G-Loc update

Posted in Intercept on June 3, 2016 by Mr Backman

Falling off the hull

G-force induced loss of consciousness (abbreviated as G-LOC, pronounced ‘GEE-lock’) is a term generally used in aerospace physiology to describe a loss of consciousness occurring from excessive and sustained g-forces draining blood away from the brain causing cerebral hypoxia. The condition is most likely to affect pilots of high performance fighter and aerobatic aircraft or astronauts but is possible on some extreme amusement park rides. G-LOC incidents have caused fatal accidents in high performance aircraft capable of sustaining high g for extended periods. High-G training for pilots of high performance aircraft or spacecraft often includes ground training for G-LOC in special centrifuges, with some profiles exposing pilots to 9 gs for a sustained period.

Wikipedia

G-Load optional

The rules for G-load as well as mission and action Fatigue can be found on page 25 of the rulebook. G-Load is optional but quite fun, especially if you use Intercept to play out Traveller or other roleplaying situations. Don’t forget that aerobraking also cause Gs, simply count the number of squares from your gravity adjusted Drift and use that as GS below, regardless if the thrust come from actual thrusting or aerobrakes. Try making a space fighters with really high Gs by adding high strength Floorfield or a cheaper and less powrhungry alternativeis to use the Limited tank workstatios; submerged crew breathing oxegynated liquids can take 5 Gs without as much as flinch.

At the end of each ships’s movement phase calculate the G-Load and if 1+ roll for G-Loc and damage, calculate and roll separately for Crew and Repair
Crew. Sum up all Gs the ship is subjected to, basically the number of squares from the Drift after gravity position. Subtract 1 if the ship neither turned nor rolled, it is far easier to take a linear acceleration than the bucking-bronco variety.

G-Load is then reduced by crew stations and floorfield if applicable. We need to do separate calculations for Crew and Repair Crew as the Repair Crew don’t have stations and sometimes don’t even have a floorfield to protect them (when doing repairs on the outside of the ship, on the Hull or Surface locations).

Number of Gs thrusted or aerobraked

  • -1 if neither turning nor rolling
  • -2 for Limited, Full or Bridge station
  • -5 for Limited tank station
  • -Number of floorfield Gs if indoors*

*The Hull and Surface locations are considered outdoors and not helped by floorfield

G-Loc & damage roll
Roll for G-Loc and damage if G-Load is 1+
Roll separately for Crew and Repair Crew
Reduce Gs felt by 1 if ship neither turned nor rolled
If the modified G-Load is 1+ for Crew or Repair Crew roll 1D6 + G-Load on the table below. A result of a Scratch+ results in G-Loc, higher results also result in damage or even death, this is also true for robot only Repair Crew.
Crew cannot perform Scans, attacks, defense or control missiles. All launched
missiles are lost as are all Tracks.
Repair Crew cannot move from their current location, perform repairs or
power up powerplants. Note that Repair Crew on Hull or Surface suffer one level worse damage if the result was 7+, from falling off the hull under thrust. See the picture on top if you don’t understand why.

Sensors, Scans, Signature and Signal

Posted in Intercept, Rules on May 17, 2016 by Mr Backman

Planetary shadowWe don’t experience the world directly. Our senses react to certain physical phenomenon and our brains interpret the data and paints us a picture that feels both real and coherent, the world is a fantasy of our creation. The sensors of your ship is just one more redirection from the universe and your mind.

3 worked Scan examples

The rulebook tell us how a Scan is performed. The scanner adds his sensors Sensitivity to the Scan size modifier to get a Scan strength. The Scan strength together with type of sensor, position and size is presented to the opponent. The opponent then, ask three questions and the answers determine if the Scan strength should be reduced or if there are areas of the Scan that cannot be seen by the scanner and should therefore be ignored.

