An Interview with Andrea Angiolino
By Keith “Col. Hajj” Upton of Wings of War Aerodrome
Andrea Angiolino was born in Rome Italy on April 27th, 1966. Although he graduated university in Economics, he found him self as a working journalist, writer and game designer. Andrea has been awarded several prestigious awards including the Italian Ministry for Public Teaching naming him “Expert Game Inventor” in 1999, receiving the first “Special Best of Show for Distinguished Achievements” from Lucca Games in 2004, and most recently awarded the Personalita Ludica dell’Anno (Game Person of the Year) for 2007. He landed his first column as a writer for a gaming magazine in 1982. Since then, he has gone on to write more then 20 books, design games such as Ulysses, Obscura Tempora and our beloved Wings of War.
Wings of War Aerodrome: Hello Andrea, how are you today?
Fine, thanks! Busier than ever - an office job every day working on public games for the Italian state, a growing family with a newborn daughter and my activity of game designer and expert the rest of the time are all very demanding activities, but overall they make me quite happy.
1. WWA: The game of Wings of War has been out for several years now, but when did you actually start designing the game and where did you get your ideas from?
I was just back from the Nuremberg toy fair in February 2002. One evening, speaking with Pier Giorgio Paglia at his house, we recalled all the air combat simulations we played in the last twenty years or so, and we regret that there was not something as easy and fun as Ace of Aces, a nice game with two booklets giving every view from the cockpit of a Fokker Dr.I or a Camel to the opponent plane. That game was out of production, and besides very effective for two players but not so handy to play in more than two, nor easy to expand with new plane models or new kind of scenarios.
One of the games we recently played was Rise of the Luftwaffe: a well designed card game, but a quite complex and abstract one. Not as easy and immediate as we would like as players.
I went back home thinking about it all. Instead of sleeping, I took some felt pens and one of the decks of blank cards that the Carta Mundi printer gave me as a gift to make my prototypes. I went to bed in early morning leaving a prototype on my dining table, with a roughly drawn red Dr.I and a funny Sopwith Camel with their maneuver decks. Later that morning I tested it with Pier Giorgio and it seemed to work.
Speaking about the origins of my ideas, games go on by evolution: So every new title is influenced by everything that has been released before. Nothing new under the sun: it is the same for books, movies, music and all other cultural products and technical inventions. The main scheme of Wings of War is quite original, I think, but several ideas came from our long gaming experience and references.
Besides the initial inspirations from Ace of Aces, I could later find more that I was not aware of at the moment I designed the game in the first place. Of course, a background of miniature wargamers has been very useful - we played a lot of them, from the 5th edition of rules for ancient battles by Wargames Research Group onward. The planning of moves with cards could have been influenced by Gunslinger, a great Western boardgame by Avalon Hill. The contemporary planning of the movement, built as a series of action in a row, could also be influenced by Air Force and the games derived from it. As some players noticed, to make it in three steps could have been inspired by Sopwith, an easy boardgame that we played in early '80s and then forgot.
The concept of firing during the turn instead of just at the end of it, that in my opinion makes for a far more realistic game, was inspired by some advanced rules of Yaquinto's Wings - It could have come from Star Fleet Battles instead, I suppose, if I ever played it.
The damage cards have been influenced by Blue Max, even if Wings of War synthesizes in a single card draw all the work that in Blue Max is done by dice, tables, chits, paperwork to keep damage accounting and a separate roll for gun jamming. The point is that all these games but Sopwith are far more complex and rich; with Wings of War, all has been simplified to get a game that could be explained in 90 seconds and played with kids, and for that simplicity, nothing has been more inspirational than Ace of Aces.
Besides, speaking of simplicity, it's been Ace of Aces, together with Blue Max, to convince us that we could do without any altitude rules in the basic game.
All in all, we can say that if we saw somehow more far it is because we are dwarves on the shoulders of giants, the giants being the designers of the great air simulation games of the '70s and '80s.
The first prototype.
2. WWA: Pier Giorgio Paglia is also credited on the game, but we do not hear much about him. What was his involvement in the game?
He is a big friend of mine and we did many things together before, from boardgames to game books, from supplements for role-playing games to books about games. Since the "need" for such a game arised speaking together, it was pretty natural to ask him if he wanted to develop the prototype together into a full game line. So I did, and he accepted. Our first idea was to make a collection of small card packages with two maneuver decks, a few damage cards and a few airplane cards, for two players, with a little string to measure firing distances. To play in more people, several packages had to be bought. The format we thought of was 66 cards for each package, because we thought that maybe Adlung Spiele could like it and that publisher only made games with these amounts of cards (but they said "66 cards is ok, 66 cards and a piece of string is not"). Later on it was Nexus Editrice (today NG International) to choose the box format with rulers, counters, mats and stuff for 4 players.
