Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Crimson Skies? What, no French and Indian War?

Crimson Skies is a blast. We're talking about FASA's 1998 boardgame, not the Clix version. A simple aerial skirmish game with lite Roleplay aspects, and a great Alternate History of the United States leading up to 1937 as a backdrop for the action, Boardgamegeek describes Crimson Skies thus:

Crimson Skies is a character-based board game of dogfighting and dive bombing in an aviation-dominated world; a simple, fast-playing game of pulp-fiction-style air combat. It is a game about the men and women who pilot flying nightmares, the metal-sheathed birds of prey that spit death from the sky.

In Crimson Skies, you are at the top of the aviation food chain - a fighter pilot, one of the fearless men and women who take to the skies each day for honor or profit. Each player generates a minimum of two characters, a pilot and his or her wingman. If your characters survive from mission to mission, they gain experience that can translate into better skills, and thus even better chances for future survival and success. While this is a combat board game, not a roleplaying game, telling tales about your characters will invest the game with action, drama and humor, making the game-playing experience even more enjoyable.

This is a fun game that I haven't played for a couple of years; since I moved from Tulsa to the Twin Cities. In Tulsa, we played every couple of months or so, alternating Crimson Skies with other favorite games. In place of the printed map boards and paper counters, we used Hotz Hex mats and the metal models originally from Ral Partha, now available from Ironwind Metals

We played a campaign of sorts . . . I would generally bring a couple of rough scenario outlines to game day, and then try to adapt one to the players and Militias that showed up to play. Afterward, I would create a narrative based on the actual game we played, adding some back story and intrigue, then publish an episode of "Air Action Weekly," which helped to set up the next scenario. 

The casualness of the campaign - such as it was - really fit our style of play and made the games a lot more fun. Another fun aspect for us is that we based our Militias on local history and geography, so we centered our ongoing narrative on Oklahoma.

If you want to follow our campaign, you can download each edition of "Air Action Weekly" below. You'll get a sampling of our toys, too.

Jewel Shot Down Over Ozarks!
Governor "Alfalfa Bill" Murray outruns "Thievin' Savages!" 
German Chancellor Hitler Gives Speech on Foreign Policy 
Victorinox Payroll Object of Ferocious Dogfight over Dixie! 
Blood Feud Lures Patrols into "Thirty Seconds of Fiery Death!"
Renegades Deliver Response to "Thirty Seconds of Fiery Death!"  
Texas Fliers Spank Collective Raiders - But Lose New Oil Well.
RAF Earns Collective's Wrath!
More Like Sour Grapes of Wrath!
Mick "Movie Star" Mannock is Hero in Reel - and Real - Life!
Pirates Have Tulsa TransNational "On the Ropes" After Latest Attack!
Texas Threatens War; Collective Denies all Republic Allegations.

Will Texas and the Collective actually go to war? Not sure we'll ever know. . .

And if reading these makes you want to play Crimson Skies, but you can't find the OOP game, despair not, because you can download PDFs of all the original rules and background books from the game below. You'll still need to provide your own hex maps.

Book 1 - The Rules of Air Combat
Book 2 - Warriors of the Air
Book 3 - Aircraft of North America
Record Sheets

And two supplements you should have (there are several book supplements available, too, but you're on your own for those):

National Air Races 
Zeppelins and Bombers

You're welcome!


  1. We should start a Kickstarter to finish all the planes that were never produced.