ISS Vanguard is an upcoming major board game from Awaken Realms. It will feature a 1-4 player co-operative gameplay that will immerse you in an amazing adventure among the stars, as you lead the first human galactic exploration effort.
Representing a new step for our games, ISS Vanguard blends the vast experience of AR designers, gathered in projects such as Nemesis, Tainted Grail, Etherfields, Lords of Hellas and This War of Mine: TBG. The story crafted by one of the best Polish authors Krzysztof Piskorski (the lead writer of Tainted Grail) will bring you right into the middle of an epic space opera with hard choices, unimaginable discoveries, and unlikely allies. And to give this game a unique look, we brought in a new lead artist, Dominik Meyer, who created an inspiring vision, based on a golden age of space exploration stories.
Impossible mission requires an impossible technology. Welcome, to your new home – a fusion of alien wreckage
and cutting-edge human science. There’s no other ship like that, and there won’t be another one, if Vanguard fails.
This is humanity’s only shot at the stars!
This is the headquarter of your operation, where you and your team-mates make all the hard decisions:
What systems and planets will you visit next?
What technologies will you develop?
Which research paths will you pursue?
What landing craft will you build or modify?
Which alien culture are you going to study?
Which crewmembers will you choose for your next landing?
Will Vanguard’s mission propel humanity toward a new future, or will the ship disappear without a trace in the vast blackness of space?
In-game, these mechanics will be represented by a unique game component – a high quality binder that contains beautiful cardboard dividers and card storage pages with printed card sleeves that are a part of many interesting mechanics. This Ship Book serves as a manual (with rich, visual rule presentations), game-saving mechanism, a strategic decision center that you play through between the missions, and a summary of your collected discoveries and technologies.
Preparations for humanity’s first and only multi-generation mission took decades and spanned everything from meticulous planning of the ship and its systems to social and political simulations. To avoid the crew splintering into antagonistic factions, a system of four Sections was created, each with their own focus and traditions, but all working together for a common goal:
As a player, you will represent a leader of one the sections, second only to Captain. You will upgrade and develop your section’s gear, take part in many decisions about Vanguard’s mission, and most importantly – recruit people for your section, develop them, and take care of them if needed.
Recruits are drafted from a huge pool of potential candidates – each with a unique ability. You will be competing with other players for recruits you want the most, as their perks are often a good match for every section.
Just make sure to take good care of your crewmembers – they earn experience and ranks during missions, but they can also suffer wounds or die. When faced with a dangerous world to explore, is it better to choose a novice and help him get more experience, or to risk an experienced crewmember with an advanced deck of cards who is more likely to succeed? Should you cut down the recovery time of a wounded crewmember and push them back into action with injuries, just because their abilities are a good match for this planet? The choices will often be hard!
Every mission will be a 1-2 hours session where you explore a chosen planet or another explorable object. It’s up to you how many missions you wish to complete in your campaign, though findings from many different worlds are required to move the story forward.
Performing a successful mission isn’t easy – start by deciding how much energy and time you are going to spend to scan the planet in advance, learning about hazards and conditions on the surface, and discovering dangers awaiting on the approach.
Planets you land on will be represented by a book with many part-scripted, part-procedurally generated planetary boards that offer a great balance of story experience and re-playability! Even planets that use the same board can play very differently, with different planet-wide effects, hazards, and different tasks that can trigger on them while you explore!
Once you know your destination, choose your spacecraft, your crew, their equipment, and even their position aboard the lander. Since the landing might be a dangerous process, you might want to prepare, so that you will not damage your ship, wound your crew, or lose some of your precious cargo!
Once you have landed, you can start exploring the planet – using custom dice of your crewmember to perform different tests, learning as much as possible about your surrounding, and trying to complete your mission. Most of the dice are different, and with every test you can always use as many as you want – but at the end of a turn you usually only refresh 3 of them. Will you risk it, rolling the bare minimum? Or do you want to aim for exciting bonuses, available in many sectors of the planet? Is this a good moment to use up your Crewmember’s special dice? Or should you save it for a different taks that looms on the horizon?
Even your used dice factor in this equation, as many effects involve them, unlocking later in a turn, as your Crewmember spends more.
And as if that wasn’t enough, you can sacrifice a die permanently to refresh a different, much-needed die, leaving your character weaker for the rest of the mission.
Apart from the dice, you characters will have special cards that are cost-free, and allow you to modify or enhance your results.
Moving through sectors on the planet is also tricky, as many hazards await you. The supplies you carry are limited, so your time is your biggest asset! You are never forced to finish your mission, but without supplies, with diminishing dice numbers, and with mounting negative statuses things slowly become more and more risky.
What will you encounter? Prepare to be surprised 😉 From lifeless tomb worlds full of artifacts, through interesting eco-systems or strange natural phenomena, up to conscious life forms. Every planet offers unique findings that you can take back to Vanguard – making it so much harder to call it a day and return when there’s another secret waiting behind the nearest rock.
Some events that happen on the planet will be conveyed in a unique way – as special mission logs. They contain research notes, field reports, and even transcripts of dialogue between the crewmembers and Vanguard’s bridge, and will often ask you to make a key decision. What’s even more important, these logs will be integrated together with a save sheet, so that the whole experience is as seamless as possible, without additional components needed.
The logs will take you on an amazing adventure, with branching stories that will keep your group on the edge of their seat!
While ISS Vanguard is a fully co-op experience, there is some skin in the game for different sections. Doing certain things will grant success tokens that you can later use to force your decision onboard Vanguard, or get the first pick when drafting crew or equipment. However, a total number of success tokens gained in a mission is also what decides whether the entire team ranks up or not.
There is a careful line to tread here, as if you risk too much, you can mortally wound your favorite character, and other players will have to come to your aid. And if all of you fail, there’s another harrowing decision to make: do we cut the loses short and move on with Vanguard’s mission, or do we mount a rescue operation that will eat up a lot of time and potentially endanger even more crewmembers?