did another review on boardgamegeek. This time of the Spicy Air Tales.
Just reposting it here, but you can -of course- head over here https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2047188/supplement-reviews-spicy-air-tales and give it a thumb
This review covers all Spicy Air Tales that have been published either in print or in printable digital form. This distinction is necessary as there were more Spicy Air Tales available on the Crimson Skies website, but those didn't even make it into a pdf version and are thus omitted from this review.
The published ones include Fortune's Hunt (Volume One) and Manhattan Mayhem/The Great Helium War (Volume Two) in print, and The Case of the Phantom Prototype (No.1/Volume 7) in digital form.
No spoilers in this review! That's why the synopses for the individual stories are rather succinct...
All of the Spicy Air Tales are first and foremost novellas recounting stories of the most famous and iconic characters developed for Crimson Skies. These stories therefore take up the bulk of the pages.
What sets these publications apart from mere pulp novellas are the game relevant infos at the end of each issue. These include stats for planes introduced in the stories and game scenarios to replay some of the happenings from the books.
Now let's see what's inside the individual issues...
Fortune's Hunt (Volume One) :star::star::halfstar:
The protagonist wakes up with amnesia. He takes on the name of Fortune Hunt for the time being and gets involved in a devious scheme for power. The "Black Swan" and Loyle "Showstopper" Crawford have appearances early in the story. While the Empire State is one of the first locales, most of the story takes place in the People's Collective and Denver, i.e. Free Colorado. Throughout the narrative a prototype plane is mentioned and used: the mysterious Misericorde.
At the end of the book, a scenario with some special rules is given to replay the final showdown. Also, we get stats and a picture of the Misericorde.
This Spicy Air Tale was fun and exciting to read. It is IMHO well written and has everything a dime novel needs: mystery, action, romance, intrigue. It also depicts the differences between some nations and their relations.
Manhattan Mayhem/The Great Helium War (Volume Two) :star::star::nostar:/:star::halfstar::nostar:
Volume Two is made up of two separate stories: Manhattan Mayhem and The Great Helium War.
The first one is all about Loyle "Showstopper" Crawford and his Broadway Bombers. The "Black Swan" and her pirates play a prominent role in the events, while the Red Skull Legion and the nation of Dixie have smaller appearances. True to its name, the story takes place exclusively in Manhattan and the Empire State.
The second story mostly takes place in Texas, sometimes touching neighboring nations or regions, but with the main focus being on the battle for the helium mines in northern Texas/Oklahoma. The protagonist is Houston Travis, now one the most famous Texas Air Rangers. Another prominent role is filled by Bill Redmann, now leader of Redmann's Gang. There are some more names and factions, but most of them are rather generic, apart from the Lambs of God from Utah.
The scenario pages at the end of the book, offer two campaigns, i.e. one per story. Each campaign has three scenarios and should be played in order, as the outcome of an earlier one influences the following scenario. The first campaign has some nice special rules that makes it stand out, whereas the second campaign seems a bit uninspired.
Sadly we don't get even a single new plane, although some are mentioned throughout the book.
Volume Two of the Spicy Air Tales is as well written as the first, and it too contains all the same basic ingredients. But I couldn't relate to the protagonists of this book as much as I could to Fortune Hunt. Also the story of the Great Helium War lacks a pinch of mystery or a surprising big reveal in my eyes.
The Case of the Phantom Prototype (No.1/Volume 7) :star::star::nostar:
The hero of this Spicy Air Tale is Paladin Blake and centers around the namesake prototype plane. Blake Aviation Security and Lockheed are the parties involved rather than any specific nation.
Instead of giving a scenario this issue provides not only stats but also record sheets for both the Phantom Prototype and Paladin Blake's custom Warhawk "Lightning Girl".
There aren't many appearances of famous persons or locations, but that's fitting for a secret mission. Apart from that, the story is again quite solid and adding personality to one of the most famous characters.
The writing probably won't win any Nobel prizes, but the dime novel style fits the setting and is entertaining to read. If you want more than just plain old dogfights - a better immersion in the game universe, I'd highly recommend reading all of the novellas.
People already engaged with the characters and factions will find the campaigns and scenarios an exciting way to recapture the events, possibly with alternate outcomes. And even if you are not much interested in all the shenanigans of the celebrities, you can still use the new planes for a little more variety on the battlefields of the Crimson Skies.