Sky Team

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Sky Team is a co-operative game, exclusively for two players, in which you play a pilot and co-pilot at the controls of an airliner. Your goal is to work together as a team to land your airplane in different airports around the world. To land your plane, you need to silently assign your dice to the correct spaces in your cockpit to balance the axis of your plane, control its speed, …
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Fantastic and unique theme
  • Huge amount of content
  • Fast, quick and fun co-operative game

Might Not Like

  • Real time mode
  • You have to stick the board together
  • Limited communication tough with people you don’t know
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Description

Sky Team is a co-operative game, exclusively for two players, in which you play a pilot and co-pilot at the controls of an airliner. Your goal is to work together as a team to land your airplane in different airports around the world.

To land your plane, you need to silently assign your dice to the correct spaces in your cockpit to balance the axis of your plane, control its speed, deploy the flaps, extend the landing gear, contact the control tower to clear your path, and even have a little coffee to improve your concentration enough to change the value of your dice.

If the aircraft tilts too much and stalls, overshoots the airport, or collides with another aircraft, you lose the game...and your pilot's license...and probably your life.

From Montreal to Tokyo, each airport offers its own set of challenges. Watch out for the turbulence as this could end up being bumpy ride!

The Sky’s The Limit

Sky Team, by designer Luc Remond and from publisher Scorpion Masque, is a 2 player only limited communication co-operative game about landing an aeroplane using dice placement and it plays in about 15 minutes. This is about the drama of hitting the runway without crashing and the tension of not knowing what the other person you’re playing with is going to do.

Now this may seem like an odd choice of game theme, and let us suspend our disbelief for a second here as to why the pilot and the co-pilot can’t actually effectively communicate each action and let’s dive and see if this is a game that lands well or if it misses the runway.

Heathrow, We Have A Problem

In this game, you begin by choosing who will be the pilot and co-pilot, choosing a scenario with varying degrees of difficulty and setting up the plane control panel in front of the two players. Set up is so quick and easy, and although you have to stick together the boards yourself when you first pick up the game, they are nice and chunky and provide a fantastic visualisation of what you will be doing each round. You win if your plane reaches its destination at the correct height, speed, without hitting another plane, by staying level and by deploying all the landing gear and flaps required.

Now this might sound complicated but in practice this is so quick to learn with clear markers as to which dice can be placed where and sliders to allow you to mark where previous dice have been placed. Basically there are an awful lot of ways you can lose in this game and only one way in which you can win. In front of you is a shared player board with various sliders, and a great plastic disc to indicate if the plane is level, as well as two pieces of card that move towards you to indicate your distance to the airport and how close to the ground you are.

Before each round begins you are able to discuss broad strategy, like ‘I think I’ll try and clear these planes in our path ahead’ or ‘I’ll probably try and go for a high engine speed here’ but once you have rolled the dice that communication stops and you have to hope that you are in sync enough to work out what the other is thinking. Well the communication doesn’t quite stop, and this is the real beauty of Sky Team, if I place a low dice somewhere problematic to start off with I am effectively communicating to my other player that I have terrible dice and I need help, perhaps a cup of coffee to allow me to change the value of one of my dice.

Then you roll your four dice and hope for the best, not knowing what the person sitting next to you has hidden behind their board. There are two mandatory spaces both of you will need to fill, one for the level of the plane and the other for the engine speed and everything else on a given round is optional leaving you agonising over lowering a piece of landing gear or ‘wasting’ an action to bank a coffee for a later round. As you lower the landing gear and deploy the flaps the resistance means you need to go faster to move forward meaning higher dice for the engine are required, something that can like many things in this game lead you to crash.

Have We Landed Yet

This game simulates the drama of landing a plane so well, creating moments of tension, fear and hi-fives in equal measures. Once you’ve mastered the initial setup, this game box has a whole treasure trove full of additional airports, modules and content for you to work through meaning that you’ve got an awful lot more flying, crashing and hopefully landing ahead of you before you’ve seen everything including having to ensure the intern is fully trained or you guessed it, you crash.

Sky Team is almost unequivocally an instant recommendation from me, it’s fast, fun and the first set up can be taught to almost anyone but delve deeper and there are a host of complex and tough puzzles for you and another player to solve. I would recommend them all apart from the real time mode which just felt unnecessary and if that’s my only criticism of the game then I think we have a future classic on our hands here that everyone should try landing.

That moment where all the passengers clap? That is the feeling you’ll get from Sky Team. The art and the components are fantastic, the amount you’re getting in the box for the price is equally brilliant and I really hope Sky Team lands with you as much as it has landed with me.

