Airlock is a modular board, co-op survival game for 1-4 players.
Players control a military and civilian character attempting to exit from the infested space exploration vessel "Horizon". The "Horizon" has been infested by a xenos race consisting of 6 different stages of development, each stage presenting different challenges for the players. Get you and your civilian out before they get you!
Conceived January 2013
94 cards, 12 board tiles, 4 trooper controllers, 4 civilian controllers, 1 android controller, 5 equipment boards, markers, counters
Being play tested
Some of you may recall or have seen a little film called “Alien”. The first Alien movie freaked me out. I still have a hard time watching it, or considering watching it. What the first film did for slow burn space terror, “Aliens” did for that full on, trapped in the open, “Oh god, there’s more of them!” camp. It was bad enough when there was one of those things crawling around, now there were dozens. I wanted to build something that put players there, in that spot, not wanting to open that next door, but knowing you had too. My attempt at this is AirLock.
Out of all the projects here, this one is a true extension of my career so far as an artist. The Xenos Swarm that the troopers and civilians must face in the confines of the Horizon are based on drawings I exhibited in my MFA thesis show. The drawings were of an alien life form, in several different stages of development, studied by a third party. The drawings mimicked journal entries, discovered after an unknown span of time. The drawings offer detailed views of the creatures and their anatomy, but not much actual explanation as to their origin or purpose. Giving the viewer a visceral view of these anonymous forms. I am a big fan of Science Fiction, especially the above mentioned Alien movies. I really appreciate the way the Alien was introduced to us, the viewer, in the first film. A little bit here, a little bit there. We never quite knew what the crew of the Nostromo were up against. That was great storytelling. Then to take us into the next chapter to watch Ripley and the Marines face that seemingly indestructible enemy in such numbers that there could not be any chance of survival. That resonated with me, and AirLock is an attempt to capture some of that. These creatures in my drawings lent themselves perfectly to the atmosphere of AirLock. The inclusion of several types of enemies keeps the game fresh and challenging each play. Each developmental stage of the Swarm requires a different strategy from the Players.The Swarm are anonymous. They attack from the air system, the very thing that keeps the Crew of the Horizon alive as they travel through the void of space. They come in great numbers, unhindered by obstacles. Even in death, they threaten.
When I had the idea for AirLock the artwork came first. Not just the Xenos, but the overall look and feel of the game. I wanted something that was kind of timeless. Something that could have been a vision of the future, but maybe have roots in the past as well. Once I started the designs, AirLock was a full color, printed demo in about two months. I was surprised it came about so quickly, and also that it played really well in the early playtesting I did solo, and with friends and family. I am continuing to playtest it now.
“Welcome to the United Federation Research Vessel ‘Horizon’. The UFRV Horizon is a multi cabin, modular, scientific research vessel. Technicians are now assembling Horizon for booster assisted take off from the Earth Offworld Launch Platform. All civilian and military crew members please report to the cryo room to begin your cryo-hibernation sequence. Your time in cry-sleep will be terminated once Horizon arrives at the Alpha Centauri star cluster, or detects any type of extra terrestrial life form prior to arrival. At that time passengers will awaken from hibernation to acclimate to Horizon’s layout and atmosphere, and to confirm and begin analysis of the detected lifeform. Equipment Management System bays are located in each cabin, and may be accessed by personnel upon awakening from cryo-sleep. Have a safe journey.”
Airlock begins in the Cryo-sleep Cabin. Each player is in control of 1 Trooper, a military Crewmember, and 1 Civilian Crewmember. The goal is to move these two characters through the multiple cabins of Horizon and reach the escape pods. Sounds easy. However, as the crew slept in the Cryo-beds Horizon has been infested by a Xenos threat. It has no name, no from Humans have never been in contact with it before. For the purposes of AirLock it has been labeled the Swarm, or Xenos Threat. Crewmembers awaken to the flash of warning lights and the buzz of sirens.
Horizon is crewed by two types of personnel, Military Troopers, and Civilian workers. Players take control of one of each of these types of Crewmembers. Civilian Crewmembers are weaker and not as well equipped for the rigors of space travel and combat as the Troopers, and are reliant upon the Troopers to guide them safely through the Cabins of the Horizon to safety. Player choose a color matched set of Trooper and Civilian controllers, along with the color matched Trooper, Civilian and Xenos Tokens. Each Player also has a color matched Initiative Marker used to determine play order at the beginning of each Turn.
Each Turn Players move their Trooper and Civilian tokens through the Cabins of Horizon. Crewmembers have a n number of Action Points to spend each Turn. Civilians have a set number of 4 Action Points while the Troopers Action Point levels fluctuate each Turn based on a Turn allotment of 5 points plus any Cabin points based on Environment card bonuses. Troopers may accrue up to 10 Action points maximum on any given Turn. Action Points are used to move, attack and defend in combat, access Equipment Management System Bays, use and trade Equipment and perform Command Functions in some of Horizon’s Cabins.
While on it’s journey to the Alpha Centauri system, Horizon has encountered a Xenos Threat undiscovered by Humanity, until now. The Swarm is a specie of creatures immune to the deadly conditions of space, and lives, breeds and dies as easily there as in the Cabins of Horizon. Infested by the Swarm, Horizons systems and integrity have been compromised. The only option is escape. Some systems are still intact and may be activated by the Crew to assist their escape, but the Swarm are everywhere. After the Actions Phase of each Turn the Swarm Phase begins. Any players with a Trooper or Civilian in a Cabin, without any color matching Xenos, must roll a Swarm Die. The result of this roll will match one or more of the vents located in the Cabin. This is where the Xenos Threat will swarm from. After the roll the Player draws the number of Xenos Threat indicated on the Environment Card for that room. One at a time the Xenos enter the room from the vent and move toward the closest color matched Trooper or Civilian Token. Any Xenos that lands next to a Crewmember Token with one or more Actions Points left attacks. Crewmembers take the amount of damage listed on the Xenos I.D. Card for the Xenos type.
The Swarm encompass 6 distinct stages of development, and the Crew must face them all. Eggs, while devoid of any method of attack, will impede a crewmembers progress. The Larval and Pupa stages move quickly through the Cabins of Horizon, and can wound or kill Crewmembers easily. The Adult stage, while slow, is still deadly. Upon contact with a Crewmember they will explode into a toxic Spore Cloud. Luckily the Crew have access to the Equipment carried within the E.M.S. Bays located in each Cabin. Equipment on Horizon consists of non hull-breaching shock weapons, Zero Environment Masks, Grapple Cuffs, Medi-supplies and powerful Neutron Grenades.
Players decide during Set-up how many Cabins will be used for the game. Anywhere from 5-15 is recommended, depending on time and difficulty desired. The game starts with all players in the Cryo-sleep Cabin. The Initiative Markers are shuffled and drawn, on at a time, to determine play order for each turn. Crewmembers move about the Cabins of Horizon, retrieving Equipment, fighting Swarm and activating Command Functions. Each time an Airlock is passed through a new Cabin is added to the Horizon’s layout. Each new Cabin gets an Environment Card placed on it to determine the number of Crewmembers able to access the E.M.S. Bays, the number of Xenos which will Swarm that turn, and the number of extra Action Points the Troopers accrue. Players are trying to get their Crewmembers to the Cabin which houses the Escape Pods, and exit the doomed Horizon.
An optional scoring system may be included where Players would score points for getting Troopers and Civilians to the escape pods, activating Command Functions, and collecting Equipment. Points would be scored against the Players for the deaths of Crewmembers, and the occurrence of Spore Clouds.