If the opponent has target(s) inside the legit area he will add the relevant Signature(s) to the Scan strength and if the result, the Signal, is 0+ he must tell the scanner each relevant Signal that was 0+. The Scanner finally decides whether to perform a Sensor task and that task will give him an Indication, a Contact or the much coveted Tracked result. Read pages 6-7 for the basics and page 18 for planets and page 22 for asteroids and there respective effects on scans. End  of story, right? Below follow three scan examples, with pictures and all, enjoy.

Scan 1

The player A, the scanner, decides to try a 1×1 box towards the sun to see if the sneaky player B is maybe approaching from the sun. The ship is where number 1 is located and the green area is the Scan. The ship has a +2 Sensitivity Visual/IR sensor, and the modifier for a 1×1 box is -1 so Scan strength is +1.

Scan 1

Scan 1 – Visual 1×1 box, strength +1 in B3

Player A “I will do a Visual Scan, 1×1 box,  with a strength of +1, in B4”

Player B “Does the Scan touch your ships Sunglare column?”

Player B starts asking the three questions, this one is from page 6 in the rulebook, the other two are from page 18. The Sunglare question must always be asked, even if there are no planets or asteroids on the map.

Player A “Yes, my Scan touches my Sunglare goddamit!”

Player B “Does your Scan touch a blocked sun or shadow column?”

This question need only be asked if the map has planets or asteroids on it.

Player A “No, and you can clearly see that I don’t, but I know, you have to ask”

As the Scan didn’t touch the sun or shadow columns of the planet this question is not strictly needed but it can be good practice to ask all three questions regardless. The Sun column is the three squares wide light grey column above the planet and the Shadow column is the three squares wide darker grey column below the planet. Large planets have three squares wide Sun and Shadow columns, small planets and asteroids have one square wide, planets have columns infinitely long while asteroids have columns limited in length, see page 18 and 22 for details.

Player B “Finally, does the planet block parts of your Scan?”

Player A “Eh, wait a minute, checking…, ah nope”

The Scan is neither from nor to the planets gravity-well so player A can can swiftly answer this with a resolute ‘no’ but sometimes taking longer to check can fool the opponent into believing you are somewhere else.

Scan 1b

Scan 1 – Sunglare always affect none or the whole Scan, never parts

The one square wide column extending up from the scanners ship, not including the square of the ship itself, in grey, is its Sunglare column. Any Scan touching the Sunglare column will have its Strength reduced by the Sun factor (from now on called simply Sun). The Sun factor is normally 6 so in this case the Scan strength goes from +1 to -5.

If player B has any ships inside the B4 box he must now add the Scan strength of -5 to all his ship’s or missile’s Visual signatures, always Visual(Hull) and Visual(Thrust) too but only if thrusting. If the Signal (the Scan strength plus Signature) is 0+ he must tell player A that he got an Indication at least, and tell him the actual Signal(s). Player A may now rolls a Sensor task to determine if the Signal was high enough to also give him a Contact or the coveted Tracked result.

Player A have hopefully learned that Scans containing your scanning ships Sunglare column are stupid, the space combat equivalent of staring straight into the sun.

Scan 2

Player A now has his ship in position 2 and is about to declare his second Scan. This time he tries a larger 3×3 box one well away from his Sunglare. Note that parts of the Scan is outside of the map, which is perfectly fine as long as the center is still inside. Ships and missiles outside of the map are lost but Scans partly outside are simply a bit wasteful.

Scan 2

Scan 2 – A Visual 3×3 boxes Scan with Strength -1 in E1

Player A “This time I do a Visual Scan, 3×3 boxes, with a strength of +1, in E1”

Player B “Does the Scan touch your ships Sunglare column? You do know that parts of your Scan is off the map right?”

Player A “Yes I know and no, this time my Scan does not touch the Sunglare column of my ship”

The grey one square column stretching up above position 2 is the ship’s new position and we can clearly see that the new Scan doesn’t touch it, no Sunglare reduction this time.

Player B “Does your Scan touch a blocked sun or shadow column?”

