Aether Captains, by Todd Sanders. My First PNP game.

I like the work of Todd Sanders.  Todd is a real polymath.. a poet, an artist, an architect, a translator and a game designer.  He has given a facelift to a large number of older games with graphic redesigns, which he gives away for free on Boardgamegeek.  He has created an entire Victorian Science Fiction universe in the Clockwork Caravel series of games, then just gives them away as free print and play games on Boardgamegeek.  One of them that I have always wanted to try was AETHER CAPTAINS, a solitary dice game where you captain an airship, represented by specialty dice you make yourself.  The airship is attacked by Aether Pirates flying a range of air units.

Print out of the specialty dice (in this case, the airship Corsair). These will be affixed to 1″ wooden blocks. Ideally I’d get these from a craft store, but I ended up having to order them. Click to see larger picture.

So I decided to give it a try.  The cubes I wanted to affix labels to were 1″ wooden cubes (see source in “related”, below).  I thought 1″ wooden cubes would be an easy find at a Michaels or A.C. Moore, but I had no luck at all, and ended up ordering them– not for very much moolah at all, but you have to consider shipping as well.   I painted the three sets of airship blocks different colors.  Then I printed the dice labels out and glued them to the blocks.  I probably should have used a paper cutter to make the cuts, but I just eyeballed it reasonably carefully with a pair of scissors.  Cut lines are in the original graphic as you can see above.

(The Airship in the base game is Dauntless (natural wood).. in the followup expansions, there are also the larger airship Dominion (pale blue), the smaller Ship Corsair (orange), and several enemy single dice aircraft representing pirates, as well as a small 3 dice pirate craft (black).  These were all constructed, printed and and glued to various dice)

There are also some cardboard counters that I improvised mounting on cardboard..

Improvised Revenant pirate counters, another variant.. click to enlarge

The results were the Dauntless, Dominion and Corsair, The Pirate Cruiser, Revenant boarding crews and a bunch of single pirate aircraft. It all fits in one small cigar box nicely.

Voila! It stores like a champ. Click to enlarge

How does it play? Pretty simple stuff, really. In the Basic game you place the Dauntless in the center grid of the playing mat (provided in your printout stuff). Roll to see what kind of pirate single craft are coming in to attack you, and what part of the craft they are hitting:

the Dauntless fights off some Aether Pirates. Two of them are stacked up on each other. Click to enlarge

They roll to attack you, you roll to attack them. If they get a hit in, you rotate your airship dice to the next damaged side. It rotates (you guessed it) four times before destroying. An Airship can’t survive Zero point sections, and will crash on you sooner or later.

I find this a fun little diversion.. my first Print and Play game!! It was a amusing to build, though I made some mistakes. The color scheme is rather bland, and when I tried to apply sealer to keep the ink from running, I ended up ruining several cubes by overspraying that I had to fix later. That accounts for the distinctly darker labels on some of the cube stickers.

The game design is simple enough and quite enjoyable. My only criticism is that this game seems WAY too easy. I will have to tinker with the design a little to make it more competitive. Good show, Todd Sanders. You can find the files for this game on BoardGamgeek, HERE.