VectorGrid has several levels of complexity. I recommend that you start playing VectorGrid in single-player mode without either advanced options or the mover enabled. Once you feel good about the basic game, switch on the advanced options. When this gets predictable, enable the mover.
You’re playing single-player, no fancy options. You just want to start. What do you do?
There are three targets on the board (dark grey circles). There are three launchers (red, blue, and green triangles, very thin, pointed in towards the center at the corners of the board). The launchers launch projectiles into the board. You can select the launcher from a list in the upper right and fire from it with the “Shoot” button. Your goal is to hit every target with a shot from each launcher. The targets will change color as they get hit to help you keep track of this.
Without any interference, all the launchers will simply fire straight through the middle of the board. To hit targets that are not in the initial line of fire you will need to add pushers. You can add pushers along an entire row or an entire column, which you can select by clicking on the correct letter or number in the upper left of the control panel. Select a magnitude (strength) for the pusher, from 0 to 100, and an angle. Click “Add” to add the pushers to the board.
Simple. Except that as you add pushers some of them, inevitably, will be in places that will mess you up later, especially as you can only add to an entire row or column, not to an individual cell. The goal is to clear all targets from the board with as few pushers added as possible.
Pushers can be added together, and they follow vector addition rules (e.g., a 0 degree pusher and a 90 degree pusher of the same magnitude become a 45 degree pusher). You can also make stronger pushers by adding two of the same pushers to the same row/column, although if you find yourself making pushers of more than about a strength of 300 you probably need to try a different angle, row, or column instead. (Obviously, you can also cancel out pushers by adding their opposites to them.)
What About Two-Player?
Assuming you’ve read the single-player quick start two player has only two more rules. First, there are rounds that players alternate between. Most rounds have two moves (a move is either shooting or adding a vector) but the first one only allows a single vector add (otherwise player one has too great an advantage). Second, each player now controls two launchers of the same color, and it’s no longer necessary to hit a target from both launchers. Instead, a target will explode from any three shots from the same player. Each time a player hits a target they get a point. If you can explode the target before your opponent gets hits on it you can deny them points.
Ok, How About the Advanced Options?
Advanced options make use of credits. How do you get credits?
1) Hit the new “Trigger Disaster for Credit” button. Something bad will happen and you’ll get credits. The worse the disaster is the more credits you will get.
2) Explode a credit mine. These blue mines with a dollar sign on them explode whenever a projectile gets close. They are dropped randomly on the board when a target explodes.
1) Skip a move for a credit.
2) Hit a target.
There are now several new projectile options available. Each of these has a credit cost written as (number C) after the projectile name. In single player mode rockets are free until you add special warheads, but in two player mode all rockets have a cost.
Non-rocket projectiles include the shotgun and the blaster bolt. The shotgun throws a cluster of three projectiles at one time, at slightly randomized angles.
The blaster bolt fires a laser-like bolt that moves straight through the first square and a half without any deflection before becoming an ordinary projectile with the velocity a projectile would normally acquire from the launcher.
Rockets propel themselves forward, constantly accelerating in their original direction of travel. This makes them hard to deflect, which can be both good and bad. They also explode when they get into proximity of the target. You can also explode them yourself by hitting the “Shoot” button again, which will become a “Detonate” button once you launch a rocket. This is not very useful for a normal rocket, but once a rocket is loaded with a special warhead this can be very useful. Most of the special options only apply to special warheads, but the Double Power option applies to regular, explosive warheads and doubles the size of the explosion.
Special warheads include the shrapnel warhead and a variety of trap warheads. Shrapnel warheads spray projectiles when they explode, effectively a rocket that triggers Shotgun when it explodes (although the angles of the projectiles are more extreme in Shrapnel, and their number can be increased with Double Power).
