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Launch Pad

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An overview of the game with complete instructions!

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Launch Pad cards

The space race is on!
You are battling to build the biggest, baddest rockets possible and send them soaring into space. Each rocket requires metal, fuel, and the expertise needed for liftoff. As you build your rockets, beware of your opponents, who are eager to steal your goods and sabotage your work—you may even have some tricks of your own to thwart their progress.

All the while, the launch pad is being constructed—as soon as it’s ready, the rockets that are “go” for launch will blast off into space, leaving all others behind.

Do you have what it takes to make your rockets soar before it’s too late?

Game Summary

  • Build as many rockets as you can and ready them for launch by advancing them through three phases of construction
  • Collect Bonus cards to protect your rockets, man them with astronauts, and ensure quality production
  • Sabotage other players' rockets and steal their goods through the clever use of Action cards
  • Once the launch pad is constructed, the rockets that are ready for launch will score big points!
  • Launch Pad box and contents
    images © Stratus Games

User Reviews (1)

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Veteran Grader
30 of 31 gamers found this helpful
“Launch Aborted?! Sabotage Abounds!”

-Launch Pad brings quick play and light strategy to the table, but a lot is left to the luck of the draw.
-Simple resource management would suit casual gamers and families with children wanting to pick up a quick game.

The game is played over several rounds where each player is trying to build rockets and advance rockets to the launch zone and add a few bonus points when possible. The goal is to build an arsenal of space-ready rockets worth more points than any other opponent.

-On a turn, a player can draw back up to the hand limit before trying to use as many cards from their hand as legally possible. A player can then discard as many cards as preferred.

-If the first hand was fully depleted during play, the player can draw back up and play a second hand of cards. This particular mechanic essentially allows for another turn and can be devastating to other players, particularly if one or more of the unique action cards are drawn and used. Those actions cards? Rare though they are in the deck, many of them allow the player to gain significant benefits or perform an act of thievery or sabotage. Oh yes, many a rocket will be scrapped or sent back to a previous stage of development in this game. “It’s back to the drawing board for you sorry excuse for a rocket scientist!”

-Rockets must start off in the construction zone and meet all requirements before advancing to the quality zone, then finally to the launch zone.

-Only one rocket per zone must be advanced, and each zone’s “expert” must be in place before any rockets can be advanced from that specific zone. This particular rule can cause some grief if a player never draws (or steals) the correct expert for a specific launch zone. The rockets would essentially be stuck at that stage, which could limit the number of rockets available for advancement and final scoring.

The Final Countdown (or How the Game Ends):
Four cards making up quadrants of the launch pad image are shuffled into the bottom half of the deck before the game starts. As these are drawn, they are placed next to a player’s construction zone and advance at the rate of one zone per turn. Once all four pieces have been advanced and the launch pad image is completed, each player has one last turn before the game ends and scoring takes place.
Scoring is based on the rocket’s zone position, and other bonuses are scored similarly.

The 144 cards are of good quality and the box is sturdy for a card game (i.e., not a flimsy tuck box).

Weighing in at eleven pages (with plentiful illustrations), the rulebook is not as much of a breeze as you might expect for a card game with a smattering of strategy. However, the rules are very description and clear. As a nice bonus, the last three pages of the rules are devoted to a nice little index of card types and uses, providing a great reference.

At first glance, this game does not appear to have much depth. However, the rounds pass quickly and with some laughter as players build their rockets and occasionally sabotage an opponent’s efforts. The specialty cards and action cards add a layer of strategy and opportunity that can make each game unique and leave players plotting future plays. Optional rule variations are also thrown in for good measure and can add to the possibilities.

-Quick turn play with simple mechanics.
-Well-explained rules with illustrations.
-Rocket themed, cartoonish artwork that is visually appealing.
-Card types are color-coded for easy identification.
-Zero set up time (beyond shuffling and dealing cards).
-Easy enough for kids to learn, but with enough back-and-forth play to hold adult attention spans.
-Incorporates basic strategies and a few “Take THAT!” backstabbery moments.

-Actions cards are rare and can unbalance the game a bit when played.
-Luck of the draw makes this game feel a little helpless at times. The best strategy can be defeated when the wrong cards are drawn.
-Rocket values are not intuitive, based on their construction material requirements.
-Getting stuck without an expert in a zone can be devastating for a player’s score.

Launch Pad is a feisty little game of rocket building and sabotage. It left me feeling a little bit to be desired in terms of the balance between luck and strategy. That, and all of the sabotage left me standing in the dust when the smoke cleared. Can you take the heat, or will it leave you a bit scorched by the blast? Only one way to find out! If you can find a good deal on this game, it can be a good buy for families and casual gaming groups that appreciate a good bit of thievery and payback. Engage!


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