here's a repost of a review I did on boardgamegeek.com
In this post I'll evaluate autogyros and unofficial aircraft for Crimson Skies.
This will (of course) not include custom aircraft, only aircraft that I think are canon somehow, but have not been published in one of the official (printed) supplements by FASA.
There are five autogyros and seven fighters that will be discussed here. I'll start with the autogyros, sorted by descending base-to-hit (BTH) numbers, and within those alphabetically by name.
As with my other posts that contain ratings, every aircraft gets two ratings, one for its general usefulness, a second one when employed for a special task. General usefulness mostly refers to plain old dogfights and free-for-all plays, while special tasks can be bombing runs, Zeppelin attacks, interception missions, courier runs, etc. Autogyros are a specialty in themselves, so don't compare their ratings too closely to the ones for the planes.
Quick recap on these early helicopters: they may stall for two consecutive rounds, they ignore all G restrictions and don't have to roll for pushing the envelope, and they get a free 60° facing change after all other craft have completed their movement. This is pretty awesome for maneuvering within city limits between skyscrapers, but they also have their drawbacks: BTH 6+ only, max. Gs must be 5, no wings (all damage to either nose or tail), max. 4 guns and max. 4 hardpoints. All right, onward to the individual types.
Hoplite (8) :star::halfstar::nostar: / :star::star::nostar:
Most people probably know the Hoplite from the PC game, but it was also published on the Crimson Skies website with stats for the boardgame: speed is 3, max. Gs the mandatory 5 and acceleration 3. An armor of 80 points is not really much, but it's actually better than the Bird Dog's (see below). As it was published prior to Behind the Crimson Veil, no Special Characteristics are available. Armament consists of quadruple .30 MGs, which is fine for its size. Maybe the cargo space of 420 lbs. could have been reduced a little, but like this, the Hoplite can be used for many urban operations. Of all autogyros, it is the most expensive at 9.500$, but if you need an armed city hopper, there's no way around it.
Liberte Travel Air (8) :halfstar::nostar::nostar: / :star::star::nostar:
This small autogyro has no weapons installed, but features 660 lbs. of cargo space. Otherwise it has nearly identical stats to the Hoplite, only being a tad bit faster at speed 4. You need to pony up 9.300$ to get this "sporty" two-seater design. If you're more interested in delivering passengers or cargo, consider a Metroliner or a Skyhorse instead.
Bird Dog (7) :star::nostar::nostar: / :star::halfstar::nostar:
Armed with double .60s this police craft is sure to keep things orderly. Well, provided there's no real opposition, as the armor of merely 50 points is really bad. A speed of 3 is enough for most aircraft, but for a police craft that probably has to deal with pursuits on a regular basis, it is too slow in my opinion. Max. Gs is 5 of course and acceleration 2. Cargo space of 10 is ok, and a price of 9.200$ is fine too for such a can of whoop-ass.
Metroliner (6) :halfstar::nostar::nostar: / :star::star::nostar:
One of the larger autogyros with cargo space maxed out (1.680 lbs.). Every other aspect has been reduced for this: speed 2, acceleration 1, armor 40, and no weapons (apart from the 4 hardpoints). It is intended to be used as an air-taxi, but you should only use it in safe neighborhoods. Price is 6.800$.
Skyhorse (6) :halfstar::nostar::nostar: / :star::star::nostar:
This cargo carrier from Texas has the best armor of all autogyros: 100 points. Available room is 1.450 lbs, speed 2 and acceleration 2. The Skyhorse also has Superior Range II but no other SCs. Priced at 7.500$, it's your call whether to use this one or if a modified Metroliner will do.
Apart from the Balmoral (which has the same origins as the Hoplite), all other planes stem from the unofficial Zeppelin & Bombers sourcebook, created by the author of Pride of the Republic Patrick Koepke. What's not discussed here are the Bombers from said sourcebook, only the fighters.
Ocelot (10) :star::nostar::nostar: / :star::star::nostar:
A possible alternative to the M112 as a BTH-10 plane, the Ocelot has the same weapon profile (twin .30s and no hardpoints), but features only a speed of 3 and an acceleration of 2. Max Gs stays at 3, while armor is upped to workable 170 points. As with all fighters from Z&B, the Ocelot is the first to feature the Special Characteristic: Parasite Fighter, which is mostly interesting for campaign play including Zeppelins. Consequently it has No Landing Gear, but that shouldn't concern too much.
If you don't need the M112's speed, get the Ocelot instead, at 8.200$ it's also way cheaper! Otherwise it's a fair trade-off.
Badger (9) :star::halfstar::nostar: / :star::star::halfstar:
If you need the M112's speed but also want the Ocelot's armor, consider the Badger: speed is 5, armor 160 and it even features quadruple .30 MGs. Granted, it's a BTH-9 plane and acceleration and max Gs. are only 2, but it retains both hardpoints and also sports a Superior Engine (-1). Unfortunately this makes it quite expensive: 11.600$ is more than a grand above average for the smaller fighters.
Nevertheless, it is a formidable interceptor and a little more useful in regular dogfights than the Ocelot in my opinion.
Bloodhawk E (9) :star::halfstar::nostar: / :star::star::nostar:
The "E" version of the regular Bloodhawk has been constructed with the same basic stats: speed 4, max Gs 4 and acceleration 2. Both .30s were dropped, so the "E" version only has twin .40 MGs as its primary armament, albeit they are not Superior anymore. As the BTH has changed from 6 to 9, also the available hardpoints were reduced from 5 to 2. On the other hand, this version has slightly better armor at 190 points (which is actually quite good for its weight class!). Light Stick and G-efficient Cockpit are still present, but the Poor Stall Speed has been eliminated in this model.
All of these redesigns come at a price though: 13.800$ is nearly 3.000$ more than the standard Bloodhawk. Maybe a Hornet or a Scrapper can do the same job for less cost...
Nightingale (8) :star::halfstar::nostar: / :star::star::nostar:
This Parasite Fighter from Blackflag should prove a rather good dogfighter: max. Gs of 5 and a solid armor of 230 points, paired with quadruple .30s supported by 3 rocket hardpoints. Speed of 3 and acceleration of 2 are fair. Not much in the way of SCs, only the wretched Self-Sealing Fuel Tanks to ensure the plane's early demise.
If you can live with your plane not having too many bells and whistles, get a Nightingale for only 8.800$! If money is not an issue, take a look at the Tempest for similar base stats but different armament and some fancy doodads.
F-37 Special (7) :star::nostar::nostar: / :star::star::nostar:
The manufacturer's name Pursuit Aviation gives it away: this plane just has to have speed 5 and acceleration 3. Max Gs is only 2, while armor is an average 210 points. Twin .40s and twin .30s plus all 4 hardpoints are ok, but lack overall penetration power. Parasite Fighter and Inferior Range I are negligible, whereas the Wooden Airframe limits maneuverability further, although it keeps the price real low at merely 8.300$. Well suited to intercept fleeing aircraft, but otherwise not much of an adversary. As alternatives consider the more expensive Seer or a cost-wise similar Nemesis with Nitro Injectors instead.
Seraph (7) :star::halfstar::nostar: / :star::star::nostar:
The most prominent feature of the Seraph is its ridicilously thick armor of 340 points. The seond thing to notice is the Superior Engine (-1) which boosts it to speed 4 with an acceleration of 3. Max Gs has been skimped on and is only 2, but the Seraph has a Light Stick to compensate. Armament consists of twin .40s and four .30 MGs. All told this plane can be used as an interceptor as well as a durable infighter. Naturally such versatility comes at a price: 13.000$ is quite a bit. Maybe the shunned (at least by me) Devastator can perform similar, but the good armor can usually only be matched by much heavier craft.
Balmoral (1) :star::halfstar::nostar: / :star::star::nostar:
This heavy fighter fits into this review rather well as it is supposed to be a folding-wing, zeppelin-based light bomber. It mainly served as a bomber for the opposition in the PC game but got game stats nevertheless. Speed and acceleration are both 1, max Gs are 2 and armor is nearly maxed at 450 points. The weapon section leaves little to be desired: twin .70s plus twin .60s to the front, twin .30s in a rear turret and a single .30 in a front turret. All 10 hardpoints are available and augmented by Accurate Bomber. Multiple Engines are basically a given for heavier craft, whereas the Inferior Range I may seem odd for a light bomber. Heavy Stick is not nice but probably ok for the Balmoral's mission profile.
8.300$ is a little more than the average in its weight class but still good value. The cheaper Behemoth has about the same stats (including the low speed), but relies more on ordnance than guns.
While autogyros may not see much play and are not diversified enough to allow for good comparisons, they do offer great scenario hooks in urban areas. The Parasite Fighters and the Balmoral add more options to the aircraft roster as they can be used just like any official plane.
I hope this overview is helpful to veteran and new pilots alike; feel free to voice your opinion on my ratings.