Pier Giorgio Paglia explaining a preview giant-size at Lucca Games 2003.
3. WWA: When you designed the damage cards to use the A deck for twin machineguns and the B deck for single machineguns, you added more jam special damages to the B deck, why was this?
Nexus Editrice chose the 4 players format, and the A deck was made to be sure that the cards in it would be enough to finish any game session with 4 planes from the "Famous Aces" box, no matter how the damage cards were distributed, even if you used the optional rule to take the explosion card away. The B deck, being for a firepower that's half the one of the A, has less points on each cards so to reach the same goal of allowing every game session of "Watch your back!" to finish without reshuffling it needed more cards. To roughly give the same chances of special damages and jamming, their number in the B deck was increased so to be in the same percentage on the total of cards.
These kinds of decisions have been made to keep the game simple. But being a gamer myself, I knew that the potential of a game is larger if people can make their own optional rules and evolve the system. This is why I decided to make half of the jamming cards with green crosses and half of them with red ones. In the basic game, they all work the same. But if you want deeper rules, you can take advantage of this difference to make your own. For example you can decide that when an A plane fires the red jamming cards mean that both machineguns jam, while the green ones mean that just one jams: the plane can decide either to fire as a B one or to un-jam the jammed one. Or you can decide that aces such as the Italian Silvio Scaroni, who personally checked all the bullets discarding defective ones, would only jam with red cards... As in an example scenario of the first boxes.
4. WWA: How did you come up with the idea of using maneuver cards to move the planes around the table? Most other aerial combat games use a hex grid, and since started out as a “board game”, it seems that the hex system would have worked well for it.
I wanted the easiest game possible, without giving up too much realism. I thought that contemporary planning and moving was the most realistic way to deal with air duels, and that a deck of such maneuver cards could be a good way to allow both planning of moves without any paperwork, and executing them in a exact way as pre-planned without needing too many rules to be remembered or too many chart and tables to be consulted.
I worked with a concept in mind that later I rationalized and called "hidden complexity". In a traditional dogfight boardgame with contemporary moves, such as Air Force, Aces High, Wings, Blue Max or many other titles from the '70s and 80's, you would plan your moves writing down on paper what you would do, with many restrictions and rules and data on charts telling you how you could choose or compose your movement depending on your plane's speed, maneuverability, and more. The big advantage of Wings of War's system, from the player's point of view, is that you just get a deck of cards depending on your plane model, and with very simple rules you can compose your turn just choosing three cards with a couple of restrictions. You do not have to care about how agile or quick your plane is, and if it has a rotary engine or not. All this has been taken care of by the designers and it has been engineered in the number, shapes and length of the arrows on your deck. You do not have to bother studying special rules or charts of specific technical details of your plane: take a D deck and fly with it.
Now, a hex grid is a great thing for boardgaming, but after all it is just a roughly simplified model of reality. It gives you only 6 facings for a counter, allowing to turn only by 60° or multiples. I toyed with using 12 in some games in the past, pointing them either to a side or to a corner of the hex in which they are in, but this makes moving and turning more complicate. Besides, a hex grid gives you quite a rough scale to differentiate speeds for a plane moving on such a grid. With a tabletop wargame in mind, more than a boardgame, Wings of War cards have been designed to allow far smaller differences in speed and quite a lot of different facings, using 30°, 45°, 60° and 90° turns. You can differentiate planes in a finer way. I don't know if there is a hidden hex grid behind the movement system in Ace of Aces, but there is none hidden in Wings of War. It is more like a tabletop miniature wargame, with more freedom of movement and facing for your "units".
Because of this, Wings of War feels "analog" instead of "digital" as hex-grid games do. This gives a more realistic feeling to the player, in my opinion. When you play Blue Max, that is a great game that Pier Giorgio and me enjoyed a lot for many years (even recently at www.youplay.it), you often thinks in terms of "If he moved by 4 hexes last turn, in the next one he can only choose this, and this, and this move. If I manage to fire at this row of hexes, I cover most of the places he can go". This can be very fun, but it is quite abstract. Since there is no grid behind Wings of War, your way of thinking can not be similar: you have rather to think in terms of "Since my plane is slower and he turns better to the right, as I suspect that he will do, I have no chances to stay on his tail so I'd rather try a sideslip to the right hoping to keep him in my firing arc". And I prefer this, according to my personal tastes, since it makes me feel more like a pilot and less as a chess player, even with the oversimplified simulation model of Wings of War.
