Buffalo “Wild” Wings
It was less than a success.
There’s a reason it takes a few years to train a fighter pilot. A game that models flight mechanics this well is tricky. (I suspect that this is about as good as you can get short of actually solving differential equations on the fly). It’s tough to figure out how to maneuver. As I recall we had a few low probability shots on the first pass and then even with several pilots trying to engage nobody else got off a shot. And with all the bookkeeping the turns take a while. 4 seconds of combat time in a mere 30 minutes? I think we may have tried a second time, but I doubt it. Off in the trade pile.
One of my first lifestyle games was Star Fleet Battles which I played obsessively for a year and on-and-off for 5 more. And how different are they? A big spreadsheet to track energy (Star Fleet) and momentum (OTR), odd charts, and a three hour play time.
Oh, WWII actually happened.
Now that I think about it, the big difference between the games was that Star Fleet Battles had a well-documented set of tips, guidelines and articles that would give an interested newcomer a way of learning the rules and how to apply them.
So, with some trepidation I tried Buffalo Wings last night. It’s a simplified version of the same system. We did a 2 on 2 dogfight (Russian vs Finland … I didn’t realize Finland had an Air Force in WWII, but that’s mainly just because I never thought about it).
Having played Over the Reich (and glanced at the free Quick Start rules to Whistling Death a few years ago), I was pleasantly surprised at how intuitive things work. (A lot of the rules complexity makes intuitive sense … if you climb and then go to inverted and continue to roll back to level, of course you are going to do a 180 on the map). But tracking all that and handling 3 D movement on a 2D map is a bear.
Playing the game with people who had played the system a few times made things much easier than our game with all novices, and I’m tempted to dig into it. Apparently there are a good number of solitaire scenarios and the ability to play games by EMail means there’s a good venue for learning the game. But back when I had to grok things out by myself it was too much.
These games clearly aren’t going to appeal to most gamers, but right now I was pleasantly surprised. I can clearly envision the dogfight we had last night. (Even if we got a rule or two wrong). I’m not a cult of the new person anymore, and I’m not averse to spending time getting to know a game system. So if I decide to play Air Combat games, may as well go whole hog. I want to borrow a copy of the full game and run the training scenarios and full rules. Perhaps PBEM. So right now I’m intrigued.