Home Forums Historical Blood Red Skies Outmaneuver

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    It seems to me that the AUTOMATIC outmaneuver pilot action success when the attempting pilot is higher skill is bad for gameplay.

    I just played a pick up game last night where we quickly threw together a couple squadrons and played a dogfight scenario with 3 P-52s vs 3 Bf109s and balanced the point costs by adjusting pilot skill — the mustang pilots were skill 2 and the Bf109 pilots were skill 3.

    The mustangs got one pass at the Bf109s and then the automatic outmaneuver rule kicked in and locked the game into at best a long, slow, boring state where the mustangs were stuck at disadvantage and unable to dive, maneuver or shoot. Their only option was trying to use their slight speed advantage to open the distance and get out of the disadvantaged state. At worst, it might not be possible to break the lockdown at all if the Bf109s stay in advantaged state and just circle the mustangs outside gun range to prevent them from lining up a tailing position, which my opponent did. After a couple of rounds of this I got the dreaded “this is boring, let’s play something else” response.

    I did convince the other player to play another game of BRS and we did 3 Bf109s vs 3 spitfires with equal pilot skills. That game was enjoyable and I averted the other player writing the game off forever. However, I’m pretty sure the P51s will never make it back on the table in a game with that player.

    It seems that the outmaneuver rule would be much better for gameplay if it were an opposed maneuver test where each pilot rolls skill + agility and the pilot who rolls more successes wins with the more skilled pilot winning ties. This avoids the game state lockdown outlined above and doesn’t strip the targeted player of all sense of agency the way that the auto success does.

    Also, to present the dreaded simulation standpoint argument, it seems to make sense that a slightly less experienced pilot in a more maneuverable plane might avoid being outmaneuvered or just plain get lucky.


    It seems that the German squadron cost quite more than the US one.
    3 x 31pts Bf109 = 91pts
    3 x 50pts Level 3 pilots = 150pts
    Total = 241pst

    3 x 46pts Mustangs = 138 pts
    3 x 25pts Level 2 pilots = 75pts
    Total = 213pts

    It’s even worse with the reviewed 44pts that the Mustang cost now.

    It seems that this explain why the game was so unbalanced.

    Keep in mind that you don’t have to get all your pilots at the same skill. You could have one level 2, one level 3 … whatever fit the point limit.

    Also, for testing game, I suggest to have different skill level in each squadron so it help to understand how it impact the activation order.

    I don’t know if you played with clouds, but they are really part of the game and help to escape such situation.

    I agree, outmaneuver could be quite powerful but needs practice and can be countered too. If the outmaneuvering plane don’t have a second plane to fire (don’t forget that you either shoot OR outmaneuver), it could be completely wasted.

    At least, you had the opportunity to get a better experienced with the second game. I hope you and your friend will get the opportunity to go further with BRS.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Koin-Koin.

    Yes. I did realize afterwards that bumping one of the mustang pilots to skill three would have made the point spread a little closer. However, it’s only a 11.6% difference. With that kind of a point spread I would expect the game to be a tad harder for the US forces — not to result in a complete game state lockdown. If outmaneuver worked like I proposed above, the scenario would have played exactly as expected — slightly more difficult for the US player, but still an otherwise enjoyable game — and not have resulted in a broken scenario that no one wanted to play.

    We were not playing with clouds.

    There really was nothing the mustangs could do to break out of the disadvantaged state. The bf109 player had no reason to ever take his planes out of their advantaged state and there was no reason for him to do anything other than automatically outmaneuver each turn. He could easily keep me from ever achieving a tailing position and to do anything other than automatically outmaneuver me would have been a game play mistake on his part. Why let the enemy ever have a chance to shoot, maneuver or dive if you don’t have to?

    This automatic rule seems really out of place in this ruleset, which is otherwise quite good. For as simple and as quick playing as the rules are they allow for surprisingly deep strategic and tactical choices.

    Automatic outcomes are nearly always a poor design choice for gameplay. They usually lead to occasional game state locks like this and they prevent players from feeling like they are in control. I have to ask: What is the automatic rule adding to the game that outweighs the potential for broken scenarios and unenjoyable gameplay situations?


    If I remember well, this topic was discussed in the forum quite a time ago (sorry for not linking it, browsing the forum from a mobile device can be a struggle). You may find it interesting.

    Definitely use the clouds. I consider it an essential part of the gameplay and it totally balance the outmanoeuvre.


    Also the other thing to remember about outmanoeuvre is that its a pilot action against a single target*.

    So if you do outmanoeuvre you are not climbing or shooting as an action.

    Also dont forget the doctrine & tactics cards that allow you to add to your pilot skill for manoeuvre checks…. (a +2 on a disadvantaged pilot skill 2 suddenly knocks the neutral pilot skill 3 109 to disadvantage as well so they can no longer shoot you…)

    *The ace skill that allows you to outmanoeuvre two planes or the one that allows you to outmanoeuvre and shoot are the exceptions


    The issue you are highlighting is more a factor of your chosen set up rather than a rule mechanic. Skill 2 pilots in Ag2 planes will always struggle against better pilots in more agile planes. Using that as a reason to suggest the rules are a problem after one or two games isnt really valid. I think you should try playing with a more balanced set up than just rookies before judging the game. The Outmanoeuvre action works really well to represent just how much even a minor advantage in pilot skill could mean everything.

