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Subject: Weapons Track variant: alternative to flicking a disc (countdown style!) rss

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Callan Finn
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...ok, so... first, I LOVE Space Cadets, its a great game.

The one tiny problem I have about this game? And its a tiny, insignificant little problem (so insignificant I decided to make a variant to eradicate it, apparently)...

...it's the weapons track... first, let me just say: I get it. It makes sense. You should totally have to flick a little disc along a track to see how much damage you hit for. Makes total sense to the theme, and I honestly can't think of a better way to represent this in a mini game... personally, I just dislike physical dexterity in my boardgames. I also dislike how the timer fits into this mini-game.. it seems a little pointless to me, even on a bad day with seeker missiles, it doesn't take 30 seconds to flick a disc 3 or 4 times. There's not enough stress on firing those guns! Finally, I really didn't like how pointless range seemed to be - given how randomly the disc seems to flick, that half an inch difference you're really only going to notice if its on 1 or 6.

If you're in the same boat as me, I present to you: a COUNTDOWN variant to dealing out damage. How is countdown a better minigame then flicking a little disc to represent your shot? Easy - the word you spell out is the sound your missile makes when it explodes!

This variant is a spelling minigame... and the idea is, the better the sound your explosion makes, the more damage it does. What? Sound doesn't travel through space you say? Well, you try explaining how spelling is a better re-theme then disc flicking! (The fact is, its not)


What the heck is COUNTDOWN?:
Personally, I've never seen it, I think its more of a British thing, but basically its a spelling game - you select a series of random consonants and vowels, and do your best to make a word that's as long as you can get in 30 seconds. Sounds easy right? Well...

What you need:
Not much - scrabble letter tiles. If you don't own scrabble, you can print out individual letters on some piece of paper or cards/etc - I recommend 2 of each letter. You'll also need a small notepad and a pencil for the new weapons station. That's it (I hope to upload a printable station for this eventually, so, stay tuned!)

Setup:
During setup, separate the tiles into two piles - consonants and vowels. The letter 'Y' should be included in the 'vowel' pile. Shuffle each pile separately, with the tiles face down. If you're playing with paper/card tiles, it may help to give the consonants a different back to the vowels so you can tell them apart when they're face down.

Preparing your station:
Determine the range of your target. Depending on the range, you are limited in your selection of tiles - for each range above 0, you must draw at a minimum that number of vowels. You may draw more, if you like, but this can severely limit your choices at longer range.
So, for example, at range 1, you must draw at least 1 vowel. You can draw more then 1 if you prefer, but you must have at least 1. At range 5, you must draw at least 5 vowels. This can be severely limiting, but that's the point.

How the station works:
When the timer starts, you may start drawing tiles from either the consonants or vowels pile. You may draw them one at a time, or all at the same time - its up to you. Drawing them one at a time lets you better choose how many extra vowels you think you might need, but drawing them all at once saves time. Remember, you MUST draw your minimum number of vowels based off your range.

You are only allowed to draw a total of 7 tiles - once these tiles are drawn, you're stuck with them (unless you're using seeker missiles, see below). Start writing on your piece of paper. You're writing words out of the letters you've drawn! These words are the sound your missile makes when it hits the enemy ship! (So what if your missile makes the sound 'purple' when it hits an enemy ship, its your missile!)

The more words you get, the more shots you get in (you can still only get as many shots in as you have missile tubes loaded, however!) The longer the words are, the more damage you do! And remember, if the word isn't written down on the paper when the timer stops, it doesn't count.

Damage:
For each word (ie, missile), you do damage based off its length. Compare the words length with the following:


Word
Length: No lock Lock Superlock!
3 0 1 1
4 1 2 3
5 2 3 5
6 2 4 7
7 3 5 9


You'll note, this track is the same as the weapons track, except its calculated by word length! As per usual, if you have a tractor beam on the target, you do double damage.

Seeker Missiles:
Seeker missiles work similar to how they do in the base game - to use a seeker missile, you declare it and load two missiles in the torpedo tube. Both puzzles must be completed during step 3 (action) in order for the seeker missile to be successfully loaded.
With a seeker missiles, after you have drawn your 7 tiles, you may discard up to 3 tiles of either consonants or vowels, and draw replacement tiles. You must still have the same minimum number of vowels as determined by you range, so if you discard vowels so that you're below your minimum vowel target, you MUST draw vowels back up until you reach your minimum. The discarded tiles can NOT be used, so you're stuck with whatever you draw up instead. You do not need to spell out 2 words for the seeker missile, just one (you already did the work when you loaded those two torpedo tubes, after all).

What are acceptable words?
This isn't scrabble. As long as its a word, its fine. It doesn't have to be in the dictionary. Heck, it can even be just a sound - after all, thats the point. 'BOOOMM! is a perfectly acceptable sound for a missile hitting a ship. But, it doesn't have to be an explody sound - Proper nouns, slang, rude words, whatever. 'Nick', 'Tommy', 'Gday', 'lamewad' - all are acceptable. If the table agrees its a word, its a word. If you find yourself making arguments like this: "Qajkd! I say that all the time... can I use it in a sentence? Sure... its kind of like a curse or exclamation - 'Qajkd! I've only got 5 seconds left and I'm not sure if this is a real word!'... no... well, its probably a word in SOME language" then you should probably stop playing... this variant is not for you.

