Crimson Skies – A Game Review

And today we bring to you a guest blogger, the Husband, and he will be reviewing a Dieselpunk tabletop game for you gamer types. I will be honest, unless it is a console game, I probably will not be able to review it for you lovely readers. I am not big on tabletop games and hence the bringing in of the Husband. If you would like to see something reviewed or perhaps would like to be a guest blogger yourself, please let me know. And now, the official review for you.


Hello readers

Guest blogger here from over on Gimme the Dice. My wife asked me to come over and give a review of one of my favorite Diesel Punk table top games Crimson Skies. Normally my focus is on Role Playing Games, but I just had to jump on this one.

Now then anyone clicking on that link up there for Crimson Skies will see that there have been more than a few games with that title. And even though FASA, a now defunct game publisher, put the original table top game out first, I think (and I may be wrong on this) but I think that Microsoft held the original title for the game and that FASA’s game was licensed from Microsoft. The wiki article relates that FASA interactive which had the game from its pre-published days as Corsair (the original intended title) became a part of Microsoft before the table top game was published. So I really dont know if it was a licensed game, or a collaborative effort.

However, the game version that I want to talk about was actually the last version to come out. Not the first. In 2003 when MS was releasing the second Crimson Skies game for computer and console, WizKids, who had a lot of folks from FASA on board (FASA having gone under in 2001 and so it stayed for a time) released a Crimson Skies Clix game.  At the time there were a lot of games that WizKids was publishing under the Clix model of game play. Miniatures combat with a turn-able base to keep track of how well your game piece was doing instead of needing to keep a sheet of paper going for everything you had on the table. This idea made it really easy to play a miniatures combat game. You did not have to assemble any parts, you did not have to paint anything, and a small booklet would give you all you need to get game play going. Originally the Clix games were used for individual characters that you could put into small armies and duke it out on the table top. In 2002 though they did their first big vehicle based game with Mechwarrior Dark ages and then a year later they started up Crimson Skies.

Sadly, the game was hindered by the fact that unless you were a fan of the original table top game, read one or more of the supporting novels, or had played the Microsoft games you would have very little idea of the Dieselpunk world that had been created for the setting of the game. It was also hindered by the fact that Topps was bought up WizKids in 2003 and changed a lot of the companies priorities. So the line was effectively ended with very little product out there for it. By the time the WizKids name was purchased from Topps in 2009 the original creators had brought the Crimson Skies name under their banner in a new game company, but they have yet to do anything new with the property.

So the property has a mixed up background and there is very little out there for it. Why in the heck do I like it then? Easy. I do know the world setting. I have read the novels and played the MS games. I have even been trying to get the original table top game. No luck so far save for one item that my friend over at Dan on Games managed to find for me. The world is full of air pirates, flying customized fighter planes that can launch from zeppelins to raid and ravage, opposed by men and women flying their own custom aircraft from their own zeppelins or private air bases. Missions and stories from this world ranged all over a broken North America in an alternate 1930’s setting where the Great Depression lead to a sundering of the states. Stories could have a pulp feel, or get a little darker and go full diesel punk.  The characters are all larger than life. The men are heroes or villains of the highest order, the women rarely stay at home playing the good wife, they are most often just as driven and just as dangerous as the men. Most of the women also seem to enjoy taking advantage of the men who would see them as ‘fragile’. The second part of why I like it is because I really suck at building out miniatures and while I can take the time to write a blog, painting those damned things is just not something I have the patience for. That is why my wife is the crafter in the house. I really don’t know how she does it.

Lastly, I really enjoy strategy games that encourage you to think in more than two dimensions. Most table top games that deal with strategy leave you only thinking forward, backward, left and right. And while this game does not directly give values for elevation the miniatures are designed to give that feeling, and the piloting maneuvers force you to take things like velocity into account. Okay… so… additional lastly… I think the aircraft figures look bloody cool too.

So using my usual system how do I rate a game like this…

Fluff – 1/5 – So my Fluff score is used to rate how I see things like the supporting art, stories, and added materials that really give you a feel for the game and the world. For this version of Crimson Skies it is almost non existent. The main rule book for the game gives you a little. But unless you know the world from something else it is not really enough to drag you in and make you want to commit to the game world.

Crunch – 5/5 – The Crunch score is what I use to grade the rules and tools of the game. And in this case I have to say they are awesome. This is also where I include the mini’s for the game since you cannot play the game without them. The rules themselves play smoothly and give you a decent feel for how you would imagine air combat to be. I cannot say it compares to the real thing, never having been in air combat, but if you imagine it, yeah this is like that. The mini’s are awesome. Considering that they are made in plastic and pre-painted in mass, they are some of the best looking ones I have seen from WizKids products.

Mod – 1/5 – The Mod score is to talk about how easy it is to modify the game so that you can make changes to improve the game, make it more personal, or fix bad rules. Unfortunately when you take the rules in all together in this game, you really cant change them. Any of them. Making one tweak can actually break about half a dozen other game elements. And if you would choose to change anything for the statistics on a mini, you will have to do some serious surgery and pray you can both print and color to fit all the right spaces.

Fun – 4/5 – Fun is just that, is this game fun. I happen to think so. I know the world, I know the background and I enjoy a tactical game even when I cannot alter things to make them more personal. I know its totally subjective, but there you go.

Overall Score – 11/20 – So would I recommend this game? If you like tactical games, and aircraft. Yes. If you also like diesel punk or pulp novels, then lets upgrade that to hell yeah. Those are some pretty specific conditions, and I would rather fall back to my usual stance of suggesting that if any of the game elements strike your interest, then look into the game a bit more. Find out for yourself if its a game you would like to play. All of this here, this is just me rambling on.

Okay so that is it for the guest blogger, I hope at least someone out there enjoyed this trip into gaming.

Now gimme the dice, I gotta see if I can get a diesel punk story to cross over with a clock punk character.

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