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Posted on Aug 28, 2022 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Become a Knight of the Sky with “Wings of Glory the Digital Game” Computer Game Review

Become a Knight of the Sky with “Wings of Glory the Digital Game” Computer Game Review

Rick Martin

Wings of Glory the Digital Game Review.  Publisher: Dire Wolf Digital  Based Upon Ares Games’ Miniatures Game  Price $14.95

Review by Rick Martin with comments by Ray Garbee.

Passed Inspection:    captures the WW1 miniatures game feel and game play, solo or multiplayer modes, training scenarios, customizable airplanes and pilots, basic and advanced rules, easy to learn, nice music and graphics, available on multiple platforms, Dire Wolf is very good about listening to user comments and implementing patches as needed, great value for the price

Failed Basic:  freezes up too often, no campaign mode, other issues

As any reader of Armchair General knows, Wings of Glory, both in its World War I and World War II variants, is one of my all-time favorite game systems.  In my opinion, it is almost as perfect as an air combat game can get.  Andrea Angiolino and Pier Giorgio Paglia created the game system back in 2004 and it’s been in print ever since.  It started out as a game where the airplanes were represented by cards and you played maneuver cards to move them around the table but over the years it has evolved in to a game using beautiful fully painted miniature airplanes, balloons, etc.  You can find at least a half dozen or more articles reviewing various Wings of Glory releases here at Armchair General.  Now Dire Wolf Digital has released a multi-platform digital edition of Wings of Glory and almost perfectly captures the feel of the table top game!

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Wings of Glory the Digital Game, hereinafter “Wings Digital”, as stated above is a multi-platform game which means it plays on IBM systems, MACs, IPhones, Androids, tablets, etc.   Having cut my teeth back in the 1980s on platform specific games, I find this a wonderful feat of technology.  The game can be played solo or in an on-line multiplayer mode.  My review is based upon playing Wings Digital on an 8 core, water cooled IBM system with a 4 core Sapphire Graphics card.  I play using the Steam on-line gaming platform.   I have also seen the game played on IPads and phones.  Initially users complained that some of the screens were too difficult to read on smaller portable screens but Dire Wolf has reportedly fixed that issue.  Ray says “I would not recommend playing Wings Digital on your phone. While the app will run just fine, the small screen size means I’m either looking at a fraction of the play space, or is so zoomed out I cannot see it clearly. But on a mid-size or larger tablet, the game really shines!”

Wings Digital gives you the planes from the Entente and the Central Powers featured in the first release of the Wings of Glory Miniatures Game.  Each plane has three different paint schemes featuring the designs of famous aces.  The Entente aircraft are Spad XIIIs, Sopwith Camels and Snipes and DH4 two seaters (many of which were made in my home town of Dayton, Ohio).  The Central Powers have Albatros DVs, Fokker Dr1 triplanes, Fokker DVIIs and Roland two seaters.  Each plane can also have its weapons and hull points modified and their pilot/gunners can be modified with different skills (more on this later).  The initial digital aircraft release gives you a nice mix of mid and late war airplanes.

Outfitting the Roland

As in the Wings of Glory Miniature Game, each plane is rated for its weapons (either one or two machine guns), firing arcs, hull points, speed and maneuver class (as reflected by the maneuver cards the plane uses to move and maneuver) and its rate of climb.  Also two seaters can have their gun types modified for their rear gun positions.  Each plane is also given a point cost which can raise or lower based upon how you modify the plane and its pilot or gunner.

The games are balanced by these point costs so that, in theory, each match can be played with equal points for the players although, in my opinion, the Roland is a little too over powered for its point cost and the DH4 is a little too underpowered for its point cost.  The Roland’s very impressive rear firing arc should be worth at least 10 more points to the total price for the plane.

a DH4

There are multiple combat scenarios in the game including dog fighting, bombing, ground attack and photographic missions.  Missions can also be modified for starting altitudes, map size, skill of AI (artificial intelligence) pilots, lethality of the explosion damage card result, etc.  All scenarios are available for both solo play and multiplayer play.

The game features a full on-line rule book, tutorials and training missions to help new players find their wings.  The sound effects, music and graphics are wonderful and immerse you in the digital action.

Bomber Training

To play, you select whether you want to play a solo game or an on-line game.  If you play on-line, there is an on-line community just waiting to play with or against you.  You can form up a list of friends who you fly with on a regular bases and use the game’s messaging to keep in touch and chat during battles.   Ray Garbee makes a great point in that the weak point here is the lack of a lobby that shows you which other players are online and ready to play. A chat function is nice, but if I don’t know you are there, I’m not going to chat with you.

You can pick the level of detail for both solo and on-line combat.   If you play the game with basic rules, altitude isn’t a factor but with advanced rules selected, altitude adds so much more realism to the battles.

The game plays almost exactly like its table top counterpart.  You control one or more planes depending on the battle.  The most I’ve ever controlled was 4 planes in an epic 6 player, 24 aircraft dogfight.

