With the recent announcement of Wing Commander, it was the perfect time to sit down with Andy Chambers, the man behind the game and curator of the compendium, to chat about his journey through wargaming, both in general and Blood Red Skies specifically!
Could we get a brief intro about yourself, and a very quick rundown of Blood Red Skies to this point?
I’m Andy Chambers, and I’ve been designing games since 1990; first with Games Workshop (Epic, 40K, Necromunda, Gorkamorka, Battlefleet Gothic) and later freelance for many different companies including Warlord Games. At Warlord I’ve worked on Bolt Action and the 2000 AD series of games (Strontium Dog, Judge Dredd, Sláine and, most recently the in-development ABC Warriors). Blood Red Skies is a game of aerial combat I came up with for my own entertainment back in 2010, but I eventually persuaded Warlord to release it as a game system! BRS has drawn together a community of very dedicated players and they’ve been a huge help in coming up with new plane stats, cards and scenarios as the system has grown.
In a nutshell, what is the Wing Commander compendium?
Wing Commander is a compendium of some of the best of the Blood Red Skies community content I’ve seen over the past five years. I say ‘some of’ because there literally wasn’t enough room to fit in everything! I’ve worked together with the creators of each article to put it all together, but I think the real credit here must go to Steve Toth and Brett Canter for putting together the madcap, sprawling narrative campaign system that makes up the core of the book. The rest is articles and core game stats I thought would be interesting and useful to most fans of the game.
Where did the idea for Wing Commander come from?
Back in our GW days I worked closely with (Warlord Design Studio boss) Paul Sawyer on White Dwarf magazine. We’d periodically do compendiums of the best content for different systems so players could catch up with articles they’d missed and have them conveniently in one place instead of scattered across multiple issues. While the need for print books has faded a little with modern ‘tech’, we still felt there was value to ensuring good content was collated and didn’t just disappear into some archive on the internet.
What’re you most excited about in Wing Commander?
All of it really, each article in it is a real gem. There have been so many times I read pieces from players that I thought made excellent commentaries, expansions and additions for Blood Red Skies that I’ve wanted to put together something like this for quite some time. It’s really good to see it all come together!
What do you see in the future of Blood Red Skies?
There is always more to do for World War II due to its nature as such a massive and heavily air-influenced conflict, so expansion of the number of factions and new models for major and minor powers is certainly in the future. Beyond that I see Blood Red Skies as a very sturdy air combat system, suitable for exploring any air combat period. For the early jet age, for example, MiG Alley! (now available with newly remastered aircraft in Warlord Resin PlusTM -ed.) touched on the Korean War, and the Wing Commander Compendium introduces more scenarios for MiG Alley! and rules for early guided missiles – a huge game changer. I hope to see that side of the game move forward further in the future, but I’m also interested in the First World War and how that could change things as well. I do believe Konflikt ‘47 deserves its own ‘weird war’ version too, of course – where else will we get to do Horten flying wings (with lasers)?
What is your personal favourite aspect of BRS?
The main reason I developed Blood Red Skies into a full game is that the core mechanics are very simple to learn, but also do a great job of depicting air combat. I used to take the early versions to demo at shows and people clicked with it so fast I knew I had to get it published one day. When the chance to get into print came along I assumed it would be a bit of a one-off, something good for kids, maybe sold at aircraft museums or something like that. Instead, it’s drawn together a lot of very dedicated, historically astute fans of the period so I feel it hit the mark even better than I anticipated. That’s probably my favourite aspect of it!
Do you have a favourite nation or aircraft type to play?
I usually play Luftwaffe! I used to fly as the Luftwaffe in an online game (as did Paul Sawyer), so I feel I have a bit more detailed knowledge of German planes and the tactics they used. I also just really like Focke-Wulf 190s!
Is anything already in the works for the future (that you can talk about)?
This year will be a busy one for Blood Red Skies as we have a number of things backed up from the pandemic years, most notably adding a whole new nation, and more Aces for both WW2 and Korea. Beyond that? My spies also tell me Warlord HQ is rife with talk of more jets, but we’ll see…
How’s that for the inside scoop? Pre-Order your copy of Wing Commander today, or either of the brand-new multi-engined bomber squadrons, and see what all the fuss is about!
Konflikt 47 Blood Red Skies? That’s something I can get behind.
Keep meaning pick Blood Red Skies up, with the add on and upcoming releases now seems be a good time pull the trigger.