LEGEND : WINDS OF WAR 1934 - 1940 Though the title Winds of War may have deceived you into thinking that this will be a review o...

LEGEND : WINDS OF WAR LEGEND : WINDS OF WAR

LEGEND : WINDS OF WAR

LEGEND : WINDS OF WAR

LEGEND : WINDS OF WAR 1934 - 1940




Though the title Winds of War may have deceived you into thinking that this will be a review of the latest WWII game that I've received to cover, the true topic as you can see from the box art is far different.  Instead of battling Germans in the early war years, you're going to be battling your way round the many stages of the fabled Mille Miglia race or some of the most famous and legendary Grand Prix circuits, like Monza.

Billed as an expansion to Legend : History of 1000 Miglia, it can be played as a stand-alone game with its new, modified rules or by referring back to the original game.  The key difference is the newer, easier rules which I gather from a friend who owned the original were highly mathematical and considerably slowed the "game" down.  By this I really mean that the original was a finely tuned simulation perhaps more enjoyable to afficianados of the racing world than those just wanting a racing game.

At this point, I think it's appropriate to introduce you to the designer, Carlo Amaddeo, and his background.  It is as a games designer and founder of WBS Games that I first learnt of him, but his background as a graduate of UNCC as a Mechanical Engineer  with a major in Motorsports may tell you more about where this game is coming from. 

After watching him talk about all that he has designed on the Mille Miglia, you go away knowing that this is the passion of his life and a topic of which he has an encyclopaedic knowledge.  As someone who knows no more and possibly even less about the car racing world of today than the most average "man in the street", I wondered how I would fare with this new product.  One thing from my very early childhood I did remember was the name Mille Miglia and the glamour associated with that race and my fascination with the racing driver, Sterling Moss, and his astounding win in 1955 of the Mille Miglia.

My familiarity with car racing games is equally ordinary, starting in 1962 with a Christmas present of Waddington's Formula 1 and then leaping forward many years to a limited experience of formula De, then more recently Thunder Alley and just a few weeks ago Rallyman.


So, without more ado, let's peer under the bonnet of Legend : Winds of War.  The game comes in the size and type of box that I associate with Columbia Games and has the same sort of slip cover too.  The artwork on the front is stylised with a surprising pastel background predominating, though as a result the red racing car does surge out of the picture even more strongly.  On the back is a series of headlined informative paragraphs about features of the contents, one column in English, the other in Italian, while down the centre runs a series of pictures of the different types of cards contained inside.



Opening the box reveals what you see below on my dining room table!



The contents are dominated by the nineteen, magnificent, double-sided tiles that are used to from the many complete racing circuits or the various stages of the Mille Miglia itself.  These hexagonal tiles are beautiful, substantial in thickness and measure just under 16cm from side to side.  An amazing detail is that each is based on the real landscape of the race.



About half the track tiles are piled here!



And here's the rest.

Equally impressive though the card is much thinner, are the eighteen [again double-sided] car dashboards, allowing a choice from thirty-six famous models to race in - not surprisingly there are several Alfa Romeos, along with Aston Martin, Lancia, Bugatti, Maserati and  many more.



Apologies if I've left out mentioning your favourite.  What enhances these are the pictures of each car and that the background colour matches the original car's dashboard.  The final card of the same size as these is what's called the Race Chronograph, in other words the two dials that log the minutes and hours of each race.



By comparison the small cards are slightly disappointing in quality.  Of fairly thin card, they are matt finished and definitely benefit in appearance and durability from being sleeved.  What I do greatly like about them is the use of black & white photos from the era and that the Spare Part cards [for such things as water - no, not for the driver, for the radiator - tires, spark plugs etc] are reproductions of vintage advertising posters of the time.

Of the other types of card, there are five named, historical drivers featuring photos of each in his car [seen below]


and their corresponding stats cards, a deck of Event cards, a number of Mechanical Failure cards to help you remember what is currently faulty or damaged on your car and a small number of Tuning cards. 



So, though physical quality is a little under par, these cards score top quality for period and thematic style.

The cars are simple, small wooden models and, I'm sure that, like, others,  I'll invest in a few more realistic replacements and the final items are two sets of customised dice and twenty plastic, tyre-like discs on to which you have to [easily] apply a series of lettered stickers - these are the important Curve markers that will be explained shortly in more detail as I move on now to the rule book.


Love the customised dice - recognise the symbols!


Before doing that, there is one other item and task that needs to be mentioned.  This is a sheet of adhesive stickers that have to be peeled off and applied to the map tiles that have curves on them.  This is a fairly lengthy process and needs a little care and patience, following attentively at the accompanying sheet of diagrams that show you exactly where to place them on each relevant tile.  I assume that this is necessary either because the company had large stocks of the existing tiles or setting up new templates for printing the tiles with the brake lines on was too costly.  They do detract ever so slightly from the otherwise impressive appearance and quality of the tiles, but are a key development in the design of the game.

So, to the rule book.   It's a good product of glossy A4 apges that takes you though everything in a sensible order from components to game play to how to run the various different races, including a page of Racing Classes and a page for the 1000 Miglia Yearbook. 


It's worth noting that the picture is not of the rule book held on one of my clipboards, but a deliberate trompe l' oiel effect created for that page of the rule book!