5. WWA: When adding a new plane to the game, how do you decide which maneuver deck to use for it?
That's a complex choice. The length of the arrows is quite standardized: in the WWI line, the full length of a card is for planes with a maximum speed of more than 200 km/h, an arrow 80% of that for planes with a 181/200 km/h speed and then down, by steps of 20 km/h. A simplification, since each plane behaved differently at different heights, but it works. Then there is the choice of which maneuvers to give to the plane, and this is the difficult part. The SPAD XIII has quite a standard deck. More agile planes get fancier maneuvers, while planes with specific characteristics gets special cards because of them - as in 90° turns to the right for the Dr.I and Camel because of the rotary engine, or "turning stalls" and a unrestricted one to the D:VII because of his special tail, and so on.
6. WWA: How do you decide if it will use a deck already being used by another plane, or if it should get its own?
Some simplification has to be made, so that players can fly a broader range of planes without being forced to buy too many expansions and boosters. That's why, when it is possible, similar planes are given the same deck. The choice is made on the basis of historical accounts, pilots' notes and technical analysis of planes, to see if specific models could be comparable or one better than the other in maneuvering and how. Besides, some calculations are made comparing wings surface, weight, engine powers and such to check if a similar or different behavior could be expected. Sometime the history of a plane can help. The Siemens-Schukert D.I was in short a copy of the Nieuport 17, but with a metal frame that made it heavier and then slower, enough slower to put it in another 20 km/h range: So it was pretty natural to give it the same arrows as a Nieuport 17 but shorter, and so the same deck as a Nieuport 11 Bebé.
7. WWA: Should players expect to see some new maneuver decks released in the future?
Yes, for sure. For WWI there will be several in "Flight of the giants", the box with multi-engine planes that will have 45° or even 30° turns instead than the usual 60° ones. Also, some arrows will be shorter to compensate the fact that some of the plane cards will be larger. Other decks will appear soon for the Aviatik D.I and the Bristol F2B Fighter, in new airplane packs. For WW2 there will be an agile deck for biplanes such as the Fiat Cr.42 Falco and the Gloster Gladiator, and another for the Polikarpov I-16 that will be a good element not only for the world war but also for scenarios in the Spanish Civil War and Sino-Japanese wars. WW2 multi-engine planes will also appear soon...
8. WWA: I know for me, the addition of the miniatures line really brought the game to life. Do you have a “master plan” as to when certain planes are release as miniatures, or is that some thing that is decided by the marketing/business group?
Actually I am the one deciding which planes become miniatures. Not really with a long term plan, but choosing every time among the wide range of planes already released as cards. Lately even proposing some planes that are not cards yet, as in the Nieuport Ni.16 or the Rumpler C.IV. The marketing staff ask my advice, I choose and then we discuss it. Roberto Di Meglio, the CEO of NG International, is a fond gamer and an expert publisher, with a lifetime of experience in the hobby market. He personally takes care of the line and every exchange of ideas with him is always fruitful.
9. WWA: When new miniatures are being looked at, how do you choose which aircraft will go in to the series?
There are several things that I take into account: how famous planes or pilots are and how wanted by players they are, the game balance within a series of miniature to make miniatures playable in the same scenarios, the balance in number between planes of opposite sides, the addition of subjects that can really very the game from simple dogfights to different kind of missions (as two-seaters, balloons, heavy bombers). Not lastly, the chance to cover a wider range of nations. The games is now in 14 languages and players love to have planes and pilots from their countries, something that most of the old air war simulations did not offer since they usually concentrated on the main air services involved in the world wars - I know this well because being an Italian wargamer
I still remember the rare feeling of finding Italian planes in such games as Yaquinto's Wings.
All this I do to satisfy all the different players, or at least most of them I hope. With this in mind, I think that the marketing needs are better suited as well.
10. WWA: Once a plane is picked for miniature production, how long does it typically take for it to show up on the local game store’s shelf?
I'd say 9 months or so. It is quite a long and complicated process, to keep the quality that we want.
First of all, our artist Vincenzo Auletta makes detailed technical drawings of each plane and variant. The factory makes a sculpture of each plane, larger than life. We check them and correct details, then we check the corrected sculptures to see that our comments have been implemented.
The factory then makes a reduced model in the final size, preparing all the moulds for production and sends unpainted prototypes made with them. This involves a mold for a metal fuselage, a mold for all the plastic parts and for WW2, a separate mould for clear plastic, that includes not only bases and pegs but the canopy of the cockpit too. We check these samples and send corrections, then we check again the corrected ones.
In the meantime, Auletta has made a drawing for each color scheme, this is sent to the factory both as files and printed on paper to be sure of color shades. The factory sends painted prototypes and again we check them to see that all is ok, and if it is not we make corrections and check the new version.
