Advanced Search

Rail Gun: Wargaming Rules for Starship Combat (Playtest)
Quick Preview
Full‑size Preview

Rail Gun: Wargaming Rules for Starship Combat (Playtest)

Watermarked PDF

Wear your vac suit at all times, because all it takes is one rail gun slug to vent this whole compartment into space.

Welcome to the playtest version of RAIL GUN, a set of wargaming rules for creating sci-fi spaceship battles on the table top.  It is intended as a game somewhere between hard-core simulation and quick-play beer and pretzel games.  It borrows aspects from both of those kinds of space ship games, and injects some ideas from air combat and naval gaming.

This product comes with the basic rules for ship combat (more to be added as updates continue), a quick reference sheet, data cards for ships, and print-and-play topdown space ships designed by Andy Nelson of Paper Forge games.

This is the PLAYTEST VERSION of the rules. Anyone who buys will end up with the final version of the rules for free, and can provide any feedback/commentary they want (or sit back and enjoy the updates).

Some general details and information about the game:

The main rules are about 9 pages long.  The additional pages add a few optional rules, rules for planets and orbits, and for carrier operations.

The game places heavy emphasis on the quality of your ship crews.  Crew Quality, or CQ, affects almost every aspect of game play. Instead of large charts to determine damage to specific ship systems, Rail Gun uses "Stress" to model both minor system damage, crew casualties, and command and control problems onboard a ship.  This greatly simplifies play.

If your fleet's casualties are too heavy, then your ships may immediately disengage--leaving them vulnerable to possible enemy pursuit.

A typical game involves 2-8 ships per side, and takes 45 minutes to 2 hours to play.

Dice: D6s

Measurements: Either inches or centimeters, depending on the size of your table

Table size: 3'x3' or larger

Bookeeping: Light.  Each ship's speed and stress, and other factors, are tracked on its data card (each of which easily fits on a 3x5 index card).

Markers: A few, mainly for marking high acceleration and ECMs.

Movement is done by “vector.”  There’s nothing to slow you down in space and there is no in-game speed limit.  Speed carries over from turn to turn. 

Weapons are simplified to guns, missiles, and heavy "ship killers."  Guns typically inflict more damage but are shorter ranged.  

The game is played 2-d.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (0)
Discussions (7)
Customer avatar
November 11, 2017 4:37 pm UTC
Is this playtest version still under active development?
Customer avatar
July 16, 2018 12:23 pm UTC
Last post on the publisher's website regarding any topic was late-November 2017. I believe this project has been abandoned.
Customer avatar
JOHN SCOTT C September 27, 2016 6:02 pm UTC
Not sure where to leave feedback on the latest rules revision....

I'm really liking this game and am looking forward to somehow finding the time to play. Reading through the rules, I noticed the following:

On page 6:

Fire Combat: Defense Systems
The target ship now sees if its defense systems
successfully destroy incoming missiles. Each
point defense systems allows 1D6 roll against
incoming missile attacks only. Do these against
each ship’s attacks—not all at once at the end.
For a defense system to shoot down a missile,
the player must roll their MCQ or less, OR roll a

In the Fire Combat example on the next page (page 7) there is this:

The cruiser now uses its defense systems to
shoot down the incoming missiles. The cruiser
has a defenses system of 2, meaning it rolls 2d6,
each that passes a simple MCQ shooting down
one missile. The cruiser player rolls a 1 and a 6,...See more
Customer avatar
Nathaniel W November 02, 2016 2:30 am UTC

Aarrrrgh! I always miss these discussions. There is a notification point on the account page, but I overlook it. My apologies.

Since the time of your post, I have somewhat changed the way the defense systems work; there should be a rules update very soon.

As they stand now, it is a simple CQ test for the defense system to work, rather than an MCQ or a 6. The "or a 6" was a way for me to build in a little extra protection for the ship, in case its MCQ was really low due to stress. Turns out, as playtests continued, that MCQs are frequently low and thus defense systems were being rendered too weak. So now it's just a CQ test.

Thanks for catching the glaring proofreading error, though---I will check the current playtest version and correct before I upload the latest version.

Posts here or emails to thedogsbrush(at)gmail(dot)com work great.

So sorry again for failing to reply.
Customer avatar
JOHN SCOTT C November 02, 2016 2:38 pm UTC

No problem; I'm just glad to have been of some assistance.

Still haven't found the time to push metal around....


Scott Chisholm
Customer avatar
Michael C June 27, 2016 10:53 pm UTC
Any new updates on finishing these rules or have they been put on hold?
Customer avatar
Nathaniel W August 26, 2016 5:58 pm UTC

Sorry for the delay!
I am reworking the whole kit and kaboodle because I just wasn't happy with where it was going. New updates will be coming soon.
Customer avatar
Aleksandar S January 18, 2016 11:36 am UTC
Can you tell me something about solo playability? Is it possible (and how difficult) to make a programmed opponent that can compete with my ideas how to run a ship?
Customer avatar
Nathaniel W January 28, 2016 12:30 am UTC
Aleksander---It is solo-friendly in that the game does not rely upon hidden information to be playable, ie, there are no cards, pre-plotted information, etc. But the game does not have a solo-play engine (though perhaps it should!---I will percolate a bit on that).

It will include a short campaign that will be good for solitaire play, a kind of Sink the Bismarck IN SPAAACE that helps teach the player the game.

I think you could "program" your enemy to fight either aggressively or timidly---basically, when it's time to make a decision for the enemy, consider three things it could do and do the one that fits its profile. You sound like an experienced solo player so I suspect I'm telling you something you already know. It would not be hard to graft onto the game, because the movement system is not particular complex or demanding.

Sorry it took me so long to answer---the Vault does not have an alert system I'm aware of (could be wrong) to tell me there's been...See more
Customer avatar
Stuart T October 19, 2015 7:09 pm UTC
Hi looks very promising - when will the fancy new ship sheets be available?
Customer avatar
Nathaniel W January 28, 2016 12:32 am UTC
Stuart, sorry for the ages it took me to respond. I didn't realize there had been a discussion message!

The new ship sheets are in flux at the moment, because I have changed how the ships are detailed, systems, weapons, etc. I am not sure the artist will have time in his schedule to get new charts done in the immediate future.
Customer avatar
Nathaniel W August 14, 2015 3:52 pm UTC
Now updated to include the awesome print-and-play 2-d ships done by Andy Nelson. Thanks, Andy! Rules updates soon.
Customer avatar
Nathaniel W April 18, 2015 3:53 am UTC
I have put some details about the game's mechanics on my blog, including a sample of a ship's data sheet---scroll down, as the first part of the post is a repeat of what I've included in the game's description here.
Narrow Results
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!

Product Information
Silver seller
File Size:
3.87 MB
Original electronic
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Information
Watermarked PDF
Adobe DRM-protected PDF
These eBooks are protected by Adobe's Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. To use them, you must activate your Adobe Reader software. Click here for more details.

Watermarked PDF

These eBooks are digitally watermarked to signify that you are the owner. A small message is added to the bottom of each page of the document containing your name and the order number of your eBook purchase.

Warning: If any books bearing your information are found being distributed illegally, then your account will be suspended and legal action may be taken against you.

Here is a sample of a page from a watermarked book:

File Last Updated:
January 14, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on April 16, 2015.
The Dog's Brush
Publisher Average Rating