On Monday, January 24th at the Torrance Marriott in Torrance California 92 people came together to learn how to play Wings of War, the WWI Tabletop aerial combat game.
The game was part of the technology conference GWAVACon, held each year in various cities around the world. This was the 16th GWAVACon and the 3rd time a Wings of War battle was held as part of the evening activities.
Each attendee is provided with their own WWI Miniature biplane. Half the participants line up on one side of the table flying German planes and the other half are on the opposite side flying the Allied planes.
After a few minutes of instruction so that everyone understands the rules and mechanics of the game, a single massive dogfight is initiated.
The event has grown each year, becoming more popular as returning delegates look forward to playing. Oftentimes switching sides from the previous year in order to get another plane from opposing sides.
This battle set a new world record with 92 participants. People from all over the United States were in attendance. At 79 years old, Mary Friend, from Eugene, Oregon was able to hold her own and declared she finished first in her age group. She was so taken with the game, that she is returning home to Eugene with a copy of her own to teach to her children, grand-children, and great-grand-children.
Local resident Steven Erikson saw the call for volunteers and stopped by to help manage the enthusiastic crowd.
As a tradition, the first person shot down receives a nice prize from one of the corporate sponsors. Christian Heselhaus, from Germany, flying a German plane, was shot down first. Christian holds the distinction of being the first person shot down last year as well. He has vowed to return next year better prepared to represent his country. SKyPRO rewarded Christian with a giant bar of Toblerone Swiss Chocolate.
The battle raged for 2 1/2 hours. Clumps of fighters would form all along the table as pilots were drawn into battle. When an entire side was defeated in one clump, that group would shift down a table and join the other planes still engaged. Slowly, over the two hours, the group finally arrived at a single battle with 12 Allied planes against 4 remaining Germans.
The Germans were able to hold their own, eliminating 8 of the Allied planes before their last plane was shot down. The Allies were declared the winners.
Netbooks, Digital Cameras, and an XBox Kinect were raffled off to the winning side.
With each person getting to keep their own plane, all have vowed that they will return next year to compete again and to set a new world record.
Photos of the event can be found at www.facebook.com/thegamewhisperer
Judging from the photos I’m guessing the planes used are of a lightweight (semi-flexible?) plastic, and come pre-painted.
The planes are pewter-and-plastic replicas 1/144th scale. Each plane is painted in the colors and markings of the pilot who flew them, with the name of the pilot on the side of the box. Each plane costs about $14 USD and is distributed by Fantasy Flight Games