This Sky Team review was made after playing the game about 20 times (four in Montreal and ~16 in other cities).
What is Sky Team?
Sky Team Rules Overview
In Sky Team, you and your teammate’s goal is to land your plane safely. You do this by working together as the pilot and co-pilot to control the plane’s axis, engines, brakes, landing gear, and flaps. You also have to use the plane’s radio to communicate with the control tower to make sure there are no planes in your way as you make your approach.
What makes the game extra challenging is that you can never talk about your dice with your teammate. The only time you can talk is before you roll your dice each round, but even then you can’t talk about specific dice values that you want/need. The discussion is really about planning for what’s most important in the coming round, such as clearing planes or getting the landing gear ready.
Once both players roll their four dice, you take turns placing them on the board. You can place the dice on any spots that have your role’s color, but both players have to place dice in the Axis and Engines spots each round. The Axis controls the tilt/balance of the plane, while the Engines control the speed. When you move forward, you move the Approach Track toward you and you get closer to the airport.
The other key actions are the Landing Gear action (pilot) and the Flaps action (co-pilot). These take specific dice values and you need to activate each section of them to be able to land.
The Brakes action is used by the pilot. It also takes specific dice values and can be activated one, two, or three times throughout the game.
There’s also a Concentration action that both players can use. Anytime you place a die there, it will give you a coffee cup token that can be spent to increase or decrease a future die by one.
At the end of each round, you move the Altitude Track toward you, simulating getting closer to the ground.
If the airport is showing on the Approach Track and the image of the plane landing is showing on the Altitude Track, you’ll move on to the final round and attempt to land the plane. You’ll win if all of the airplane tokens have been removed, the landing gear and flaps have been activated, the axis is level, and your speed (the value of your combined dice) is lower than the current Brakes level.
After you’ve landed the plane in that opening Montreal scenario, you can then attempt to land at one of the other 20 airports included in the game. Most of the scenarios add in additional modules, including icy runways, variable wind conditions, fuel issues, or even a real-time module. Those scenarios also allow you to pick one or more special abilities to use throughout the game.
Check out the Best Cheap Co-op Board Games!
Sky Team – Pros and Cons
- Sky Team is one of the most balanced cooperative board games I’ve ever played. Every game I’ve played has gone to or near the wire, and it seems like anything can be the one thing that keeps you from landing the plane. It makes the game consistently (and satisfyingly) intense. It must have taken a lot of testing to get this game that tight. It’s very impressive.
- I’ve played a lot of limited communication games, but this one just feels different, in a good way. You can’t talk about your dice, but you still have to try to read why your teammate played the die that they did and why they played it in that location. You do get better at it as you play, and it’s very satisfying when you both get perfect reads during a round.
- The replay value here is through the roof. Even the basic Montreal scenario has a lot of replayability, but on top of that you have 20 other airports that add in new modules and different ways to play, and the dice always change up how the game plays out. If I gave replay value ratings, Sky Team would get at least a 9.5 out of 10.
- Once you get the basic rules down, Sky Team has a great flow to it. You can get through a game in 15 minutes or less, but it still feels like a complete board game experience. You definitely get more of a full gaming experience here than you do in most other filler games.
- I like that both roles are equally important. I was worried that the pilot would have more crucial work to do, but you really do rely on each other equally to pull off the landing.
- Other than the no-talking thing (see the first con), the designer nailed the theme. You really do feel like you’re in a cockpit trying to manually land a plane.
- Sky Team is very easy to teach. I’ve taught four people so far and it never took more than five minutes for them to fully understand the basics.
- I honestly don’t care about this anymore, but why can’t the pilots talk to each other? I get that they’re making on-the-fly decisions, but pilots definitely do communicate as they fly. Thematically that makes no sense to me, but mechanically it makes the game great. It’s a minor con now, but it did bug me before I actually played the game.
- The little markers that you move to adjust the speed, axis, and brakes don’t fit in their slots very well. They popped out from minor table bumps a bunch of times while we were playing.
- The cover art could have been better. I don’t mind it, but it doesn’t stand out in any way. I worry that a lot of the people who see the game at their local shops will skip over it because of the cover. That’s a shame because they’ll be skipping over a pretty awesome game.
Sky Team – Final Thoughts
Sky Team is one of the better two-player cooperative games that I’ve played. If I had the idea to make a two-player game about landing planes at airports all around the world, this is pretty much the game I’d be hoping for. It’s tense, it’s thematic, it has a massive amount of replayability, and it’s just plain fun to play every time it hits the table. This one’s special.
If you really don’t like this aviation theme, then maybe don’t get Sky Team. To everyone else, if you want an excellent new two-player cooperative game in your life, I highly recommend checking out Sky Team.
Sky Team Links
Thanks for taking the time to read our Sky Team review!
Subscribe to our newsletter if you want more co-op board game content sent right to your inbox!