For those of you who have followed my blog you know how I love to pimp my games, and use games in an educational setting. During the centennial of WW1 I have been looking for a game to use with my Civil Air Patrol cadets' aerospace education classes. While there are many excellent games covering dog fighting (Canvas Eagles, Blue Max, Richtofen's War, Dawn Patrol for example), I wanted something more than just a combat game. As with my adaptation of London's Burning, I was looking for a game that would cover more history, allow the cadets to use leadership and teamwork skills, and engage the entire squadron. Luckily I discovered Berserker Games and Erik von Rossing's excellent Aces of Valor.
As I have said in the past solo games are often easier to adapt to classroom use than many games designed for multi-players. I knew that Aces of Valor would serve the job perfectly; plus it is also lot of fun solo (I've been enjoying it for the past several months.) As a Print and Play game the price is also right.
What Aces of Valor gives me is an excellent campaign setting for a WW1 squadron to fly a number of missions in. It does have a very good combat system for solo play, but what I want for my cadet is a way to manage a squadron, setting the stage for aerial battles using a Canvas Eagles type game.
Basically the plan is for the cadet squadron commander to choose the mission (from the Aces of Valor mission cards), and assign the pilots. The flight leader for the mission will move the squadron marker across the board, again using the Aces of Valor rules, and encountering events. Weather, flak, and damaged aircraft are handles very well with the Aces of Valor rules; but when the squadron encounters enemy aircraft or ground targets play will move to a large scale board. There each cadet who is part of the mission will handle their own aircraft using Canvas Eagle/Blue Max based rules. The system of play and rules has not been finalized yet, but it is getting close. The beauty of using Aces of Valor is that any air combat game can be used to handle the dog fighting phase: Wings of Glory could easily work.
While the games comes with perfectly usable components (in fact the graphics have recently undergone an upgrade), I wanted something more. So for the past few months I have been building a roughly 1/1000 scale version of the print & play board.
The base is 1/4" MDF board with felt backing; with Cellfoam 88 glued on for hills and no-mans land. The entire surface was covered with glue and fine sand, then painted with craft paints followed with a little dry brushing (at that scale simple is best.) For most of the structures I used Brigade Models Small Scale Scenery line, (the ruins are Oddzial Osmy terrain - slightly larger scale, but still works). The railroads from Brigade Games are excellent. The oil depots are scratch built, and the hangers are really, really reduced paper miniatures from Fiddlers Green. The aircraft at the airfields are from Brigade Games Aeronef line, while the observation balloons came from Classic Airships at Shapeways. The AA batteries are made by Tumbling Dice; again 1/600 scale, but close enough. I finished the boards off by gluing Woodland Scenic's shrubs for forests.
To mark the squadron's base and the mission targets I used Litko objective and HQ markers. The squadron marker to move over the board is a Litko Fleet Movement Stand with 6" legs. I painted 1/600 scale aircraft (Tumbling dice and PicoArmor) to match the 1/72 scale plane that will be used for the dog fights.
Hopefully I will be able to take these boards to conventions in the future and link up with some air combat games so they get used more than a few times a year.