Post Mortem – Guns of Icarus (The Board Game)


I worked with a group of people creating a board game paper prototype of Guns of Icarus. Guns of Icarus is a high paced, strategy FPS based on zeppelin combat, it’s a very interesting concept and designing a paper prototype of it was really interesting.

We wanted to focus on teamwork which also is the focus of Guns of Icarus which lead to us keeping the role system of the original game, requiring each zeppelin to fly with a pilot, a gunner and an engineer, this in turn lead to a highly strategic play.

What was created?

A paper prototype of Guns of Icarus.

The players are playing 1 of 3 roles each. The commander which gives out action points to his crew, allowing them to work faster and controlling the zeppelin. The gunner which had to be skilled in both positioning, hand/eye co-ordination and reactions. The last role is the engineer, who focused on healing the zeppelin, building the hull and choosing weapon modules.

Action points are used to fuel actions such as moving, shooting and repairing.

The game had 3 playing areas. The map, where the commanders steered their zeppelins and the zeppelin decks, where the gunner and engineers of both teams played their game upon their respective zeppelin needing to mount and repair the correct weapons while the commander steered the ship.

We had real life aiming and physical activity inside our game, where both gunners had a gun (toy) that shot small, soft rounds. They fired at eachothers whenever a dice roll would fall correctly, either during an attack or a repair

What would I change?

The game had lots of interesting quirks and lots of challenging gameplay, working together as a team was very efficient while you still know that the other people on the team most likely knew better what they where supposed to be doing. This led to lots of communication but also to a gunner saying “It’s not my job to navigate the ship”.

What I would change was definately the flow of the game. We test ran it for over one and a half hour after the lecture and the enemy team had taken 2 damage on their baloon health (If this ran out you lost) and we had lost 0. The biggest problem was how rare baloon hits actually was so I would increase the chance for baloon hits.

I would also have changed the engineer alot, It was the one role that we didn’t make satisfying enough to play. Both the other roles were both interesting and provided unique challenges through either reflex and hand/eye co-ordination or through grand strategy game-play. The engineer was ran over in both innovation and game-play by the other two roles. I do not know what I would change as of right now, maybe giving the engineer more important roles on the deck or a more interesting repair system (such as a timed puzzle game perhaps?), but it needs to change none the less.

To finish this post mortem I just want to say that the game was highly interesting and it provided unique challenges. It was a major success with the testers and the entire group that worked with it was satisfied with the results. It strayed a little bit from the original vision of the gameplay but the feeling of Guns of Icarus was so close to the game, that half of the first testing group yelled out the name of the game while I was explaining the rules to them.


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