Player B can clearly see that the planet’s Sun column is touched by the Scan but even if it didn’t it might be a good idea to ask this question, just to get into the habit.

Player A “Yes,the Scan touches the Sun column, but no, my ship is not in the Shadow column”

If the Scan touches the Sun or Shadow column the scanner must tell his opponent whether his scanning ship is in the opposite column or not. Whenever a Scan has the potential of having areas blocked they will also tell the target something about the scanners location.

Player B “Does the planet block parts of your Scan?”

Only omit this question if there is no planet on the map. If the Scan is from within he gravity well of a planet or if th Scan touches the gravity well of a planet, parts may be blocked. Planets have 8 sectors around them, near sectors inside the gravity well and far sectors extending infinitely far out. Pictures on page 18 show you the sectors of small and large planets. If your Scan doesn’t touch any blocked sectors you must still tell your opponents this, that nothing of the Scan is blocked.

Scans from a Near sector blocks the opposite near and far sectors.

Scan from Far sector blocks opposite near sector only.

Player A “Yes, my Scan is blocked in the planet’s North-East near and far sectors”

If player B has any ships or missiles in the North-East near or far sectors they should be ignored, any targets in the boxes D1 and D2 are still valid of course. Player B also now knows that player A has his scanning ship inside the South-West near sector. This is why the order of Scans are important, players take turns scanning first or last using the A/B turn order rule as explained on page 2 of the rulebook.

Scan 2b

Scan 2 – Parts of the Scan blocked by the North-East near and far sectors.

Scan 3

Turn 3 has player A’s ship just outside of the gravity well of the planet, and well inside the planets Shadow column. Being inside the Shadow column not only block scanned targets in the Sun column it also reduces the Visual(Hull) Signature. Normally, in sunlight, the Visual(Hull) uses the number written +Sun but when the ship is inside the Shadow column the Sun factor is 0 making the ship much harder to detect.

This time player A decides to Scan near the planet, thinking player B is maybe lurking there, inside the gravity well. A 3×3 Visual with a Scan strength of -1, centered in E5, as shown by the grey area.

Scan 3

Scan 3 – Visual 3×3 boxes, strength -1 in E5

Player A “OK, another Visual Scan, 3×3 boxes, with a strength of +1, this time in E5”

Player A once again ask the only question one must always ask, the one about scanning the Sunglare. If you look at the figure it might look like the S´can really is touching the shops Sunglare, it is – but – if a ship is in the Shadow column they are unaffected by Sunglare! Go outside in the middle of the night, stare straight down – do you feel blinded by the sun? No, didn’t think so, the Earth was in the way, you were technically in Earth’s Shadow column and thus unaffected by Sunglare, and if´you were away from streetlights and such, I bet your body was harder to see too.

Ships in the Shadow column are unaffected by Sunglare

Player B “Does the Scan touch your ships Sunglare column?”

Player A “No”

Player A doesn’t have to tell player B that the reason Sunglare isn’t in effect is because he is in the Shadow column. Don’t reveal what you don’t have to.

Player B “Does your Scan touch a blocked sun or shadow column?”

As the Scan touches both the Sun column and the Shadow column of the planet player A must reveal if he is any of them or outside both.

Player A “Sigh, my ship is in the Shadow column, the Sun column is blocked”

Player B “Aha! That explains why Sunglare didn’t affect you. I think I know where you are now!”

Player B “Does the planet block parts of your Scan?”

Player A “Yeah, my Scan is blocked in the North near sector, and the Sun column too as you already know”

Boxes D4 and D5 have small parts that are not blocked but most are, but still, big chunks of the SCan are still valid, don’t be afraid to do Scans including the planet, trick players tend to stay close to the planet thinking they’ll be blocked but as you can see that is far from the truth.

Scan 3b

Scan 3 – Sun column and North near sector are blocked, shown in red here.

