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'Simple Spaceships'

A Fast Play Dice Combat System by Matthew Hartley

Matthew Hartley Game Image

This year Matthew Hartley brings us a fast play dice based system for resolving ship to ship combat.



The purpose of Simple Spaceships is to give a sandbox rules set for players to adapt to their favourite Sci-Fi setting or to provide a simple rules framework within their own game world. To fit in with the Christmas theme of the OITW Advent calendar, a Santa vs UFOs game is included a the end of the rules to illustrate how they can be used.

Basing and Distance Conventions

The rules assume that all models are based 1 inch diameter hexagonal “flying” bases, with the model facing one hexside. These are pretty industry standard and very easily (and cheaply) available on line from a range of retailers including eBay.

All distances are in inches.

The Ships

All ships have a control panel (see below) and a pool of D6 dice. The dice represent the energy capacity of the ship and players will allocate dice from the pool to different ship functions at the start of each turn.

Dice are “spent” during the turn to move the ship, attack an enemy craft, and act as a defensive shield against damage. Spent dice are place in the Reserve pool on the control panel and are reassigned at the beginning of each turn.

Dice may be removed permanently from the ship as a result of damage from attack. These dice are not placed in the Reserve area.

A ship which has all its dice removed is destroyed and the model is removed from the table.

Sample Control Panel:

  Ship Name:  Starting Dice:







   Reserve Pool




The default position is that players can deploy dice from the reserve to any of the three functions (Defence, Attack or Movement) as they see fit. However players should feel free to experiment with different ship designs to best fit the background they are trying to represent. For example, an Evil Empire star-fighter may have a dice pool of 4, be prohibited from using any dice in Defence, and limited to no more than 2 dice in Attack.

Each ship must always put at least 1 dice into Movement but is not required to put dice into any other box on any given turn.

Dice may not be moved between boxes during a turn, expect from Defence, Attack or Movement to the Reserve pool when spent.

Turn Sequence and Game Play

 Each turn is played in a series of phases. Each phase is followed in turn.

  1. Assign dice from a ship’s Reserve Pool to the boxes on each ship’s control panel.
  2. Active ships in descending order, starting with the ship with the highest number of dice in its movement box. In case of a tie, flip a coin (or similar) to determine who goes first then take it in turns until all ships with the same movement dice have activated before going to the next lowest number.
  3. Once all ships have activated a new turn begins.


Activated ships may spend any, all or none (apart from 1 Movement dice) when activated to move or attack.

Inactive ships may not spend dice except in Defence.

Each Movement dice spent allows the ship to change direction by 1 hex side (to the left or right) and to move up to 4 inches (minimum 1 inch per dice spent).

The change of direction can occur before, during or immediately after movement from spending of EACH dice. For example a ship with 3 movement dice could spend the first dice, change facing and move 4 inches, spend the second dice move 2 inches, change facing and move a further 2 inches, then spend the third dice, move 4 inches and change face again.  

Ships cannot collide with each other and therefore may pass through each other during movement.


An active ship may attack one or more other ships during its turn.

Each attack will require spending at least 1 Attack dice from the ship’s Attack box

A active ship may only attack an enemy ship directly in at least part of it’s forward facing hexside.

The Active ship may interrupt its movement to launch an attack, spending the remaining movement inches and/or turn from it’s Movement dice once the attack has been resolved.

An attack has a base range of 6 inches. However additional dice from the Attack box may be spent to extend that range by a further 6 inches for each additional dice.

Once in range the Active ship commits a number of dice to the attack from the Attack box. These dice are rolled and require a 6 to hit the target ship. However up to 3 attack dice may be spent to increase the base dice roll by +1 FOR EACH ATTACK DICE ROLLED. For example, a player with 4 attack dice could spend 1 dice to give a +1 to each of 3 attack rolls (thus each hitting on 5 or 6), or could spend 2 dice to give +2 to 2 attack rolls (thus each hitting on 4,5 or 6).

Each hit scored must first be spent to move a Defence dice on the target craft to that ship’s Reserve area. If any scored hits remain, players take it in turn (attacker first) to remove from play one dice per hit from the target craft’s Movement, Attack or Reserve Pool, until all hits are accounted for. If the target ship is reduced to zero dice it is destroyed.

Santa Vs The UFOs

Santa is on the Christmas run. Evil UFO-Piloting Grinches are determined to intercept the Sleigh and ruin Christmas!

Santa’s Sleigh has 6 dice. No more than 2 can be spent on Attack.

Grinch UFO’s have 4 dice and no restrictions.

There are 4 Grinch UFO’s which may enter at any point along either long table edge.

Santa wins the game by successful travelling from one short table edge to the other.                


Webmaster's Notes

An Orcs in the Webbe Original! This stand alone game was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and was first published on the 1st December 2023 as part of its 2023 Advent Calendar.

You can see all the previous stand alone games that have been written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe by clicking on the  maroon tag  just below and to the left.