Jason M. Brown
Light Speed is a 'real time' card game from James Ernest and Tom Jolly. The game is all about intergalactic war (and asteroid mining, kind of a by product of all the fighting that seems to be going on in deep space), with players taking command of a team of ten starships of varying sizes, speeds and power.
Before play begins an asteroid card (or two with more than two players ) is placed in the centre of the playing area with 12 damage counters on it (or 12 on each card for more than two players).
There are two distinct phases to the game - deployment and scoring. During the deployment phase, players place their ships face up on the table as quickly as they can, trying to place them so that their lasers point at opposing ships and/or the asteroid (and not at their own ships!).
Once one player has placed all of his cards the other players must immediately stop, although they can play a card if they are holding it face up by dropping it without properly placing it.
The second phase is the scoring phase. Players use a broken rubber band, a tape measure, a ruler or a very straight monkey to track where their lasers are firing and if they hit anything. The lowest numbered ships fire first (all number 1s) until the number 10 ships fire.
Each ship is firing in a particular direction, and players use their measuring implement to see if the laser hits another card. Most ships also have energy shields which, if hit, absorb lasers of any strength, thus negating any damage it would have done if it had hit a vulnerable part of the ship. So if a laser hits an unprotected edge of the card, damage is calculated by the strength of the laser (there are three laser strengths - all colour coded with either 1, 2 or three points of damage). This amount of damage counters are placed on the ship and if this brings the total damage to equal to or less than the health points total (again displayed on the card), the ship is removed from play and given to the opposing player.
It is possible to hit your own ship - in this case, even though you destroyed it, it still counts against you and goes to your opponent.
If the asteroid is hit, it is mined for the amount of damage equal to the laser strength and the counters placed on the firing ship. If the ship remains in play until the end, each mined counters is worth one victory point. To total scores at the end in addition to the asteroid points, players add up the health values of all ships in their kill pile. The winner is (fairly obviously) the player with the highest total.
Gameplay is fast, furious and fun - deployment often takes less than 30 seconds, scoring around two minutes at most - and several games can be played in as little as 10 minutes. It is quite an addictive experience, not unlike a multiplayer video game, with players almost always eager to play a few more games. Lean, clean gameplay mechanics result in a rewarding and easily understandable game which can be enjoyed by hardcore and casual gamers alike. Highly recommended.