In the end, NG International get definitive assembled samples of the boxes and approve them before the factory actually starts production. This takes time, but I am pretty proud of the level of detail and of the final effect on the gaming table.
Auletta's study for a miniature color scheme.
Unassembled fusion sample for WW2 Series 1 mini (metal fuselage and plastic parts).
Unpainted prototype for WW2 Series 1 miniature.
Painted prototype for WW2 Series 1 miniature.
Final WW2 Series 1 miniature.
11. WWA: What is the process like for play testing different air planes before they are released?
We authors play with them personally. And we have some play testers all over the world that play again with them, then we usually discuss the outcome all together in a private discussion group. Actually we are not too concerned with the specific characteristics of each plane. This is more a result of historical research then of actual play testing. The test game sessions focus more on scenario balance: we prefer not to change the data of a plane if we feel that they are right, we would rather change the scenario. Both general rules and special rules for specific planes are tested in the same way.
Playtesting prototypes for Burning Drachens at the "Andrea Angiolino - artigianato ludico" exibit at Lucca Games 2008: authors' handmade one on the left, Chris Heinzmann's computer made one for international playtesting on the right.
12. WWA: How do you determine how many damage points a plane has?
It is a process like the one for maneuverability. Historical research and comparison with other planes already in the game. For WW2 we also consider some objective factors such as self-sealing tanks and armor, that actually increase the general amount of points. They could be the base for some optional rules instead, but that is maybe in the future. In the simplified game that we wanted to propose first, they are just additional factors to determine these points.
13. WWA: For Wings of War, damage types for each plane were based on if they had single or twin machineguns. For Dawn of War, had did you decide which planes dealt which type of damage?
This has been a big issue. World War Two saw a great evolution in airplanes, during the 6 years of the conflict. World War One has been truly amazing from this point of view as well, if you think that the first airplane flew for 36 meters in December 1903, Luis Bleriot went across the Channel for the first time in 1909 with a tiny monoplane going at a maximum speed of 75 km/h, and just 8 years later multi-engine bombers dropped tons of bombs over London.
But World War Two accelerated the process even more, and planes involved in range from agile biplanes to deadly jet fighters. So the first issue was to cope with so different technical solutions including a far wider variety of weapons, in number and type. The other problem was to avoid the consumption of to many damage cards during a game. A Mk.I Spitfire has 8 light machineguns, a Mk. IIb Hurricane 12. With our WWI rules, 12 machineguns would mean drawing 6 A cards for a single shot at long range, 12 for one at short range. A bit too much...
We did quite a lot of research and evaluation, Pier Giorgio went especially deep into that. But in the end we wanted a very simple system anyway. So after judging caliber, bullet weight, muzzle speed, rate of fire and several other technicalities for the main weapons of world war two airplanes, in the end we saw that a good model could be to evaluate heavy machineguns (12,7 mm or 0,50") as equivalent to two light machineguns (7.7 mm or 0,303") or to half of a 20 mm cannon. We started with these guns, knowing that we could deal on a similar basis for future and more powerful weapons.
In the end, we made an A "deck" where a single card/chit accounts for 2 light machineguns or 1 heavy one. The B deck is just a more powerful version where a single chit accounts for two heavy machineguns, or 4 light ones, giving double the damages as A. The C is equivalent to B in average damages, but being meant for 20 mm cannons it has a more hit-or-miss distribution of damages. You hit less frequently, but when you do, you deal more damage. The D has a similar distribution but with more damage, and it is for 37 mm cannons and equivalents.
So, to decide how much damage a plane deals, we convert its weapons according to the rules above and then we halve it for long range damage. A Mk.I Spitfire with 8 light machineguns deals damages, which half is B - and that's the damage at long range. A Mk. IIb Hurricane with 12 light machineguns deals BBB damages, whose half is BA (A being the half of B). A Bf.109 E3 with two 7,7 and two 20 mm weapons has ACC (A for the light machineguns and a C for each 20 mm) whose half, rounding down, is C. Every arc of fire has a minimum of A damage, so the single rear machinegun of a Stuka is an A damage, both at short and at long range.
14. WWA: Speaking of the damage system for Dawn of War, what made you switch from the cards of Wings of War to the counters in Dawn of War?
