Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Dawn Patrol over the Channel: WWII Aerial Combat with Blood Red Skies!

 This post is over a week late but I have been itching to write my initial thoughts about Warlord Games' "Blood Red Skies" World War II air to air combat game.

Ken brought the starter kit over which comes with 5 x Spitfires and 5  x ME109 Messerschmitts.  We played the first 2 x scenarios in the book and they delivered great action, great decision making, and lots of tension and excitement!  We were actually able to play 3 games in an afternoon and that was with much conversation and looking a few things up in the rules.  This also gave me a great excuse to put my Cigar Box Battle "cold water ocean" mat on the table, naturally serving as the English Channel during the Battle of Britain!

Rather than post a proper "batrep" I'll post some of the neat features about the game that I really liked starting first with the really cool models of the planes themselves!                                          

Going after the British Recce plane!  
First of all clear your head of pre conceived notions you might have had about aerial dogfight games.  There is no "altitude" in this game, and maneuvers are fairly generous as well.  The game is way more about resource management, decision making and managing your "advantage" in the current dogfight, denoted by the attitude of the airplane on the base.  Airplane cocked back with the nose pointing up at the sky is "advantaged", flight level is "neutral" and nose pointing down is "disadvantaged."  There are rules governing attacks based on your position and advantage.  You trade advantage to do things such as a risky maneuver or an extra attack.  

THe number on the base is representative of the pilot's skill and experience.  The number influences alot of what you can do.

The game really dispenses with the more technical thoughts that I had about air to air games (Check Your 6 being one of them) and makes the game about decisions - think OODA loop here and you'll understand what I mean.  Selling your advantage to do something now and having a plan thinking a few moves ahead to best your enemy is not only more "realistic" in my opinion, but it matches everything I've read from dogfight accounts.  Another cool feature?  Tie breaker in many cases is the aircraft's maximum speed.   Also, you do NOT want to let a fighter get on your tail at the 6 o'clock position, either.  ahem.  It invites all sorts of unpleasantness!  Take it from me, who is posting this from a leaky life raft in the channel, lucky to be alive...

The game is so abstract, but it all just works, and works well to deliver a fun game that I was still thinking about that evening after everyone packed up and went home - what could I have done differently?  How to stop those Spitfires?  How to deploy for tomorrow's patrol?  I am really excited to play again.

Trying to stop the recce plane!

Since the speedy Spitfire blows right past me, I try a different approach to stop them (also - isn't this mat awesome?  I need to paint up more ships for Trafalgar!!)

Ken and Dave played a more complex scenario controlling 4 planes each and the action turned into a "Furball" with aircraft all over the place.

A furball developing as Ken ducks his airplanes into a cloudbank, preparing to burst out of it next turn and go after the ME109s!

Shooting template down
THere are some neat cards that also help gameplay and enable your forces throughout the battle, allowing you to do extra things or do some things better.

This was a short post I know, but I wanted to get my thoughts about BRS down and let everyone know that, sucker always for a clever set of rules, I forked out the 43 dollars and picked up a starter set from ebay.  Hoping it arrives soon so I can start painting up the planes!  Tally Ho!  Bandits 3 o'clock high!


  1. Looks like a great game. Good review - some really nice ideas coming out there.

  2. Nice to have your thoughts on the game Steve, with the important part that you enjoyed the game and want to play more!

  3. BRS is a favourite here too, like you say it just works. To beat them Spitfires you need your Great Climb and Great Dive cards.
    I find Renkos blog very useful and inspiring for BRS. He has 71 posts on the game https://twtrb.blogspot.com/search/label/Blood%20Red%20Skies

    1. Thanks, Paul and good to hear from you! I will certainly check this blog out! Looking forward to more BRS action soon.

  4. Damn, Steve, you are in my head again. A few months ago I found some batreps online, which lead me to a bunch of Youtube videos, which caused me to buy myself about $300 worth of Blood Red Skies gear for Christmas, but I haven't made time to paint any of it up.

    It's good to see you enjoying it, maybe that's the spark I need to rekindle the flame and buckle down for some painting.


    1. Jack it's a pretty sweet game. My thoughts are the planes should paint up quickly. I'll bet your sons would get the hang of it as well. Fun for the whole family!

  5. Your game looks like a lot of fun. I bought the base set last year, but over half of my aircraft had warps that I couldn’t even rescue with hot water, so I moved it on. My loss no doubt.

    1. Thanks too bad, Norm. Although if you were interested the rules can be downloaded for free I think.
      Still though that's unfortunate about the planes.