Dogfight! review – A mediocre alternative to Battleship

Let me set the stage for you: It is the early 1900’s. Aeroplanes were invented less than 20 years ago and we’ve already decided to strap machine guns onto them. Now it is your job to fight for your survival and take your rightful place as an ace pilot. Well, at least that’s what you are meant to think when you’re looking at the box art in the game aisle at a Target. The reality of the game, however, is quite different.

Dogfight! by Carlo A. Rossi is a 1-2 player strategy wargame meant to attract fans of their previous line, Blitzkrieg!, and newcomers to the genre by providing a “simple but challenging” rendition of their formula. True to their word, the game’s rules are quite simple and take no more than 20 minutes to a half hour to complete. Each player takes a different color biplane token and matching player aid that tells the various rules and stats for the chosen plane. This can range from how much health the plane has or damage it can deal to any specialty rules designated to that plane. Once planes have been chosen players will gather their movement tiles, throw them in the provided bag for each player, and place their plane on one of two starting locations on any given gameboard. At that point, the game truly begins. Players will take turns drawing movement tiles and revealing them to one another, trying to get their plane in position behind the other to land hits against them to eventually shoot them down. Once that happens, the game ends and the player left with their biplane still in the sky wins. That’s the basic rules of the game.

Dogfight! and everything that comes in the box

Some different game modes will have other objectives such as protecting an NPC biplane for a certain number of rounds against the opposite player or trying to defend certain targets from the enemy player’s bombing runs. Although those game modes may have a few more rules and different win conditions, the gameplay loop is the same. Pick a plane, draw tokens, move your plane, do damage/land on the objective, then rinse and repeat. While these game modes are interesting and help in the game’s replayability factor, after a few times playing each of the modes, it was clear that adding more complexity to the rounds wasn’t helping us stay engaged with it. Instead, it was only making the games themselves slightly longer. After a while, I felt it was unnecessary to return to those modes and would rather play the game in the basic 1v1 format.

So that’s the game and how it plays, but what about what comes in the box itself and the quality? Well, the game comes in a smaller but good-sized box that has some decent cover art and helpful information on its backside. Inside that are 9 different color biplanes and matching player aids, 2 player bags, 2 player screens, 1 double-sided game board, several damage tokens and movement tiles, and the instruction booklet. Everything on the inside of the box is of good quality for the most part. The biplane and damage tokens are wood and plainly colored. The gameboard and movement tiles are cardboard, very durable, and have excellent art on them and the player aids and player screens are thick glossy paper and provide clear information. The only thing of real note here is the game board. It is of quality make and the artwork is very good, but the maps themselves are very simple. Even on the “advanced” side, the map was still basically the same but now with color-coded areas that demarcate where you can and can’t shoot. I would prefer if there was an additional game board that wasn’t just another circle but instead a figure eight or another complex layout that led to a more interesting tactical encounter instead of the same circular flying as if you were in a NASCAR race.

The tokens, wooden pieces, and player aids

The one thing, however, that was truly lacking from the box’s contents was arguably the most important part, the instructions. The instructions were a bit confusing at times, leading to moments of necessary interpretation during gameplay. At some times the instructions referred to something as if you should know it already but in reality, it would be explained two pages later and at other times the instructions for a specific plane or game mode would cut off, sometimes mid-sentence. There were also a handful of spelling and grammatical errors that definitely did not help the situation either.

Overall, Dogfight! is a decent board game that is fun to play every once in a while but can get stale in back-to-back games with its repetitive gameplay loop. While the alternative game modes are interesting to try, they don’t provide any real hook that would make me want to play them over the basic versus game mode. That combined with the lack of map variety in the base box leads to a very samey feeling game that would only truly change with a different opponent. Even then, that would only last for a few games at most. While there is nothing wrong with the game inherently, there also isn’t anything that differentiates itself from other games in the genre and would make me want to grab this game off my bookshelf. If I’m gonna grab a game for a 1v1 tactical wargame-esque style game to play, I’ll probably still be reaching for the tried and true Battleship.

Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

Kenny Tripoli is a Tabletop Editor for Gaming Trend. He pursued an English Degree because of his interest for stories and all narrative works. He loves any story he can get. Whether it be books and movies, or videogames and tabletop, all are unique to him and should be shared with everyone.




Review Guidelines

A tactical game set in the theme of aerial dogfights that provides a simple but enjoyable 20 minutes of gameplay. The game can be a bit repetitive and doesn’t do anything new or interesting that would make me want to play it on a consistent basis. Ultimately, it is an average alternative to games in the same genre.

Kenny Tripoli

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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