Monday, 8 September 2014

Playing 'Blue Max'

Different stuff today again. Gaming day at last! It had been long enough since my last game to -well, anything. What do we have today? Airplanes in World War I, Blue Max:

Re-edition of the original 1983 game
Blue Max is a board game in which we will use cards and tokens depicting WWI airplanes. Each plane is different, of course, and can maneouver and fight in their own unique way. For this game I played the British and my mate Pablo the Germans:

The contenders
First of all you have to fill in the data sheet. That will allow you to control the damage received and the manoeuvres you will be taking each turn:

Looks complicated but trust me, no big deal
You can see each aircraft has different hull points, and the same applies for the wings, tail and motor. A separate reference sheet tells you the manoeuvres you are allowed to do. That will mostly depend on your speed during previous turn. Besides, each manoeuvre will spend different amounts of fuel, so at some point you will end with your fuel tank empty and you will only be able to glide, oops. But this is getting too abstract, let's see a battle!

Green European fields (France most likely, but not sure about that)
The planes begin to approach
The two markers you see at the plane's tail are related to the height (one tells you the effective altitude and the other one is to show if you are going up, down or staying at the same height level). Here in the upper part of last pic you can see the German Fokker is in three hexagons range to shoot the British Bristol. The attacker will roll a different number of dice depending on such factors as distance to the target, being higher than the rival or shooting short or long bursts (taking the risk of jamming the machine gun).

Alea iacta est. I mean, literally
Let's ignore the numbres for the moment. The colour is what matters. If you get a blue/red mark, you withdraw a card of the damaged area and take as many points as depicted by the card for that colour. If you get no colour (as above) that means the attacker failed the shot.

This turn no one shot no one
But now the German Halberstadt opens fire on the British Sopwith
That's right, if your plane has a rear machine gun, you can also shoot your enemy and surprise him. You can see the shooting arc is marked through black signs on the hexagon.

Ouch! Seven hull points in a row!
But next turn... Oh, retaliation! The incredible manoeuvrability of the Sopwith allowed the plane to face the Halberstadt and...

Ratatatat. Lots of special damage!

The observer was injured and a machine gun destroyed. But on the other side of the battlefield...

The Bristol hits the Fokker with its tail gun
 So things had changed quite quickly! The Sopwith tried again on the Halberstadt, but the German plane decresased altitude. If there is more than one 'height level' difference between the two planes, they cannot be reached.

I miss you. I mean, in that other sense. Like... I don't hit you
However, next turn had some... ehhh... new experiences for us. The Sopwith went down, the Halberstadt went up, they were in the same hexagon... ehrm... They collided!

Dramatization. No actual token was harmed during the game
Both planes received some damage, but kept flying. Phew!

So the battle kept going on, struggling our own dogfights. I guess we weren't too conservative, we actually looked for every opportunity to engage, regardless our own security. So spectacular manoeuvres were totally in order and some real hard fights happened on the air.

Smile! We are on the air!
I guess I have no many reasons to smile

With the Bristol destroyed, the tactical situation was quite different indeed! The remains of the plane would keep on flying, lower every turn, until it eventually crashed into the ground (I believe the plane is considered destroyed and taken out of the board, but this looked nice for us).

This isn't how I planed ton visit France...
The other two planes kept on fighting. By the way, I am giving you some info that rivals shouldn't get to know, like altitude, how much damage each plane has received and so, but woah, this AAR is supposed to serve as a tutorial and what the hell, we play gentlemanly!

Things getting messy
The Fokker is getting altitude again in order to engage...
 Again. We did it again (not on purpose, I promise!). The Sopwith collided with the Fokker

Seriously, guys? You have all the sky and everybody comes here?
 Things were getting difficult for the British:

I believe I heard something like a 'crack' on that wing. I believe we shouldn't build these out of wood and cloth...
Disengaging against all odds
Aaaand engaging again. Ratatatatat
Rudder destroyed!
OK, this was it. The plane from on now is considered to be destroyed. But we simply couldn't resist to a last move for the epic apocalyptic end of the game...

Can't you see where this is leading to...?
OK, OK, this time it was on purpose...

We couldn't resist that, it was for the show... (BTW, the other two planes resulted also destroyed by that hit; but that didn't count for game purposes...)

The game resulted totally fun. It is a reedition of the original one from thirty years ago, so the dynamics are quite contrasted! It works really fine, you get into the skin of those aces of the air and how they felt flying those amazing machines at that time. The rules are easy to learn and the game easy and quick to play. So seriously, go play it!


  1. That's quite a huge gaming board. Or is it the norm for such games?

    1. Well, it is big, but suitable for a living room table. As a matter of fact, the mat I use for X-Wing games is even bigger! That's the inconvenience of playing with aircrafts, you need some space for proper manoeuvres!