Of Blood Red Skies and Cruel Seas

Warlord Games is expanding and expanding their range over the last decade. Some into fiction settings, like Gates of Antares, Dr. Who or with the latest Warlords of Erehwon into fantasy. But the main strength of Warlord is with historical games and they stepped out of their vast 28mm range with two new rule sets in 2017 and 2018. We're talking the aerial fights of Blood Red Skies and covering World War 2 with a naval game in Cruel Seas.

As for Blood Red Skies, dogfight games have been around for quite some time. One of the most popular was Wings of War (2004), which paved the way for many other games to follow. Originally introduced by the Italian game studio Nexus and picked up by Fantasy Flight Games for translation and distribution. We even took an attempt on the record of most players playing simultaneously back in 2010 at the Tabletop Test Area of the RolePlayCon in Cologne.

RPC 2010 - T3G Wings of War Rekordversuch RPC 2010 - T3G Wings of War Rekordversuch RPC 2010 - T3G Wings of War Rekordversuch

This game would lay the ground stone for further ship-to-ship games, beginning with the Star Wars: X-Wing miniatures game (2012), and further spin-offs like Star Trek Attack Wing (2013) and Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles (2018) were introduced. After Wings of War was dropped by Fantasy Flight 2011, after that a newly founded company, Ares Games, picked up the license for Wings of War and re-badged and re-released the game as Wings of Glory (2012), along with the naval spin-off Sails of Glory (2013). Ares Games is although involved with the Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles development.

So in the beginning, I was a bit sceptic, how Blood Red Skies would fit in into this framework. But we gave it a try during our Salute trip, while we visited the Warlord Games HQ Store and Studio back in April 2018. Blood Red Skies doesn't use flight heights like Wings of War, but has special flyer bases that tilt forth and back, to show the status of the plane. We had a quick match, splitting up the aircrafts in squadrons between us and got into it. The basic rules give you the opportunity to have a match as quick as 10-15 minutes, with further advanced rules for aces and such, to give the game more depth. I have box here with some additional squads and will unbox and review them in the coming weeks.

Warlord Games - HQ Store & Studio Warlord Games - HQ Store & Studio

The day after that, at Salute 2018, we had the chance to see the impressive demo table for Blood Red Skies. As it is kept in 1/200th scale, you have quite a large selection of model kits to go with it. Like this aircraft carrier that was the magnificent centrepiece of the table. Warlord Games' Darek build this 1/200th scale model of the USS Hornet by merit.

South London Warlords - Salute 2018 Blood Red Skies South London Warlords - Salute 2018 Blood Red Skies South London Warlords - Salute 2018 Blood Red Skies
South London Warlords - Salute 2018 Blood Red Skies South London Warlords - Salute 2018 Blood Red Skies

As for Cruel Seas, I think this pairs up great with the aviation rule set of Blood Red Skies. By that you have a platoon sized infantry game, a squad based aerial game and now even naval combat, from the same company. The last part wouldn't be that important, but it helps in case of availability and to tie those games together for an extended campaign (weekend). You could add something like Black Ops for a commando's mission.

Naval wargaming is something I did rarely in the past. The only system I used to participate / play was Dystopian Wars. I liked the steam punk setting and the later expansion into multi-platform combat (as Dystopian Wars got land and aerial elements as well), but it was too large to properly function. Size or scale is an important factor with naval wargaming, as you have a different move system (often with auto drift and rather large, extended movements) that require a certain size for the gaming table and even with smaller games will rapidly become crowded. That was one of the reasons, why I sold my Dystopian Wars fleet a while ago. The special interest of naval wargames was covered in the book Tabletop Wargames as well.

The Wings of War / Glory brand even has a naval spin off Sails of Glory, but stays more or less alone in the department of more known naval games. Warhammer Historical had Trafalgar, there was Wizards of the Coast with Pirates of the Spanish Main (a constructible collectable game, as you got the punch-out ships in blind boosters), but beyond that - at least I don't know of any larger or better known games on the sea.

Dystopian Wars - Preußen vs Briten Dystopian Wars - Preußen
Dystopian Wars Dystopian Wars

As Cruel Seas is patrol boat sized, size shouldn't be the bigger issue, as it is about skirmishes. Unfortunately it is scaled at 1/300th and therefore not really compatible with Blood Red Skies (I was under the impression both systems would use the same scale and you could intermingle). That is not a big issue, just to keep in mind that Cruel Seas has flyers as well and those are much smaller than the Blood Red Skies models. Warlord doesn't take the scale that serious as they offer some larger ships in 1/350th from model kit manufacturers.

I haven't had the chance to give the game a try, so I'm looking forward to that, during the reviews. Below you see what's in the schedule for both games. If you have any questions or wishes for the coverage, please let me know.

Blood Red Skies Cruel Seas

I'm still looking for a proper gaming mat(s) for both games, as I don't have the posters from Wings of War anymore and only the Dreadfleet cloth for naval purposes, but that's rather fantasy like. If someone would be interested in supporting the review coverage with a cloth or mousepad style mat, get in touch with me.

Posted by Dennis B.

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