A Spad is hit and a Fokker Dr1 is on fire during a large dogfight

Each aircraft has its own digital maneuver cards that you pick from.  You play three pre-selected maneuvers during one turn.  If an enemy plane or ground target (if you are at altitude 1 or 2) is in a firing arc, you may fire at it assuming, of course, that your guns are not jammed.  When you attack, the game draws damage from a digital damage deck.  If you have a plane armed with one machine gun, you’ll probably do less damage than if you have two machine guns.  Critical hits such as wounded aircrew or rudder damage may occur.  If your plane catches fire, flames bellow from your engine and you take extra damage as you frantically try to extinguish the blaze.  If an explosion card is drawn it can do one of the following based upon the rules established when the battle was created – no extra damage, half the starting hull points of the plane or instant explosion and death.  Battles are fast and deadly reflecting the actual nature of the causality rate for pilots and aircrews in the “Great War”.  You had a 70% chance of not surviving the war if you were an aircrew.  In fact, Wings Digital is probably a little too deadly in the frequency of the critical hits.  It’s much more deadly than the miniatures game is.  The critical hit system does need a review by Dire Wolf programmers.  In one battle on the day I’m writing this, I had three explosion cards in a row. I’ve also noticed that in solo mode, the AI seems too dish out critical hits with much more frequency than the human players do.  This also needs to be addressed.

Albatros doing an Immelmann

The game tracks your overall kill rate and proficiencies as a player but doesn’t actually include a campaign game or a way of tracking your individual pilots.  I do keep a paper log of my pilots, their planes, missions and kills and when they die, I mark RIP over their stats.  I am hoping that Dire Wolf adds a campaign system to the game.

You can modify your pilots with various skills including things like “Bullet Checker” which helps cut down the frequency of machine gun jams or “Lucky Pilot” which allows you to ignore one hit on your plane.  You can also pick from a list of historical pilots such as The Red Baron and fly with or against them.

Ace Skills
Picking an Ace

The game features a scoring system which tracks the victory points of all the on-line players so you can see how your friends (and enemies) rank in the greater scheme of things.

For this review, I have put in over 28 hours to date on Wings Digital and I truly love this game.  For under $15 you get years of fun.  But, that being said, there are some bullet holes in the wings of this fine game.

Every once in a while, the game will freeze up probably because of all the players playing on different platforms.  Dire Wolf has put a lot of time into fixing this problem and the freeze ups are now fewer and far between but they still occasionally happen.

As I mentioned, there is no campaign mode which is a shame as it would help players get emotionally involved in their pilots.

Unless you’ve completed a victory condition such as bombing a target or photographing an enemy position, when you leave the game board, you are considered to have lost the battle and the game shows you going down in flames.  This is unrealistic.  In real life, most of the time, it’s better to fly away if you are losing and live to fight another day.  Dire Wolf should put in an option to allow a player to retreat.  That would also help lower the game’s very steep pilot attrition rate. Ray Garbee states: “I’m going to disagree. These missions really make the game shine. They are central to what airpower was all about in the Great War. But it was not easy or safe.  Don’t whine to the squadron CO. You lost the match because you failed to accomplish the mission. After I’ve missed with all my bombs, all I can hope to do is fly home and report the mission a failure. (Even if I did shoot down two enemy planes!) It’s bitter, but to your point – losing and living is preferable to not living at all.  This is where a solid campaign mode would add even more value to the game.”

Fokker DVII head to head against a Sopwith Snipe

AI planes tend to collide with each other and human players a lot– this happens way too often and should be corrected.  In addition, human players collide with too much frequency as well.  Collisions did occur in the frantic World War I dogfights just not with as much frequency as in the Wings Digital Game.

Also in games with both human and AI players, it would be nice that if a human was shot down, he or she had the option to take over and AI controlled plane so that you don’t have to sit there watching everyone else have fun.

Every game starts with the players facing each other on opposite sides of the map.  An option for random starting positions and altitudes would be nice.

The arcs of fire don’t always seem to align with the actual shooting in the game leaving the player sometimes saying “How did I hit you?  You were totally out of my forward machine gun arc.”

Even with these issues, I plan on playing this game every day if I can. I hope it’s successful and would love to see more planes released for the game.  The table top Wings of Glory Miniatures game has dozens of different airplanes available to play as well as observation balloons and heavy bombers.  I can’t wait to see those added in to the Wings Digital Game.

So if you love World War I aviation, get this game and find me on-line as RAM999! I can’t wait to shoot you down in the skies of the Wings of Glory Digital Game.

Armchair General Rating:  90% (1% is bad, 100% is perfect)

Solitaire Rating: 5

(1 is not suitable, 5 is excellent solo play)

Can the Bomber Get Through

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 and has designed the solo system for Forsage Games’ Age of Dogfights.  Currently Rick is designing T34 Leader for DVG.  In addition, Rick can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

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