On my previous post, I introduced Thunder Run to Gratis-3, the game I plan to submit as my entry in the TGC miniatures game design contest. I’ll use this post to go over a few of the basics of the game. I’ll follow with a post or two more about some of the details. (This process isn’t just about sharing this with those who might be curious — I’m also doing it to help me organize the information that will go into the rule booklet. 😉 )
The game board (pictured to the right) is made up of a pair of 10×16-inch game mats set end-to-end, for a 10×32-inch playing area. The players’ Carriers all start on the Jump Gate on the left side of the board, and travel from location-to-location (the large rectangular spaces) along the path until they arrive at the planet Gratis-3 on the right side of the board.
Each player starts the game with the components shown in the upper-left: a Carrier, 6 “Remote Attack Vehicles” (RAVs – 2 bombers & 4 fighters), a Carrier Status card (at the bottom of the pic with the word “Shields” on it), 8 Carrier Command cards, and 16 chips. The chips are used on the Status card, as pictured to the left, to show which of the 4 ships systems are on-line, and how strong the ship’s shields are. All carriers start with all 4 systems online and shields at 2 (of a maximum of 4).
The 4 systems each Carrier has are: (1) NavComp – ability to move the Carrier, (2) RAVs – launching and controlling the RAVs, (3) Defense – increasing shields and firing defensive guns to shoot down enemy RAVs, and (4) Weapons – short range runs and long range missiles (EMPs and Nukes).
The Carrier Command cards consist of actions that can be taken: moving the Carrier, launching RAVs, increasing shields, firing defensive guns and weapons, etc. A 3-card “cool-down queue” is formed in front of the player, with the remaining 5 cards kept in the players hand.
On a player’s turn, take 4 steps: Play a Carrier Command card (it becomes the newest in the cool-down queue) and take the specified actions, Move RAVs, Attack with RAVs, and return the oldest Command card from the cool-down queue back to your hand.
RAVs are added to the board on and moved between the circular spaces. The bombers pack a punch, but are slower and easier to destroy. The fighters are faster and harder to destroy, but only attack well in groups. I’ll go into more details on how attacks work on a future post.
As Carriers are attacked, their Shields are first stripped away, and then the systems can go offline. The picture to the right show a Carrier with the RAVs control offline. When a system is offline, Carrier Commands that make use of that area cannot be carried out. Also, when the RAVs control is offline, the player cannot take any of the RAV-related steps in a turn, which can be quite limiting. No Carrier is ever eliminated, and there is a way for damaged systems to be repaired. There’s also a special Command card that allows the player to do a “manual override” that allows the player to take a limited action with a system that is offline.
Players score the majority of their points by damaging other Carriers’ systems. They also score some points by destroying enemy RAVs and by making it to Gratis-3 before other players. The game ends when all Carriers have made it to the planet.