The game was initially planned as a card game with a piece of string with it, and only later developed into a boxed product with counters, rulers and mats. This is why there are damage cards in the game, they are also large, nice and handy. But the wider range of weaponry on WW2 planes would mean that more damage decks were required. Making them as cards would have meant more cards in a box, and this would rise the final price quite a lot since they are maybe the main component of production costs. Remember that every dollar of cost becomes several dollars of final price, since all the distribution process multiplies the cost before getting to the final customer. Cardboard is far cheaper, so making counters for damages allowed to give far more of them without rising the price. This also "freed up" some cards that could be used for additional maneuver decks, so now with a WW2 box you can have six players instead of just 4 as with a WW1 one - and you pay the same for it. At the same time there are a lot of damage chits in the box, allowing you to add several Squadron packs or miniatures with no need of buying a second box just to get them.
15. WWA: Some players have been wondering about the Nieuport 23. It use the B damage deck when it was armed with twin Vickers and the Ni17 uses the A deck and was only armed with a single Vickers or Lewis gun. Why is this?
The Nieuport 17 and the Nieuport 23 are almost the same machine, apart for the engine (not even in all production) and a few minor details. They both had a single machinegun when they came out of the factory, either a Vickers on the fuselage or a Lewis on the upper wing, the British asking only for this second solution. A little difference was in the exact position of the Vickers. Because of a different interrupter gear, on the Nieuport 23 it was not at the center but offset to the right - this could have deceived those players, who maybe have seen photographs with this Vickers on a side and have thought that there was another on the opposite side. But there was not, the Vickers was just one and all Ni.17 and Ni.23 had a single machinegun, when the plane came out of the producing line.
It was pretty common anyway, among pilots at the front, to add a second machinegun - so some Nieuport in our game fire at A. They were not equipped with two Vickers, but with one Vickers on the fuselage and a Lewis on the upper wing.
These airplanes have been introduced in Wings of War Burning Drachens. The box includes two Nieuport 23s and eight Nieuport 17s. Five of them have one Vickers, while a British, a German and a Roumenian Ni.17 have a Lewis - and they all fire at B. Three Nieuport 17s have both a Vickers and a Lewis instead: they are the planes of Lufbery, Nungesser and Imolesi, and they fire at A. When I chose the subjects for the miniatures, I wanted the famed pilots Lufbery and Nungesser so both the Ni.17 miniatures fire at A. In this way, they also fit better into scenarios against the Albatross D.III in the same Series of miniatures. The Russian Ni.23 that I chose for the third color scheme had only a single machinegun instead, so it fires at B. But this depends on the specific planes and pilots that I chose, not on the fact that they are either Ni.17 or Ni.23.
In this picture of Belgian Lieutenant Edmond Thieffry of 5e Escadrille, who is one of the Nieuport 23 pilots included in Burning Drachens, the front view of his plane clearly shows the single Vickers machinegun, offset to the right side.
J.M. Bruce, "Nieuport 17", Windsock Datafile 20, Albatros Production LTD, 2nd edition, 1999 - page 23.
16. WWA: Several planes besides the Nieuport 17 were known to operate with both single and twin guns, so how do you decide which to include in the game?
When there are several variants that saw active service in war missions, I try to feature them all - at least in the card game, where more planes of each kind can be included, unlike in the miniatures line. I think that they are really useful to vary scenarios, both historical ones and what-ifs, and maybe also to balance sides with odd numbers of players. This is why I even featured such strange planes as the experimental three-machineguns Fokker E.IV.
It must also be noted that some of these rarer birds were actually handed to famous pilots that could more easily get the more powerful planes. As such, only 10 Sopwith Triplanes were built with two machineguns instead of just the one (a few more being so modified at the front). The famous Black Maria flown by Collishaw is one of them, so even if the configuration was unusual, this plane was a very famous and important one. The Hanriot HD.1 is another example. Adding a second machinegun was a personal idea by Silvio Scaroni, second scoring Italian ace of WWI after Baracca. He got a new HD.1 (serial number 7517) the 16th or the 17th of June, 1918. Together with his weapon technician "il Bigio" he studied how to mount the second machinegun and then obtained one from the unit commander. From the 21st of June to the 12th of July, in just 3 weeks, Scaroni got 9 victories with the double weapon machine. The last two the same day, in which he was shot down and wounded. After his success several other Italian aces decided that a second machinegun would be a fine addition and in the summer of 1918, followed Scaroni's example, as Fucini who is also in our game. Again, putting two enhanced HD.1 in "Watch your back!" meant to choose less common but very meaningful planes, being that both aces were very active, well-famed and successful. But I also put a single machinegun Italian plane and two Belgian ones in the box, not to forget the most common version.
