt. Horace Plumpington in his Hurricane head on to meet the Hun.

As you will note from the picture the game is played on a hex map. The starter set comes with 2 map sheets that can be butted together to form a decent sized playing area. Each type of plane has a stat card which contains all of the essential information the pilot needs to fly his kite.

So looking at the card above Rupert (who is an Ace) and his Spitfire cost 46 points . At normal speed he can move a minimum of 2 hexes and a maximum of 4 hexes and at high speed can move 5 hexes. At Range 1 he rolls 6d6 (that's code for 6 x 6 sided dice) to attack, Range 2, 4d6 and at Range 3, 2d6. Rupert's Spit can take a total of 3 hits before hitting the deck and a hit is scored if his armour damage score of 3 is equalled or exceeded when fired upon by an enemy aircraft. However, if the Vital score of 6 is scored in one attack then catastrophic damage is caused and Rupert is a goner. When a plane has 1 hit point left then it is deemed to be crippled and that is bad news.

Then you have the bonus scores that can be added to 2d6 whenever Rupert wants to attempt a "difficult manoeuvre", the bonus to be added dependant on whether the manoeuvre is a type of Turn, Roll, Climb or Dive.

Finally, there are a couple of Special Abilities which Rupert can use during the game.

Here Come The Hun!

Alan was flying as Jerry while I took the good old Brits!

Each player at the start of the turn rolls for Initiative. The player with the highest score gets to move second and will always move one of his planes last - a very important advantage when you are trying to get on an opponent's tail. First player moves one of his planes, then the Second Player moves one of his planes and so on until all planes have been moved as long as the Player who won initiative moves the last plane in the turn.

During the plane's movement it can attempt to make 1 "difficult manoeuvre" per turn (some Aces can attempt 2 such manoeuvres). At normal speed the score to equal or exceed with 2d6 and adding the plane's relevant bonus is 10 and at high speed the score to equal is 13. Failure to get that score and the plane will normally just fly straight ahead into the next hex.

Once all planes have moved then the First player can attack with any of his aircraft that has a valid target (usually within 3 hexes of the front of the aircraft, although the Me110 can fire up to 4 hexes away) and under the basic rules both planes have to be at the same altitude (there are 6 altitude bands and there are  numbers appearing on the base of each plane which designate the altitude the plane is flying at and you simply swivel the plane round so that the front of the plane is above the relevant number).

I won the initiative for the first turn, so Alan moved one of his planes first. It wasn't long before we were all in amongst each other and Alan, being Alan, decides he was going to try and fly Emil in his Me109E into Rupert..

If 2 planes fly into the same hex and are at the same altitude then a collision may occur. Both players roll a d6 and if both roll a "1" (or if the plane's pilot is a rookie then "1" or "2") then a collision occurs and BOOM! So we both rolled our dice, I rolled the black one....

The "Eye of Sauron" rolled by Alan is a "1"

So thankfully no collision but the sky was getting crowded as we both tried to manoeuvre our kites into a good firing position.

Then Horace takes a 2 hex range burst at Friedrich on the Me109F and scores 1 hit!

You can just see the red hit counter under Friedrich's tail. Don't ask what Alan's Ace is trying to do!

Alan then gets an attack on Rupert at range 1 but approaching from 10 o'clock needs "6's" to score damage.

And misses!!

Rupert, however, showing true flying ability gets into Emil's 8o'clock arc

Dakka! Dakka! Dakka! A hit!

Realising they were up against a top notch pilot, the Jerries do the dastardly thing and pick on Horace in his Hurri

Boo Hiss! The Jerries manage to scratch Horace's paintwork.

Rupert tries to break up the Party by targeting Friedrich, who is continuing to tail Horace in his Hurri

But leaves himself exposed to sneaky Emil to get in a close range burst

Friedrich's relentless pursuit of Horace in his Hurri leads Rupert to risk all to try and save his mate 

And Friedrich, already on 2 hits is a Goner!! Pip! Pip! Rupert!

But by concentrating on Friedrich, Rupert for a split second forgets to check the skies for Emil, but too late!

"Cripes! Jerry has got me! Bail out and hope the chute works!"

By this time Horace and his Hurri were also in a crippled state and a crippled Hurri is no match for a sneaky Hun.

Typical Jerry overkill scoring 6 hits when only 3 were required!

"Bail out Horace!"

So a lucky win to Alan in the first game. However, rather than try and prove it was no fluke, he made way for his lad Josef, and those of you who have read about our Saga/ Blood Bowl or any other games that involves dice will know that when Josef rolls dice, he takes no prisoners.

Josef, elected to take the Brits this time, leaving me with the dastardly Huns. Instead of the Me109F, I took another Me109E and we set to the skies. However, before I knew it, Josef's Spit managed to get on the tail of my Ace. 

