Dogfighting games are currently the big thing in tabletop gaming, and over at STARBURST Towers we have a small fleet of dragons, spaceships, star-fighters and assorted pieces, all for use in edge-of-seat style high-speed combat games. Entering this market is Games Workshop with a new edition of a game that harkens back to 1999’s Bommerz Over Da Sulphur River.
Aeronautica Imperialis: Wings of Vengeance is an interesting blend of old school crunch and modern ease of play. Set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, it’s a game about brave Imperial pilots taking on savage space Orks in the struggle to take control of the skies and turn the tide of war. The game board flips over to reveal either a war-torn factory somewhere in the mountains, or a city on fire, complete with smoking ruins. Like many of Games Workshop’s recent games, the board isn’t massive and is quite portable, meaning you should be able to play this game in most places.
The box comes with nine futuristic aeroplanes, each one covered in wicked-looking weapons. You have enough for four Imperial and five Ork models, and the kit is well worked out. It’s not snap-fit, but it’s straightforward to put together, and you’ll have bits left over for future projects. You’ll have to paint them yourself, though the models are distinctive enough if you can’t be bothered. The bases are unique to the game and contain dials for speed and elevation.
Movement is hex-based, and manoeuvres use a hidden mechanic, in this case, a counter with a number on it that you flip over and then consult a chart. The Ork aircraft can do fewer manoeuvres than the Imperials, but are also beefier in combat. One side glides around and flips about while the other simply punches very hard and can take a good amount of punishment. Aircraft can also climb and dive, which can make them hard to hit. Be warned though, going too low too quickly can damage the craft, as can flying too high.
It’s as pretty and as nuanced as one should expect from Games Workshop. The components are sound, and the gameplay is atmospheric and fast. This is a brutal game. It’s very easy to get tailed by a foe and quite hard to shake a tail. It’s not too complicated, and the pre-game strategy options aren’t too deep. There’s enough here to scratch the dogfighting combat itch, and though we are sure more aircraft and rules are on the way, it seems clear that much like Warhammer Underworlds, this is a fun challenge that even the most competitive types can enjoy.
Great game, gorgeous models, and certainly worth a look.