Saturday, April 7, 2018

Furball Over Lucrania

I recently picked up the free starter rulebook of Warlord Games's new WW2 air combat game, Blood Red Skies.

I don't plan of picking up the game itself (too much $$$$) but I was intrigued by the mechanisms. I especially liked the way the game simplified record-keeping. You don't track hit points; instead a plane is either advantaged, neutral, or disadvantaged. Getting shot reduces your advantage state, but if a plane gets shot when it is disadvantaged then it goes down in flames. One thing that this simplifying does is allow a player to handle more aircraft - an appealing thought.

This got me thinking if there was a way to simplify record-keeping for my air combat games using Kaptain Kobold's Spandau and Lewis. I started jotting down some ideas:

  • Because I'm playing solo I decided to give the "bad guys" a standard roll of 3 for initiative. I only roll for the "good guys." This streamlines the initiative phase.
  • I got rid of tracking hits to the aircraft. Instead, a plane that gets hit will either be damaged or shot down. I then got rid of the dice pool and instead used a simple 2D6 table. Later, I added another state, Rattled, that indicated a near miss that shakes the pilot's nerves and affects initiative and maneuvering in the following turn. Good guys also get saving rolls if hit while bad guys have to make morale rolls to stay in the fight.
I then ran a test game with 2 heroes against a swarm of "bad guys." Here is a short report, set in my Aetheria imagi-nations.

Dirk Daring (the red, white, and blue plane) and his wingman Pip run into two flights of Imperial Raptors (red planes)

Dirk and Pip turn on the the flight to the right. Pip and a Raptor exchange shots, with both pilots getting rattled (indicated by the black puffs).

Dirk zeroes in on an wandering Raptor and blows it from the sky.

Dirk and Pip get "stuck in." The sound of bullets rattles quite a few pilots.

Dirk destroys another enemy.

Then he goes head-on versus one of the Raptors. Dirk is a cooler hand, however, and his shots shred the enemy plane. Dirk is unscathed.

After this, the unnerved Imperial fighters break for home. (I ran out of time for the game).

Some Thoughts
  • I felt that these rules did exactly what I wanted - sped up solo play by reducing the need for tracking. This allowed me to get more planes on the board. I managed to get in 6 turns in about half an hour!
  • The change to initiative worked fine, even though it favors the good guys. Despite this, Pip often found himself moving first (losing initiative). Because Dirk was an ace, he often had initiative (though he did lose once). It was nice not having to roll and track initiative for a bunch of enemy planes.
  • I'm not sure if I need to tweak the combat results table. I did not get as many damaged results as I expected but got far more shot down. It could be because Dirk was an ace.
  • I have morale rolls if a bad guy is damaged but otherwise the enemy side operates without concern that its comrades are falling from the sky. I'm thinking of adding a group morale roll as well.


  1. You have a good idea there by the looks of it.

    One problem with many WW1 air-games is they are pitched at one-to-one dogfights, which are really only a feature of the earlier part of the war. later air-combats seem to have been fairly large affairs, but most rules would struggle to depict them.

    There's almost a market for a unit-based air combat game.

  2. Thanks. It seems like that's what Blood Red Skies is trying for, expect for WW2.