RockyMountainNavy, 19 January 2023 ~ #UnboxingDay
When I was a young aspiring Grognard in the early 1980’s the major World War II dogfight air combat wargame was Air Force by Battleline and later Avalon Hill. In 1993 a new designer, J.D. Webster, entered the field with Over the Reich: World War II Air Combat Over Europe 1943-1945 published by Clash of Arms Games. More games followed in what eventually became known as the Fighting Wings series of games with Achtung! Spitfire! – Air Combat Over Europe 1940-1943 in 1995 and Whistling Death (2003) focusing on the Pacific theater. After too long a drought which saw only a single supplement, Spitfires Over Darwin, published in 2013. The third edition of Fighting Wings released during 2019 in Wings of the Motherland covering the air war over the Eastern Front.
Wings of the Motherland is a very detail-oriented wargame that recreates dogfights over the Eastern Front at the scale of individual aircraft, 100 yards per hex, 100 feet of altitude per level, and four seconds per turn.
click images to enlarge
As befits a game that covers a massive air war that ran from 1941 to 1945—and retails for over $100—the box for Wings of the Motherland is a full 2.5″ deep and full of lots of…paper and cardboard.
The counter art in Wings of the Motherland is by Ian Wedge who provides many distinctive aircraft. Ian certainly deserves a great deal of credit for this effort; all too often we fail to recognize the spectacular graphic artists that work hard to make our games look good on the tabletop.
The game maps in Wings of the Motherland are also very well done. Some people call for photo-realistic maps in their wargames but I like this look; it is evocative of the terrain without going overboard in detail.
Wings of the Motherland comes with the Third Edition rules for the Fighting Wings series. I have to admit I was a little thrown to see USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts in an East Front game but I got past that shock soon enough.
The Third Edition rule book for Wings of the Motherland is the latest comprehensive update. As the publisher’s blurb at WarGameVault (where you can get a digital copy) tells us:
“This edition incorporates 15 years of minor improvements from second edition rules play, all the second edition errata and also introduces some major revisions to certain aspects of play for increased modeling accuracy and ease of play. Sections having major changes include Defensive gunfire modeling, heavy anti-aircraft gunfire modeling, air-to-air rocketry modeling. In the flight and combat model, new rules additions take into account the effects of high aircraft speeds on induced drag when turning, excess firepower points, lift-vector aiming effects and much more. The night combat rules and night fighting rules have been greatly expanded to better model the cat-and-mouse aspect of the night war. All in all, you will want to catch up to the state of the art with this rulebook.”
“Note that the aircraft data cards from all of the previous games and FW supplements are still usable, as are the scenarios from the previous games, although, with regards to the scenarios, you will have to interpret from the scenario description the flight attitude that the planes are likely starting with. In the future, updated scenario books will be available to bring the Over the Reich, Achtung! Spitfire!, and Whistling Death games all up to third edition standards.”
Not everything is, ugh, black and white in Wings of the Motherland. Thankfully, the counter identification guide and Terrain Effects Chart is in color. Yes, terrain has an impact in an air game, especially when talking about ground attack rules…
What is a series game without game-specific rules? In Wings of the Motherland the game-specific rules are found in the Rules Supplement.
Truth be told, the Rules Supplement for Wings of the Motherland is composed mostly of examples of play. Very helpful!
Wings of the Motherland also ships with a Fighting Wings Scenario Book. Within this 120 page booklet one finds essays on the historical background and nearly 200(!) scenarios.
What is a Fighting Wings game without Aircraft Data Cards (ADC)? Wings of the Motherland comes with nearly 50 ADC which actually describe many more aircraft since each ADC often has several variants also detailed. Oh yeah, don’t forget the data cards for SHIPS too!
The data cards in Wings of the Motherland are well researched and have so much information here that goes beyond what is simply needed to play. J.D. Webster is a true scholar of aircraft and deserves much more recognition as such.
As already mentioned, Wings of the Motherland is a very detail-oriented game. After nearly 30 years the rules have been refined and played extensively. Doing so has identified many tables or charts that are useful (necessary?) for play. These are collected in a 32-page Play Aid.
Wings of the Motherland is a 2-D depiction of a 3-D situation, and the Play Aid offers many tables and charts to help the players understand rule interactions and relative situations.
My copy of Wings of the Motherland shipped with the v1.0 version of errata. This appears to be the same errata available at WargameVault.
My box of Wings of the Motherland also contained some advertising material and a postcard game. In late 2022 I saw a lot of chatter about postcard game designs and this is a reminder that Against the Odds has been doing this for a while…
One final note. My copy of Wings of the Motherland shipped with a single purple d10 die (I know it looks pink in the picture below but it’s more purple than pink). I kinda wish that there had been two dice included as players often need to generate a d100 (percentile) result. I dug into my collection and found a spare black and red d10. At the risk of being accused of “stereotyping” my wargame I think I’ll just use these dice when I play.
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