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Blue Max: World War I Air Combat - Board Game Box Shot

Blue Max: World War I Air Combat

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Much like the gallant knights in jousting tournaments of yore, World War I fighter pilots engaged in a modern version of the medieval joust. Each aviator’s survival depended greatly on both his skill and the quality of his aircraft. World War I aviators were brave men who fought heroically in a tragic war. Blue Max™ is a World War I aerial combat game for 2-6 players. Players divide into two teams and take on the role of pilots trying to shoot down the greatest number of enemy planes. The famous Philip Hall aerial combat game is back with new graphics and updated rules.

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“Excellent game, poor edition”

I own three different editions of this game, and used to organize my club’s annual Blue Max tournament; it is an exceptionally fun game, which has been polished through the years.

However, this latest edition is NOT very good.

First, it only includes a fraction of the planes; six planes only, including four single-seaters and two multi-seaters, and they are all low-speed planes. Most likely, the publishers intended to publish expansions (or at least one for faster planes), but in comparison to even the first edition by GDW, which comprised 16 single-seaters plus the same two multi-seaters, it just doesn’t look like value for money.

Second, the use of card decks to determine damage means that this part of the game will deteriorate much faster than the rest.

The other physical components (card decks aside) are very nicely done and durable, but come on! Did the game REALLY need to include a myriad teeny-tiny counters for fuel points, when ticking boxes was so much easier and unambiguous? Or to replace the very simple fire damage table with special dice? How were those improvements on the older versions?

In short, this specific edition failed to heed the age-old warning, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Had they not tinkered so much with the game mechanics, and merely taken care of the graphical quality of components (such as they did for the excellent aircraft maneuver sheets), plus made available a wider range of planes, the publishers would have updated a real classic to more modern industry standards.

As it is, I shall keep playing the older editions, eventually incorporating the best rules from “Canvas Eagles”.


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