Explosion sounds (that the table agree are definitely explosion sounds) are totally acceptable, and encouraged!

So... how are these words related to my missile blowing up a ship again?
Its the sound your missile makes when it attacks the ship. You're the weapons officer, you can program it to make any damn sound you want! Ignore the rules of physics that say sound doesn't travel through space, that's what the sensors are for!

Sensor Officer: "...the ship's destroyed captain... I'm picking up an odd signal coming from the wreckage..."
Captain: "On screen!"
Wreckage: "...DENNIS!"
Weapons Offier: "Hecks yeah! DENNIS JUST BLEW YOU UP!"
Captain: "Dennis, did you really program your missile to say your name when it exploded?"
Weapons Officer: "Of course!"
Engineer: "How is that even possible? Sound doesn't even travel through space!"
Weapons Officer: "You shut your face!"


So, let me know what you think. Like I said, this variant isn't for everyone. The theme is a bit of a stretch, flicking discs at a target is certainly a LOT better way to represent a missile in space, but, I really dislike the physical dexterity part of this game - maybe I'm just uncoordinated, but to me its the one flaw in an otherwise marvelous game. I hope you enjoy my variant, and would appreciate any feedback
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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Sounds like fun! We may try this out sometime.

Geoff
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Callan Finn
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Hmm, as a side note: 2 of each letter is a lot of tiles. Feel free to only have 1 of the following letters in their respective piles:

"J, K, Q, Z, X, V, W, Y, U"

Brings the tile numbers down to 43 - 10 vowels, 33 consonants. Probably a little easier to manage then 52 tiles... not much, but every bit of table space helps.
 
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Barry Figrim
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Looks awesome! I'll try the disc when I get my copy, then try your variant. I agree with you in principle: I'm a little hesitant to mix a dexterity game into my board gaming, although I guess it's no different than the sensor operator relying on their physical sense of touch.
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Karl
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clublock wrote:
I also dislike how the timer fits into this mini-game.. it seems a little pointless to me, even on a bad day with seeker missiles, it doesn't take 30 seconds to flick a disc 3 or 4 times. There's not enough stress on firing those guns!


Its not the flicking that is timed, but the building of the torpedoes. Depending on your skills filling 3 or four forms in 30 seconds IS a challenge.
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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kilrah wrote:
clublock wrote:
I also dislike how the timer fits into this mini-game.. it seems a little pointless to me, even on a bad day with seeker missiles, it doesn't take 30 seconds to flick a disc 3 or 4 times. There's not enough stress on firing those guns!


Its not the flicking that is timed, but the building of the torpedoes. Depending on your skills filling 3 or four forms in 30 seconds IS a challenge.


Officially the flicking is also timed at 30 seconds, but honestly most people ignore that, which is fine. The timer was actually put on that after one playtest group (you know who you are!) had ENDLESS discussions about exactly where to launch their shots and then complained the game took to long.

Geoff
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Tom Rhoads
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My experience is that the time limit to launch doesn't put much pressure on the WO. I suppose if you had 4 torps it would be an issue, but we've never yet had that many!

On the other hand, my initial experience with the flicking is that my first shot invariably goes off the end of the board, if not the table. In our last game, we enforced the 30 second limit, but allowed the WO to take practice flicks before actually shooting - as long as all the flicking was done in 30 seconds.

TomR
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Callan Finn
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beri wrote:
Looks awesome! I'll try the disc when I get my copy, then try your variant. I agree with you in principle: I'm a little hesitant to mix a dexterity game into my board gaming, although I guess it's no different than the sensor operator relying on their physical sense of touch.


Awesome, I look forward to hearing your feedback!

Surprisingly, I really like the sensor station. But, that's just me - I also suck at it, but, I do like it a LOT.

engelstein wrote:
kilrah wrote:
clublock wrote:
I also dislike how the timer fits into this mini-game.. it seems a little pointless to me, even on a bad day with seeker missiles, it doesn't take 30 seconds to flick a disc 3 or 4 times. There's not enough stress on firing those guns!


Its not the flicking that is timed, but the building of the torpedoes. Depending on your skills filling 3 or four forms in 30 seconds IS a challenge.


Officially the flicking is also timed at 30 seconds, but honestly most people ignore that, which is fine. The timer was actually put on that after one playtest group (you know who you are!) had ENDLESS discussions about exactly where to launch their shots and then complained the game took to long.

Geoff


Ah, that explains a lot. And yeah, we mostly ignore it, hence why I thought a little bit more stress in regards to time on the station would be a nice a addition.


trhoads wrote:
My experience is that the time limit to launch doesn't put much pressure on the WO. I suppose if you had 4 torps it would be an issue, but we've never yet had that many!

On the other hand, my initial experience with the flicking is that my first shot invariably goes off the end of the board, if not the table. In our last game, we enforced the 30 second limit, but allowed the WO to take practice flicks before actually shooting - as long as all the flicking was done in 30 seconds.

TomR


I'm in the exact same boat, this is how we've started playing when using the weapons track. Its for all these reasons I was inspired to try something different with this variant.
 
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