Saturday, September 20, 2008

Every plane is a little different. One's just right for you! (A Game of Thrones, Wings of War)

Shemp was an indecisive dictator this week, so we brought a number of games to choose from ("we'll bring the games we damn well please", I believe, was the wording). He picked Kozure's A Game of Thrones, a game I've been trying unsuccessfully to get to the table for months... so no complaints here. We were one player short of the ideal 5, but we aren't good enough at the game to tell the difference yet.

A Game of Thrones

In order to avoid getting the same starting setup as last game, we chose the factions randomly instead of getting our traditional colours. I ended up with white (House Stark), Shemp was red (House Lannister), Kozure was yellow (House Baratheon) and Luch was green (House Tyrell).

House Stark is this game's version of Russia. Huge northern territory, mostly empty. It looks like a good starting position, because there is lots of land to expand to unchallenged. The downside, however, is that it's very hard to defend.

Very early in the game, Kozure gave me an ultimatum to exit the eastern sea. Outnumbered, I headed north. Once north, I realized there was no where left to go. Later on, when Kozure came followed me, I had nowhere left to go and was eliminated from the sea. My eastern border was wide open for attack, and there wasn't much I could do about it.

Problem was, to the south Shemp was also creeping towards me. We struck a deal to divide the regions a particular way, and then out of the blue Luch comes and takes one of mine by sea. Luckily, Shemp sank his ships which allowed my attacks on his units to eliminate rather than allow retreat. There was substantial border tension between myself and Shemp after that, as it was clear we were lining up to attack. I made what I thought was a shrewd move: Shemp had a considerable force (3 knights) in a region I wanted. He prepared for my attack, but instead I defeated the region to the south, cutting off any possibility of retreat when I would eventually turn my attention to the knights. It didn't work, though, because I passed up an opportunity to attack at bad odds and wound up having to defend at impossible ones instead. It was a stupid move on my part. Oh well.

The real problem, however, was that all this distracted us all from the real threat: Kozure was expanding unchecked. Before we knew it, he won. Did I mention that he waltzed in and took my starting province from under my nose? I knew that undefended border would come back to haunt me...

A Game of Thrones is a very good game. Even though there are large swings of luck due to the events that come up, they affect all players equally. In fact, it's biggest impact seems to be to make each session different (last game was characterized by a total lack of supply, whereas this one had one muster all game... keeping unit count low.) Another odd thing: The barbarians attack 2-3 times at 0 strength!

It had been nearly two years since we last played. I think we'll be playing again next week. Looking forward to it.

Wings of War

We had about 20 minutes left, and Shemp indulged me by picking Wings of War. I recently acquired a number of the miniatures and the Burning Drachens set.

As far as finding a wargame which is easy, attractive and fun enough to play with non-wargamers, this one hits it out of the park. When I first brought it home, I played a game with my 5 year old son. We had a great time, and I bought a few more miniatures a few days later.

Gameplay couldn't be simpler. Each plane has a deck of cards representing areal maneuvers (hard turn right, straight, swoop to the left, etc). Each deck is different and approximates the flying characteristics of the the real plane.

- Choose three maneuvers and places them face down on the table.
- Simultaneously reveal them one at a time.
- For each card, line up the "start point" identified on the card with your miniature, then pick it up and set it down at the end of the flight path symbol.
- If a plane is within shooting range of another plane, the targeted player draws a card from a damage deck and keeps the result secret.
- Once the total adds up to the damage capacity of the plane, it's shot down.

That's it. It all comes down to a 20-30 minute session of maneuvering around the table, trying to line up shots and avoid getting hit in return. It's fast and fun, and looks really nice. The game ships with a large number of optional rules for special damage, altitude, zeppelins, tailing, etc. Of these, we only played with a few of the special damage types (fire, gun jams and damaged rudders). It took about 1.5 minutes to explain the rules and we were dogfighting.

I played the red baron in his signature red Fokker DR.I. Shemp joined me as the german Albatros D.Va. Luch and Kozure teamed up with the SPAD XIII and the Sopwith Camel, respectively.

Well, the Fokker lived up it's reputation as a fragile but agile plane... but the Red Baron did not live up to his reputation as a pilot capable of flying it. I was shot down by the Kozure's Sopwith rather quickly (I drew a 5, a 4, a 3 and a 1). Shemp managed to last a while longer, but ultimately succumbed to a concerted attack by the good guys (he drew a ton of zeros and ones and therefore managed to survive several hails of bullets).

I think it went over quite well. I'm not typically into miniatures because they often end up being clunky and complicated. I'm happy to say that Wings of War is an exception, and I like it very much. I'd like to try a balloon busting scenario next time, maybe with more/ newer planes.

Now, I just have to figure out how to store these things...


  1. Question - Game of Thrones. I've been seriously considering getting it for a while. My regular gaming group tends to go towards lighter euro's or themed games (Kingsburg and Descent are the biggest hits so far. Container was a complete dud).

    Should I get it? Everything I've read says it is great, but I'm not sure it would fit my group - particularly if it's too long/complex and confrontational.

  2. Tao

    A game of thrones is a very good game, but it is indeed long, somewhat complex and definitely confrontational. A game takes 4-5 hours with 5 players, and there is very little to do except plan to screw your neighbour.

    I'll let you decide what that means for your group!

  3. Just as a much delayed note, this session of GAME OF THRONES provided yet more evidence in favour of The Easy Shemp Law of Gaming; when there is a possibility of Easy and Shemp fighting between themselves, they will, allowing someone else to win the game.

    (call it TESLOG)