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Paper Pilots: Tech o Survivors Preview

Quick Look: Paper Pilots: Tech 0—Chapter 1: Survivors

Paper Pilots: Tech 0—Chapter 1: Survivors
Designer: Shane Ivy
Publisher: Earth Links Collection
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2
Ages: 13+ (not listed)
Playing Time: Not Listed (15–30 minutes)

Paper Pilots is a story based tactical combat of two spaceships in a dog fight. The story is basically that humanity is surviving in the outer reaches of the galaxy and they are pretty much in a constant state of war, thus chapter 1: Survivors.
This is a hand management, card-playing game with a number of levels of intricacy that come out in the multiple steps of the phases. Though there wasn’t an age listed on the prototype we played I would recommend this for older players who have experience with more complex game rules.  Once you get to understand the rules the game moves along. However, even with that, there are several reference pages that need to be kept handy during gameplay, and the developer recommends to have the rules available as well while learning. I agree with that assessment.
We had two sets of Paper Pilots: Tech 0—Chapter 1, Survivors. There is the option that a deck can be split in half (they are duplicates) for 2 players, or each player can play an entire deck. We had 4 people sit down with split decks and face off against each other.
The learning curve led to a slower start. After going through the rules we did a setup of the game and played with the rules for reference. This worked well. The three reference charts needed could be placed between the two combats.
After the initial playthrough players were more comfortable with the game. The strategy is straight forward. It was determining facing rules, situational bonuses and what to do when you ended up at a tie that required the charts. We enjoyed the one-on-one aspect of the dogfight strategy.
The story on the cards doesn’t affect the mechanics of the game but can be read for a fuller background of the setting of the game.

Ship Statistics

Your Ship figures

Each player starts with a figure to represent their ship and the position it is in as the two are advancing towards each other. Along with the figure, you have a card that gives the statistics of the ship you are piloting.
Each player also has Maneuvering Cards, which can be used during play, which are face-up behind the ship, recommended to be to the right side. You then have the rest of your deck which consists of Pilot Actions and Luck Events. These cards are used to alter gameplay as I will explain in the next section.
Players then draw the top nine cards and you are ready to go for it.
Maneuver Cards
Paper pilots consist of turns which are called cycles. The cycles are broken into 2 phases: Attack and Engage. The game starts in the Attack phase.
Attack Phase
This phase consists of 12 steps that include determining attack, defense, hitting, and damage.
This sounds more complex than it really is. Each part can be easy identified as a 1d6 die roll by each player to determine who is higher. This roll can be adjusted by the charts due to the positioning of the fighters, and cards played. Once you make it through that basic action you move onto the next step of the phase.
Engage Phase
This phase consists of 9 steps, which determine how the ships move to determine facing to each other. There is no large play area required to move ships around, it is done in a simplified 2-dimension setting in a small space between the two players.
Again, these are started by comparing the result of each player rolling 1d6 and making adjustments.
Additional Actions
Some cards allow players to cancel actions and change the phase you are playing. I recommend until you are really familiar with the rules you keep them handy for these changes in play because they can alter how the steps in the phase, advantage/disadvantage, and other aspects of the phase change.
When there is a tie between the players, there is another chart with rules that affect play that are dependent upon where the ships are currently sitting.
Pilot Action Cards
Theme and Mechanics
Tying the game into a developing story provides a lot of backstory as the game moves further on. I have seen where they are already working on Chapters 2 through 4 as expansions to Survivors. Some the rules we were reading are applicable to the expansion chapters and not to the Survivor pack of cards.
The use of cards to alter your action provides a quick response mechanism to how you as the pilot respond to situation at hand. Our sets were duplicate sets, which meant each player also had a good understanding of what the other player could do, and track what cards had already been played. With the split deck, each player only has about 2 dozen cards. With a single deck for each player and the introduction of expansion chapters, the tracking of your opponent would become more difficult.
Artwork and Components
The cards we played with are sturdy and could easily last through multiple games.
The Good
  • The size allows for easy carry (the rules and charts are currently available on line)
  • Quick set up

Lucky Event Cards
Final Thoughts
With the size of the deck, the gameplay was quick. Once you run through your deck there is no reshuffle. From then on it is your basic maneuvers and how well you roll. The ships in the starter pack have 12 points of armor, which also adds to quick play.
Being observant of positioning and how that affects your combat adjustments is important. Several times in our game the missing of that simple point led to dire outcomes.
Players Who Like
  • One-on-one combat
  • Fast response and fast-paced gaming

The start of the story

Check out Paper Pilots on


Daniel Yocom - Reviewer

Daniel Yocom does geeky things by night because his day job won’t let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He’s written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines along with stories, after extensive research. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join in the geeky fun at guildmastergaming@blogspot.com.

See Daniel's reviews HERE.
Paper Pilots: Tech o Survivors Preview Paper Pilots: Tech o Survivors Preview Reviewed by Guild Master Gaming on April 21, 2020 Rating: 5

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