Do you ever sit with your other half thinking about how nice it would be if you didn’t have to talk to them?

No, just me?

Just in case I’m not alone on this, I might have a recommendation for a two-player game where communication is limited, but fun isn’t.

Sky Team is a 2023 release from Luc Remond, and is a two-player only game of dice placement, cooperation and tension. One player acts a pilot, the other as co-pilot. Each player secretly rolls their four dice behind a screen and then takes it in turn to place them on the main central board. By the end of the game, you need to make sure that the landing gear is ready, the plane is level, and the sky is traffic-free. Whilst all of this might sound reasonably straightforward, the wrinkle of the game is that players cannot discuss their dice or where they’re going to place them.

Can You Hea-throw Some Good Numbers?

Some of you might be still wondering where the challenge is in Sky Team. It’s worth noting that of the four dice you’ll place, two of them must be used on the axis and the engine, meaning that realistically you only have a maximum of two other dice to get landing gear sorted and other planes moved… and that’s just on the starting scenario.

When you buy Sky Team, you’re not just buying a game. You’re buying a series of scenarios which get gradually harder. You may have an intern to train (which can be quite useful if you roll poorly) or have a kerosene leak. You might be approaching an icy runway, or have to contend with the wind. The absolute worst thing is trying to deal with additional traffic getting in the way of landing safely.

As a means of mitigating bad dice rolls, you can use dice to gain coffee cups. This allows you to adjust the number of a dice roll by one. You also have at least one reroll token in a game, but not being able to discuss your dice may mean using it when you don’t have to. Even worse, your partner scowling at you and saying, “I’m not going to reroll because my dice are FINE.”

Finally, some scenarios give you help cards which can be used either once a game or once a round, depending on their ability. These can allow players to swap dice, gain an extra dice or gain extra rerolls. This can be the difference between a safe landing or a wobbly engagement with terra firma.

Expect Some Turbulence…

Before I wax lyrical about what made Sky Team one of my favourite 2023 releases, I’ll delve into why this game may not be for everyone. First of all its entirely possible to just lose a game purely from bad dice rolls. In one game, we were in the last round and needed to roll dice numbers as low as possible. I rolled four sixes, used the reroll token and rolled a five and three sixes. Some people may not like a game which can be won or lost on luck. On top of this, the idea of not communicating may not sit well with some. This is only a game you should play with someone who you know well. For some, the joy of cooperative play is talking and hypothesising, and whilst you can do this between rounds, there’s no opportunity to discuss changes and reactions.

…Before Getting To A Cruising Altitude

If you’re still with me and aren’t put off by either of those things, then I can safely say that you’ll have a great time with Sky Team for several reasons.

Although communication isn’t allowed, there are ways to communicate with your partner without using words or actions. You can do it through your dice placement. Sometimes I might avoid placing a die on either the engine or axis because I want to see what my partner has first. The more you play Sky Team with the same person, you can start to see their thought process. There’s a method which could get repetitive, but doesn’t because Sky Team has so much variability. There’s even variability to be found when doing some scenarios over again, through the help cards and the traffic dice.

Sky Team is also short enough to not overstay its welcome. From set up to tear down, you can realistically play through a scenario in about 20-30 minutes. This brevity means that you’ll often have a case of “just one more.” Even if you fail a scenario, there’ll be a temptation to try again straight away. Moreover, Sky Team has one more ace up its sleeve, an ace which led to some of my funniest gaming memories last year: the real-time scenarios.

It’s Not Always Plane Sailing

That’s right, Sky Team has real-time scenarios and I’ve honestly never seen a game devolve as much as it did when we tried them. Whether it be my partner forgetting to use a die for the engine and therefore causing an instant loss, or me getting so panicked that I ended up just dropping my dice all over the floor, many laughs were had. I think this is what sets Sky Team apart from other cooperative games with limited communication. Games like The Mind and The Crew give tension and often relief, but I don’t always feel they bring joy. Sky Team does. There is joy to be found in its simplicity.

Final Thoughts

Sky Team gets the seal of approval from me without question. It’s a prospect that seems daunting when you see the sheer number of ways to lose a game, but it’s just pure fun. Despite only owning a copy for about four months, Sky Team has found its way onto our table upwards of thirty times, as well as games we’ve played on Board Game Arena. It’s currently flying up the BoardGameGeek rankings, and I really wouldn’t be surprised to see it land in the top 100 soon!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Fantastic and unique theme
  • Huge amount of content
  • Fast, quick and fun co-operative game

Might not like

  • Real time mode
  • You have to stick the board together
  • Limited communication tough with people you dont know