With only three miniatures for each model of plane, the chance to put all variations are less so I go for the most significant ones and the most useful for game balance. Some different decisions can also be made: the US Se5a with a single machinegun in Dogfight will be released as a miniature with two machineguns, and a second airplane card will be added in the box so to feature both the single and the double MG version. Its up to the player to decide how to fly it, if in the more historical or in the more powerful version that could have fought if only weapon supplies arrived in a more timely way. I choose to put both on the miniature since it is far easier to cut away the additional MG if you do not want it, easier than it would be to build and glue one on if I did not put it on and the player wanted to add it. That's another reason that made me prefer Ni.17 with two machineguns, easier to convert to single-weapon ones.
17. WWA: You have mentioned that you are working on a movement system for planes that go over 600 km/h like the P-51 Mustang and that those planes would be coming out in a later boxed set. How is this project coming along?
We experimented with quicker planes already in 2002, with the second prototype. It actually had both WW1 and WW2 planes, and among the latter two jet fighters, the Messerschmitt 262 and the Gloster Meteor. The system for them is now being re-engineered to fit with the actual shape that the WW2 game took in the years since. But speaking with NG International, that replaced Nexus Editrice in the managing of the project, we discussed if it was better to go first with quicker planes or with multi-engine bombers. They decided for the latter, so we will soon see even multi-engine miniatures for WW2 and the quicker fighters will be delayed a bit to give them precedence.
18. WAA: With all the nice airplane miniatures out there and the upcoming release of the Balloon Buster set, are there any planned releases for non-plane miniatures? Maybe mission objectives or ground targets?
Besides miniatures, that can be just single Airplane Packs with no rulebooks to be translated for different countries, we also release special sets as Balloon Busters, with new models and rule sets. With those, I would like to put some vehicles andguns into the line. But only with the release of Balloon Booster we will see if they will become popular or if they are uninteresting to the public, and in the meantime we just planned one more of them. NG International preferred to dedicate it to multi-engine planes, so non-plane stuff will have to wait a bit more.
19. WAA: What should we expect to see released in the next 12-24 months, more miniatures, new gaming mats, a nice Wings of War transport case for the miniatures?
More boxes, card boosters, miniatures, special sets. I don't think that there will be mats or transport cases, for the moment at least. Products with new rules and planes will be first, and accessories such as mats and cases maybe later on.
Next release, in October, will be a Wings of War WW2 Deluxe set with 4 miniatures and all you need to play. Color schemes will be different from the ones in airplane packs, so people who bought them can buy the Deluxe set without getting double minis.
Balloon Busters will follow with one balloon and one Nieuport 16, two color schemes provided.
Flight of the giants will add "flat" heavy bombers: from Gothas to the Staakens, from Capronis to Handley Page O/400s. Even Curtiss and Felixstowe huge seaplanes are in there. In the next months, a similar box with multi-engine planes will be introduced for WW2.
Then Series 2 for WW2 and Series 4 for WW1 will follow. The first will include Aichi Val, Junkers Ju.87 Stuka, Hurricane and D.520; the other Se5a, Pfalz D.III/D.IIIa, Rumpler C.IV and Breguet XIV.
New booster packs for WWI will be "Hit & Run", with SPAD VII and the Austrian Aviatik D.I, and "Crossfire", with the Bristol F2B Fighter and several two-seaters again including the Rumpler C.IV.
New squadron packs for WW2 will be "Revolution in the sky", with Polikarpov I-16, and "Last biplanes" with Gloster Gladiator and Fiat Cr.42 Falco.
Series 5 fighters for WWI shall feature Fokker E.III, Halberstadt D.III, Morane Saulnier N and Airco DH2, while Series 3 for WW2 will offer you Curtiss P.40E and P.40F, Yakovlev Yak 1, Reggiane Re.2001 and Kawasaki Ki-61.
Next special kits should deal with larger planes as the three-engine Caproni Ca.3 in Italian and French colors, and the Gotha G.V in two color schemes for Germans: they were even used to bomb London, so the first Battle of Britain can begin soon... Two similar planes for WW2 will be chosen and will appear in the first special kit for that line.
This is a program that should cover less than 24 months, if there are no delays. But it is too early to know for sure what else will be put on the pipeline after that...
WAA: You have always been very supportive and actively involved in the material players have put out. A lot of these materials are campaign and missions ideas. With there popularity, are there any plans to release a campaign or mission book for Wings of War?
I am really grateful to all the effort that players put into the game, making it rich and alive far more than we designers and publishers could do.
A campaign set is something I always had in mind. But first, in my opinion, we had to release more planes so to cover all the main models for the main nations from 1916 onward: with the release of "Immelmann" booster pack and soon "Hit & Run" and "Crossfire", covering the long awaited SPAD VII and Bristol Fighter, I think we have enough material for a good campaign now. Besides, heavy bombers are coming too to spice things up. The range of possible scenarios has also been increased to assure enough variety for a campaign not to be just a series of all similar dogfights.
