Eagle Alight – A Board Game inspired by Lunar Lander

In honour of my FAVOURITE Computer Game (Arcade), Lunar Lander, and the upcoming 40th anniversary of the (faked?) Apollo 11 Moon Landings, I present…

Eagle Alight – A Lunar Lander inspired board game

Use fuel, Fuel, FUEL to rotate and slow your craft for an “Eagle Has Landed” moment!

As this is effectively a simulation of gravity, two hex maps are required: One with a small playing piece for the larger wide scale view of the moon surface; the other representing the various landing sites by use of layered colour hexes, with a larger playing piece to represent the ship in close-up. In the interest of best representing the original game, the two boards will be double sided, with one side giving the large scale where the two boards are placed side by side (landscape).

Main Board Left Full size version

Main Board Right Full size version

The Main Board hex map is oriented with clear horizontal rows of 36 hexes with alternate rows zigzagging in the vertical plane. This represents the small bumpiness of the landing area, and allows for a more vector appearance in honour of the original arcade game.

6 Landing Area for the large scale map are marked:

1x – Landing area marked by 6 markers (1 of)
2x – Landing area marked by 5 markers (1 of)
3x – Landing area marked by 4 markers (1 of)
4x – Landing area marked by 3 markers (2 of)*
5x – Landing area marked by 2 markers (1 of)

* denotes that on a coin toss landing “Tails for Wales”  – or rolling 1-3 on a die –  landing here successfully gives a fuel bonus of 50 Fuel Units.

The other side represents a close up view of landing areas (3 to a board), so that the board not in use for the large scale contains relevant representations of small scale landing areas; the board not in use is flipped when the ship gets close enough. Hope that makes sense!

Right Board Back Full size version

NOTE: Only done one, so you can only land on the left hand areas for the prototype.

The Lunar Lander is represented by
[*]a single hex size piece for the ship at long range, with the “down” pointing through a corner.
[*]A tiered hex arrangement for the larger ship in close-up

Two dice are required of different colours to represent the rocket thrust: One is the course control to be adjusted by the player; the other (ideally RED) one will be used randomly, and represents the inaccuracies of fine control.

Dials representing the ship orientation and the power of the thrusters, as well as ready reckoners for applying horizontal and vertical rocket power are needed. Finally, a record of horizontal and vertical speed is required, which uses counters on six 11 hex long lines:

-5|-4|-3|-2|-1|+/-0|+1|+2|+3|+4|+5| Gross Vertical
|-5|-4|-3|-2|-1|+/-0|+1|+2|+3|+4|+5| Course Vertical
-5|-4|-3|-2|-1|+/-0|+1|+2|+3|+4|+5| Fine Vertical

-5|-4|-3|-2|-1|+/-0|+1|+2|+3|+4|+5| Gross Horizontal
|-5|-4|-3|-2|-1|+/-0|+1|+2|+3|+4|+5| Course Horizontal
-5|-4|-3|-2|-1|+/-0|+1|+2|+3|+4|+5| Fine Horizontal

NOTE: Counters for G\C\F will always be the same sign or zero

Various Dials and Counters needed for play. Includes a first draft larger scale version of the first landing site that was subsequently discarded.

For simplicity, we will be using base 6, so Fine represents fractions (+/-0.[0-5]), Course represents units (+/-[0-5]) and Gross represents the “tens” column. Therefore, the maximum speed of a craft is represented by +5G+5C+5F = 55.5 (b6)
= (5×36)+(5×6)+(5/6) = 210.8333 (b10) changeable in increments of +/-1/6 = +/-0.166

The smallest speed (apart from completely still) will be +1F = 0.166. This will be represented on the small scale map as one hex
The scale for the larger map will be one hex = 1C (i.e. the ship will move one hex in a turn if it’s speed is 0G1C0F

Note: The Gross level of speed shouldn’t really be used, but is there as a warning to the player that letting speed creep up will have dire consequences.

Set up

Put a counter as position 0 for both Gross and Course Vertical and Gross Horizontal
Roll the two dice for Fine Vertical, and Course and Fine Horizontal. Take the smaller from the larger to define starting values.

Roll 1 (red) and 6 (white) means your starting Fine Vertical is +5
Roll 3 (red) and 4 (white) means your starting Course Horizontal is +1
Roll 5 (red) and 2 (white) means your starting Fine Horizontal is +3
Roll 1 (red) and 6 (white) means your starting Course Horizontal is +5

Set Counters accordingly.

