top of page
  • paulbaalham

Action, Baby! (Part 2 of the Where I Am Series)

Spaceship 47 is the board game of the best 90s Sci-fi TV show that never existed. It is a co-operative campaign game for one to four players, where each player will take control of a single character and work together as a team to complete the missions. This is the second in a three post series discussing where the game is at the moment. You can find the first post here.


The characters that the players are controlling need a way to interact with the world that they inhabit, to explore their surroundings and to overcome any challenge that is presented to them.

Creating a system to accomplish this was not as simple as I first thought - there should be no problem that the characters cannot overcome, but allowing the players to make the Heroes do any action they like, whenever they like means that there is no challenge in the game. I need a way to allow the potential for the characters to take any action that can overcome problems, but to restrict the players in their choice of the actions. There are a lot of ways to give players actions but restrict their usage, but I wanted something that made thematic sense. Int the end I discarded pure thematic sense as you will see.

Gloomhaven does this by allowing all of the actions a player can make be available to them at the start of a mission in the form of cards, with two potential actions on each card. Two things stop the player from using any of these actions whenever they like:

  1. On their turn, the player has to use two cards and can only use the action in the top half of one card and the bottom half of the other card.

  2. Used cards are discarded and cannot be picked up and used again until the player takes the rest action. The rest action burns a card which means that it is unavailable for the rest of the mission.

Unmatched gives a deck of 30 cards to each player. Once this deck runs out, the player will suffer damage until their character dies. The player draws from this deck to have a hand of cards which they use to take actions. Once a card is used it cannot be used again during the game.

For Spaceship 47, the players have individual Hero Decks that use deck building over the course of the campaign and a communal deck whose cards can be used by everyone.

The Communal Deck

The cards in the communal deck will contain the minor characters from the show, who will help the players during their missions. The communal deck will be improved at the end of each mission as the players choose a minor character to promote and upgrade their card.

Below are two examples of the cards from the communal deck. The deck starts off with three "Crimson Shirted Rookies" who will accompany the heroes on their missions and will die so that the main characters can survive. The top left symbol shows that this is a reaction and is not used on a player's turn, but rather when the enemy attacks.

The second card is a free action, so does not take up one of the player's two actions on their turn. This card adds damage to a player's attack.

Two example character cards from the communal deck

The Player Board

Each player has a player board like the one below.

A rectangle with two rows of four things.  Going left-toright ont eh top row: A yellow symbol on a black background with the word OFFICER below it; A space describing what happens if the Officer is PRONE; A  space for the draw pile, taht contains the cards teh player will use for their actions; the discard pile. Borrom row, left-to-righ: A rectangle containig the words LEVEL UIP DECK; a green triangle pointing upwards, a green triangle pointing upwards; a green triangle pointing upwards
The Officer character's Player Board

Going from left-to-right, the top row is as follows:

  • this symbol is the player's symbol which is used throughout the game, and has the text of the character underneath;

  • This is where the movement card of the character is placed (more on that below), if the movement card is absent, then the Hero is PRONE;

  • The draw pile for the deck of actions that the player may use;

  • The discard pile of action cards that have been used so far.

Going from left-to-right, the bottom row is as follows:

  • The deck of level-up cards that the player adds to the other spaces throughout the game;

  • The spaces with the green arrows are for the cards from the level up deck to reside.

Each character has a movement card. The front and back of the Officer's movement card can be seen below.

The player starts each mission with the movement card MOVE side face-up on their player board. This card is aways available to use, unless the player gets knocked PRONE in which case they remove the card from the board.

The MOVE card has the move action on it (the arrow symbol is the symbol for actions in Spaceship 47), allowing the player to discard cards from their hand to move. If a player gets SLOWED during the game, they flip over the MOVE card to the other side. This results in their move action costing more cards to use.

The MOVE cards also have the defence values for the character on them . The mountain represents Fortitude, the human dodging is the dodge defence and the helmet is the mental defence.

Hero Decks

The individual hero decks will contain the non-movement cards that the players use to take their character's actions. The players will build their decks over the course of the campaign and will unlock better cards as they meet the goals that progresses their character's story arc.

