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Digital Subscriptions > The Best Games of 2019 > The Best Games of 2019 > WINGS OF GLORY: TRIPODS & TRIPLANES

WINGS OF GLORY: TRIPODS & TRIPLANES

Threedom fighters

WINGS OF GLORY: TRIPODS & TRIPLANES

Threedom fighters

Ever since H.G. Wells first envisioned sinister tri-legged fighting machines from the Red Planet stalking their way across Horsell Common, his influence in pop culture was assured. Ares Games has taken his signature work of science- fiction and merged it with Wings of Glory, the aerial combat wargames set during the bloody years of the First and Second World Wars. The end result is a boxed starter set that provides quick, entertaining games of man versus Martian, but feels like it could have included a bit more than it offers.

Those who’ve played aerial combat games before – particularly X-Wing – will find many similar mechanics used here. Each game is split into turns, with play occurring simultaneously during each phase of the turn. The three phases of a turn revolve around movement. Each unit on the board – whether they be tripod or triplane – has a console with slots for three movement cards. At the start of a turn, players select how their vehicle(s) will move by selecting cards from their movement deck and placing one in each of the three slots. Players then simultaneously reveal the first card and move correspondingly. The game eschews movement rulers, and instead uses the cards themselves as measures. Shooting and actions likewise occur simultaneously. Players do the same thing for the following two phases, after which a new turn begins.

This core gameplay loop makes for a game that’s both entertaining and fast. Though not a new mechanic, having to plan how each vehicle is going to move not only adds strategic depth to the proceedings, but also helps reinforce the concept that the player is piloting a machine with actual tolerances and velocity rather than just game pieces. The game also has a random element in the form of damage, which is determined by drawing the top card from one of several decks depending on the type of weapon used.

The units the box comes with feel mostly balanced. In terms of hit points and raw firepower the Martian tripod is – not surprisingly – the tougher of the two, though this is counterbalanced by the fact that it has to spend an action and energy token to shoot, whereas no such penalties affect flyers. Likewise, whilst the plane is nearly always going to lose out in a straightforward shooting match, it’s given a much-needed edge by dint of its manoeuvrability. Random damage effects like engine fires and electrical short-outs prevent things from becoming predictable.

The main gripe comes not from the gameplay but from the few areas where the game feels like it should have had more in the box. The rulebook comes with six scenarios, though only two of them can be played using the core contents, as the rest require the purchasing of separate airplane and tripod packs. Including content like this that can only be used with additional purchases is always a cheap move – and one that would be rightly called out if a board game tried to pull it – but seems to be par for the course for wargames. Likewise, as entertaining as the game is, having only one model each side inevitably means that games will get stale after a while. The inclusion of more, different miniatures (like the ones cheekily advertised on the box’s back cover image) and a healthy number of scenarios would have gone a long way to making a set with greater entertainment value.

JAMES WINSPEAR

WE SAY

A box that feels like it should have included more in it, Tripods & Triplanes nonetheless delivers a fast, tactical experience that’s fun whilst it lasts.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

► Mk.I ‘Locust’ tripod miniature

► Nieuport 16 aeroplane miniature

► Manoeuvre decks

► Special ability cards

► Damage decks

► Tokens

► Terrain

► Rulers

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED… GASLANDS

A skirmish wargame ruleset that lets players turn toy cars into engines of death, Gaslands is well worth a look if piloting heavily armed vehicles is your thing.

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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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