Page 16 to 22 of the rulebook covers everything you need to  know about planets and asteroids, not only how they affect Scans but how you land on them, how their gravity affect your movement, how you can use their atmosphere for aerobrake maneuvers, and even how your Scans and Signatres are affected by being landed on a planet or asteroid.

Smugglers do it in the shadows – faded text on a dead captains T-shirt.

 

Missiles 102

Posted in Intercept on April 12, 2016 by Mr Backman

“William Turner: You didn’t beat me. You ignored the rules of engagement! In a fair fight, I’d kill you!
Jack Sparrow: Well, that’s not much incentive for me to fight fair then, is it?”

Missiles are for cowards? True, you can kill an opponent in his sleep, but isn’t that the ideal space combat scenario?
You: Not a scratch
Them: An unaware expanding cloud of slowly cooling junk.

My last article on missiles dealt with protecting against them. This time we’ll cover how to use them effectively. Missiles can be broadly be divided into Regular, Coldstart and Miscellaneous. As always, grab the latest rules, designs and design system here.

Regular
Regular missiles, small 15 min endurance ones, are not really that stealthy. The trick is to make your launching ships Drift as close as possible to where you think the enemy will be, and to make sure your vectors will differ by at least 2. This is fairly easy if you are untracked but really hard when battling for Initiative. If you manage to place your launching ships Drift on top of the enemy position every thrust G become a +1 DM thanks to the often overlooked Remaining thrust Gs modifier. Remember to roll or turn so your launcher can see the enemy, otherwise you’ll automatically miss. If your volley holds 3 or more missiles use the Spray fire option.

Cold start
This is another beast altogether. Launch them drifting from far away, you only need to be within launcher range when attacking. Keep in mind that each launcher battery can only hold control one volley at a time. If your current volley seem impossible to impact, give it up and launch a new, but remember that your launcher only carries 3 volleys (unless your ship has a magazine, don’t you just love those SDBs). If the enemy happen to Detect or Track your volley things get much harder as you may only have a G or two acceleration advantage over your enemy, if that.

Miscellaneous
Decoys and sensor missiles aren’t strictly weapons but can be really useful in stealthy situations such as blockade running, agent injection, smuggling, space piracy etc.
Decoys
Concentrate on the Visual signature as IR Scans are rarely used. Match your ships Visual(Hull) if you can as the enemy will probably know what class of vessels to expect. Launch the decoys early and remember that even thrustless decoy volleys must be handled by a launcher battery (to simplify gameplay), ditch your decoys whenever you wish to launch regular missiles. Missiles are cheap, ships are not.
Sensors
Sensor missiles are mostly used to closely monitor a planet. Put a sensor in orbit and have it Scan a 3×3 sq area on the planet (maybe an entire box for large planets). Why do that? The sensing ship must be within 5 times the Scan size or less, with sensor missiles you can scan small areas without running the risk of being found yourself. Just remember that sensor missiles must be in Line of Sight with the controlling ship, this requirement holds for all missiles by the way.

Crashes

Posted in Intercept on January 11, 2016 by Mr Backman

The best scene from the wonderful Pitch black movie (you know, Riddick before becoming some kind of Warhammer thing) is easily the ship crash in the beginning with the ship taking severe aerobrake damage and getting pounded some more when actually crashing on the planet. Good stuff! (full disclosure: I did the AI coding for Riddick: Escape from Butcher bay, and Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena so I am a bit partial to Pitch black, which these games are prequels to. Assault on Dark athena actually contain both games, and a multiplayer too).

Aerobrake damage

Crashing on a planet with atmosphere will first do a step of aerobrake damage where the ship slows from braking against the atmosphere. Any remaining speed will be taken as crash damage which is much worse, believe me.

A crash occur when a ship with non-zero speed during Drift has its Past on a planet. Remember that ships with Past on a planet are not affected by gravity (what direction should the gravity be?). If the ship has an atmosphere mandatory aerobrake will occur, if not continue to landing damage below.

