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Posted on Apr 16, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

This game has the right stuff!    Age of Dogfights Preview

This game has the right stuff! Age of Dogfights Preview

Rick Martin

Age of Dogfights Board Game Preview.  Publisher: Forsage Games  Designers:  Predrag Lazovic and Dragan Lazovic

Age of Dogfights is a new game which is about to be Kickstarted by Forsage Games of Serbia.   It utilizes their trademarked “Triangle System” of movement which provides more realistic movements than does a traditional hex based system.  Previously Armchair General reviewed their modern tactical naval battles game “Naval Battles in the Archipelagoand “Age of Dogfights” is just as much fun and just as easy to learn as “Naval Battles”.

Age of Dogfights is a tactical air combat game of World War I air combat. 

The game’s components are:

3 bi-fold maps

4 board extensions

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54 aircraft counters

100 plastic altitude stands

3 tilt compensators

3 initial position markers

18 control panels

117 sliders

24 photo mission markers

30 bomb mission markers

24 ace/rookie markers

36 damage overlay markers

10 cloud markers

1 each sun direction and wind direction indicators

6 task zone markers

5 six sided dice

1  16 page rule book

There are 18 different types of aircrafts in the game and the types provide a great representation of early, mid and late war planes which range from scouts to two-seaters to giant bombers.  Each unit is one aircraft and each aircraft is represented in the game by a top down counter mounted on a plastic base as well as by a control board.  The aircraft control board has enough room to track 3 airplanes and includes data on the individual aircraft’s special features such as how well it climbs or dives and how maneuverable it is as well as gun positions.  In addition, for each aircraft are spots to track ammo usage and how many times the aircraft can apply full throttle for extra speed (if applicable to the aircraft type).  The red and green sliders are used to track the ammo and full throttle uses.

To easily show the aircraft’s altitude, the plane counter is put on top of  a plastic altitude indicator stand.  Altitude is tracked from levels 1 to 5.  Each aircraft is also in one of three flight modes – level flight or climbing or diving.  This is indicated by tilting the aircraft counter nose up or nose down or leaving it level to show level flight.

The three mounted map boards are beautiful.  Overlaid on top of the terrain are lines where you may find hexes in other board games.  Each of the lines comes together in points.  The points are where you start and finish moving your aircraft.  Much of the well organized and easy to understand rule book is taken up by examples of movement and finding firing solutions using Forsage’s unique “Triangle Movement System”.  I have included a page from the rules so you can see how they are laid out.

The Triangle Movement System gives a very organic feel of to the aircraft maneuvers.  World War I aviation is one of my favorite gaming subjects and I’ve played so many World War I aviation games (Red Baron, Dawn Patrol, Check Your Six Colorful Skies, Wings of Glory) over the years that I can safely say that this system works very well in simulating the maneuvers of these planes.  I like that you don’t have to chart your movement in advance so you can act and react to the situation as it develops.  The use of the control boards makes it very feasible for one player to easily control up to six or more aircrafts.

Let’s look at the turn sequence and then dig in to the rules in detail with the understanding that the rules are still in somewhat of the development stage.

Aircrafts either start on the map boards (the “Combat Zone”) or they start in off board patrol zones from which they then enter the Combat Zone based upon die rolls the players make.

While I could find no rules on initiative, I assumed that bombers and two-seaters have to move first while fighters or “Scouts” (as they were known at the time) move after the larger planes.  I gave deference to Ace pilots while made rookies move first.

Each aircraft is rated for its base speed.  Each player then rolls either a blue die for standard speed or a green die if they firewall their throttle.  These die results modify the base speed of the plane.  To come up with the final distance the plane can move, you factor in the direction of the wind.  If the wind is behind you, you can move a little faster.  If the wind is to your 12 o’clock, you’ll lose some airspeed.  I really like this method of movement in this game.  Not knowing exactly where you will end up adds some “fog of war” tension to the game play as in “I thought I could catch him but he just slipped slightly out of my range.”

Every time you move, if an enemy is in your gun arc and range, you can try and shoot.  This may give you multiple chances to shoot during each turn.  Just remember that you use up ammo with each burst.  You also have the chance to fire a long burst which could, conceivably, do more damage if you hit your enemy.  But using a long burst will use up your ammo faster and may jam your guns.  It’s a gamble.

There are two damage charts labeled A and B.  The A chart is used for close attacks from an excellent firing position.  The B chart is from longer ranges or more disadvantageous firing solutions.    Damage results are guns jammed, miss, damaged or takedown.  A takedown immediately shoots down the enemy plane.  If you get a damaged result, you roll the damage die which gives you results such as tail surface damage, wing damage, etc.  Each damage result is a different color on the die.  You then mark the airplane counter with a plastic damage tab of that color.  If a plane is damaged twice, it is shot down.

For my own games, I modified the takedown and damage results to include more detailed damage and more details to the takedown.  I house ruled a table to a six sided die.  When shot down, you roll the die and the results range from a 1 which means you can try and glide the aircraft down for a survivable crash landing, 2 to 3 means you crash  and have to roll to survive, 4 to 5 in which you catch fire and crash to a 6 which means you have exploded and died.

There is so much to like in this game.  There are rules for the direction of the sun and attacking out of the sun or with the sun in your pilot’s eyes; rules for rotary engines; rules for clouds; rules for bombing and photo recon missions; rules for collisions; rules for pilot experience, etc.

I found the rule which states that a pilot becomes an Ace after 4 kills to be a little strange as it was normal practice to use the 5 kill mark towards becoming an Ace pilot.

Additionally, I would love to see Intermediate and Advanced rules adding in such elements as campaigns, more detailed damage, etc.

An expansion is promised with rules for balloon busting, airships and a sneak preview of 26 more airplanes including Italian, Russian and Austrian/Hungarian and American airplanes.

So in this age of the pandemic isolation, how does the game solo?  It solos pretty well with just changing your hats from German to Entente and making maneuvers which are logical based upon the situation. But, that being said,  I am developing a solo bot system for fun and plan on submitting it to the Forsage team in the next few weeks after play testing it myself.

When the Kickstarter for Age of Dogfights is rolled out, I’ll update this preview with a link to it.

As promised, here is the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1732812836/age-of-dogfights-ww1?ref=discovery&term=age%20of%20dog

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer. He designed the games Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Expansion and Sherman Leader for DVG.  In addition, Rick can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

Box Art
Back of Box
Rules for Moving
British Planes
French Planes
German Planes
Components
Albatros closing on my six
sun and wind direction
Fokker Dr1 kills the two-seater’s rear gunner
French bomber goes down

7 Comments

  1. Looks very promising indeed!

  2. Please update when the Kickstarter begins!

  3. First of all – I love this game (backed).
    But I do not understand, what is so great on triangle system? It looks same as hex system to me as both have 6 adjacent fields/points.

    • I backed this game too even though it has a lot in common with a free game you can find online called Canvas Eagles. I have to agree with you that there is nothing superior in this triangle system compared to a hex system – they each have 6 adjacent fields/points. The only difference is appearance.

  4. I’m looking at ordering this before the late pledge closes but I’m a little unsure of which content to go for. Sadly it is very unlikely that I’d ever have need of the additional boards for large scale air battles but I’m still left a little confused as to what would be considered the best investment.

    Any advice would be massively appreciated.

    • I would go for the aircraft expansions. Some of those planes look fantastic!

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