Set a Counter on the Rocket Thrust dial to 0 indicating no rockets in use at the start.
Set the Rocket Orientation Counter (a lander with protruding flame) to point the fire to the 3 on the right.

Place the Lunar Lander counter with the base pointing to the right (i.e. 3pm) at the top and left most hex.

“A crash [happened] when the vertical speed exceeds 15 and the horizontal speed exceeds 31.” http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=lunar-lander&page=detail&id=1417

Briefly, each turn on the large map happens like so:
1) Vertical Course Speed is increased by +1 (Lunar Gravity). If this takes it above +5 or below -5 the Gross counter is also adjusted.
2) Vertical and Horizontal Speed is adjusted by the Rocket’s previous power setting (see below for more details).
3) Player chooses what rocket power and ship orientation to use for next turn.
4) Ship is moved according to its Horizontal and Vertical Speed; e.g. a HORZ. Speed of +3C moves the ship 3 spaces to the right, VERT Speed of -1G-3C moves 6 (for the gross)+3 (for the course) upwards (presumably an abort!). Whichever of Horizontal or Vertical is larger is done first. (see details below)
5) If there is a F speed between -5 and -1 or +1 and +5 a die is rolled for both Vertical and Horizontal. If the roll is at or below the value of the F speed an additional space is moved; represents random variations.
6) If during movement the ship hits the Lunar Surface, the player has lost.
7) If near a landing strip, the player turns over the board not in use and switches to the small scale version.

Details for adjustments of speed:
NOTE: Horribly complex and needs simplifying.

Power| All | 1/3 | 2/3
6 | 6C0F| 2C0F | 4C0F
5 | 5C0F | 1C4F | 3C2F
4 | 4C0F | 1C2F | 2C4F
3 | 3C0F | 1C0F | 2C0F
2 | 2C0F | 0C4F | 1C2F
1 | 1C0F | 0C2F | 0C4F

If adding Fs takes it above +5 or below -5 then the Course is adjusted as well.

Details for moving on large map:
When moving vertically down, moving an even number of rows is straightforward, as cells are in line. If moving an odd number of rows, place the ship between the two cells beneath the starting cell. Then apply the random vertical adjust (it may be that an additional row will be moved, removing the problem. If this doesn’t happen, roll a die. If the rocket has Zero horizontal speed, then 1-3 means left cell, 4-6 means right cell (represents buffeting). If there is any speed to left or right, a roll of 1 goes against that speed, 2-6 means the ship is moved in the direction of travel.

Small map movement.
You will see that the orientation for the small scale map emphasises more accuracy for the vertical. The rule for horizontal movement is similar to that for adjusting vertical on the larger map. On this scale map, cells reflect the Fine level; i.e. a speed of +1C+2F vertically will move the ship 6 (for the +1C)+ 2 cells (for the +2F), so the scale is for play purposes 6 times larger. This may prove too hard.

For test purposes, there will be no fuel tally. For playtesting later, a limited fuel supply will be added.

“The [original arcade game] scoring system [gave] 50 points for a good landing, plus 50 fuel units as a bonus. A hard landing earned only 15 points, and a crash earned 5 points… The point scores for a good or hard landing [were] be greatly increased by landing on an area with a flashing multiplier, for example 2X or 5X. Thus, a good landing on the very narrow 5X site would give that player 250 points.” http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=lunar-lander&page=detail&id=1417

Landing with a vertical speed greater than +1C5F is a crash.

I think, and hope, that this is enough for play testing as I have run out of time now!

Research (30 minutes):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Lander_(arcade_game) wikipedia article
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Lander_(computer_game) more general wikipedia article
http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=lunar-lander&page=detail&id=1417 a REALLY good description of key features of the game; for example, did you know that this was the first arcade game to have an “Insert more coins to keep playing” option?
http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=8465 Another write up

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJLmXildv2E Arcade (BEST!) version
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8727SlgcJiI 2600 version footage I
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxYP6FRqQYA 2600 version footage II
http://www.springfrog.com/games/lunar-lander/ Passable but slow simulation of the original
http://games.atari.com/arcade.php?game=lunarlander – official Atari simulation

I used Hex World Creator http://www.members.tripod.com/rooksnest/academy/geography/geography.htm and MS Paint to create my board. NOTE: It is rather buggy so SAVE Often!!!


About DoctorMikeReddy

I teach game programming at the University of Wales, Newport
This entry was posted in Paizogogy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Eagle Alight – A Board Game inspired by Lunar Lander

  1. Pingback: P.A.C.O. (Push Avoid Combat Oppose) – A G*M*S Magazine Board Game | Play in Progress

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