11 Best Air Combat Board Games Ranked

To dominate the skies, you'll need tactics and luck. From historical dogfights to strategic missions, each game here delivers.
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Wings of Glory coverDown in Flames: Locked-On cover

When we are sketching out a list of air combat board games we are eager to introduce to new players, it’s crucial for us to gauge their qualities from multiple fronts: gameplay complexity, historical accuracy, aesthetic appeal, and most importantly, the fun we had maneuvering through feisty dogfights with friends. A dive into this soaring genre is always more thrilling when the titles capture that heart-pounding rush with wings at your fingertips. Whether it involves tactical decision-making or dice-rolling for daring maneuvers, these games are the cream of the crop, carefully chosen for the aviators at heart looking for their next tabletop sortie.

Games on this list:

11 Wings of Glory

Wings of Glory cover

  • Age Range: 13+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 30-60 min

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We started with ‘Wings of Glory’ because it strikes a great balance between historical accuracy and accessible gameplay. Maneuvering our WWI biplanes using the unique movement system was intuitive yet deep. It was a hit in our game night for the way it captured the tension of dogfights without overwhelming us with rules.

10 Memoir ’44: New Flight Plan

  • Age Range: 14+
  • Players: 2-6
  • Play Time: 60 min

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Next up, ‘Memoir ’44: New Flight Plan’. This expansion to Memoir ’44 brought air combat to the forefront; it wasn’t simply tacking on planes—it was redefining our strategy. The aircraft added another layer to the already deep tactical gameplay, keeping us on our toes every session.

9 Down in Flames: Locked-On

Down in Flames: Locked-On cover

  • Age Range: 12+
  • Players: 2-8
  • Play Time: 30-45 min

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‘Down in Flames: Locked-On’ impressed us with its card-based action; it perfectly simulated the fast pace of modern aerial dogfights. Each of us controlling a jet engaged in head-to-head combat had us appreciating the game’s nod to realism while enjoying the thrill of outmaneuvering our opponents.

8 Blue Max: World War I Air Combat

Blue Max: World War I Air Combat cover

  • Age Range: 12+
  • Players: 2-6
  • Play Time: 45 min

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‘Blue Max: World War I Air Combat’ brought us back to the days of the great aces. The hex-based movement and combat mechanics made it easy for us to plan our sorties. We all felt like we were directly inside our own little piece of history, complete with all the daring it entailed.

7 Check Your 6!

Check Your 6! cover

  • Age Range: 12+
  • Players: 2+
  • Play Time: 60-180 min

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Tackling ‘Check Your 6!’ was like attending a masterclass in air warfare tactics. The game demanded we carefully consider each move due to its deep and unforgiving system. This level of detail made our victories exceptionally rewarding, especially when our carefully laid plans came to fruition.

6 Wild Blue Yonder

Wild Blue Yonder cover

  • Age Range: 12+
  • Players: 2-7
  • Play Time: 30-240 min

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‘Wild Blue Yonder’ was a card-driven gaming experience with an emphasis on team play. We reveled in forming up our squadrons and diving into campaigns that spanned numerous missions. Its blend of tactical detail and historic campaigns made every session a narrative spectacle.

5 Bomber Command

Bomber Command cover

  • Age Range: 14+
  • Players: 2
  • Play Time: 120-240 min

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Delving into the role of night-time bombing raids, ‘Bomber Command’ offered us a gripping simulation of WW2 air combat from the bombers’ perspective. Managing fuel, payload, and stealth was a nerve-wracking experience that highlighted the deadly cat-and-mouse games of war’s strategic level.

4 Thunderbolt Apache Leader

Thunderbolt Apache Leader cover

  • Age Range: 14+
  • Players: 1
  • Play Time: 60+ minutes

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Thunderbolt Apache Leader is a solitaire board game that offers a deep air combat experience, focusing on the intricacies of modern aerial warfare. Much like Fighter Wing: Eastern Front – 1943, it provides players with mission planning and an engaging campaign system. What makes it worthy of our list is the attention to detail in its scenarios and aircraft capabilities, offering a rich narrative and strategic depth. It shifts the setting from WWII to more contemporary conflicts, which provides a fresh take on the air combat genre. Players can expect a thought-provoking and immersive solo gameplay that is just as detailed and demanding as the experience given by Fighter Wing.

3 Whistling Death

Whistling Death cover

  • Age Range: 15+
  • Players: 2-6
  • Play Time: 30 min – infinite

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We couldn’t get enough of ‘Whistling Death’. As a standout game in the Fighting Wings series, it took in-depth combat tactics to the skies of WW2’s Pacific Theatre. The commitment to air combat simulation here was serious business; perfect for our group of history buffs looking for a challenge.

2 Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942

Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942 cover

  • Age Range: 14+
  • Players: 1-2
  • Play Time: 60-120 min

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There’s something about ‘Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942’ that made it an essential play for us. The side-scrolling air battles are not just uniquely presented; they provided us with an accessible yet strategic representation of air warfare, making each game both an aesthetic joy and a brain-teaser.

1 Wings of War: Famous Aces

Wings of War: Famous Aces cover

  • Age Range: 10+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 20-60 min

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And finally, the best for the last—’Wings of War: Famous Aces’. This game enthralled us with its ease of use and rapid-paced gameplay that authentically replicated WWI dogfighting. Simple yet full of tactical depth, it allowed each of us to feel heroic like those famous aces of yore, making it a top pick in our ‘The 11 best Air Combat board games’ list for absolute entertainment and replayability.

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.