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Dogfight!

PSC originally launched what would become a range of '20 minute wargames' in 2019, with Paolo Mori's Blitzkrieg! - a two-player area control bag builder that recreated the multiple front of the Second World War in a game that could genuinely be played in just 20 minutes. Paolo Mori had in fact previously published a version of the game in Italy as Guerra Lampo, but it was the PSC game that gained traction. Blitzkrieg! spawned a Roman Empire sequel Caesar! (PSC) in 2022. This too was a two-player game (with a solo play option) that could realistically be played in just 20 minutes, tho' it was quite a different game: you were still drawing chits from a bag but Caesar! certainly wasn't a mere Classical re-skin of Blitzkrieg! Dogfight! is the latest 20-minute wargame, also involving chits from a bag but again it's a very different game and with its own distinctive mechanics. It also has a different designer, in Carlo A Rossi.



In Dogfight!, first published by PSC and now by Floodgate, the two players are WWI biplane-flying aces. They each take one of the nine planes that come in the box, and the various planes all come with their own unique mix of chits that show the distance moved on a turn and whether or not the plane can fire at their opponent. The basic game is played over three rounds made up of five turns. At the start of each round, you draw chits from your bag and these are hidden behind a screen so that you can't see what chits your opponent has available to them. Each turn, players simultaneously reveal their choice of chit and they move their plane accordingly.


Unlike the previous games in the series, Dogfight! isn't a bag builder: you won't be adding to or upgrading the chits in your bag. It's also not an area control game. It is, as the title suggests, a game where you are trying to shoot down your opponent's plane without getting shot down yourself. You can only fire on your opponent if you end your turn with your plane up to three spaces behind theirs, on a space of the same colour and with at least one firing icon showing on the chit you've played. This then is a game about manoeuvring into position and, to do so, trying to guess what movement chit your opponent is likely to be playing, and, as the game progresses, deducing this based on your knowledge of which chits have already been used by your opponent and which potentially remain available.



The playing board is double-sided, and the tactics potentially vary between the two boards because of the different coloured spaces. There's variability in the game too with the option of playing with espionage, bombing, escort or rescue 'missions', offering alternative ways of winning in addition to winning dogfights, tho' of course if you're going for a mission that could be giving your opponent a rather strong tip off about the movement chit you're likely to play. And there's a solo mode too where you can play against a bot.


Dogfight! certainly fulfils the promise on the box of playing in just 20 minutes. It's easy to learn and play - arguably the most accessible game in the series - tho' it can be fiddly using the value-3 chits that offer alternative movement options on each side: your reveal has to show the movement option you've chosen (whether you are moving forward or 'looping the loop') so the usual simultaneous reveal option of clasping a chit in your clenched fist and then opening your hand can be problematic. Assuming you can avoid this giving rise to accidental errors or cheating, Dogfight! is a great two-player as well as solitaire game, and with the double-sided board, multitude of different pairings of planes and the various missions, there's plenty in the box to ensure ample replayability.




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