The players are running competing airship firms. You will choose which possible aspects of the firm to invest in making more efficient. Will you gather resources from suppliers or buy them at the market? Will you spend those resources on buildings, on upgrades for your airships, or deliver them to customers? The aim of the game is to score the most victory points!
On your turn, you can take any combination of the seven different actions available to you, in any order. Each action costs a number of Action Points (AP) to take, and you only have five AP per turn; you may spend as many of your AP as they wish on one or more actions (the same or different), in any combination you can afford. However, initially, most of the actions cost six AP, which means you can't take that action even if you did nothing else on your turn. At first, the only action you can take is the Investment action, which costs 3 AP... and permanently reduces the AP cost of any other one of the actions by 1. By repeated Investment, you can take the AP cost of different actions down as low as 1 AP, so after Investing enough you could take that action 5 times in a turn, or take it twice along with Investment in a different action.
The six other actions are all intended to be something which players can legitimately choose (a) to completely ignore and never invest in, (b) to invest in once so that they can take the action once or twice ever throughout the course of the game, (c) to invest in heavily such that they benefit from doing it multiple times per turn, or somewhere in between.
Halfway through the game, the game switches from Age I to Age II. All the cards available advance to more powerful (and expensive) ones, and the players gain the ability to either increase their actions per turn from 5 to 6, or decrease the cost of Investment from 3 AP to 2 AP.
The game has three resources: money, wood, and steel. Players start with £X, no wood cubes, and no steel cubes. Money is spent on airships or resource bundles at the Market, upgrades at R&D, or structures via Building. It is gained by selling resources via Commerce Flight, or from upgrades or buildings. Wood and steel are spent on VPs or money via Commerce Flight, or structures via Building. They are gained via Goods Flight, resource bundles from the Market, or from upgrades or buildings.
You start the game with 5 AP per turn, to be spent among the available actions:
Investment: Costs 3 AP. Reduce the AP cost of any other action by 1 AP, to a minimum of 1 AP.
Market: Initial cost 6 AP. Either buy a new airship from the standard airship supply, or buy one resource bundle from the currently visible resource bundle cards from the Market deck, paying its cost in money.
Research: Buy new components for your airships, either a standard Cargo Bay from the supply, or one of the currently visible upgrade cards from the Research deck, paying its cost in money.
Hangar: Configure or reconfigure your airship components. Each upgrade, including the Cargo Bay that each airship starts with, has two modes, and is acquired in the first mode. In a Hangar action you get to reconfigure each one of your upgrades once (if you want to). Some upgrades will give a benefit when reconfigured.
Goods Flight: Choose one airship. Fill each of its cargo holds with resources according to its capacity. (Can Cargo Bays be filled with money directly here as an alternative?)
Commerce Flight: Sell resources for money or VPs. Choose one of your airships and one of the currently visible contract cards from the Commerce Flight deck. If you have the resources available and can fit them in this airship's cargo bays, take that contract card and gain either the VP benefit or the money benefit listed on the card.
Building: Build one of the currently visible building cards from the Building deck, paying either the resource cost or the money cost listed.
Starting Airship: Speed 1. Space for two upgrades. Cargo space for WWS (up to 2 wood cubes and up to 1 steel cube), reconfigurable to WSS.
Age I airships: (Purchased with a Market action) Fast Airship: £6. Speed 2. Standard cargo. 3 upgrade bays. Customisable Airship: £6. Speed 1. Standard cargo. 6 upgrade bays. Capacious Airship: £6. Speed 1. More cargo: two built-in cargo bays, each holding WWS, reconfigurable to hold WSS. 3 upgrade bays.
Age II airships: (Purchased with a Market action) Very Fast Airship: £9. Speed 3. Two cargo bays. One arrives in steel mode. 4 upgrade bays. Very Customisable Airship: £9. Speed 2. Two cargo bays. One arrives in steel mode. Unlimited upgrade bays. Very Capacious Airship: £9. Speed 2. Four cargo bays. Two arrive in steel mode. 4 upgrade bays.
Four of these are visible at any one time. When one is purchased, it is replaced immediately from the current Age's Market deck. Age I resource bundles: (Purchased with a Market action) £2 for WW (3x) £3 for WS (3x) £4 for SS (3x) £3 for WWW (2x) £4 for WWS (2x) £5 for WSS (2x) - 15 total
Age II resource bundles: (Purchased with a Market action) £3 for WWW (2x) £4 for WWS (2x) £5 for WSS (2x) £6 for SSS (2x) £4 for WWWW (2x) £6 for WWSS (2x) £8 for SSSS (2x) - 14 total
Each upgrade has a first mode, in which it arrives when purchased, and a second mode. The Hangar action can be used to switch modes of any or all of your upgrades. In some cases the second mode will be just better than the first; in most, however, the two sides will each be situationally better at different times (though the second mode may tend to be a bit better).
Standard upgrades (many copies in the supply): Cargo Bay: Age I, £3. Contains WW // contains WS.