Traps in VectorGrid refer to any stationary map element that interferes with projectiles. Most traps go away after a certain number of moves (the number depends on how they were triggered) but mines stay on the board until they explode (which throws regular projectiles of course and detonates rockets). Mines are also not something you can use as a projectile, and will only appear as part of disasters on the board. Rockets armed with traps can be detonated to lay the trap, and the trap will stick around longer if Double Trap Time is applied. Traps can also be cleared with the Trap Clear rocket, which has a large explosion that both damages targets and removes traps.
Reflectors are what they sound like. They are blueish squares that bounce projectiles off of themselves.
The Rabbit Patch option applies a speed doubler. These are translucent green circles that double the velocity of any projectile that crosses them. Want a double-power launcher? Explode a Rabbit Patch rocket right off the end of the launcher.
Holes are only available as a rocket round in two player mode, because they serve only to make a mess. They make a hole in the board that any projectile will fall through, never to be seen again.
There are also a set of buttons that have credit costs that can be used. These do NOT count as moves in two-player, and so a player can apply one while also using two moves. The ones marked “One Use” can only be used once per game.
Feeling Flushed applies a giant whirlpool/toilet bowl effect to the whole board. You pick the direction. This adds to the existing pushers, so don’t expect it to override some strength 800 monstrosity you’ve saddled yourself with.
Opposite Day temporarily flips the sign of all existing pushers on the board. This can be useful but is often very disconcerting when the effects wear off, especially because all pushers put down while Opposite Day was in effect stay aimed in their original direction.
Two player games can also make use of Mirage. Mirage is cheap because it’s more mean than it is useful, although under certain circumstances it’s clearly useful. It clones an existing target and loads the clone with traps. Half the time the “new” target that appears is the clone, but half the time the clone takes the place of the old target and the “new” target is the old one in a new place.
Mass Effect adds a slight “gravitational” effect, where all targets end up with weak pushers aimed at them.
What About the Mover?
The Mover is a jerk. And it moves, of course. Because this is not a game of speed and reflexes it moves based on your own moves. It displays its own information just under the “Shoot” button. Adding pushers reduces its counter by 2, shooting reduces it by 1. Once the counter reaches zero the Mover (concentric gray circles with a blue or red outline) teleports itself to the marker (the orange circle). A new marker appears, and so the Mover is, in this sense, entirely predictable.
The Mover will be one of two types: pull (blue theme) or push (red theme). Movers only ever land on the intersection of four corners of active grid squares. Once there, their presence “warps” the board, creating pushers that either point at the Mover (pull movers) or away (push movers). These vanish when the Mover teleports away, and their strength is based on the Mover’s power.
The Mover also blocks shots. This would be annoying, but shooting the Mover has consequences. The Mover announces these consequences in its status text. Some of these are random enough that whether they help or hurt will depend on the situation (like random rows/columns of pushers, or moving early). Others (like throwing credit mines everywhere) are useful. Most (like throwing traps everywhere) are harmful.
A few of these may need extra explanation. One is the repair function. If a mover repairs a target it will need to be hit again to explode. However, you do not lose the initial point from hitting it, and so this can actually be a way to increase your score. Whether this helps or hurts depends largely on how easy it is to make the shot again.
It is also worth paying attention to the verbs in the various trap functions. Movers can throw, shoot, or shield with traps. When the Mover throws traps it drops a series of spinning fragments, just like an exploding target, which are thrown away from the Mover but are then pushed by the pusher. These rapidly become traps, but their location is somewhat predictable based on the pushers around the Mover. When the Mover shoots traps these traps are shot out as beams that are unaffected by the pushers. Finally, when the Mover makes a shield it creates a ring of traps around itself.
Movers have two other attributes that can be changed by shooting them (sometimes) or by some of the Mover-specific specials that you can buy. One of these is power. Power most directly effects how strongly the Mover warps the squares next to itself. However, the Mover’s power also determines how many traps it generates when it uses a trap function. It’s nice to have a weak Mover most of the time, but a strong Mover using a shield of credit mines is a wonderful thing.
Movers also have a niceness attribute (that’s literally what it’s called in the code). Niceness/meanness alters the frequency of good and bad effects of hitting the Mover. Needless to say, Movers on higher difficulties start off meaner.