Thursday session: Wings of War, Preference

Wings of War box

Wings of War is one of those games I’ve wanted to try for a while now, with little success (and little effort, to be honest). Well, the arrival of the new Wings of War Miniatures Deluxe set helped to solve that little problem. Toni from was kind enough to send me a copy (I did translate the game), and we were able to give it a go right away.

It’s pretty cool. The mechanisms are clever, but what really makes it work is those miniatures. Funny enough, they actually make playing the game harder, but here looks go before usability: they’re just so wicked cool. Everybody was instantly mesmerized by the small plastic planes. What a bunch of little boys we are, pretending to be grown men…

But the game is good. Each player commands a plane. The planes are moved by cards: each card has an arrow and you put one end in front of the plane and then move the plane where the arrow on the card is. The cards have all sorts of moves and maneuvres, depending on the plane. That’s one neat thing: the planes are different. The triplane Fokker of the Red Baron fame is slower, but turns very tightly, while Albatross and SPAD are faster, but turn slower. Sopwith Camel turns faster to right than to left and so on.

It’s all very clever. The moves are programmed three cards at the time and then executed simultaneously. This results in lots of confusion, of course, as the planes get the too close to each other. After each move, you can shoot, provided someone is in your firing range (and not too close).

It’s not without problems. When the planes get close, the miniatures get pretty hard to handle with their bases and all. It’s probably best to get rid of them for a while and stick to the cards, which overlap much better (the planes don’t collide in this game, they can overlap — I suppose they just fly over and under each other). The bases are a bit slippery: we played on a wooden table and the handling of the planes wasn’t that precise. When you can almost shoot someone, it’s of course rather important to make sure you move exactly to where you should move… So it’s better to play on a slightly sticky surface.

It’s also a game of elimination. Our first game was fairly fast, but the second one took a while to finish and I had to wait quite a while after my early elimination (then again, it was my own fault — I had a brain fart and flew off the table).

In any case, it’s great fun and the miniatures really make the game attractive. I definitely want to play this one more, and that doesn’t seem to be a problem: everybody liked the game and wanted more…

After our two fights, we split our group. Me, Hannu and Riku played a game of Preference. This time we took a bit more than the five hands we played last week — a quick count from my notes suggests almost 20 hands. We didn’t even finish: I had just six Pulya points when we quit. That’s something the rules don’t cover, but I sorted it out by converting my missing four Pulyas to 40 whist points, split equally between Riku and Hannu.

It was a very colourful session, with failed miséres from each player and lots of good hands. I was dealt bad cards all the time, of course, but I did win nonetheless, thanks to moderate amount of heap points and better whist play than Riku. I had a killer hand at one point, all diamonds except one, but Hannu bid misére without widow and I was such a coward I wouldn’t bid nine diamonds (I probably could’ve, since widow had one ace, but then again…). Too bad, it was a very good hand.

But it was a fun game, that’s for sure, and I really, really like Preference. It’s exciting and fun, and I’ve learn to appreciate a good whist play (defending) more, since that was really the reason I won this time.

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