GTM #215 - Rayguns and Rocketships
by Scott Rogers

This is really one of those games where the name says it all! Immediately evocative of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Rayguns and Rocketships, a skirmish game for 2-4 players, is an homage to everything great about one of my favorite eras in art and prose.

In Rayguns and Rocketships, you’ll take control of one of four factions zipping around the map in a custom spaceship loaded with your captain and crew. Each faction plays differently with their unique strengths and weaknesses. Combat occurs in both ship-to-ship form and hand-to-hand, as well, as you have the ability to launch your Astro Rangers into space and board a combatant’s ship!

Designer Scott Rogers has developed an innovative dueling system that’s incredibly thematic and pleasing, as players attack and parry like fencers trying to score a winning blow, and, of course, if the laser sword fails you’ve always got your pistol for back up!

Each player has their own Spaceship board that they’ll crew up, so there’s an element of worker placement in deciding whether to man their guns or power their engines (until they get boarded and it all goes sideways). Meanwhile, plastic ship miniatures navigate around a shared Space map which can be customized with different obstacles and goals.

The game works as both a free-form skirmish exercise, or played with different goals and scenarios, completely changing how players plot their moves. One of my favorites is a quest that sees you chasing space pirates through an asteroid belt in pursuit of stolen technology. It’s a thrilling experience that completely spins certain portions of the game on their head.

But enough from me, here’s game designer Scott Rogers on his experience creating Rayguns and Rocketships:

“I remember when the inspiration for Rayguns and Rocketships hit. I was talking with my friend Hardy about Star Wars video games. We both worked in the video game industry and I am a huge Star Wars fan. I was lamenting that I had never worked on a Star Wars game and how much fun I thought it would be to make one. Hardy, who never has patience for anyone who works to make someone else money, looked at me and said ‘Who needs Star Wars? Make your own Star Wars.’

Rayguns and Rocketships blasted into existence as a big-budget action video game. The problem was it was 2006 and the “make-it-yourself” part – which eventually became the Indy video game revolution of 2008 - was still a couple of years away. Back then, if you wanted to make a video game, you needed a big-budget. And a studio. And a team of developers. I had none of these things.

What I did have was a drawing of a spaceman holding a sword and a raygun with the title “Rayguns and Rocketships” posted next to my desk. I would look at that picture while I worked on licensed kids games and I would dream. 

Then one day, like a rocketship from outer space, inspiration hit me again. I didn’t need a big budget or a studio or a team to make my game. I could make Rayguns and Rocketships as a board game! I went to work, rendering cards, hand-cutting rocketship play mats, and creating the captain and crew miniatures cobbled together from customized figures. I took my hand-made prototype to GenCon So. Cal. and play-tested it that entire weekend. It was a massive success! I received lots of great feedback and solved several problems. For the next few years, I play-tested the game over and over with friends and family, and at as many conventions as I could attend.

In 2015, I attended my first mid-west GenCon with my copy of Rayguns and Rocketships under my arm. One of the companies I met with was IDW Games. They were genuinely enthusiastic about the game and signed on for the project. Working with them has been a real pleasure – they “get” the game and its pulp science fiction-inspired universe. I look forward to when Rayguns and Rocketships finally arrives for the world to enjoy. And, who knows, maybe it’ll provide someone some inspiration for you, as well.”

[Ok, I’ve got a little more to say!]

It’s great when a publisher and designer share the same vision. From picking the artist (the amazing Ron Salas) to choosing icons and designing card templates, Scott and IDW have been working, hand-in-hand, to bring this title to life. We want Rayguns and Rocketships to feel like a magical relic you uncovered in the corner of your attic, mired in dust and more than half forgotten. But, in an age of growing competition, we also want the mechanics to be tight, innovative, and engaging. With almost daily meetings between our team and Scott, the final product should hit that balance of nostalgia and groundbreaking ingenuity that we’re zeroing our sights on.


IDW Games Team. San Diego Game Company is ready for adventures in SPAAAACE with Rayguns and Rocketships. Designer Scott Rogers is a Lead Designer at Spaces, a company creating Virtual Reality Experiences.