Something for the Market player: Age I, £3 Whenever you load steel, you may sell 1 steel for (fair price - £4?) // Whenever you load wood, you may sell 1 wood for (fair price - £3?) I may want several copies of this? x3?
Age I, £3 Whenever you gain one or more W, you may load an extra S. // Whenever you gain one or more S, you may load two extra W.
Age II, £6 Whenever you load goods, you may sell up to 2 for £3 each. // Whenever you load goods, you may sell WS for £8.
Something for the Research player: Age I, £3 Age II, £4 Worth 1VP for each upgrade you've bought (including this one) // Worth that plus a bonus 2VP.
Something for the Hangar player: Most upgrade have some extra benefit for Hangar players. But for the more focused Hangar player: Age I, £2. Whenever you reconfigure this, fill its cargo slot with W // S.
Age II, £4 Whenever you reconfigure this or other upgrades, gain £1 for every two upgrades reconfigured. // Whenever you reconfigure this or other upgrades, gain 1VP for every two upgrades reconfigured.
Something for the Goods Flight and Commerce Flight players: Age I, £3 Whenever you collect Goods, gain £2 // Whenever you collect Goods, gain 1VP and £1.
Age I, £3 Whenever you collect Goods, gain 1VP // Whenever you fulfil a Commerce contract, gain 1VP
Age I, £3 Whenever you fulfil a Commerce contract, gain £2 // Whenever you fulfil a Commerce contract, gain 1VP and £1.
Age II, £4 Whenever you collect Goods, gain VP equal to your speed // Whenever you fulfil a Commerce contract, gain VP equal to your speed
Something for the Building player: Hmm, conceptually airship upgrades don't affect buildings much. Perhaps... Whenever you load wood, put 1 extra wood on your building spot, to be spent on buildings only. // Whenever you load steel, put 1 extra steel on your building spot, to be spent on buildings only.
Age I contracts deck: WS: 2VP, + 2VP if speed >1 (x3) WW: 2VP, + 2VP if speed >1 (x3) WWS: 4VP (x2) WSS: 4VP (x2)
- 10 total
Age II contracts deck: WWSS: 5VP x1, plus a version -1VP with +4VP if speed >2 WWWS: 5VP x1, plus a version -1VP with +4VP if speed >2 WWWW: 5VP x1, plus a version -1VP with +4VP if speed >2 WSSS: 6VP, +3VP if speed >1 SSSS: 6VP, +3VP if speed >1 WWWWWW: 8VP WWWSSS: 9VP SSSSSS: 12VP WWSS: 3VP x your speed (x2) WS: 1VP per completed contract (x2)
- 15 total
Something for the Market player: A lot of the standard "WS > 3VP" work with the Market player buying resources Something for the Research player: I guess the high-volume contracts that need more cargo capacity than standard ship are suited to the Research player who's been buying Cargo Bays Something for the Hangar player: Make sure the high-volume contracts are mixed up, WWWW, SSSS, WWSS, etc. Something for the Goods Flight player: A lot of the standard "WS > 3VP" work with the Goods Flight player collecting resources Something for the Commerce Flight player: The two that say "1VP per contract you've completed" Something for the Building player: Anything here?
Something for the Market player: Age I, £2 or W? (one wood plus any one resource cube) Resource bundles cost you £1 less. Age II, £4 or WWS Worth 3VP per airship you have
Something for the Research player: Age I, WW or £2 Whenever you take the Research action, you may buy two upgrades rather than one (paying full price for both). Age I, WS or £3 Whenever you take the Research action, you may sell an existing upgrade for its cost first. (It is removed from the game.)
Something for the Hangar player: Age I, £3 or WS Whenever you reconfigure a cargo bay, put one cube into it.
Something for the Goods Flight player: Age I, £3 Whenever you collect Goods, gain 1 wood straight into your warehouse. Age II, £4 Whenever you collect Goods, gain 1 wood and 1 steel straight into your warehouse.
Something for the Commerce Flight player: Anything here?
Something for the Building player: Age II, £6 or WWSS Worth 2VP per building you have
When any one of the following criteria are met, the Age ends:
Players' total investment exceeds some target number
Any one deck runs out (resource bundles, upgrades, contract cards, buildings)
When Age I ends, all Age I cards from all decks that have not yet been purchased are removed from the game. Deal out cards from the Age II decks instead. Also, each player receives their Bonus tile. They can lay the Bonus tile on their player board either way up. On one side it reduces the cost of Investment from 3 AP to 2 AP. On the other side it increases the player's total available AP from 5 to 6.
When Age II ends, that's the end of the game! Count up your victory points and see who's won. In case of a tie, wear it.
I currently worry that this game may be inherently impossible to balance. Is it actually achievable to have six(ish) actions, all of which it's feasible to either never do, do once or twice, or do multiple times per turn? It feels difficult, clearly, but potentially doable... maybe? --AC Perhaps I need a mechanism to reward players for doing something that the other players aren't doing. Investing in something that nobody has yet reached that investment level gets you some bonus? Or maybe the competition for the cards from the decks, particularly the upgrades and buildings that encourage particular combinations of investments, will be enough? --AC