So I’ve posted a couple of Battle Reports. Now I should do a Product Review!
It’s the 40,0000 Universe. The poor “Ground Pounders” are being harassed by enemy air support and it’s your job to stop them!
Aeronautica Imperialis (AI) is one of the Classic Specialist Games branch of Games Workshop (GW) that have been reviewed, renewed and re-released, like Blood Bowl. Like other Specialist games, you don’t need to play any other of Games Workshops’ games in order to enjoy it. You can use it to create a campaign and link with Battlefleet Gothic (out-of-print) and Warhammer 40,000, but it plays fine on its own.
I would equate Aeronautica Imperialis as your “Basic Beer & Pretzel” game or an introduction to more complex Air Combat game systems.
If I were to compare the rules to anything, it would be a hybrid of “Star Wars – X-Wing” and “Check Your 6!” (CY6).
The game is played on a Hex map (like CY6) and has altitude bands (again, like CY6). Moves are planned in advance and revealed as the individual aircraft move. Movement is planned by dropping a counter with the move number (like X-Wing) so there's no tracking separate sheets for each plane. Maneuver Numbers are based on a Movement Diagram (similar to CY6), but ALL aircraft use 1 Movement Diagram. No need for multiple charts if you have multiple types of aircraft.
As players activate Aircraft during movement, speed is first set (changing the current speed up to the maximum change allowed by the throttle stat), then the maneuver is carried out, and finally speed set after modifiers for climbing (-1 Speed) or diving (+1 Speed).
The Movement Diagram allows you to decide to go Left or Right for most maneuvers as you Activate and move the aircraft, usually allowing multiple final headings to choose from when the model has stopped, unlike CY6! CY6 requires a more detailed description including direction and speed and final heading that you've set during the planning phase, long before you move your model. This maked CY6 basically simultanious movement while AI is alternating aircraft as it makes a difference from plane to plane. This can be important if the move to left you planned originally suddenly appears to be the worst thing you can do, so you can decide to go right instead! Or you want to take advantage of a plane that moved where you want to go so you want to slow-down a hex or two to tail.
There are only 8 maneuvers to choose from in the Movement Diagram. The limitation of which moves each type of aircraft are allowed is in the Aircraft Statistics of the Aircraft. Usually these are defined like "1-4", or "1-3, 6". Not all aircraft can do all 8 maneuvers – in fact, most can only do 4-6 maneuvers!
After the movement is the Shooting Phase, where each player alternates which aircraft (or Ground Defence) Activates, then fires until one or both players are done. Damage is immediate – if he shoots down your bomber before you activate it, your bomber doesn’t get to drop its bombs! This makes choosing which plane to activate very important and can win or lose the game. This system is similar to Adeptus Titanicus. What’s nice is that damage is recorded on the model stands themselves with the use of tokens or “Chits”. No extra Record sheets! You could record the damage on individual stat cards for the aircraft if you dodn't want to do the Chits on the stands.
There are multiple “versions” of the rules at the moment. The initial release consisted of a box set with minimum rules (just enough to get you started) as well as the book “Rynn’s World Air War – Campaign Book” which contained all the rules. The initial set and book covered the Imperial Navy and Orks. GW has just release a New Campaign Book:“Tarlos Air War – Campaign Book” which covers Tau and Imperial Guard.as well as a couple of new aircraft for Imperial Navy..
Don’t buy Rynn’s World except for the fluff or stats for Imperial Navy or Orcs. It wasn’t a BAD book, but there were some issues with how they wrote up some rules. These rule issues have been (mostly) fixed in the new campaign book or by downloading the FAQ.
If you’re just starting out, buy the second book: “Tarlos Air War – Campaign Book”. THIS is the book with all the latest and greatest and NEW rules in one place. You’re still going to need the FAQ downloaded from GW’s site, but it’s much easier and those rules that needed major corrections have been fixed. Mostly.
