Kickstart This! #166: Rocketmen

Designer:  Martin Wallace (Age of Industry, Age of Steam, Automobile, AuZtralia, Brass: Birmingham, Brass: Lancashire, Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, A Few Acres of Snow, Liberte, London, London 2nd Edition, Princes of the Renaissance, Railways of the World, Runebound 2nd Edition, Steam, Struggle of Empires, A Study in Emerald, Tinners’ Trail, Via Nebula, Wildlands)

Artist:  Bartek “bartosy1” Jedrzejewski (Hannibal & Hamilcar, Narty Parking, Successors 3rd/4th Editions)

Publisher:  Phalanax (AuZtralia, Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Brass: Birmingham, Brass: Lancashire, Hannibal & Hamilcar, Lords of Hellas, Mare Nostrum: Empires, My Little Scythe, Scythe, Tapestry, Twilight Struggle)

Genre/Mechanisms:  card drafting, deck building, economic, hand management, hidden roles, race, solo/solitaire game, space exploration

Funding Status:  At the time of this posting, Rocketmen is already fully-funded. Pledges currently total more than 2x the initial funding goal, with 7 days left to go on the campaign.

Player Count:  1-4

Solo Mode:  yes

Complexity:  medium-heavy

Risk:  medium-high

What It’s About:  “A deck-building confrontation of swift decision-making and tactical choices, Rocketmen gives you the feel of taking a front seat in a technologically wonderful spectacle of space exploration. It’s up to your predictive abilities and resource management skills to determine what kind of endeavor would be most suitable for paving the way to Earth’s celestial neighbors. It doesn’t matter whether it would be a low Earth orbit satellite or a manned base destined for the Red Planet; plan your mission carefully, equip your shuttles and rockets craftily, yet do not hesitate when your gut instinct tells you when it’s time to launch!”

How It Works:  “Players gain Victory Points by successfully launching various space missions with main objectives to explore three celestial destinations: Earth Orbit, the Moon and Mars. The game ends when one of the players scores a certain number of Victory Points, or all 12 space missions have been completed, or if a player chooses to end the game by placing their fifth or sixth token resulting in each destination having at least one mission completed. Every successful mission gives players considerable perks: additional rocket points, extra cash, increased hand size, and supplementary resources. These, in turn, help them prepare more easily for their future missions.”

“Players take turns in clockwise order around the table. The active player may do as many actions as they wish, in any order.” Available actions include: buying cards from the display, placing cards on the launch pad, discarding card, and launching a mission.

At the end of a player’s turn, “if you finish your actions, move all cards from your Playing Area to your Warehouse. Draw cards from your HQ to refill your Hand back to your hand limit (which starts at six, but can be increased). If you have more cards than your hand size, then discard excess cards to your Warehouse. If there are not enough cards in your HQ, then draw as many as you can, and then shuffle your Warehouse to form a new face-down HQ deck, and draw the rest of the cards to your hand limit. If there are still not enough cards, you don’t draw any additional ones. Flip all your used tokens back to their color side. Slide all replacement cards on the display upward, so the display cards are all aligned.”

When the game ends, the current round “is played to completion, i.e. until the player just before the player with the First Player marker finishes their turn.”

“At the end of the game add additional VPs from any:
1) Bought cards that give you VPs, e.g. Threat! – each is worth 2 VPs. If you removed a Threat! card from the game you still gain its VPs at the end of the game.
2) Moon and Mars tokens (one VP for each token).
3) One of your Personal Goals. You can score VPs from only one of your Personal Goal cards; choose one and forfeit the other one.
4) Variant Cards (as stated on each particular card).
The player with the highest score is the winner. If there is a tie, the tying player whose mission is the farthest wins (Mars Base > Orbital Mining > Mars Crewed Spaceship > Moon Base > and so on). If there is still a tie, the one who completed more missions wins.”

Comparisons:  While being a space-themed game and featuring miniatures, Rocketmen is more rooted in science than science fiction. You won’t encounter aliens, space combat, or any of the more absurd elements of Terraforming Mars. It also seems lighter than Vital Lacerda’s recent Kickstarter project On Mars, concentrating squarely on the central deck-building mechanic and completion of missions. It’s certainly heavier than the Splendor-esque Space Explorers, but nowhere near as obtuse as something like Phil Eklund’s High Frontier. Think Eminent Domain without the civilization-building, Space Alert without the cooperative element, or perhaps One Small Step without the worker placement.

What Should I Pledge?:
$31 Earth Pledge: includes the base game, the Rocket & Launch Pad miniatures, and Moon & Mars metal coins.
$61 Moon Pledge: everything in the Earth Pledge, plus the Rocketmen Deluxe Miniature Set.
$91 Mars Pledge: everything in the Moon Pledge, plus the Rocketmen Player’s Mat Set.
$117 All-In Pledge: everything in the Mars Pledge, plus the Rocketmen Giant Playing Mat.

$31 Rocketmen Deluxe Miniature Set: includes 48 Mission Miniatures (12 in each of the 4 player colors) and 36 plastic Miniature Bases (the 8 Manned Base and 4 Asteroid Mining miniatures do not use bases)
$31 Rocketmen Player’s Mat Set: includes 4 neoprene player mats (laser cut, 56x20cm) with enlarged launch pad and holding areas
$31 Rocketmen Giant Playing Mat: 1 neoprene mat (67x67cm) with enlarged playing areas for easier gameplay

KS Exclusives:

All-In Total: In the continental U.S., you’re looking at $117 for the All-In Pledge plus $20 in estimated shipping for a total of $137.

Rocketmen completes its Kickstarter on Wednesday, February 5th and tentatively ships in October 2020.

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