    Of course it may be this isnt for you, in which case that’s fine

    Steve Burt

    The game works better when you have a mix of skill levels; it also works better when you have more than 3 planes a side, and use clouds, which are a critical to allow disadvantaged planes to escape.
    The rules are not broken; it’s a bit premature to write the game off after one play.


    Come on guys. Some of you are being little harsh and defensive in your replies and extrapolating my very specific and constructive criticism into a general attack on the rules, which isn’t fair. In fact, I am very impressed with the rules overall. This one specific rule, however, I think could be much better.

    Nat, I’ll take a look at the other card types, which sound like they would help. My group *is* inexperienced with this game and had just added in aircraft trait cards after moving up from the into scenario and haven’t added the other types of cards yet. Outmaneuver using your one pilot action doesn’t help in this situation since there is no reason to choose any other action and let your opponent do something effective in response when you have them locked down.

    Renko, any rule that turns a force imbalance of less than 12% into a completely broken, locked game state scenario is a bad rule in my book. If the mustangs had merely struggled against the bf109’s, as you put it, I wouldn’t be criticizing the rule. The rule broke the scenario, not the point spread I chose. With one small change to the rule like I proposed the scenario would have been fine — harder for the US forces, yes, but still very playable and enjoyable.

    The small change I suggested still represents the importance of pilot skill well and it eliminates gameplay problems in some situations and setups — setups that new players are very likely to choose I might add. Nowhere in the product does it warn you against choosing this type of setup. In many cases a new player that has a bad experience like that will never return to the game.

    This game most definitely is for me. I have been into Warbirds since I was a kid (I’m 50 now), have paintings of Mustangs and B-17s decorating my home, and have an aeronautical engineering degree. It couldn’t be any more up my alley and, like I said before, I really like the game and rules overall.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Dreadpirate.

    Put it this way – a headline of “Three Rookies shot down by equal numbers of better trained and experienced pilots” doesn’t sound too wrong to me. Historically pilot skill is everything.

    You pays your money and takes your choice, so if you want to make changes that’s fine. I think it would be a mistake, particularly based on such a poor example of play.

    However the problem seems to me from the limited info you have provided that you have decided on one or two games played with badly balanced and ill thought out forces that the game doesn’t work and that this particular rule is the root cause.

    After playing the game for what is getting on for over a year I can say hand on heart and with some certainty the problem has nothing to do with that rules mechanism and everything to do with the scenario you have chosen. This is a little puzzling as the six scenarios provided as examples are in no way similar to the one you chose to play – they’re all mixed Pilot Skill levels, and all except the first have multiple elements.

    I think it reasonable and important to point that out.

    I’d also suggest that with a bit more experience and understanding of how the game mechanics interact you may come to a different conclusion. Why not try it the way it is supposed to be played and then come back with your thoughts?

    Another question is why are the P51s trying to dogfight with a more agile 109 in the first place? The Mustang has a speed advantage over the 109Es which combines with their Great Dive Trait to make them energy fighters par excellence. Of course only having one element of three planes each side is going to make it easier for the 109s, but a P51 has such a massive advantage in dive speed it should never get “locked down” as you put it if you play to it’s strengths. So the 109 Outmanoeuvres, use Great Dive to leave him behind, climb back up and come back using speed to give the initiative. Worse case scenario just go head to head and rely on your better firepower and Deep Pockets and you will win even if you both just roll average dice.

    The history bit is pretty clear, better pilots win. Numbers help, but when numbers are equal the side with the better pilots wins, even when the planes they fly are inferior – look at the Finns and their Brewsters.

    But back to the first point, if you want to make changes, go ahead. The Rules Orthodoxy Police are busy right now and won’t get around to your door for quite some time.


    Renko, your argument seems to be:

    1) I don’t have enough experience with the game to provide any meaningful insight. If that true then no game developer would ever bother with blind play testing. Yet, every good game developer knows that blind play testing is essential to producing a good game. Some game problems are found the easiest by someone with no experience with the game at all. This is an example of one of those problems. Which leads to the next point.

    2) The problem I am pointing out is limited to certain scenarios and is mitigated by advanced rules, so use the advanced rules and don’t run scenarios where the problem occurs. The problem with that argument is that the advanced rules are optional and the rule book strongly suggests learning to play without them. “Read this first” and “Read this when you are ready”. Also, a new player has no way of knowing ahead of time how to avoid creating the problem scenario. Finally, even if you design the scenario with the situation in mind the same situation can easily arise during the course of normal game play.