As far as the rules are concerned, I already put the ace rules around in 2004 just to hint that there could be pilot growth. That was the first seed. Several people put together great campaigns, and on the Yahoo discussion group for Wings of War at http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/wow_nexus/ there are several downloadable manuals and optional rules for that. I personally appreciate them, even if I would like to have a very streamlined rule set with probably no dice and not much added complexity.
People are free to do what they prefer, when they play with their friends, and many gamers went on with very detailed rule sets instead, but for an official one, I would like to keep the same easiness that you can find the basic rules. I still have to really work on this.
As far as the shape of the product is concerned, with NG International we considered both a boxed set and a book. The first could include some of the most needed missing planes, as the Nieuport 28 that could be very important for a campaign with US pilots. The second could instead contain some historical information on all the planes, pilots, units included in the game, so a rich background that can not be condensed in the small rulebooks in the boxes. No final decision has been made about this. We will decide later on, when all the products now in the pipeline are released or in the final stages.
20. WWA: Wings of War was not the first game that you have designed. What other games have you designed and which would you say is your favorite?
I actually designed quite a lot of them, in the last dozen years. A list is on my personal site: http://www.angiolino.info/index.php?pagina=lista&tipo=G And I love most of them: they are as children, you can not ask parents who is the preferred one. I am proud of many of them. "Fair Play", published in 5 unusual languages (as Maltese), because it helps to understand environmental and social problems with the production of cotton and global market. "Obscura tempora", a card game about the Middle Ages, because it was ahead of its time... so it took ages to be published. "Orlando Furioso" because it is a role-playing game published by a City Council to spread the hobby in libraries and schools, and this has been especially meaningful when a bunch of people seeking fame at every cost attacked role-players on the Italian media trying to show them as potential killers and suicides. "La Squadriglia degli Assi", a traditional-style hex-grid WWI simulation about air combats on the Italian front, because it was commissioned by no less than the Italian Air Force Ministry. I did it with my friend Gregory Alegi, an aviation historian; the Ministry also bought several copies of our "Il gobbo maledetto", a game book about an Italian torpedo bomber making doing a mission in WW2, that I especially love because of the 40 original pictures from 1941-1942 illustrating the various moments of the action (they became about 100 in the second edition).
Well there are several games of mine I love. But if I must choose a favorite, it is Wings of War. Not only it is the most successful, with its hundred of thousands of boxes and packs sold - it is the most lively one, thanks to the community of players. Seeing how much people made it "their" game and enhanced it with their creativity and effort amazes me every day.
Andrea Angiolino playing Il Gobbo Maledetto with the public of Sulle ali del gioco, Italian Air Force Museum, 10 09 2005.
21. WWA: When you design a game, are you working under contract with a manufacture like Nexus, or do you design the game first and the look for someone that wants to publish it?
My job as a game designer goes both ways. When I do promotional games, training games and such, they are commissioned by a publisher and then I start working on them. Even Nexus Editrice asked me to do some, as a board game set in the Warhammer world and a collection of boardgames and role-playing games about the Dragonball comics and cartoons. These are games that I would not have designed if I was not asked, especially since they require licenses to be published and it would be too risky for me to design something similar without the business being already set by them.
On the other hand, when I have a new idea for a game that I would really like to design I start on my own and then I show the finished prototype to would-be publishers. This has been the case of Wings of War. Of course I try to go to the publishing houses that would better suit the game I have in mind. Wings of War was perfect for Nexus, that already published games with a strong chrome and had already experience of collections of independent but mixable game sets such as X-Bugs (now Micro Mutants). Wings of War would suit better in their catalog than ones of other publishers with a more traditional release-the-basic-game-and-then-if-successful-one-expansion-set-every-year approach.
For similar reasons, I sometimes have in mind a specific publisher during development. Ulysses, by Pier Giorgio and me, was designed having in mind the games of Venice Connection for the board size, the quantity of material, the fact that they aim mainly at the German market. And it worked, since we got a contract from them in a few days! In the end the game was released by Winning Moves instead, but anyway it was good to have it tailored on Venice Connection that actually found the other publisher for us.
So, to be short, I go on at both levels: commissioned games that are the most "job-like" part of my game designer activity, and "inspired" games that are the most artistic part. Some of them took even 15 years to reach the shelves, some never made it. But I still feel the urge to do some, every now and then! As Wings of War shows, it can also be very rewarding.
22. WWA: The game mechanics of Wings of War are very simple but allow for a lot of depth in variation. Have you given any thought to making a naval combat game based off the of the Wings of War game mechanics? It seems like the basic maneuver and firing rules would work quite well if the scale of the ships was small enough.
