Monday 12 August 2013

Wings of Glory Wins Best Participaton Game at IPMS Thornbury

Yesterday myself and a team of intrepid aviators from the Wings of Glory Aerodrome Avon and South Wales flights took the game along to the IPMS Avon show at the Thornbury Leisure Centre. This was the first year the show had been held at Thornbury and the first year that wargames had been included. We spent a very happy day introducing new players to the game, running through dogfights, photo recce and and bombing missions, met a lot of old friends, and saw some of the newbies who had played head over to the trade stands in search of starter sets, and some older hands to some of the plastic kit stands to hunt down the Valom 1/144 plastic and brass kits of the Sopwith Pup and Fokker D.VII

But our day was topped off nicely when Craig Austen (the wargames organiser) tipped me off that we had won the award for "Best Participation Game" at the show! We were the recipients of a certificate and a very nice trophy which will have pride of place at our Gloucestershire aerodrome for the year before it is returned to next year's show.

Here we see Chris, myself, Bobby, Mark and Stuart posing for the camera after receiving the award.

The game was busy all day. Newbie players mixed with old hands for some tense aerial dogfights over the Italian Front - made a change from the Western Front and gave us a chance to field some of the new Ares Hanriots and Aviatiks.

 Elsewhere in the show there were some lovely large scale plastic models, including this excellent Zeppelin Staaken

Our favourite mission, run several times, sees a couple of AEG G.IV bombers attempting to bomb a city whilst 4-5 Entente fighters try to stop them. In this first game the bombers gave many of the attackers the slip and got through OK

In the second bomber mission we upped the ante with more effective Entente fighters. This time the first AEG went down short of the target. It looked as though #2 would suffer the same fate, especially when his rear gunner was killed. But bombs hit the target and the aircraft snaked its way back, downing one Camel and dodging incoming fire from the second and a Spad XIII - the bomber against all odds escaped from the table with a single damage point remaining.  

So, a fun day, and the organisers seemed pretty happy, with them hoping that we would be back for next year (which we will, probably with Sails of Glory as well). The venue itself is lovely, very large, airy and bright, and with a good mix of wargaming, model and modelling suppliers in attendance. Looking forward to next year's show already :)

Thursday 1 August 2013

Wings of Glory SummerCon, Prague

So, this weekend I have been attending the Wings of Glory Summer Con in Prague. Arrived on the late flight from Bristol and after a swift taxi ride into Old Prague I arrived at the hotel at 11pm. Off to be, and up early for a morning constitutional around the nearest bits of the Old City – across the Charles Bridge and its lovely saintly statues and up to the castle to see the 0800 changing of the guard, and back via the Legi Bridge. Prague really is a lovely city, and some of the architecture is just wonderful. A quick brekkie follows before meeting Andrzej (Andy), the rest of the Polish contingent and Thomas from Belgium, and then heading off in convoy to the venue at 1115(ish)

We settle in to the Con at the “Svet Deskovych Her” games shop in Zitomirska. I get to meet some of the other names I know from the Aerodrome forum, including Jan (the lead Czech, local organiser and provider of most of the models in use), Mikhail, a retired Czech Air Force pilot (Mig 17, 19, 21 – a lovely chap who males the most amazing 1/200 WW2 aircraft), Markus and Sven from Germany, and Nemanja from Serbia; After introductions, comparing each other's models and lots of chat we get down to the first game. Its an insane mission, a chateau defended by a barrage balloon chain and six Entente fighters versus ten attackers (including a Gotha), some with incendiary bullets. I'm flying with the Entente. Numbers tell almost immediately but the Entente puts up a good fight and the Gotha goes down. We are, though, eventually wiped out. Markus is the last surviving Camel driver. I get a kill, but I'm wiped out in a collision with an Albatros. German ace Sven amazes us all with his virtually indestructible Camel (over 20 damage cards at the end, mostly zeroes. The Polish children prove to be worthy, and quite deadly opponents (Victor especially).

The atmosphere in the shop is stifling (outside temperature 34 degrees, inside considerably hotter) as we go into a 2 hour dogfight session. Five aircraft each side, aircraft shot down sit out the game for two turns before resurrecting. I'm flying a Fokker D.VIII. Straight into the action and a swift burst into a Camel sees it explode. Then I'm hit by another Camel in a collision; draw the ten card, and next turn shot down. Sitting out the game for 2 turns I re-enter, down another couple of Camels, then set one on fire tht crashes in flames the next turn. Four kills so far and on the last turn I'm about to hack another Camel when he's in a collision with one of his own side and his plane is destroyed. I end the game with 4 kills, 5 for the day.

The final mission sees the Entente on a bombing mission, attacking a port on the Adriatic with three Brisfits, escorted by a Camel and a Spad VII. Against us are nine Austrian Albatri and Aviatiks. Most of the Austrians don't appreciate the comparable speed of the Brisfit against an Albatros so, when we blow through their lines, they aren't in a position to turn and engage. They spend the rest of the game in a tail chase. Unfortunately two do, and being the closest Brisfit to these canny tacticians I get plastered. Not helped by my rear gunner being killed. So my Brisfit goes down just short of the target. Our escorting Camel goes down to a bang card for his first damage. The remaining Brisfits hit the target, one goes down close to the target having just dropped his bombs. The third runs for home and is on the verge of escape as he is finally brought down (like Sven's Camel, this plane drew an unfeasibly large number of zeroes, and made it across two game mats whilst being peppered by two Albatri!) Once again, collisions figure heavily as the pursuing tail chasers bump into each other many times – it seems that “Flying Officer Crash” is one of the top hitters in these games, even with the clever collision resolution system that on average only produced a “hit” in 1/3 of cases.

And so the Con came to a close. With five kills I'm the second placed player for the day and I'm rewarded with a prize of a lovely German Red Baron beer mug and a bottle of Vodka (which I donate to the shop owner for hosting us – I can't take it back on  the plane, hand baggage only). Young Victor from Poland is the well-deserved winner with six kills, his prize is a Gotha repainted in Austrian markings and a large bottle of “rocket fuel” (which his father appropriates).

 I've had a fun day, even if the stifling temperatures did wipe me out by the end. And I've made some good friends too, as I always knew I would on a Wings of Glory event.