    3) You fallaciously claim I am saying that the “game doesn’t work”. This is not true. In most instances the game works very well. However, because of this one particular rule, some scenarios are unnecessarily broken and some situations will arise during normal play that result in a game state lock. Even with a mix of starting skill levels you could wind up in this situation after losing a plane or two. With a minor tweak to the rule those same scenarios are no longer broken and the game state lock will not occur and there is no appreciable loss of thematic feel or reduction to the overall importance of pilot skill in the game.

    Lastly, your general advice for the mustang pilots is historically accurate and would be sound advice for the game except for the fact that the rule makes doing it impossible (some advanced optional rules notwithstanding). In fact, that is exactly what I wanted to do, but could not because of the automatic outmaneuver rule. Using the basic rules you cannot dive maneuver or shoot while disadvantaged and the 2” speed advantage is not enough to get away from the enemy to break the lock in any reasonable amount of time. Essentially, you get one pass at the Bf109s. Afterwards, you are necessarily in range of the automatic outmaneuver if you shoot at them. You will never get out of disadvantaged state unless your opponent allows it. Result: long boring scenario no one wants to play. If your opponent is new to the game you’ve made a bad first impression and they may never play BRS again.

    This rule is bad for the game. That does not mean the game is broken or the design is crap or any of that nonsense. The game is outstanding overall and is brilliantly designed. I would hate to see this one (in my opinion) mistake turn away potential gamers who run into this situation and write the game off because of it. Especially when it so easy to fix without any negative consequences.


    With some games the game play is built on the advance rules even though they say they are not needed for the basic game play experience. Infinity (by CB) for one. It is a VERY broken unless you play all the rules.

    In this case the rule its self can be unbalanced if you ignore /take out/ not use the balancing parts of the rules. In this particular case the card deck and various levels of pilot skills on both sides. Once you have 2 x 2’s & a 3 going up against two 3s and 2 you start seeing how outmaneouver against one plane this turn will set you up for being tailed next turn, so brings more ‘basic’ pilot actions in to play.

    Also clouds (in my mind) should be counted as a core rule as they are a good balance and entry in to tactics rather than fly at enemy, get him in sights when disadvantaged and shoot him (or her!) down

    This is what we are (kind of) saying… the rule works in the game as a whole and is a core rule for how the game is put together so is not bad for the game as if removed other elements will now be unbalanced.


    Sorry, I typed my post above after midnight, which is never good. I’m going to make a “corrective statement” first before trying (for the last time) to address your concerns.

    The correction being – the P51s can’t take a head to head if both planes are advantaged.

    OK to your main points seem to be

    1) Experience of the game doesn’t matter, you see this mechanism is a problem without needing to experience the game based on previous experience of other games systems. I understand that, but I don’t agree this is a bad rules mechanism, and would further suggest (again) the results you decry are NOT the automatic result of the game mechanic, just the result of the players making poor choices in initial scenario and then their tactics. This is a deliberate game design choice, made by a game designer of some experience. It plays that way because he intends it to play that way. This is a balanced choice and is in part based on a core principle of air to air combat – that better pilots are better, and the margin doesn’t have to be that great. It is also based on a game design choice – that more dice roll tests are bad in a game that represents a highly fluid and fast moving situation. More dice tests disrupts that flow and energy. Any game system will produce bad results if you set it up in the “wrong” way, as you have clearly done (in my humble experience).

    2) You think the basic game should play as well as the advanced game.

    3) OK I should have said you think the game doesn’t work for you because of this rule mechanism. Mea Culpa

    I don’t agree with your assessment, and would further suggest that far from your amendment being an easy fix without negative consequences it will cause problems both in play and also later in the game when (if you ever get there) the advanced rules kick in. However I will repeat for the third time, change what you like, you paid for it. However I would again suggest you really should try playing the whole game as it was designed to be played, with multiple elements and different Skill levels before demanding (suggesting?) changes be made.

    I’m leaving this here now. Hope you enjoy your game


    Many of you seem to think I’m trying to argue that you are wrong when you say the rule works fine when you add in all the other advanced rules. I am not. I am sure you are correct in that assessment.

    My original post wasn’t really addressed to an audience of experienced players using all of the advanced rules to convince you to play the game differently. It would be pointless for me to try to convince you that you are wrong when you, as experienced players using all of the advanced rules, say the game is fine as is and see no reason to change anything just because of something that primarily affects new players using only the basic rules.

    However, a game designer or publisher trying to sell their game to new players might (perhaps they don’t) care very much about a rule that negatively impacts new players trying to learn the game and using only the basic rules.

    I’ve made the information available here for Andy/Warlord to consider. It’s up to them to decide what, if anything, to do with it.

    I sincerely hope they consider revising the rule so that the game works as well for new players using the basic rules as it does for experienced players using the advanced rules. If Warlord doesn’t care about that, well, that’s a shame, but I won’t lose any sleep over it.


    Nat, “look at these other successful games with awful basic rules” isn’t a very convincing argument.


    The simplest solution to the problem might be to identify outmaneuver as an advanced rule that should be added at the same time as the other advanced rules that interact with outmaneuver.

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