Yes, the scale has to be small compared to the range of fire. It could work very fine with ancient galleys, where ramming was more important than missile fire... While I played a lot of WW2 naval wargaming, but maneuvering is quite pointless when you fire at 30 or 40 kilometers of distance - a system like the actual Wings of War, that is so concentrated on maneuvering, would be quite wasted. Actually, I am convinced that the system of Wings of War can suit many difference settings. Not only air combat, but also sea and land ones. And even totally different situations, as sport games. Enthusiast player developed from Star Wars to Quidditch, and also several naval games. Even a couple of race games were released after Wings of War with similar systems. The designer Heinrich Glumper published Techno Witches, a competition among space rockets that Kosmos changed into a race between witches on vacuum-cleaners, and when he sent the prototype to several publisher he told them that he took ideas from Wings of War.
So I too would like to publish something taken from my game but with a totally different setting. Naval battles are the most natural choice, and I gave some thoughts to that - again to make something more in the spirit of Wings of War than the nice but different things done by gamers around the world. I have a draft in my drawer. It all depends on NG International plan’s, they are the ones that don't want to open too many lines, to be able to support them with the due dedication. But let's see what the future will bring.
A quidditch game with the Wings of War system, made by the Ludico Imperio club for a Harry Potter Night in a bookshop waiting for the new novel, Rome (Italy), January 2008.
23. WWA: First we had Wings of War covering the “flying crate” days of WWI. Then we were given the devastating action of WWII with Dawn of War. Should players be looking forward to the high speed, high altitude dogfights of the Korean war a couple of years from now?
Chris Heinzmann, the founder of the Yahoo discussion group about, already manages a Korea campaign in the USA, while another such campaign is played in England. You can find some cards for that online at . I am interested in this development, even if I fear that the popularity of that period in other countries is not so high. It could be enhanced adding planes for the Suez conflict and maybe other settings. We can not go too much onward with time, in my opinion, because soon after Korea the maneuvered dogfights cease and air warfare becomes very different.
All in all, I'd like to see a Korean set or even a line, and it would not be too difficult - but again for the moment NG International prefer to concentrate on the actual lines of air games rather than adding new ones.
24. WWA: Designing a great game like Wings of War has to take a lot of time and effort. How often do you get to play now that the base rules are finished? Do you have a favorite plane you like to fly?
Alas I play less often for the sake of it, I am more on designing... and family management! Most of my playing is in public demos and in play testing. I also played by email for a while. A plane I like a lot is the Hanriot HD.1. "A firefly", as an Italian ace used to say. Very balanced with the ones in "Famous Aces", if you take the two MGs version, it is agile and fun. It replaced in my heart the Camel and Dr.I, that I used to play in the beginning. I prefer agility to sturdiness anyway. In the days in which I want to get as powerful as I can, my personal choice is the Fokker D.VII instead.
25. WWA: With all of the research that you have put into the planes and pilots for this game, which Ace would you like to meet it you could?
Well, maybe Silvio Scaroni. As you noted, I quoted him and his Hanriot more than one time. He had a technical and a very practical approach to his job of wartime pilot, less glamorous than other famous aces but a very interesting one. Even after the war, he did interesting things. He saved the day for the Italian team at the Schneider Trophy for seaplanes in USA, giving a technical suggestion to solve engine problems. In the end our Macchi M.39 won (at 396 km/h in 1926!) and our team could celebrate with the Chianti they had smuggled inside the planes. He then became a general and was the leader of the Italian air mission to China in the Thirties, to organize the local airplane industry. He served during WW2 in important roles. A very interesting person indeed. I would like a lot to hear him about his personal deeds and more in general about a pilot life at that time. At least as much as I enjoy reading his wartime diaries, in these days, after chasing them in used books shops and all over the Internet.
I would also ask him how he would feel seeing a game about him, his companions, and his adversaries. Actually I have been contacted by the daughter of a pilot who has a card in the game, featuring the very plane in which he was shot down and killed. I can see that mixed feelings can be caused by a game dealing with facts that can be dramatic for people involved, but after some thinking she was happy that her father is remembered also through a game. I also had a preface by a pilot, holder of a war decoration, to my "Il gobbo maledetto", and he also wrote that a game about such a subject was not disrespectfulness but a way to remember. I would have liked to go deeper with Scaroni on this subject too.
WWA: On behalf for the Wings of War Aerodrome members and all the players out there, I would like to thank you first for giving us this wonderful game and secondly for taking the time to talk with us and answer some of many questions. It has been a pleasure talking with you and we hope to see you on the site from time to time.