Aerobrake with Atmos drag from page 20, you may brake more if your ship has wings, up to your ship’s Wing drag. If aerobrake damage modifiers are 1+ roll damage, streamlining is treated worse if the ship isn’t facing along its vector before the drag, ships will always face along the original vector after drag, yeah, turning for free.

Landing damage

A crash occur when a ship with non-zero speed during Drift has its Past on a planet with speed remaining after . Remember that ships with Past on a planet are not affected by gravity (what direction should the gravity be?).

Add up all damage modifiers from page 21 and if 1+ roll landing damage, the relative ARM and DAB modifirers are only used for docking and ramming. How hitlocation is rolled is based on the ships facing relative its vector, facing forward roll 2 D6 and use highest, if ass first roll 2 D6 and use lowest, all other cases roll 1D6. If the hitlocation is Destroyed reroll on Hull damage as usual. Don’t forget the whooping +6 Damage modifier when landing upside down, which can only really happen when landing on large planets.

Docking / Ramming damage

Docking and ramming works similarly to landing damage above but have some more damage modifiers, also on page 21, those taking relative ARM and DAB into account, the values used are from the actual hitlocatins used so larger ships docking with smaller are not safe. Roll damage if modifiers are 1+.

For an actual docking to occur both ships must hit Crew or Core and both ships must face and be rolled the same.

If you are ramming a larger ship, try to hit with your Hull versus their Surface or Thrust locations for better relative DAB and let us just hope you have better ARM there too.

Post new year post

Posted in Intercept, Rules, Traveller on January 11, 2016 by Mr Backman

Well this will be a short update where I briefly mention some of the new stuff added, I’ll go into more detail about some of them later on. Sorry about the long delay. Rules are hereand designs are here.

Jumpdrives

Before jumping the ship must inject fuel into its jump bubble, a layer of ionized hydrogen surrounding the ship, thicker the longer distances that are jumped. Jump prep takes 15 min to 60 minutes and uses 10% of the ships volume in jump fuel, per number of parsecs jumped, or Jn as the range is called. Small intrasystem jumps termed J0 spend only 5% of fuel but takes the same prep time. Ships with very small powerplants must turn off floor field and other power hungry components when prepping, the procedure is then called jump dimming, because traditionally the earlist jump capable ships turned interior lighting red during this, to warn the crew that a jump was in progress.

Rules can be found on page 30-31 as well as well as in the design rules on page 36, basic Jump prep or Jump dim time is on a row below the underpower modifiers, Underpower Thrust, Underpower Drift and Underpower Prep respectively.

Batteries

Batteries are either set to power just the floater and possibly Impulse thrust, or power for the entire ship. In both cases you input a nominal endurance in hours and Ship.xls will calculate the actual endurance loaded / unloaded. Multiply the hourly endurance by 4 and tick off each turn running on batteries, Impulse thrust is noted in GTurns used, typicaly twice as much as Floater alone. Ships running on batteries have the same IR(Power) signature as with a running powerplanet but no Neutrino(Power).

Don’t add batteries to your designs unless you fully understand the above rules, batteries are tricky and costly and not really needed for most designs.

All you need to do is to set the TL of the battery, whether you want its data for powering Float or the entire shio and the nominal endurance in hours, rules are on page 36.

Fuel converters

The Ammonia and Methane fuel converters have been combined into one, the water cracker is still a separate unit as it requires much more power. The special tankage row of ship.xls can hold any of water, ammonia or methane, but only one at a time.

I have added one Cutter fuelconverter and one Cutter fuelshuttle to the designs as the cutters are such common I though it would be good to get two ready made specialties aside from the regúlar one. Both the Mercenary cruiser and Survey cruiser has them as small craft.

See the sidebar on page 36 for details.

Workstations

The various waorkstation rows has been turned into one so all workstations must now be of the same type. The bridge workstation, aside from being a tie breaker for when Ship tactics skill are equal it also gives longer endurance, used by the optional Fatigue rules on page 25.

