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 WINGS OF GLORY Is there anyone out there in the wargaming world who hasn't heard of Wings of Glory , just one of the most accessible an...





Is there anyone out there in the wargaming world who hasn't heard of Wings of Glory, just one of the most accessible and enjoyable games on the air war in WWI.  Dogfighting, balloon busting, reconnaissance - you name it, you got it.  Superb pre-painted models of all the famous planes and then some!  All in a system that's so easy to get into, quick to play, but not simplistic.

Well, now courtesy of Direwolf Digital and Steam, you can take to the skies again online.  This is a direct modelling of the original game and contains a range of features that were introduced through various expansions.

So, overall here's what's included.  As with most computer games I'm familiar with, you start with a Tutorial, which, in this case, has three sections: Basic Rules, Damage and Altitude.  Each steps you through a number of simple scenarios, instructing you what actions to take. With those rapidly under your belt, it's time to move on to what will constitute normal play either solo or against an online opponent.  

I've already seen a number of comments online about the few opponents as yet available.  At first I assumed, with some surprise, that the reason was a lack of players buying the game.  However, it may be that they're encountering my problem, which is that whatever name or password I've tried in order to create an account for online play I get the identical message that this account already has been chosen!! 

However, until I make that significant breakthrough, I have plenty to occupy my time with what on the game's menu is headed Local Play which is subdivided into Solo and Challenges.  Both of these categories are purely for solo play and have an element of overlap.
Solo covers four scenarios headed: Dogfight, Bombing Run, Bullets in the Mud and Reconnaissance. While Challenges cover 
Earning Yours Wings: Ace Skills
Trench Buster: Strafing
Bombing Run: Bombing

Here you can see proof of my success at the Trench Buster Challenge and I didn't even need it on easy Level!

The variety offered encompasses the following elements:-
Play as either Entente or Central Powers
A.I. Difficulty: Easy/Normal/Hard
Rules Level: Basic/Standard/Advanced
Map Size Default/Bigger/Huge

Then there is the Hangar where you can select from a list of historical Ace Pilots with pre-set skills to match the real life pilot or you can create your personalised pilot choosing from a range of skills.  To be expected, the Hangar is also where you select the model of plane you wish to fly. and both plane and pilot are purchased with points earned in action.  Good news is that going through the Tutorial builds up a number of points to easily get you started.

Who Else?

So, lets get down to game play, which stripped to its absolute bare essentials involves two main actions.  The first action starts the game by simply choosing a type of plane and taking the associated deck of manoeuvre cards.  The latter item creates the crucial differences between types of plane - mainly by allowing/restricting the number and manner of varying plane moves in a deck.  For example, one type of plane might have more right turn manoeuvres than left turn ones or might include more sharp turns or  some planes can't make the famed Immelman turn.

The second action is the secret choice from your manoeuvre deck each turn of a sequence of three cards.  Each player will then play them out  alternately and, after each card play, check whether they have an enemy plane in range to fire at.

The fact that the program handles so much of the work is both a boon and a drawback.  It does mean that your whole attention is on flying your plane, trying to out guess your opponent whether a live online one or the solo A.I.  The greatest benefit is not having to constantly run through your deck of cards trying to find exactly what you want, as you plan each turn's sequence of three.  

Instead you have a display of all your cards with small dots indicating how many of each type of manoeuvre you are allowed per turn.  No problems about remembering sequences that might be illegal, as a given card immediately changes colour to show that it cannot be chosen as the next card!

Here you see a shot from the opening tutorial, with all possible manoeuvres available and  I hope you can see the small dots that indicate how many of each card you have in your deck.  Each card also has a small arrow to show whether a manoeuvre is to the left, right or straight ahead.  I know you might be thinking that is so obvious why bother, but many's the time in the heat of the moment of the original board game I've managed to somehow choose left rather than right or vice versa. [Duh!]

Equally useful is that the program automatically registers if an enemy plane is in firing range and opens fire on it.  No need for measuring rods.  A fast playing game becomes even faster and the hidden nature of the damage done to an enemy plane makes solo play a genuinely accurate depiction of two player action.  On the down side, I must admit that I miss that extra frisson of tension as you turn a damage card, especially as the damage starts to mount.

On the other hand, I do like visuals such as the small flickering flames that show you engine's on fire or the coloured firing arc that appears and the tracery of bullets that lance out towards your enemy, though it's not as much fun when they're inbound, homing in on your own plane!

Also on the plus side is that you can handle up to 3 planes with ease - a task which is heavy weather if you were playing the physical board game. It's no mean feat handling three separate decks of cards, potential damage cards for three different planes and all the associated laying of the manoeuvre cards on the table and placing each card in front of its respective plane and then transferring your planes into the correct position!

For me there is a single major downside in comparison with the board game - no beautiful scale models which are a sheer delight to handle and to place on whatever gorgeous terrain mat inevitably bound to buy.  

Still this digital version offers for less than £12 the perfect recreation of an all-time great.

Many thanks to Dire Wolf for supplying a review key code.