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WINGS OF GLORY: BATTLE OF BRITAIN This game has a solid ancestry, first came Wings of War WWI and then WWII which morphed into Wi...





This game has a solid ancestry, first came Wings of War WWI and then WWII which morphed into Wings of Glory for both World Wars and its naval off-shoot Sails of Glory taking us back to days of wooden ships and iron men with Napoleonic encounters on the high seas [and my first review for AWNT].

Despite a significant number of additional planes for Wings of Glory WWII, its WWI focus has always seemed to draw greater interest, mainly I suspect because of the glamour of those early amazing machines with bi-planes and tri-planes and, of course, the Red Baron, Von Richtofen himself.

Image result for the red baron

I certainly understand and share that pull of the beginning of aerial warfare and the birth of the Royal Flying Corps.  But being born  five years after WWII, my childhood was filled with Spitfires and Mosquitoes, Stuka dive-bombers and Messerschmitts and the Blitz and the amazing story of Douglas Bader as recounted by Paul Brickhill in his book Reach For The Sky.   Not to mention the many Biggles books [including the one linked to here Biggles Defies The Swastika] that span both WWI and WWII. 

Image result for douglas bader

WWII Ace Douglas Bader

So, Ares Games latest addition to their oeuvre of aerial combat has an enormous appeal.  Wings of Glory: Battle of Britain like its predecessor Wings of Glory: WWII comes as a stand-alone package which can act as a starter set or bring a further set of planes to your table if you've already embarked on the WWII series.

For those of you familiar with the mechanics of play and typical contents, you may wish to fast-forward to my comments and conclusions.  As always, the quality of the contents represents excellent value for money, starting with the four pre-painted model planes: 2 Spitfire Mk1s and 2 Messerschmitt Bf109 E-3s, each with its double-sided console marked for the Basic game on one side and Standard/Advanced game play on the other.

Four consoles [Basic side]

Inevitably, and necessarily, there are sheets and sheets of markers.  Many relate to damage and speed and, of course, each plane comes with its own deck of manoeuvre cards as well as three special ability cards.

The rulebook text is an identical replication in a compact 44 pages of the original Wings of Glory: WWII as are all the diagrams, though many of the reproductions of cards from the manoeuvre decks are different. 

Rules Booklet and Scenario Booklet

The essentially simple system, yet with a surprising scope in its rules, remains one of the major draws of this game.  The Basic Rules occupy a mere 6 pages and are ideal for providing an intro-level game to the beginner or younger player.  Personally, I'd recommend including the 3 additional pages of Standard Rules right from the start.  They add virtually nothing in terms of complexity and everything in terms of appeal.

Instead of planning and playing a single manoeuvre card at a time, you start with your first and second card planned.  From then on it's play first card, move your second card into the first slot and plan next card.  Admittedly, I miss the more prolonged choice of three cards which must all be played in sequence before planning the next set of three that is a feature of the WWI game.  But, the greater responsiveness and manoeuvrability of WWII planes are reflected by this two card sequence.

Spitfires at higher altitude prepare to intercept.

The other two additions in the Standard Rules are the classic Immelmann turn and special damage tokens.  As you can see, hardly a difficult trio of developments.  Even the Advanced Rules only goes 4 pages further and largely develops movement concepts - bringing in High/Low Speed, Altitude and the accompanying ability to Dive and Climb - slightly trickier to handle, but nothing overwhelming.

A closer view of those Spitfires

Similarly, a nearer view of their target - the Messerschmitts

The Optional Rules bring in a wide range of elements that certainly add to my enjoyment of the game.  Just some of them include: the potential for airfields and landing and taking off: fuel: cloud cover; extended crew damage and [my favourite] Ace Rules, which bring in a wide range of special abilities and Rookies too.

The next part entitled Special Airplanes is obviously preparing the way for further models, covering as it does two-seaters and multi-engine planes.  Once again, all these include excellent diagrams and illustrations.

Just one of the many excellent illustrations

Finally,  there's a small section  on Ground Units.  In part, they provide targets for bombing and the wherewithal to fire back at the planes.  The latter anti-aircraft guns have a very personal appeal as my father served in the Royal Artillery in WWII, manning A/A guns around the British Isles from as far north as the Shetlands to postings along the coast and the English Channel during the period of the feared German invasion and the Blitz.

The whole is contained in a very compact, well designed package - with just ONE problem - getting those superb models out of their recesses!!

Excellent packaging, with one drawback!

If you haven't bought into this system yet, then Wings of Glory: Battle of Britain is the perfect starting point and I'd strongly recommend buying a copy immediately.  If you have the previous starter set Wings of Glory: WWII, but haven't extended the range of plane types, then this package still offers great value for money  just by giving you 4 more planes.  These alone bought separately would cost you at least as much as this whole  product and would give you only the planes and their manoeuvre cards.  Buying the new starter package adds four more plane consoles, shed loads more markers, obviously another rule book and a separate booklet with Battle of Britain scenarios.

If you want to develop your squadrons, then there's plenty to attract you and Ares Games were very generous in sending the four additional planes displayed above which include the Hawker Hurricane Mk1 and the Junkers JU87 B-2, better known as the Stuka Dive-Bomber.  All these come with their own sheet of decals to customise each plane if you wish.

A final item worth mentioning is the series of  battle mats that can be bought to enhance any of the Wings of Glory games.  I hope even my photos do them enough justice to encourage your adding them to your must buy wish list.

So, dare I say, " Chocks away and tally ho, old boy!"