Battery modifiers

The modifiers for attacking with multiple indentical weapons, maybe from different ships if a Ship tactician is commanding them, have been modified to simplify designs at the cost of slightly harder to remember the breaks. The breaks are 2 for +2, 3 for +3, 9 for +4, 30 for +5 and 90 for +6. Fit three turrets with small missile launchers each for a +4 bonus from 9 missiles in a volley for example.

The tables are on page 9 and page 41 and of course in the 4 page table dupes at the back. Print out the last four pages at the back of the book to get handy references during play. All commonly tables and figures are there.

Detailed ranges and relative vectors

Those who want more detailed breakdowns of ranges and relative vectors can find tables for both on page 32.

Brace for impact

Every submarine movie has the captain yelling ‘brace for impact’ and now you can too in Intercept! At the end of movement, right before rolling for G-Loc you may opt to have the Crew and Repair Crew brace themselves. Bracing means they cannot Scan, attack or defend and they cannot perform repairs or power up powerplants. Bracing for impact ends at the end of the turn so you can thrust and turn or aerobrake while bracing for impact any number of times in a row. Basically, you cannot sense, fight or repair but take less battle, crash and aerobrake, you can also stand high G effects better.

The rules are on page 32, G-loc specific on page 25.

Defense against missiles 101

Posted in Design system, Intercept, Rules on November 22, 2015 by Mr Backman

At 06:00 on 22 September, the weather had calmed and the ships were patrolling at 10 knots, line abreast, 2 nmi apart. Lookouts were posted for submarine periscopes or ships and one gun either side of each ship was manned. U-9 had been ordered to attack British transports at Ostend, but had been forced to dive and shelter from the storm. On surfacing, she spotted the British ships and moved to attack.

At 06:20, the submarine fired one torpedo at the nearest ship from a range of 550 yd, which struck Aboukir on the starboard side, flooding the engine room and causing the ship to stop immediately. No submarines had been sighted, so Drummond assumed that the ship had hit a mine, and ordered the other two cruisers to close in to help. After 25 minutes, Aboukir capsized, sinking five minutes later. Only one boat could be launched, because of damage from the explosion and the failure of steam-powered winches needed to launch them.

U-9 rose to periscope depth from her dive after firing the initial torpedo to observe two British cruisers engaged in the rescue of men from the sinking ship. Weddigen fired two more torpedoes at his next target, Hogue, from a range of 300 yd. As the torpedoes left the submarine, her bows rose out of the water and she was spotted by Hogue, which opened fire before the submarine dived.

Livebait squadron of September 22 1914

Image by Rob Caswell

Missiles are deadly in Intercept, especially those with the Cold start option that are really tricky to detect when drifting. The controlling ship may be far away and unlike beam attacks, the attacker isn’t giving himself away when attacking. So, how does one go about reducing the risk of missile death?

The basics

Missiles move last, after all ships have moved. They are still moved in reverse Initiative order but after all of the ships has done the same. Small missiles typically have an endurance of 15 minutes which mean their range is limited to the distance from the launching ships Drift and you. This means that if your ship is beyond 6 squares from the attacking ships Drift, no unmodified small missile can hit you. Safe, assuming they are not modified, assuming you track the enemy ship and thus know its Drift position, lots of assumptions.

In reality you may have a hunch on from what direction a missile attack will come from, based on the scenario. Always make sure you have lasers covering that direction through their attack arc, and make damned sure your aft centerline isn’t pointing towards the threat direction.

Radar

If the enemy is Tracking you, you might as well use your Radar. Setting a 1×1 square Radar Scan on top of your ship gives a +6 in Scan strength and small missiles have a Radar signature of +2. This should almost guarantee that any missile will be Tracked before impacting, so you avoid the -3 DM for defending against unknown attacks. As Intercept only allow two Scans per side per turn this isn’t practical for many dispersed ships but keeping them in close formation might help.