It concludes with six and a half pages of very clear colour diagrams of each of the thirteen stages of the Mille Miglia, two diagrams of single complete circuit Mille Miglia races and then diagrams for eleven Italian circuits for famous races including Monza, Roma, Tripoli and a whole range of Coppa [Cup] races.  Each diagram lists the board tiles necessary to build the circuit and the relevant Curve markers for each individual curve. 


As I said at the beginning, this really is a labour of love and it shows, even down to the provision of the 1940 Mille Miglia circuit, as opposed to stages, as the race was run under somewhat different circumstances because of WWII. 

Text is fairly small and quite densely presented, but well-illustrated in full colour.  The opening Component section is clear and easy, explaining first the dashboards and the many items that they monitor [starting with speed in km/h and then engine, temperature, barkes, bodywork and tires].  The course tiles come next and the basic road identifiers; white dots for flat sections, red dots for uphill and black dots for downhill and finally those black lines that you've carefully applied turn out to indicate the beginning and end of the curves [i.e. bends].  All the cards and the Race Chronograph and how to use them are similarly straightforward. 




A good example of the well-illustrated text.

Moving on to what is called the Driving Academy, here we're introduced to the main body of rules and they will take all your concentration.  They are for the most part clear and backed up with very thorough examples, but there is a lot to take in and every word matters.  Though the final page of the rule book does contain the necessary charts, a separate Play Aid card with additional notes would make the eventual races that you run easier to deal with.

Initially simple movement, acceleration and braking get you off to a smooth beginning.  Standing Starts, Great Starts, Slipstreaming and Slopes aren't bad to follow, but the substantial and important section on Curves, which also covers Accidents, need nearly as much care to negotiate as the real thing.  I must admit that I felt just as I did when I started to learn to drive and thought," I'll never manage to remember all that's in the Highway Code and the things I've got to coordinate in driving the car will never become second nature."  Well, I've been a happy, confident driverfor many years now, but the details of Exceeding the Turning Speed and the ramifications of Head Straight, Emergency Braking and Hard Braking, Fast Exits and then Collisions and Accidents are not yet second nature.

Making my own Play Aid has greatly helped in starting to fix things in my head, but for me this is not a game I can take down and play without substantially refreshing my memory.  The essential actions are very simple: adjust speed, move your car accordingly, roll the dice, if necessary, and mark appropriate consequences on your dashboard display.  However, the complexities and sometimes confusion arise from the potential
choices of how you may affect, either to enhance or try to avoid dangerous consequences resulting from, those simple actions. All add to the focus on simulation rather than game that I feel this product aims for.

The final section of the rules explains the procedures for setting up each type of race and here there is an interesting variety of options to suit a variety of needs.  First and foremost, there is time.  for the shortest play time, the advice is to select a Grand Prix circuit.  Most of these are three-lap races, but obviously fewer or more laps can further temper your game to the time slot you have available.



The famous Monza circuit.



A closer look at this circuit's start and finish line.

Symbols on the game map and on the car that you are racing produce a provisional set of starting grid positions, with players able to vie to improve their position by rolling Challenge dice.  Such elements influence the atmosphere of the game and I like the ability to set up a Championship by choosing a series of circuits to be run in sequence.  Points are awarded for placing and prize money awarded too that can be spent on spare parts. tuning abilities and even such things as selling your car to buy another or bargaining with other players to buy drivers or cars.  If you wish to follow this idea, there is even a Championship Form that you can download from the WBSGames site.

Whatever type of race you prefer, you can choose between what the designer calls simulation or arcade mode.  The latter choice naturally tends to give you a quicker game, while the former gives a more detailed and historical experience.  Using the 1000 Miglia Yearbook page, you can decide on a year which gives you a range of cars to choose from and a maximum budget of lira that you can spend on creating your racing team. 



Cars are auctioned one at a time and the person who pays the least for his/her car then gets first choice of which driver they can hire to drive it.  If you know my liking for branching choices, then you'll appreciate my positive vote for this system.  Do you bid for a top quality car and end up having to race with a very average driver or aim for aim for a less powerful car with potentially a much better driver?  You then move on to buying tuning cards, followed by buying spare parts, again the priority of choice always goes from the person who has currently spent least to the one who has spent most.

However, if you go for the full Mille Miglia, then each car will be setting off at eight minute intervals and your opponent is going to be the clock.  Each stage of the race is run in sequence, with your time the crucial factor, as the winner is the driver who clocks up the fastest time to complete all the stages of the race.

I know the intention is hopefully to work through the years with new expansions and though Race games are not my chosen field of interest, I truly hope that Carlo Amaddeo is successful in his intention.  If so, I look forward to one day being able to emulate my childhood hero, Stirling Moss, as well as race with the likes of Fangio and Nuvolari!

My final conclusion is that Legend : Winds of War is definitely for the lover of car racing games and especially for those who want to learn about and experience a detailed simulation of this legendary race.  Though this may have introduced some simplifications to the original, it still remains simulation more than game.

So, if, like me, you favour a simpler and more dramatic form of racing then this may be not your best choice.



[Talking about simpler.  Next time, I shall be reviewing a game at the opposite end of the complexity spectrum.  In Meerkat terms, folks, "It's simples!"]





















































































































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