Sunday, April 06, 2008

THE BALLOONATICS!

Okay, this is what I did today when I was supposed to be working on finishing off the latest member of my LAF club, the FFFFF. Let the side down a bit there, sorry about that. But at least I wasted the afternoon doing something with a Great War aviation theme, rather than just watching sport on the telly.

My good friend Wakey added to my Wings of War collection by giving me the "Burning Drachens" set as a Christmas gift. As young Whatisname was staying for the weekend again we thought we'd give it a long-overdue play-test. A spot of balloon-busting, fine thing for a snowy sunday in April.






GAME ONE


As we haven't played the game much in its simplest form yet, we decided to leave the optional altitude rules for another day. It's quite tricky enough as it is for now, thank you.

My opponent opted to be the attacker, and choose a Spad in Italian livery, equipped with rockets. So I would be facing Arturo Benedetto Giovanni Giuseppe Sickleoni, noted Italian air-ace, opera singer, sculptor and part-time maniac.

To defend my precious Central Powers observation balloon I had a measly couple of anti-aircraft guns. But help was on its way in the form of the Graf von Plynkenstein in his Albatros.

Sickleoni gave it some welly, speeding towards my balloon at full speed, lining up his attack run to unleash his rockets. The counters are the shell bursts of my somewhat ineffective Archie.

Whoosh! went the rockets, seriously damaging my balloon but luckily not destroying it. But pay heed to the above picture. There isn't a card in the game that can get Sickleoni out of that one. In his eagerness to down the balloon, he had given no thought at all to his own safety. A serious miscalculation gave him no room to pull away...

BOOF!

Ah, a mid-air collision 'tween balloon and plane. Sickleoni's plane exploded, but, to much chuckling from myself, somehow the balloon survived. Well, that was a quick game. I didn't even get to do anything except make a couple of little black clouds with my Archie.

So we thought we'd have another go...






GAME TWO

Determined to avenge his brother's death, and complete the mission he failed, noted race-car driver, pasta chef and full-time maniac, Giuseppe Benedetto Arturo Giovanni Sickleoni immediately volunteered to give it another go.

Sickleoni, that stick in your hand: If you move it to the left or right it turns the plane, I think. Nice idea, but I think you need to turn a bit more than that...

POOF!

Tricky game, this. Ha! Ha! Once more the balloon survived while the Spad exploded into little bits. Real bad luck for Sickers with the damage cards there (chuckle).

With that, the Sickleoni family, having taken their first steps in forming a dynasty of Kamikaze pilots, decided to give up on the whole balloon-attacking lark. The last surviving brother, professional footballer, former Catholic Priest and not at all maniacal (but rather cautious and sensible) pilot, Giovanni Giuseppe Arturo Benedetto Sickleoni was going into the balloon-protecting business...





GAME THREE


Yes, it was time for the Graf von Plynkenstein to make an utter fool of himself, or alternatively, show these bumbling Italians how one goes about destroying a balloon.

I relied on trusty machine guns, none of this rocketry malarkey. It had caused the Sickleonis to fatally take their eyes off the ball. I would have none of that. You see, Sickers? TURN AWAY, not at the last minute, but slightly before. Riddled the balloon with rounds. Unable to tell what effect it had, but didn't look like much.

As I, von Plynkenstein banked away for another run at the balloon, the last of the Sickleoni brothers arrived on the scene, hell bent on revenge.

There you see an anti-aircraft artillery shell exploding exactly where I had been the phase before. That's the closest we came to scoring a hit with those things all day.

He was coming at me, but I couldn't let that divert me from the mission.

I zoomed past him on my attack run on the balloon just as he opened up on me himself.

"THEES IS FAR MY BRAATHERS!" DAKKA! DAKKA! DAKKA!
(Must admit I was making engine, rocket and machine gun noises right throughout the game)

Don't know how badly I hurt the balloon, but Sickleoni hit me, all right. Nothing significant to the airframe, but a hit to the engine sent oil spraying into my face and seriously impacted on my card choices for the remainder of the game.

Still, must soldier on as best we can. We veered away from each other in opposite directions, and then both turned back towards the balloon.

An attack run right down the length of the balloon. Come on, Sickleoni! You're supposed to be defending it from me!

Verdammt! These bullets don't seem to be doing anything!

Banking away again, I gave the Archie gunners a taste of their own medicine, strafing them as I passed by.

Oops, he was coming up on my tail now.

But no one can out fly the Graf von Plynkenstein, not even with a coughing and spluttering engine! Ha! Incompetent Italian fool! Catch me if you can!

Another attack run by our dashing Thuringian hero. Unfortunately at this point his guns jammed. Oh Shit.

I would like to apologise to all our viewers for the loss of pictures at this point. Battery on the camera out of go-juice. Only took a minute to charge up enough power for a few more shots though, so you didn't miss much.

I had once again banked away from the balloon. Sickleoni had totally misguessed my intentions, and found himself speeding away in exactly the wrong direction, not a difficult thing to do in Wings of War.

Spinning the ailing crate around again I gave the Archie gunners a bit more what-for. Drat and double drat! Guns jammed again!

Come on, come on. Clear, damn you!

That's got it. Now you buggers can have some, too!

Trying to get a bead on me, Sickleoni almost emulates his brothers by crashing into the balloon, but thankfully misses by the skin of his teeth.

As for myself, things were getting desperate. This was the last turn. The Italians on the ground had been frantically winching the balloon down. It was now almost on the ground, and they would no doubt scurry off with it to the safety of some cover or something. Whatever was happening, the game was about to end. I had been pumping the damn thing full of lead all game with seemingly no result. I had to do something.

So, inspired by the Sickleoni brothers I did the only thing I could, and swerved directly towards the balloon, all guns blazing...

...Miraculously, it exploded! What a bloody fluke. So I zoomed through the smoke looking every inch the hero, and as if I knew that was going to happen all along. Phew. Talk about jammy. Victory to the Central Powers again! But at least Mama and Papa Sickleoni's youngest had survived. That would be a consolation for them.

Well, Wings of War proved to be a tricky prospect once again. It's a very simple and easy game to play, but as this afternoon's events have shown, quite hard to get the hang of. Trying to predict where your cards will land you can be difficult enough, never mind managing to get the enemy lined up in your sights. Still, lots and lots of fun, and I'm sure practice will make perfect.

Definitely want to play this again some time.



2 comments:

tim said...

Wow! After watching the first two sorties and seeing those two german balloons take out those italian craft I was almost ready to sign up for the Royal Women's Auxillary Balloon Corps and escape the dreariness of the trenches! But then after seeing that murdering bastard von Plynkenstein riddle that allied one and turn it into a giant ball of flame I'm having second thoughts.... Maybe it'd be best if I just kept both feet firmly planted on the ground!

I'm going to have to watch The Blue Max again. I seem to recall Peppard's character's first mission was to go out and light up a balloon.

Mike said...

ah more genius work from the Brothers Plynkes

go on you bally heroes