Blue Max, 2nd Ed.

If you’ve never seen the components of a Blue Max game, it’s difficult to explain just how beautiful those plane counters are. Maybe just by saying each was produced first as a detailed full-size color painting, which was then shrunk down to fit a counter about an inch across.

The designer was a serious war gamer who had done lots of research into the various plane capabilities, and his game mechanics reflect that care.

I’ve been a fan of WWI air combat since discovering Richtofen’s War at about 18 years of age. I love Blue Max. And while I respect the designer’s observation that these planes could not change altitude enough to be reflected in the time scale of the game, I find fascinating that jockeying for altitude and losing it during maneuvers. I also admired the altitude abstraction of Frank Chadwick’s Sky Galleons of Mars game. So while on staff at GDW, I convinced Frank to let me marry those to Blue Max during a reprint.

Later, during my years at TSR, the Creative Services department (we designers, developers, and line managers) were allowed a 90-minute lunch, with 30 minutes paid, if we’d use it playing games. I brought in some 1:72 scale airplanes, mounted each on a “pick up stick” (remember those?), mounted that to an upright dowel, using a couple of checkers and a wing nut to allow the plane to bank and nose up or down (signalling climb or dive next turn), mounted the whole of that on a base about 3 inches across, and played on the mat from Milton Bradley’s Battle Masters.

The resulting 3D dogfighting was awesomely fun! I’m looking forward to a chance to reconstruct it all and play it with my teenage grandson.

I’m sort of stunned to realize my work on that 1992 edition was 25 years ago.

Condition: New in shrinkwrap
Price: $75

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