The Hero Deck contains three types of cards:

  • Attacks

  • Special Moves

  • Skill Checks

Below are four examples of cards. The top left is a Special Move card, the top-right and bottom-left are attacks and the bottom right is the Skill Checks card.


The Heroes are fighting to save their home planet from an evil alien race. At some point they are going to have to attack enemies! Attack cards allow the player to do this. Below is an example of an attack card.

  • In the top left of the card, it shows you how many actions it takes to use this. Almost all of the attack cards require one action, but some will require the player to use both of their actions to use the attack;

  • The middle top is the name of the attack;

  • The top-right shows that this is an attack card;

  • In the middle of the card is the text explaining what the card does. All attack cards have an icon indicating what type of attack it is and what defence the attack is targeting. There are three types of attack: The target symbol shows the player who they may attack. The above card allows the player to target one creature. As it is a ranged attack, the player knows that they can target any creature on a section that shares a line of sight colour with their section (see the previous post for more info about this).

    • ranged( sci-fi pistol)

    • melee (crossed black hole blades)

    • area (explosion)

  • The green tick tells the player what they do if they succeed with the attack and the purple cross tells the player what they do if they fail the attack.

  • Finally, at the middle of the bottom is the BOOST value of the card. This value is used if the player is discarding the card to BOOST another attack/skill check, instead of using the card for its attack.

To use the card, the player plays the card, decides how many other cards they will discard to BOOST their attack and discard them. The player then rolls a die and adds the BOOST value to the result and compares it to the defence of the enemy that they are targeting. If they match or exceed the value then they have succeeded, if they get lower, then they have failed.


In each mission, the map will present the players with challenges to overcome. These challenges will be described in the read out text that players read at the start of a scene. The location of the challenge will have a number on it. To overcome these challenges, players will play Skill Cards. An example of a skill card can be seen below:

The above card lists all of the skills that a player can use. Each character has slightly different numbers for the skills to show what they are good at and not so good at. When attempting a skill check, a player plays a skill card and adds the number of the location to the skill that is being used, plus the boost value of any cards being discarded to boost the skill check. The player will look up the result in the book for the mission and it will tell them whether they have succeeded or failed and what happens as a result of their check.

For example, a mission has a security door that is locked and the players have to get through it to succeed the mission, The number next to the door on the map is 100. The engineer is good at using technology, so decides to try and hack the keypad on the security door. They discard a card to boost their check by 2. Their result is 100 (the location number) + 452 (Using Technology) + 2 (boost) = 554. They look up the number 554 in the book. It tells them that the door is successfully opened but only after a failed attempt has alerted guards to their presence. If the Heroes' result had been 555, then they would have opened up the door without any problem.

As each character has grown up in a different environment (on a planet in an urban environment, on a planet in the wilderness or in space on a space station/space ship), they will better at perception in different locations. The book will know which character is making a Perception check, due to their vastly different numbers in the skill, so the book can tailor the Perception result to the character making the check.

This system is a slightly more complicated version of that found in the Adventure Games by Kosmos.

The exact list of skills will become concrete once I've designed all of the missions and play tested the game.

Special Moves

Special moves are cards that are not attacks or skills. An example of a special action is shown below.

  • The top-left icon, shows that this card is a reaction, i.e. it is not played on a player's turn but either on another player's turn or on the enemies' turn.

  • The text in the middle of the top is the name of the card.

  • Top-right is the symbol showing that this is a special move card (a five pointed star in a circle)

  • The main text tells you how the card is triggered and the effect of the card once it has been triggered.

  • Finally, the number in the battery in the middle of the bottom of the card is its BOOST Value.


The way the players build their deck is as follows. Certain attack cards will have an effect when the player fails the attack, that allows the player to draw a card from their level up deck and put it in one of the three level-up spaces on their level-up board. As soon as a player has filled up their level-up slots, they can add one of the cards to the bottom of their Hero Deck and they permanently discard the other two level-up cards. At the end of each successfully completed scene, every player may remove a card from their deck.

The level-up deck used by the player will change over the course of the campaign. As the player completes goals for their character's story arc, they will replace the level-up deck with a better one.


This si the current state of play with actions, but I am not 100% happy with it. Hopefully it plays better in real life than in my head. I need to play test!

Let me know what you think.

25 views0 comments


bottom of page