Cold start missiles

Cold start missiles sacrifice 2G for the ability to thrust and drift as they please. This means that a TL 14+ small missile will have 4GTurns of total fuel to maneuver with, larger missiles still have the 4G limit but have better endurance for larger amounts of GTurns. Keep changing vectors of your ship so the unseen Cold start missiles of your enemy must expand precious GTurns to keep up. Perform large IR Scans to see if you can catch a Cold start missile thrusting, a small missile thrusting have an IR Signature of +6 and even if you only get an Indication, you’ll know it’s out there.

Matching vectors

Matching vectors completely is well-nigh impossible but try at least to avoid having a relative vector of 5 or more as this give the missiles +6 on both PEN and DAM! Sure, they also get a -2 DM to hit but do you really dare risking that? Your defense rolls will suffer the same -2 DM too.

Design

Make sure your design have laser turrets on both left and right or both top and bottom. This way at least one will always bear. Large warships can take a lot of damage even from missiles but are still smoked when hit by nukes, add nuclear dampers too in that case. You are allowed two defense rolls against nuke missiles; one from lasers and the other from dampers. As results stack this is pretty effective against the threat of nukes. Two Fair results from lasers and dampers would require the missile volley to be VGood to still hit.

In Traveller, civilians and now allowed to have dampers but then again, neither are they allowed to have nukes. Even pirates usually avoid nukes as they tend to destroy the precious ship and cargo and then they’ll have the Imperial Navy on their ass as nukes are certainly a breach of the Imperial rules of war. Pirates with nukes rarely end up in court, they usually end up dead.

Page 41 cover the basic parameters of missiles and all the options to modify them, except the nuke option which is covered in the optional rules section page 23. Missile parameters are also duplicated on page 45 of the tables section at the back of the rulebook.

Asteroids and maintenence update

Posted in Intercept, Rules on November 20, 2015 by Mr Backman

Image from

“Asteroids do not concern me, I want that ship” – Darth Vader

If you know how to play Intercept already you may skip to the last section of this post, dealing with the newly added Asteroid rules.

The rules have been rearranged slightly to make them easier to learn bit by bit.  The best way to learn these rules quickly is either play with me, I’ll gladly teach you but not everyone live in Uppsala, or even Sweden for that matter. Ask questions here on the blog may also work of course. Another way to learn the rules is that you alone or with a friend try to play a test game. Start off by flipping through the booklet getting a feel for what’s in there, lots and lots of tables, diagrams and text with boldface lines sprinkled here and there. Daunting? Not to worry, the rules are structured in such a way that you can read the rules and learn each stage as you read.

Sequence of play

The first page hold a fairly detailed summary of the sequence of play. Yeah, the black page with a space battle barely discernible behind it and that cool Intercept logo tilted 90 degrees like some kind of layout pro made it, that page. Read this page carefully but you really don’t have to understand it, just familiarize yourself with the order of things. Note that all players do each step in parallel, there is no I-move-shooot-inflict-damaga then You-move-shooot-inflict-damaga.

Initiative

First you read page 2-3 that tell you have to resolve tasks with dice rolling and how the Initiative system works ie in what order within a phase the players perform things. When you have determined Initiative (rolled 2D6 and noted the result, various tie-breakers handle when both rolled the same result. OK, Initiative is determined now go on to movement. Read page 4-5 on movement and perform the movement step by step where low Initiative goes first, then high. If you like you can skip the hidden movement and sensors aspect of the game to make it simpler, just assume that both ships have Tracked result on the other so there’s no need for secret plotting etc.

Sensors

If you want to do the Sensors phase you should read  page 6-7, not that only the first Scan target question need be asked if there’s no planet or asteroid on the map, the question “Does your Scan touch your´ship’s Sunglare column?”. OK, follow the Sensor rules, roll Sensor tasks for getting a tracked result etc. Remember that you don’t have to do this the first time you play but do come back to it later as it is the secret plotting and Sensor rules that set Intercept apart, creating that submarine feeling lacking in all other space combat systems.

