I've always loved games of spaceship battles. The first one I ever
played is still one of the best: GDW's Triplanetary.
Since then I've tried a score of space ship combat games: some are
good, some are poor, some are mediocre. The best ones are those that
represent vector movement in a simple, playable manner - the main
reason Triplanetary is still a great game.
Full Thrust, a set of miniatures rules for space ship
combat, is one of the few games that surpasses
Triplanetary. Nominated for the Origins award on the
1995 ballot, it lost out to Blood Bowl as best
miniatures rules. But in my book, it wins hand down. This is by far
the simplest and most-playable vector movement rules I've ever seen.
Other games may have more intricate rules that return more realistic
results, but Full Thrust combines extreme playability
with very satisfactory vector movement. In my book, if a system is
only 10% as complicated as another system but returns 90% of the
realism, the simpler rules system is by far the better one.
The game runs very smoothly and intuitively. Each ship has a thrust
rating, usually from 2 to 8. Each player plots his ship orders and
they are revealed simultaneously. A written order is easy to write -
a sample might look like:
Ship Vel Order Vel Order Vel Order Vel Order Vel
A 4 +2,S1 6
B 6 P2 6
C 12 - 12
Ship = the ship identifier, usually on the model base.
Vel: current velocity at the start of the turn. After each order, add
the change in velocity to the previous velocity, and record the
result under the next Vel heading.
Order: + or - means change in velocity, S or P means turn to port or
starboard a number of points.
So ship A is increasing its velocity from 4 to 6 (``+2'') and is
turning one point to starboard (right) (``S1''). Ship B is
maintaining its current velocity and is turning two points to port
(left) (``P2''). Ship C has no change in either course or velocity:
it goes straight ahead its current velocity of 12", which will also be
its velocity at the start of the next order phase.
A turning template that fits over a ship model is provided with the
game. A point is simply one twelfth of a circle, or 30 degrees.
Ships turn half of their points at the beginning of movement, and half
at the mid-point of movement. So ship B would turn one point to the
left, move three inches, turn another point to the left, then move a
final three inches.
A ship may change velocity by its current thrust rating. It may
change course by half its current thrust rating at most. Change in
velocity and change of course combined cannot exceed current thrust
rating. A ship rated with Thrust 8 is therefore much more
maneuverable than one rated with Thrust 2.
The game lists standard ships of different sizes, and has extensive
rules on customizing your own, using a point-based system. Various
weapon types are provided: beam weapons, pulse torpedoes, missiles,
fighters, mines, needlers, submunition packs, etc. Some weapons can
fire in narrow arcs, others in wider arcs - but you pay more points
for the privilege. Shields and point and area defenses can protect a
ship, and there are miscellaneous other systems as well. Each is
rated for the space it takes up in a ship and point cost. The cost of
a better thrust engine is related to hull size - all fairly simple and
The game has a simple critical hit system that is very enjoyable.
Each ship has one or more ``threshold'' points, depending on the size
of the ship. When a ship takes enough damage to move it over a
threshold, the owning player rolls a die for each system on the ship.
A roll of six means the system is hit critically, and is out of
commission. However, a successful damage control roll later can
reactivate most systems. Hitting the engines the first time cuts the
thrust rating in half, and hitting it a second time breaks it entirely
- no more change of course or velocity until a damage control party
can repair it.
Various other rules, such as for asteroids and space stations, and
some scenario suggestions are also provided. The supplement,
More Thrust, details more rules, some alien races,
tournament rules, and more scenarios. While not mandatory, More
Thrust can enhance your enjoyment of the game - especially the
new fighter rules.
The net effect of these rules is a game that runs smoothly and easily
and most enjoyably. Add a nice star map and some good-looking ship
models and you have a visually stunning game, as well. All in all,
Full Thrust is highly recommended to any science fiction
Back to SOS' Gameviews
Back to Steffan O'Sullivan's Home Page