Crimson Skies Playtest Report, or: Rules-bogeys at 12 o’clock

If you’re accustomed to other WizKids combat-dial games, the CS Air Action rules are going to throw you some curve balls. Sadly, due to vague technical writing, those curve balls may hit you right in the unmentionables the way they did my test opponent, a MechWarrior fan. Here’s what you need to go in knowing: The turn begins with both players rolling off for initiative. The winner sets speeds on all his planes, and the other player follows suit. Then, the rest of the turn consists of ten pulses, from Speed 10 down to Speed 1. Within each of those pulses, the initiative winner’s planes moving at that Speed get assigned their moves first, then the other player’s (the player who wins initiative each turn is called the Aggressor in the rules – they don’t give a catchy name to the other player, whom we’ve chosen to call Bitch, for a nice A-and-B scheme, but that breaks if you go multiplayer – anyway!). Then the Aggressor’s planes at that Speed reveal their moves, make them, and fire if they want. Then the other player’s. Then you move on to the next lowest pulse, down to 1. Then roll initiative again to start the next turn.

Once you’ve got that straight, this is a fast, chaotic, incredibly fun game. Digging into each plane’s stats reveals deep strategy if you want it. We didn’t try the Aces game, which uses the big figures in the Ace Pack and looks a little like HeroClix. We might test that if we feel wealthy anytime soon, but we have a feeling most people are in this for the planes. It’s a more innovative game, while still satisfying those base urges you can’t deny.

Be careful taking the things out of the packages, though. I’ve already had to glue one.