Combat

If the ships are close enough for combat you should read page 8-9 for the general procedure of combat and page 10 and 11 for beam combat and missile combat respectively. If you hit and defenses such as sandcasters against lasers, lasers against missiles completely stopped the attack you continue with damage. Page 12-13 tell you how to do hitlocation, penetration and damage. Page 14 explains what effect damage has on the ships six hitlocations and 15 finally explain how you repair damage using the Repair Crew. This is the end of the basic game and all tables as well as important figures are doubled on the last four pages.

Tables

The last four pages could be printed double-sided as each side is used for one distinct part of the game, print one set of these per player. The few tables with gray headings are only used in the optional Deterministic rules (yeah, no random elements at all if you’ prefer that but learn the basic game first).

Page 45 holds data on weapons, missiles and sensors but these are already filled in on the ready-made data cards. If you made your own ships these values will be calculated for you and all you must do is fill them in on a blank Datacard, this page is rarely used.

Page 46 holds tables and figures on Task determination (rolling 2D6 vs a number with a bunch of modifiers), Initiative, Movement and Sensors.

Page 47 holds tables and figures for combat, attacks, defenses etc.

Page 48 finally holds the tables and figures for Hitlocation, Penetration and Damage, Damage effects and Repairs.

Asteroids

This is straight from the rulebook page 22, at the end of the Planets section, jus before the optional rules begin on page 23.

Small asteroid
Small asteroids are at least 1 km in diameter but less than 100 km. Their mass is too low for any significant gravity, ships can Mass Scan to or from Small asteroids without penalty.
The only planetary LOS rules are for their Sun column of infinite length and their Shadow column of 1 square.

Large asteroid
Large asteroids are at least 100 km in diameter but less than 1000 km. Their Mass is high enough to forbid Mass Scans to or from them, look at the next section for gravity effects when calculating Drift in the same square as an large asteroid.
The only planetary LOS rules are for their Sun column of infinite length and their Shadow column of 5 squares.
Asteroid gravity and movement
Asteroids, large and small, behave like ships when you enter the same square as them. You cannot accidentally crash into them, asteroids cannot crash into other asteroids, but they can crash into planets but players cannot alter the vectors of asteroids their course will be predetermined from the start of the scenario.
Asteroids move as drifting ships, they have vectors, calculate Drift just as normal and ships landed on the follow along. They are also affected by gravity in the same way, to model Phobos or Deimos of Mars, just have two small asteroids in orbit around a Small planet.
Large asteroids have a small gravity field affecting their square itself. Ships that was not landed have their Drift moved into any adjacent square if the ship is Piloted, or their fwd square if unpiloted, (landed ships are never affected by gravity except being forbidden to Mass Scan). A ship is unpiloted if it has a Hull damage of Critical+, a Crew damage of Critical+ or a Thrust damage of Critical+.
Landing on asteroids work the same as for small planets; chose whether landing in the Sunside or the Darkside, see the Landed or Docked signatures and Scans on page 17.

Asteroid LOS
Asteroid LOS procedure is simpler than for planets.
Ask if the Scan touches the Sunglare column and if yes reduce the Scan by -6 (Sun). This rule always apply, even when neither planets nor asteroids are on the map.
If a Scan touches the Sun column ask if the Scan was from the Shadow column and if yes ignore any targets in the Suncolumn.
If a Scan touches the Shadow column ask if the Scan was from the Sun column and if yes ignore any targets in the Shadow column.

Special sensors
The above rules on Sunglare, Sun column, Shadow column all apply to the Visual and IR Scans, other sensors have certain restrictions.
Radar Ignores the Sunglare rules, all other above rules apply.
Neutrino Ignores all asteroid LOS rules except Sunglare.
Mass Ignore all asteroid LOS rules as well as the Sunglare rules. Mass Scans are illegal to or from large asteroids. Yes, ask if a Mass Scan was to or from a large asteroid.

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