Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Blood Red Skies: First Impressions

Better late than never, I was going to post this entry back in July.

Blood Red Skies: First Impressions

This Fourth of July I was visiting my parents and I played some games with my dad.  I picked up a copy of the WWII dogfighting miniatures games Blood Red Skies.  Specifically, I acquired the Battle of Britain beginner set.  The beginner box cost $50 at my dad's FLGS.  I asked a couple of questions of the store owner about the game and his answers helped to sway me to make my purchase.  I asked if there was any model assembly required (There is not, the airplanes just pop into the custom bases) and what the required table size was (whatever you got, dinner table is fine, his group played on 4'x3').

Your $50 buys you the base game which comes with 12 airplane miniatures, custom stands, rulebooks, dice, measuring tools, cards, tokens, punch out clouds, and everything else you need to play the game.  The miniatures come in two sculpts.  You get six Spitfire IIs and six BF-109 Es.  The models are unpainted but they are cast in colored plastic.  The British planes are brown and the German planes are grey, so you don't need to paint them if you don't want to.  You also get a couple of bombers represented by flat cardboard tokens.  I have not played the scenarios with the bombers yet but it is nice to have the variety.

A box full of goodies!
I definitely felt like the box is a good value.  The quality of the components is very good.  The cards have a nice linen finish, the cardboard tokens a feel thick and sturdy, and minis look great.  The custom stands move as intended and the custom dice, with etched tally marks for numbers and an ace symbol for sixes, are great.  The box is compact, measuring 10 1/4" square and 2 1/2" high, so it is not an inconvenience to carry it to my local game group.

Blood Red Skies has a unique approach to representing airplane combat on the tabletop.  Each airplane has a special stand that is designed to tilt back, stand straight, for tile forward.  These positions correspond to the aircraft being advantaged, neutral, or disadvantaged.  These positions are an abstraction that represents a combination of the plane's altitude, moxie, and location.  An airplane needs to be in a superior position to its target in order to shoot at it, and an airplane can downgrade its position on purpose to gain speed or maneuverability.  It is an interesting mechanic that plays fast.

The position stands in action.  The two Spitfires on the left are advantaged, the one in the middle is disadvantaged, and the Messerschmitt on the right is neutral
I found the game to be playable and fun.  The rulebook is short and my dad and I were dueling very quickly after opening the box.  The models look nice on the table as is, although I could see myself painting them one day.  I would recommend this to someone looking for a casual dogfighting WWII game.