In the photo below, Alaric, Frederick and Dallas contemplate German tactics.
Most of the players had never played the game before, but this didn't turn out to be a problem. Game play is very simple and elegant:
Each model comes with its own set of maneuver cards specifically designed for it, with large arrows on them. The player controlling a plane plans his turn, choosing three cards in sequence and putting them face down on the gaming mat. All players reveal at the same time the first card for the turn, put it in front of the plane and move the latter so that the little arrowhead on the rear of its clear flight stand matches the arrow in front of the maneuver. Planes thus "fly" on the tabletop. This is repeated for each of the subsequent phases, for each turn.
A ruler (provided in the game) is used to see if a plane has enemy planes in its field(s) of fire; if so, the player may choose a target. The target plane's player must draw a damage card with a random amount of points (optional rules cover special damages, too). Short range fire (up to one-half ruler distance) means two damage cards drawn instead of one. Maneuvers available, firepower, and amount of damage sustained before being eliminated all depend on the specific airplane chosen.
Below, Kevin and Brian observe the results of the Allies' cunning plan.
After a short while, the players weren't thinking a lot about the game mechanics any more. Rather, they were concentrating on anticipating their enemies' moves, and on how to best utilize their own plane's advantages.
We were able to get in a half a dozen games, trading planes and sides throughout the evening. Some battles were just straight shoot 'em ups. The last couple were bombing scenarios, where a force comprised of a two-seater escorted by some fighters was opposed by a flight of enemy fighter planes.
- My DH-4 being blown out of the sky by Frederick's multi-coloured Albatross D.III, just shy of my target
- Alaric's Roland C-II was on fire, but he still was able to drop its bombs on target - just before being shot down by the combined fire of Kevin's Sopwith Camel and my Nieuport 17
- After all other planes on both sides were shot down or fled, Alaric's all-red Albatross D.III was left alone on the table, a menacing presence to be sure
Thanks to Alaric, Brian, Dallas, DaveO, Frederick and Kevin for taking part in the festivities.
Happy gaming, and have a safe and happy New Year!