With, 1 damage point already, I expected to have a crippled kite at the end of the attack. However, a Me109E only has a score of 5 for it's vital score, so Josef, being Josef rolls 6 dice needing 4's....

And scores a total of 6 hits blowing the Me109 out of the sky!

"Gott in Himmel!"
(The camera wobble was due to me shaking my head in disbelief at Josef's jammy rolling")

Josef then swooped in for the kill against the other Me109

"Achtung Spitfeuer!"

And the result was alas inevitable....

Scratch another Hun.

The game with Josef lasted, I think about 4 turns, I was too dazed too remember the actual total.

So a couple of entertaining games. Okay, it may not appeal to the purist but the fact that all you need is the starter set and you can literally start playing as soon as you open the box is a major plus point for me (although the fact that it uses dice means it doesn't get a maximum 10 out of 10 score).

As you can hopefully see from the pictures the models are not bad at all. The game is marketed as a "collectible" game in that the initial set has 31 different planes, representing, British, American, Russian, French, German, Japanese, Finnish and Chinese aircraft and the additional planes can be bought in "boosters" containing 3 random models so there is always the possibility of ending up with a model you already have. But then you can always trade it for one you don't have or build up that squadron of Hurricanes!

The Me110 model is, however, only available in the starter set and all the stat cards are in the starter set, not in the boosters. There is already a market on EBay for single models if you want to be specific about the planes you need.

I liked the game a lot. The rules were pretty simple to follow and once we got the hang of what the different manoeuvres would do to the position of the plane then it did become very tactical. There are suggested scenarios for the Battle of Britain and also a scenario generator to play 1 of 6 different scenarios. Advanced rules make it possible to fire at aircraft 1 altitude band below or above you, and to get bonuses to your attacks and manoeuvres depending on how you position your plane on it's stand. It also introduces weather rules and fairly simple rules for ack-ack.

Further sets will no doubt be released and which will introduce more aircraft types (the word on the street is that the next set will be Pacific themed) and if it follows the usual WotC format you can probably expect 3 different sets in a year.

So definitely sliding down another slippery slope.......

(It was not all bad news that night, I whupped Alan's butt at Wings of War!)


  1. Looks like a lot of fun was had by all, even the losers! Nice write-up and photos, Sir.

    1. Thanks Jay! I've learned the hard way that it's all about playing the game, not just winning. I do believe that, honest guv I do, most sincerely .....

  2. It does sound like a rather spiffing game...wot, wot?

  3. Sounds fun KP,
    However I only really think of WW1 fighters in these sort of games, sticking close to each other and making tight turns etc.

    WW2 fighters were so much faster, blink and you miss them sort of thing. Still looks like a good game.

    Love WW1 wings of war!

    1. I still prefer Wings of War WW1 primarily because it doesn't use dice! But also because you have to marvel at the bravery of the pilots in those days who flew deadly battles in a plane that looked like it was held together with string. But this games is definitely a worthwhile alternative

  4. I've been eyeballing that game in the local store. It all looked a bit crowded there. Was that a choice you guys made or is that how the game plays?

    1. The hexes are scaled at 500 yards and for most planes maximum range is 3 hexes (some can only manage a 2 hex range) so that does require you to be pretty close to be able to do damage. Plus Alan is a pretty aggressive player in that he likes a lot if action to be going on around the table so it does suit his style of play to be battling it out toe to toe!

  5. Not my thang but a fair number of guys at the club play and enjoy. Always lots of noise and laughter from the table. WoW, or now WoG (bad acronym that) does seem to be fun, maybe try it following your batrep. And the models are nice.

    1. Alas the company who produce Wings of Glory are Italian so I'm pretty sure the game title will be different in Italian and they didn't consider how it would read in English!

      It's a quick easy game and is ideal for a club night as you could easily get a few games played in an evening.

  6. Not bad looking for pre-painted models. Nice batrep and congrats on whupping Alan at Wings of War.

    1. Thanks Anne! Some Pre-painted model ranges are pretty abysmal but these are not bad at all. I've heard of some folk repainting them but I am not tempted. The only thing I might do is add decals to those that don't have number identification markings but even that is not really necessary.

  7. Absolutely brilliant, brutal, but brilliant. No mercy spared at the death I see.

    1. Thanks Michael! The game does play pretty lethal if you can get a good shot at close range ( as I found out in the game we played tonight!)

  8. Had second night playing last night, i was well beaten but had the kinda lame ducks of The Finnish and Italian Air forces but reality was restored when Josef blew David out of the Skies in second game.

    1. Josef is getting banned from all dice rolling activities!

  9. scalw?????

    scale is what I meant to type

    1. Hi David, The planes are 1/100th scale which means they would be ideal for using with 15mm figs