Sky Team, from designer Luc Rémond and published by Scorpion Masqué & Hachette Boardgames USA is a game all about stress. It’s the stress of knowing that 320 people’s lives are in your hands, nail-bitingly multiplied by the chaotic nature of the scenario and your desperate need to coordinate with a partner who is buried in their own life-or-death struggle and cannot be communicated with reliably or directly. Your pulse will quicken, the sweat will drip freely, and you’ll constantly wonder if your choices will land your plane safely, or if everyone will crash and burn…
Ok theatrics aside, Skyteam is a cooperative, dice-placement game where two players must work together to land their airplane safely. To win the game you must:
- Deploy your landing gear
- Adjust your speed
- Keep the plane level
- Make sure the runway is clear
- Engage your brakes
Simple enough, right? Well, to give everything a sense or urgency, you have to make sure all of those elements are in place before you overrun the landing strip or crash into any planes already in the airspace ahead of you.
The board is sectioned off into dice placement areas that control all of the goals you need to achieve to land safely. Sky Team, which is designed for 2, has each player taking on the role of either Pilot and Co-Pilot. These roles share the ability to contribute to some goals like Axis, Engines, the Radio (and making coffee to increase Concentration. Coffee, of course, is the most important currency there is). But the Pilot is the only player who can affect the Landing gear and brakes, while the Co-Pilot is the only one who can affect the Flaps, so coordination and cooperation are absolutely critical. As is the coffee.
Each turn you will start by discussing your strategy. You can talk about what needs to be done, but you cannot discuss your dice in any way. Once you have your plan, both players will roll all 4 of their dice behind their player shield.
You will then take turns placing one die at a time into a free space on the board. You die must match the color of the space, so the pilot cannot place a die into the copilot-only spaces and vice versa.
Spaces with a exclamation mark must have a die placed on them by the end of the round. If you don’t place there at some point during the round, your pleasant flight will plummet out of the sky, ending the game.
As your plane reaches the runway you’ll need to make sure you balance all the different elements for a safe landing as we mentioned above. Finding that balance is difficult when you don’t know exactly what your partner has rolled and where they are going to place.
Sky Team successfully transforms a seemingly routine landing procedure into an exhilarating cooperative board game. The well-designed mechanics, coupled with the emergent stress of each dice placement, make for an engaging and really enjoyable gameplay experience. And the game comes with several scenarios that add additional rules, including:
- Air traffic you have to actively steer around
- Fuel that has to be managed
- An intern that must be trained mid-flight
- Icy landing strips
And more. And even beyond that, Sky Team has over 20 different approach scenarios, changing up the challenge every time you play. There’s a lot of game in this box, and if you’re in the market for an excellent cooperative dice-placement game for two, then you absolutely have to check out Sky Team!