Microgame of the Month: Space Planes
Space Planes is a wargame for two to six players. It creates a pseudo-3D battle on a 2D tabletop depicting a brutal interstellar civil war among the Planarions, who have discovered a radical new technology for travelling in the long-hypothesised “third dimension”.
You will need:
- A flat space (roughly 12-inch by 12-inch per player)
- A deck of playing cards to act as your targeting deck (keep the jokers to one side for measuring movement)
- Up to six cubes (unwanted dice are fine)
- One die (d6) per cube
Copy the ship cube footprint (below right) for each ship, stick them to your cubes, trim to fit, maintain orientation.
Share the Cubeships evenly among the players. Starting with the squarest player, take turns passing left, placing Cubeships on the playing surface with any face up and a die next to them showing a face of the player’s choice (this is the Cubeship’s plane die). Each Cubeship after the first must be placed further than one long card edge length from any other ship but within two long card edge lengths of at least one other ship, and may not have the same number showing on their plane dice as an already placed ship.
Starting with the player who placed first and passing left, players take turns performing a manoeuvre once and shooting once (in any order) with any of their ships.
Corkscrew: May move short, may roll.
Vector: May move short or long, may pivot.
U-Turn: May pivot up to twice.
Plane Switch: May move short, may change plane dice to any number not matching that of another ship.
Cubeships may move short or long, and may also pivot or roll.
To move long: place the long edge of the joker with one corner touching one corner of the Cubeship and the long edge touching an edge of the ship, then move the ship along the long edge until two different corners are touching.
To move short: place the short edge of the joker with one corner touching one corner of the Cubeship and the short edge touching an edge of the ship, then move the ship along the short edge until two different corners are touching.
To pivot: place the long edge of the joker touching one edge of the Cubeship, then push the ship while keeping at least one corner stationary until a different edge of the ship touches the same long edge of the joker.
To roll: flip the Cubeship from one face to another while keeping at least two corners stationary. If a ship rolls as part of a corkscrew manoeuvre, then immediately reorient all other ships.
To reorient: ships with a higher plane die than the corkscrewing ship are moved in the same direction that it was flipped long once for each point their plane die was higher. Ships with a lower plane die are moved in the opposite direction long once for each point they were lower. Then flip all other ships once, in the same direction as the original corkscrewing ship. Then set all plane dice equal to the corkscrewing ship’s plane die.
If any movement would cause a Cubeship to leave the playing area or collide with another ship, cancel it and immediately end that turn.
To shoot, attacker and target check range then flip cards from the targeting deck. If the attacker’s card is 4+ higher than the target’s then remove the target and the attacker scores 1 point.
Aces count as 1, Jacks 11, Queens 12, Kings 13. If the targeting deck runs out, reshuffle it.
Cubeships cannot shoot other Cubeships with a different plane die value.
To check range: draw a line up to the length of a long joker edge from a green blocked shape on the attacking ship’s upper face crossing no black lines (that are not an edge), if it touches an enemy ship it is in range.
When the attacker flips cards: if the target is in range and if the range line crosses the blue single hash marks on their ship they flip 1; if it crosses only red double hash marks on their ship they flip 3 (keeping the highest).
When the target flips cards: if the attacker is in range and if the range line crosses the blue single hash marks on their ship they flip 1; if it crosses only the red double hash marks they flip 2 (keeping the highest). If the attacker is not in range they flip 2 (keeping the lowest).
When only one player has Cubeships remaining, the game ends and the player with the most points wins.
WHO MADE THIS?
Glenn Ford is lead developer for Planet Smasher Games, the design studio behind Osprey Games’ Gaslands and the upcoming deep space fleet skirmish game A Billion Suns (designed by Gaslands author Mike Hutchinson), due to be published by Osprey in 2020. He is also lead designer for Man O’ Kent games, publisher of sci-fi survival horror game SSO and Moonflight, a ‘deck un-builder’ launching on Kickstarter late summer 2019, and a range of free-to-play skirmish games. manokentgames.com
This game originally appeared as Microgame of the Month in the August 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue