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Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 by GMT Games  Fighting hardware; I am not sure why, but ever since I can...

Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 by GMT Games Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 by GMT Games

Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 by GMT Games

Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 by GMT Games

Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942


GMT Games

 Fighting hardware; I am not sure why, but ever since I can remember I have been mesmerized by military craft. Airplanes have always been a favorite of mine. Oh, I like the looks of some non-military aircraft, especially the oddities like BeeGee racers etc., but show me an aircraft with weapons and I am hooked. Strangely, if you follow the Blog, you will have noticed that I did a review of an add-on for the Wing Leader series before the actual game. The review I did was on Wing Leader: Eagles 1943-1945. This is an expansion to Wing Leader: Supremacy 1943-1945. So, now I get to review the game that started it all, Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942. As I mentioned  in the Eagles 1943-1945 review, I am a late comer to the two-dimensional aircraft games. I am a rabid fan of any flight simulators (military) and have bought everyone that has ever been produced. However, I could never grasp how you could get an approximation of flight in a two-dimensional world. I am here to tell you that I was completely wrong and that the games I have played so far in the genre have been excellent. So, let us see first what you get in the package:

1 x Rulebook (UPDATED to living rules v2.2)
1 x Scenario Book (UPDATED with new scenarios and expanded by 8 pages)
2 x Air combat player aid (UPDATED - to v2.2)
1 x Bombing player aid (UPDATED - to v2.2)
2 x Wing Displays
1 x Map (UPDATED - this is the same art as the Supremacy map, but non-mounted)
5 x Aircraft data card sheets (UPDATED)
2 x Countersheets (140 counters, 1 x 0.5”)
1 x Countersheets (280 counters, 0.5 x 0.5”)
1 x NEW mixed sheet of aircraft data cards and counters (4 ADCs and over 40 counters)
1 x NEW Battle Board (Same battle board as appeared in Supremacy)

2 x 6-sided dice  

 The first thing you will notice about the game is the weight. I know enough about games to know that the weight really means nothing as far as gameplay. However, there has always been, since the soap box SPI days, something in my brain that lights up with a hefty game box. Call it nostalgia or whatever you want, but it is still there. The map is basically a big piece of graph paper with large squares on it. It is a pleasing shade of blue, but that is really all there is. At second glance, you will see that there is a tiny bit of terrain across the very bottom of the map. The weight of the box is from the 420 counters, and especially the five sheets of extremely well done Aircraft Data Cards. These are the crux of the game, and because of that reason GMT Games took a lot of care in their production values. The counters are not slouches either, and represent the usual GMT Games standard of excellence. They represent side views of the respective aircraft and are little works of art. The Players Aid Cards are also up to the usual GMT Games standards. They are both large and very easy to read and discern. Please keep in mind that this is a review of the Second Edition, so all of the pieces have been updated to Wing Leader: Supremacy 1943-1945 style. The rulebook is now updated to the Wing Leader living rules. The rulebook itself is printed in magazine fashion and is forty-seven pages long. It is fully colorized and is filled with pictures and examples of play. The scenario booklet is thirty-two pages long. These run the gamut from fighter interception to bombing runs on land and sea. You have MC.202 and SM.79-II (I love the Italian planes) to play with alongside so many others. From the steppes of Russia to the Pacific Ocean are the scenarios you are given to play.  So, the pieces that make up the game are all  extremely well done quality wise. However, we all know that does not mean that a game is worth its salt. Let us now look at the gameplay.
 The Wing Leader games deal with air battles on a larger than  normal size. The units in the game air squadrons or flights, and not individual aircraft. As mentioned, this is not a top down view of aerial warfare, but a side view one. It took me a little bit to get used to, but I am fine with it now. The one thing on the map that seems pretty innocuous, but in reality is very important is the placement of the sun in the upper left hand corner. The rules go into depth to help you realize the importance of the old adage 'beware of the Hun in the sun'. This is the sequence of play:

"Each turn is divided into a number of phases, which are played in order: Set-up Phase. Set up squadrons that enter play this turn in their entry square or on the map edge next to their entry square [5.3.1, 8.4.1]. Squadrons taking off set up in their airfield or carrier square [13.7]. Place a Vector marker for each intercept squadron entering play [9.2.4] (roll for height errors [13.1]).

Tally Phase.
 The raider player does the following in any order: squadrons attempt to tally enemies [7.2] (any squadron with a tally must drop that tally before rolling a new one [7.2.2]); unalerted squadrons become alerted if warned by radio [7.1, 9.4]; wing leaders issue orders [9.5.5]; fighter-bombers that tally must immediately jettison their bombs [15.2.4]. After the raider player has completed all tallying, alerting, and issuing orders, it is the defender player’s turn to tally, alert, and issue orders.

Movement Phase.
 Squadrons move [8.0] and, during movement, can jettison bomb loads and drop tanks [, 13.2] and make bombing attacks [15.3]. Escorts react to enemies attempting to move into the same squares as bombers [10.4]. Resolve barrage fire flak attacks [14.2.3].

Combat Phase.
Resolve direct fire flak attacks [14.2.4]. Resolve bombing attacks [15.4], after which remove Bomb Load markers from targets. Resolve air combats in an order determined by the raider player [10.5]. Jettison bomb loads and drop tanks following combat [, 13.2, 15.2.4].

Administration Phase.
Squadrons roll to escape [11.0]; the raider player rolls first, then the defender. Place or change vectors for squadrons under GCI control [9.2.4] (roll for height errors [13.1]). Place Escort mission markers on eligible squadrons []. Change escorts to sweep [, 15.2.2]. Place/remove flak Barrage markers [14.2.2].

 End Turn.
The turn ends; move the Turn marker up one space. Proceed to the Set-up Phase of a new turn. Continue playing turns until the game ends [12.0].
 Having come to the game with no preconceived idea of how a two-dimensional air warfare game was supposed to work, I had no baggage to interrupt me in learning the game. For example, I have never seen how a rule about the sun is supposed to work in a game like this. It is really not that hard of a game to learn. When your planes are flying before contact the game buzzes right along at a swift pace. When the furballs start flying then you not only have a lot more to think about, but also keep track of. The scenarios are well written out and unambiguous. Your fighters have to intercept the bombers that are going to attack your ships etc. Then like a good little game you are left to your own devices, following the rules, of course, to bring this about. The sun is not the only natural barrier to your goal. Almost all of the scenarios have some cloud cover. These can be just one wispy layer of clouds to a dense cloud cover to hide your enemies. However, like in real life, both sides can use the clouds to their advantage. 
  The designer, Mr. Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, also goes out of his way to support his games. On his website link below, you will find all new scenarios and Aircraft Data Cards for all different aircraft that were not in the official releases as of yet. He also has a good number of new scenarios for the different years of the war. So how does it play? Very well; the rules do not lead you to endlessly flip through the rulebook or search for answers on the web. The fact that this is the second edition with other games and add-ons being released only helps the rules to be that much tighter. The slow pace of the game up until enemy contact only helps to build the anticipation. It seems like a complicated game, but when you break it down step by step it soon becomes very easy to get the hang of. The rules give you a very good historical feel of the actual capacity of the aircraft in both flying and fighting. Thank you GMT Games for allowing me to take this fighter bomber for a spin. I look forward to their add-on coming up that adds even older planes to the mix Wing Leader: Origins 1936-1942. I only hope that the series can be adapted to World War I air combat.

GMT Games:

Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942:

Wing Leader series:

The designers website: