Next supplement review is up on Boardgamegeek here: https://boardgamegeek.com/article/29867672
But you can read it here, too, of course
In the past I had always skipped directly to the airplanes section, but now I have finally read all parts of this supplement, cover to cover. This book is all about Texas and mostly about the Air Rangers; and although I'm from Germany, I've been to the Lone Star State a few times, giving me something to relate to.
The book is mostly written from an in-universe writer's viewpoint, apart from the chapters about airplanes and scenarios.
It starts with an introduction clarifying just this and is followed by three chapters about Texan history, Texan culture and Texan geography. Tied to the geography section is an overview of the military prowess, which is then followed by chapters about the individual Air Ranger Groups. All of this takes up about half of the 110 pages of this supplement.
The next chapter is about Oklahoma, the one after that describes aircraft companies located in the republic. Now comes the section with new aircraft and after this we get a few pages on pirate gangs. The last 18 pages are dedicated to a 17-scenario campaign between Texas and Louisiana.
Introduction, Texas History, Texas Culture, Geography and Military Might :star::star::halfstar:
These first sections and chapters do a really good job of describing the mindset of Texans and integrating historical events nicely into the Crimson Skies narrative, moving the actual history further and further away into its alternate timeline. Naturally it also focuses much more on aerial battles and introduces the Air Ranger Groups as the most important military feature to stabilize and fight for the republic.
I did like these pages a lot, it ties in well with the setting, and reading it from an adamant pro-Texas viewpoint is quite fun as well.
Air Ranger Group 1-4 :star::halfstar::nostar:
All four of the ARG chapters have the same basic layout: some basic information and overview of the Air Ranger Group, where they are located, their importance, etc. This is followed by descriptions of the industry and commerce in their area. Possible threats from neighboring states come next, followed by sections on the most important cities in the region. Some bases are detailed, as well as some notable pilots, also interspersed are a few scenarios.
While the Air Ranger Groups certainly are the most-important asset for the Republic of Texas to fend off hostile nations and it is rather important to know what their responsibilities are and where everything is located, I found these chapters quite a drag to read. It was rather descriptive than entertaining. Don't get me wrong: it is still interesting and there's also gameplay value here, it just didn't captivate me that much.
The chapter about the protectorate gives insight on how it was annexed, introduces the resistance, i.e. the Oklahoma Freedom Fighters and supplies a scenario.
Although much shorter than the previous chapters, this one offers a lot more potential for roleplaying campaigns, with Oklahoma being desired by every neighboring nation along with the threat posed by the resistance movement inside its borders.
Aircraft of Texas :star::halfstar::nostar:
This part starts off with laws regulating sale of military equipment to foreign countries and continues with descriptions of several aircraft companies, big players and start-ups alike.
While clauses and articles may seem either boring or unimportant for the game, it's a nice little reminder that despite the pulp style and the focus on dogfights, there's still a military command structure and political aspect in the background. And we do need intrigues and scheming politicians or villains to create thrilling set-ups for our heroes...
The section about the aircraft companies might offer scenario hooks or campaign ideas, but I felt the same about it as with the Air Rangers Groups: more descriptive than entertaining.
New Aircraft :star::star::star:
Here's the section that is most important for the actual game: new aircraft. We get five new airplanes and a single autogyro. While most of them stem from Texas, one of the fighters is from Louisiana/France, which only got added because it's so damn common an encounter for the Air Rangers.
I think the amount of aircraft introduced is OK, with a lot of them having high price tags, mostly due to superior weapons. But this is fine with me, as Texas is supposed to be a leading nation in regard to aviation, and those new and advanced planes are supposed to replace older, cheaper models.
Notable Pirates :star::star::halfstar:
Sky pirates are common in Texas as well, what with vast stretches of the land sparsely populated therefore offering secret hideout possibilities to those brigands. One of the most infamous is the first one to be named: Bill Redmann of Redmann's Gang. A few more are given, with some details on their modus operandi.
Despite being a rather short chapter, this too gives excellent ideas for scenarios. Also, not too much information is given for each gang, thus making it quite easy fitting them into one's own campaign.
The French Connection :star::halfstar::nostar:
With a total of 17 scenarios this is one of the longest campaigns I have ever seen in a Crimson Skies publication, although I must admit that I haven't played it yet.
The scenarios range in size from small (2 vs 2 planes) to large (14 vs 14 planes), sometimes also featuring zeppelins. Individual incidents are linked more by story line, rather than gaming mechanics. But as the goal is to accumulate points over the course of the campaign, this should work well enough. Speaking of story line: the "historical" outcome of each battle is also given within each scenario, so that one can see how much their own experience deviates from the official version.
Some of the scenarios have special features, but most of them are rather straightforward skirmishes. (While I didn't mention this earlier, the same is true of all other scenarios in this supplement) This is basically OK, but it doesn't net it any points for creativity.
Biggest game impact -of course- is the introduction of six new aircraft; while playing the scenarios and the campaign with all this background story in mind should prove to be fun, too. The information about Texas and its military is solid if you plan to center your game in the area, but it does have a few longueurs in some of the chapters.
Nevertheless, Pride of the Republic is a solid supplement, that I would recommend to every Crimson Skies player without hesitation.