Aeronautica Imperialis Wings of Vengeance Game Quick Review

A friend picked up a copy of Aeronautica Imperialis Wings of Vengeance and asked if I’d like to play a game. I said, “Sure, why not?”

This game is a starter set which allows you to fight it out in games of air combat between the Imperial Navy and an Ork Air Waaagh. Wings of Vengeance, out of the box, supports air-to-air combat between a handful of opposing aircraft — a typical flight.

The aircraft are 8mm scale. The plane to the left is a dakkajet, which is a fast, pretty agile fighter with a large number of forward-firing machine guns that put out a hail of bullets if you can get close enough to the enemy.

I enjoyed the game and found the rules easy to pick up yet full of tactical possibilities, which is always a good combination to my way of thinking. Players roll initiative with the winner picking who goes first. Then players secretly assign a maneuver for each of their planes using numbered chits. Once that is done, the player with initiative moves one plane according to the parameters of the maneuver they’ve chosen, adjusting speed and altitude as they go. Then the other player moves one plane and so on.

Speed and altitude are tracked on the base of the models with dials and each plane can perform certain maneuvers such as “Swoop” or “Level Flight.” There is a fair amount of possibility within a maneuver for how you move so I didn’t find it too limiting: a swoop can take you quite a few different places. I also appreciate that each player gets a page explaining the maneuvers graphically on one side with a summary of the rules on the other. The maneuver page was particularly helpful and by turn two I was swooping and snap turning like a real Flyboy.*

Once all of the planes have been moved the turn shifts to the shooting phase. The player with initiative shoots all available weapons for one of their planes and then the other player does the same, alternating planes until all aircraft have fired. If a plane is shot down before it fires then it doesn’t get to shoot.

The playing field after we finished setting up.

I like that the game is played on a grid. I’ve played airplane games before where everything is measured out by inches or centimeters and it can become very fiddly and imprecise, which to my way of thinking isn’t so good in games where a plane being angled a few degrees either way can make the difference between it getting to shoot or not shoot, particularly in the case of fighters that only have forward-fixed guns.** I also like that the forward firing arc is molded right into the bases. All of this makes movement and shooting very easy to resolve.

Shooting is fairly simple. Weapons get a certain number of to hit dice at various ranges. The ork planes are most effective at short ranges while the imperial planes are more effective at medium ranges, which makes for some interesting maneuvering battles. The ability to hit is also influenced by relative altitudes with the best results being achieved if both planes are at the same altitude band. If a die achieves a hit then you roll for damage with each weapon having its own damage probability. Most ork guns damage on a 5+ on a D6 if they hit while the imperial autocannons and lascannons generally hit harder.

Also, the Imperial Navy planes are structurally more resilient than the Ork planes, which is to be expected.

“Tailing,” or a situation where one plane has its front arc in an enemy plane’s rear arc, while being at short range, is handled nicely. At the start of the turn, before anyone moves or does anything, a tailing plane gets to shoot for free and then the turn begins as normal. So in the picture above the two ork fighters get free shots at the large Imperial Navy plane they are following. Since the imperial plane has rear-facing tail guns it can also shoot back, which makes sense.

The two dakka jets behind the imperial plane are tailing.

The models are nicely detailed, as one would expect from Games Workshop, and I imagine they’d look great painted up. The game also features bombers and ground assets, and the planes can be given different weapon loads, including rockets, missiles, and bombs. GW sells planes of other factions besides the Imperial Navy and Orks, such as the Tau, Asuryani, and of course the Adeptus Astartes and Astra Militarum. There are also campaign books to expand on the official scenario possibilities. My own interest would be in Chaos Space Marine planes but I suppose nothing is stopping one from painting the loyalist marine planes appropriately if one chose to do so.

The game as it plays out of the box seems fairly balanced based on the first dogfight scenario we played. I obviously can’t speak to the other missions or to the other aircraft one can purchase as expansions to the boxed set.

If you like airplane combat games where it is easy to get up and flying quickly while being tactical enough to be interesting, I think you’ll enjoy Aeronautica Imperialis. All in all, I enjoyed my return to the 40K Universe with this little game and would certainly play it again.

* Given my friend’s and my many past battles between his Imperial Guard and my Orks it went without saying that for our first game I played the orks.

** This can lead to a lot of arguments and confusion that simply don’t come up with a grid.

13 thoughts on “Aeronautica Imperialis Wings of Vengeance Game Quick Review

  1. Enjoyed reading this, Ann, so thanks for sharing! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the game! I can maybe see some similarities with Crimson Skies in the secret movement and hex grid so I reckon I’d like this! Crimson Skies doesn’t use altitude as such but builds it into the manoeuvre template that’s used to plot the moves. These GW planes do look nice and sort of remind me of the pulp style of Crimson Skies.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It was cool to read your thoughts on this game and while I am aware of it, I know very little about it so I learned a lot from your review. Games Workshop should push this game more because these kind of games are popular for the last five to ten years and I think people who like these games tend to be really into them so I’m sure there is money to be made there!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Great description of how the game works and your opinion on it. It sounds really good, and I’d love painting the figures. I don’t like the prices, but its not much more than most of the other games on my want list.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, as it turned out altitude figured very prominently in the game. I know what you mean though. Most of these types of games, whether set in space or in the air, do tend to either ignore altitude or treat it in a cumbersome fashion. In A.I., altitude is tracked by a dial on the base of each model, which makes it very easy to see which altitude number a plane is currently at. (In our game the highest-flying plane could reach altitude 5.)

      The mechanics to change altitude are also very easy and by turn three I realized that I could use altitude tactically, which was fun. In addition to certain guns (mainly ventral and dorsal turrets) being affected by a target being above or below, shooting is harder if you are one altitude apart and you can’t shoot at a target at all if they are 2 altitude bands apart. In that picture where my two dakkajets were tailing that plane, on the next turn I ended up overshooting with a Swoop maneuver and both planes were in front of the imperial plane with its lascannons, which could blow my fighters out of the air in one lucky salvo. So I was able to use the agility of my airplanes to dive two bands taking them from the same level to two levels below so they were safe for a turn.

      Also, the imperial planes can fly one level higher at their max and the ork planes’ max so they have the tactical ability to always be harder to hit if they choose, even if they are in turn not able to hit as accurately either. So that is something they can potentially exploit situationally as well.

      So all in all, I’d say the designers made altitude work easily and tactically relevant for the game, which made me happy. I’ve never liked dogfight games that ignore or make a hash of altitude.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It was a fun game and easy to pick up. Also, doesn’t require a ton of miniatures which is nice too. I’d never heard of it either until my friend asked me to play.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Great review Ann, not a game I’ve got into, but have looked at the models several times, they are nicely detailed. I too am waiting to see the Chaos models, before opting to get into it.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks. Yes, the models are quite nicely detailed. I don’t know if I’ll buy any of the models myself. Probably not, though if my friend wants to play more games I’m certainly willing. I do hope he decides to paint up the planes at some point.

      Liked by 4 people

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