In Blue Max, each player pilots a WWI airplane in a dogfight. The game can be played as a campaign, with new planes becoming available as time passes, and with surviving pilots getting better at what they do.
Each plane has a maneuver sheet showing which ones it is allowed to do -- some maneuvers can only be executed by ace pilots, and other maneuvers are "restricted" in the sense that they can't be repeated from one turn to the next (the plane would stall).
If you "tail" another plane, its pilot must show you whether he's going right, left or straight ahead. You get to shoot ahead of your plane, unless you have a bomber with an observer/gunner in the back (swivel-mounted guns). Damage is rolled on a table that determines severity in terms of blue and red hits; you then draw the indicated number of coloued chits from a cup. Hits are taken to the wings, tail, engine, etc. There's a chance the pilot is killed, or that the plane catches fire.
Fuel eventually runs out and the pilots fly off to meet another day --if they survived.
This is a lot of fun with massive numbers of players; you can put the 20-odd planes on the map at once, balancing the better airplanes with weaker pilots.
The second edition introduced crude altitude rules, and in 1995 GDW put out full-blown miniatures rules.
The 2013/2014 edition had substantial changes, and can be found here.
Blue Max – “Red, White and Blue Max” - US aircraft for GDW game, James E. Meldrum
Summary of information for Blue Max Miniatures Edition
A set of rules to simulate air to air combat of world war I using miniature aircraft on a hex grid playing surface. Most common scales seem to be 1/72 and 1/144 scale models. 1/72 scale being most popular at gaming conventions. Blue Max uses 'plotted' movement in turns with simultaneous movement followed by combat for that game turn. Damage is allocated with a unique system of damage chits that have color coded sides to represent different levels of damage. Players keep track of the status of their aircraft, ammunition supply and maneuvers on specially designed easy to use record sheets. The scale of the game allows for players to control their planes maneuvers on a turn by turn basis. The Game Turn Sequence
Air combat from 1914-1918 during World War I. The original boxed edition of Blue Max only covered the latter portion of the war from 1917-1918. The new Miniatures rules cover the entire war and can be used alone or as an expansion module to the boxed set.
1:1 - each counter/model represents one plane. Each turn represents approximately 3-4 seconds of time - ground scale is abstracted by representing plane speed in hexes: One hex of movement is roughly 85/95mph then goes up by 5mph per hex. (85mph for early war / 95mph for late war)
For miniatures play most players use a hex shaped base of aircraft plywood with telescoping antennas to allow for the different altitude ranges the game can represent. The most popular scale is 1/72 scale plastic models but 1/144 scale lead miniatures can also be used.
Miniatures Rules include 16 page booklet with expanded campaign, altitude and optional rules, 140 counters for damage allocation and tailing, Combat chart, Aircraft record sheets, Flight log and 44 Aircraft Maneuver Schedules covering aircraft for the entire war.
Phillip Hall (Primary designer for all editions) and
Allan Wright (Contributed to the Miniatures Edition)
The BMMRP (Blue Max Miniatures Rules Package) file is an essential source for updating Blue Max (all versions). You can even use this package to update the 2014 release of Blue Max. Included in the BMMRP.zip file are such documents like an extensive Blue Max play summery, a fixed combat table with critical hit notes, all Early War aircraft maneuver schedules, all Late War aircraft maneuver schedules, the extended Aircraft Record Sheet, a Damage Chit file to make and replace worn out damage chits, important errata and update notes, and several other very useful files.
BlackSheeper's colored damage chits look great, but they are for the 1st and 2nd editions. These numbered Blue Max damage chits are for "Blue Max Miniatures Rules" and can be printed on a B&W printer. The letter codes can be found in the "Combat Summary Chart v2R" which is available below within the files section.
* Use BlackSheeper nicely done damage chits if you are making replacement chits for Blue Max 1st or 2nd editions.
* Use the damage chits in this link if you are making replacement chits for Blue Max Miniatures Rules edition.
One of the part of original and second edition Blue Max that is more prone to be worn out are the damage chits. Here is a file that allows you to print a replacement set. In additions there are 8 sets of counters to determine the additional fuels with which a player starts.
The damages chits can be printed sigle face, so allowing people to produce a blue set and a red one. The fuel chits have to be printed double face.
A very useful combat summary sheet with corrections for new players and experienced players alike. Very useful for those hosting Blue Max at conventions or other gaming events. Be sure to also download the "summary_play.pdf". You can print both out on one page (play on one side, combat on the other). This is my original file from the mid 90's, and is the same file that can be found on Allan's Blue Max page.
A very useful play summary sheet for new players and experienced players alike. Very useful for those hosting Blue Max at conventions or other gaming events. Be sure to also download the "summary_combat.pdf". You can print both out on one page (play on one side, combat on the other). This is my original file from the mid 90's, and is the same file that can be found on Allan's Blue Max page.