Both the Campaign Books also contain missions and simple campaign rules that allow you to gain experience. A plus when compared to some other games.If you want the campaign rules for the Orcs or Imperial Navy, you'll need Rynn's World.
Overall, rules-wise, this is a good starter game for those who want an introduction to Air Combat games as it uses most of the concepts of other games of the genre, placed in a simpler package. Game play typically is 2-3 hours, though we've done the Dogfight in 30 minutes with 3 planes a side. Though official missions reportedly take 12 turns, we’ve found in most games 3-5 turns is enough to complete the mission. Typical missions have between 3-6 planes per side.
So far, GW has released forces for:
- Imperial Navy
- Astra Militarium (Imperial Guard.)
Rumor has indicated there are more forces on the way, but I’ve learned not to “believe” rumors when it comes to GW until I see it on their web site. (I do know a few people who want Eldar and Marines. Be Patient!) As usual, it’ll probably depend on how successful the game sells.
The Models are well detailed and give any modeler the chance to really sharpen their painting skills. Customizations are possible (especially for Orcs), But for the Imperials and Tau, it’ll be limited mostly to weapons options. Fighters come 4 or 6 in a box, depending on the Physical size of the models. (Imperial Thunderbolts and Ork Fighta Bommers are 4 per box, the rest so far are 6 per box) while Bombers are only 2 per box (at this time). All boxes come WITH flight stands for all aircraft in the box, so that’s a nice feature!
Speed dial on the left, Altitude dial on the right.
I am a little worried, as GW has announced that some fliers are now being offered through Forge World. So far, there are only 2 listed: An Orbiter and the Vulture, but I expect the Tau Remora Stealth Drone will join their ranks. Smaller/simpler models, with fewer parts, and that are too expensive to model in plastic. We’ll see how that progresses.
If there’s something I don’t like about the models, it’s the instructions on how to build. Some of the pictures choose the worst possible angles to show how parts go together (or even show an obscured view so you cannot tell where they go). Also, some of the smaller parts are too small for my ham-fists. Be prepared to do lots of test fitting and keep your parts well over the table as you cut them free of the sprue.
(Check out the guns under the nose)
GW has made lots of extras available for the game.
Of course, there’s the standard custom dice for each list.
They have Boxes of cards that list all the options and aircraft statistics for each force. If you don't have the book, you can get the stats here. The cards are pre-printed on normal playing card stock and are easy to read. You get a number of cards for each type of Aircraft as well as the accessories and Pilot Skills.
You’re supposed to have one card on the board per plane, but if you play a larger game, you may not have enough cards in a single box. Also, the possibility of mixing up your expendables when used per each plane when launching rockets, bombs, etc, is a real possibility. I’ve started to use extra dice on the flight stands to show expendables so I won’t mix up which aircraft has haw many left. I would recommend only 1 box and use only 1 card for each type unless each aircraft of that type is configured differently.
Ground Objectives and Defences are already available for the Imperial Navy and Orcs (combined into 1 box set). I expect another combined box set to arrive with Tau and Imperial Guard sometime.
The box sets come with a paper hex map, but you can buy a double-sided, hard cardboard map set (same quality as most Table Game boards) . There’s one for Rynn’s World and one for Talos. These are slightly smaller than 4’ X 4’ when put together, something like 38 X 39 -2” hexes. You can get other Hex Maps elsewhere, but if you want to go to the GW stores, you’ll need a set of the GW maps.
What I Liked:
- Easy of play.
- Model quality (plastics – haven’t seen any from Forge World)
- The Fluff, missions and simple Campaign rules in the Campaign books.
- All the rules were updated in latest campaign book, may not need to carry around extra books.
- ePub versions of the Campaign Books (with Rules) are available from Warhammer Digital a (little) cheaper for those who like to use their tablets or laptops.
- Teeny tiny pieces on some models
- Poor modeling instructions
- Cost of Boxes for GW Models are over $50 each, though somewhat mollified by the fact that all models come with Flight stands.
- Need to buy extra HARDCOVER or ePub book to get all the rules when you buy a starter box set.