Blood Red Skies, game report and review

Club member Marcus reports on Warlord Games Blood Red Skies…

I recently acquired Blood Red Skies (BRS), largely because my youngest son was given a box of Spitfire’s by a generous hearted warlord employee at the Broadside show last December. He was very excited (thanks Warlord!) and proceeded to watch videos on You Tube. This created a conundrum for me, however. I had seen BRS and been tempted, especially when Warlord offered the club a store-wide discount last year. I do like my aerial gaming. In fact, I have plenty of modern (well, post war) aircraft and some WW2. However, and here is the issue, they are all 1:600. A further problem was that Warlord had switched from the “Battle of Britain” box set to “Midway”. Now personally I prefer the Pacific theatre with all that combined naval and air action, but children like what they like. Anyway, I ended up with a Midway basic box set, Me109’s and Me110’s and duly began painting them up (because who else is going to eh?!) One I had finished two aircraft for each side we gave it a go and soon got the hang of it. I say that; I lost!

At the heart of BRS is a simple mechanic; a flight stand that can hold three positions. Pointing up, the aircraft is climbing and “advantaged”. Level flight is “neutral”. Diving is “disadvantaged”. Aircraft move in advantage order; from advantage to disadvantaged and in pilot quality within each of those states from 5 (Ace) to 1. A simple mechanic, which we certainly got all wrong the second time around. There is also some novelty in the shooting/victory mechanic. You shoot with your dice depending on pilot quality and aircraft weapon rating. The defender can try and block hits with a combination of pilot and agility (occasionally speed for deflection shots). Boom chits result from unblocked hits, but don’t necessarily equate to a destroyed aircraft. An aircraft might be downed but the chits are more like damage tokens. However, collect more damage tokens than aircraft on the table and you lose.  There are also a limited number of cards in each player’s hand which can be played on aircraft with the correct traits or as theatre and doctrine cards to affect the game. We also forgot about the tailing rules, which immediately disadvantage an aircraft tailed, for the first part of the game (I’m really bad at this aren’t I?)

This time we played with four aircraft each: 4 Spitfires for me and 4 Me109’s for the Oberleutnant.

We are playing on a mat showing Valetta harbour from Tiny Wargames.

Naturally, since we forgot a good portion of the simple ruleset, we seemed to spend a fair bit of time charging about not getting any shots in at all.

Early turn, how do you fly these things?
More formation flying, and an RAF near miss!

Lot of manoeuvring each turn to very little effect and a couple of shots that had no effect in turns 6 and 7.

Turn 6
Turn 7

Then we started to see some action…

A bit of a daisy chain. “What about that tailing rule?”
On the tail of a Spitfire
First blood at last – that’s more like it
Tit for Rata tat tat!
In for another shot
Getting the hang of this now

…revenge on the Oberleutnant for that loss in the first game.What do I think of BRS so far then? Clearly I know nothing, as evidenced by my account, but the jury is out for me. The Oberleutnant seems to like it in a way he wasn’t when asked if he wanted to play with my other aircraft, but was over games such as “Galactic Heroes” and “What a Tanker!” There has been some interest at the club in playing some Pacific games although I would need a couple more boxes of aircraft to get into the “sweet spot”; many of the designed scenarios to average out at around 18 aircraft. That isn’t cheap. The best price I could find on some Pacific boxes of 6 aircraft is around £22.40. I can buy 6 fighter aircraft for £3 from Tumbling Dice in 1:600 (in fact, I have some painted). Also, at 1:200, sometimes, a bit like “X Wing” the models get a bit crowded and things have to be fudged a bit more often. The latter game makes a good comparison; some expensive models, a bit crowded when you get lots of stuff on the table. BRS is quite expensive and you do get more (just not pre-painted) models, not as complicated generally and you can get quite a few models on the table in a decent time-frame. I think that somewhere in between is what I really want. I’d really like to see a Tumbling Dice/Wings at war carrier variant sometime.

But, if the Oberleutnant likes it, can it be a bad thing? And if it gets an outing at the club, that’s got to be good too right?  We will just have to see how it progresses with BRS…

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