I am starting to think seriously about implementing campaigns and pilots in Hexcell’s Blue Max game. I am writing out my thinking in a series of articles in part to help clarify my own thoughts and in the hope that it might provoke some feedback before I dig too deep a hole for myself.

I have another post on Campaigns. This post is focused on Pilots and Experience


Pilots will have names, a nationality (Allied or German) and belong to both a player and a campaign. The pilot will only be allowed to play in that campaign and they will only be able to be in one game at a time. Pilots will start as rookies, so they will have to get 50 experience before they can tail or do restricted manuevers. Pilots can die through being shot down, or captured through retiring in to enemy territory.


In the board game observers can also game experience and abilities. For simplicity’s sake the Hexcell implementation will not track experience or abilities for observers only pilots.


Pilots gain experience for surviving each turn and shooting down opponents. These are the same points as are currently awarded to planes in the game, but the pilots experience carries over from game to game. Note that pilots retiring from the game board receive a reduced number of points.

Pilots also record the number of enemy planes they have shot down as a separate tally from experience. A pilot is credited with shooting down a plane if they damaged it (caused it to draw damage chits) in the turn in which it crashes. Several pilots can get credited with shooting down the same plane.

Experience Ranks

Experience Allied Rank German Rank Abilities
0 – 49 Lieutenant Oberleutnant Cannot tail nor perform restricted manuevers.
50 – 99 Captain Hauptmann Can tail and perform restricted manuevers.
100 – 199 Major Major +1 ability *
200 – 349 Lieutenant-Colonel Oberstleutnant +1 ability *
350 – 499 Colonel Oberst +1 ability *
500 – 999 Brigadier-General Generalmajor +1 ability *
1000+ Major-General Generalleutnant +1 ability *

Aircraft shot down

Aircraft shot down Abilities
5 or more Pilot is an Ace. Able to take Ace only abilities.
Every 5 +1 ability *

* A pilot may receive a maximum of five abilities.

Ranks and abilities are awarded between games. Pilots will not suddenly gain an ability in the middle of games. The player will be able to choose the ability they want for their pilot when they earn it. This can include not choosing an ability, saving the choice for later. For example if you want the Ace only abilities but the pilot has not yet shot down his fifth plane.


As pilots gain experience, they receive special abilities. A pilot may choose one ability from the list below when they go up in experience rank or shoot down a multiple of five enemy planes. A pilot may receive a maximum of five abilities.

  • Being Tailed: The pilot may not be tailed by any enemy pilot other than an Ace.
  • Maneuver: The pilot may treat all restricted maneuvers as unrestricted.
  • Tailing: The pilot may tail aircraft at a distance of four hexes instead of only three.
  • Stability: If the pilot’s aircraft has a listed stability of C, it becomes B; if B, it becomes A.
  • Die Roll: The pilot adds one to his combat die roll. A roll of 6 remains 6.
  • Deflection: The pilot ignores the effects of deflection when firing.
  • Fire Value: (Ace only) The pilot always has a fire value modifier of +1, in addition to all other modifiers.
  • Range: (Ace only) If the pilot is firing from a range of 3, the range is considered to be 2. If the pilot is firing from a range of 2, it is considered to be 1. Ranges 1 and 0 are unchanged.

Other considerations

Pilots of Inactive Players

I am still thinking through how to deal with the pilots of inactive users. The current system of letting a new player take over the plane works well, but having a pilot in the plane adds a wrinkle. Pilots belong to players, if they become inactive should I allow other players to use their pilot? Or do I allow them to pickup the plane without a pilot? Or substitute their own pilot? I am a little uncomfortable with putting one player’s pilot into the hands of another, but even more reluctant to have pilots (and their ability set) change mid game.


Are pilots’ abilities secret? I intend for pilot’s identities to be public, so you will know you have just entered a dogfight with Oberst Wolfram. The question is should you also know that he can tail you at distance of four hexes and gets a +1 to his combat values? Another option is that their abilities are secret until they are used, so you would see his +1 in the calculation of his combat values against other players.

Do you have any suggestions on how pilots should be implemented? If so leave a comment here or in the forum.