Blood Red Skies is the WW2 aerial combat game from Warlord Games. It’s played with 1/200th scale miniatures on a mat showing the ground beneath…and quite a fun game it is too.
A 109 climbs towards a flight of Spitfires
The first big question, of course, is how do you represent the three dimensions of air combat using models and flight stands? Are the flight stands extendable? And, if so, how high do they go: 40,000 feet?
Well, BRS abstracts all question of height into “advantage”. A ‘plane is either Advantaged (i.e. has managed to get to a height at which is can dive down onto its target), Neutral, or Disadvantaged (i.e. the pilot has let the enemy get above him). The different states are shown by how the model is tilted: up for Advantaged, flat for neutral, down for Disadvantaged. You can only shoot another ‘plane that is at a worse advantage than you so, quite rightly, half the battle is getting into an advantaged position on your enemy.
The top 109 is at a Disadvantage
The other half of the equation is positioning: and how you can move depends partly on your ‘plane (some come with cards that you can play e.g. the Spitfires I was using came with a Tight Turn card, meaning I could turn at any point in my turn rather than just at the end); partly on your skill level and dice rolls (pilots can attempt to outmanoeuvre their opponents); and partly on what you choose to do during your turn: you can “burn off” one level of advantage by doing an extra manouevre.
This makes the game a bit like a game of chess: you have to think ahead at least one move and make sure you don’t leave your aircraft where it is vulnerable to what the enemy pilots will do when its their turn.
There are also rules for Aces, clouds, home field advantage, radar advantage etc. Games are pretty quick: about an hour for a decent-sized dogfight.
You win the game mainly by driving off the opposition by putting holes into their aircraft, although would just like to point out that I did shoot down two Jerry crates for no loss during my successful defense of Blighty!
As I said above, all in all it’s quite a fun game: although you will need to shell out around £40 for a starter set (giving you two six-plane forces, the stands, the cards, the counters, the dice etc) and then the same amount again if you want a nice mat to play on (4’ by 4’ will do for dogfighting).
It’s not a game that I’ll invest in - aerial combat not being my thing - but it is something I’d be happy to play if on offer.
Vis Lardica is a website devoted to wargaming and military history, with a special emphasis on the company-sized rulesets produced by the TooFatLardies: I Ain't Been Shot Mum (WW2); Charlie Don't Surf (Vietnam); and Quadrant 13 (science fiction)
Welcome to Vis Lardica, a not-for-profit website mostly dedicated to the company-sized wargaming rules produced by the TooFatLardies, but encompassing my other gaming interests as well.