Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Return of Canvas Eagles?

During the last meeting to decide the fate of two empires on the battlefield at Kolin (see Kolin II), standard game kibitzing turned towards discussing other game genres to consider.  One proposal was WWI aerial combat.  After several nods of agreement, I mentioned that many years ago I occasionally played Canvas Eagles using 1/72nd scale models.  When asked if I had any models, I responded that, yes, I did.  

Eric Hotz' Canvas Eagles is a terrific game of WWI air combat.  The game is played on a hex mat using any scale of models and hex sizes.  Movement is pre-plotted and simultaneous.  The game is well supported with aircraft stat cards for most aircraft of the period.  Aircraft statistics are bifurcated between early and late war configurations.   
My collection of planes has been stored somewhat haphazardly in a plastic box for more than a dozen years.  Checking the Paining Log, the last model completed was in 2005 and I know the planes had not seen the game table for several years before that.  That is a long time to be unused and laying in storage.

Between being stored without the greatest of care and frequent shuffling in storage, I was hesitant to pull the box from the shelf to assess damage.  Now, I recalled that a few planes had already been damaged from an unfortunate mishap with the dog before I put them into their storage box.  What would their condition be after all of these years? 
A nice mix of models
While I had a vague notion of the number of aircraft in the box, I could not quite remember exactly what was present and more importantly what condition I would find the aircraft.  Upon opening the box and sorting through the models and debris, the plane count came to fifteen.  Several had broken landing gear but were repairable, a few had decals peeling off, one was damaged requiring significant repair(I may tackle this one later), and one was destroyed beyond repair.  Of the fifteen models found, thirteen could be repaired and put into service.
Models on their flight stands over the Battle Masters' mat
For play aids, a game mat with hexes and flight stands were needed.  I dug up the vinyl hex mat I once used and the homemade, telescoping flight stands.  The vinyl hex map is a game map confiscated long ago from my son's Battle Masters game from the early 1990s.  I do not recall playing the Battle Masters game more than a few times with him but the hex mat has seen much more service.  The mat does not quite look like the trenches of Europe during the conflict of The Great War but it works for my purposes.  Being vinyl, it is easy to store and resistant to spillage.  It is large too.
Models on their flight stands over the Battle Masters' mat
Besides the mat and flight stands, two unmade models were also found.  I may need to put a plane into the painting queue if only to rekindle the past fun of this long forgotten project.

Since none of my game buddies have any experience with Canvas Eagles or WWI aerial combat, I look forward to giving each a chance to earn his wings in the airspace over the Western Front.  Don't be surprised if a game of Canvas Eagles hits the table soon.

28 comments:

  1. Interesting - how long does a game take?

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    1. Conrad, it has been so long since I last played, game duration is a bit hazy. Game duration is most dependent upon the numbers of players and aircraft in the air. I will report back after gathering experimental data...

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  2. Nice mix and a bonus that more survived than you expected!
    Best Iain

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  3. I'll be interested to see if you do pursue this further, as I've a couple of the Wings of Glory aeroplanes that I'd considered using for aerial gaming. I repainted one of them and have to say I found it rather enjoyable painting a model biplane.

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    1. Roy, I recall enjoying the modeling aspects of this period too. If you still have your models, post a photo.

      I can almost always get the guys interested in at least ONE game of something new.

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  4. Very interesting! thank You for a review.

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  5. Outstanding looking game. The planes look great above the mat. Sounds like a very good game.

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    1. Thanks, Mark! It is a fun little game that moves along quickly. I played in a campaign game that added a lot of interest and background stories as my pilots lived and died over the skies of France.

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  6. I've heard of Canvas Eagles. Didn't realize it was a Holtz production. Always fun to rediscover a collection--especially a useable one! WWI Air games are in a class by themselves.

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    1. Ed, looks like Mark might be interested. You guys might consider giving CE a try?

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  7. Sounds like fun. I believe I played it once at a convention, but can't remember for sure if it was that specific rule-set for WWI. I look forward to seeing more pictures.

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    1. From my fading memory, I recall the games being great fun especially in a campaign setting. When we get in a game, I will post photos and a BatRep.

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  8. Planes look nice and I find the camo one really interesting. I have a few boxes of 1/72 bi-planes that I've been looking to do at some point for some WWI aerial wargaming. I haven't decided on a rule set, but I'll keep this one in mind.

    Christopher

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    1. The German plane with the green dots was a tedious scheme to make. Worth the effort, though! For Canvas Eagles, the price is right. Free!

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  9. Canvas Eagles, I believe, is a derivative of The Blue Max rules. Fun game and I still have a dozen or so planes ready to fly.

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    1. I am sure you are correct, Bill. The website shows Blue Max/Canvas Eagles. I did not know of CE's association to Blue Max.

      With a dozen planes ready, is this a game brought out for Puget Sound gaming gatherings occasionally where you take to the skies? Perhaps it is more likely seen at Vancouver's Salute on Eric's home turf? It is a fun game.

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  10. great looking game and models.......my venture into aerial combat is focussed on WW2 but always thought WW1 would be fun

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    1. Matt, WWI aerial combat IS fun! Never tried WWII air combat. I wonder if it is more complex to play than the Great War's dogfights?

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  11. That looks so much fun, Jonathan!

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  12. The planes and mat look great together, Jon! Definigtely in the category of a game I'd play but not collect for. MY only WW1 aerial gaming experiences were "Ace of ACes", which was a lot of fun (graphic books), and the old Milton Bradley game, Dogfight!

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    1. Hi Peter!
      I have played a number of WWI air combat boardgames games including the MB game you mention. MB's Dogfight was the first for me. That was a great game for a young lad! My younger sister even payed that one before gender roles were "properly" defined. Wish I still had Dogfight to see how childhood memories transport to today. TAHGC's Richthofen's War was a staple in the early '70s too.

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  13. I admit, I am interested. I have European Fields Hotz Mat with 2" hexes I am willing to contribute to the effort. (If you want a change from the old BM mat)

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    1. Good! Glad to see you have an interest in WWI air combat. I appreciate your offer of a hex mat but the hexagonal flight stands are 3.5 inches across measuring on the flat.

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  14. Eric was at this past Enfilade! where he ran a Western game - Gut Shot, I think. I've seen Canvas Eagles hosted there too, but have yet to get in on a game.

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    1. I wonder if Eric still supports CE? A very fun game; I recommend giving it a try sometime.

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